Today is February 3, 2011.
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!!
According to the Chinese Zodiac the Year Of The Golden Rabbit begins February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012. The Chinese Zodial consists of twelve animal signs with the Rabbit being the fourth sign. The Rabbit is a lucky sign. According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year where you can catch your breath and settle your nerves. Chinese New Year is the most important social and economic (and so darn colorful!) holiday in China and has been called Spring Festival since the 20th century. The younger China generation actually observes the holiday very differently from their ancestors; it's become less about the chance to re-connect with family and more about relaxation. http://www.familyculture.com/holidays/chinese_new_year.htm
So super cool - this is the Year Of The Golden Rabbit! This is a year that's going to be filled with luck! That's exciting stuff! Based on the fact Chris and I are off to a not-so-good start in 2011, due to the fact half of an icy sixty year old tree fell on our car two days ago, we sure welcome luck! We sure welcome being able to catch our breath. We sure welcome our nerves settling. We sure welcome "The Year Of The Golden Rabbit!"
Have you ever wanted or owned a rabbit? I became the proud owner of a super soft brilliantly white rabbit with enormous eyes when my high school boyfriend proudly presented me with one as an Easter present. We were both so proud! We were the proud parents of a rabbit! I named my super soft brilliantly white rabbit with enormous eyes Egg. I thought Egg was such a great gift - this big, fat fluffy white rabbit. I loved Egg. Egg had a huge metal cage he slept in. To date, I'm not sure whether Egg was a girl rabbit or a boy rabbit. (lol) I let Egg out to play in the backyard. I fed Egg lettuce. I fed Egg rabbit food. I loved my rabbit, Egg. And then Egg bit me. I don't really know what happened to change Egg's docile personality from the most laid back rabbit on the planet to a "snapping rabbit" comparable to a snapping turtle. Have you ever been bitten by a rabbit? No? Well, let me be honest with you - I absolutely do not recommend it. I do, however, highly recommend letting a biting rabbit out of its huge metal cage and into the woods behind your house. And so Egg was set free. Oh, did I mention I had to go to the Doctor and get 3 stitches in my hand by my thumb? Hopefully Egg enjoyed many happy years in the woods behind our house. I never saw Egg again and I do actually think of Egg every Easter. I think it's safe to say that in the year of 1988 the rabbit did not bring me good luck. It actually makes a lot of sense that Chinese New Year 1988 was the Year Of The Brown Earth Dragon because it sure felt like a dragon bite! (lol) I'm really not so sure how I feel about 2012 once again being the Year Of The Brown Earth Dragon! Zoiks!
Let's see, what else about Chinese New Year? Well, by New Year's Eve you should have cleaned your house. You should have put away all your brooms and brushes. You should have paid all your debts. You should have resolved any differences with family members, work associates, neighbors, etc. Wow! I mean, I clean the inn / our house every day! I don't wait 'till New Year's Eve! (chuckle)
You're supposed to buy red money envelopes. You're supposed to buy oranges and / or tangerines. You're supposed to buy flowers. You're supposed to buy new clothes for your children - especially red and orange. You're supposed to get new dollar bills from the bank and put them in the red envelopes which then become lee see, or a lucky money envelope. (funny - my Pappy used to pronounce my name like Lee-See) Wow! I do this stuff all the time - with the exception of the money envelopes. I buy oranges - the orange, in my husband Chris' opinion, is "nature's perfect fruit." Chris loves oranges. When he's sick all he will eat are oranges. Me, personally - I can live without eating an actual whole orange. I do, however, love some fresh squeezed orange juice!! So much so that when I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas I would excitedly drive through "Satellite Cafe" and pay $5.00 for a small (and I do mean s-m-a-l-l) take away glass of fresh squeezed orange juice! http://nutrition.about.com/od/fruitsandvegetables/p/oranges.htm
Let's see, what about Chinese New Year decorating? http://www.orientspiration.com/
Personally, I think the colors are beyond beautiful! We're talking orange! We're talking shades of amber orange. Shades of flame orange. Shades of safety orange. Shades of tangelo orange. Shades of pumpkin orange. Shades of persimmon orange. We're talking orange! Honestly, I don't have a lot of orange goin' on in my life. I purchased an orange linen Ralph Lauren shirt last Summer that I really like - it looks great with a tan. Other than that, I really don't think I have anything orange goin' on in my closet.
