Today is 元宵节 (Lantern Festival) – the first full moon after CNY. Chinese people traditionally will eat 汤圆 aka Tang Yuan on this day. They are basically little rice flour dough balls stuffed with various sweet fillings and boiled either in plain water or a gingery sweet broth.

We’ve always bought frozen ones from the Asian supermarket, but with the encouragement of our international student friends, we decided to make our own this year. It seems rather daunting at first, but it was actually fairly easy…

We made the filling first – Debbie’s favorite: black sesame.

After toasting the sesame seeds, they are ground up in the food processor (would have been nice if we had a coffee grinder). Then sugar and butter were mixed in. Lard is the traditional grease of choice but we opted for butter instead...

To make the dough, rice flour is mixed with water...

Then it’s off to wrapping… which was actually the hardest part of the whole thing.

Master Rina showing us how it's done

Stuffing the Tang Yuan

More wrapping

FAIL

Success!

Finished product with broth

Just like the store bought ones!

We also experimented with other kinds of filling like chocolate and peanut butter - here's the chocolate

I think some people were more successful than others...

Lastly, our monster Tang Yuan (a few failed ones mashed together)...

Happy 元宵节!

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I know Hot Pot is not the most traditional Chinese New Year food, but when it’s -10 degrees outside, there’s nothing like Hot Pot to warm you up!

A few shots of the spread…

Some of our international student friends from China/Taiwan…

Some of our friends brought the spicy soup base from China… it’s filled with szechuan peppercorn (for that numbing spice) and chinese herbs

This has nothing to do with food, but our entertainment of the night: CNY Spring Gala (a variety show that every 1.5 billion people in China watch on CNY’s eve) projected on our wall.

And… karaoke! hahahahaha

Rina belting out a song…

Took a stroll around my childhood neighborhood in search of this…

Took a day trip to Charleston from Columbia, South Carolina today and had an awesome time. Had lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen and the soul food was fantastic!

photo

notice the nails...

Debbie thinks we should start this blog by posting some of the most bizzare things I’ve ever eaten. So here it goes…