I had almost finished this post back in the days of Vegan Mofo, but then I went on vacation and never finished it. So...a little late, I present to you, "Our Night in China." Update: So...duh! It's Chinese New Year! Perfect timing! Happy Chinese New Year!
We like to celebrate big things and little things in our house. We have what we call "Family Fun Nights" with special themes. Often, they go along with what we are learning about at the time.(For example: here was our Ocean Unit party.)
Recently, the 4 kids of good friends of ours spent the night at our house. They are homeschoolers, too, and they appreciated joining in on a little of our Asian studies we've had going on around here lately.
We made hats and fans and looked at books and talked about the Chinese culture and food. (And we decorated with paper lanterns, etc. that we already had in our "party supply" tubs.)
We like to get recipe ideas from the juvenile non-fiction section of the library. There are a lot of pictures and easy, step-by-step instructions for the kids (easily veganized). I'd actually recommend children's cooking books for visual-learning adults like myself! Here are two of the Chinese food books we read: Foods of China by Barbara Sheen & A World of Recipes: China (There are several other country titles in this series.) by Julie McCulloch.
Here, they had rice cooked 3 ways; that seemed easy enough.
Fried Tofu with Rice
For our "fried rice with eggs," we just fried tofu in a skillet and mixed it with long grain rice and a little sprinkling of soy sauce.
The coconut rice was very interesting; the kids were shoveling it in! You are supposed to cook it in coconut milk for it to soak in the flavor. But I didn't have time to make a separate batch of rice so I just poured the (canned) coconut milk into the rice with a little sprinkling of organic sugar. The other section is just rice with (from frozen) peas & carrots.
Moo Goo Gai Pan
I was very excited and proud of myself for this one. I was just excited about making something called Moo Goo Gai Pan. I wove it into the conversation that night as many times as possible. I am a rather bland cook, and I'm a dunce when it comes to spices so this was stepping out for me! Here is a "sort-of" recipe:
*1 bag of Buffalo style Gardein strips (without using the sauce), tossed with salt, pepper, garlic, and organic cornstarch
*Cook shiitake mushrooms in a little oil, add 4 tbs. soy sauce. Mix in chopped onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and fresh minced garlic. (I added a tiny bit of ginger and would have added more if my kids weren't eating it.
*Stir in the sauce (about 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 2 tbs. hoisin sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1 tbs. cornstarch.
I say this is a "sort of" recipe because I was trying to jot down everything I did, but I didn't measure the veggies, etc. and just "sort of" did what looked "right." It was delicious!
I based this dish on about.com's Chinese Vegetable and Hoisin Stir Fry recipe.
Everybody also got a small glass of Cherry Apple Rooibos Tea (mixed with a little sugar) to try. Some kids liked it, and some did not. My oldest child gulped down cup after cup.
These two are quite a (comical) handful when you get them together. (That's my 5 year old on the right.) Fortunately, our house guests are used to healthy food and vegetables at home; they weren't picky (like some of the other kids who come to our house) and ate everything (although I didn't offer them the soy dishes because I know their Mom is leery of it).
You wouldn't believe what the aftermath of 7 kids mixed with rice, noodles, and chopsticks looks like.
We made the Sweet Chestnut Balls Recipe from the A World of Recipes: China book. They are made from processing chestnuts with a little agave nectar. (The recipe called for honey.) This is what they looked like before the balls were rolled in powdered sugar and cinnamon.
And this is with the cinnamon and powdered sugar. I rolled them in the sugar right before they ate them because if not, the sugar soaked into the ball and became invisible. These were tasty but a little sweet for my tastebuds to eat more than one.
I am including this post as a part of