Monday, March 28, 2016

Bad Kitty the Musical

We have read and thoroughly enjoyed both the Bad Kitty picture book and chapter books. We also listened to Bad Kitty audiobook in the car. Vanessa Williams does a good job narrating the book and playing the very Bad Kitty. When I found out that they were going to play Bad Kitty the Musical, I immediately got tickets for my family to watch. We were able to score student matinee tickets from the theatre so we attended with a roomful of school aged kids. The musical was a blend of several Bad Kitty chapter books like Bad Kitty vs Uncle Murray, Bad Kitty Meets the Baby, Happy Birthday Bad Kitty, Bad Kitty School Dazed.  The 1 hr musical was the perfect length for my young children. My children along with the rest of the children in the theatre laughed throughout the play. 

If Bad Kitty the Musical makes it's way to a city near you, I highly recommend it. And if you have not read the Bad Kitty books, I also highly recommend them. They will have you and your kiddo in stitches. The books are also very educational. Nick Bruel, the author, throws in fun facts throughout the books.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

How to make Dumplings and Dumptings!

My 3-year old LOVES, LOVES Grace Lin's Ling and Ting books. Every time we visit the library, she will run to the bookshelf and pull out one of the Ling and Ting books. Ling and Ting are identical twin sisters who seem to do everything together. They don't look exactly the same since Ting got a botched haircut so her bangs are crooked. The series of Ling and Ting books are easy reader books. My 3-year old isn't reading yet, but the books are very simple and easy for her to understand. She tells me she likes the books because Ling and Ting wears pretty dresses. I guess my 3-year old has a serious case of dress envy.

After reading Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same for the gazillionth time, my children asked me if they could try some dumplings. I happily obliged since they can be finicky eaters at times, and I would never turn down an opportunity for them to try new food. I suggested that we make dumplings just like Ling and Ting did in the book. My 3-year old said that she wanted to make dumptings as well as dumplings. We made the dumplings and dumptings, and they were a hit!

Through reading books, not only have stories taught my children new vocabulary, stories have inspired my children to try new food in this particular case. That is a win-win in my book!

We followed TheKitchn's dumpling recipe but ended up tweaking it a bit to suit our family's taste bud and for what we had on hand.

1/2 medium head Napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane or finely minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 large eggs, whisked
2 (12-ounce) package round dumpling, wonton, or potsticker wrappers

Instructions for Assembling Dumplings

  1. Slice the cabbage and mix with salt: Slice the half-head of cabbage down its length, through the root, to make 2 quarters. Then slice each quarter into very thin strips, cutting cross-wise. Toss the slices with the salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Squeeze the liquid from the cabbage: While it rests with the salt, the cabbage will start to release liquid. When it's ready, grab handfuls of the cabbage and squeeze out the water. Transfer the squeezed cabbage to another mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the filling ingredients: To the bowl with the squeezed cabbage, add the ground pork, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and eggs. Work the mixture together with your hands or a spoon until fully combined.
  4. Arrange your dumpling-making station: Clear a space on the counter. Set a small bowl of water, the bowl of filling, and a parchment-lined baking sheet nearby. Open the package of dumpling wrappers and arrange a few on the work space in front of you.
  5. Place 1/2 tablespoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper: It doesn't look like much filling, but using any more gets messy and makes the dumplings hard to pleat closed! Once you get the hang of pleating the dumplings, you can try adding a bit more.
  6. Dampen the edge of the wrapper with water: Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the edge of the dumpling. This will help it to seal closed.
  7. Fold the dumpling in half: Lift the dumpling from the work surface and fold it in half. Press the top closed.
  8. Make a pleat in either side: Use your opposite thumbs to fold a tiny pleat on either side of the dumpling, then press firmly to seal the dumpling closed. You may need to dab a little water under the pleat to make it stick closed.
  9. Repeat with all the wrappers and filling: Continue filling and pleating the rest of the wrappers using the remaining filling — this is where having a few extra hands comes in handy! As you finish each dumpling, line it up on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Cook or freeze the dumplings: You can cook the dumplings immediately, or freeze them on the baking sheet. Once frozen solid, gather them into a freezer container and keep frozen for up to 3 months.

How I Discovered My Love of Reading

As a child of immigrant parents, I was never read to because my parents did not know a lot of English. At the elementary school that I attended, I don't recall my teachers reading to the class. I also don't recall being assigned any reading. Maybe I did read some books, but I honestly don't remember. All the reading that I had to do was later in middle school and high school and college and it mostly consisted of dry textbooks and boring books I was assigned to read for English class. When I had my daughter, I knew I wanted something different for her. I wanted to expose her to the library and to all the wonderful and magical books out there. Every week, we go to the library and we borrow three bags worth (that is as much as I can carry). I have to tell you. We read all the books. I am truly amazed at how many fabulous children's book there are. Every week, we keep discovering more! I am just as amazed at how many books our library has available. Slowly, as a family we have discovered the wide variety of books that our family enjoys. From the extensive list of children's pictures books to early readers to graphic novels to chapter books. 

For the first time in my life, I enjoy reading and discovering the book alongside my children. I am a little sad that it took me 30 something years to realize that I love to read. But I am grateful that I love books now, and I am so happy and proud that my children do too. I am thankful that my children's lives are going to be so much better because of books and because they have a Mom who reads aloud to them everyday.

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

–Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis