He’s back. He arrives earlier each year, like the man in the red suit. In many forms. Chocolate, candy, gummy, bubbles, blow-up. It’s not Easter without our beloved Bunny.
Thanks to the cute factor, those of us living in this country are somewhat squeamish about thinking of bunnies as menu items instead of soft, cuddly pets. We instead consume it in candy form during the month of April. Living abroad where it’s commonly found on the menu, I found it quite good and as a new mom, I introduced it to my baby daughter at around 6 months old.
Let me explain. After I told the pediatrician I was using the expressed breast milk & iron-enriched rice cereal method, he shook his head (muttering under his breath something about Americans overcomplicating things and iron in cereal being bad for the baby’s stomach), and explained that vegetable brodo -or broth- substituted milk-based meals for babies in Italy. After asking him the next obvious question that came to mind (“So where do you buy it?”), he scribbled down a recipe for me. The recipe included vegetables and “1/2 vasetto di liofilizzato di carne (coniglio)”. I went home and grabbed the dictionary. It roughly translated to a beaker of freeze-dried rabbit. I double checked. Freeze-dried rabbit. I triple checked. Freeze-dried rabbit. Yep.
This was the last straw in a long list of things I resisted during pregnancy and childbirth abroad because they were completely contrary to my
hyper-anxiety provoking responsible guide to parenting book, “What to Expect when you’re Expecting” , I had ordered -special delivery!- to help me through childbirth and first year with baby abroad. (You know the one.) I surrendered and tossed out the book. Now my child would not be served neatly separated jars of fruit and vegetables one at a time, with several days in between food introductions as instructed in the book. She would most definitely need to be rushed to the ER for a food allergy attack. And there was no sticker in my baby’s milestone calendar for this rabbit-based brodo.
Brodo. Broth from vegetables, meat, and cereal mixed together. Topped off with a dribble of olive oil and grated parmigiano reggiano. She loved it. And not one food allergy. The recipe (below) – shared over time with many friends and new moms – was used as a base for her meals for years to come. I have included a version with fresh meat as it seems a healthier alternative to powdered, freeze-dried meat – if you can even find it here. It’s simple and takes under 5 minutes to prepare before sticking it in a pot on the stove to simmer. And I loved the idea of offering healthy foods together as a meal from the get-go, not to mention the way it made the house smell. From that day on I just went with the flow. When in Rome….they say. Buon Appetito and Happy Easter.
1 carrot, 1 small potato, 1 zucchini (vegetables can vary here) – washed and diced.
optional: small piece of meat (chicken, beef, rabbit, turkey, lamb) – I used stew meat
water (around a liter, enough for a small to medium-sized pot)
Cook vegetables (and meat if you choose) in water in a small to medium-sized pot. Cook for (approximately) 30-45 minutes – until veggies are soft.
Use a strainer to separate broth from chunks of vegetables and meat.
Add the broth to cereal (rice, barley, oat,etc.) to the right consistency for your child. Sprinkle with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil and grated parmigiano reggiano on top. Mix and serve. As your child gets older, add the actual chunks of veggies and meat.
(don’t refrigerate leftover broth for more than 24 hours)