Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Last week, Marc & I had the honor of being invited to our Chinese friends' beautiful home for a dumpling dinner as part of the continuing Chinese New Year week celebrations. Eating dumplings or "jiaozi" in Mandarin (pronounced jiyao-dzuh) is a big tradition of Chinese New Year week, usually eaten during the fifth day in Northern China. Dumplings are said to symbolize wealth because of their shape which looks like the gold ingot from ancient China. They also symbolize bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new. 

Chopping chives for the dumpling stuffing
I got my first ever course in dumpling making through the expert skills of my Chinese friends, and it was great  fun. Making the stuffing is easy enough which consists of a mixture of ground pork, peeled shrimps, a special Chinese garlic-soy sauce, Chinese powdered seasoning, and chopped chives. But placing the stuffing neatly into the dumpling wrappers and folding them into that famous fan-shape, an almost accordion-like shape was trickier than I thought! 

Learning to properly fold the dumpling

My first few dumplings looked abysmal (as Simon Cowell used to say on American Idol) to say the least! But after watching closely, observing and a little practice...I started to get the hang of it and little by little, my dumplings finally started to take shape. I still don't think I would ever be hired to make dumplings in a restaurant....but for a home-cooked meal, I'd say I didn't do that bad. 

After the dumplings are all set, all that's left is to boil them in a pot while constantly stirring under gently, so they don't stick to the bottom. Adding a little salt to the water separates the dumplings from sticking to each other as well. 

The dumplings all ready to be boiled
I learned a lot in this crash course and hope to make some more "jiaozi" in the future, but for now, I'll just enjoy what I love doing best...eating them! They are just DELICIOUS!!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Chinese New Year week just ended a few days ago and welcomed the arrival of the Year of the Snake amidst all the crazy celebration dinners and noisy fireworks that went on daily until the wee hours of the morning. Despite the noise that went on for days, the brightly lit sky and colorful firework displays were beautiful to look at and essential to bring good fortune for the new year.

This has been my first post in more than a month now. I'm blaming this partially on my state of semi-hibernation due to the freezing temperatures over here in Northeast China. Going out and discovering new things just isn't applicable during the winter months here in Dalian, so forgive me, but I will make up for it!

So, what can we look forward to this year according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar? Well, 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake to be precise. People born in 1953 and this year 2013 are Water Snakes, said to be influential, motivated, insightful and highly intellectual. Snakes work well with others but are also often private and reveal their innermost feelings only to those closest to them.

Some predictions say that 2013 will be a year of new discoveries in research and technology. When doing business deals, contracts etc., a little caution and good planning is recommended. With a lot of hard work, achieving one's dreams looks promising this year. This is also a year of looking inside yourself for more direction, knowledge or spirituality.

What are you looking forward to this year? Happy Year of the Snake!

Chinese New Year decorations primarily consist of red and gold
and the fish symbols, which bring good fortune.

Red Lanterns are also favorite decorations
The Hilton Bear all dressed up for Chinese New Year