Happy Chinese New Year!

We went to see the Lion Dance, drummers and Dragon Dance this weekend for the Chinese New Year celebration. We couldn’t feel our toes at the end, but it was worth it.  I need to bring the big camera next year as my phone pics are lame-o.  The Year of the Dragon deserved better than this.

One day, we would love to be in Asia for the new year and take in the beauty of the festivities to the fullest extent.

Previous lunar new year posts can be found here.


Lion Dance by rlam50

Dragon Dance by barakasin

Year of the Rabbit

Today is Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit…. Gong Xi Fa Cai or Gong Hei Fat Choi!

This year, we are postponing our big celebration until the weekend.  Of course we’ll Americanize the whole thing and make my fortune cookies to enjoy after our Dim Sunday meal.  Wait, what is Dim Sunday,  you ask?

Dim Sunday was born out of a soul crushingly bad experience at the ONLY restaurant we know of that serves dim sum in the Nashville area.  If you’ve ever lived anywhere with even half way decent dim sum, you know it’s addictive power.   Going without those delicious morsels of goodness is a sad, sad state of affairs.  I don’t recommend it.

We’d had enough disappointment and deprivation, so it was time to take matters into our own hands.  Schedules permitting, we now make a heap of dim sum on Sunday afternoons for the family.  This weekend we’ll try and add some some traditional CNY fare like noodles, etc..  We try to keep it exciting for the Things by surprising them with what’s on the menu….and yes, (nerd alert!) we make a menu.  Here’s one from a couple of weeks ago we still had laying around.

You like Thing One’s ploy for candy?  When we bring an order to the table, we let them stamp it for us – just like in the restaurants.  They love it.  Now I need to find a cool vintage bar cart to wheel to the table and we are O. fficial!  (Aalto anyone?)

I’ll confess that the BBQ pork bun is frozen as I have not attempted to make that puffy white dough yet…I’m kinda skeered of royally screwing it up, but I will be trying it soon as it’s Thing One’s fave.  Everything else is made by us.  I’ve found egg rolls are a great way to sneak in veggies they normally don’t go for.  One item we are excited to try and make is soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao.  They key is a good homemade stock made with lots of bones to create the gelatin.  We’ve been stashing chicken carcasses in the freezer in anticipation.  Wish us luck!

We’ll go to the Lion Dance and drummers show on Saturday at K & S to get in the spirit…and pick up ingredients!  For glimpses of our past Chinese New Year geekiness…go here.

For a great local post about CNY from someone who is actually Chinese, therefore knows what the hell she’s talking about, check out Tabitha’s post about her family traditions.

Fortune Cookies

Despite the fact my vision is comparable to looking through plastic wrap, I can’t break a promise, so I made a bunch of fortune cookies for the kids to share with their class for the Lunar New Year…Year of the Tiger!  I usually double this recipe, but not everyone is feeding forty something kids so here’s my basic recipe:  The process is very similar to baking tuiles.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees for convection ovens, 300 degrees for regular ovens.

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract (secret ingredient)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Whisk all above together until frothy.

8 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons granulated sugar

Sift above dry ingredients into a bowl,  then add flour mixture to wet ingredients.  Here is the tricky part…add 5-10 teaspoons of water.  You gauge how much after you’ve wisked the batter.  If you let the batter rest a bit, you’ll have to adjust less as you go along.  Sometimes I end up adding a few extra drops after I’ve made my first cookies.  The batter should not be runny, but drop easily from your whisk/spoon.

Take about a tablespoon of batter and flatten into a circle on a cookie sheet with the back of your spoon. I like to use silicone baking mats.  I can only bake 3 per sheet…any more than that and I can’t work fast enough before the cookie becomes too brittle to fold.  It’s a great team project because if you have 2 sets of hands working, you can knock it out much faster.  Otherwise…plan to spend a few HOURS on this. Yeah, I know I just lost half of you….

When the cookie is just starting to brown on the edge, (12-15 minutes) remove with an offset spatula and flip over so the “smooth side” is down and will be on the outside.

You MUST work very quickly here….put your pre-folded fortune in the middle of the circle (it’s hot) and fold over the edge of a glass or cup.  If you have sensitive fingers, move along…probably not a good project for you. (There goes the other half.)

Then put to cool inside a muffin tin with the tips pointing downward…otherwise, the cookie will slowly re-open and cool that way…no good.

If you make them several days in advance..you might need to re-crisp them in the muffin tins the day of serving.  If you keep them in a good airtight container…you should be OK and you’ll have fortune cookies that are actually decent tasting.  It goes without saying that kids (and adults) LOVE these.

Gong Hei Fat Choi or Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year!

Year of the Tiger

We geek out a little over Chinese New Year around here, so I’ll be posting a few things we like to do leading up to the big day.  This year, the new year falls on Valentines Day, which is great for us since we kind of loathe that particular “holiday”.  We do it up for the kids, but not for each other.  We’ll have a date night another time, when restaurants aren’t slammed, understaffed and overbooked.  I know, I’m a crankenstein, but this works better for us…trust me.

Anyway, back on topic…last year, I made some DIY plum blossom branches, and I still have some of those fabulous DIY dragons left for the Minors to decorate.  This year, I’ll share my fortune cookie recipe (yes, an American creation) and we’ll surely make some new lanterns to adorn the house.  Bowls of oranges, red envelopes with surprises..all part of the fun. Here’s some old snaps from last year to get you in the spirit…..

Blank Dragons

Cookies with kid-friendly fortunes to share with classmates.

Year of the Ox

Monday, January 26th is the Lunar New Year and for those, like myself, who relish joining in the celebration, finding your party supplies or other such items can be tough if you like a “less is more” modern style.  Being a bit crafty, I do like simple things that can be made to my taste such as the plum blossoms that I found on Kaboose this year, but with my own modifications. I used real branches instead of chenille stems.   Group 2 or 3 of these in a nice vessel with some moss around the bases will look festive yet minimal. Gong Hei Fat Choi!