kruizing with kikukat

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Call it Manapua

A few months ago, The Help's photo was featured in the Huffington Post article, 23 Food Things Only Chinese-American Kids Would Understand.  It was his photo of "bao", the first item of the list, that compelled the reader to consider that "baos make the best snack ever."

If you grew up in Hawaii, you may not know what "bao" is.  I didn't know what a bao was until I went to the mainland for college.

There was a grease pit on the Ave (University Avenue NE, Seattle), called Mustard's.  Needless to say, I hardly went to that place because I hated the name and didn't care much for the food (teriyaki had chili pepper seeds all over the meat...gross).  But like many of the other Asian places, Mustard's was a hit with the local (Hawaii) kids because you could get shoyu food (teriyaki) there.  I did a quick web search, and I don't think Mustard's is in business anymore.

Mustard's had a basic menu. . .about a dozen or so choices which came with rice and some kind of veggie salad.  Most of the choices were some kind of teriyaki.  I noticed in Seattle that Asian take-out places were quick to sell teriyaki, no matter what type of Asian ethnicity of the owners.  In addition to the teriyaki offerings, Mustard's sold steamed bbq pork buns.  A friend of mine went there (I went with him) and ordered "manapua".  Manapua is the local (Hawaiian) term for what the rest of the world calls "bao".  The person at the counter told him, "we don't sell that".  When he pointed to the white pillowy buns, the guy said, "thats hom bao".  My friend was adventurous so he agreed to buy one.  When he tried it, he was puzzled. . .it was manapua!

Since that fateful fall day some thousand years ago, I've come to realize that manapua is called hom bao or char siu bao in every place other than Hawaii.  But it is the same thing. . .chopped bbq pork encased in an eggless yeast dough.  And it does make a great snack (like the Huffington Post article states)!  Traditionally, manapua is steamed, hence the white color, but baked manapua is also popular, at least in Hawaii.  The dough of the baked version is not the same as the steamed version.  The baked manapua dough usually contains egg and is yellowish in color.  Both doughs are slightly sweet.  I think most of my friends actually prefer the baked version, but I'm traditional and prefer the snowy white bun (steamed).

My favorite places for manapua are Chun Wah Kam, Char Hung Sut, and Legend Seafood Restaurant (this place calls it char siu bao).  All places are in Honolulu so it's not like I can just run down to the corner to get it when the urge arises, but I try to bring some home when I go to Honolulu.  Manapua freezes/reheats well.  Because it's not so easy to get here (frozen kine in the store just doesn't cut it), if I really want manapua, I make my own.  The BBQ Country Ribs, last weeks post, makes a great filling for manapua.  If you bought over 8 lbs of country style spareribs from Safeway, you'd have tons of leftover bbq pork too!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     6 1/4 c flour + more for dusting
     3/4 c sugar
     2 1/4 tsp yeast
     1/3 c warm water
     1 tsp salt
     1 1/2 tbsp Crisco shortening
     1 c hot water
     3/4 c milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Set aside.  Stir together flour, sugar, salt.  Combine hot water, milk, and crisco.  Add to flour mixture.  Add yeast mixture.  Using a dough hook, mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes, stopping as necessary to scrape sides of bowl.  Place in a greased bowl and let rise for an hour.  While dough is rising, make filling as follows:

     2 1/2 c char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), diced
     8 water chestnuts, diced
     2 tbsp diced onion
     2 tsp sugar
     1 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp hoi sin sauce
     1 tsp red bean curd
     1/8 tsp (or less) red paste food coloring

Stir fry all ingredients except food coloring for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add food coloring.  Set aside to cool.

Cut 36 squares of waxed paper (3 x 3 inches).

Punch down dough and let rest 10 minutes.  Turn out onto floured surface.  Divide dough into 36 pieces.  Flatten and fill with a tablespoon of filling.  Place seam-side down on waxed paper squares.  When double in size, steam for 20 minutes.

It's official...I'm back at work.  Boohoohoo.

