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Chinese New Year 2014 正月初一

The first day of the Chinese Lunar Calender. It’s Chinese New Year.
The time of the year where we binge on Chinese New Year Goodies,
and delude ourselves that there will always be tomorrow to go on a diet!

It’s a day of PURE happiness for the kids.
They get to receive red packets, have full access to goodies, candies and sodas.
There will be no homework, no revision and no sighting of books since the word for book sounds like “shu” which means LOSE in Mandarin.

It’s a day where we drench our lips in honey
saying Auspicious greetings wishing others well and prosperity.

Strangely, the auspicious greetings has taken a pit fall in the recent years.
I couldn’t quite pinpoint if it was modernization or are we too embarrassed to be Chinese. My hearty 恭喜发财 (which means congratulation and best wishes for a Prosperous New Year), was only reciprocated by a mere Happy New Year.

Auspicious well wishes is just like a game of Ping Pong.
I wish you well, you wish me well lah!

This is OUR well wishes for you!
May the year of horse bring you and your family
good health, great wealth and abundance happiness!

This year’s Lunar New Year was a little special.
My niece, Daphne returns from Perth to celebrate this joyous occasion
with her bouncy 6 month old; Asher. Such a joy to be with!

恭祝大家,
在马年里,
年头旺到年尾。
旺旺旺!!!

Reunion with the In-Laws at Johor Baru

I treasure relationships, especially of those with families.

In my last post, I said that Reunion is the start of a million migration…..
We did our little “migration” to Johor Baru for Reunion Lunch with my In-Laws.

Kitson took Hiroshi on the bike,
while I lugged the other 2 kids on the bus across the causeway.

I could only thank God for the smooth moving traffic!
Singapore Mom Blogger Irene Soh Heads over to Johor Baru for Reunion Lunch
Sister-in-Law Peggy, Brother-in-law Chong, their 3 wonderful daughters + Mother-in-law.

Prosperity Pot (盆菜) by Pekin Restaurant, 发财鱼生 by Dragon-i, Mother-in-law’s version of “Ratatouille”, & Stir Fried Vegetables.

Our family with Mother-in-Law.

Even though the journey of “migration” is a little inconvenient, the good food and the great company makes it all worth while! I am already looking forward to my next Reunion Dinner at Johor Baru!

Linking up with Dinomama for Foodie Fridays:

The Significance of Reunion Dinner

The Reunion Dinner: The start of a billion migration.

In China, it is estimated that for this year’s Spring Festival, there will be over 3.6 billion “journeys” by Chinese people trying to make it home by plane, train, bus, or anything in between.

This shows the Significance of Reunion Dinner for the Chinese. Reunion Dinner normally happens on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a day when family gathers and have a good meal together.

Being a Cantonese, we are particular about what we dish out during Reunion Dinner. Every dish should have an auspicious meaning to it. This is our first time preparing Reunion Dinner from home. I personalty find that it holds more significance than eating out at overcrowded restaurants.

This is what our Reunion Dinner looks like:
Singapore Mom Blogger Irene Soh Cooks Auspicious Dishes for Reunion DInner

1. James having a light hearted moment with Aunty Ivy.

2. 发财鱼生 Prosperity Toss “raw fish salad” Consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Yusheng literally means “raw fish” but since “fish (鱼)” is commonly conflated with its homophone “abundance (余)”, Yúshēng (鱼生) is interpreted as a homophone for Yúshēng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore, yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor. Highly Recommend YuSheng from Giant Supermarket Sushi Counter!!

3. EXTRA 鱼生 given by Our Neighbour! This year confirm will end in ABUNDANCE!

4. 六宝冷盘 Six Treasure Clod Platter

5. 横财就手 Braised Pork Knuckles with Mushrooms, Dried Scallops, Dried Oyster, Chestnut, Sea Cucumber & Sea Moss. It literally means “windfalls that are easily accessible”.

6. 年年有余 Steam fish in soy Sauce topped with fried garlic & caipo. This dish literally means to have a surplus every year!

7. 哈哈大笑 Steam prawns in Chinese Wine. The word for prawn sounds like “ha” in Cantonese, hence symbolizing laughter and happiness.

8. 花开富贵, 包有余 Stir fried vegetables with Abalone. When the flowers blossom, there will be prosperity and confirmation of surplus.

9. The Love of a Family is Life’s Greatest Blessings!

I am encouraged by the compliments by everyone and will definitely do this again!

May the year horse be filled with
galloping success, good health, great wealth and abundance happiness for everyone!

Linking up with DinoMama for Foodie Fridays:

The Best Christmas Eve Party EVER | Stress Free Christmas Eve Party

Whenever we hold parties at home, you’ll see Kitson and myself scrambling around the kitchen like headless chickens. We love parties. But we just hate organising and the cleaning up that follows up thereafter.

Once again, I am living up to my reputation of Queen of Impromptu. I briefly discussed with my sister; Ivy about Christmas Eve plans after church service last Sunday and promptly decided that we should have Christmas Eve dinner at my place.

Kitson and myself walked into Cold Storage 4 hours before the party started. Amidst the mad crowd, we did get everything we needed within 15 minutes. I must say that I am pretty amazed with our ability to shop under pressure!

Our Christmas Eve party Menu didn’t looked too shabby either. For 15 minutes of shopping and a little more effort on plating, I think we did an AWESOME job!

Canapé
1) Gravlax Salmon with Asparagus and Baby Corn + Shaved Ham
2) Caviar & Eggs on Toasted Sesame Bread

Soup
Clam Chowder

Salad
Garden Salad with Japanese Sesame Dressing

Mains(Served with baked potato)
1) Pork Knuckle
2) Black Pepper Ribs & Honey Baked Ribs
3) Honey Baked Chicken

Dessert
Assorted Fruits

Well, for once, we were able to sit down, have dinner and host our guest at the same time. It was seriously a Stress Free Christmas Eve Party!

To hear our guests commenting over and over again how much they love the food left us grinning ear to ear!

We round off the night watching movies and playing Uno Attack.

Sometimes, we put too much emphasis on food, drinks, and entertainment in a party,
that we often forget
It’s the company that counts.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Celebrating DongZhi 冬至 and making TangYuen 湯圓 (Glutinuous Rice Balls)

As the saying goes 冬至大过年. It simply meant that the Winter Solstice Festival holds far more importance than the Chinese Lunar New Year. So therefore, DongZhi 冬至 is one of the most important festival celebrated in the chinese calendar.

Dongzhi 冬至 is a time for the family to get together. One activity that usually occurs during these get together is the making and eating of tangyuan (湯圓) glutinous rice balls, which symbolize reunion. Tangyuan are made from glutinous rice flour. We love to have our glutinous rice balls brightly coloured. The glutinous rice balls may be plain or stuffed. We usually cook the glutinous rice balls in a sweet soup broth. The glutinous Rice balls and the soup broth are then served together in one bowl.
Celebrating DongZhi 冬至 and making TangYuen 湯圓 (Glutinuous Rice Balls)

My grandmother used to make them. And I remembered messing around with the dough as my grandmother patiently roll them into perfection. But, ever since my grandmother passed on, I haven’t had homemade glutinous Rice Balls for a long long time until I met Kitson.

My mother-in-law would make glutinous Rice Balls religiously for every DongZhi. From her, I found the warmth of homemade glutinous Rice Balls that was lost for so many years.

Now that I have a family of my own, I do my best in preserving this tradition so that these colorful glutinous Rice Balls could be enjoyed at every DongZhi. Hiroshi and Sophia had so much fun rolling out these colorful glutinous Rice Balls. And eating what you’ve personally rolled out is twice as delicious for the kids!

Recipe for TangYuen 湯圓 (Glutinous Rice Balls)
Ingredients:
250g glutinous Rice Flour
200ml Warm Water
Food Coloring (Optional)

Sugar
Pandan Leaves Water
Manuka Honey

Direction:
1. Mix glutinous Rice Flour with Water to form a dough
2. Divide dough and color each one with different food coloring.
3. Roll dough into small rice balls. (While covering the rest of the unused dough under a damp muslin cloth.)
4. In a medium pot, boil water with sugar and pandan leaves.
5. Drop glutinous Rice Balls into boiling water. Rice balls are ready once they are seen floating on the surface of the water.
6. Scoop up.
7. Serve glutinous Rice Balls together a Bowl of Manuka Honey Water.

Happy Winter Solstice Festival!
 Wishing your family a Blessed Reunion and a Great Year Ahead!