Chinese New Year 2016

Thankfully, Chinese New Year 2016 is almost here!  And personally, I cannot wait! As I told you, I am all about food!  I love the cooking, eating, and yes, the discovering of it all! And you do not have to look hard in each month to find some event to celebrate with food! If not, hell… make one up!

I have always, since I can remember, had a connection to the Chinese culture! And I am not remotely Asian – Chinese or otherwise! I remember back for my 16th birthday, I planned a dinner party for my friends where I  prepared a full Chinese menu. Needless to say, I have been celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) for a very long time!  Interestingly in my life, with both family (even a generation or two back) and friends there has always been a Chinese connection.

Last year was a rough year for me, work wise. I remember sitting at a Chinese restaurant celebrating CNY 2015 and telling a friend that I was having a tough time with my boss. She looked at me and said that the upcoming CNY forecast did not bode well in my favor. I clearly remember saying to her “Well, it has been pretty bad already! It cannot get any worse than it has been!” Well it did.

So I am looking forward to this upcoming new year will great joy.  The forecast for me.. so much better! I have been thinking about what to cook for this event for easily a couple weeks! Pre-planning! Key to culinary success!  So, what shall I cook?  Hey, wait a sec! Do you realize that the eve of CNY is Super Bowl Sunday!! Good Lord!! What a clash of culinary grand proportions! Oh well, I will have to merge these events, if nothing else just to get creative muscles flexed.

When I think of the classic standards for each of these events … well then, there will have to be Chinese noodles for one and of course chicken wings and dip for the other!  Noodles (long ones) are traditional on CNY because they signify long life. There are other symbolic foods which are best included to beef up your luck for the year.  Best to include orange or tangerine; long leafy greens (got that covered); rice (yup); Chinese dumplings (check); whole fish (hmm..) But I digress, back to the culinary merger here!  Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing on Super Bowl Sunday!  So wings it is! That’s it for a Super Bowl dish representation. Gotta stay in check here! This could get out of control!

Let’s plan. I stopped at the Chinese grocery store and picked up some Chinese eggplant, baby bok choy and assorted dumplings! I am fortunate to have great Chinese grocery stores near me! No real Chinatown but hey, I like to cook!  All other ingredients are in my pantry.  Just a word on vegetables.  I really feel that they are such an integral part of ones daily dietary intake. I always plan my meals, particularly lunch and dinner,  to include some kind of vegetable. For breakfast I may substitute fruit, and/or have vegetables as well. Bottom line.. Everyone – the experts, your mother, grandma and your doctor.. they are all correct! EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

You should know, I have never cooked Chinese eggplant before so I went searching for a recipe.  Cooked right, it is delicious.  I frequently order it at Chinese restaurants and especially for Dim Sum.  I found a recipe that looks rather promising.  Strangest quirk, I have been able to, with remarkable success, look at a recipe ingredients and methodology and decide if it will be come out great.  On the few times when it didn’t, it was usually because I felt prompted to make a change mid-stream.   So this is the recipe I found. Chinese Eggplant with Garlic.  Share your thoughts on how your rendition came out!  I will update you on mine!

Here is a Baby Bok Choy – Simple Recipe.  With cooking this vegetable I have improvised recently with great results. Sometimes simplicity and great ingredients can garner amazing results. This serves 2-3  You will need the following:

  • 3-4 baby bok choy
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Oyster sauce
1. Cut baby bok choy in half lengthwise.  Rinse under running water thoroughly.
2. Place saute pan on medium heat. Add vegetable oil.
3. Place baby bok choy cut side down in cold pan. Heat till edges start to brown.
4. Turn over and slightly brown other side. Adjust heat if needed.
5. Flip vegetables over on cut side. Add scallions.
6. Drizzle with oyster sauce. Cover and turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes and you are done!

Yes, we got chicken wings! It is  Super Bowl Sunday! Here is a recipe for Asian Chicken Wings I found and adapted a little.  Now keep in mind, we are going to be trying this recipe together on Sunday!   Let me know what you think!

Asian Baked Crispy “Super Bowl Sunday” Wings

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 light soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 green onions, chopped

1. Lay the wings on a rack on a rimmed baking tray and let them dry in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, pat them dry with paper towels.
2.Preheat the oven to 250F / 120C. Put one oven shelf in the lower quarter of the oven and one in the top quarter.
3.Place the wings in a large ziplock bag. Add the baking powder and salt. Shake the bag to coat the wings evenly.
4.Line the tray with foil. Spray the rack on the baking tray with oil. Place the wings skin side up on the rack. Bake on the lower shelf in the oven for 30 minutes.
5.Then move the tray up to the higher shelf and turn the oven up to 425F / 220C. Bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. The wings do not need to be turned over. The wings are ready when they are dark golden brown and the skin is very crispy.  Toss immediately into the sauce. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Sauce – Mix together hoisin, soy, chili paste, honey, 5 spice and sesame seeds in a bowl.

Okay, I am ready for Chinese New Year 2016! It is the year of the Monkey and I wish for you many, many blessings!! On to the next food venture and an amazing year!

 

 

 

 

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Starting with This Happened Today…

Starting today there will be stories… Continue reading

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Lessons await…The Journey Begins!

Well everyone has to begin somewhere!  Here I go! Getting a blog started is a lot more work that I initially thought. Especially when you are not as tech savvy as well… doesn’t matter. Bottom line, I have come thus far.  And getting here, boils down to perseverance. Yes, I do not give up easily. This attribute has served me very well and at times, been the makings of a rather huge life lesson – or two.  Like Kenny Rogers said in that song, you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run! Sometimes I get bogged down in holding them too long! And that can be detrimental. But for the most part not giving up has been something about myself I have always been most proud. And I look back at the lessons and recognize that it helped reshape me for the better.

In all life lessons have been learned and I continue to blossom. And grow. So we will focus on finding connections, our passion, our lessons, perhaps even our purpose. And we will find it through food (of course), stories, encounters, moments of raucous laughter and even in hysterical tears. It is a journey.

Bags packed ready to go!

Bags packed ready to go!

I remember years ago a wonderful friend of mine would reference the “universe” when she spoke to me. She spoke of the universe opening up things, or the universe has perfect timing. I had no idea what she was talking about back then. I honestly thought of her as some new age freak for a while. I don’t remember when exactly that it hit me. (which is unfortunate) but one day, I suddenly understood what she meant by the universe. And now when I speak with people about it, in some I see that look like I probably had and I say to myself, that in time, it will all come together.

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