On the bright side, the Ds are home!!!  They managed to get in yesterday, amidst the much-ado-about-nothing threat of post-tropical cyclone Wali. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

BBQ Country Ribs

Kikukat and family would like to extend their condolences to the Lewis family of Fredericksburg, VA.  On Saturday, their eldest child William was fatally shot in Chicago while waiting for a bus.  Although Chicago police believe the shooting to be gang-related, they believe Wil was not the intended target.  Wil was a talented young man with a bright future.  He was only twenty-eight.

Although I've never met Wil, his dad, Joseph, is a friend.  Joe's day job is principal of Stafford Senior High School in Fredericksburg, VA.  Joe's other profession is a writer.  A few years ago, I was honored when Joe asked me to read his manuscript Stolen Lives, prior to meeting with his publishers.

Joe is also a blogger.  His most recent post, With Sadness (Sunday, July 13, 2014), on his blog, Simple Thoughts from a Complicated Mind, Sort of. . ., is so heartwrenching for me to read.  The agony a parent goes through when dealing with the death of a child is beyond comprehension.  Mr. Dependable once said, "A parent should not bury a child."  He has said a lot of stupid ass things, but that was something he actually got right.

The Ds have been traveling for over a week, and I miss them terribly.  Everytime I see their messy rooms I want to scream, but I still miss them.  I want to hug them real tight and tell them how much I love them.  I think Desi and Kennie miss them too.  At least once a day I'll see one of the kats walking out from the Ds wing [of the house].  Reading Joe's blog made me miss them even more. 

As much as I miss them, I can't waste time fretting over their absence, for my vacation clock is ticking.  This is the last Monday of summer vacation for me.  I need to make the most of my time left.  Most teachers officially begin the school year on July 28, but I begin on the 21st.  I feel like I've been working all summer, and lately, even if I'm not doing esy, I'm extra busy!

Last week was a busy week.  I was nice to The Help and bought him a tray of botamochi/ohagi.  After watching the Kenmin Show, all The Help could talk about was ohagi.  My friend's mom makes the best ohagi so I ordered some for The Help, his parents, and my parents.  That kept him quiet for a while.

I went in to work on Wednesday to meet and greet a new teacher.  I offered to help him get his keys and show him around.  He is new to the school but not new to teaching.  I hope he will enjoy his new home!  Actually, he should.  He is leaving a toxic situation, which will not get better unless. . .

I also enjoyed a nice lunch with Brucie, who just returned from a magical trip to England and Switzerland.  Sounds like he had a lot of fun, and thanks to him, I now have another three mugs for my collection.  Brucie is who I wanna be when I grow up!

After about a year, The Help and I made an attempt to make it back to Takenoko Sushi for lunch.  When I called a few weeks ago for a dinner reservation, they told me their next dinner opening was in August!  I couldn't wait that long.  Luckily, the wait for a lunch seating was only a week.  At the last moment, The Help gave up his seat for my parents (I was able to secure another seat), so I ended up going with them instead.  Like Sushi Sasabune, the best part of Takenoko is the omakase (chef's choice).  But unlike Sushi Sasabune, where you think you might get scoldings (or kicked out) for eating something incorrectly, Takenoko is more laid back.  Kikukat Dad tried uni (sea urchin) for the first time.  He said The Help can have his share from now on.  He said there was something stinky about it.  Kikukat Mom is not an adventurous eater, so she stuck with the basics:  unagi (eel), hamachi (yellowtail), toro (fatty tuna), and salmon.  Boring.  Kikukat Dad has a habit of inhaling his food, so we were outta there within 30 minutes.  I soooo could not savor and enjoy every bite.

This past Friday, The Help and I went to Kona to take his car to the doctor.  We had most of the morning to leisurely walk around Kona and explore.  I hate "exploring", as I've come to associate it as a term The Help uses when he is lost.  Unlike The Help, my sense of adventure is nil.  I don't like "exploring".  I like "finding".

We had lunch at The Fish Hopper, a restaurant near the Kailua pier.  Both of us had salads.  The Help had the Cobb salad, and I had the chicken macadamia salad.  I wasn't expecting much, but both of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals.  The Asian dressing on the chicken salad was perfect.  I did ask for it without papaya.  I should've asked them to hold the red onions too, but the onions were easy enough to pick out.  The Help's salad looked like it was full of bacon.  If it wasn't for the bleu cheese, I might have thought about ordering that too.

