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Baby Food Bites, Issue #009 is here! -- The Shortest Month
February 01, 2016

Messy Issues, Bite-Sized Solutions

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Issue #009, 1st February 2016

"The jewel of the sky is the sun, the jewel of the house is the child."
- Chinese saying

In this issue:

1) The Shortest Month
2) Making Baby Food Tips
3) Recipe: Baked Nian Gao with Red Bean Paste

The Shortest Month

Have you ever wondered why February is the shortest month of the year? Apparently, during the time of the Romans, January and February were the last two months to be added to the calendar, with February being the last month of the year. Every few years, February would be truncated to 23 or 24 days, and an intercalary month would be inserted immediately afterwards to realign the year with the seasons.

The subsequent Julian calendar abolished the intercalary month and repositioned February as the second month of the year. But it retained its shorter, 28-day length, in order to harmonise the lunar calendar with the seasons and solar calendar, with an extra day (Leap Day) inserted every four years, including this year, 2016. This is why we often see the Lunar New Year, commonly referred to as Chinese New Year, celebrated in late January or February.

Year of the Monkey 2016

As it happens, the Lunar New Year will be celebrated on 8th February 2016, when it will be the Year of the Monkey, according to Chinese custom. People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be witty, intelligent and have a magnetic personality. Whether or not you choose to believe this, may all the little monkeys to be born have a wonderful birthday and a healthy and blessed year ahead.

Making Baby Food Tips

  • Invest in a slow cooker
    As a busy mummy of small children, the last thing you probably want to do is spend hours in the kitchen slaving over a meal that your kids may or may not eat! The beauty of a slow cooker is that, once you have prepared all the ingredients and thrown it into the pot, you just switch it on, and it cooks itself, leaving you free to get on with your day.
  • Feed your baby what your toddler eats
    If you have older children to feed, try to get your baby onto the food they are eating, as soon as he’s happy to accept a wide variety of flavours. You may still have to mash up his portion, chop the bits small or separate his portion before seasoning, but you will save time in the long run by not having to cook different meals for each of your children.
  • Keep your cupboard stocked
    I always keep my fridge and cupboard stocked of essential ingredients, in case I’m ever caught short without a meal prepared. My go-to ingredients include bread, some ripe avocados, peanut butter, cheddar cheese, garlic, onion, some chopped tomatoes in a tin and pasta. With these, I can at least rustle up a quick meal to buy myself some time to get organised before the next meal needs making!

Recipe: Baked Nian Gao with Red Bean Paste

As Chinese New Year falls on the 8th of February this year, here is a typical dish you can try. Nian gao, or sticky rice cake, is traditionally eaten during the new year festivities. While it can take on many variations – sweet or savoury – the recipe below is quite a popular one, as who can really resist something sweet and baked. ☺

This recipe yields approximately 35 bite-sized portions.

450g glutinous rice flour
540ml milk
3 large eggs
215ml flavourless coconut oil, slightly melted
120g demerara sugar
425g sweetened red bean paste
Butter for greasing

Home Made Cake: Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)


Preheat oven to 180C / 160C Fan. Lightly grease an oblong 9x13in (22x23cm) baking pan, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the red bean paste. Mix well until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour half of the mixture into the greased baking pan. Drop spoonfuls of red bean paste evenly all over. I like to first flatten the red bean paste with my fingers before layering it onto the mixture, which makes it easier to cover it fully.

Pour the remaining mixture over the red bean paste, and smooth it evenly across.

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes until golden brown on top.

Remove, and cool sufficiently before cutting into small pieces and serving.

Now time to get back to the little ones! Thanks for stopping by.

See you soon,

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