Wednesday, February 2, 2011

E.A.T. World Challenge (China)

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.

Coconut Rice
Rice with organic Tamari and Peas & Carrots

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!

Seitan Broccoli and Hoisin Stir Fry

I based this dish on's Chinese Vegetable and Hoisin Stir Fry recipe.

Vermicelli and Vegetables

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.

We also had fruit salad for dessert, inspired by the Chinese belief in "good luck" fruit salad.

I am including this post as a part of


  1. Wow - everything looks so good. And how fun for the kids!!

  2. What a fab and fun idea! It all looks really good! It may be a little late for MoFo, but just in time for Chinese New Year!

  3. what fun! i always love to see kids who are adventurous eaters.

  4. Super cute! What a fun idea! You are right in time for Chinese new year, which is tomorrow. My husband is part Chinese, so I am trying to figure out what to do tomorrow as well. I cleaned my house today though, as part of the day before tradition for Chinese New Year. Well, Happy Chinese New Year tomorrow!

  5. Holy cow, Jenny! This is the best EAT World ever! I love all the beautiful decorations! How fun! All kids should get to enjoy Family Fun Nights like this. Way cool!

    All the food looks amazing, but I am particularly drooling over the broccoli and seitan stir fry. Gimme! :D

    Happy Chinese New Year!

  6. I love the Chinese culture and even though the Chinese do eat meat, it's fairly easy to make it vegan, as you've demonstrated. It all looks very good.

  7. How super fun and super creative!!! The decorations are great! Looks like everyone had a blast!

  8. This looks like lots of fun, and I'm glad to hear the coconut rice came out well adding the coconut milk afterward. What a great variety of food!

  9. That looks like the funnest party ever. Your kids are so lucky.

  10. The seitan broccoli stir-fry and vermicelli look really good! I have to say they look quite authentic :)

  11. I'm so impressed! The food looks fabulous and the kids look happy!

  12. "Moo Goo Gai Pan" lol i love how you said that you worked that all evening:)

    everything looks sooo GOOD!! and everyone looks so happy:)

  13. Jenny,
    This is so fun! My granddaugher is Chinese so this is a great idea!
    I left you something at my blog!

  14. I think your "bland cook" days are over. No one will believe you now. :D

  15. Whoa, that looks like a four star Chinese restuarant over there! How long did it take you to make all those dishes? I am not showing my kids this post, or else they'll expect something more than the usual one or two dishes per unit study! Good job!

  16. "Sort of" recipes are my favorite kind! The seitan & broccoli looks mega-delicious, I'm going to have to try that out myself!

  17. Blessed Mama, I worked on it a little here and there all day, since I had 7 kids to take care of. THIS IS NOT a normal night for us, ha! We are used to one thing at a time.

    Thank you, everyone!

  18. How exciting!! And everything looks wonderful! Yay for libraries :) That's awesome that you homeschool. My sisters do too and it's made me aware of how many wonderful resources and activities are available to homeschoolers.

  19. I love this kind of Chinese food, I think they have a lot of good dishes, like these ones and others a little bit better..