After my salad, I was looking forward to a hearty dinner (we made it home from Kona in the afternoon).  I was tired so it was a good thing we had lotsa leftovers in the fridge.  The Help came across a good sale Safeway was having on country ribs.  I generally don't buy country ribs (country style spareribs) because I tend to like my pork extra fatty (like bacon & hocks).  I suppose The Help couldn't help himself.  Nearly 8 lbs of country ribs cost under $20 with the Safeway club card.  8 lbs is a whole lotta meat, so I baked it with an Asian barbecue sauce because I knew the leftovers would be good.

BTW, the sauteed greens to the side of the meat in the top pic and the pic below is such a simple accompaniment to throw together. . .shredded savoy cabbage, ham slivers, and salt.  Saute until cabbage shows slight browning.  Place in a serving bowl and top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 lbs country style spareribs
     1/2 c shoyu
     1/2 c oyster sauce
     3/4 c ketchup
     3/4 c sugar
     1 tbsp guava jelly or orange marmalade
     1/8 tsp 5-spice
     1/2" piece of ginger, grated

Boil country ribs for 1 hour.  Drain well and wash off scum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place ribs in large baking pan.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Pour over ribs.  Bake 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from pan and slice across the grain to serve.

R.I.P. William Lewis. . .may your light continue to shine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Me Me Shrimp

Sometimes life can be really cruel.  For most of her life (up to this point), D1 has taken full advantage of indulging in one of her favorite crustaceans, shrimp. She has stuffed her face with shrimp at the Sky Garden buffet (Imiloa Astronomy Center).  She has even eaten tempura udon all along the west coast (USA), Hawaii, and Japan.  She was so looking forward to her Japan trip this year for the opportunity to sample more tempura udon.  Unfortunately, all dreams of finding the best tempura udon in Japan came to a screeching halt a few months ago.  A spring visit to the allergist in Honolulu confirmed what we had suspected for a few months. . .D1 has a seafood allergy.

Dr. Kuo performed the "thousand needle" skin test, which revealed crab to be the most allergenic.  There was a slight/mild reaction to shrimp, and no reaction to lobster.  However, Dr. Kuo said that since crab, shrimp and lobster are closely related, he advised avoiding all 3 to prevent cross-reaction.

D1 was devastated.  I know she has contemplated having shrimp several times since that diagnosis.  And Mr. Dependable sold her out and told me she eats shrimp almost every weekend when she is with him!  Unlike Mr. Dependable, I tend to walk on the side of caution.  While benadryl has worked well in the past to combat the itching, I always tell her not to push her luck.  In spite of her allergy, D1 has a lot to be thankful for. . .she can still eat a whole bunch of other tasty seafood.  Clams, oysters, scallops are all safe (per Dr. Kuo).  I remind D1 that there other people who are not able to eat any seafood, including oyster sauce (neither of the Ds would be able to handle an allergy to this).

At this moment, D1 is somewhere in Tokyo. . .I hope she's not at Aoi Marushin or buying crab from Tsukiji!  I hope she remembers to ask what they use to make dashi.  And I most certainly hope she will not be tempted to indulge, even with epipen handy.  With an air of self-indulgence, D2 told me before she left that she plans to stuff herself with crab and shrimp tempura while there.  She said she'd even eat some sweet potato tempura (I didn't know she eats this)!

When D1 was part of the shrimp-eating population, her favorite shrimp dish was a toss-up between carry-along shrimp, salt & pepper shrimp and this shrimp dish.  The original recipe title is Mimi's Shrimp, and it was in a local cookbook.  I looked online for a similar recipe, and I came across the original recipe here.  The recipe link does not have any pictures of the finished dish, so I hope they will link to this blog (or ask me for permission to use the pics).

I have posted several kick-ass shrimp recipes, but I prefer this recipe to carry-along shrimp and salt & pepper shrimp.  This is more versatile.  It can be eaten with rice or with a crisp, green salad.  It also doesn't require much marinating time.  Because it's cooked on a grill, there is no oil to clean up (yay).  As a play on the original name of this recipe, we referred to this (when we were cooking shrimp) as "me me" (an homage to "Mimi") shrimp.  D1 is the ultimate "me me". . .the queen of the selfie!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Toaster Oven Food: Haupia Jello Dessert

Now that it's summer, I spend way more time at home.  Somewhere during mid-afternoon, I start jonesing for something sweet.  I don't need a big slice of chocolate cake to satisfy the craving, but I need something a little more than a chocolate chip cookie to quiet the demons.

