Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids :: Lots of Great Resources, Plus a Giveaway!

  Gong Xi Fa Cai! or Happy New Year!

Did you know Chinese New Year is tomorrow? Thursday, February 19th, marks the occasion for this festive holiday featuring whimsical games and crafts, delicious dining options, a peek into the Chinese culture, and the opportunity to share the beauty of this festival with children of all ages. My boys have always enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year not only for the food and festivities, but also for the special red envelopes (hongbao) filled with money given out to children by their elders.

So, what is Chinese New Year all about and how can you share the holiday with your children? The New Year celebration was a way to culturally celebrate ancestors and enjoy a reunion dinner with extended family, as well as a time to begin the year anew with a clean home to usher in good luck. Popular decorations, red in color, would signify good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity for the coming year.

Here are some great ways to ring in the Chinese New Year with family and friends:

  • Visit a favorite Chinese restaurant! Panda Express is offering a FREE chicken eggroll tomorrow in honor of the holiday. The coupon can be found here.

  • Read several books about the Chinese culture and the holiday. I've recently reviewed two wonderful children's books published by the China Institute. In the Forbidden City and This is the Greatest Place. In addition, I am also very fond of Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats, as it is filled with wonderful hands-on craft ideas. Win your very own copy of In the Forbidden City  or This is the Greatest Place  by commenting below about your favorite type of Chinese food or favorite custom of Chinese New Year!

  • Use lesson plans to teach your children about Beijing and the Forbidden Palace. The China Institute provides some wonderful lesson plan resources on their website. In addition, they also have downloadable paper crafts for younger children. One of my boys favorite activities was making paper lanterns!

  • Make your own dumplings! It really isn't very difficult to make your own Chinese dumplings. Here are two wonderful recipes for dumplings shared by my good friend, Kathy and by the Chinese Institute.

  Kathe's Chinese Dumplings

 Combine the following ingredients and set aside in a small bowl:

 1/2 Cup soy sauce
 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
 1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
 1 Tsp. Siracha
To make the filling:

 1 pound ground meat                              1 egg, beaten
 3 garlic cloves, minced.                          1 Tbsp. minced ginger
 2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives.               2 Tbsp. soy sauce
 1 1/2 Tsp. sesame oil                             50 dumpling wrappers
 carrots and cabbage, shredded

Sauté vegetables in sesame oil until tender. Combine veggies, meat and spices. Fill dumpling wrappers with about one heaping tablespoon of mix. Seal dumplings using a mixture of one part rice vinegar and one part water. Steam dumplings until cooked through. Serve with the sauce made above.


Traditional Pork Dumplings by the China Institute


3 cups all-purpose flour                              1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pork & Chive Filling:

1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)             1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
                       1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper    3 Tablespoon sesame oil
 1/2 green onion, finely minced                        1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots       2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one
direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well. Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers. Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers.
To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of

Happy Chinese New Year!

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