Minestrone Mama (Organic Minestrone Soup Recipe)


From Lisa Barnes

My children (I think like most) do not like to see mom on the telephone. As soon as the phone rings the mayhem starts. We could all be playing nicely together, but when I get on the phone my children suddenly fight, yell and generally misbehave. I finally got the reason for this behavior out of my son. He said “we don’t want you to stop playing with us”. Oh that’s sweet and I can’t argue with that – no one likes to be interrupted, but the truth is sometimes I have to take or make a call. Naptime (they don’t nap at the same time) and late at night doesn’t always work, especially for Midwest agents and East Coast publishers.

I told my son I will be brief and try to avoid calls, however he needs to understand the exceptions (see above agent and publisher). So my son is 4 years old and understands to leave his sister alone when I am on the phone. However my daughter at 17 months doesn’t care who’s on the phone and she demands (read screams loudly and grabs at me) to talk too. However I have found a way to keep my daughter happy if I have to make or accept an afternoon call… minestrone soup. Yes that’s right. Not only does my daughter love the taste of minestrone soup but she is fiercely independent and needs to spoon it for herself.

Here’s how the preparation goes. Set phone call time for afternoon when my son is napping (or at least mellow) and daughter will be hungry (about 2 p.m.) Next, always have soup on hand (see recipe below). Two minutes before scheduled call, strip daughter down to diaper for ease of clean-up. After caller answers, set lukewarm bowl of soup in front of daughter and hand her a small spoon. Sit at table to multi-task – taking notes from conversation and watching to be sure soup is not depleted and child is not eating too fast (avoid choking incident). I now have about 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time, and a content child. I’m sure to end conversation before she stands up in highchair, gives “all-done” sign or drops bowl on the floor.

Of course a bath should follow…

Organic Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is a great way to use an abundance from your garden and also get your family to eat a healthy dose of vegetables. Feel free to substitute left-over meats in place of the turkey, or skip the meat and make it a classic vegetarian meal.

Olive oil, 3 tablespoons, divided
Organic ground turkey, ½ pound
Salt, ¼ teaspoon
Pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, 1 teaspoon
Leek, ½, sliced, about 1/3 cup
Carrot, 1 medium, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Zucchini, 1 medium, chopped, about ¾ cup
Green Beans, 2 ounces, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Celery, 1 stalk, chopped, about ¼ cup
Organic Vegetable stock, 1 quart
Vine ripened tomatoes, 3 medium, about 2 cups
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon
Organic Cannellini beans, 1 cup, rinsed and drained
Elbow macaroni, ¼ cup
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add turkey, salt, pepper and oregano, stirring and breaking up turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove turkey with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme and paste and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add cannellini beans and stock and macaroni and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Add turkey to heat, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 cups
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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I Heart Organic Cranberry Sauce – Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope everyone is planning an organic and sustainable Thanksgiving Holiday. I read a few challenges on websites and newspaper articles for people to shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients that are produced, raised and grown within a 100 mile radius from their home. One site with some helpful tips and resources is IdealBite.com . This challenge is probably easier to do in some places than others. Of course farmer’s markets are always a good place to start. Check out LocalHarvest.com and search for “turkey” in your zip code to find a list (hopefully) near you.

How about organic cranberry sauce? As soon as these fresh, tart berries are in season I buy lots to have in the freezer (my son eats them plain – talk about sour!) and also to make sauce. Growing up we had sauce from a can (not because anyone seemed to like it but because it was tradition) and I didn’t realize until years later how much better (and easy to make) homemade sauce is. This is a simple sauce that works well on the Thanksgiving table, as well as the perfect condiment for sandwiches, pancakes and waffles after the holiday.

Organic Cranberry Sauce from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Everyone loves cranberry sauce for the holidays. This has just the right balance of tart and sweet and makes a great spread for turkey, beef or veggie sandwiches anytime. Just remember to freeze some cranberries during the winter to enjoy when they are out of season. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for company.

