Homemade Chinese food is a luxury in our home. I learned long ago how to make the "real" thing, but the time element for making it - my favorite dish takes more than two hours to make - means that it's hardly a staple in my home.
But the new year is a reason to celebrate. On Sunday, we marked an early begining to the Chinese New Year (which is Thursday this year) with a couple of small activities in our home.
Of course, it centered around the meal, and while it wasn't three courses of fun (mom, after all, is still dealing with bronchitis), it was a success. For dinner, we splurged and made homemade Chinese dumplings, a great way to use some of the leftovers in our produce bin. This was an idealistic project, given the number of steps and potential for kitchen disasters (raw ground chicken, raw egg, shredding, frying...) but overall was met with success. I got about a dozen dumplings assembled before hearing my husband's desperate yells upstairs, which meant I had to switch gears...fast. The rest of the filling was tossed with some Ramen noodles for the kids. Hardly authentic Chinese, but the meal was surprisingly a success with the family, and the flavors were repeat-able.
We also made Chinese lanterns, an activity that I'm sure has been a staple for kindergarteners for generations, but it was an easy (and controlled) way for my 3-year-old to practice cutting with scissors. It's a simple way to get a second life out of school projects and other drawings too!
My kindergartener, of course, went for the avant garde-look with hers. Blame it on her 5-year-old creativity, "which is taking stuff and doing new things with it," she says.
The weekend was rounded out with an accidental reading of a Thomas the Train story centered around the Chinese New Year's dragon coming to town and scaring another train. This of course eliminated our other activity: crafting a Chinese New Year dragon from toilet paper rolls and paper towels, which I found on education.com. Sadly, if Percy was bothered by a dragon, my 3 year old would be too. Maybe next year.
Have a little more time - or more enthusiastic kitchen helpers - on your hands? Check out these recipes to celebrate your new year: