Motherhood is an immediate reality. While your husband becomes a Dad, you are a Mom from conception. During my pregnancy my husband would obsess over cribs, diaper pails, strollers, his way of coping. Meanwhile, for me there was no taking a break. I felt every hiccup, kick, sneeze that the baby experienced. As our baby grew from an immobile burp-pee-and-smile machine into a rambunctious 15 month old, I’ve noticed at times a push-pull dynamic between us. We were once inseparable marsupial twins sharing the same warm amniotic liquid but now separated most days for 8 to 10 hour-long stretches. I am torn and amused by his pulling away, leaping towards independence and his pushing to nuzzle and press into me with his entire body weight, as if to climb back into my belly.
His latest quest for freedom is to feed himself and demand his own utensil (whether the food actually gets into his mouth with said utensil is totally irrelevant). With his baby teeth still coming in, a soft and form-able food like polenta is great. Its ability to absorb butter and cheese and disguise vegetables (and meat) are all pluses in my recipe book.
My nostalgia for the days when the baby and I were inseparable melt away when I see him shoveling fistfuls of polenta into his mouth, grinning ear to ear, and raising his fork up high as a declaration of independence.
Cheesey Polenta Fries with Baby Zuchs
1 c. Polenta (instant cook kind)
3 c. Water
6 T. Butter
8 oz. (about 6) Baby Zucchini, small diced
8 oz. Mammoth Cheddar, shredded
2 oz. Gruyere, shredded
Freshly ground peppercorn
Coarse Kosher Salt
Ham or sausage (small cubed – optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring the water to boil, add polenta and stir until well incorporated and there are no lumps.
3. Add butter and stir until melted completely.
4. Add a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. Using a spatula, spread the polenta into a half-sheet tray.
6. Add the diced zucchini, pressing the pieces lightly into the polenta.
7. Spread the cheeses evenly on the polenta (add ham or sausage if using).
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is lightly brown and melted.
9. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
10. Once the polenta is cooled, cut into 1/2″ strips length-wise, then 1″ strips to create the “fries”.
Utensils are optional – Bon Appetite!