Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year!!

Welcome to the year of the Ox! Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. For ideas on how you can celebrate it with your family look here. For some history and additional information, look here.

My children all have some Chinese heritage (thanks to my 1/2 Chinese husband) so I have always felt like we should celebrate this holiday in some way, but we really haven't done a great job of it over the years.

Now that we live here in NYC, I have no excuse to not to be festive- with China Town so accessible. My girls loved visiting China Town on our supply run. It is especially fun this time of year, as all of the vendors have their New Year items out.

As you read more about Chinese New Year, you will see that many of the Chinese New Year traditions make great family traditions, regardless of your heritage. My favorite: before Chinese New Year families clean their homes from top to bottom. My kids were a little more excited to clean this past week, knowing it was a part of a "holiday celebration."

If you would like some Chinese New Year craft ideas, there are plenty online. Check here, here, and here. The Chinese Lanterns pictured above were simple to make- just cut some red cardstock "paper-doll" style into the desired lantern shape, put vellum or tissue paper in the window cut-outs, decorate the windows, tape up the seam, put a candle in the middle, and you have your very own Chinese Lantern centerpiece. Of course, watch you little ones closely while these are lit on the table, or you could have a really exciting New Year party.

A traditional Chinese New Year meal would be a feast comparable in size to an American Thanksgiving. I still have not mastered the art of Asian cooking, so I knew that a 10-dish meal was out of the question. Instead I prepared a non-authentic Chinese Salad and Potstickers. Maybe as the years progress, my children will encounter more authenticity :).

The recipe for the salad is below. It is quite good, authentic or not.

Chinese Chicken Salad:

For the dressing:

1/2 C. Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 C. Peanut Butter
2 T. Finely Chopped Ginger (very finely chopped)
1/2 to 1 tsp of finely chopped chipotle pepper (according to children's spice tolerance :)
2 T. Soy Sauce
1/4 C. Honey
1/4 C. Toasted Sesame Oil
3/4 C. Canola Oil
Salt- to taste

Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing, set aside. I love to make the dressing a day a head to save time on dinner prep.

Then Prepare:

1/2 Head Nappa Cabbage, chopped
1/2 Head Romaine Lettuce,
1 bunch of scallions (about 7), chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded. I love to use these to save time.
4 oz Snow Peas
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Mint, chopped
1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts, chopped
2 cups of shredded chicken
(You could use rotisserie chicken to save time. I like to cook 2 chicken breasts in a crock pot with a Tablespoon of chopped Ginger for 5-6 hours) Of course, you could use less Chicken, or even omit it entirely for a vegetarian salad.

Mix the above ingredients together, then mix with the dressing and you are set. Note: you may not need all of the dressing depending on how large your lettuce/cabbage heads were. Just add it until you are happy with how much dressing is on the salad.
*as you can tell, I forgot to add the carrots to this last imagine it with shredded carrots....


Marissa said...

Thanks for this great post! I'm half Chinese as well so I can totally relate. I love the craft ideas and recipes that you posted. I'll be making fried rice tonight -simple but super yummy! And I should probably clean the house too...

mimi said...

You are such a loving, creative, and mindful mama! I love you. And I loved greeting Chinese New Year with you guys!

ModestlyChic said...

tI gave my son and my friends kids a red pocket with chocolate instead of cash for good luck as part of our Chinese new year tradition.

Dinah said...

I just bought all the ingredients for your yummy salad. I can't wait. I loved this post and will make a point to remember and prepare a little something for next year!

Dinah said...

I just bought all the ingredients for your yummy salad. I can't wait. I loved this post and will make a point to remember and prepare a little something for next year!