Gourmet Puree: What to do when you can’t chew!

Why should write a cookbook?  I don’t even consider myself a particularly good cook – although some people would disagree.  Well, for one reason, I do like to cook.  Mostly, I like to experiment.  But the main reason is because of my daughter.  Alexis does have a good palate, even though she can’t see, talk, chew or sit up independently.  Also, she can easily choke when she eats –and particularly when she drinks.

You might think this is a very rare condition and therefore the market for such a book would be exceedingly small.  But you also might be surprised!  My 95-year old friend tells me that she now grinds her meat and adds it to thick soup because her teeth have become “short”.  I guess she means ground down.   People with advanced Parkinson’s and certain other degenerative diseases often have trouble chewing and choke easily.  But mostly I am writing this book for people like my daughter, people with profound disabilities who are being maintained at home and in community but who enjoy the taste of food and would prefer to eat rather than to have a stomach tube.

I started this project or hobby 41 years ago and my daughter will be turning 42 in a few months.  At that time, her five-year old brother was very enamored with spacemen and space movies and he wanted a baby space creature that could assist him in his imaginative flights of fancy.  It must not look too much like a doll, I was told, because then the other kids at school would tease him.

I can’t sew and am generally not very domestic, but I tried to oblige and did my best.  My father had given me a double bedspread, finished with a long fringe on its edges.  The only purpose that fringe ever served that I could see was to collect dust, and every time I looked at it, I became irritated.  I thought of a way then to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and I am afraid my philosophy of cooking runs along the same lines.  I always feel I have succeeded in my culinary efforts, for example, when I am able to ‘use up’ something.

I removed the fringe, folded it into a series of 8-inch loops, tied a string around the middle and another near the top, thus forming a body and a head.  On the head I sewed a big, black button for a single eye.  My son liked it very much and carried it with him everywhere for about a year!  But getting back to the topic at hand:  his first concern was what to feed it!

“It can’t chew, mom” he informed me.

“Well, you better figure out something it can eat without chewing, then” I advised.

He thought for a minute and then asked if he could have some tofu and a banana.  I provided these items and he mashed them together and went away with his concoction.  A while later he returned and declared that his ‘baby Martian’ liked the mixture very much.

Hmm, I thought.  I wonder if Alexis would like it.  And she did.  It became a mainstay in our Alexis repertoire, and was particularly handy to carry along as a portable lunch when we went out.  So that was the beginning of our culinary adventure!

Recipe #1

            Mash 2/3 cup tofu together with ½ banana.  Add 1/8th cup of shredded carrot and/or ½ kiwi if desired. Quantities can be adjusted to suit taste and appetite.