Apples to Apples

A few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at making homemade applesauce. Unfortunately for my pot, I forgot that the apples were boiling down on the stove, and I burnt the bottom – both inside and out, since I’d allowed the darn thing to boil over.  For ninety minutes.  The pot might be done.

In spite of the burnt bottom, the applesauce still turned out great, so I can’t imagine how a batch I don’t burn turns out.  I have a 10 lb. bag of locally grown apples waiting for me start peeling and slicing.  Let’s see if I can ruin another pot.

A week or two ago, I started trying to feed Henry rice cereal.  This posed a small challenge, because Henry won’t drink formula, and I’m sorry, I just won’t pump breastmilk to mix with rice cereal only for him to eat a teaspoon of it.  I love my kid and all, but that’s too much work for too little reward.  So for starters, I mixed the rice cereal with water.  I’m a little surprised to report that he actually ate it. 

Now that we have the hang of the spoon and the opening and closing of the mouth, I wanted to find something to mix in with the rice cereal to give it a little bit more flavor.  I don’t know why I’m so apprehensive about these things, or why I rely so heavily on the internet to grant me permission to try new stuff, but anyway, I sat down and googled “introducing new foods to baby” and discovered a wealth of information on when and how to introduce fruits and veggies, etc.

Now with Lydia and Elvis, as soon as they started eating solid foods, we might as well have bought stock in Gerber.  It might be the culture we’re raised in, being inundated with ads and coupons and convenience every five seconds, but up until a few days ago, the thought of making my own baby food sounded prehistoric (see “a whole lot of work for little reward” above).  When someone tells me they make their own baby food, I picture dozens of glass jars lined up on the counter, three pots stewing various vegetables and fruits, mysterious preservatives and canning equipment, aprons, house dresses, and tidy little buns.  I’m intimidated.

But lo and behold, “making baby food” is not that complicated (all you crunchy moms out there can start “I-told-you-so”-ing now)!  First of all, how much solid food does a five-month-old baby need, even my gigantic five-month-old baby?  A few spoonfuls?  Yep.  And guess what?  You can prepare baby food at the same time you’re making lunch for the rest of the family!  Hello, mashed banana.  Hello, applesauce.  Hello, real people food.  If you can puree it, you can make it happen.  Why, WHY did I think that the only acceptable food to put into my baby’s mouth needed to come pre-packaged and with another cute little baby face on it?

I’m really excited about this for some reason.  Maybe because I bought three containers of Gerber baby food today for convenience/travel sake, and they each cost around a buck, when I can use one-half a banana and cover Henry’s solid food consumption for the day. 

It isn’t the cost-savings that has me motivated, though.  When I peeled, cored, and sliced the apples a few weeks ago, allowing them to boil down in my (now-burnt) pot, eating something I prepared, with my hands, from a local farmer added something intangible to my burnt applesauce.  Mixed in with the mashed apples and cinnamon was satisfaction, delicious and palatable.  Yes, baby Henry, your mama just mashed up this here banana into sweet creaminess.  I get the same satisfaction from breastfeeding–I am making something valuable and nutritious for my little man and he can only get it from me.  You can substitute formula and bottle-feeding, and I have with Lydia and Elvis, and get similar warm-fuzzies from holding that cute little person as they guzzle down their bottle, but nothing compares with that tug and pull, that quieted-down, instant gratification of mama and her milk.  Oh how I’ll miss it when it’s time to stop breastfeeding.  (These are words I never thought I’d utter.  “Utter” makes me think of “Udder”.  Ha. Ha. Ha.)

This growing baby is really excited about his bananas, and I bet he’ll like the applesauce, too.  And when we’re on the run, Gerber and its pre-packaged goodness will do just fine, too.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “Apples to Apples

  1. When my kids were little, I'd just mash stuff with a spoon or toss it in the blender. I guess I never even thought of it as “making baby food.”

    I can empathize about the burned pot. I've wrecked so many pots and pans because I forget that I'm cooking something. I comfort myself by saying that at least I haven't burned the house down yet.


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