Archive for February, 2010

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.

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.

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.

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


Copyright 2009-2018 by Nurturing Wisdom


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The snowstorm started at noon Friday. It snowed throughout the night and ended at noon on Saturday. The roads had gotten so slippery Friday night that we could not drive uphill, so we drove downhill. Well, downhill eventually became uphill. If it weren’t for the snow, we would have seen the tire marks on the road. The road was a sheet of ice. We were stuck! My daughter and I got out of the car and pushed uphill while my husband steered the car. We finally pushed our car into a parking space a few blocks from our house and walked home. It was quite a workout. The snow was up to my knees. We were glad to be home.

We were snowed in for the weekend. After some shoveling on Saturday, a bowl of hot Arame Kale Soup was perfect.

Arame Kale Soup is a great alternative to coffee or hot chocolate. It’s nourishing and easy to make. The seaweed and kale are a good source of minerals especially calcium. It is also yin (alkaline) for the body—bringing the body into balance after eating foods that are baked, fried, high in grains or meats.

Sometimes I take some of this soup with me in a thermos as an alternative to coffee or tea when I work in my studio.

Arame Kale Soup

Serves 3


1/4 Cup arame (a sea vegetable)

1/2 Cup filtered water

3 Cups soup stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

1/2 bunch of organic kale

1. Rinse arame until water runs clear. Then soak  in 1/2 Cup of filtered water (about 15 minutes).

it will double in size. Drain and rinse 3 more times.

2. Wash kale.

3. In a pot, bring soup stock to a boil.

4. Add kale to the boiling soup stock.

Roughly tear apart each leaf of kale. Sometimes if the stalk is tough, I hold onto the end of the stalk with my left hand, and I wrap my right hand around the entire stalk. I pull with my left hand while my right hand slides along the length of the stalk removing the greens from both sides of the stalk. I then tear the greens into smaller pieces.

I save the tough stalk for soup stock.

5. Cover and simmer until the kale is tender.

6. Add the cleaned arame to the soup.

7. Cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

8. Serve in bowls.

Suggestions and Modifications: To make this a complete, balanced meal in terms of its yin-yang (acid-alkaline) properties, a protein (cooked chicken, grass-fed beef, or organic ham) may be added. I usually garnish this soup with some leftover meat. Add a salad and you’ll have a light and nourishing meal.

For protein types, add more meat.

I love to add pieces of grass-fed liver to my soup. Since the other members of my family don’t like liver, I remove a  portion of soup for myself and add the liver in a separate pot. I watch the liver as it cooks so it doesn’t overcook.

Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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Apple Delight is deliciously delightful. Clean and simple are the only accurate words to describe this easy to prepare dessert. The slight souriness of the apples is balanced by the sweetness of the raisins. A topping of slivered almonds and whole coconut milk give it crunch and creaminess.

The yin (alkaline) apples, almonds, and raisins balance out any meat meal that’s yang (acid).

Apple Delight

Serves 3-4


2 or 3 organic Braeburns or apple of your choice

1/2 Cup of organic raisins

1/2 Cup filtered water

1/2 Cup of slivered almonds

1/4 to 1/2 Cup of coconut milk

1. Quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter into 5 or 6  pieces.

2. Place raisins in the bottom of a sauce pan. Cover with filtered water.

3. Add apple pieces.

4. Cover and simmer until apples are soft.

5. Serve in bowls.

6. Top with coconut milk and almond slivers.

Suggestions and modifications:

The slivered almonds can be toasted to make them extra crunchy and to heighten their flavor. Different nuts can be used. I wanted a yin (alkaline) nut to balance the beef we had for dinner.

Different apples or fruit may be used. I selected Braeburn Apples. The Braeburns were actually sweet, but when paired with the raisins, they tasted slightly sour! I’ve tried this recipe with MacIntosh Apples and they were also great with the raisins, only more sour.

Make sure to purchase organic apples since non-organic apples are heavily sprayed.

Cinnamon or nutmeg can be sprinkled on top.

You may just want to mash the steamed apples with a fork and eat this luscious treat as apple sauce.

Other milks or creams may also be used.

This recipe is featured in the Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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