Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year!

It has been an insanely busy week full of celebrations, and today was no exception.  Sort of at the last minute (which for me was several days ago, but that doesn't leave much time for making good plans) I decided to go ahead and celebrate Chinese New Year with the kids.  No, we are not Chinese, but it's always fun to borrow traditions.

It is the year of the Rabbit, hence the Happy New Year message my kids found on the blackboard this morning (quickly scribbled before breakfast).  After breakfast, we started the day by hanging strings of little rice paper kites around the dining room, which tends to be the central place for celebrations.  Not exactly New Year's decorations, but a friend of my Dad's brought them back form Hong Kong and the kids were excited to see them strung up.

Then we moved right into making lanterns.  Super easy to make.

Choose two colors of paper.  Fold one in half, and along
the folded edge mark some lines about 3/4" apart.  Cut along
the lines, but be sure to stop where the line does.  This
is great cutting practice for young children.

Roll the second sheet into a cylinder.  Hold the paper
horizontally for this.  Staple, glue, or tape it to keep it closed.
This is the inside of the lantern.

Now staple, glue, or tape the second sheet around the first,
about 3/4" from the top and bottom edges. 

Punch three holes around the top, string it, tie a knot
at the ends of the strings, and parade it around!  It's fun
to make lots of little lanterns and hang them all around, too.

After we finished the lanterns, we read a story from Moonbeams,Dumplings, & Dragon Boats, a wonderful resource for several Chinese holidays.  It's full of stories, activities, and recipes.

We made fresh spring rolls for lunch, which are always a favorite.  It is tradition to eat long noodles on the New Year to ensure a long life.  We just decided to put ours inside yummy, little rolls.  I learned how to make these while working during graduate school at a little restaurant that served food from all over Asia.  Now, I make them for parties or even just as a snack or lunch.  You can put pretty much anything in them you like; tofu, any thinly sliced veggie, noodles, lettuce, herbs.  Here's how we made ours.

Get your fillings ready first.  Veggies should be julliened, noodles cooked,
and herbs washed and chopped.  We use rice vermicelli, cilantro,
scallions, lettuce, and cucumbers in ours.  I usually stick in some tofu,
but we were all out.

Here's teh rice wrapper going into a bowl of warm water.  It
only needs to be in there for a few seconds, just until if softens up,
or it will easily tear.  As you can see, it's really thin and delicate. 
Once you get it back out of the bowl, spread it on a clean dish towel,
gently pat it, flip it over, and pat it again.  If it's too wet, it'll be slippery
and won't stick to itself once it's filled.

Make a small pile near the edge of the roll.  My rolls are cone shaped
and open at one end.  For some, it's easier to dump the filling in
the middle and roll it burrito-style, with both ends closed.

Roll it firmly, but gently, around itself to make a cone.  Make
sure it's tight enough that the filing doesn't just fall out.  This
takes some practice.

It should look something like this. 

We served them with tamari and a yummy sesame/almond
dipping sauce, for which the recipe follows.  So good!

For the dipping sauce, I used the sauce from the Karen's Sesame Noodles recipe in Feeding the Whole Family.  It is as follows:

3 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon almond or chashew butter
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons tamari or shoyu (or soy sauce if that's what you    have)
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon water

Whisk it all together in a bowl until it's creamy.  That's it!

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