Chinese New Year 2011 - visiting relatives

We visited relatives for Chinese New Year a couple of weekends ago. First, we went had breakfast with Aunties S and J.

A big pot of rice porridge (we call it chok, some call it congee) awaited us. Juji helped spoon porridge into individual bowls. The porridge was full of plump homemade pork balls and smelled delicious.

Pork rice porridge (chok) - pot on stove and serving bowls

There were a number of items to eat with the porridge, including chopped fresh spring onion, omelette, fried garlic, soy sauce and yow char kway (fried Chinese dough sticks, cut into bite-size pieces).

Omelette to eat with rice porridge

Spring onion to eat with rice porridge

There were also fresh homemade vegetable spring rolls with soy dipping sauce.

Vegetarian spring rolls

Here's my bowl of porridge with all the trimmings.

Pork rice porridge (chok)

We sat in the living room to eat breakfast. I sat on the floor at the coffee table and ate with my nieces.

Ruby likes rice porridge

Zoe eating rice porridge

The girls' mum and dad, their grandparents and aunties all watched intently as they ate their porridge and sipped on orange juice, on alert and ready to intervene in case of any spillage on the spotless carpet. In the end (and with a great sigh of relief) there were no disasters... except for orange juice down the front of Zoe's dress. She got a little upset as her dad helped her change into a new dress but once she was in her new outfit she was back to her happy self again, ready for more adventures!

Zoe in a different dress (spilled OJ on the first dress)

With Zoe in a clean new dress and the porridge bowls all cleared, it was time for something sweet: grapes and peaches in light syrup.

Grapes and peaches in syrup

We hung out a for a while after breakfast, chatting while the girls got out their colouring books and crayons. Then it was time to move on to the next stop: lunch at uncle and auntie JK's home.

My Auntie JK cooks delicious noodle dishes and Juji and I were really looking forward to lunch. We were not disappointed! Auntie JK had cooked two kinds of noodles. First, fried bee hoon (thin rice noodles with vegetables and fried egg).

Fried bee hoon

Second, hokkien mee (saucy thick egg noodles with pork and choy sum).

Hokkien mee

My eyes must have lit up and flashed like cat laser eyes in the dark when I saw the bowl of fried pork fat next to the noodles. Usually you would cook the noodles with the fried pork fat through it, but my auntie made the pork fat optional. There was also a bowl of sliced fresh red chilli (not pictured) to eat with the noodles.

Fried pork fat (to eat with noodles)

There was also steamed yam cake (woo tau ko). My auntie's version had fine pork mince through the cake, which was topped with spring onion and dried shrimp.

Yam cake (woo tau ko)

Here's my plate, round one (see the bits of fried pork fat on my hokkien mee?). I did go back for another round of everything.

My plate

I sat next to Zoe for lunch. She was hilarious! She noticed the woo tau ko on my plate and in between mouthfuls of noodles, she reached out and ever so gently poked the woo tau ko with her finger. I was too busy laughing but auntie CW took the major hint and gave Zoe a little woo tau ko to try - she liked it but preferred the noodles.

Zoe pokes my yam cake

My mum (the girls' grandma, they call her Mah-Mah) often cooks them saucy hokkien mee. So they felt very much at home with this lunch.

The girls eat their noodles

Both girls ended up with streaks of sauce all over their faces and hands. Ruby sported a rather fine saucy moustache and beard which her mum helped clean up.

Getting cleaned up

After the lunch dishes were cleared away, we were all excited to see Auntie JK bring out containers filled with homemade Chinese New Year biscuits.

Chinese New Year biscuits

My favourite Chinese New Year item is the layer cake made by my cousin M. There are around 20 layers of cake in each delicious piece and I like to peel the layers off and eat them one by one. Making layer cake is quite a labour-intensive process as you need to bake it layer by layer before pressing them all together to create that multi-layered effect. I'm grateful that my cousin M has the patience to make layer cake every Chinese New Year.

Layer cake

These are love letters, delicate, crisp and coconut flavoured. Zoe took a great liking to these this year.

Love letters

Zoe with a love letter

Uncle JK microwaved the pineapple jam tarts before serving so they were buttery warm. Ruby tasted the pineapple jam and exclaimed delightedly: "It tastes like marmalade!"

Pineapple jam tarts

It will be great fun when Caleb can join his sisters in all the fun and eating. He woke up for a feed, was cuddled by aunties and great-aunties and enjoyed sleeping in his mum's arms.

Caleb sleeps

Readers who follow me on Twitter would have already seen sneak peeks of Zoe enjoying her porridge and Ruby as Inigo Montoya!

Previous Chinese New Year family meals

Chinese New Year 2011 - family lunch Chinese New Year 2010 - family reunion dinner Chinese New Year 2009 - visiting relatives Chinese New Year 2009 - family reunion dinner Belated Chinese New Year 2008 family dinner - includes a video of yee sang being assembled.