Homemade Dragon Boat Festival Dumplings (台山粽子)

I know, it’s days after Dragon Boat Festival…. but hey, I’m about 360 days early here teaching y’all how to make dumplings for the coming year! =) One of my favorite memories with my grandma was watching her make dumplings (粽子). Our ancestors came from Kaiping City, one of the Five counties of Guangdong.  It is the ancestral homeland of many overseas Chinese, when many of the men emigrated to the United States and worked as laborers during the Gold Rush. As a result, the region became a melting pot of ideas and trends brought back by overseas Chinese, such as the Diaolou, which are multi-story towers built to protect each family from bandits. You can easily identify the architectural influences between the east and the west from these towers. Since 2007 they’ve been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it’s an amazing place to visit! The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Qu Yuan, a poet who committed suicide into the Miluo River. The local people who admired him made dumplings with sticky rice and would have dragon boat races so to scare off the fishes as well as to eat the sticky rice dumplings instead of feed off his body. That was the origin of these dumplings. Every region has their own special way of filling and wrapping their dumplings. In this article I’ll tell you how dumplings in my hometown is made. Ingredients: 

  • Bamboo Leaves (Washed, boiled and soaked in water 3-5 days prior to wrapping)
  • Glutinous Rice (Washed then add some oil and salt)
  • Pork Loin (Cut into large strips, marinate in salt 1-2 days prior)
  • Peanuts (Soaked in water, boil to remove skin)
  • Salted Egg Yolks, halved
  • Dried Shrimp (Soaked in water 1 day prior, then drain)
  • Other ingredients you may include: Chinese Preserved Sausages, Mushrooms, Pork Fat.

IMG_2318 To wrap: This takes a little bit of practise… and I’ll try to explain it the best I can here. I hope the photos will help reinforce each step. Step 1-4) Place two leaves one on top of the other, twist and fold in the middle so you get a cone. In the cone you’ll put rice and a little of each of your fillings. IMG_2322IMG_2323 IMG_2325IMG_2328 Step 5-6) Finish off with a little bit more rice, just enough to cover most of your fillings. With your left hand, hold the cone firmly and with the right, fold over the leaves so it covers all the fillings. Use your left thumb to ensure the leaves are folded over from the left as well. IMG_2330 IMG_2331 Step 7-9) Turn the dumpling 90 degrees so the bottom edge is standing straight up on your left palm. With the right hand, fold over the ends of the leaves. Secure and tie with strings. IMG_2333 IMG_2334 IMG_2336 IMG_2359 It’s a great family bonding activity! I actually made it with my dad on father’s day! IMG_2363 Boil in a large pot for one and a half hours. Drain and it’s ready to eat! IMG_2374 IMG_2373 You can refrigerate them for up to 5 days, or you can freeze them and they’ll keep for months! Boil until they’re heated through before consuming. Thanks, hope you like the zongzi from our hometown. Please comment! She cooked.

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May 15 – National Chocolate Chip Day!

Have you had some chocolate chips yet? I made my fave choc chip cookies and even bought chocolate milk to celebrate!

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Tip of the day : drop your cookie rounds into extra small balls so you can make mini chocolate chip cookies. Having one or two mini ones will cure your cookie cravings and you won’t feel too guilty afterwards!

She cooked. (again). I swear he will be cooking soon…. =)

Berrie’s Baking Tip : Adjust cake molds to fit different size cupcake liners!

Have you ever bought cupcake liners that don’t fit your cupcake mold?

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I recently had a big order to make cupcakes for a wedding. The bride wanted gold liners so I went ahead to my normal baking supply store to get them, only to come home to find that it did not fit into my standard size cupcake tray, nor my mini cupcake tray!

As I was panicking and trying desperately to search online for new muffin tins without any luck, my genius BFF gave me this suggestion, and I thought I’d share this with everyone to save fellow bakers from the stress and sweat!

The idea is to get some of these individual baking cups (used to make pudding or panna cottas). They tend to be rather deep, so the problem is if you stick your cupcake liner in and fill in with cake batter, the liner will fall deep inside and rather difficult to take out. Not to mention that for me, the bottom diameter was also too small for the cake liner.

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The solution: Fill the tins half full with rice. You use rice or small beans when blind baking a pie, why not use it to lift up your cupcake liners so they can sit perfectly on top and have it fit the upper rim exactly?

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You can also slightly adjust the size by filling the tins more or less of rice.

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(Was testing the recipe so didn’t get to fill the liners to the top.) Obviously if the cake liners are too large or too small, this method will not work. But definitely try it if you are facing the same problem with your muffin tins and liners! If you have other suggestions, please share them with me too!

She cooked.

My go-to Banana Smoothie

My go-to smoothie came about when we had a single too-ripe banana lying around, and I couldn’t get myself to eat it – I hate eating overly ripe bananas – its way too mushy for me. But one banana was too little to bake with… what to do?!!?

I blended it up with some kitchen staples and it turned out to be a fantastic drink! There wasn’t even a need for any added sugar or honey since the sweetness from the ripe bananas comes through. The flaxseeds adds additional nutrition – an execellent source of omega 3, full of fiber, lowers cholestrol to name a few. You’ve got your potassium and magnesium from the bananas, your probiotics from the yogurt and calcium from the yogurt and milk. All in all, it’s a delicious drink packed full of nutrition! I secretly wish for ripe bananas at home so I can make more of this now!


Ingredients: 

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt, or plain yogurt with a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Ovaltine or cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Flaxseed (optional)

Put everything in to the blender for 30 seconds – 1 minute (until you see the flaxseeds are broken up – that’s how you release the flaxseed oils and get all the nutrition. Serve and enjoy!

Additional Tips:

  • You can add a teaspoon of honey if you prefer it to be more sweet
  • You may also add 5-10 ice cubes into the blender to get a more smoothie/slushie like consistency. .

Corn Quinoa Cumin Salad 玉米藜麥沙拉

We love eating quinoa. (藜麥…pronounce KIN-WA) We first discovered it in a small restaurant in Vancouver a few years back. The texture and the little pops in the mouth, plus the nutrients and protein it gives really is a one of a kind power grain.

BUT before I begin mixing the salad, I have to start with a little story of why I had to make this very “summery” salad in January…..

My hubby and I both love to cook. Unfortunately our cooking styles tend to differ. He’ll think of what he wants to cook/eat the day of, go ahead and buy ingredients then dive right into the kitchen. Unfortunately, that leaves me, who hates to waste food, always having to check what’s leftover in the fridge (you’ll find half an onion from his cooking in the fridge ALWAYS). This Quinoa Salad is a GREAT way to use up leftover vegetables. You don’t have to follow my recipe to be exact, feel free to toss in some extra, or leave out whatever ingredients you don’t like!

There’s also different types of quinoa: Plain Quinoa tends to have a smoother texture with mild nutty flavor, whilst the multi colored Quinoa (Black, red and plain) gives a stronger grain flavor with multiple textures. I used mixed Quinoas here because I love the variation in color, but I will use plain when I use it as a rice replacement during meals.

So here I have my already cooked Quinoa, plus veggies of the day: corn, red pepper, parsley and tomato, all diced up and chopped to similar size.

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Toss everything into a bowl:

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Add seasonings: salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin.

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Mix and adjust to taste. And here you have it, a wonderful, colorful vibrant mixed salad that is ready in minutes!!

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