1 cup fresh organic cranberries
¼ cup organic apple juice
¼ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated organic lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a saucepot and cook over medium heat. As mixture heats, cranberries will make a popping sound as skins break open. Be careful as hot juice may splatter. Sauce is ready when cranberries have popped and sauce is thick, 5 – 8 minutes.

Makes about 1 cup.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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First Taste – Organic Butternut Puree and Soup Recipes


From Lisa Barnes

Both my son and daughter enjoyed their first taste of food in the autumn – so there was an abundance of squashes and rich sweet potatoes available as first foods. I was reminded of these first tastes when I bought a butternut squash at the store today. I love being witness to the first time a child tries a new food. It seems so strange that the baby has no reference for the flavor or texture. I like the anticipation of the child’s reaction to the new food. Their faces show everything from “wow, mom this is awesome” (and grabbing the spoon for more) to “what are you crazy with this?” (and spitting it back down their chin).

Here’s a recipe for a baby puree that is the key ingredient in the soup recipe for the rest of the family. Make a double batch and everyone can enjoy.

Butternut Squash Puree

1 ¼ pound organic butternut squash, about 3 cups

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash into quarters; remove seeds and place cut side down in a baking pan. Pour ¼ cup water in bottom of pan. Bake squash until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and scoop out flesh.

Puree the squash in a food processor after cooking, until you’ve reached the desired consistency. You may want to add 1 to 2 tablespoons water, breast milk or formula to thin.

Microwave directions: Cut squash in quarters (this may be difficult, depending on size) and scoop out seeds. Place squash, skin side down, in a microwave-safe dish. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and cover tightly, allowing one corner to vent. Microwave on High for 10 to 12 minutes. Check for doneness, cool and proceed with recipe above.

For older babies, cut flesh into chunks that he can pick up and eat himself.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 cups organic butternut squash puree (see above)
1 medium organic onion, chopped, about ½ cup
½ cup peeled and chopped organic carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 cup organic milk
grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)

In a medium pot, sauté onion and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes or until onions turn golden. Turn down heat to medium-low. Add squash and broth. Cover pot and cook for 20 minutes.

Puree small quantities of soup in a blender or food processor. Be careful as mixture will be hot. Return soup to pot, and add milk. Stir and reheat. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Makes about 6 cups of soup.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Cookbook Faceoff


From Lisa Barnes

Everyone is wondering…is the cookbook written by Jessica Seinfeld (above), Deceptively Delicious too much like Missy Chase Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef? It’s quite the talk in the NY Times, food blogs, and parenting websites. The big issues here are not who took who’s ideas or recipes because sneaking in veggies is an old time practice. There has always been the spinach in the brownie recipe in Parents Magazine every other year. I made it once and let’s just say it’s a great way to ruin chocolate. Plus having gone through the lengthy process of book publishing – there are similar ideas and subjects in the works at different publishing houses all the time (although it is strange for one of the houses to pass up Lapine and go with Seinfeld – but a celebrity will always sell more books, period). Anyways…

The bigger issue for me is should we be sneaking? I like that the blogs at the NY Times site ask this question and most parents who write in say no. I agree. If you’re sneaking it in, this must mean you’re cooking at late hours, during naps, when the children are out of the house. Because kids know everything and are naturally curious. And they should be especially in the kitchen. How can your child help you prep, cook, shop and menu plan if they’re not supposed to see what’s in the food? Everyone is missing out on a valuable lesson of sharing and learning in the kitchen. How about showing them a perfectly ripe piece of fruit or interesting shape of a vegetable at a farmer’s market, instead of pretending to make a boxed macaroni and cheese from your pantry. I don’t think deception and trickery belong in the kitchen on a regular basis or as a means to establishing healthy diets and eating habits. Now I’ve put in my 2 cents on the controversy.I just think it’s exciting that people are talking about children’s food and this cookbook genre. When it makes the Yahoo! Headlines and the NY Times you know it’s important stuff.

Don’t worry Jessica, Jerry’s Bee Movie is out now… so he’s in the news again. Ironically I saw his Bee character doing a McDonald’s ad. There’s one place there’s no hidden veggie purees.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: New York Times
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