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My daughter started daycare the other day and it was difficult for both of us.  It was her second day and when I arrived she was the only baby there.  Our primary daycare worker held out her arms to grab my baby and said, “Go take a walk, take an hour or two to yourself – leave her with me so that we can bond.”  It wasn’t what I expected.  I expected to spend an hour or two at the daycare with my daughter getting her acquainted with the space.  And, as I walked out the door I didn’t know what to do with myself.  In my mind I debated about grabbing a coffee, shopping for some records (there is a great music store in the neighbourhood) or browsing at the local library.  But, I knew that I would be anxious if I did any of these things.  So instead, I decided to do something productive for my daughter.  I went to the grocery store to buy her favourite foods.  I loaded up on colourful organic carrots, candy-cane striped beets, lovely sweet potatoes, delicious apples, and reliable bananas.  I picked out three new foods for her to try – tomatoes, green beans, and millet (one food at a time).  I took them home and started to cook – I wanted to have a nice meal ready for her when she came home from her stressful day.

I mention this story because while my daughter was starting her daycare journey I was reading Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch by Keith Dixon.  In this memoir the author recounts his experience with cooking during the first year of his daughter’s life.  He writes about how important cooking was to him to develop a bond between himself and his daughter.   He recounts his experience trying to get his timing right with various recipes so that his dinners did not burn while the baby was having a melt-down.  As a new parent I could relate to his stories; I found myself nodding in agreement and reading passages aloud to my partner as if to say, “see we’re not the only ones who experienced this or worried about that.”  I could relate to the feeling of pride when you cook something your child seems to really like.

This is an excellent book for anyone that loves to cook and is a new parent.  I think that everyone can relate to the author’s stories about sleep deprivation and how it affects your ability to complete even the simplest tasks (like cooking dinner!).  But, I have a confession – while I earmarked a number of the author’s recipes to return to and try, I never cooked a recipe out of his book.  I find my schedule now is all about making meals that my daughter, my partner, and I enjoy, so I’m tending to cook familiar and easy recipes.

What I liked about the cookbook portion of this book:

  • Recipes that have been tested by a new parent with instructions that are helpful for time management.
  • Separate instructions on how to make a portion of what you are eating for your baby.

What I disliked:

  • Lots of meat recipes (obviously if you are a meat-eater this won’t be a problem.)
  • A bit ambitious for a cookbook geared toward new parents – I never made homemade pasta before my daughter was born and I’m sure as heck not going to start now.

Borrow this book from your local library. Or buy a copy for an expectant mom or dad who loves to cook.

Title: Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch

Authors: Keith Dixon

Publisher: Crown (May 10 2011)

ISBN: 978-0307591876

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