baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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archive for February 2010

it’s not over

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Recipe: kung pao chicken

We are quite enjoying the “no cleaning” directive after Chinese New Year. Not that I am an avid house cleaner in general, just that for these two weeks my slacking is condoned. This morning it occurred to me that I am more like my dad than my mom when it comes to cleaning. Dad likes things to be tidy and neat whereas Mom likes to disinfect and scrub until prettier than new. Kaweah was always disappointed when she visited my parents’ house because there was never anything to sniff let alone eat off the floors. Not that we have burgers and cake sitting on the ground, but this dog routinely monitors the state of the kitchen floor and snarfs up the tiniest of crumbs… she’s a lab for crying out loud.

you say the word, and i will eat these grapefruits

Why no cleaning for 2 weeks? It’s because the traditional lunar new year festivities last until the next full moon (Lantern Festival), but my family typically celebrates with a feast on new year’s eve and then they refrain from cleaning for 2 weeks. I guess I also leave the Chinese symbol for luck pasted upside down on our front door until the Lantern Festival. Anyway, even though the big party is over, I’m just telling you that it’s not officially over. I’m sort of having a little party of my own here…

little tripod, meet tripod on steroids (it’s tall, i’m standing on a chair)

I’m learning that the upgrade never really ends and that compact, lightweight, durable precision instruments are beautiful and ridiculously pricey. Well, for that matter, large, heavy precision optics are also beautiful and ridiculously pricey. I’m pretty sure these are tears of joy falling down my face…

two newest members of the lens family (left)

There is only one recipe left from our Chinese New Year’s Eve menu to be posted and I wanted to share that with you before I resumed staring lovingly at the new lenses I am cradling in my arms. I had an old kung pao chicken recipe for years and it was decent. I never ordered it in restaurants because it was so easy to make at home. One day I saw Bee had posted a recipe for kung pao chicken, and it looked heavenly. I bookmarked it to try and never got around to doing so until last week. [Hey, I never said I wasn’t slow about some things.]

green onions, bamboo shoots, ginger, red chili peppers, garlic, cashews

diced chicken meat

**Jump for more butter**

xin nian quai le

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Recipe: red bean ice cream

Gong Xi Fa Tsai! Xin Nian Quai Le. Wung Shir Rui.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Congratulations, good fortune to you, and may you receive all your heart desires. More than any other day of the year, on this day I feel so much good will toward people. Remembrance for the ancestors and loved ones who are no longer here with us. Love for the wonderful people in my life. Gratitude for this life. The big party is done and the house is clean. Our refrigerator is stocked to the hilt with leftovers. It’s a good day. I have every intention of making it a good year too. How about it?

celebrating the new year with friends

When I started celebrating the lunar new year on my own (in college) it was usually Chinese take out for dinner. Slowly, over the years, I learned to make the various dishes that my family typically celebrates with on the eve of the new year. It has grown on me. The longer I have been away from home, the stronger my ties to my culture and the cuisine (it’s almost ALL about the food, yo) have become. My parents, my grandma, my aunts – they all put on their own feasts. My sister used to call me on Chinese New Year’s Eve on her way home from work and ask what she could whip together for dinner because she wanted my nephew to learn the traditions of our family, our culture. Kris was not a cook like the rest of my family, but passing on this celebration to little Benjamin was important to her. I miss those calls.

These days, I try to make a point of sharing the feast with friends. The more people you have, the more dishes you can serve! Plus, I am often heard (loudly) bemoaning the utter lack of decent Chinese food in these parts of Colorado so much that Chinese New Year is the right time to step up to the plate and show people what I mean when I say real Chinese food. Each year I expand the repertoire by a recipe or two. Last night, while cooking for a dozen people, it became painfully clear to me why my parents have outdoors burners with enough BTUs to launch a rocket. Still, I think we all had a good time.

lucky ten ingredient vegetables (everything your heart desires)

my favorite bean sprouts (money)

Here’s what was on the menu:

shrimp toast
cellophane noodle soup
lucky ten ingredient vegetable
stir fried soybean sprouts
sautéed chinese barbecue beef with chinese broccoli
kung pao chicken
steamed brown rice
lemon tart
chocolate mousse
green tea matcha ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream
coffee ice cream
red bean ice cream

chocolate mousse shots

kaweah snuggles up with nichole while everyone plays on the nintendo wii

**Jump for more butter**

are you ready, tiger?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Recipe: stir-fried beef with chinese barbecue sauce

There just is not enough time in a day. Or a week for that matter. It’s February! How did this happen? Either my memory sucks (always a possibility) or more likely than not, I’ve packed my calendar to the hilt. Okay both. Work hard. Play hard. Sleep is for losers. Last night was Ignite Boulder 8 and it was the largest Ignite in the world topping out around 830 attendees! Word. Every time I go I’m amazed and impressed by the organizers, the speakers, and the community. I’ve snuck peeks at other Ignites around the country online and well… *yawners*. Boulder’s Ignite is aptly named (it’s IGNITE, not FALL ASLEEP). Every time I come home after an Ignite Boulder, my face hurts from laughing and smiling so much.

head honcho andrew hyde

mel sportin’ the coolest shirt (the back reads: “poke me”)

thank you, organizers!

The ephemerides tell us that the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year – year of the Tiger) and Valentine’s Day coincide this Sunday, February 14th. Even though I scrunch my nose at Valentine’s Day, there isn’t really a conflict because the Big Partay for Chinese New Year is on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday on my calendar. I can get away with blowing off Christmas and Thanksgiving routinely, but the week of Chinese New Year is my frenzy time. It’s a good frenzy because I like to share the celebration with friends.

red envelopes, fruit

In planning the menu for this weekend, I had to balance logistics with tradition. There are certain dishes I will not be preparing because it’s too time-consuming or it isn’t enough to serve a dozen people or I don’t have enough burners to cover that many stir-fries. For a beef recipe, I decided to try something new – stir-fried beef with Chinese BBQ sauce (sa tsa or sa cha).

it’s mostly flank steak and green onions

easier to slice semi-frozen

**Jump for more butter**