Chinese Food, American Style

It is often a standing joke that what Americans consider to be Chinese food is totally of our own making, and cooks and diners in China would find them completely foreign (like chop suey – what on earth is that?). But somewhere along the line, Chinese food was adapted from our Asian immigrants, Americanized and became wildly popular, not only as a take-out but served buffet-style and sit-down as well. Many dishes are accompanied by plain white, brown or fried rice. Let's review our most popular:

Dim Sum: bite-sized dumplings stuffed with veggies or meat, essentially a Cantonese preparation not always offered at many restaurants; can be also presented as small sampling dishes, depending on the menu and the cook's whim;

Hot and Sour Soup: a delightfully "sour" soup with a spicy broth, it contains red peppers or white pepper and vinegar; another favorite soup is a light broth with won ton (meat-filled dumplings);

Quick Noodles : a staple in every Chinese home and found on most Chinese restaurant menus, it comes in several versions, often called lo mein and may be plain or have veggies;

Szechwan Chilli Chicken: a fiery Sichuan delight loaded with pungent spices like ginger, green and red chillies and brown pepper; be careful if you are not a fan of hot chilli peppers;

Spring Rolls: Frequently a lighter version of traditional egg rolls, which are shredded meat and veggies encased in a papery thin dough, rolled and deep fried; a favorite to be sure;

Egg Foo Young : an egg pancake with veggies, often too bland for Chinese foodies, served with a brown sauce;

Shitake Fried Rice with water Chestnuts: mushrooms and water chestnuts are used frequently in Chinese cooking, and this is just another version of traditional fried rice; some things never go out of style;

Moo Shu: stir-fried veggies and meat, chicken, shrimp or tofu, rolled up in thin pancakes spread with plum sauce (this author's favorite dish);

Kung Pao Chicken: savory pieces of chicken cooked in a wok with veggies and flavored with peanuts and spices; from the time of the Qing Dynasty (circa 1876);

General Tso Chicken : deep-fried chicken dish in a tangy sauce, an all-time favorite; it may have been named in honor of a Qing dynasty military leader, but it's really anyone's guess;

Orange Chicken: another popular deep-fried chicken dish, coated with an orange sauce after cooking (not for a low-fat diet, to be sure);

Peking Duck: don't expect this specialty to be readily available at many Chinese restaurants, Peking duck harkens back to the Imperial Era (221 BC) and characterized by its thin, crisp skin; often must be ordered ahead of time but fit for an emperor;

Like many other cuisines, Chinese cooking uses sauces and seasonings native to their regions, which might include:

soy sauce
oyster sauce
sesame oil
rice vinegar
rice wine
soybean paste
star anise
five spice powder
chili sauce (or paste)
chili powder
sichuan peppercorns
black bean sauce

Many of these are available …

Native American Jewelry: Authentic or Fake?

Different people like different types of jewelry: some are fans of traditional pieces, some like antique metal with modern design and some like Native American jewelry more than anything else. If you fall into the latter category or simply enjoy unique jewelry, you should buy native American jewelry.

The purchase may seem easy, like placing an order followed by the normal process of payment. But there is a catch. Do you want to buy something of low quality, while paying the same price of an authentic piece? Certainly not. Therefore, it is better to arm yourself with adequate knowledge regarding Native American jewelry, so that you won't be conned by the fake pieces.

How would you differentiate the authentic pieces from the fake ones? Your knowledge about the authentic jewelry will help you out. Here are some points you should consider before you buy Native American jewelry.

Value: Artistic, Historical and Monetary

The Spanish introduced silversmithing to the Native Americans. Since then, the Tribes and Pueblos started developing their unique style of jewelry that has been carried forward through generations.

The authentic artists of Native American jewelry design unique pieces with their innovations, patience and hand tools. Sand casting is a special method, through which the silversmith carves a mold to form the silver, and the mold gets destroyed by the melted silver. If you look at this type carefully, you will understand the level of patience the artist needed to design this jewelry.

Apart from this, there is the setting of stones. The size of the stone, the fine cut of it and, above all, the setting make it different from fake ones. Note that no adhesive is used to set the stone in an authentic piece. Rather, it is wedged into the inlay patterns with sand or similar materials.

Due to this immense skill set and patience, the artists put a worthy price on their jewelry. Often, the price may seem a little high, but if the sellers negotiate with you and you get to buy Native American jewelry at a much lower price, don't question its authenticity.

Federal Law

Federal law sets some protections for consumers to help them buy authentic jewelry. According to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, the label "Native American" or "Indian" can be used only on authentic products. Be sure of duplicity if the tag says anything else.

Signs and Symbols

Apart from the labeling and value, there are some signs and symbols that help in understanding the authenticity of the product. A hallmark sign, signature of the artist and sometimes the date of manufacture is stamped or carved in the jewelry. This indicates the authenticity of the jewelry.

The material of the jewelry is also a factor in deciding its authenticity. Sterling silver is typically used as the material of Native American jewelry. The best way to differentiate sterling silver jewelry from a silver-plated piece is to examine it with a magnet. The silver-plated one will likely contain nickel, so it …

American Beauty Semiotic Analysis

American Beauty, through its use of symbols and the title of the film itself makes us examine the characters and their philosophies (American dream, their concepts of success, beauty, etc.) both as they are and as they are perceived. No one in the movie is actually as they seem. In the end the creepiest (Ricky) is the nicest, the successful wife is an unstable wreck, and the American beauty is rather plain.

The red rose pedals, which appear several times throughout American Beauty are a symbol for love, sensuality, and vitality. However it is important to note that throughout most of the movie the red roses are implicitly an illusion. The red roses in the context of an illusion come to stand for a sugar coated reality.

