On Cheese

My daughter will only eat cheese. That’s not entirely true. She still nurses, at least four times a day, often more. I plan to start weaning her once I can substitute my breast milk with whole milk, which is after her first birthday. I don’t expect the process to go well. She loves to nurse.

She’ll occasionally eat other things, especially if she can feed them to herself—bits of banana, wheat bread, Cheerios, goldfish crackers, peas. Actual jarred baby food is very hit or miss. Typically she pushes it away, “telling” us that she’s grownup now (can’t we see?) and will we please give her food she can pick up on her own. She’ll let us spoon-feed her yogurt, though, and (of course) cottage cheese.

But all we have to do is show her the bag of pre-shredded cheese and the girl goes nuts. We pour some on her tray and she stuffs it in her mouth by the fistful. It’s the only food she’ll actually convey in her 11-month-old way that she wants more.

So, I decided to get creative. Last night Andy and I made roasted red pepper & goat cheese puree. (The recipe is from Cooking for Baby, a beautiful book.) To make 1 cup you simply need one large red bell pepper and 1-1/2 oz. of pasteurized fresh goat cheese.

• Preheat broiler. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place whole pepper on pan and roast, turning every 3 minutes, until evenly charred and blackened on all sides, 12-15 minutes.

• Remove pan from oven, put pepper in a covered container, and let sit until cool enough to handle. (The steam inside the container will loosen the skin.)

• Using your fingers or a paring knife, peel off skin. Cut pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and stem. Cut halves in half again lengthwise and puree in a food processor until smooth. Additional liquid will not be needed. Spoon goat cheese into processor and process with pepper puree until well blended and creamy.

To store: Refrigerate puree in an airtight container for up to three days.

I share this recipe with you because it’s good—really good. I tried it. Sophie, on the other hand, hated it. And it wasn’t the goat cheese. (She loved the goat and cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches we made.) It was the red pepper. Or maybe it was the puree. Or maybe it was the fact that it was served on a spoon.

I don’t know. Andy and I find such joy in food. I want her to find joy in food, too. Joy beyond shredded cheese.

“Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.” —M.F.K. Fisher