The Sprouts: Origami Animals & Gyoza

Two of the books we read this week inspired an Origami craft day, which we paired with delicious Gyoza....

Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells is a story about making origami cranes and sending them to those you love. Yoko first learns how to fold the cranes with her grandfather, Ojiisan, while living in Japan. Upon moving to California with her parents, Yoko recalls waiting every Spring for the “real” cranes to return to the pond by her grandmother’s house. For her grandmother’s birthday, Yoko makes three paper cranes and sends them in the mail with a special message written in Japanese. “Soon I will come back to Japan, just like the cranes.”

This week we also discovered Caldecott Honor Book Medalist, Allen Say. Tree of Cranes is written and beautifully illustrated by Say. The boy’s mother was born in California and shares an American tradition of decorating a tree with her son. Seven days before New Year’s Day, she decorates a special tree with silver paper cranes. As the cranes turn slowly and sparkle by candlelight, the boy thinks, “There couldn’t be a tree more beautiful than mine. Not even in the place where Mama was born.”

As the mother prepared the tree, the boy asked his mom if she was going to fold a thousand cranes to make a wish come true. We decided to investigate this a little further and learned that the crane is a mystical creature and is said to live for a thousand years. Ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. There is also a picture of a traditional Japanese soaking tub (my dream!) and the boy eating rice gruel. After a quick search, we learned that rice gruel is a porridge made from the water that rice is cooked in. You simply cook rice in extra water, pour it off when the rice is done, and sip it to nurse a cold. Try that the next time you have the sniffles!

I happened to find origami paper by Melissaa & Doug while shopping for gifts this past weekend and decided to give paper folding a try with the kids! They had enjoyed saying the word or-e-ga-mee when reading the books and were excited about the project!! Skoogie helped test a crane and then we made more when Colin got home from school. It was fun to see the different shapes form in front of our eyes. Skoogie helped with the creases and would announce the shapes: square, rectangle, triangle, kite, diamond. Then at step 12… things got a little more complicated and she announced, “Mom, I’m going to color.” At about step 20, I almost got lost myself… but some how at step 25…a crane appeared!!

After a short break, Skoogie wanted to make a butterfly. I was delighted to find a very simple butterfly (I like to do things in reverse)!! When Colin got home he thought the crane was “really neat!” He wondered if there was a way to make an origami elephant (those of you who know him, are not surprised by this request…and it was blue nonetheless!). I can certainly see how this art form can become addictive and the trick seemed to be to let the paper find its way as you make the folds. Happy Folding!

Origami Crane

Simple Origami Butterfly

Origami Elephant

Now that you have found inspiration folding paper, with a little additional crimping and folding you can also enjoy a delicious meal!

Gyoza with Dipping Sauce & Asian Coleslaw on the Side

Gyoza (Pot Stickers) originated in China but quickly became popular in Japan.

2-3 c Napa cabbage
1/4 c chopped green onion
1 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
1 ½ T rice wine vinegar
1 T sesame seed oil
¼ t sesame seeds
Ground pork, shrimp, or tofu
Package of pot sticker wrappers

Slice napa cabbage thin and place in colander. Salt the cabbage lightly and toss in the colander to mix. Let drain for half hour or so as the salt will draw out moisture in the cabbage. Squeeze out any excess moisture but do not rinse. Place the cabbage in a bowl and add chopped green onion, ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds. Adjust to your taste. Add ground pork, chopped shrimp, or chopped tofu and mix together.

Get the pot sticker wrappers ready but cover with a slightly dampened towel to keep from drying out. Place about a tablespoon or so of the cabbage mixture into the center of pot sticker wrapper. Dip your finger in water and wet half of the outer edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to encase the cabbage mixture. At this point you need to "crimp" the pot sticker shut with pie-crust-type folding and pinching. What probably matters most is that you seal the pot sticker. Set the pot sticker aside, seam side pointing to the sky, and repeat until your cabbage mixture is
used up.

On medium-high heat, warm a skillet or large pan with lid (a non-stick pan is a plus here if you have one) add a tablespoon of oil (vegetable, sesame or a combination is good). Once hot, place several pot stickers in the pan keeping some space between each pot sticker. In this first phase of cooking, you want to brown the bottom of the pot sticker. I often rub them in the hot oil and slide them to their location in the pan. After a few minutes of browning, add somewhere between 1/2 cup and a cup of water to the pan and cover with the lid. Let the pot sticker's steam for several minutes until most of the water is gone or absorbed. Remove the lid and let the remaining water evaporate.

The pot stickers should now be stuck to the bottom of the pan with a nice brown crust on the bottom. Remove from the pan (a metal spatula is helpful) and eat. Make a dipping sauce by mixing together 2 T soy sauce, 1 T rice vinegar, 1 t toasted sesame oil, a pinch of chili flakes and anything else that inspires you.

The gyoza can be served as an appetizer or it often just becomes a meal at our house with a side of Asian-style coleslaw.

Asian-style Coleslaw
½ cabbage, shredded
3-4 carrots, shredded
2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T Roasted Sesame Seed Oil
½ t Sugar (adjust to taste)
1 t Seasame Seeds
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

User login

Recent comments

Find us on Facebook

Laptop Lunches