Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

by Phyllis Louise Harris
February 2014

Happy New Year of the Horse! According to Chinese legend the year ahead will be filled with adventure, progress and activity. Sounds good to me!!

While the Chinese New Year 4712 started January 31, traditionally the holiday continues for 23 days so there is plenty of time to celebrate. Chinese food expert Katie Chin tells us how on her website She starts with Long Life Noodles with Chicken to ensure longevity. Then she follows with Whole Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions for a year filled with abundance. Next she serves Firecracker Shrimp for good luck and she includes recipes for these dishes to cook at home. Essentially eating anything red, or yellow or round, or long noodles or whole fish or chicken will help ensure a really good year ahead. Better yet, go to your favorite Chinese restaurant to enjoy their special New Year menu or create a good luck menu of your own. By the way, lobster (whose shell turns red when it is cooked) is a traditional good luck dish, so do enjoy!

For more than 30 years I have written about the joys of the Chinese New Year and the deliciously traditional ways to celebrate it.  But, this year I did something different….I went on a picnic!

Each year in February I am so tired of the snow, cold and ice that I “escape” to the tropical climate at Bachman’s floral and garden store at 6010 Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. Here among the red and yellow tulips, the aromatic hydrangeas, the bright yellow daffodils, and the lush green plants I can enjoy selections from Patrick’s Bakery and CafĂ© at a patio table in the wonderfully warm, sun-filled greenhouse. What a joy! There is not a flake of snow in sight and I can dine without my coat. While there is also not a single Asian flavor on the menu, I can select “lucky” foods from Patrick’s array of quiche’s, sandwiches, salads, cookies, and wide selection of heavenly pastries. I can always find something yellow or red or round or whole in this array.

Bachman’s first opened in 1885 selling potatoes, lettuce, onions and squash grown on their land that now houses the Bachman operation. They did not start growing flowers until 1914 and today Bachman’s is one of the largest floral and nursery operations in the country. So it is probably fitting that they have started holding annual winter farmers’ markets. This year the Kingfield and Fulton Winter Farmers Markets will be held on Saturdays, February 22 and March 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lyndale greenhouse. Shop for locally grown and produced cheeses, meats, prepared foods, canned goods, crafts and fresh produce from 30 local vendors. For anyone missing a weekly trip to the farmers’ market this winter, this will help tide you over until spring.

Author Beth Dooley will also be at the February 22 market selling and signing her book “Minnesota’s Bounty,” a guide to shopping and cooking food from local farmers’ markets. And on March 22, “The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook” will be featured with cooking demonstrations by Tricia Cornell.  Both book events will be held from 10 – 11 a.m.

Start the Year of the Horse off right! Celebrate with good dining, new activities and adventure. Gung Hay Fat Choy! May you have the best of years.

Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: