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Happy New Year! Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is the most important holiday for the Chinese people. It is a season for celebration, food, visiting family and friends.

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, this is the year 4716.

As a child growing up in New York City where a few of my relatives from our village in Toy Shan ( a rural town in Guangdong Province) lived, the new year meant endless days of dinners and visits with relatives. Our laundry home was extra clean for the occasion. Plates or bowls of either oranges or tangerines were placed throughout our humble but spotless home . Tangerines are symbolic of good luck, and oranges represent wealth.

On New Year’s Eve my mom made a huge dinner—fish, chicken, seaweed soup, squid, abalone, roasted pig, vermicelli noodles, tofu, various vegetables, and of course rice. The meal had at least 12 to 15 dishes. Each dish was symbolic of the good wishes for the new year. The chicken had to be complete with head, neck, and feet to symbolize completeness. A form of noodles was server to symbolize long life. A whole fish was symbolic of never lacking, you’ll always have since the pronunciation for the word fish in Chinese sounds similar to the pronunciation of the word to have. Enough food was made for the new year’s eve dinner to make sure there would be leftovers, a symbol that you had an abundance of food.

One of the favorite foods for my sister and brothers was a sesame ball my mom and dad made during Chinese New Year. In my Cantonese dialect, Toy Shan, they are called  tee doy. Mom made these for the family and took them to the relatives during our new year’s visits.

I can remember my mom starting the process after the dinner dishes were washed the day before new year’s eve. She liked to make them undisturbed through the night. I can still remember the aroma of hot sweet potato and brown sugar wafting through the cold laundry air as she stirred the mixture over a two burner stove as we slept.

In the morning, we’d awaken to the smell of hot oil and the gentle sizzle of the tee doys cooking, our alarm clock. We were eager to taste these once a year treats.

Mom’s recipe changed through the years. When were children, the filling was crushed peanuts, sweetened shredded coconut, Chinese dried dates, and chunks of pork fat. Our job was to crush the peanuts with a glass bottle that served as our rolling pin. Eventually pork fat was given up for a healthier filling—freshly ground organic Valencia peanut butter and lotus seed paste.

The outer skin, made of glutinous rice flour and Chinese brown sugar, varied with the addition of sweet potato or no sweet potato depending upon its availability. Today I use as much sweet potato as the dough will allow me to increase the nutrition and fiber to these sweet golden jewels. When these are made right, the skin is crispy, thin on the outside and chewy on the inside. The filling is creamy and flavors the neutral glutinous rice flour skin. If crunchy peanut butter is used, there is an added surprise crunch as you chew.

To enhance your enjoyment of the Chinese New Year, may I suggest you complement the celebration with the viewing of my painting, Still Life with Tangerine, Ceramic Pot, and Grape.

新年快乐!(xin nian kuai le) Happy New Year!

Copyright 2009-2018 by Nurturing Wisdom

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Tee Doys

Mom’s recipe changed through the years. When were children, the filling was crushed peanuts, sweetened shredded coconut, Chinese dried dates, and pork fat. Our job was to crush the peanuts with a glass bottle that served as our rolling pin. Eventually pork fat was given up for a healthier filling—freshly ground Valencia peanut butter and lotus seed paste.

The outer layer, made of glutinous rice flour and Chinese brown sugar, varied with the addition of sweet potato or no sweet potato depending upon its availability. I use as much sweet potato as the dough will allow me to increase the nutrition and fiber to these sweet golden jewels. When these are made right, the outer layer is crispy and thin on the outside and chewy on the inside. The filling is creamy and flavors the neutral glutinous rice flour exterior. If crunchy peanut butter is used, there is an added surprise crunch as you chew.

Tee Doys (Sesame Balls)

Makes about 39 plus (extra good when shared with friends and neighbors)

1/4 Cup of raw sesame seeds

2/3 Cup of filtered water

1 sweet potato about 1 3/4 lb. (peel and cut into cubes)

1 lb. of Chinese brown sugar or substitute with coconut crystals

1 lb. of freshly ground organic Valencia peanut butter

1 lb. of lotus seed paste

1/2 Cup of cold filtered water

2/3 Cup of Thai glutinous rice flour

1 box of Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour

32 ounces of high heat cooking oil (sunflower oil)

The Chinese brown sugar and lotus seed paste can be purchased in Chinese grocery stores. The brown sugar may come in blocks of 10 pieces or 5 piece packs. Use a total of one pound. If you use a large sweet potato, use less sugar.

The Thai Glutinous Rice Flour and Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour  can also be purchased at Chinese grocery stores. The Thai Glutinous Rice Flour is more finely ground.