We're also talking red! We're talking shades of burgundy red. Shades of sangria red. Shades of Venetian red. Shades of candy apple red. Shades of coral red. Shades of scarlet red. We're talking red! Honestly, I love the color red! OPI's red polish, "I'm Not Really A Waitress" is on my toes pedicure after pedicure. I drove a red Honda Prelude Si when I was in my 20's. My favorite lipstick is CHANEL's "Rogue Allure." There's lots of red goin' on in my closet! I have red cashmere scarves. I have red cashmere sweaters. I have red Gap t-shirts. I love red! http://opi.com/
Let's see, what about Chinese New Year food? Ohhhh yeahhhh!!! Let's get down to business and talk about Chinese New Year food!! It ALL just sounds so beyond delicious!!
Let's talk about Chinese New Year appetizers!! Yummy, Yummy! There's Egg Rolls. There's Pearl Balls. There's Spring Rolls. There's Lettuce Wraps. There's Pot Stickers. There's Dumplings. There's a lot of yummy, yummy appetizers out there! I have to say, my favorite are the lettuce wraps! They are so simple and delicious and just so "fresh" to me! I love lettuce wraps! Oh, and I love P.F. Chang's!! http://www.food.com/recipe/p-f-changs-chicken-lettuce-wraps-15865
Let's talk about Chinese New year entrees!! Yummy, Yummy!! There's Kung Pao Chicken. There's Sweet and Sour Pork. There's General Tso's Chicken. There's Clams In Black Bean Sauce. There's Salt & Pepper Shrimp. There's Sesame Chicken. There's a lot of yummy, yummy entrees out there! I have to say, my favorite is Salt & Pepper Shrimp. I love shrimp. I love peel and eat shrimp. I love boiled shrimp. I love shrimp alfredo pasta. I love shrimp! Oh, and I love shrimp appetizers!! http://allrecipes.com//Recipes/seafood/shellfish/shrimp/appetizers/Main.aspx
Let's talk about Chinese New Year desserts! Now, as ya'll know I'm not a sweets gal but I can be very sweet. (chuckle) Unfortunately, my Dad seems to only remember the not so sweet Lisa Margaret (pre-adult years of course ....chuckle). Dad seems to remember the Lisa Margaret that threw the snowballs against the house with white siding in Iowa. Dad seems to remember the Lisa Margaret that attempted to duplicate his signature on a report card that was sprinkled with a few "D's." (geometry and history were absolutely NOT my thing!) Dad seems to remember the Lisa Margaret that snuck the family station wagon out of the garage late one night so I could pick up my best friend, pick up my boyfriend and go over to my best friend's boyfriend's house to hang out ...because his parents were out of town - but smart enough to take the family car keys with them. Oh, and I was 15 years old. I mean, hasn't everyone done this before?!? Present date, I don't think I've ever seen my Dad that angry. (chuckle) My punishment you might be asking? No worries - Dad was really good in the punishment department. I had the telephone and television removed from my bedroom - for a month. My boyfriend was not allowed to come over after school - for a month. Oh, and I had to clean the house every Saturday - for a month. Yes, the entire house. Present date, I still feel those punishments were harsh. I mean, don't you?!?
But back to Chinese New Year desserts! There's Egg Custard Tarts. There's Almond Cookies. There's Five Spice Peanuts. There's Eight Precious Pudding. There's Sesame Seed Balls. There's Preserved Kumquats. Honestly, the only thing that sounds vaguely appealing to me are the Almond Cookies. On that note, below is my Mom's Almond Cookie Fingers recipe. Santa Claus told me they were yummy, yummy! I made these for him every year.
I hope you take the recipes on my Blog away with you today and perhaps prepare your own 2011 Chinese New Year feast for you and yours! I've given you the history. I've given you the traditions. I've given you the decorating tips. And I've given you the FOOD!! So....get 'ta steppin' and whip something fabulous up tonight!! Oh, and don't forget the bright orange and red flowers for your dining room table! I'm thinkin' Gerber daisies!!
If you're in NYC it looks like ya'll are gonna have a rockin' good time! Wish I was there! I adore NYC!
LISA's MOM's ALMOND FINGER COOKIES
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
8oz. almond paste - cut into very small pieces
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. butter (divided)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cut chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Mix the flour and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl cream the almond paste with 1/2 cup butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and egg until blended evenly. Add the flour mix and blend well. Shape tablespoons of dough into 2" long fingers.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the 2" long fingers on the baking sheet and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
Melt chocolate and 1 tbsp. butter in a saucepan. Dip a fork in the chocolate. Make lines on the cookies by drizzling the melted chocolate back and forth across the cookies. Makes 48 cookies.
Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook