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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, February 15, 2010

chinese new year meal

Suzanne Hanselman of Euclid reports today on the Chinese New Year feast she and her children made and ate yesterday. The photos are from her daughter, Rachel McDonald, 12.
"I went to Park to Shop Saturday afternoon. Of course, it was really busy because of the holiday, but a lot of fun. Because of our previous trip, I was a lot less intimidated, and was even questioned by another shopper if I knew the differences between the types of bok choy offered (thanks again Chef McCoy!). I thought I would have most of Sunday to cook, but, as is often the case, our schedule got crazy. I ended up with a 2-hour window to prepare and eat dinner. I streamlined the menu to Chinese dumplings, noodles and veggie stir fry, and a vegan take on orange beef and broccoli (made with seitan that I had made and frozen several weeks ago)." (Note:Seitan is a protein food made from wheat gluten that sometimes is called "wheat meat" because of its meatiness)

"We made the fortune cookies after dinner."

"The dumplings were really good and pretty easy. I bought wonton wrappers, made a a filling out of seitan, shredded cabbage, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and barbecue sauce (probably not authentic!). It tasted kind of like barbecued ground pork. My 10 year old son, David, did most of the actually filling and sealing of the dumplings with a little help from his 5 year old sister, Mary (they were that easy!)."

"I cleaned, cut and chopped vegetables - garlic, shallots, baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, red peppers and baby corn (the only canned vegetable - my kids insisted). I stir fried and added the noodles and vegetarian oyster sauce with some garlic, bean paste and a little red pepper flake. Both of these dishes were really good and easy.

"The vegan orange "beef" broccoli dish was okay (I used seitan for the "beef"), but I preferred the seitan in the dumplings. My husband and I had some, but the kids were not anxious to try it.

The fortune cookies were a little tricky and time consuming, but a fun activity. David wrote all the St. Valentine's "fortunes" using his box of conversation hearts as inspiration."

"Weekends are great because the kids can "help" me cook," she writes. "Most week nights I don't have the time or patience for helpers. But, they are getting pretty good in the kitchen. On Saturday, we made homemade spaghettiOs from a recipe Michael Symon has posted on his Facebook page! I love to cook, but do look forward to the day that I sit down to something that my kids have created. I have a feeling it won't be too long."


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