Utensils:

measuring cup

medium bowl for peanut butter-lotus seed paste

small bowl for sesame seeds

medium bowl for gooey Thai glutinous flour-water mixture

medium pot

wok

rack to hold wok in place

small rack to drain tee doys (sesame balls)

1 pair of wooden chopsticks or a wooden spoon with a flat edge

1 teaspoon to spoon peanut butter-lotus seed filling into each tee doy

1 fork to mash sweet potatoes

1. Toast sesame seeds in medium pot. Place in small bowl. Set aside.

2. Peel and cube sweet potato.

3. Place cubed sweet potato and 2/3 cup water in medium pot and bring to boil. Lower flame. Cook until    soft.

4. Mash sweet potato with fork.

5. Break Chinese brown sugar into smaller pieces and add to mashed sweet potato. Cover.

6. Cook mixture until all the sugar is dissolved over a low flame. If more water is needed, add a small amount. Keep an eye on the mixture. Stir occasionally with wooden chopsticks or wooden spoon. Don’t let mixture overflow or burn.

7. In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup of cold water to 2/3 cup of Thai glutinous rice flour. Mix. It will look gooey.

8. With wooden chopsticks or a wooden spoon, stir small amounts of the gooey glutinous rice mixture into the pot of sugar-sweet potato. Continue adding and stirring. The mixture will get stiff and turn darker. As you stir, it will cook and start to pull away from the sides of the pot as you stir.

9. Coat a cookie sheet or marble slab with Mockiko Sweet Rice Flour. Reserve some flour for coating hands and dough.

10. Place a half box of Mochiko flour on to cookie sheet or marble slab.

11. Make a well in the pile of flour and pour a small amount of the hot sweet potato-sugar-glutinous rice flour mixture into the well. Start kneading the mixture. Continue adding more flour a bit at a time as you knead until the dough is no longer sticky—almost the entire box. Be careful with the hot mixture!

12. Break about 1 1/2 inches of dough off and roll into a ball.

13. Press ball into the reserved Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour.

14. Press the reverse side of ball into sesame seeds.

15. Over the dish of sesame seeds, start to make a bowl-shape. Push down into the side of dough with flour using your thumbs. Turn the bowl-shape as you press the sides of the bowl between your thumbs and index fingers to make the wall of the bowl thinner.

16. Fill the bowl-shape with the peanut butter-lotus seed filling.

17. Using your thumb and index finger bring about 1/16th of an inch together on the edge of the bowl. Repeat this around the entire edge until the opening is smaller.

18. Pinch opening closed.

19. Flatten long piece of dough.

20. Fold piece of dough back.

21. Heat oil until hot but not smoking. Keep the flame low to low-medium. When you smell the oil, it is hot enough to start cooking the tee doys.

22. Place one tee doy into the hot oil. Gently move it around in the hot oil with your wooden chopsticks.

23. When the tee doy turns slightly golden, place another tee doy into the oil. Gently move the tee doys around and keep them separated with your chopsticks. Continue adding a new tee doy as the  previous tee doy turns slightly golden. I usually have 3 tee doys of different degrees of doneness in the wok.

24. When the tee doy is golden, remove it from the oil and place on the draining rack on the wok. If you don’t have a draining rack, use a dish with paper towels.

25. After they’re drained and cooled, they can be served with your favorite beverage or eaten as a snack.

There’s nothing like biting into a freshly cooked tee doy. The dough is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They’re even more delicious the next day. The sweet potato and rice flour flavors are more pronounced.

Modifications and Suggestions:

Tee doys are served during the Chinese New Year as a holiday treat, usually once a year. As with serving any fried foods, I try to maintain the alkaline-acid balance, the proper omega 6–omega 3 ratios, and  boost the antioxidant levels by adding other nutritious ingredients and foods to the rest of the day’s meals.

1. Only use high-heat oils sunflower or safflower or avocado oil (a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid). Don’t use low or medium heat oils. They may become carcinogenic when heated too high or to its smoking point.

Since omega 6 oils are very unstable, don’t reuse the oil.

I’ve been thinking of trying coconut oil to cook my tee doys next year. I understand that coconut oil can be heated to 350º. I’ll heat the oil close to 350º and see how well a tee doy cooks.

If you have fried in coconut oil, please let me know what you think.

2. Sunflower and safflower, canola, peanut, soybean oils are all polyunsaturated oils with no omega 3’s or a very low omega 3 to omega 6 ratio; therefore, I balance these treats with some omega 3’s—fish or krill oil, eat some fish high in omega 3 (salmon or cod) during a meal, or serve omega 3 eggs during breakfast.

3. Eat or drink some extra antioxidants—blueberries, dark chocolate, prunes, oregano, or green tea.

4. Balance these fried treats (acid) with an alkaline soup or eat a seaweed salad during the day.


 


Copyright 2009-2018 by Nurturing Wisdom

Happy New Year! Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is the most important holiday for the Chinese people. It is a season for celebration, food, visiting family and friends.

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, this is the year 4710.

As a child growing up in New York City where a few of my relatives from our village in Toy Shan ( a rural town in Guangdong Province) lived, the new year meant endless days of dinners and visits with relatives. Our laundry home was extra clean for the occasion. Plates or bowls of either oranges or tangerines were placed throughout our humble but spotless home . Tangerines are symbolic of good luck, and oranges represent wealth.

On New Year’s Eve my mom made a huge dinner—fish, chicken, seaweed soup, squid, abalone, roasted pig, vermicelli noodles, tofu, various vegetables, and of course rice. The meal had at least 12 to 15 dishes. Each dish was symbolic of the good wishes for the new year. The chicken had to be complete with head, neck, and feet to symbolize completeness. A form of noodles was server to symbolize long life. A whole fish was symbolic of never lacking, you’ll always have since the pronunciation for the word fish in Chinese sounds similar to the pronunciation of the word to have. Enough food was made for the new year’s eve dinner to make sure there would be leftovers, a symbol that you had an abundance of food.

One of the favorite foods for my sister and brothers was a sesame ball my mom and dad made during Chinese New Year. In my Cantonese dialect, Toy Shan, they are called  tee doy. Mom made these for the family and took them to the relatives during our new year’s visits.

I can remember my mom starting the process after the dinner dishes were washed the day before new year’s eve. She liked to make them undisturbed through the night. I can still remember the aroma of hot sweet potato and brown sugar wafting through the cold laundry air as she stirred the mixture over a two burner stove as we slept.

In the morning, we’d awaken to the smell of hot oil and the gentle sizzle of the tee doys cooking, our alarm clock. We were eager to taste these once a year treats.

Mom’s recipe changed through the years. When were children, the filling was crushed peanuts, sweetened shredded coconut, Chinese dried dates, and chunks of pork fat. Our job was to crush the peanuts with a glass bottle that served as our rolling pin. Eventually pork fat was given up for a healthier filling—freshly ground organic Valencia peanut butter and lotus seed paste.

The outer skin, made of glutinous rice flour and Chinese brown sugar, varied with the addition of sweet potato or no sweet potato depending upon its availability. Today I use as much sweet potato as the dough will allow me to increase the nutrition and fiber to these sweet golden jewels. When these are made right, the skin is crispy, thin on the outside and chewy on the inside. The filling is creamy and flavors the neutral glutinous rice flour skin. If crunchy peanut butter is used, there is an added surprise crunch as you chew.

To enhance your enjoyment of the Chinese New Year, may I suggest you complement the celebration with the viewing of my painting, Still Life with Tangerine, Ceramic Pot, and Grape.

新年快乐!(xin nian kuai le) Happy New Year!

Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

I’ve been pondering about the source of creativity and what enhances its growth.

Creativity often feels like a river welling up within me. I only know the realness of this power when I’m practicing my craft, painting; but even more so when I haven’t painted for a while, when I’ve been without. I can’t go for too long without holding the implements of my craft. Just putting my brush to paint allows the flow of this spirited river. Some of my artists friends have felt this same energy when they cook a special meal, compose a song, write poem, paint a painting, perform a dance, play an instrument, or create a design. They too, have felt out of sorts and are about to burst, when they haven’t practiced their craft for a while.

I have had the tremendous honor of repeating this creative process over and over again as a painter. The times when I’ve been satisfied with what I’ve painted, I step back from my painting, look at it from different angles and say to myself, This is good.

I feel an intimate relationship with chefs, composers, writers, poets, painters, dancers, musicians, and designers who have shared their talents with me and others by allowing this river to flow through them. Whether I view a museum painting, experience fine dining, read a poem, examine the intricate details of a design, or listen to a symphony; I sometimes say to myself, This is good.  The art has taken my breath away. It has touched my spirit and lingers in my mind. I can’t forget it. I want to go back and experience it again and again. The art resonates within me, and I’m willing to purchase it. It lingers in my mind so much that I’m willing to pay a price for it. I say to myself, This is good.

My ponderings on the source of creativity have taken me back to the beginning:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… and God saw that it was good… . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them… . God saw all that He had made, and  behold, it was very good… . (Genesis 1: 1, 25, 26, 31 NASB)

These verses show me a creative and intelligent God who has created me. Since I have been created in His image; I too, have this creativity. He is the source of my creativity. It’s really all His. I’ve also noticed the words used to describe God’s observation of His creation each time He completed a part of it, and God saw it was good; and the words of His final observation that punctuates His satisfaction and contentment, God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good when He completed His entire creation. I too, have found myself saying and thinking similar words about my art or the art of others, This is good.

My ponderings on the beginning from Genesis have led me to conclude that ever since the beginning, God hasn’t been able to take His eyes off of His creation, me… us. He lingers and stays with me… us. He just can’t take His eyes off of me… us; in fact, when Adam and Eve disobey God, He offered mankind redemption in His Son, Jesus. God as a loving, compassionate God who offers His Son as a substitute for our misdeeds—a pardon, freedom:

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

When I align myself to God and submit to His plan, I’ve found the source of my creativity and the power that will enhance its grow.

God can’t take His eyes off of what He has created, you… and me. We linger in His mind so much that He was willing to pay a very high price for you… and me. In the same way a patron may pay for my art, God has paid for us, His masterpiece. We… I linger in His mind, and He was willing to pay a very high price for you… me, God saw all that He had made, and  behold, it was very good… . 

Rejoice!

Dear Friends and Family!

I wish you the most joyful holiday season and a healthful 2012!

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)

 

Hot Apple Cobbler

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. The crisp cool air and the array of colors that dance before my eyes is a special treat after the hot summer months of steady green.

It’s a joyous season for gatherings with family and friends to share the season’s bounty of autumn fruits, squashes, and vegetables. It’s a time for cooking together and sharing as the sun sets. I love passing by my neighbors’ houses and enjoying quick glances into their windows as I make my way home each evening!

One of my favorite fruits during this season is freshly picked apples.

Apples are picked in the autumn and may be stored quite awhile before they’re sold, so to make sure you’re selecting the freshest apples, check the bottom of the apple (the opposite end of the stem-where the apple blossom used to be). Look for light green instead of a yellow to brown color.

When buying apples, make sure you buy organic. Apples are sprayed heavily with chemicals that penetrate its skin. Since apples are in season, it is easier to find organic ones on sale. If you buy from a local orchard, make sure to ask whether or not the apples have been sprayed. Buying local doesn’t mean organic.

For weeks we have been enjoying an apple cobbler that’s made with no added sweetener in its apple filling and no grain in its topping. The filling’s sweetness comes directly from the sweetness of the apples. The almond flour topping gets its sweetness from the sweetness of the freshly ground almonds and coconut crystals. For added sweetness, this apple cobbler must be served hot to melt the dollop of vanilla ice cream. No, I’m just kidding!! You can add the dollop of ice cream for festive occasions, but serving this cobbler hot will make it taste sweeter. I recently served it cool and it tasted like a totally different dessert. Please serve this apple cobbler hot!

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Peach Cobbler


One of my favorite desserts is peach cobbler. I know. I know. We should eat what’s in season—like apple cobbler (that’s my next recipe). I just had this yen, and it wouldn’t go away. I had to get it out of my system…I mean into my system.

This is a healthier version. That’s gluten-free with some added protein from the almond topping; vegan; and sweetened with coconut crystals, a low glycemic sugar alternative.

It got rave reviews from my husband. John said, “This tastes like a peach cobbler should taste.”

Peach Cobbler

Serves 6 to 8

Preheat oven 375°

7×7 inch square Pyrex dish

Ingredients:

1. two bags of frozen organic sliced peaches (10 oz. each), thawed—save liquid

2. ten dried pitted dates (four added to peaches and six added to topping)

3. pinch of salt

4. one teaspoon of cinnamon

5. two cups of soaked almonds

6. two Tablespoons of coconut crystals

7. one teaspoon of aluminum-free baking powder

8. four Tablespoons of coconut oil

9. one teaspoon of vanilla

Peach Filling

In a pot:

1. Add the thawed peaches and all the liquid.

2. Add cinnamon.

3. Slice four pitted dates into pieces—lengthwise, crosswise. Add to pot.

4. Simmer until soft.

Filling should be thick, a bit thinner than honey. Taste to adjust sweetness. Add more dates or some coconut crystal. Four dates was sweet enough for me!

Topping

Mix in a bowl:

1. two cups of almond flour—grind in blender or food processor.

2.  Slice six pitted dates into pieces—lengthwise, crosswise. Add to bowl.

3. Add two Tablespoons of coconut crystals (try one tablespoon, add more if needed)

4. Add one teaspoon of aluminum-free baking powder,

5. Add four Tablespoons of coconut oil (straight from the jar)

6. Add one teaspoon of vanilla.

7. Mix and squeeze with hands.

Place the peaches in Pyrex dish. Spoon topping onto filling. Bake until slightly golden—about 35 minutes.

Suggestions and Recommendations:

1. Use Deglet Noor Dates if possible.

2. Top with fresh whipped cream (grass-fed cream) to slow down the sugars.

3. To enhance your dining pleasure, may I suggest that you pair this peach cobbler with the viewing of my painting, Peaches and Cream.


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