Baby,  Cooking,  Life Story

January 1, ladders and roe

lunchComing back to our 700sq feet home as a family of five after an expansive sunny vacation is like parachuting into a gray November day from a bright one in June. You’re happy to have your feet back on the ground, it feels familiar and cozy and yet…crowded. Certainly there is too much stuff, and look: we’ve brought more back with us! Why are the book shelves already full? one wonders with a stack of new books in-hand.

It’s a puzzle to find a spot for everything, and the trick is to take pleasure in the solving of it. 

Over Christmas, my sister-in-law Hannah got me into this book Super Nutrition for Babies. I’m really grateful because reading it has been a wake up call for habits in our house. I find that you begin parenting saying to yourself my children will never order off a kid’s menu, or I’ll never buy kraft mac & cheese by the dozen and then things just happen. It starts to feel normal to have bags of animal crackers, pretzels, bread, and frozen waffles filling half your cart, or you get demoralized when they don’t fall in love with your roasted root veggies with horseradish on first kiss.

In particular, I was often offering Alma the same easy finger food as Joan: tossing pasta and fruit on her tray while I prepared a vegetable, only to find her full once I offered it.

So, after highlighting half the book on my kindle, I plowed into this week in full pursuit of a protein diet for the whole family, slipping lots of hard boiled eggs in (“here, eat this egg while I make you a sandwich”), keeping a steady supply of baked sweet potatoes in the fridge, and offering cheese or cold chicken for snacks. I made my first very tiny batch of bone broth. I poked around our seafood section for salmon roe for Alma, and I realized they sell white anchovies, a very mild and tasty fish, preserved in oil and vinegar, that all three girls love. I had never noticed it! I pestered our butcher counter and learned they tuck (incredibly cheap) frozen lamb liver and heart in nearly hidden spot in the freezer aisle.

I’m very glad to be shifting habits around in the pantry and refrigerator. These types of things are always followed by a briefly higher grocery bill, packing the wrong snacks, and lots more mental work. I’m trying to take it slowly and not be disappointed when change doesn’t come about with brilliant success. For instance, several times this week Lux ate nothing out of her lunch but the raw veggies I sent–all of the proteins (chopped chicken, container of yogurt) didn’t appeal to her by the lunch hour. 

Upon reflection, nourishing this family is probably THE hardest job I do. I’m often amazed at how much time it takes to plan, prep, feed, and clean up. Other times I realize how important it is, and try to take up my pantrykeeper mantle boldly. 


A rope ladder for Christmas, technically for Joan, but enjoyed by all three girls. Most of Joan’s play is imagination-based, she could pack a covered wagon full of salvaged post-it notes and beaded necklaces before you could say “cholera”, so it’s nice to have simple (mess-free) toys that facilitate her adventures as well.


  • noelle

    Happy New Year, Rachael! I’m reading this in the kitchen, in the dark because West is sleeping in the same 600 sq ft where I’m making breakfast for tomorrow morning (granola that Gwyneth Paltrow would eat). Thanks for being here with me and for making me feel less crazy for reading/loving the Super Nutrition for Babies book. Can I also recommend Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson? For getting the most out of vegetables and into the kids. xo!

    • Rachael

      You know, I think I remember you recommending Super Nutrition to me years ago! I guess I wasn’t read to dig in. You are one of my ICONS of amazing food parenting, really. And I need you to write a guest post for me about “preschool breakfast.” What is that? A club?

      • noelle

        That is so nice of you to say, but know that West asks for a piece of chocolate after every breakfast (and every other meal).

        We should totally make a preschool breakfast club! A couple years ago I heard a podcast with René Redzepi talking about how he wakes up early to make his kids a hot breakfast before school (“they become like champions” he says) and made a mental note to try and do that when West started preschool. I’ll find it and send it to you.

  • Angela

    I was given a copy of French Kids Eat Everything by a friend just before my eldest began to eat solid foods and it changed my life. I don’t take everything in the book as gospel, but it certainly changed my views on educating a child’s palate. My son, now 3, is an adventurous eater and at a healthy weight for his age. I’m so proud of him! But you are absolutely correct- feeding a family may just be the hardest thing we have to do! All the best to you this week!

    • Rachael

      I love that book. It’s been awhile since I read it! I think it did me a lot of good too, though I went a bit too far in the direction of CARBS of late. I’m due for a re-read.

  • Melanie

    I love this, and I love the urgency with which a new year brings the desire to nourish ourselves. I am grateful to the winter—keeping us inside longer—that aids in this change and kitchen experiments. I had the same thought about the time it takes to prep and clean last night as I made freezable breakfast quesadillas and banana oat “cookies” for snacks, but today I am so grateful for that investment in my week.

    • Rachael

      Thank you! Please share the banana-oat recipe when you have a chance. That’s my next step: prepared snack food. Apples can only go so far all week!

    • Rachael

      Well, in the book they recommend keeping them frozen and just shaving off/grating off bits to sauté. So I did that for Alma, about five finger-food pieces, and she enjoyed it. But I’d also like to try blending one into a kid-friendly paté (research on that to come!). They make the point that it doesn’t take much at all to easily surpass many of the vitamins and minerals that take a LOT of eating to get out of vegetables. So I’m starting small.

  • Hannah Pie

    Hey Friend! Really loving all the pasture-raised liver and bones and other nutrient rich stuff we’ve been able to get from Walden Local Meats. They deliver! To your house!

  • Dar

    Thanks for this post. As I was scrubbing the high chairs and floor with anger last night, I realized I would have this same bad attitude toward the bathroom in a few short years. What can I do now to help? A nice pad of meal planning paper! But I haven’t found one I love yet. Instead of a grocery list, I want a reminder of what is actually in the fridge. Liver is great-my girls love it too. I’m trying to serve it once a week since I never remember to give them vitamin drops with iron like the Ped recommended. I’ve had the best luck serving them in courses-vegetable, protein, starch, but have found myself triaging with Cheerios and buckwheat pancakes far too often lately.

Leave a Reply to Rachael Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *