New Years

chinese-dragon.jpgChinese New Year or the spring festival celebration lasts for 15 days starting with a parade headed by a large size red dragon dancing its way through the streets and businesses of Chinatown. In Boston, the New Year started with a bang! Firecrackers were exploding loudly echoing on the narrow street, lettuce leaves and orange peels were littering the pavement in the wake of the dragon,tossed to symbolize prosperity and good fortune.

The date for the new year changes every year. It is based on a combination of the Chinese lunar/solar calendar. Chinese New Year is always celebrated on the second moon after the winter solstice. That is why the date is never the same. Chinatown is decorated with red lanterns (red for good luck). Bright red packets with gold writing hang from all the trees outside and plants in restaurants symbolizing lucky money and everyone has been sweeping and cleaning their houses, sweeping out any bad luck from the past year.

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porkdumplingsI love the custom of Chinese dim sum because it brings friends and family together at the table. This style of food is enjoyed with small plates, which allows the diner the opportunity to enjoy many different dishes in small quantities. For me it's a way to find a favorite and stick with it. In every Chinatown in the United States you would be hard pressed not to find a restaurant offering dim sum or what I like to call Chinese brunch. I remember my first time at a dim sum place in New York with a group of Asian friends. I was lucky to have help in deciphering the menus and communicating with the waitresses, who brought out the food on trolleys and took orders by stamping slips of paper. It's truly an experience that transports the nonnative eater to China.

It's been many years since I've had good traditional dim sum and my longing for dumplings has increasingly grown since. With the arrival of Chinese New Year, there is no better reason to make my dim sum favorite, shu mai, at home. These dumplings are typically made of shrimp and pork, but they can also be made of pork and mushroom, and even mutton, depending on the regional cuisine. No matter the filling, shu mai always retain a characteristic look: they sort of resemble little volcanoes with filling erupting from their tops. They only need limited skill to form the shape and the best shortcut of all is using wonton wrappers instead of making the dough. It takes just minutes to bring together this easy dim sum, which also makes a fun party appetizer.

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Here we go again.

This is where Magical Thinking meets Enlightened Acceptance.

Here are some examples of Magical Thinking:

fruits_vegetables.jpg1.)   I’m going to lose 15 lbs. this year.

2.)  I’m going to eat right this year (less sweets and fat).

3.)  I’m going to walk the dogs more often.

4.)  I’m going to read more rather than play Jewel Quest on the computer.

5.)  I’m going to re-do the garage/kid’s room/my office, without spending any money.

6.)  I’m finally going to read that material about learning to do books on tape for extra money.

7.)   I’m going to plan meals more so that everyone in the house isn’t grazing the whole day, including me.

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LuckyPulledPorkBlackPeasNachosHappy almost New Year’s everyone! It’s so hard to believe this year has come to an end. I have a slew of wonderful memories.

I love New Year’s Eve, it’s full of promise and hope for a better year. A year filled with health, organization, great food and more balance in life. We’ll see how I do.

How many of you start the New Year with food known for good luck? I am not a superstitious person, but everyone could use a little good juju…right? Lots of different foods are considered lucky on this day as they symbolize the eater’s hopes and dreams for the coming months and years.

Pork is considered a symbol of “progress” by many countries. A pig’s feeding habits cause them to “root forward” with their snouts, never looking back. Pigs are also…rotund, a sign of prosperity in many places around the world. Enjoy your pork in any form you choose and then buy a power ball ticket?! Why not.

I’ve also added (lucky) black-eyed peas to these nachos due to their resemblance of coins, a symbol of abundance. (Go get on a slot machine I suppose). Cornbread is also considered lucky, but instead I’ve added just the corn itself, emblematic of golden nuggets. I know.

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