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Beginning dumpling preparation

Today (12/24/15), it was supposed to be a rainy day, so we decided to sleep in and relax around the resort. I had written out Christmas carol lyrics so Hannah could learn that side of our Christmas traditions.  (If you look in the picture, you can see the paper standing up so she can see them while she cooks.)  Hannah had previously bought ingredients to make Chinese dumplings, and, in return for teaching her how to make chocolate chip cookies, she agreed to teach me. The problem is, she doesn’t really follow a recipe, so I will have a bit of trial and error when I decide to make my own in the future.  But, here’s the information I gleaned:  chop up a bunch of celery really finely.  Put it in a bowl.  Take some ground pork and put it in a different bowl.  Make them roughly equal.  Add oil to them both–one good circle should do it.  If the pork doesn’t taste salty, add some salt.    Pepper is also good.  Add two eggs to the pork and stir well.  Then, mix the celery and meat together.  Now, the hard part–the actual dumplings.

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Learning the process

This is actually much harder than it sounds.  First, you have to take a flat dumpling from a package.  They come in a pack of 50 and are perfectly circular and about the size of your palm.  Because you’re actually shaping the dumpling, you have to trace the edge of the dumpling with water.  (Hannah had a bowl filled with water, and we dipped our fingers into it and traced the edge.)  This mixes with the flour to make the edge sticky.  Then, you put a small circle of the meat and celery mixture in the middle of the dumpling.  You fold the dumpling in half so it looks like a semi-circle (or a protractor).  Pinch the two sides together at the top center.  Hold the dumpling gently–a difficult task for me–it was hard not to squeeze mine, which makes the meat come out.  The complicated part is making the ridges on the dumpling.  Holding the top center of the semi-circle, you pinch the front side about halfway down and push the excess dumpling up.  This makes one side have a lot more dumpling than the other.

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Nailed it!

You even the sides out by pleating the remaining dumpling to make the two sides of the dumpling meet.  (If you have never sewn and don’t know what pleating is, it’s like the paper fans you make in elementary school–essentially folding a piece of dumpling over and pressing it into the edge of the dumpling until the folds go all the way around the dumpling.

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The finished product.

 Once we finished making the dumplings, we boiled a pan of water.  (You can also fry these dumplings.)  Hannah got a bowl of cold water to add later.  You bring the water to a boil, drop in the dumplings and stir them so they don’t stick.  After they’ve boiled for a few minutes, you pour half the cold water into the pan.  This seals the flavor in the dumplings.  You let the water boil again and repeat the process.  Finally, when the dumplings are floating instead of sinking, you take them out and enjoy!  They were incredibly good, and I’m pleased to have acquired a new skill!

After lunch, we watched our family’s favorite Anne of Green Gables.  We had shown the first movie last night and finished with Anne of Avonlea today.  Having traveled to Prince Edward Island twice, we wanted to share this special place and story with Hannah.

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Christmas Eve Service at First Baptist of Sevierville

At 4:30, we headed out for the 5:00 Christmas Eve Service at the First Baptist Church in Seviereville. While the church is huge, I was impressed that the ushers/deacons seemed to know the names of many of the people around me, so they seem to have good connections.  We sang a number of carols, heard a bell choir, and were encouraged by the message.  This service was predominately just a time to sing, share communion, and have a candle lighting.  But, it was a truly beautiful time, and Hannah got to share in another tradition for many American families.

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Stage view of the church

When we got home, mom read Hannah the children’s book of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (and gave her a small copy to remember this time by.)  We had covered Santa before, but he is a difficult idea to understand.  I confused her even more when I talked about the Santa tracker and that the news in America reports where Santa is in the world and encourages children to be in bed so Santa will come.  She asked if the government employed Santa to fly around and give these gifts away.  We laughed and explained that, though newscastors play along, Santa isn’t actually flying around delivering gifts.  So, we had an excellent time swapping cultures this Christmas.  For those of you reading around the world, may you have a Wonderfully Merry Christmas and may God reveal Himself to you in a special way this holiday season!  God bless us everyone.

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