By sugar coating I mean that which covers up the natural stimulation (taste, sight, touch) by "sweetening" it. In all but one of the scenes, the red peddles are around Angela covering her naked body in a way which makes what ever lays beneath, that much more enticing, through the use of sensual reds and the sexiness of mystery. Not to mention extreme spectacles which often accompany Lester's dream scenes.

However in the scene where Lester finally gets what he has been wishing for Angela has no red peddles around her. Unlike her breasts in the first scene which were covered up with vibrant pedals, this scene exposes her body for what it is, we like Lester start to feel like Angela may not have been all she was cracked up to be. It is not that Angela isn't beautiful, it is that no one could live up to the god like expectations that Lester's wild fantasies created.

After Lester finds out that Angela is a virgin and not at all what he thought she was he goes out to the kitchen and picks up a picture of his family. As Lester looks at a photo of his family saying "man oh man …" a bucay of red roses (exact to those shown earlier) are shown for about 5 seconds. These roses unlike all shown previously are real, not a dream. Also unlike the roses shown earlier they are associated with his family and not Angela. In this context the roses do not represent sugar coating but real love, sensuality, and vitality. Seconds latter we see a puddle of red blood. Shortly after we experience, by video montage which is Lester's life flashing before his eyes, the love, sensuality, and vitality which the picture represented.

The theme of things not being what they seem is not isolated to Lester's view of Angela. Several times throughout the movie Carolyn says You have to project success at all times to eventually become successful. Lester also comments to Ricky's Dad that his marriage "… is just for show".

Many of the characters seem to obsess over how people perceive them but show little care for the reality of things. Ricky's Dad who hates homosexuality, and lets …

American Made Clothing – Why Buy Locally?

American made clothing purchases will be one of the ways you can help to keep people in the US employed. With the state of the economy today, this is essential. Many people are losing their jobs as retailers cut back. Many companies have found they can make a bigger profit by importing inferior products and this is not the conducive to good business practices. The economy needs the boost it can be provided by the purchase of products that are made in our country. The jobs of the American people will be made more secure if the products and the clothing we wear are American products and american made clothing.

The Reasoning behind Buying American Products

It is really quite simple. American made products are the key to ensuring that businesses can survive, people will have jobs and the economy will prosper. Everything in the news lately is the number of jobs being lost. This company is downsizing and laying people off and this company shut their doors altogether. By supporting the country that you live in you will be ensuring the future of your children and their children. With the world's outlook on the almighty dollar today it is no wonder the economy if failing. Everything is about making as much money as possible in the cheapest way available.

American made clothing is no exception. There are many companies that have clothing with a 'made in America' label. However, the clothing may not have been made in the US at all. It may have been made elsewhere and had the embellishments added here. This is why you must do a little investigating to find out if American made products are totally made in America. Companies must take the responsibility in the products they sell and ensure the quality and workmanship. But how many do you think do this?

There are many people who are refusing to buy products made in other countries because they feel that American made clothing is the answer. They are of the belief that American should take care of their own economy before worrying about the rest of the world. If we want to restore America to the greatness it once knew, this may be the way to do so. The US used to be ranked quite high in the export business but today it seems import has taken its place. American made products are actually becoming quite rare.

There are some people who have taken a stand on providing products that are made in the country in which they live. With a focus on using all natural products today, American made clothing is one of the ways they can make a difference in the use of natural resources. Man-made resources are dwindling and the environment is suffering so companies have been formed to use natural resources in the making of products. Instead of using materials imported from other countries, these companies are focusing on using America's natural resources.

Finding a cooperative is one way …

Latin American Wedding Traditions

Every culture has its own wedding traditions and the Latin American marriage ceremony is no different. There are countless unique Latin American wedding traditions that are still followed to this day and are part of what makes the day special for every Latina bride.

Processions

In Latin American tradition, the night before the wedding, a procession takes place from the groom's house to the bride's family home. Hand lanterns are carried and the groom's family take a gift-filled chest as a present for the bride's parents.

Secrecy

As in many other cultures, the Latin bride and groom are forbidden to see each other before the wedding ceremony. The bride's father's responsibility is to keep the bride hidden away and then to give her away as part of the wedding service. It is the groom's job to escort his mother down the aisle.

Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

As in many other cultures, Latin American wedding traditions dictate that there should be a flower girl and a ring bearer and that they should wear clothes that are copies of the bride and groom's outfits.

Coins

13 gold coins representing Jesus and the apostles form an important part of the ceremony. They are presented by the groom to show that he can provide for his wife and are blessed by the presiding priest to be given to the bride as part of the service.

Bridal Dress

Every Latina bride knows how important her wedding dress is. In traditional Latin American weddings, she a mantilla veil and orange blossoms in her bouquet and hair are wore to symbolize happiness and fulfillment. Although Latin wedding dresses are now often white, traditionally the bridal dress color was black to show devotion for her husband until death.

Rings

Traditionally, both the bride and groom wear rings following their engagement on their right hands. After the ceremony, they swap the rings to their left hand.

Binding Together

In Latin American tradition, the lasso cord is used to bind the couple together during the ceremony. This is either a rosary or white rope tied around the couple's' shoulders symbolizing their union.

Favors

As in many cultures, giving guests wedding favors is an important part of the ceremony. Capias, or small gifts, are given to guests during the receiving line and took the form of ribbons with the names of the bride and groom and the date of the marriage on them.

The White Bell

During some Latin American weddings, there is a white bell hung outside the church filled with rice and flour to symbolize prosperity. As the couple enters the church, the bell is broken by the mother to wish the couple luck.

Godparents

In traditional Latin American culture, it is the godparents (or sponsors) who bear the cost of the wedding and also play a big part in the ceremony. It was their responsibility to carry in the arras (gold coins) and the lasso cord into the ceremony.

First Dance

After the ceremony, the bride and …