Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Rabbit. Part of today's homeschooling focused on the Chinese New Year. I read the girls a book about Chinese New Year as well as a book that I've read to them in the past that they've enjoyed: The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine.
In the back of the book, there's a recipe for Baked Nian-Gao (or New Year's cake). According to the book, the most improtant dish in a New Year's Day meal is Nian-Gao. It states, "Eating Nian-Gao during the New Year's celebration birng safety and fortune to the entire family for the year."
So, I let the girls read the recipe in the book, measure the ingredients, and bake the cake. Here's the recipe:
1 pound glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) [I didn't have this type of flour on hand so we just used all-purpose flour instead)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts [we didn't use these because we don't care for nuts in cakes]
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients ina large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the other wet ingredients to the eggs and stir.
Olivia is adding water to the vegetable oil and eggs.
The girls are stirring the dry and wet ingredients one last time before combining them:
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the batter. Bake for 40 minutes. The Nian-Gao will rise when done. A knife poked into the center will come out clean.
Note: The dough comes almost to the top of the pan, so I put a cookie sheet underneath it just in case it rose a bit too much and overflowed. It didn't, but it was worth doing. It took much longer than 40 minutes to bake. Either my oven isn't hot enough, or it just takes longer than the recipe suggests. It took almost 55 minutes to bake. The Nian-Gao has a nice flavor to it. Everyone liked it. It's especially good warm...right out of the oven.
In addition to the Nian-Gao, we made sushi. Even though it isn't a Chinese dish, it reminded me of when the girls were adopted from China. Many times - and at multiple restaurants throughout China - sushi was served. There was always a vegetarian sushi option which Sophia and I prefer. Olivia just likes the rice. As she says, "I don't like to eat seaweed" (the green wrapping).
Sophia placed sushi rice, carrot slices, and
a green onion on top of the sushi paper.
Even though Olivia doesn't eat sushi, she still wanted to peel and cut a carrot into slices. She passed on slicing the green onions.
Olivia is working with the carrots while Sophia is rolling the sushi.
Sophia is almost done rolling one of sushi roll.
The rice is rather sticky.
Once the girls were done with the nian-gao and sushi, they took a break while I put everything together in a muffin tin. Some of the items had a Chinese connection...others didn't.
Top row: orange (good luck/fortune), grapes, rice, long noodles (long life)
Middle row: sushi, coleslaw, nian-gao (see above for meaning), nian-gao (see above for meaning)
Bottom row: oranges (good luck/fortune), grapes, rice, long noodles (long life)
The girls brought out placemats and chopsticks that are from China. They were purchased when Sophia was adopted in 2001.
The girls starting to eat their Chinese New Year lunch.