Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Lucky Food = Perfect Chinese New Year Dish

Chinese New Year was last Monday. My family and I had fun celebrating it last weekend. Although there are a lot of traditions for celebrating it, we did not do much besides eating a lot of the traditional Chinese New Year food. Eating is one of the important things in Chinese culture, I am sure it is almost the same wither other cultures. My mother is a great cook. This is my everyday dinner looks like. 

Food we eat during New Years is considered as "food that brings luck to us." I am going to introduce five kinds of lucky food that my family eat during Chinese New Year. Each of them has its own meaning and hope.

1. Fish

During Chinese New Year, all the families HAVE to eat fish, and it has to be the WHOLE fish. It is hard to cook the whole fish at home, so we usually eat it at the restaurant. This one was SO good. (The one on the photo is from Taste of Sichuan)

The reason we eat fish is that the "fish" has the same pronunciation as the "extra" in Chinese. We believe if we eat fish in the New Year, we will have in excess of something like money and/or food for the upcoming year.

2. Dumpling

Besides a plate of fish, a bowl of warm dumplings are also a dish that must appear on the New Year's dinner table. They are not only delicious to eat, but also fun to make. Making them takes time and energy, so some people choose to buy them from the store. Take my advice, making them from scratch is more healthy and delicious than buying the frozen ones. It is so worthy for making them at home. This phrase is can be used all over the world "Nothing Better Than Home Made." 

Making dumplings requires the work of the entire family. The main purpose of celebrating new year is to spend time with the family. Cooking together is a great way to mingle with each other. Each family has their own recipe for making the filling. My mother has her own recipe as well. Although I tasted many different kinds of filling from restaurants, my mother's filling is always my favorite. Dumplings can be boiled or fried. I love both style. They are ONLY BEST to eat on the making day. Sadly, they would not taste good when they become cold, even reheating them would not carry out the same taste.

Legend tells that "the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make in the upcoming year." The reason for that is dumplings are look like little baby gold bags. I ate WAY too much of these for the past week, so I am looking forward to making a lot of money.

3. Rice Cake

Rice cake is another "Chinese New Year Must-Have." The top one is made from sweet rice. They can be made into soups by boiling them. I like to eat them in the noodle soup. They also can be eaten like sweets by dip them into sugar or honey after they are cooked. The bottom one is made from regular rice. We usually stir fry them with meat and vegetable. All of the rice cake dishes are yummy in the tummy.

The name of rice cake in Chinese means "growing up." Growing up does not only mean the hopes for the young children will grow taller in the New Year. It can be raise in salaries, better living condition, higher grades etc. They are the luck of more successes in the upcoming year.

4. Apple

After nice dinner, lucky fruits are also necessary for dessert. Apple is the number one lucky fruit in China. Apple in Chinese sounds similar to the word "peaceful," so it symbolizes "peace." We eat apple everyday no matter during the New Year or not. We are happy that we found big apples from Costco.

5. Orange

Same as apple, orange is another lucky fruit. It is not popular as apple, but it has its own meaning. Orange in Chinese sounds like "auspicious." My family loves oranges. Not only the flavor, but also the smell. Whenever we peel the orange, its smell will fill up the entire house. Therefore, my mother likes to keep some of the orange skin and put them on the kitchen counter. I hope smell of "auspicious" will remain in the house.

I hope you will eat some of those food, and they will bring luck to you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Quote and Langston Hughes Poem

This blog post will take me back to high school because I had many class discussions about Martin Luther King Jr. back then. When I was in high school, I studied about African American history in Social Studies classes and read a lot of literature work in English classes. I still remember whenever MLK Day came closer, almost all of my classes had MLK discussion. I enjoyed talking about his life, works, quotes, and ideas with my teachers and classmates. I also liked to read many literary works from African American authors. When I hit college, none of the classes I took had to deal with MLK or African American culture, so this post will refresh my memory. 

People have to remember Dr. King for what he did for us. I admire him a lot because he changed the world. He had a lot of famous quotes, and this one is my favorite.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." 

