A Period Of Festivals & Celebrations

Good evening, dear friends πŸ˜€

Wow, at this year end, things are getting exciting as we have a number of celebrations and festivals. Come this Sunday, 21 December, 2008, the Chinese all over the world will be celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival. Usually, this festival falls on the 22nd of December every year, but as this year is a leap year with an extra day on the 29th February, we are celebrating it on the 21st instead.

I am now planning my menu for my Winter Solstice Lunch but a sure thing on it will be the “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls, a symbol of this important festival. πŸ˜€


A bowl of colourful Tong Yuen or Glutinous Rice Balls in Pandan flavoured sugar syrup



My 2007 Winter Solstice Dinner spread – clockwise from the top –

  • Breaded Garlic Pork Chops
  • Chicken & Potato Curry
  • Steamed & Salted Chicken
  • Treasure Soup
  • Hokkien Thick Egg Noodles
  • Fuzhou Fishballs, Mushrooms and Broccoli (centre)

For the recipes of these festival dishes, just click HERE.

The celebration of Tung Jit as this festival is called is a joyous one not only because it is celebrating the Winter Solstic…. but it also signals the start of the preparations for the Chinese New Year, which will fall on 26 January, 2009.

During this short period before Chinese New Year, decluttering and cleaning of the whole house is done to remove all old, stale energies, and to welcome new chi into our homes. Then the necessary Feng Shui cures and enhancers are place to ensure a smooth and prosperous year 2009.

After that, it is shopping and shopping of new year goodies ranging from auspicious sounding foodstuffs, waxed meat imported from China, auspicious Chinese decorations, new clothes and shoes…..and oh, I forgot…there will be lots of baking done for Chinese New Year cookies. Wow, as I am typing this, I am already excited about all these! πŸ˜†

The Chinese gets very excited with the new lunar year because with it, new energies, prosperity and happiness are ushered in for rest of the lunar 2009 year.

Then the next week, we will be having a Christmas Eve dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the world…wow, another great festival with all the yummy feasting. πŸ˜€


My 2007 Christmas Dinner Eve Homecooked Dinner



My plate of yummy Christmas turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and broccoli last year

I will post here later the pictures and recipes for my festivals as we celebrate these joyous occasions! πŸ˜‰

Happy Winter Solstice Festiva, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! πŸ˜€

With peace, harmony and joy,

choesf πŸ˜€

P.S. For those of you overseas who would like to celebrate this Winter Solstice Festival with me and would like to make your own Glutinous Rice Balls from glutinous rice flour, let me know by leaving a comment here and I will post a recipe for you. I buy freshly ground wet glutinous rice from the markets here.

Added on 18Β  December, 2008 –

I am happy to see there are a few of you who are interested in making your own “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls. Good, we can celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival together. It is a Chinese belief that when we eat the Tong Yuen on that day, it will mean that we are getting one year older! I remember during those fewΒ  years whenΒ  I was living in the US, I didn’t eat any Tong Yuen and therefore, I should be 5 years younger in myΒ Β  Chinese age! πŸ™„

Here is the recipe for Tong Yuen –

Ingredients –

125 gm glutinous rice flour

25 gm rice flour

150 ml boiling water

Method –

1) Combine glutinous rice and rice flours in a mixing bowl.

2) Pour in boiling water.

3) Mix with a pair of chopsticks or a fork.

4) When the mixture is cool enough to handle, knead it for a few minutes until it is well mixed, smooth and pliable. If you find the dough is too dry, then add in a little more water.

5) Divide dough into portions and add in your favourite colours. Traditionally, the Tong Yuen are just in white and pink..but I had added in green and yellow colours just for the fun of it! πŸ˜†

6) Pinch off small portions and roll in small balls, about 1 cm in diameter. While you are doing this, prepare 2 pots of water – one pot is for cooking the rice balls…..and the other pot will containΒ Β Β  your “sweet soup” of sugar syrup.

7) For the sweet soup or sugar syrup, just bring to boil the following ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes and then turn off the fire : –

  • 1 litre water
  • 200 gms sugar
  • 2 to 3 slices fresh ginger, or 2 pieces of Pandan Leaves or 1 tsp of Pandan Flavour

Traditionally, slices of ginger are added for flavour…so, it is more like a ginger syrup. But because my children don’t like the taste of ginger, I have decided to use a few pandan leaves to flavour the syrup instead of ginger and it is just as aromatic. πŸ˜‰

8) To cook the rice balls, put about 20 balls at a time into a pot of boiling water. They will sink to the bottom. Once the balls float to the surface, this means they are cooked.

9) Remove cooked rice balls with a slotted spoon and put them into the pot ofΒ  sugar syrup.

Voila! Your very own Tong Yuen are ready to be served as dessert after your Winter Solstice Dinner or just as a tea time “Tong Sui” or “Sugar Water Drink”…a teatime dessert. I usually keep my Tong Yuen in the fridge if there are any leftovers and then just warm up some in the microwave the following day. The rice balls will harden in the fridge.

I hope you like the taste of Tong Yuen. My children gets very excited and will have at least 2 bowls ofΒ  this once-a-year Rice Ball Dessert after dinner.

Note – the portion for the recipe here is quite small…..for my family of 6 with huge appetites, I make about 1 kg worth of wet glutinous rice flour. But for those making this for the first time, start small and if you like this, you can always make another batch in a very short time! πŸ˜‰


11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    *Raises hand enthusiastically* Me! Also, do give alternatives for pandan as it is not available here in Italy 😦


  2. 2

    Louise said,

    Thank you so much for sharing your holiday dishes with us Happy. I am going to save this link to add to my calendar. Hopefully, I will also do a post now that I have the perfect link. I’m going on the road today but will add it tomorrow. Thank you so very much for sharing…


  3. 3

    Louise said,

    I couldn’t wait to add it to the calendar, Happy. Here’s the link..


  4. 4

    rozalia said,

    Wow! Those rice balls looks so great ! And rest of the menu so …yummy !

    Dear whimsicaljottings ! I don’t think you should look for alternatives to pandan,but for pandan itself! Pandan tastes just great !

    With love ,as always,rose


  5. 5

    zxvasdf said,

    I wanna know how to make my own glutinous rice balls πŸ™‚

    I have been following your blog for quite a while. I wish I had more opportunities towards trying the very food you show on this blog.

    Keep blogging, it’s food for thought for the likes of me.


  6. 6

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hi there, dear whimsicaljottings πŸ˜€

    Wow, I love your enthusiasm…it is very infectious! πŸ˜† Traditionally, fresh ginger slices are used when making the sugar syrup but because my kids don’t like the taste of ginger, I had used a few Pandan Leaves instead. If you don’t like ginger, you can try adding in a teaspoon of Vanilla instead. I think that will be quite aromatic, too….but you will have to let me know how that will taste as I have not used vanilla before. πŸ˜‰

    I have added the recipe for Tong Yuen in my post above.

    Happy Winter Solstice Festival!

    With peace and joy,

    choesf πŸ˜€


  7. 7

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hi there, dear Louise πŸ˜€

    When I was posting this Winter Solstice Festival here, I was thinking about you and your wonderful blog of “Months of Edible Celebrations.” Thank you for adding this Festival to your exciting Calendar of celebrations. πŸ˜‰

    I will write a bit more on the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival on 21 December, 2008. Do have a safe trip on the road.

    With peace and joy,

    choesf πŸ˜€


  8. 8

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Te Pups, dearest Rose! πŸ˜€

    Although the Glutinous Rice Balls in sugar syrup is a simple dessert, somehow, we just love eating them….maybe because of the colourful balls. Hope you can make this easy traditional Chinese Winter Solstice Festival dessert for your family … I have added the recipe onto the post above and you can use 1 teaspoon of your Pandan Flavour. πŸ˜‰

    With love and hugs,

    choesf πŸ˜€


  9. 9

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hi there and welcome, dear zxvasdf πŸ˜€

    Thank you for following my blog – I have added the recipe onto the post above and now, you can make your very own Glutinous Rice Balls…and we can celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival with the others in the world. πŸ˜‰

    I wish you a smooth and prosperous year in 2009!

    With peace and joy,

    choesf πŸ˜€


  10. 10

    rozalia said,

    Te pup,my friend!:)

    It’s time to set up your online store for us, don’t you think ? πŸ˜‰



  11. 11

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Heheh…strange that you brought up this topic today, dearest Rose, for I have been approached again by two persons to have a joint venture in the Malaysian branch of Dhealing Webstores…and I have finally agreed! You are the first to know of this. πŸ˜‰

    I have been thinking of setting up an online store for quite a while = it will probably be known as “Happyhomemaker88’s Store.” However, I’m still wondering what my blog visitors would like to buy from me…I may start a poll here soon to find this out. πŸ’‘

    Any suggestions? πŸ˜†

    With love and hugs,

    choesf πŸ˜€


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