This summer, my preferred theme is coconut.  I've made a bunch of things with coconut:  satay chicken skewers, coconut shortbread, butter mochi, ice cream topping, and granola. D2 and I love coconut, and I was happy to see that Costco is having a special on VitaCoco coconut water in mid-July.   I guess I'll be hitting the road to Kona in a few weeks.

In my series of toaster oven desserts, I have another one to add to the mix.  Haupia Jello Dessert is very versatile because you can vary the flavor of the Jello.  I used pineapple Jello because I was going for the pina colada taste.  Pineapple Jello isn't the easiest flavor to find, but I found it at KTA.  If pineapple Jello can't be located, my second choice would be lime.  The natural food stores here sell a Tahitian limeade, which has a nice hint of coconut flavor, making lime and coconut a proven combination in my book.

Anything made in the toaster oven can be thrown together and cooked a lot faster than a full-size dessert.  This makes it ready to eat that much faster.  Of course, in my house, its the refrigerator real estate which is in short supply, so having to store a square pan is a way more realistic expectation than trying to make room for a 9 x 13" pan.
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c flour 
     2 tbsp sugar
     1/4 c macadamia nuts
     1/2 c butter
     1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk (shelf-stable)
     1/4 c + 2 tbsp sugar
     7 tbsp cornstarch
     1 c water
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     1 pkg unflavored gelatin
     1/4 c tap water
     1 box pineapple jello
     1 c boiling water
     1 c cold water
Preheat toaster (or regular) oven to 350 degrees.  In bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, macadamia nuts, and butter.  Pulse until pieces are the size of peas.  Press evenly into a 8" or 9" square pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool.  Combine cornstarch and water in a bowl.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk and sugar.  When warm, stir in cornstarch mixture.  Add vanilla and stir constantly until mixture boils and is very thick.  Place pan into an ice water bath, stirring frequently to cool and to prevent skin from forming.  Change ice bath as needed.  When mixture is cool, spread evenly over crust and refrigerate.  Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over tap water to soften.  Combine pineapple jello, softened gelatin and boiling water.  Stir until dissolved.  Add cold water.  Pour carefully over coconut layer.  Chill until jello layer is firm.  Cut into squares to serve.

Last weekend, The Help and I made a quick run to Costco.  I was thrilled to see that the first shipment of Rainier cherries arrived!  Rainier cherries are my favorite cherry.  Not only are they absolutely gorgeous. . .blush on rich sun-gold fruit, but they hold a special place in my heart.  The first time I tried a Rainier cherry was straight off the tree in UGeo's backyard (Marine View house).

The 2-pound clamshell of cherries was obliterated early in the week in the span of a quick hour by THREE 11 year old girls who were hungry after splashing around for a few hours.  I managed to eat a dozen of them, and The Help had three (the three in the picture to the right).  It was no mystery as to how the cherries managed to disappear so quickly.  They were delicious.  They were plump, sweet, and juicy.  And they were all gone.

Never one to hide her feelings (or opinion), D2 suggested we make another trip to Costco. . .to buy more Rainier cherries.  I hadn't considered making a trip to Costco so soon, but The Help forlornly recalled about how perfect the three cherries had tasted.  As if the sob story wasn't enough, he reminded me that the Rainier cherry availability window was extremely short and would likely be closed by the time D2 returns from her upcoming trip.

So mid-Friday afternoon, I found myself on the Saddle, heading west to Costco. . .to get Ziploc sandwich bags, more cherries, and a bunch of things Kikukat Mom requested (can you believe Costco has been out of Ritz cracker and bamboo chopsticks for a while now?).

All the way over, D2 voiced her anxiety about the possibility of Rainier cherries being sold out.  She was relieved when, once in the store, we passed a lady with Rainier cherries in her cart.  D2 suggested we keep a visual check on her, just in case she took the last box.  Luckily, there was still an ample supply of Rainier cherries in the cold room, and we ended up buying two 2-pound clamshells of Rainier cherries.

