Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Cleo Coyle

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Join me on a fun little trip to 
New York's famous Chinatown
(videos included) to celebrate
the Lunar New Year...

D
umplings are a wonderful comfort food. They're also a long-standing tradition for the Chinese New Year. Why? Because the traditional shape looks like a type of ancient Chinese money (the silver ingot), the Chinese believe that eating dumplings during the New Year festival will bring money and wealth for the coming year, and...

We have just entered the
Year of the Goat!

(aka Year of the Sheep)



"Three goats bring harmony."

This is a favorite greeting
(from Taoism) for Year of the Goat
.





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For the first time in its history, New York City welcomed the Lunar New Year with a 20 minute display of spectacular fireworks from barges along the Hudson River. Enjoy a few minutes of those beautiful fireworks in the video above.

Chinese New Year is also known as "Spring Festival," and it is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. According to tradition, this festival celebrates the start of the season of plowing and sowing and the arrival of new life.

The New Year celebration starts on the first day of the lunar month and continues for several weeks, traditionally until the moon is brightest.

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Take a trip to New York's Chinatown
right now by watching these short videos below,
taken at past Lunar New Year celebrations...


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There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. The year you were born dictates your sign. Which animal sign you were born under? The signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat/Ram/Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig/Boar. 

A very detailed zodiac chart, showing which years fall under which signs, can be found at this link. When you jump to the site, click on each animal to read its characteristics. The charts include compatibility predictions and warnings (...and if you have a spouse, do take those with a grain of salt)!




As I mentioned, eating dumplings
is a tradition for the Lunar New Year.

Here is a fun video recipe
for making a traditional
Chinese dumpling....

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No worries if you don't plan
on making your own.


Below you will find a few simple tips
for getting the best out of your take-out or
(frozen grocery store) dumpling snacking...



















Tip #1 - For making frozen at home or reheating take-out dumplings, you don't need a bamboo steamer. I use an inexpensive ($11) stainless steel collapsible basket that can be placed in any pot. This is a great little kitchen gadget that I often use to steam veggies. I'm sure most of you have seen one of these baskets; but for anyone who hasn't, click here to learn more or purchase.

Tip #2 - Line your steamer with leaves of cabbage, spinach, or another leafy green. (The leaves you see in my photos are from baby bok choy.) They impart a lovely, subtle flavor as the dumplings steam. They also keep the dumpling bottoms from sticking and provide an attractive serving base. As you see in my photo below, I transferred the leaves from the steamer to the plate for a prettier presentation.


Tip #3 - If you’re using straight soy sauce to dip your dumplings, let me assure you that there is a much tastier option! Many Chinese and Japanese dipping sauces blend soy sauce (or tamari*) with other ingredients to create a flavorful eating experience. That's what I've done in the recipe below...

Don't worry, the ingredients are easily found in American grocery stores, so the next time you pick up a package of frozen dumplings or call for take-out, give my recipe a try and…

May you eat with the harmony
of the calm and gentle Goat!  

~ Cleo 



Cleo Coyle, who married
a Dragon, is the author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Cleo Coyle’s
Dumpling
Dipping Sauce 



Also delicious with egg rolls, 
fried shrimp, chicken nuggets, 
tempura, sushi, and sashimi 




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To download this recipe in a PDF form that you can print, save, or share, click here!



INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup water 

¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
                  or tamari*


2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice (fresh is best!) 

2 Tablespoons sugar 

1 green onion (scallion) 


Directions: Stir together first four ingredients. Be sure the sugar dissolves. Slice the green onion into the mixture. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Optional extras for added flavor:  
A splash of sesame oil; a bit of ginger (freshly grated); a splash of your favorite drinking wine or Japanese sake (or, if you can find it, Chinese Shaoxing rice wine).

Basic ratio for smaller or larger batches:  1 part water + 1-½ part soy sauce + ½ part lime or lemon juice + ½ part sugar + 1 green onion (scallion) 


*Tamari [tuh-MAH-ree] is similar to soy sauce but thicker and darker. It is more mellow than soy sauce and tends to have a smoother, more complex flavor.




A Trip to Chinatown


With New York's Chinatown only a subway ride away, my husband and I have enjoyed Chinese food and culture for years. I'll tell you a secret, too. Our favorite little hole-in-the-wall dumpling joint can be found on Mosco Street.



Click to see
the recipe guide.
Mosco is really more of an alley in Chinatown, but it's home to this little place, pictured below, which we used as the setting for a scene in our recent Coffeehouse Mystery, A Brew to a Kill.





A "Must-Read" Mystery Pick by Barnes & Noble, A Brew to a Kill features scenes in Manhattan's Chinatown as well as the Queens' annual Dragon Boat Festival. 
Click here to see its recipe guide. To learn more about the book, click here.





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To see where Mosco Street is located
in Chinatown, Manhattan,
click here.
"Dumplings make
 everything better."
~ Esther Best

To find this dumpling shop yourself, simply locate Mosco Street in Chinatown and stroll down it. 

The street is so small, you can't miss this shop, which serves delicious street food. 

Below is the little alley where this shop is located. To the right is the Google map of Chinatown, click the link in the caption to see the map and navigate around.



Above is the atmospheric
alley that is Mosco Street.


Isn't this a great setting for a
scene in a murder mystery?

(That's why we used it
in A Brew to a Kill!)



Pork buns and dumplings 
from the Mosco Street shop.

More of our
Chinatown photos...


Above is a typical Chinatown green grocer.
Just look at all this amazing (and amazingly low priced)
fresh produce, including Chinese favorites like bok choy.
On Saturday mornings, this place is jammed with shoppers.



Even McDonald's gets its own
Chinatown storefront treatment.


Golden Manna Bakery sells wonderful Chinese pastries,
and some of the best Egg Custard Tarts in the city.

Click here for more info and directions.




A typical side street with colorful signage
that tells you exactly where you are in
the melting pot of Manhattan.


Twilight on Canal Street with an example
of some of the unique and beautiful architecture,
celebrating the cultural heritage of the area.



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Click here to download
 a free PDF of this
post's featured recipe, and....



Photographer: Armin K├╝belbeck, CC-BY-SAWikimedia Commons

May this 
Year of the Goat
bring you the four
blessings of the East:
wealth, virtue, harmony,
and long life!





~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.







To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 







* * * 

Just Released: The NEW
Coffeehouse Mystery...



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This culinary mystery
includes more than 25
 delicious new recipes! 



Download the free
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Wonderful recipes are also featured
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See Once Upon a Grind's 
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See Billionaire Blend's 
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Comments and
Questions!



To leave a comment or 
question for Cleo, click here
and visit the
Coffee Talk Message Board 
at her online coffeehouse.


* * *



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