Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Read On! Happy Year of the Water Rabbit

BY SOPHIA HAN

May the Year of the Water Rabbit be a lucky one for you and your family. Photo by Sophia Han
May the Year of the Water Rabbit be a lucky one for you and your family. Photos by Sophia Han

A year of hope **

In 2023, the Lunar New Year starts on January 22nd. The Chinese zodiac sign for 2023 is the Water Rabbit. It is a symbol of peace, hope and longevity.

The Lunar New Year is the most important public holiday in China, but it is also celebrated in Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. Because Vancouver is home to many cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year, you may be asked to join the celebrations at someone’s home.

Read on to learn about traditional gifts to bring your hosts on this special occasion.

During the Lunar New Year, a bowl of citrus fruits symbolizes luck and happiness. Photo by Sophia Han
During the Lunar New Year, a bowl of citrus fruits symbolizes luck and happiness.

Giving Lunar New Year gifts ***

Gift-giving is an important Lunar New Year tradition, but gifts vary depending on the age and the giver’s relationship to the recipient.

You may already know that children receive money in bright red packets called hongbao. If your host has children, it is fine to give them a small amount in a red packet, but the amount should be an even number. Except for the number 4 (which sounds like the word for death in Chinese), even numbers are considered lucky.

Many Asian bakeries at this time will sell boxes of traditional sweets like almond cookies, but it is also common to see gifts of chocolates wrapped to look like gold coins. Crispy egg rolls are sweet, flaky biscuits that are sold in large tins. They are considered lucky because they symbolize wealth.

Money trees and lucky bamboo plants are also popular and a basket of any citrus fruit is always welcome. All of these items symbolize prosperity. In fact, so long as your gift is lucky or auspicious, you can’t really go wrong.

In Renfrew-Collingwood, drop by the Pine House Bread & Cake Shop at 3396 Kingsway for almond cookies. For chocolate gold coins, visit Purdys Chocolatier at 2777 Kingsway.

Vocabulary

Lunar New Year – a year that starts on the first full moon of the year

Chinese zodiac – 12 animals that represent a group of stars

longevity – long-life

occasion – an event

vary – things that vary can be different or change

relationship – the connection between people

recipient – the person receiving something

alreadyalready can describe something that is true before the present time

except – not including

considered – thought to be

common – something that happens often

prosperity – wealth

auspicious – suggesting success

Wordsearch


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Celebration red bean soup: Recipe for a traditional Chinese dessert

BY JULIE CHENG

Red bean soup is a traditional dessert served at the end of Chinese banquets and family dinners. Photo by Trevor Molag
Red bean soup is a traditional dessert served at the end of Chinese banquets and family dinners. Photo by Trevor Molag

I come from a family of great home cooks, from my grandmother to my dad to my sisters. My mom was a terrible cook, and I take after her. When, in the December issue of the RCC News, I committed to learning to cook red bean soup and one day share it with friends and family, this really was a way for me to discover how to make some traditional Chinese foods from my youth.

Off I went to Chula Vista Grocery, where I found a pack of what I thought was adzuki beans, the main ingredient for this classic dessert that was so often served at the end of many family meals, including Lunar New Year. Good thing I double checked with the owner, because he kindly pointed me to a different package of red beans.

I’m happy to report that I recently served red bean soup at a family dinner to commemorate Dong, a Chinese festival that occurs on the winter solstice, with a recipe adapted from The Woks of Life. I don’t really remember having the orange zest or tapioca from this recipe in my red bean soup over the years, though I do remember my grandmom putting in dried orange peel.

In my own recipe, I substituted rock cane sugar (concentrated sugar cane extract, available at places like Banana Grove), which comes in slabs and has a deeper flavour than regular sugar. The ginger was my own addition. To give this a creamy flavour, I sometimes add a swirl of oat milk in the bowl.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you. If you have your own traditional red bean soup recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Any tips and tricks would be very much appreciated – just email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

Ingredients for Red Bean Soup

(Serves 6 to 8)

1 cup (250 ml) adzuki beans, rinsed then soaked for 8 hours or overnight

2 inches (5 cm) fresh ginger, smashed with back of a knife

6 cups (1.5 l) water

1 slab (2 oz/50 g) cane sugar, or to taste

1 tbsp (15 ml) tapioca pearls (optional)

Oat milk (optional)

1. Rinse then soak 1 cup of adzuki beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. Recipe photos by Julie Cheng
Rinse then soak 1 cup of adzuki beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. Recipe photos by Julie Cheng
Smash 2 inches of fresh ginger with the back of a knife.
Smash 2 inches of fresh ginger with the back of a knife.
Place adzuki beans, ginger and 6 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Place adzuki beans, ginger and 6 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove ginger. With potato masher or immersion blender, blend mixture until desired smoothness.
Remove ginger. With a potato masher or immersion blender, blend mixture until desired smoothness.
Add 1 slab of cane sugar, or to taste.
Add 1 slab of cane sugar, or to taste.
Add tapioca pearls and simmer another 30 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy.
Add tapioca pearls and simmer another 30 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy.


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January 2023 issue of RCC News is here

Warmest wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2023. Check out the great activities happening in our neighbourhood in this latest issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News and stay connected to your neighbours and community.

Cover of the January 2023 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

View the new issue.

In this issue:

  • CityReach sends Boxes of Love to uplift 700 families over the holidays
  • Collingwood Neighbourhood House launches Anti-racism and Equity Library for staff
  • Still Moon Art Society’s Shedding Light series: Watershed Management
  • In memory of Sterling James
  • Seniors get crafty at Killarney Seniors Centre
  • Celebration red bean soup: Recipe for a traditional Chinese dessert by Julie Cheng
  • Read On! Lunar New Year: Happy Year of the Water Rabbit
  • Plus, insert for Collingwood Neighbourhood House Winter 2023 Recreation Programs

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the February 2023 issue is January 10.

We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.