Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gong Xi Fatt Cai

Gong Xi Fat Cai my family and friends! Welcome to the Year of the OX. Another full circle for my dear brother HT. My own circle completed last year with the Year of the Rat. Ah, the wonders of the Chinese calender - you are able to guess the age of a person by their animal zodiac year and if you know your twelve times table! Now all we have to decipher is whether they have `work done' (aka a little help from the medical profession) or if they have lived a hard life and it shows.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in the West is more quiet unless you have family nearby and many Chinese friends. Schools and work do not acknowledge Chinese New Year with time off so it is become harder to celebrate it properly. Cities with large Chinese populations like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even San Diego where we live have events during the weekends to celebrate Chinese New Year. But it is different.... it is not right in your home, your lives... you have to go to it, to a community event. None of those visiting friends homes, nibbling Chinese New Year cookies and eating so many tangerines until you get a sore throat.

I try to celebrate Chinese New Year in some form or another.Luckily, the internet has made the world a whole lot smaller and I am able to `participate' in Chinese New Year back home. Little sister C is close by in New York and this year we have my little nephew M. We celebrated Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner a day earlier with our good friends the Ong from Singapore - our family away from home.

Tired out from the activities of previous weeks and Son A's Lax practices and games, I did not make much by way of Chinese New Year delicacies. We were having steamboat for dinner. I managed to make some Long Yoke courtesy of Lily Sek. It was quite tasty but I think I would buy the pork from the Chinese Supermarket as it needs to be more fatty. I love the fact that it did not have nitrates in it. I would definitely make it again. I might try to make some beef Long Yoke too. All in all it was easy and quite satisfying experience.

For dessert, I made Apple Dumpling from an Amish recipe that I had lost long ago but found recently.We served it hot with vanilla ice cream. They were delicious. Somehow it fitted in with our western but Chinese reunion dinner.

Another nod to CNY was the Nin Koh I made. I made it on the first day of CNY as I could not find a block of time to make it. Instead of the aluminum loaf pans of last year, I made them in banana leaf lined food cans ( emptied out the canned corn). They turned out nice although some mixture leaked out between the banana leaves.It was easier with the aluminum loaf pans.

For dinner on the first day of CNY we had Oven Roasted Crabs. Ha, ha, I do not know if it is a good or bad dish to serve during CNY but the family had been hankering after crabs lately. When I saw them in Costco, I had to buy them.I had bought the cookbook just for that one recipe because I knew my kids would love it and they did! All I can say is at least I did not serve squid- Chow Yau Ye!!

Second night's dinner was Pepper Crusted Steak with Salad. Yes, very Chinese.

Do not know what I am serving tonight.......

The one thing I am very happy about this year is my Satsuma Mandarin Orange tree! Remember how we redid my garden last year? We had re situated my potted citrus plants. We have been rewarded by tons of juicy fruits. My calamasi/ limau kasturi plant is covered with more fruits than I could ever use. The Limau perut plant is pumping out so many fruits that I am trying to find a way to use them. Normally we would just throw them away. I love, love, love the Japanese Kumquat. So very sweet! I always eat 6-8 at a time, while walking in the garden. I bit off the top of the fruit, suck on the juices and devour the

sweet, sweet skin. It is unlike kumquats I have tasted in the past. For CNY, the Satsuma Mandarin Orange is spectacular. I never had them fruit at this time and definitely not in the quantities I see this year. I is like having my own mandarin orange fruit stand- only, I pick them and eat them off the tree. I can smell CNY so vividly now. If course I have the Valencies and Navel oranges almost ready. I think I will have to indulge in my grapefruit next week. So such is CNY in San Diego.

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