Oh, baby, baby

2 04 2011

When I was little, I loved food so much that I wore it on my face.

Baby food, that is. Mind you, I was really little.

Actually, that part’s not entirely true. When my little sisters were born and my mom fed them baby food, I always begged for a taste. I was … well, two years old, and then five years old. Don’t judge. That plum stuff is amazing, by the way. Oh, and the carrots.

Anyway, when I was meandering through Sprouts the other day, I was certain I’d find something blogworthy. It is Sprouts, after all. But after a good 20 minutes of searching, I nearly gave up … until I spotted the organic baby-food section.

I had brought my boyfriend along (I’m a codependent shopper), and he protested that blogging on baby food is most definitely cheating. It’s not really food, he said. My argument was that if it’s not really food, what on earth are we feeding to all the babies in the world? Soylent Green?

There was a ton of baby food in those little jars, but what caught my eye were the tubes full of mush. I don’t think I’d ever seen baby food in tubes before. I guess if you’re marketing organic food these days, you have to be a little more creative than just stamping “organic” on your packaging.

There were several to chose from, most of which were fairly normal (bananas, strawberries, carrots…), but I grabbed the most interesting one: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries.

Is that even a combination? What are we feeding our children?

Checking out was interesting, as it usually is when I’m standing in line with a single strange food item. The looks I get are usually priceless. And uncomfortable. This time, I also bought a bag of organic cheese puffs for good measure, but I really doubt that helped my case any.

What really didn’t help my case was that I’d brought my poor boyfriend along. The cashier and the bag lady (I probably can’t call her that, can I?) were chatting it up about how my choice of baby food was an interesting one, and the bag lady — or whatever you want to call her — said she feeds it to her nephew all the time. I’m guessing the assumption was that I was buying it for my boyfriend’s and my nonexistent child. I couldn’t decide whether telling them I was going to eat it myself would make the situation any more awkward. Probably.

I stuck it in the refrigerator when I got it home, since the package said it tastes good warm or cold. There was no “lukewarm” option, even though that’s how I always ate my baby food. Maybe this means my parents didn’t really love me. Maybe I had a dysfunctional childhood without even knowing it.

The whole tubelike-package thing proved to be kind of cool. The cap twists off and you can squirt the baby food out, and it’s resealable. I’m guessing the idea is to squirt it into a bowl and then feed it to your baby, but if it were me, I’d go spoonless and just do it bottle-style. It would save on dishes.

Of course, for the purpose of the blog, I wanted to see what it looked like, so I had to put it in a bowl. That may have been a mistake. I’m not sure how to put this delicately, so I’ll just say it: It looked exactly like baby diarrhea.

Maybe the idea was to have it look the same going in as it does coming out so babies don’t have to bother with that pesky little thing called digestion.

Plus, I guess babies don’t care what their food looks like. That’s probably a good thing.

It’s probably also a good thing that they’re generally not picky about smell, because this stuff stank of putrid bananas. Why bananas, you ask? That’s what I was wondering. I was more than a little worried as I brought the spoon up to my mouth.

The first bite was a little shocking. It definitely didn’t taste good. But by the same token, it was more interesting than bad — or maybe it was interesting because it was so terrible, like those B-list horror movies with misspellings on the cover and blood that looks like ketchup. At any rate, one bite wasn’t enough to decide what I thought. So I took another … and another…

Would you believe me if I told you I could taste every fruit mentioned in there? Pumpkins and sweet potatoes … kind of indiscernible, but check. Apples, check. Blueberries, check. This was crazy stuff.

I’m still not sure about that combination of flavors. In fact, if I didn’t focus on trying to pick out a specific flavor, the stuff kind of tasted like rotting bananas. (Again, I have no idea why.) I certainly wouldn’t sit there chowing down on it for lunch. But then again, I’m not a baby.

Maybe babies have underdeveloped taste buds, or maybe they just don’t care, kind of like dogs. Whatever the case, this stuff is definitely all-natural, and it’s really good for you. Er, for babies. And if you can muscle past the initial gag reflex and focus on how good it is for you, it’s not actually half bad.

I’m not saying I’m going to finish the stuff, because I’m not. I maintain that sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries should not go together in any context, kind of like blue and orange. But if I ever have a baby (someday far, far down the road) and I need to buy baby food, this stuff’s chock-full of healthiness. I just won’t be partaking in the meal. Not this time.


Ingredients: Organic fruit and vegetable puree (apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, blueberries) and organic lemon juice.
Price: $1.49 at Sprouts
Pros: Healthy. Like, really healthy. It’s like putting a bunch of random healthy food in the blender and feeding it to your baby. It’s also much better for babies than Clamato juice.
Cons: It’s for babies. You and your more-sensitive taste buds probably don’t want to eat it.


There are no Cheesecake Factories in space

12 01 2011

When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut.

One reason for this was because I wanted to be the first person to walk on Mars. The other reason was because I really, really wanted to eat freeze-dried food in space.

Now, I know they sell freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches in just about every space-themed gift shop out there. I know this because I went to a lot of those back in the day. But for whatever reason, I never, ever bought one … or anything else freeze-dried, for that matter.

Earlier today, my boyfriend and I were shopping at Sportsman’s Warehouse for a backpacking trip we’re going on this weekend. Now I know that’s not really a grocery store, and they barely even have food, but they do have an entire freeze-dried section. The little kid in me was drawn to it like flies to honey. Or is it vinegar?

Anyway. They had everything, from mac ‘n cheese to vegetable lasagna — and they even sold ice cream sandwiches. But what really caught my eye was the blueberry cheesecake.

When someone says “blueberry cheesecake,” my first thought is not “a bag full of powdery stuff.” (And when someone says “a bag full of powdery stuff,” I generally take that as a drug reference. But I digress.)

Cheesecake is my weakness. I’d never tried freeze-dried food. This was a necessity.

Once I got home, making the cheesecake was an adventure in and of itself. (Maybe that’s the real reason campers eat it.) Inside the big bag were three smaller packets — one of cheesecake powder, one of blueberry-topping powder and one of graham-cracker crumblies. Yum, yum.

The only major step was adding water — one cup of cold water to the cheesecake, 1/4 cup of hot water to the blueberries. The big bag served as a bowl for the cheesecake mix, which is nice and innovative. The not-so-innovative part of the process was the fact that the little blueberries still needed a bowl (which resourceful campers would hopefully have anyway), and also the fact that the packets were impossible to rip open. So if you take this on a camping trip, bring a knife or something.

The cheesecake took 10 minutes to set, which was terrible for me because the stuff smelled so delicious.

When the suspenseful wait was over, I eagerly opened the bag. The contents looked nothing like cheesecake, except for the color. The stuff had the consistency of pudding.

But it definitely smelled like cheesecake, and that was all I cared about.

I spooned it out (note to campers: bring a spoon) onto a plate (oh yeah, and bring a plate), sprinkled the graham-cracker crumbs over it and heaped blueberry gunk on top.

It looked nothing like a cheesecake — in fact, it looked like someone plopped pudding onto a plate and decorated it — but it smelled heavenly. This was one food I was actually excited to eat. (And because of that, I ate it with my eyes open, of course.)

The taste didn’t disappoint.

I’ve had real cheesecake that wasn’t half as good as this. It was sweet, rich and bursting with flavor. (Literally bursting, in the case of the blueberries.)

The downside to the sweet richness was that I could barely eat four or five spoonfuls before it was just too much. Not that it was ever bad, but it’s one of those foods you nibble for awhile and then save for later. (Or, if you’re less selfish than I am, you share it — since, after all, it is supposed to feed four.)

Maybe it’s a good thing I never became an astronaut, because I don’t think I could eat this stuff in space. I think it would float around the room in giant globs that I would have to chase around like a demented fish, and that would just be bad. But I can definitely eat it here on earth, and I can definitely take it camping with me as long as I have the right utensils and dishes.

So freeze-dried cheesecake, while it doesn’t sound like it could possibly be as good as its “normal” counterpart, is actually surprisingly better-tasting than a lot of cheesecake I’ve tried — and it comes in a convenient little pouch that you can keep in your pantry or stuff under your pillow or something.


Ingredients: You know what? The ingredients list takes up half of the back of the package, so for your sake and the sake of my poor fingers, I’m going to link you. Here you go — just find the “nutrition and ingredients” link on that page.
Price: $5.99 at Sportsman’s Warehouse
Rich, sugary, cheesecake-y goodness.
Cons: You can’t really eat it in space, which is kind of a bummer.

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