The Help packed his camera equipment to get some sunset shots.  D2 estimates that she has taken over a thousand shots of D1 posing.  She said it was nice to not have to take pictures of D1 for a change.  D2 used my NEX to snap the shot below.  She did a lot of self-talk to get the shot, as she was hoping to avoid agitating the bee.  Photographers seem to do a lot of holding ass to get the shots they want.  I guess it's never too early to start building a portfolio!

Note to self:  Never underestimate the craftiness and cunning of little sisters.  While at Costco, D2 spied a pack of crab legs and asked The Help to buy it.  Being sensitive to those with food allergies, The Help hesitated, as he knew D1 would salivate profusely and pout at the sight of the forbidden food.   I relented, possibly driven by the fact that I forgot my purse at home, and assured him we'd only eat the crab when D1 was out for dinner.  On Saturday, as D1 was leaving to hang out with friends, D2 yelled, "don't be afraid to have dinner with your friends", in the sweetest, pedantic voice you can imagine.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Won Bok Salad

I'm finally ready to begin my vacation!

We managed to survive the 4-day workshop so now I'm just waiting for my stipend.  I hope it will come by Fall Intersession.  Actually, the workshop itself was palatable, and the characters at the workshop made the time go by faster.  We sat according to schools, and I was totally amused by one of my colleagues who used the post-its (courtesy of the district) to fashion a doll-figure.  And of course, the same colleague who always shows up late for work  showed up late for most of the workshop, arriving late in the morning and arriving back late after lunch.  Arriving late after lunch was puzzling since this was one of the few workshops I attended recently which actually provided lunch for participants (at no additional cost to the participants).  What I'm getting at is there was no real need to leave the premises for lunch, even for vegetarians, as the workshop organizers were very accommodating to non-carnivores, providing a vegetarian option daily. 

Lunch being provided was a most generous gesture, but I was appalled by the behavior of some of the other attendees.  When the workshop ended for the day, instead of making for the door, they made a beeline for the leftover lunch area and grabbed what they could carry.  One dude I know, on his way out, suggested I go grab a styrofoam container (like the 2 he had in his hand).  I told him, "no, thank you".   I glanced at the food area and saw hands grabbing for the remaining containers.  Why do people do such things?  By that time, the food had been sitting out over 3 hours, and for me, that is several hours too long for comfort.  My fear of eating rotten food shifted into overdrive.  Gross!

One of the workshop presenters, who arrived a day later than scheduled, was from Missouri, and now I'm wondering if people from Missouri have a tendency to talk fast.  A former coworker was from Missouri, and she spoke a mile-a-minute too.  Another coworker deemed her speech pattern as "not even pausing to take a breath".  My pal GP grew up in the state just south of Missouri and his speech was like maple syrup. . .smooth and slow.  Does the Mason-Dixon line have an impact on speech speed?  Anyway, having to listen to a fast talker, no matter where they are from, is grueling.  And perhaps that's why I came home exhausted on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th days. 

Speaking of the characters at the workshop, I think a former coworker put a curse on me with the evil eye.  Yeah, I saw her giving me stink eye throughout the workshop, even going so far as to talk shit about me to another colleague.  #whatevers #getalife #yourbossisontoyou  After 4 days, my back, neck, and shoulder were killing me.  I used Aleve to dull the pain, but I gave in and gave Sai Fon a call.  After an hour-plus of near-death pain on Friday, I was finally able to move without too much agony.  It's been 3 days since the session with Sai Fon, and I'm much better now.  

And sometime during the 4 days I spent cooped up in the workshop, the weather underwent a change and it became summer!  We enjoyed several days of 90 degree water temperature (my swimming threshold is 87 degrees).  It was nice to splash around in the afternoon after sitting all day.  I'm hoping Mr. Sun sticks around for a while.  D2 has a few friends coming over tomorrow so it would be nice if they could enjoy the water.

