Chinese New Year 2014

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It is Chinese New Year 2014, the year of the horse. Many Chinese, including those of other nationalities from around the world, will be celebrating the lively, colourful, and joyous festival. It is also the time to be with family and friends. Where I am, in London-town, every year, the festival is celebrated in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, London’s famous landmarks. Roads between Chinatown and Trafalgar Square will be closed for Chinese entertainment to take place, such as parades, acrobatics, traditional dance, singing, martial arts, Chinese celebrities appearances, and not to forget the dragon/lion dance.

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Chinese New Year delicacies. cyn5  cyn2 cyn3

My favourite part of Chinese New Year is eating the Chinese rice balls. Here’s the link as a reminder for those who have forgotten about Chinese rice balls https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/ 

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

My best friend’s mother in Malaysia recently entered a rice ball competition where she had to be creative with using rice balls in the form of art.1491268_428654217262698_1698682218_o

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I would like to thank Irene Soo and Chunkha Phen for the photos.

Happy Chinese New Year to my dearest fellow bloggers 🙂

Halloween cupcakes

Happy Halloween!!!

Today, my son and I were at the Dagenham Heathway Centre in East London, making Halloween cupcakes with other children and their parents. Below are some of the fun/monstrous/gruesome cupcakes that were made.

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Meet the brother and sister cupcake monsters made by a girl called Catrina/Katrina (sorry for the spelling sweetie).  cup4

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And these are my monstrous dual.hallo1

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*The Dagenham Heathway Centre is a welcoming place where parents with children, particularly those with additional needs, come together. The centre provides a variety of fun activities, especially during the school holidays. It is also a place where parents meet regular, have coffee, lunch, cook, laugh, sing, zumba, joke with one another, and most importantly, to arise anything that concerns them and their children.

I am a proud mother to a beautiful autistic child, and I would take him to the Heathway Centre almost every Saturday for his playgroup. It didn’t take me long to fit in with the Heathway family. In fact, after meeting the family for one afternoon, I was already fitting in. And by then, almost everybody knew my name. That is how accepting, welcoming, and humble the centre is.

Chocolates for Amy Tan

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I became a HUGE fan of Amy Tan when I was a teenager after reading and watching ‘The Joy Luck Club’. Back when I was at university studying design, I had to create a creative and visual sketchbook about celebrities/well-known people. Amy Tan happened to be one of those ‘people’ in my sketchbook. One of the projects I had to do was called ‘The gift’ project, where I had to be creative and create a gift that I would like to give to a favourite celebrity/well-known person. So I chose Amy Tan. I don’t know how I came up with the chocolate idea. I wanted to make the gift personal (wishing that I could have really given the gift to Amy), and yet, I wanted to do something simple, unique, and fun. When I came up with the chocolate idea, of course I didn’t know how to make ‘real’ chocolates. So I decided to make ‘fake’ chocolates instead. All I needed was plasticine and acrylic paint. Using the plasticine, I started making objects and symbols representing mines and Amy’s lives. After that, I painted/covered the objects and symbols with dark brown acrylic paint. And then I left them to dry. Once dried, I put the fake chocolates in a Ferrero Rocher chocolate box, making them look like real chocolates.

The following day at university, I had to present my project. Before my presentation, many of the other students thought that my chocolates were real. Some even thought of stealing and eating them.

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The front cover of the sketchbook.

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 The background with the writing was copied from one of Amy’s books.

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One of my other favourite well-known person is a famous architect, Daniel Libeskind.

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And of course the legend, Stevie Wonder.

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How to make Chinese rice balls

Hello all. Firstly, I do apologize for my absence. Anyways, I’m back. I’m going to show you how to make rice balls. It’s simple, as long as you have the ingredients right. So let’s get started.

First, you will need the following ingredients, glutinous rice flour, ginger, and pandan leaves. You can get the ginger at any stores or supermarkets. But as for the glutinous rice flour and pandan leaves, you will probably need to get it in Chinatown or in Asian stores (Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese stores).

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Pour the glutinous rice flour in a medium or large bowl. The amount of flour you want to pour in the bowl is up to you.

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Now, this is the tricky bit. Slowly add a small amount of tap water (or bottled or tap water, it’s up to you) onto the glutinous rice flour, and as you do, mix the flour and water together with your hand. Stop adding water when the flour feels not too dry or not too sticky, but more like soft play dough.

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Take a pinch of the ‘dough’ and start rolling it with the palms of your hands until they are the shape of a ball. Depending on the size of the rice balls that you want, you can add more of the dough as you are rolling it.

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If you want to add colours to your rice balls, you can do so by adding the colours when you have made the flour into the dough. It’s up to you how much of the colourings you want to add. As for me, I wanted to make my rice balls look like marbles, so I just added two to three small drops of the colourings.

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Once you have finished rolling, boil some water in a pot. When the water starts to boil, put all the rice balls in and let it boil for 5 minutes. Do not put the rice balls in the water when it is not boiling, or else they will stick to one another. After 5 minutes, take the rice balls out of the water and put them in a bowl of cold tap water. The purpose of boiling the rice balls is to give them a wash. And then by putting them in a bowl of cold tap water prevents them from sticking together as the texture has become quite sticky. Meanwhile, boil another pot of water. This time, add in the ginger (don’t forget to peel off the skin) and a few pandan leaves and let it boil. After then, put in the rice balls and let it boil for about 15 to 20 minutes. Also, add in some sugar or rock sugars into the boiling water. It’s up to you how much sugar you want to add in.

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And then you are ready to eat the rice balls. Enjoy!

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Chinese rice balls

I noticed that quite a number of people liked my ‘Mooncake’ post, so here is another one on Chinese rice balls.

(Photo by my friend, Irene Soo)

Chinese rice balls, also pronounced as ‘Tangyuen’ or ‘Tongyuen’, is a Chinese dish that is usually eaten during Chinese New Year. However, many people would still have the dish during every other days. The rice balls are made from glutinous rice flour, and the food colourings are added onto it. But it’s optional. The rice balls can be made into any sizes. The common fillings include sesame, peanuts, and sweet bean paste. Some people also prefer no fillings. The rice balls are then served in boiled rock sugar water.  

(Photo by my friend, Irene Soo)

I love rice balls. And I love mines without any fillings in it. When I used to make rice balls with my mother, she always made sure that I make the shape of the balls as round as possible. If not, she would sigh loudly and in frustration as she picks up the ones that are not round and re-do them again. It didn’t matter if she had to re-do one hundred or a thousand rice balls. She always made sure that they all looked perfectly round. As for me, I didn’t have the kind of patience to make it perfectly round, because I just wanted to eat them. My mother did not like colourful rice balls, therefore, our rice balls would be coloured pink and white. According to my mother, rice balls should be perfectly round, because it symbolizes ‘togetherness’ amongst friends and family coming together. There is also another saying that people should eat the number of rice balls according to their age. So for instance, if you are ten years old, you should eat ten rice balls. But for me, I would end up eating a thousand of it.  

The photo above with the smiley rice balls is made by my friend, Wewe. Her rice balls are served in chocolate syrup, which is new to me.

The photo above are my rice balls. I like to play and experiment with the colours.