Saturday, February 24, 2024

Making YuanXiao

 

The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in China, and the festivities traditionally end on the 15th day of the new year with Lantern Festival.   Lantern Festival is sometimes called YuanXiao Festival, because yuanxiao are eaten on that day.  In some areas of China these are called tangyuan (often in the south).  Regardless of what you call them, they are a special treat made from glutinous rice flour, often with sweet fillings that can be made of red beans, peanut or sesame.  Yuanxiao are boiled and served in a bowl with the hot broth they have cooked in.

You can buy frozen yuanxiao at most grocery stores, but our little ones had the chance to make their own yuanxiao this year.   They tackled this cooking project with much enthusiasm!  It was a wonderful way to develop fine motor coordination, practice using kitchen tools and experience a range of textures, scents and flavors.  Of course, the best part was sampling their handiwork at the end of the day!

They started by crushing the black sesame seeds.  



After the sesame was done, we turned our attention to the peanuts.  Those also needed to be sorted and crushed:



Then it's time to add some sugar and fat:



The peanut, sesame, sugar and fat are thoroughly mixed into a sticky paste:


Then the filling is shaped into balls like this:


After that, all that remains is to roll the balls of filling in the glutinous rice flour, dip them in water, roll them in rice flour, back to the water... until the filling is completely enclosed in the rice flour coating:




Once the yuanxiao are finished, they are cooked in boiling water.  Delicious! 




Happy YuanXiao Festival!  元宵节快乐!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Home at last!

    
 More than 8 years ago, an American named Rebekah contacted us at Little Flower looking for a volunteer opportunity.  She had recently moved to China with her husband, Chris, and had heard about the work we were doing with abandoned children.  After she shared with us her experience, qualifications, and interests, we realized that she could be a valuable addition to our team - so we offered her a job.  Since that time, Rebekah has worked cheerfully, diligently, and tirelessly - bringing together our caregivers, medical staff, foster parents, office staff, donors in China and supporters outside China to provide hope and healing to vulnerable children.



 A few years later, in 2018 we were asked to help a tiny baby girl named XinLi.  XinLi was born with a life-threatening gastrointestinal problem, a congenital heart defect and significant hearing loss.  

Newborn XinLi

Rebekah and Chris, who were already considering adopting a child, were ecstatic to be matched with little XinLi a year later, in 2019. 

Rebekah and XinLi in 2019
    
Unfortunately, their long-awaited adoption day was delayed 4 more years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  But we are now delighted to share the news that Rebekah and Chris were finally able to complete their adoption!  

   
 Please join us in wishing Rebekah the very best as she moves on to her very important new job - being XinLi’s mom!  Even though Rebekah will no longer be working with us as she has in the past, she and XinLi will forever be part of our Little Flower family.   We are grateful for your prayers and support - you have made a difference for XinLi and all of the other little flowers in our care!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Dumplings!


Do you know how to make Chinese dumplings?  Called "jiaozi" in northern China, they are traditionally eaten in the winter, especially for the New Year's celebration.  Dumplings can be stuffed with a variety of meat/vegetable/egg fillings.  Our little ones have been gearing up for the New Year by learning the fine art of making dumplings, and they are happy to share what they have learned with you!

First, you start by making the wrappers.  These are a simple flour + warm water dough.  




Once that is all mixed up, you can let it rest while you turn your attention to the fillings.  We had a lot of fun chopping carrots!


Then, we laid out all of our different ingredients and mixed up the dumpling fillings - so many options to choose from - corn, carrots, chicken, pork, onion and a little soy for flavor!


Each of our little ones got to choose the best combination of ingredients for their special dumplings:


After the fillings are ready, it's time to finish preparing the wrappers.  The dough must be kneaded, and then cut into small pieces and rolled out:



And then the fun part - filling the wrappers, and carefully crimping them closed:



After that, they can be boiled, steamed or fried up as potstickers.  No matter how you cook them, they are delicious!