From Lisa Barnes
Last night our family celebrated Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Even in past years of rain, this has become a family tradtition. This was named one of the top 10 parades throughout the country – what’s a few raindrops? This year was clear and crowded. We met my cousins, who oddly enough have lived in the Bay Area 35 years and never been to Chinatown. It was quite a spectacle of sights, sounds, tastes, and colors for all ages. It was fun to see my kids showing my family around and telling them which foods were their favorite (egg custard, shrimp hargow and lomein) and which store fronts they like to see (the fishmongers and produce stands).
This year we walked into a store that had a variety of brightly colored bulk bins. Bins usually mean candy. And while they did have a section of the western sweets, the majority of items we had never seen, let alone tasted. There was the typical dried mangoes and papaya, but it didn’t stop there. Bright green balls called “green plums”, lacey shredded cuttlefish, dried lychees and shaved octopus tentacles were some of the offerings. My son was begging for the dried fruit peel. Not one to squelch culinary curiosity, I bagged some (along with mangoes and prunes) and paid. My cousins couldn’t believe he would want to try it. And no, he didn’t like the fruit peel (I don’t blame him), but I appreciated him trying it and wanting to experience something new. I think that’s what fun and interesting about introducing children to new cultures, customs, holidays and foods.
My new book Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009] gives ideas, tips and recipes for children’s snacks, drinks and party foods. As part of the “merry” section there’s lots of good reasons to celebrate from birthdays and New Years (western and Chinese) to simple “snow days”. Here’s a noodle recipe for getting your family into the Chinese New Year spirit. Happy 2009!
Long Life Noodles
Fireworks, lantern festivals, dragon dances, parades, and lots of food are all part of this special occasion. Both symbolic and delicious, noodles make a great food for sharing during Chinese New Year. There are many options for noodles that could work besides rice noodles; try Chinese egg noodles, udon, or soba for a variation. The peanut butter lends a bit of sweetness your child will enjoy.
Makes 8 to 10 (1-cup) servings
8 ounces rice noodles
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup julienned organic carrot (1 large)
1 cup julienned organic red bell pepper (1 large or 4 mini)
¼ cup chopped scallions (about 3)
2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon peanut butter
½ cup organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute. Add the carrot and bell pepper and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender but not soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, scallions, tamari, peanut butter, broth, and lime juice and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and heat until hot, stirring to combine with vegetables and sauce.
See also Lisa’s DooF-a-Palooza
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
Images Credit: Lisa Barnes
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