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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Local model train shop Central Hobbies for sale as owner retires

Go-to destination for train enthusiasts from all over B.C. and beyond

BY PAUL REID

Kathy and Hal at Central Hobbies are looking forward to retirement. Photo by Paul Reid
Kathy and Hal at Central Hobbies are looking forward to retirement. Photo by Paul Reid

“Every train has a caboose,” quipped a customer, in reference to Hal’s upcoming retirement.

“Now that’s something I’ll miss,” says Hal to me, ”all the little fun remarks just like that.”

Yes, the caboose is here for Central Hobbies (located at 2825 Grandview Highway and Renfrew). Hal will surely miss his long-time customers, and they, him. For the past 35 years, Hal and his Central Hobbies have been the go-to destination for train enthusiasts from all over British Columbia and beyond.

You see, Central Hobbies is like a mecca for train-heads. Take Calvin, who alerted us to the store’s closing in his online post:

“I managed to find some downtime to make the pilgrimage into Vancouver to visit Central Hobbies, which is slated to close in June 2023.

“Where I live, there isn’t a model train-focused hobby shop, so you can imagine dropping me into the midst of a store the size of Central Hobbies would be much like shooting me into space. I spent over two hours browsing the store … I even had to step outside one time to collect myself – the selection was just THAT wild! I felt like a kid again.”

Every now and then a celebrity
comes to Central Hobbies - Kathy and Rod Stewart. August 2014 Central Hobbies News
Every now and then a celebrity
comes to the store – Kathy and Rod Stewart. August 2014 Central Hobbies News

So I met with Hal and yes, it’s true. “Body says it’s time,” he tells me. So, this spring, Hal and his gang (Kathy and Bill) will be preparing to wrap things up. For Hal, the owner, this means he has put Central Hobbies up for sale. Know anybody? How about that gent talking to Kathy in this photo here? He might have some cash.

Kathy has been with Hal at Central Hobbies for about 25 years. “When she started, she knew nothing. Now, she runs the store.” Hal and Kathy definitely will retire whether the store sells or not. Bill, well, I hear Hal might throw him in with the deal.

The price? That too you can iron out with Hal, but you might be looking at somewhere around a million dollars, as that is about the value of the current stock. The buyer would also receive the excellent reputation and connections that Hal and the gang have been building all these years.

And the return on investment. Fugget about it. I’ll leave that to you and Hal to discuss, but with sales booming more than ever right across North America, it sounds like the new owner will stand to pull in a fairly pretty penny.

Hal had always loved trains – ever since he was a young boy. So, later on in his life, when the opportunity to buy Gary’s Train Centre (on Broadway) presented itself, Hal jumped at the chance. Actually, he was hesitant at first, but with the encouragement of a friend, Hal went all aboard, bought Gary’s, and soon, Central Hobbies was to be born here in Renfrew-Collingwood.

So that’s the latest news from Central Hobbies. Hal, Kathy, Bill – wishing you all the best! To our readers, keep your ear to the track when it comes to a new owner.