Thanks to the warmer weather, I am ready to have salads for dinner!  I made this for a leisurely dinner on Saturday.  I prepped the ingredients for this salad on Friday, so it was easy to throw together after a late afternoon swim.  I've brought this salad to potlucks because it was easy to keep the ingredients separated until serving time.  I've eaten several versions of this salad, and it makes a tremendous difference when the noodles are toasted.  The noodles stay crispier longer and have a nice, slightly nutty flavor.  It is important to not toss the salad too far ahead of serving, as the noodles will get soggy after a while.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/4 c mayonnaise
     1 1/2 tbsp sugar
     2 tbsp rice or white vinegar
     2 tbsp vegetable oil
     1/2 tbsp sesame oil
     1/4 tsp black pepper
     2 tbsp butter
     1 pkg instant ramen (doesn't matter what flavor)
     2 tbsp sesame seeds
     1/2 won bok (nappa) (about 1 lb)
     2 stalks green onion, sliced thin

Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, oils, and pepper.  Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.  Open package of instant ramen and remove seasoning packet (save for another use).  Crush ramen into small pieces.  In a skillet, melt butter.  Add ramen and sesame seeds.  Stir constantly until ramen is golden.  Remove from skillet and place on a plate to cool.  Slice won bok in 1/4" pieces.  Just before serving, toss with green onion in a large bowl.  Add dressing and ramen mixture.  Toss well.  Serve immediately.

This amount serves 2-4 people.

I grew up eating "won bok", but I realize others may call this particular cabbage by alternate names.  Many local Japanese people will call it "makina" or "nappa".  Perhaps a more proper term is "hakusai".  Supermarkets will also use "Chinese cabbage".  Some cookbooks refer to this is "celery cabbage".  Unlike regular cabbage which is globular (except for the type sold at Costco, which is flat...another mysteryz), won bok is an elongated, giant bullet shape.  The leaves are light green and curly, and the stem is white.  This is the same cabbage we use in batayaki  and potstickers.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sticky Chicken

It was another week of mostly rain, so I still wasn't in the mood for salad.  Kamehameha Day ended up being a soggy holiday, and I certainly didn't do anything special. I just stayed home and tried not to pick at my temporarily capped tooth.  Now that my tooth has been permanently capped, I have another problem. . .in the process of applying the permanent crown, the tooth next to it sustained a fracture, and now I'm dreading having to repeat the entire process again, not to mention chewing gingerly for another 2 week span.  Shit!

While I've been restraining myself from picking at my tooth, a few of the Kikukat house denizens have been stricken with World Cup fever.  The Help is cheering for the team from Argentina.  D2 seems obsessed with Robben and the Netherlands.  She was thrilled when they upset defending champion Spain.  Aki is cheering for Brazil, the land of his ancestors, and Shaka, thinking waaaaay outside the cage, wants Germany to take it.  D1 wants nothing to do with World Cup, and I'm with D1.  I'm glad most of the cheering and game-watching of the opening fanfare occurred while I was at work.

For the past two weeks, I worked as a paraprofessional with students who, per IEP team decision,  qualified (due to regression and recoupment issues) for  extended school year (ESY).  I had the opportunity to work with students whom I would generally not see in my normal teaching line during the school year.  It was an eye-opening experience, and I have new-found respect for educational assistants.  While teachers design instruction, paraprofessionals are often tasked with maintaining consistent implementation of the actual instruction.  These past two weeks entailed lots of repetition and giving lots of wait time.  I also did some dribbling and shooting (basketball skills).  And like teachers and school administrators, paraprofessionals are also terribly underpaid.  Mercifully, I did not need to change a diaper or bring home any soiled underwear for washing (I did this when I was at a local elementary school a few years ago.  A parent cried and thanked me for treating her son as if he was my own.  I opted not to tell her I let one of my own kids eat a can of corn for dinner.)

My stint as a paraprofessional ended on Friday, and today I'm at a workshop with teachers and administrators.  This workshop goes on for four awful days.  Might as well be four weeks. . . I don't know how I'm gonna make it through the next few days.  I'm pretty sure the students at ESY were better company!  The students are always fun. . .adults?  Not so much.

So for the next few days, I'll be cooking stuff like this sticky chicken wing dish which can be thrown together quickly and uses ingredients I already have on hand.  

I got the original version of this recipe from Food & Wine magazine.  I eventually do try recipes I find in magazines, but when I came across this recipe, I actually went to the market, bought chicken wings, and cooked this for dinner that night.   While The Help liked the chicken, I thought it was too spicy for my taste.  Tweaking the recipe, I reduced the amount of ginger and chili pepper so it was more palatable for me.  Now its mild enough where even D2 can eat it (D1 can eat anything spicy so the original version was fine for her).  Leftovers reheat nicely.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2-3 lbs chicken wings
     1 tbsp ginger, grated
     2 chili peppers
     2 star anise
     1 cinnamon stick (2-3" long)
     1/3 c shoyu
     1/3 c shaoxing wine
     1/3 c water
     3 tbsp sugar
     3 tbsp mirin
     3 tbsp oyster sauce

Fry chicken wings in a non stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side.  Add ginger, chili peppers, star anise and cinnamon.  Stir fry for a minute.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove cover and increase heat to medium.  Cook for 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced and thickened.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Toaster Oven Food: Scalloped Potatoes

The first week of summer vacation is behind me.  "Vacation" might not be the proper word to use because I'm super fricken busy.  I voluntarily attended a computer workshop on Saturday, something I would've been vehemently opposed to doing during the normal work year.  But I went.  For no credit.  For no stipend.  And I checked my PayPal account, and those baboozes still haven't reimbursed me the $20 registration fee (reimbursement contingent upon attending the session). 

I also began the first of multiple summer jobs.  I think this job is even more demanding than my regular day job.  Being a paraprofessional is not the cake walk everyone thinks it is.  The only silver lining is not having to deal directly with headache parents.  Oh, and I did get to see JN, whom I haven't seen in years.  Hi, JN!  Long time no-see.  Seeing you made me think back to the time your car didn't start at the luau in Seattle because some doodoo head you were dating left the lights on!  BTW, its years overdue, but thanks for the ride home that night.

In a week, I will be done with my stint as a paraprofessional and will be returning to the ranks of teacher.  I will be attending a 4-day draining.  One of my work pals, who was supposed to attend with me, saw the list of those attending and decided there was no way in hell he could stomach 4 days with those clowns, so he begged out, leaving me to fend off the infidels by myself.  Wimp!  Weakling!  I actually considered bailing with him, but I'm trying to build my war chest for the upcoming October trip.  The Halekulani isn't free!

I had hoped to be enjoying hot summer days, but instead, I found myself pulling back into the garage to run in the house to retrieve a jacket.  I know it wasn't just me because even D2 ran back in for a jacket.  And more than once in the past week, I turned on the electric blanket, a Valentine gift from The Help from a few years ago.  Now I'm not feeling so foolish for buying 4 giant boxes of Cal Oak firewood from Safeway last month.  I guess we are still not out of fireplace season.

In light of the weather, I'm not feeling so apt to rush out and buy lettuce.  I think I'm gonna stick to the comfort foods for a few more weeks. . .Beryl's Meatloaf, Sugar Bath Ham, Roasted Chicken, to name a few.  And what better to accompany those feel-good foods than a big mound of scalloped potatoes!  And should the weather unexpectedly turn warm, this can (and should, no matter the circumstance) be baked in a toaster oven. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 c thinly sliced potatoes
     1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
     1/2 c milk
     1 c shredded cheese, divided
     1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine soup and milk.  Add a dash of black pepper.  Grease a square baking dish.  Layer 1/3 of potatoes.  Cover with 1/3 of sauce.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of cheese.  Repeat layers two more times.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika.  Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.  Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes.

For those who have tried my blog recipes using cake mix (non-pudding type), I have gone back and updated the recipes (both the blog versions and the printable versions) to include the "work around" for the currently-available cake mixes.  Cake mixes sold before 2013 were sold in 18+ oz. boxes.  When Duncan Hines decided to re-do their cake mixes, the boxes shrank to 15 oz.  Apparently, Duncan Hines didn't give a shit about consumers who had religiously purchased their product, developed recipes using a box of cake mix as a base, or even had enough faith in their product to think consumers would be willing to pay a little more to keep the product size the same. . .I know I would've been willing to pay a little more.  Anyway, thanks to the Cake Mix Doctor, there is a a remedy!