Hopping into the new year

Last week we hopped back out to one of our favorite desert camping spots, Agua Caliente, where I previously photographed up-close Bighorn Sheep.  We docked our Airstream Safari at the foot of the Tierra Blanca Mountains and put out a red (auspicious Chinese color for life and prosperity) tablecloth as we made preparations to celebrate the Chinese New Year 2011, The Year of the Rabbit.


According to Wikipedia, Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after winter solstice and in China it is known as “Spring Festival“.  This year Chinese New Year’s Eve fell on Groundhog Day and even Punxsutawney Phil gave his nod that spring is near!  Although we had chilly weather at night, we did have beautifully sunny days and saw beginnings of spring wildflowers, such as the Ghost Flower.


The Ghost Flower, Mohavea confertiflora, is a native annual with beautiful, delicate, translucent cream flowers.  This one wilted the following day after our lowest night temperature of 29°.


For our Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, Larry pulled out our rolling dinette table from under the credenza and made Chinese dumplings.


Seen next to the tray of dumplings is a round tray of Chinese sweets.


Seen on the dumplings tray are chunky peanut butter dumplings (with a pleated edge) and pork-Shiitake mushroom dumplings (with a smooth, flat edge).  These were cooked on our Volcano stove.  First the peanut butter dumplings were deep-fried.


These dumplings look like small gold ingots and seen nearby are two rabbits holding a gold coin, symbol for wealth and prosperity.


The pork-Shiitake mushroom dumplings were browned on one side with a small amount of oil.  Then a quarter cup of broth or water is added and the dumplings are covered with a lid and steamed for 3 minutes.


This results in dumplings that are crispy and chewy.


The peanut butter dumplings were then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

As you can tell by Larry’s Russian rabbit fur hat and layers of clothing, the weather got chilly in the late afternoons, especially when the sun dipped behind the nearby mountain ridge.

Gusty winds increased the chill factor.

Our outside dog water bowl had an inch of ice the next morning.

Our friends in Tucson had temperatures dip to 17° that night and considered winterizing their trailers for the first time.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Tucson’s freezing weather caused ‘astronomical’ frozen-water-pipe damage.

Larry served hot soup (made with asparagus, ham, onion, cilantro, and chicken broth along with the dumplings, which warmed us as we welcomed the Year of the Rabbit 2011 and Punxsutawney Phil’s indication that an early spring it will be!