Year of the Rooster – Chinese New Year 2017 – Jan. 28, 2017

The Year of the Rooster will begin on January 28, 2017.

Celebrations will begin on January 27, New Year’s Eve, and typically last around two weeks, making this the longest holiday in the Chinese calendar.

This year the festivities are set to end on February 2.

 

The Chinese calendar attaches different animals from the zodiac to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years.

This year is the Year of the Rooster.

Roosters are the tenth sign in the zodiac and are seen as confident, honest and hardworking. They also enjoy being around people but can be seen as attention seekers.

But for people born in a rooster year – 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 – it is set to be an unlucky time because tradition denotes that the year of your birth makes for an unlucky 12 months.

Red decorations and lanterns are commonplace during Chinese New Yer celebrations.

Red decorations and lanterns are commonplace during New year celebrations.(Photo by The Mirror.)

How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

Chinese New Year is celebrated with the ringing of bells, the lighting of firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances.

In China New Year’s Eve is seen as an important date, with families gathering together for a reunion dinner. Firecrackers are then let off to signal the end of last year and the beginning of next.

On New Year’s Day, families gather, clean their houses and sweep away bad-fortune.

Red envelopes stuffed with “lucky money” are given to children, along with written wishes for their kids to grow up healthy.

However Chinese New Year has also been touched by the digital age, with red envelope apps – where people can exchange cyber money – being launched.

People also decorate their houses with red paper cutouts, banners and special New Year paintings during the festive period. This year is also likely to see Rooster themed decorations.

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

by Rhonda Parkinson, Chinese Food Expert

This sweet and sour pork is prepared American-style with more batter and deep-fried twice for extra crispiness.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

Sweet and Sour Pork

Photo by Getty Images

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Pinch of cornstarch

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water or reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

Batter:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup warm water, as needed

Other:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 3 cups oil for deep-frying, or as needed

 

Directions:

  1. Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Marinate in the soy sauce and cornstarch for 20 minutes.
  2. To prepare the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, ketchup, dark soy sauce, salt, water or juice and vinegar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.
  3. Peel the carrot and chop on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the seeds and cut into cubes.
  4. Heat the oil for deep–frying to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. For the batter, combine the flour and cornstarch. Stir in the egg white and vegetable oil. Add as much of the warm water as is needed to form a thick batter that is neither too dry or too moist. (The batter should not be runny, but should drop off the back of a spoon).
  6. Dip the marinated pork cubes in the batter. Deep-fry in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the wok. Deep-fry the pork until it is golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  7. (If desired you can deep-fry the pork at second time to make it extra crispy. Make sure the oil is back up to 375 before you begin deep-frying again).
  8. To prepare the sweet and sour sauce, bring the sauce ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, green pepper, and pineapple. Bring to a boil again and thicken with cornstarch mixture, stirring. Check the sauce one more time and adjust seasonings, adding salt and/or vinegar if desired. Serve hot over the deep-fried pork.
  9. Serve the sweet and sour pork over rice.

 

 

Jan. 19 – National Popcorn Day

Plain, buttery, salty, cheesy, or drizzled with caramel.  The toppings are endless. Pop some corn and watch your favorite movie.

Or, instead of eating it, use the fluffy kernels as decorations in a garland or for inexpensive packing material.

Americans consume some 14 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 43 quarts per man, woman, and child.

Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop.

There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. Some varieties of popcorn have been bred so the hull shatters upon popping, making it appear to be hull-less.

Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it’s popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn’t crumble.

Popcorn kernel shapes:

two shape types of popcorn

 

The world’s largest popcorn ball, according to Guinness World Records 2015, was created in 2013 at the Indiana State Fair. With the help of Pop Weaver, Snax in Pax, and Indiana’s Family of Farmers, the popcorn ball weighed in at 6,510-pounds, 8 feet in diameter.

For recipes, check out Popcorn.org.

National Bird Day – January 5th

Why National Bird Day?

  • The beauty, songs, and flight of birds have long been sources of human inspiration.
  • Today, nearly 12 percent of the world’s 9,800 bird species may face extinction within the next century, including nearly one-third of the world’s 330 parrot species.
  • Birds are sentinel species whose plight serves as barometer of ecosystem health and alert system for detecting global environmental ills.
  • Many of the world’s parrots and songbirds are threatened with extinction due to pressures from the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss.
  • Public awareness and education about the physical and behavioral needs of birds can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity.
  • The survival and well-being of the world’s birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.

