Wednesdays are my Noni Doni days with 2-year-old Austin. (I have his sister, 6-month-old Reagan, every other Thursday.)
There’s no shortage of things to do. Austin might play outside in his little sandbox or ride his Strider bike or his big plastic car in which he drives to the “store” to buy me “food” – usually imaginary milk and grapes, which I accept with an upturned hand, careful not to drop them.
We’ve gone to the movies a few times. (That’s a toy spider in his right hand, in case you’re wondering.)
And we read countless books and we take walks and assemble puzzles and play with the toy barn and its animals and we stack blocks into tall cities and we talk with Uncle Joe on Skype.
But I confess, feeding Austin has been one of the best parts of being his Noni. Selfishly, I’m always so happy when babies start eating solid foods, because I love to feed them.
In the beginning, I spoon-fed Austin pureed stuff.
Austin feeds himself now. He turns 3 in December. Can that be?! Gosh, it seemed just yesterday he was a toothless baby gumming Cheerioes.
Today he’s a preschooler with a sophisticated palate who’ll eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables, as well as sour and spicy foods, too.
Many mornings we’ve made circus waffles and Mickey Mouse pancakes that we sometimes eat outside by the pool, where Austin likes to sit quietly and listen for airplanes, helicopters, chirping birds, barking dogs and horn-blasts from downtown trains.
Invariably, he’ll look at me — Mickey Mouse pancake in hand — and say, “This is nice, Noni.”
Be still my bursting heart.
From the time Austin was able to toddle, I’ve had a lower cupboard at his level that holds his snack foods, all organic stuff, that I allow him to open. (If his parents disapprove, they’ve kept that to themselves.)
This week Austin’s cupboard includes some Cadia gluten-free Animal Cookies. They taste of vanilla, and come in all the usual animal shapes, like camels, bears and lions, and a few non-traditional shapes, like foxes, goats and cougars.
I bought Austin’s Cadia Animal Cookies at Tops Market (formerly Sunset Marketplace) in Redding. Those familiar with Cadia organic foods know to look for them in natural and organic retailers. But perhaps you didn’t know that Tops Markets in Redding and Weaverville carry many Cadia products, some of which I checked out this week.
One end display in the Redding store on Eureka Way held everything from organic Cadia kettle corn and flat bread crackers to sparkling mineral water (from Italy), Cadia coconut water and of course, the wide variety of juices that Cadia is probably best know for.
I was especially impressed with the line-up of Cadia apple juices, that included plain organic apple juice, to such specialty apple juices as organic Honeycrisp and Gravenstein. And there was Cadia organic applesauce, too.
Austin loves apple anything, so I bought some Honeycrisp juice, and some applesauce. (I bought some of the sparkling Italian mineral water for me.)
As I drove home it occurred to me that in my almost three years of being Austin’s Noni, I’ve never done the quintesentially grandmotherly act of baking him cookies, mainly because I didn’t want him to have too much sugar.
I lucked out with a compromise: a recipe for Sugarless Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies on COOKS.com. I read the recipe twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. No sugar. NO. Sugar. Just applesauce for a sweetener. And raisins. I’m not sure I’ve ever baked a cookie without sugar.
I’m going to bake them. And I’ll bet Austin would like to help, too.
I’ll bet that will be the sweetest part of all.
Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
(From COOKS.com)1/2 c. flour 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. soda 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1/4 tsp. cloves 1/2 tsp. allspice 1/2 c. quick oatmeal 1 c. raisins 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce 1/4 c. cooking oil 1 med. egg 1 tsp. vanilla
Soak raisins in hot water or rum 30 minutes before baking.
Mix flour, cinnamon, soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, oatmeal and raisins. Add applesauce, oil, egg, vanilla and mix just to moisten. Drop on greased sheets.
Bake at 375°F for about 12 minutes. If you are not on a strict diet, add 1/4 cup honey for better flavor.
Best served slightly warm.
This recipe sponsored by Tops Market in Weaverville and Redding.
Click here to order a sandwich online from the Weaverville Tops Market.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.