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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 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

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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… . 

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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)

 

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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. 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 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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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.

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 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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Recently my husband and I took down our artificial Christmas tree. It’s usually a big  job, so this year we did a little bit each day. We took down the ornaments the first day, then the sting of silver beads the next day, then the lights the following day, and finally the branches of the Christmas tree.

We keep each rung of branches separated and place a rubber band around each set of branches. There is also a specific color at the end of each branch to help us keep them sorted. Since we store our tree in the attic where there are temperature fluctuations the rubber bands dry out and break by the following Christmas— making the assembling of the tree more time consuming and challenging. Since the rubber band is placed around the end of the branch, the smaller branches on each branch remain open, which create more bulk and makes packing the tree more difficult.

This year I wanted to change all that. I wanted to find a new way of securing the branches and have them wrapped tight enough so that all the branches would fit into one storage box.

I had some plastic bags that I’ve kept for such an occasion as this! These recycled plastic bags held all the sorted branches together tightly and will last through several seasons. With a little searching through my recycled plastic bags, I was able to find the right bag length for each set of branches.

I used my thicker plastic bags and ones shorter than the the set of branches I was storing . I snipped a small hole in the center of the bottom of the bag. I inserted my scissors and cut all the way to the end. I flipped the bag and cut to the other end.

This created a hole at the bottom of the bag. Holding the handles of the bag (or holes that serve as handles) I inserted all the same size branches into the bag at one time.

As I push the branches through to the bottom hole of the bag, I continue pulling on the handles until the bag was in the center of the branches. When the bag reached the center of the set of branches, I stopped pulling on the handles. I adjusted the bag to make sure it was in the middle.

I then lined up all the packs of branches in size order. I placed the branch packs into my storage box in descending length from longest to shortest. I then placed the center pole, tree stand, and tree skirt (wrapped in tissue paper) into the box.

Next Christmas, when I put up my Christmas tree, the tree skirt will come out of the box first, then the tree stand, the center pole, and finally the branches from shortest to longest with the shortest going on the pole first, then the next longest until I reach the longest branches.

Label and reuse the plastic bags for as long as they will last. This will make for a few less plastic bags in our landfills and oceans.

I hope this tip will make it easier for you to take down, store , and put up your Christmas tree.

Let me know how this works out for you.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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The Clay Cauldron

Do you have a prayer request?

I’d like to pray with for you. And I’m hoping that many others in Christ will join with me in this honored activity to make our needs known to God. He already understands and knows exactly what you need.

Each of us at one time or another has felt the heartbreak of separation, the lost of a loved one, the disappointment of broken promises, the devastation of betrayed vows, or the reality of dashed dreams. God was present in the  Garden of Eden when man turned his back on Him and was at Calvary during the death of His Son. Yes, He understands and knows how we feel and what we’re going through.

In Destined for the Throne Paul E. Billheimer describes this mysterious process called prayer as on-the-job training for the believers’ (Church’s) preparation to assume its rightful position with Christ in heaven.

You may ask, If God is who He says He is and is all powerful and all knowing, why would He need us to tell Him what we need ? Can’t He just accomplish it?

Billheimer’s book  explains why God needs the Church’s prayers through two analogies. The first analogy is a business check that requires co-signatures. Two people must sign the check so that the bank can release its funds. In terms of prayer, the first signature would be God’s. The second signature would be ours in order for the bank to release the requested funds, the answered prayers.

He uses the opening of a safety deposit box as his second analogy to prayer. Two keys are needed to open a safety deposit box to access the treasures in the box. The bank teller needs the bank’s key and the key from the person who rents the safety deposit box. Both keys will open the box to all the treasures. In terms of prayer, the first key would be God’s, and the second key would be our key. Both God and the believer are needed in the process of prayer.

Checks used by some business firms require the signatures of two individuals to make them valid. One signature is not enough. Both parties must sign. This illustrates God’s method of operating through the prayers and faith of His people. His promises are His checks signed in His own blood, His part was fully completed at Calvary. But no promise is made good until a redeemed man enters the throne room of the universe and, by prayer and faith writes his name beside God’s. Then, and not until then, are the check’s resources released. It is like a safety deposit box in the bank vault. The keeper has a key and you have a key. Neither key alone will open the box. But, when you give the keeper your key, she inserts both keys and the door flies open, making available all the treasures stored in the box. Heaven holds the key by which decisions governing earthy affairs are made but we hold the key by which those decisions are implemented.

It’s one of those books that I immediately planned to reread after the first chapter, because it spoke to my spirit—the Holy Spirit  spoke to my spirit. I just cried like a baby the whole afternoon. I realized what an honor it is that the God of the universe cares and loves me enough to first send His Son to die on the cross as an atonement for my sins; and, then on top of that, He cares enough for me on a daily basis that He wants a moment by moment conversation with me, prayer. It just boggles my mind. I am in such awe and am so grateful for what He’s done that I want to worship Him and thank Him continuously with my thoughts, prayers, deeds, and life.

I worship Him out of gratitude to Him for all He’s done for me. He loves me. I’m not alone in this life.

God loves you and has a very special plan for your life. No matter what your circumstances, He knows about them and loves you.

Many people have prayed for me in the past as they are doing now. God has transformed me from the inside out. The Holy Spirit guides me, comforts me, gives me love, peace, and joy. It’s not about me, but it’s about Him, Jesus:

…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Be inspired by this youtube of Nick Vujicic. See how his life of disability has been changed by the love of Jesus.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord… .(Jeremiah 29:11-14)

I’d like to pray with you.

Do you have a prayer request?

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