 

Bird Brain Trivia

Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is one of the smallest hummingbird species. (Photo by Hummingbirds Plus)

  1. What is the only bird that can fly backwards?  Answer: Hummingbird
  2. What is the average life span of a robin? Answer: 12 Years
  3. What is a group of owls called? Answer: Parliament
  4. What is a group of geese called? Answer: Gaggle
  5. How many eggs will the average hen lay a year? Answer: 227 eggs
  6. How much water can the pouch of a pelican carry?  Answer: 12 Gallons
  7. How long does it take to hard boil an ostrich egg? Answer: 40 minutes
  8. What is the maximum speed of a chicken? Answer: 9 miles per hour

 

 

 

 

A To-Do Activity:

Cheerios® Birdfeeders: To make each feeder, string Cheerios® onto a large pipe cleaner, leaving about an inch from the top. Hang the bird feeders on the trees outside.

Here’s another Cheerios® bird feeder recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Sharpened pencil
  • Sugar ice cream cone
  • Pipe cleaner (chenille stem)
  • Table knife
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Cheerios™ cereal
  • Birdseed

 

Directions:

  1. Use the pencil to poke a hole in the pointed end of the ice cream cone.
  2. Twist a knot in the end of the pipe cleaner. Thread the pipe cleaner into the ice cream cone and out the hole (the knot will hold the pipe cleaner in place).
  3. Use the table knife to spread the peanut butter on the outside of the cone. Press the cereal all over the peanut butter to cover the cone. Sprinkle the birdseed over the cone, pressing it into the peanut butter with your fingers.

 

For something unconventional to feed birds this winter, read this article from Bird Watcher’s Digest on the Top 10 Weird Things to Feed Birds by Bill Thompson, III.  Grape jelly and eggshells are among the list.

 

For the Birds – Joke

 

Parrot and Rottweiler

Introduce other pets to your Rottweiler early. Click here for ASPCA tips on how to prevent and solve Common Dog Behavior Issues.  (Photo by Rottweiler – Best Guardian Dog)

Mrs. Smith’s dishwasher quit working, so she called a repairman.  He couldn’t accommodate her with an evening appointment and since she had to go to work the next day, she told him, “I’ll leave the key under the mat.  Fix the dishwasher and leave the bill.  I will bring a check by for you later.”

“Oh and by the way,” she added, “Don’t worry about my dog.  He won’t bother you.  But, whatever you do, under NO circumstances, don’t talk to my parrot!”

When the repairman arrived the next day, he discovered the biggest and meanest looking Rottweiler he had ever seen.  But, as she said, the dog just lay there, watching him go about his business.

However, the parrot drove him crazy with his ceaseless squawking and talking.  Finally unable to contain himself he shouted, “Shut up, you stupid bird!”

The parrot replied, “Sic ’em, Rocky!

(joke copyrighted by Creative Forecasting, Inc., February 2008)

 

 

National Trivia Day – Jan. 4

No trivia is too trivial.  Beat the winter of the doldrums and pull out the trivia board game for a round or two.

Mental Floss offers 54 Fantastic Facts for National Trivia Day.  Here’s a few below:

  • Some cats are allergic to humans.

    Cat sneezing

    Don’t ignore your cat’s sneezing and watery eyes. Find relief for your feline friend by visiting your local veterinarian.

  • If your dog’s feet smell like corn chips, you’re not alone. The term “Frito Feet” was coined to describe the scent.
  • Ingesting uncooked rice will NOT make a bird explode.
  • Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.
  • The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.

 

Robert L. Franklin gives us 33 more facts for National Trivia Day.  Here’s a sample below:

  • Due to the placement of the voice box, human’s are biologically incapable of breathing and swallowing at the same time
  • Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn.
  • When written, the word “almost” is the longest word in the English language that has all of its letters in alphabetical order.
  • he last execution by guillotine conducted in France was on September 10, 1977. For comparison, Star Wars: A New Hope was released in theaters four months prior.
  • You are three times more likely to get a computer virus from a religious website than you are a pornographic one.
Betty White

Actress Betty White is older than sliced bread. Pre-sliced bread was not a thing until 1928, while Betty White was born in 1922.

 

  • On January 5, 1920, The Boston Red Sox sold the contract for pitcher George Herman to the New York Yankees for $125,000. You may know George Herman as “Babe Ruth.