An old Chinese saying goes: "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper." Xiong Shouli has taken this to heart, and the 35-year-old's New Year's resolution has been to prepare something different for her 5-year-old son's breakfast every day of the year.
Friends told her she was copying the film Julie & Julia, in which young New Yorker Julie Powel tries to cook every recipe in celebrity chef Julia Child's cookbook within 365 days.
"But I've never seen the film," Xiong says.
"My intentions are simply to fulfill my duties as a mother."
Xiong works full time as an accountant in Jiangsu's provincial capital Nanjing in addition to taking care of her family.
She started cooking her son's breakfasts at 6:30 am last June because of the country's numerous food safety issues. Her boy has been delighted to wake up to such breakfasts as three characters from video game Angry Birds made of dough, lettuce and cherries, rather than the usual bread and milk. "He's thrilled to show his breakfasts to his classmates," she says.
So, one day, she made his breakfasts in the shape of the wolf in the popular Chinese cartoon Pleasant Goat and Big, Big Wolf.
Most of her initial ideas came from the Internet. But original inspirations started to flood her mind after a few months.
"My kitchen is my laboratory," Xiong says. She usually keeps her "experiments" simple enough to be completed within 20 minutes on weekdays and saves trickier undertakings, such as steamed buns made from scratch, for weekends.
"My son sometimes inspires me, too," Xiong says. "I get ideas from his favorite cartoon characters. Sometimes, he makes requests."
Xiong has been contacted by nine publishing houses about putting out her own cookbook.
But she cares less about her book offers than about what her breakfasts offer her son, she says.
"He grew like a tree for the first three months," Xiong says. "A child his age usually grows a centimeter a month, but he's at twice that. He's also rarely sick compared to his friends. So I feel like I'm doing something right as a mother."
To swap recipes, Xiong founded the online childcare forum club Qinma, meaning Real Mothers.
"Friends sometimes complain there are too many cookbooks, and most are hard to understand and unprofessional," she says. "I hope more mothers cook for their children."
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