Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

As I noted in my previous post, February 14th marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year (also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival), which lasts for fifteen days and ends with the Lantern Festival.  My friends Myrtle, CAChick05, and I ushered in the New Year by preparing a Chinese meal, making our own fortune cookies (using the kit pictured above), and lighting sparklers. Without further ado, I give you our evening:

Chinese New Year dinner: Sweet & Sour Pork, Buddha's Delight, Stir-Fried Brussel Sprout Petals, Jasmine Rice

Notice the liberal use of the color red. In Chinese culture, red is considered the color for abundance and is prominent in Chinese New Year celebrations. 

The Make Your Own Fortune Cookies kit includes several recipes: Auspicious Sesame Curls, Curled Walnut Fortune Cookies, Griddle Fortune Cookies, Lucky Pistachio Curls, Biggest Ever Fortune Cookies, Minty-Mint Fortune Cookies, Chocolate Fortune Cookies (lost on me, as I'm allergic), Coffee Fortune Cookies (more caffeine, please!), Citrus Fortune Cookies, Butter Almond Fortune Cookies, Rainbow-Colored Fortune Cookies, Chocolate-Dipped Fortune Cookies, and finally Traditional Vanilla Fortune Cookies, which we made because they are described as NEW YEAR COOKIES.

We followed the recipe as shown here:

This is what the cookies looked like before Myrtle folded them (not too appetizing, in my opinion):

Because the cookies had just been removed from the oven and were still hot, Myrtle donned white cotton gloves (included in the kit) in order to fold them.

She first placed a pre-printed cookie insert (fortune or not-a-fortune, we wouldn't know until later) on the round, unfolded cookie.

She then folded the cookie in half.

Finally, Myrtle followed the directions to "gently pull the ends downward to form a semicircle."

The cookies were then placed in a muffin pan to cool and set.

How were they? Well...they did taste like vanilla, but they were also quite thin and almost rubbery in texture. Instead of breaking or crumbling as commercial fortune cookies do, our cookies needed to be torn. However, the two cookies that I saved did harden overnight. Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't specify a length of time to wait before consuming, except for "until cold."

We capped off our celebration by incorporating the ancient Chinese tradition of fireworks. Bamboo stems filled with gunpowder were lit to create small explosions that would then drive away evil spirits, according to Chinese lore. For our Chinese New Year celebration, CAChick05 brought sparklers. Yay!

CAChick05 with the sparklers (clearly very excited to be holding fire). I apologize for the blurry picture. It was cold, she was hopping around due to excitement, and, let's not forget, holding fire.



  1. Looks like a wonderfully fun and yummy evening. Makes me want to order Chinese tonight. :)

  2. For New Year's we made Chicken with red pepper & broccoli in Hoisin sauce - hope that counts!

    My Fortune Cookie recipe came from a Chinese chef in Chicago back in the late 1970's. It uses the same technique for baking, folding, letting harden in muffin tin, etc., but the proportion of the ingredients is different:

    Oven at 375 °F

    Stir a rounded 3/4 cup sugar into 3 unbeaten egg whites until sugar is dissolved.
    Beat in 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
    Add a rounded 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheets sprayed with Pam, 6 to a sheet. Bake about 5 minutes.

    They weren't as crunchy as the restaurant kind but not rubbery!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Good grief, the verification is "Festo"

  3. WOW! Yum!!!! Sounds and looked delicous! The red plates, etc. really accentuated the occasion. Good job! Know it was delicious! I imagine the fc's took some time to make, but how much fun was that! Congrats on a great meal!!!!!!

  4. very impressed. looks like you girls had a fun evening. we will be celebrating the new year with friends this weekend with dim sum and the lion dance. should be fun.

  5. Dad wants to know if there is any left? Ha!


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