Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Things Coming

February... brrrrrr. February... blaaaaah. February... yaaaaawn. But then... KAPOW! February.... fireworks? Yes. It's cold and dreary and there's not much of ANYTHING going on this time of year, except that we're in China and the biggest celebration of the entire calendar is about to be upon us. The last couple years I've been a little bummed about being stuck in the frigid, grey, concrete sea of our city while everyone else seemed to be traveling to warmer, more exotic climates. But this time around I'm determined to embrace the season a little more and that began today (our first day of the 2 week holiday) with adding a little COLOR and some home baked goodness to our lives. Beware, I have included pictures. 

{cinnamon oatmeal raisin bread: after trying many different recipes over the past three years (I like raisin bread, okay?) I have finally found one that I love}

{I just wanted to include a picture of the old gas oven that gets a LOT of use here in this house. I think it has a leak too... which means our gas bill is kind of high. It reminds me of camping in the ole Jayco...}

{the prettiest little corn chowder you ever did see. I got this recipe from an old friend of mine back in my case manager days (thanks Mel!) I've added some colorful veggies today like celery,red pepper and carrots. And I think you could pull this recipe off if you were trying to eat seasonally/locally too as long as you blanched and/or roasted and then froze some of the vegetables. More on why I can't fully live up to my own convictions on this issue at some later date...}

In the coming weeks families all over this massive, teeming country will prepare for what is perhaps their most important holiday, Chun Jie (literally, Spring Festival but it is also the beginning of the new Chinese Lunar Year). Homes will be scoured; rugs and curtains cleaned, windows washed, every nook and cranny scrubbed in preparation for the incoming year. Family members will travel to their hometowns if possible, others will gather with those who live nearby. There is food to prepare, lanterns to hang, special gifts to buy and exchange, and of course the never-ending barrage of evening fireworks to endure enjoy for nearly 3 straight weeks. This is just a small glimpse of the preparations and the festivities to come.

{I love Chinese paper cuttings... they are intricate and beautiful in their detail and precision. This was one of the samples they had available for us to try- the very simplest possible for our fumbling fingers!}

While many of you may be celebrating Valentines Day and enjoying snowy afternoons, we will be making a go at bringing in the Year of the Tiger with a bang.

 February... ggrrrrr.

added later for those of you who want the recipe!
Oatmeal Cinnamon Bread
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1-1/2 cup oats
1-1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
(2 Tb. butter melted and 2 tsp ground cinnamon)

-dissolve yeast in warm water and let it become frothy
-cream sugar and shortening, then add eggs, salt, oats, and milk.
-Add enough flour til it becomes a soft dough.
-Turn onto flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic (6-8 mins)
-Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top and cover. let rise in warm place until double
-Punch dough down, cover and let rest 10 min. 
-Divide in half; roll each portion into 8x16 in. rectangle (so it can fit in pan when rolled up).
-brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins if desired
-roll up and pinch seams to seal.
-Place loaves seam side down in two greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise in warm place til doubled.
-Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter.


  1. I think you should post your recipes. I love February it's my favorite time of year. Riley was so cute with the paper cutting. Did he finish one?

  2. from Steph (on Jane's computer)...

    your post (almost) makes me wish i was back in qingdao to enjoy all of this with your family!

    i must say, your lament about everyone else being in warm places seems ironic since you were in AUSTRALIA during my first chunjie :o)

    i wish my AP kids weren't taking tests on thursday afterschool---i've never done chinese papercutting!

    tell ari and riley that i said HI! you can tell sadie too, hehe.

  3. c'mon steph... I still was back here for the blah month of Feb! wish you were here too by the way, but we hope you have a great time exploring the reefs down there:)

    Carolyn, you WOULD love February! Come rub some of your winter cheer off on me:)Riley did finish one... but there were some tears. story of his life lately!

  4. I'd love to!! Wanna do coffee on Tuesday morning?

  5. I completely agree about posting your recipes -- that cinnamon oatmeal bread looks delicious as well as that chowder! Yum!

  6. I'll put the recipes in:) Sometimes my bread doesn't rise or other such problems occur but for the most part they are splendid! Just remember that if it doesn't work out perfectly the first time...

  7. thanks for the bread recipe!! need to get a few ingredients but will be trying it this weekend!

  8. You now have me craving corn chowder! Are the carrots good in it? I will have to try it to sneak in some veggies. Catching up on your blog...bc watchin xc skiing on the olympics is exhausting and leaves me out of breath. Happy New Year, or Valentine's Day.