Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25?
There are several reasons Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25. The date is nine months after March 25, a day recognized by Christians as Annunciation. It was the day Mary was told she would was having a baby. The nine months that follow are an approximation of Jesus’ birth. Dec. 25 also coincides with pagan Winter Solstice celebrations like Saturnalia' and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. Since they were historically celebrated around that time of year there was precedent for holiday festivities during this time of year.
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Next: What Does the Name 'Christmas' Mean and What Is the Meaning of Christmas?
What Does the Name 'Christmas' Mean and What Is the Meaning of Christmas?
Christmas is a shortened from the words “Christ’s mass.” It’s derived from the Middle English word "Cristemasse" which has Greek, Hebrew and Latin origins. Christmas is an annual holiday that honors the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated by Christians around the world and is regarded as an important religious and cultural holiday.
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How Can We Celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is traditionally celebrated in many ways and celebrations vary across cultures. In the days leading up to Christmas, people usually put up special decorations including colorful lights and evergreen trees. Gifts are often placed under the tree and exchanged on Christmas day among loved ones. Large meals are also typically served as part of the celebration as well.
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As with most meat, the safest way to thaw beef is in the refrigerator. Small cuts of beef can take up to 24 hours, while larger slabs can take a few days. If you’re in a pinch, frozen beef can be thawed in a bowl or container of lukewarm water. Place the bowl or container in the sink and leave under a running faucet. Never allow raw beef to thaw or sit on a counter or cutting board. Since it takes longer to thaw than most meats, it is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
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In order to effectively freeze beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package beef is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap the meat in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
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For ground beef, keep refrigerated and use within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. Steaks follow the same protocol, but can last a bit longer at three to five days. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow with stored meat, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. Meat can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
Never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
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How to Pick Ground Beef
The possibilities with ground beef are seemingly endless, though you’ll probably want to pay the most attention to cost and fat content. Naturally, the lower the fat content, the higher the price. A leaner meat; however, may not taste as moist and flavorful, so keep that in mind if you’re making a meal that’s prone to dryness (like meatloaf or hamburgers). Sometimes the extra fat can make or break a dish.
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How to Thaw Ground Beef
Like other meats, the best way to thaw ground beef is to leave it in the refrigerator. If you’re in a pinch, take out your frozen meat and place it on a plate under running cold water. A microwave may also work, but it is likely to start cooking your meat, which you’ll want to avoid.
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Lamb is readily available in most supermarkets. The freshest lamb will have soft pink and red flesh with marbling throughout. Avoid anything that looks grey in color.
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Wrap the lamb in it in its original packaging, airtight, with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. From there, you can also place the meat in an airtight freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Chops and loins fare best when wrapped individually.
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Lamb can be defrosted in three ways. As with most meat, refrigeration is the most effective, albeit slowest method. Lamb meat defrosted in the fridge can actually be re-frozen before or after cooking, though there may be a loss of moisture. If you're in a pinch, lamb can be defrosted in the microwave, or placed in a bowl of cold water (which should be replaced every 30 minutes).
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I first tasted potstickers in the late 1980s at the tiny Mandarin Deli in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Behind the glass window, a dumpling maker steadily worked, rolling out thin wrappers, filling them, and creating large pea pod–shaped dumplings. I watched intently, distracted only when my fragrant pot stickers arrived. The hearty dumplings were so hot that I burned my mouth, but they were well worth the minor injury.
Potstickers supposedly started out as boiled dumplings that a chef forgot about in the wok (“guō”) and they stuck (“tiē”) after the water had cooked away. His guests loved the contrast between succulent filling, tender-chewy skin, and crusty bottom, and thus the potsticker was born. The modern way to mimic the chef’s delicious accident is to cook potstickers in a skillet with water and oil, which steams the dumplings and fries their bottoms to a golden, toasty finish. They are technically called jiānjiǎo in Chinese, which means shallow-fried dumplings; but in the West, we commonly know them as potstickers and panfried dumplings. “Fried” dumplings can be panfried or deep-fried.
Watch Andrea Nguyen demonstrate how to wrap a dumpling in this CHOW video.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chinese New Year Dishes for Valentine’s Day photo gallery.