“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“Wedding planner (without hesitation)…I just absolutely love weddings!”
I love, love, love the feeling of dressing up, and watching the daddy and daughter dances, not to mention the wedding videos. All throughout the day the feeling of romance and love drifting in the air, so evidently bringing optimism and smiles onto people’s faces. It’s definitely my favorite kind of party!
And isn’t it every girl’s fantasy and dream to be in a white wedding gown like Cinderella someday? It was definitely my dream. I spent most of my free time as a child dressing up in long flowy gowns and trudging around the house in my mum’s favorite heels. Everyone wants to feel like a princess. And the wedding day is her one big day to be showered with love, attention and gifts!
Now that it’s summer and it’s prime wedding season, there is a wedding or bridal shower going on almost every single week. You probably think I’m joking! But NO -seriously – I have a pile of 10+ invitations to prove it! Crazy right? I’m going to spend every week in a different part of Utah to attend another friend’s wedding!
The past few weeks have been crazy since Zoe and I have been shopping for dresses and gifts for the upcoming weddings. With zero experience, we have been researching and asking people what to get for wedding gifts!
In the Chinese culture, we always give away red packets of money to the bride and groom as wedding gifts. Money, to us, signifies luck, fortune, prosperity. We were brought up on the idea that paper bills were the foundation of one’s happiness. And so, we even burn paper money at burials and funerals so the deceased can take it with them in the afterlife!
Rather, here in the States, people buy household appliances, furniture, decor as gifts for the newly weds. They actually give physical items or gifts?! (definitely not something I’m used to). And oh boy, let me tell you it definitely requires a lot more thought to prepare a gift that is meaningful to your relationship with the newly weds. But at the moment you see the excitement on the bride’s face as she opens a box with tissue paper – all the effort pays off. So I must say that this gift giving thing, no matter how mind-boggling it can be, is very meaningful.
Its strange how cultures can be so different right?
In the midst of my rather chaotic and hectic schedule, I am honestly surprised that I am able to make it to so many of them. No matter how tired or stressed I am, being at the wedding reminds me of what matters most in life – the people that we love. Seeing how ecstatic my friends are as they slip on that white wedding gown gives me a reason to justify the long hours preparing and traveling to the weddings (even though your feet starts killing you after the first hour of wearing 3″ heels). What better way than to spend time with family and friends than in celebration of someone’s joyous event!
Question for our readers: If any of you have any suggestions what to get we would love to hear it. What makes a good wedding gift?
Since our last Kung Pao Chicken recipe was so popular, we decided to make a vegan version so more people can enjoy this classic stir fry. Its a meal that makes you wonder why you don’t cook more often at home. Weddings are tiring and once in a while when I get to eat something from home I feel rejuvenated.
During a rather slow weekend, Zoe and I made this dish for a couple of girlfriends that came over for dinner. It really blew my mind how good this tasted even with tofu. You would think the soy sauce braised chicken served with ginger scallion sauce or the coconut fish curry or even the crispy scallion pancakes would take the star attention of the evening – BUT NO it was the this vegetarian dish that captured their hearts. Honestly, rather embarrassingly, this was the cheapest/easiest/quickest dish we prepared that evening, yet it was the most popular! (And the recipe is here for those who requested it!)
After sneaking a bite myself before anyone could finish it, I knew why. This dish was bursting full of flavors. I was shocked at how good it was. Yes – completely blown away. I guess you’ll just have to try it to know what I mean!
Ingredients – Serves 2
Adapted from ChinaSichuanFood
- 1 lb firm tofu
- 2 small red chilis (adjust to preference)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp pureed ginger (1 inch root fresh ginger)
- 3 Spring onions (separate the white part for stir frying, green part for garnishing)
- 1.5 tbsp GF Kikkoman soy sauce (or regular)
- 3 tsp coconut sugar/agave (add less if using regular sugar)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar (or Balsamic vinegar)
- 1 tbsp water
- Optional Garnish: Roasted Peanuts, Fresh Chilis
How to Make:
- Preparation: Drain tofu out of package. Place your tofu on several layers of paper towels and place another layer of tissues on top of the tofu. Put a plate/tray on top. Weigh down with a book/ can to press out the water. Leave it for 30 minutes and discard the water.
- Slice your tofu into 0.5″ cubes.
- Mix together all the ingredients for your sauce. Set aside.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. When it is hot enough, add a little cooking spray/oil (optional). Lay your diced tofu in a single layer (make sure they are not touching) . You may need to do this in batches.
- Sear one side of your tofu for 3-5 minutes till golden brown. Flip and sear the opposite side for another 2-3 minutes till brown. Remove the tofu and set aside.
- Immediately add your chili, garlic, white parts of the spring onions and ginger into the same pan. Stir fry till aromatic (2-3 minutes).
- Add in your seared tofu and pour over the prepared sauce.
- Immediately turn your heat to low. Mix gently to not break your tofu.
- Keep mixing whilst sauce thickens. This will take 3-5 minutes. (You don’t want to evaporate all your liquid, add a little water if it looks too dry).
- Remove and garnish with green parts of the spring onions, sesame seeds and more chili/chili flakes.
How to Serve:
Traditional Method: Kung Pao Tofu is not really an authentic Chinese dish. It is a dish inspired from the original Kung Pao Chicken or 宫保鸡丁. Traditionally it is always made with diced chicken that is marinated and stir-fried with peppers/vegetables and home-made deep-fried nuts like cashews or peanuts. Being a regional dish from Sichuan, it is a very, very hot dish. Sichuan is known for its extremely spicy food. It almost always includes sichuan peppercorns and peppers to create what the Chinese call ” 麻辣” or numbing flavor.
Our Suggestions: For our version, we toned down a lot on the spiciness. Instead of using the traditional Sichuan chilis, we used bird’s eye chilis. You can really use any type that you like and adjust it according to you preference. This is also a veganized version of the traditional Kung Pao chicken which gives vegetarians and vegans the option for having this dish. Most of the time Shaoxing wine and regular sugar would be used. We don’t use alcohol in our cooking so we omitted the shaoxing wine and also used agave/honey. The taste, I have to say, is still pretty authentic and flavorful.
LIKE ANY STIR-FRY DISH IT IS SO IMPORTANT that you only make one batch of this at a time! It is much easier to control and to prepare. You’d rather split this up, because after all “less is more”.
Tip for Stir Frying: You need to make sure the wok/pan is extremely hot. This creates what the Chinese call “wok hei” – which is crucial in creating the best stir-fry!
(This Post Is Featured on: You’re Gonna Love It, Tutorial Tips Link Party, Totally Terrific Tuesdays, Merry Monday, Delicious Dish Tuesdays, Hearth and Soul Hop, Turn It Up Tuesdays, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Create Link, Homesteader Hop, What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Allergy Free Thursdays, This is How We Roll, Think Tank Thursdays, Shine Blog Hop, Favorite Things Link Party, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Wednesday Roundup, Recipe Sharing Party, No Rules Weekend Blog, Craft Frenzy Friday, Traffic Jam Weekend, Vegetarianmama, Full Plate Thursdays, That Friday Blog Hop, What To Do Weekend Party, Friday’s Five Features, Pretty Pintastic Party, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Weekend Potluck, Saturday Sparks, Weekend Wind Down Party, Our Mini Linky Party, Dare to Share, Sunday Food and Fitness)