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October 23, 2008

Baby Food 103: Congee (Chinese rice porridge)

So, someone (*cough* *cough*) forgot to tell me that he used up most of the baby cereal two nights ago, and I didn't discover it until yesterday morning. Which is okay, since that meant he was the one feeding the kids so I could take a break.

Our kids don't do so well with oatmeal yet, so that was out of the question. I was too lazy busy with my dissertation to bundle everyone up and run out to the store.

But I had come across the idea of congee (Chinese/Asian rice porridge) lately, and asked if anyone in my twin forum had used it for baby food.

I got a positive response right away and got to work. Follow these very simple directions I was given. I wish I had.

Directions: Rinse 1/2 cup rice, add 4 cups water or chicken broth, boil, cover and turn to low/medium-low, simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every once in awhile to break it up.

Here's what I did, including my mistakes. I put 1/2 cup rice into 4 cups of water (you could use chicken broth, in fact, it would probably taste better that way). I forgot to boil it first (you should). I put it on medium-low with a lid. It should have been for about an hour, but I forgot about it.

Two hours later, I remembered it. It was nice and soft, and a little lumpy. I think next time I'll stir it a bit more. I added extra water, which I shouldn't have done. It made it a little too thin. Make that way too thin. With gelatinous lumps.

I mixed pureed carrots and pureed chicken into a bowl of it. Here it is in its carrotty-chickeny glory.


I wish I could say it was a complete success, but they were both a little wary of it. And because I added too much water, it flew all over the place.

Here's Ian in his state of full congeeification.

Congee meets Ian.JPG

They were both preliminarily decongeeified, but a bath was needed to fully efface its effects.

I think next time, I'll use some chicken broth for more flavor. I added a teeny bit of salt (just the itsiest little dash) and some more carrots, which seemed to make it better for them. I didn't rinse the rice either, which may have affected the texture, so I'll try that next time.

All-in-all, though, this seems like a very promising substitute for rice cereal. And very cheap, too.* I'm thinking that the slow cooker would be a good approach--overnight on low, with enough for a couple of days.

This morning, I got up and the texture of the leftover congee was perfect, like rice cereal, but richer and denser in a really good way. I mixed it with peaches, and they loved it. It did not fly all over the kitchen, nor all over the bodies. I think my biggest mistake was to add extra water at the end yesterday. By this morning the excess had been absorbed into the mix.

* 1/2 cup of rice makes about four cups. There's about four cups of rice in a pound, and you can usually get a pound for a dollar or less. And I feed the kids a little less than a cup each of rice, mixed in with veggies, fruits and/or meats at each meal. So, 4 1-cup servings x 8 (1/2 cups in a lb.)=32 servings for $1.00. Or about $.03 per serving.

(Here's Baby Food 101 and Baby Food 102, in case you want some more ideas for homemade baby food)

baby food , cooking stuff | By Tim and Jo | 11:35 AM


Is your rice brown or white?

That's all. :)

Posted by: rylee95 at October 26, 2008 1:14 PM

White. We have a stash of basmati rice that we keep on hand. A 10 or 20 lb. bag lasts us for years, is less expensive than boring regular rice at the grocery store, and it's so fragrant and lovely. But I bet you could use brown.

Posted by: Jo at October 29, 2008 1:29 PM

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