Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year! 恭禧發財!

As the title suggests, "Gong Hey Fat Choy!"  That translates to "Happy Chinese New Year!" in Cantonese.  This time of year is the biggest holiday in Chinese culture, which at minimum lasts for two days.  First day is Chinese New Year's Eve, where everyone near and far goes home to family.  Second day is the actual Chinese New Year, and this year lands on Friday, January 31st.  After all the festivities lately, I am now able to update this blog.

Red peach blossom branches courtesy of a family friend

The most lovely branches I have ever seen!

On the days leading up to CNY, it was all about preparation - buying new clothes, getting a haircut, cleaning the house, purchasing blooming flowers and plants (bamboos, chrysanthemums, gladioluses, narcissuses, orchids, and peach or plum branches and trees) for the home, picking up fresh fruits (pomelos, mandarin oranges, and oranges) from the market, filling the Harmony Tray with snacks and sweets to serve guests, and freshening up a mani/pedi is a must for me.

My usual place: Utoepia on Polk, formerly Lavande :(

I usually bring my own nail colors and love to layer shades
This time it's Bordeaux and Dream a Little Dream of Me :)
Ta-da!  Deep red with blue shimmering overtones

San Francisco's Chinatown (est. 1848) is the oldest in the country and has the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.  The annual Flower Market Fair is held the Saturday and Sunday prior to CNY.  This year, I picked up a mini pot of red and gold chrysanthemum, a bag of Garden's Lucky Candy, and some really fresh mandarin oranges (leaves were still full and shiny green) - all for my dear grandma.  Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of the mums before I dropped it off at her residence.

Chrysanthemum like the one I bought for Grandma
Photo credit: Suvir Saran

We had about 10 people for dinner at our house for the two nights and it was a labor of love.  While Mom made every dish from scratch, I was cleaning and tidying the house, and of course setting the dinner table.  It is truly amazing that Mom can cook a gourmet feast in just a little amount of time; I am not sure if I could ever get up to her speed and volume.  There were gravy-glazed abalone, ginger-green onion chicken, ginger-scallion crab, braised mushrooms, stir-fried soybean seedlings, garlic-butter shrimp, my favorite egg tofu, and steamed tilapia.  I did, however, bake a nin gou, or Chinese New Year's cake, for dessert (instead of the traditional steamed version).  It was my first time attempting it so good thing it was super easy to make!  Again, I forgot to take a photo of it since I had guests and the rest of dinner to attend to.  However, it did turn out quite nicely.  The edges were crispy and brown while the center was mochi-texture and warm.  Recipe can be found on Chow.








One of the most delightful things about CNY is receiving lucky red envelopes.  It seems like the older I get, the more I receive, which is definitely a good thing because I mostly save it up, believe it or not!  Tradition is that as long as one is unmarried, he or she is entitled to receive lucky red envelopes (I am in no rush to be passing out my own).  Here's to Year of the Horse, and may it be a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for all!  Cheers!

"Lau" family

Hello Kitty brocade lucky envelope! ❤ =^.^= ❤

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