Monday, April 23, 2012

And Baby Makes Three: Assembling a Food Hamper for the New Family

I’ve been inspired by the spate of babies due this Spring. Primarily it is the crafty part of me that has been at work, learning new patterns for baby blankets and designing some very cute felt and fleece monsters. While I was clearly on track to finish the latest blanket and have a coterie of homemade stuffed monsters for the two due in May, Mother Nature clearly had other plans. Friday the first of the babies arrived, almost four weeks early, and the blanket intended for the wee one is just not ready yet. In fact, it probably won’t be done until the original due date of May 17th. But I still found a way to celebrate the blessed event by providing a food hamper for the new parents, friends of Butcher Son.

Upon hearing the news that the mother-to-be was in labor, my mind raced. Knowing I could not knit fast enough to finish the blanket, I went into full-on chef mode. I sketched out meals, and on Saturday went shopping. Starting Saturday night and working all Sunday morning, I was able to cook several meals for the happy little family, and pack them up in a hamper to be delivered. One thing new parents don’t need to worry about is trips to the grocery store or standing in front of a stove. And who wants to eat microwaved food or take-out every meal? There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal, filled with love and goodness to keep up the energy a new baby requires.

The weather here is vacillating between hot and cold, so I made sure the meals could accommodate both. There is banana bread and yogurt parfaits for breakfast, some quinoa salad for lunch, a creamy French lentil soup and Rocky Mountain brisket and pasta salad for dinner. I also baked a batch of triple ginger cookies and boxed up some of my super tasty bacon caramels for a sweet treat. I also threw in a dog chew for the puppy, so he is not left out, as well as a mini-bottle of champagne for mom and a bottle of Jameson for dad (in honor of the new baby’s name). And peeking out amongst it all are three of my new best friends, soft stuffed monster mates.

I utilized canning jars for much of the food, as the quart jars contain enough for two. I labeled everything, not so much to be cute, but more in the interest of allowing them to avoid anything they may be allergic or sensitive to. The food itself is pretty healthy, with grains, vegetables, and fruit predominant. The parfaits are made from Greek yogurt and fresh berries, providing protein, calcium, vitamins and antioxidants. The banana bread provides some B6 and potassium (not to mention tasty mini chocolate chips!).

Quinoa, an ancient grain that is hitting mainstream markets, is high in fiber, has about 15% protein, and 9 essential amino acids. Paired with a healthy serving of avocado, I add in ponzu, sesame oil and a dab of sriracha, making it a tasty main or side dish. The pasta salad, made with whole wheat pasta, has carrots, celery, zucchini and olives, along with a balsamic dressing, meaning fiber and vitamins packed into that jar. The base of the soup is lentils, which are high in protein and iron. It also contains onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tomatoes, all good vegetables, plus a dose of cream (some good fats are required to help mom with milk production).

The Rocky Mountain Brisket is a lean cut of beef, slow cooked in the oven, sliced and topped with my homemade barbeque sauce. I really made this dish for dad—hearty and flavorful. And who doesn’t like a BBQ beef sandwich?

The triple ginger cookies contain three kinds of ginger, good for settling stomachs and quelling a sweet tooth. Made with molasses, raw ginger, ginger powder and crystallized ginger, these soft rounds are a family favorite and pack easily without breaking. The bacon caramels were made a few days before, with the fat from our home-cured bacon. They have garnered rave reviews from everyone who has tried them and they deserve to be shared with everyone, especially new parents.

The Brady Bunch sends the hamper with heartfelt congratulations to Meghan, Chris, and their new son Jameson.

(NOTE: The cute little stuffed monsters will be featured on Crafting Suburbia in an upcoming post)

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