Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where does all the time go? + easy green bean and sweet pea purees

It's as busy as ever in my neck of the woods. I tried (and sort of failed) to spread out my bigger projects in my various classes over the course of the semester. Instead, it seems I have a lot of stuff due at the beginning of the semester, and a lot of stuff due at the end. Maybe somewhere in the middle I'll get used to this hectic routine, but I'm not getting my hopes up. ;)

One thing I did in an attempt to reduce my stress level and save a bit of time is to transfer jobs. I still work for Starbucks, but I work in Milledgeville now instead of Macon. It just makes sense, considering I go to school in Milledgeville, too. I'm still only working weekends for now. This store is much slower business wise, so maybe I won't feel as exhausted after a shift as I did before. Of course, that also means less money in tips, but I'll take sanity over tips right now. =)

Somehow in the midst of all this crazy, I'm still finding time to make baby food for Wyatt. Now that's he's a bit older, he's eating more at a time, and he can handle somewhat thicker textures, which means adding less water to the puree, which means one squash/sweet potato/carrot doesn't stretch quite as far as it once did! It's still easy though, and a lot of fun! I love trying out different combinations to see what he likes best. (He prefers veggies over fruits for the most part, with the exception of green beans. He's not a fan of most fruits by themselves, to be honest, but he loves bananas!) I really racked up on organic veggies today at Kroger: three organic sweet potatoes for $1.04 a piece, a big organic acorn squash for $3.12, two big bags of organic baby carrots for $5.00 (because I learned my lesson last time!), and an organic avocado (technically a fruit, but whatever) for $1.29 since he's never tried it before. Is buying organic more expensive? Yes, but I absolutely feel that it's worth it. It's also important to note that the only organic produce that was sold by weight was the sweet potatoes and the acorn squash. In fact, most of the organic produce I saw was not sold by weight. I also bought a smallish bunch of bananas for $0.90 and another big jar of Mott's Natural Applesauce for $1.61 (which beats my previous price of $2.39! Does that equal out to 3.5 cents an ounce? Why yes it does...)

Buying applesauce in a jar is a great time saver. Another time saver that I've implemented is using bagged frozen green beans and sweet peas instead of fresh. Taste is probably being compromised here, but Wyatt doesn't really care for either of these anyway and they just wind up being hidden in another food that he does like. Also, frozen green beans and sweet peas are inexpensive and there's no shelling involved whatsoever. Win/win if you ask me. Always be sure to check the ingredients, though. The bags should say just green beans or peas, and nothing else. I was able to find green beans with no additives fairly easily, but sweet peas proved to be a bit of a problem. Almost every brand included salt, which babies don't need. I finally found what I was looking for at our local Super Walmart.

Pureeing both of these is really simple. Just empty the bag of green beans or sweet peas into your steamer basket and let the water work its magic. (I was able to fit two bags worth at once.) Once they're tender, puree the veggies in small batches with water reserved from the steaming process. I should probably note that it's damn near impossible to achieve a smooth puree with either of these since there are skins involved, but Wyatt doesn't seem to mind. (He may not even notice, since they're usually mixed into his sweet potatoes or squash. Considering his age, I'm not really going for smooth anymore anyway.) Once everything is pureed, pour it into your ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer. Doesn't get much easier than that.

Since it's the wee hours of Thursday morning, I'll be prepping the slow cooker pretty soon. At Kenny's request, I'm going to attempt to make chicken and sausage gumbo. I'm also going to try and make my own roux, which is daunting in and of itself. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one! If it turns out well, I will post the recipe tomorrow night. If it doesn't turn out well, I guess I can tell you what not to do with gumbo!

Here's hoping you have all the time in the world!

-Mother Nature Mom

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