Back to taro and turnip cakes for Lunar New Year

Last year, I took a hiatus from making traditional savory Chinese New Year cakes. I had made taro cake year after year, and in recent years, started experimenting with the turnip cake since it’s a bit lighter and adds more variety. Last year, I was just too tired, with Kaia being a newborn, my own postpartum recovery, plus my insane pumping schedule. This year at this time, I’m pumping just once a day before bed, and I have a lot more “balance,” so I figured it would be a good time to start making these laborious cakes again. We went to Chinatown to pick up ingredients earlier this week, and I finished making these cakes on Friday afternoon. When I finished steaming them, I felt so accomplished, like I had done my grandma’s memory good, and I would also be exposing our daughter to our family traditions, to bits of her culture. No, she doesn’t get the full Lunar New Year experience as she would if my family actually were together and actually celebrated it, since they don’t and have not since my grandma passed away when I was 9. Plus, with my mom and aunt as Jehovah’s Witnesses, they’re not supposed to “believe in” Lunar New Year anymore. She did try both cakes and seemed to enjoy both, but seemed to initially prefer the turnip version. Watching her eat these foods of my childhood really made me happy. I hope she embraces these, plus other Lunar New Year foods, as much as I do today. Maybe, just maybe when she’s a little older, she can even help make them with me as a family activity around Lunar New Year.

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