For Son Number One I opened about a million jars of babyfood, but after watching my sister and my best friend do all of theirs from scratch, I decided to give it a whirl with Son Number Two. He’s eight months old and we haven’t opened a jar yet, and I’m finding it’s a lot easier than I expected. At first I thought the Beaba Babycook ($150) was overkill. I mean, who needs another piece of equipment when a pan for steaming and a mini food processor for pureeing did the trick? Well, I do. I’ve been using the Babycook daily.
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It’s an all-in-one steamer and processor and it’s really simple.Just peel and dice whatever fruits and veggies you want to serve andadd the recommended amount of water (1,2 or 3 – the bowl serves as ameasuring cup). Flip the switch to "steam" and off you go. The waterlevel works as a timer. When the water is gone, the heater shuts off.That’s perfect if you’re multitasking and can’t stand by the stovewhile the food steams. You can cook just about anything in under 15minutes.
The Babycook comes with an orange spatula that fits acrossthe top of the steamer basket so you can lift hot food out and pour itback into the blending bowl for pureeing. If you think there’s too muchwater left over, keep it in a bowl and use it to thin the puree withouttossing out the vitamins. I also add iron-fortified rice cereal to takethe nutritional value up a notch.
It cooks meat and fish, too and it defrosts and reheats frozen foodsin their plastic bowls without the chef having to stand over it andsupervise. We’ve made mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and broccoli andapplesauce, pear sauce and plum sauce with great success. I even wentall "mad scientist" and tried scrambling an egg in it, but that didn’twork. Too much water, I think. But I’ll continue to experiment with it.
I used the blender to chop up a raw carrot, just to see if it couldreplace my mini food processor, and it did a fine job. The top issealed, though, so you can’t add liquid without removing it. And itonly has one speed, so it would do in a pinch but it’s not designed formaking a perfect aioli.
With only three recipes per age group, the included recipe bookreally isn’t impressive and appears more like a catalog for their otherbaby feeding products. Several of the recipes call for cooked rice orcooked pasta, which would require getting out a pan after all, sothat’s kind of pointless. And I can’t think of a single mom who wouldfeed her 12-18-month-old "apricot soup," a puree of apricots and honey.That would give an adult sugar shock!
The bowl, basket and spatula all go into the dishwasher on the toprack and you can clean the heating unit by running a steam cyclethrough it. I did find myself doing that "food-processor jiggle" atfirst when I tried to get the bowl, base and lid snapped together, butI mastered that after a few tries.
Pros: It’s great to have baby’s food cooking in the background while you do 19 other things, and it’s easy to clean up.
Cons: If you’re not already a creative cook, you may need a realbabyfood recipe book to go beyond applesauce and mashed potatoes.
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