I agree that hate cannot resolve hate, but love can. It is very true because when one person hates another person, and the another person hates him/her back, their conflict will get bigger and bigger. Only if the another person shows his/her love back to the person who hate him/her, their conflict might be solved. Hates and violences are NEVER the solution to any kinds of conflicts. ONLY love and forgiveness are the ways to resolve the conflict. Dr. King used "Darkness and Light" to describe the conflict and resolution. They are the perfect metaphors. From this quote I learned if I want to reconcile with someone, I have to forgive the person first.
Actually love someone is easier than hate someone. Seriously, I can love someone much easier than hate someone because I need a reason to hate someone. I do not need a specific reason to love someone. People who did not get enough love are more likely to hate than love others. People need to be loved in order give love to others.

You can find more Martin Luther King Jr.'s quotes from this website:

Besides Martin Luther King Jr., one of my favorite African American authors is Langston Hughes. I like his "Dream Deferred".

Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

This poem explains what it will look like when a person's dream was destroyed. There are many metaphors describe the sadness of the destroyed dream in the poem. Dream will dry like raisins, and then it becomes pain and stinky meat. Destroying the dream like weakening the hope and walking toward despair. I strongly remember this poem because I like how he used common objects to illustrate the dream deferred feeling. They can easily touch people's hearts. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five Strategic Goals MUST-BE Accomplished in 2012

Every beginning of the year, I'd like to make a long list of resolutions. I think there are a lot of people who doing the same thing like me. The number of my resolutions are usually 20 or more. 

However, for this year, I decided not making any resolutions because I could never keep them, and most of resolutions were the same as the year before. I did some problem and solution analysis for my old new year's resolutions.

1) My resolutions were TOO many. There was NO way I could achieve 20 or more resolutions within a year. 
2) I only MADE resolutions, but I never CONSIDERED HOW I could achieve them.  

1) I condensed my resolutions by combining and grouping several things together.
2) I planned my ways for achieve them. If the resolution is NOT achievable, it is pointless to make it.

Therefore, this year, I am doing something different. Instead of having 20 or more resolutions, I made five strategic goals that must-be accomplished this year.
1. Build Better Body Shape and Stay Healthy
  •    Lose 10 to 15lb.
  •    Be better on flexibility and balance and able to lift heavier weights
  •    Eat healthy food
Ways to Achieve
  • Go to the gym 4 to 5 times for intense cardio, and attend at least one weight training and yoga classes a week . 
  • Eat a lot of fresh fruits and raw vegetables.
2. Get Into A Graduate School and Find A Job
  •     Become better at writing essays
  •     Achieve higher GRE score
  •     Learn how to market myself
Ways to Achieve
  • Study at least 4 hours and memorize at least 10 new vocabularies everyday, review math formulas, and take a lot of practice tests. 
  • Practice writing cover letter and resume, attend job fairs, keep update blog and Linked-In regularly.
3. Pay Attention to Neatness and Details
  •     Have my room organized 
  •     Keep all of my belonging cleaned 
  •     Make sure my writings are free from mistakes
Ways to Achieve
  • Do weekly duties for organizing my room and belongings. 
  • Check my writings before I submit, send, or publish. 
4. Involve Society and Engage Networking
  •     Do some volunteer work
  •     Hang out with friends
  •     Participate in community based activities
Ways to Achieve
  • Volunteer at Cash Oregon during tax season and Blanchet House during holiday season. 
  • Keep in touch with my friends regularly. Pay attention to the activities of the local community.
5. Develop My Passion and Study Music and Literature 
  •     Become better at baking, blogging, photography, fashion, and craft
  •     Improve my piano skills and memorize several songs
  •     Watch more movies and read more books
Ways to Achieve
  • Make about one hour each day to perform one of my passionate things and/or practice piano.
  • Watch two to three good movies a week. 
How to achieve them within a year? The key is TIME MANAGEMENT that will be my main goal for this year. Now, all the long list of resolutions became ONE goal.


How simple that is!! I am tired of breaking my resolutions. It would be easier to achieve one goal than 20 resolutions, wouldn't it?