Tag Archives: Yum!

Mapo Tofu: A Lo Family Recipe

Today is Chinese New Year! Traditionally, the night before Chinese New Year, Chinese families will gather around and eat dinner together, much like this plate from the LEE & LOW title, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic:

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Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic author and illustrator Ginnie and Beth Lo were kind enough to share one of their favorite soybean recipes with us: Mapo Tofu! While not a traditional Chinese New Year dish, the Lo sisters say that “mapo tofu is a Lo family favorite that we eat on the holidays, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.”

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Jai recipe for Chinese New Year

On Thanksgiving, everyone looks forward to the turkey. Valentine’s Day is the time for chocolate. During Chinese New Year, one of the most popular dish is one called jai, or Buddha’s Delight.


Jai is a vegetarian dish and is eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year to bring good luck. According to Buddhist tradition, no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar new year, thus, a dish with lots of vegetables is considered purifying.

While most of the ingredients are probably not available at your local grocery store, they can be found at Asian grocery stores in many parts of the country.

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Chicago here we come!

Well, barring any more volcanic interruptions, come this weekend we’ll be heading off to Chicago for the annual International Reading Association convention.  If you’ll be there, we’d love to see you! It makes me super happy to meet people face to face in this age of twitter-email-voicemail-3G-4G-whatever.

Anyway, we’ll be hanging out at booth 2122 so be sure to come by and say hello. And if the L&L staff alone is not enough of an attraction for you, come for our authors who will be stopping by:


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This Week in Diversity: A Cinematic Rollercoaster

Welcome to winter! I know, according to the calendar winter doesn’t start for another week and a half, but the weather says it’s winter. So let’s curl up by the fire, roast some chestnuts, and talk diversity.

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on some new films depicting African Americans. We start out with Precious: is it a harsh but realistic portrayal of issues too-often found in poor black communities, or is it a racist depiction of black Americans, relying on stale clichés and taking advantage of the people and situations it pretends to help? David Schmader explains why he likes it and then highlights the arguments of those who don’t.

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This Week in Diversity: Changes in the Landscape

It’s easy to think of racial groups as cultural monoliths: black culture is like this, Asian culture is like that. An article on culture clashes between recent immigrants from Africa and African Americans, many of them descendants of slaves whose families have been in the U.S. for centuries, reminds us of the complexity. It also opens a window into perceptions of blackness and Africanness, as when a recent African immigrant says of African Americans, “Those people, they don’t respect African people,” or when a black American says of a black African, “They think they’re better than black people.”

Continuing with the idea of blackness in America, Ta-Nahesi Coates brings us a beautifully written essay on blackness, obesity, segregation, and shame. I keep coming back to this line: “Segregation was a cocoon brimming with all the lovely variety of black life.”

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Happy 100th Birthday, Bank Street Children’s Book Committee!

This morning, we went up to the Bank Street College of Education for the announcement of their Best Children’s Books of the year list—and to celebrate, with cake, the centennial of the Children’s Book Committee.

Every year for the last one hundred years, The Children’s Book Committee—then of Child Study Association of America, now of the Bank Street College of Education—has recommended books that are good for children. They read thousands of books, they share books with children and ask for their opinions, and then they make recommendations to cakeandpresentsteachers, librarians, and parents. They have good taste—they included Alicia Afterimage, Bird, Honda, Horse Song, No Mush Today, and Seven Miles to Freedom on their list of the best books published in 2008—and they love books.

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My lunch, myself?

Earlier this week we posted our lunch poll because, well, at LEE & LOW we like food a lot. It Dedication spotplays a central part in many of our books, and here’s why. Think about the phrase, “You are what you eat.” That goes beyond guiltily scarfing down a bar of chocolate. What we choose to eat on a regular basis says a lot about the culture(s) we belong to. Vegetables or meat? Spicy or bland? What you like to eat is more than just biology; it’s the way you were raised, how your grandmother’s kitchen smelled, the kind of supermarket your parents shopped in.

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What Is “Normal” Reading?

I was recently skimming the New York Times, as I am wont to do, and stumbled across this post: “What Is ‘Normal’ Eating?” The poster rightly points out that eating normal means different things to different people. Whenever our office goes out for a company lunch, a certain subset of the office gets large portions of red meat with a starchy accompaniment; others of us order whatever has no meat but lots of cheese; others go in for the simple, healthy options. Each of us is getting a dressed-up version of our normal.

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