Sunday, November 25, 2018

24 Festive Tasks | Door 4: Diwali

(November 7)


11/25/2018:  Updated with completion of Task 3.

11/07/2018:  Task 4 completed; other tasks in progress.  Book task with options.

Task 1

Share a picture of your favorite light display.

This task under consideration.

Task 2

Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it. Give us the before and after photos.  OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information. 
(If in doubt, see here:

This task is also under consideration.

I've had a 'To-do' list involving tidying up my bookshelves and my closet for a couple years now... and it has never actually happened.  I try to purge my shelves of old books that will go in the donation bin to make room for new books... so I might complete this task.  I might now.  I'm going to play by mood for this task.

Task 3

Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali.  Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

I'm a big fan of sweets.  Growing up, my idea of desserts had always been the various sweet soups that my mother made for special occasions... or sometimes just because she felt like it.  Rather than cakes and cookies, or pie or ice cream, we got warm sweet soups, sweet herbal soups... just sweets in soup form, warm or not, but most especially warm.

For the Cantonese, sweet soups are absolutely a cultural delicacy.  Amusingly, the translation for them, tang sui, literally translates to "sugar water."  In a way, that's not far from the truth, as most of the soup bases are pretty much rock sugar (in some cases, cane sugar or brown sugar) and boiled water.  It's all the other added goodies that give them their uniquely wonderful flavors.

The following are my personal favorites of sweet soups: Sweet Potato Soup (fan shu tang sui), Ginkgo and Tofu Skin Sweet Soup (bai guo fu zhu tang sui), and Tofu Custard (dou fu hua).  On a side note, when I started compiling this task, I realized that I was coming up with more sweet soups than I had intended, so I decided to cut my selections down to my three favorites.

Unfortunately, the only photo I could find of any sweet soups my mother made in the past only include one for Sweet Potato Soup (recently made), so the rest were borrowed off a Google search.  I've also linked the recipe to the other two under each photo.

Sweet Potato Soup
According to my mom, Sweet Potato Soup was known as the "poor persons' sweet soup."  Unlike other herbal ingredients often found in sweet soups, such as ginseng, sweet potatoes are very common, and one of the most abundant foods grown in China, making them easily accessible and affordable for all kinds of recipes.

The basic gist of this sweet soup really just involves boiling everything together into a soup.  Ingredients include sweet potato, ginger root (chunks or slices), rock sugar, water, and about a half teaspoon of salt.

One large sweet potato is enough to make a pretty large portion of soup, serving at least four to six.  The sweet potato is chopped into small squares, size of the sweet potato chunks is typically based on preference.  Following, we boil water, rock sugar, salt, some ginger root slices, and the sweet potato until the sweet potato is soft.

I personally prefer to use rock sugar when available, but due to the fact that it's a bit more expensive than brown sugar, my mom prefers brown sugar.  Either way, I do not recommend regular sugar, as it seems to lack some sort of quality that doesn't really bring out the sweet soup taste.

Ginkgo and Tofu Skin Sweet Soup
@ Nasi Lemak Lover
Ginkgo and Tofu Skin Sweet Soup is one of my personal favorites, and unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it, nor am I really all that well-versed in it's creation.  The recipe that my mom makes usually has tofu skin, gingko nuts, barley, and hard boiled egg.  The above picture is the closest likeness I could find, though missing the egg.  Other recipes will sometimes include quail eggs.  Also different than the recipe I've linked, we also don't have screwpine leaves or pandan leaves.

Mom likes to soak all her ingredients before boiling everything together, as she says it helps the cooking process move along faster and more smoothly.

And of course, the sweet soup base, in this case, has to be rock sugar, as brown sugar will turn the soup brown and we don't want that.

The photo depicted above includes the egg, as well as some cooked, whipped egg in the soup itself, but no gingko nuts.

Tofu Custard
@ Quinn's Baking Diary
Tofu Custard is called dou fu fa in Cantonese, which translates into "tofu flower," as it is suppose to resemble a flowering blossom... somehow.  I've still not been able to figure that one out.  But the dessert is delicious and that's all I care about, really.

We don't actually know how to make this from scratch at home, and it seems quite complicated, as there are a lot of tedious steps involved.  So my family will just content ourselves with store bought, or in other fortunate cases, restaurant made, especially from restaurants that serve dim sum.  I always get a bowl for myself when we go out for dim sum.

The only thing I'm certain about is the sweet soup that gets drizzled into the tofu custard to make it into a soup-like dessert.  In this case, you simply boil water, ginger root, and enough brown or cane sugar to create a very syrupy soup.

Task 4

During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower.  Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.
-- COMPLETED  11/07/2018 --

You would think that, being a reader of romance, I'd be able to readily find five books with a young woman holding a flower (or flowers) on the cover.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that most of the books on my shelves, both physical and digital, as well as the majority of the books I've read, have more covers with women holding anything and everything but flowers.

Even my Goodreads To Read shelf (books I may not necessarily own) is sorely lacking in covers of a woman holding a flower.

I've got covers of women holding weapons of all kinds: swords, guns, bow and arrow, daggers, and so on.  I've got covers of women and girls holding books, women holding shoes, women holding jewelry, women holding staffs and wands or candles, women holding their own dresses...  I've got a ton of romances with a woman holding a man, or a woman holding a man's hand.  I've even got a cover of a woman holding a trowel, a woman holding a pair of scissors, or a little girl holding a pig.

But enough about that.  I eventually DID find a good number of books where a woman is holding a flower, or a bunch of flowers.

I might have taken a slight stretch with Origin, but I always saw the cover as the silhouette of a young girl, who is coincidentally holding a flower.  Set Me Free's cover has a young woman holding a picture of flowers, so that works, right?  The other three are a bit more obvious.

Book Task

Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)

I'm considering reading one of Tessa Dare's newest releases, The Governess Game, which is her latest installment of Girl Meets Duke.  I have another two books I could use for this task as well, including Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien, the most recent installment available of her Noodle Shop Mystery series; and The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard, the latest installment of her GO-Team series, which really hadn't been a series when I read the first book.  I'm still awaiting my wait list library copy for The Woman Left Behind, though...

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