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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I suspect that the bug is in the early stages of teething: she puts everything she can reach straight in her mouth, and bites down hard (rather than just sucking and drooling, as she's been doing for months), using the front of her mouth as well as the back, where the molars will be. And she's been unusually fussy the last couple days. (Just in time for a road trip to Cincinnati this weekend.) She really does seem to be annoyed by her whole face right now. She chomps down on a plastic ring we gave her, then gets frustrated that she can't fit the entire thing in her mouth. I'm ready to go get one of those rings that you fill with water and freeze—a lot more advanced than what I supposedly teethed on, a palm-sized eye bolt.

Mr. Chalmers and I made taralli last night to use as teething biscuits. I served them at a party once, and my friend Tara, from New Jersey, was so excited to see them—her mom, she said, had given them to her and her sisters to gnaw on because they're hard and crunchy, relatively crumbless, and the fennel seeds have a slight numbing effect. I looked up dozens of recipes for regular teething biscuits, and decided to go ahead and make real taralli instead, as most of the other biscuits were loaded with unhealthy stuff like sweeteners, and one used shortening—I figure the bug'll have enough sweet shortening-based foods when she's older, she sure as heck doesn't need them now. So here's the recipe, adapted from Michele Scicolone's quite excellent The Antipasto Table.
Taralli: In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon dry yeast. Stir in 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (a bit more if using White Lily), some fennel seeds (recipe says 2 tablespoons, but I used half that because of the baby—?), 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. I also added about 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal. Knead for 10 minutes, let rise till doubled, then cut dough into 4 dozen little pieces. Roll each piece into a thin rope, shape into a circle, and bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 375°F. for 45 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Usually, instead of fennel I use lots and lots of cracked black pepper.

We started rolling these out late, so I just left them in for half an hour, then turned off the oven and went to bed. They were nice and hard the next morning. Next time I'll use part whole-wheat flour if I can remember to buy some, and will cut back on the salt (for the baby).

The bug loved the one I gave her, but this picture can't even begin to capture the mess that damn taralli made. I had to put her in the sink to wash her down, then change all her clothes. Teething biscuits will be a once-in-a-while thing for her, I think. Overall, though, I think it works well: they are very hard, they don't break apart until she's really soaked it through, and they don't disintegrate into crumbs like stale bread does.


Heidi said...

The previous post was too funny. There is some law of nature that all things must melt down at once, isn't there? My cat has definitely started barfing more foreign things since we had our baby.

We've had some decent luck with Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Gel. I don't know a whole lot about homeopathy, but there's no side effects and some local moms recommended it. I got it at a health food store for about seven bucks.

barefoot baker said...

Yum, those things look good. Even all over her face.