kruizing with kikukat

Monday, August 3, 2015

Almost Mrs. Barry's: Coconut Shortbread Cookies

The new school year officially began for students on Wednesday.  For our school, it was a freshman-only day.  Since I don't teach freshmen, it was another work day for me, but I did go to the festivities at the pool to welcome the freshmen.  There were some really huge kids and some kinda small too.  I guess it's always this way with the freshmen class.  I was kinda surprised to see some of the girls.  I remember them from years ago in elementary school.  They had been small and skinny then but now, they got chunky.  I guess you can never tell how kids will turn out.

My classes this year seem okay, but I'm veteran enough to know that the first week or so is a honeymoon period.  We'll see how the coming weeks go...but I know there will be at least one kid who is a handful in every class. 

One happy moment was when a student asked me, "Do you know ___".  I said I did and he was one of my favorite students because he did quality work, was respectful and had great commitment to bettering himself.  To my surprise, the student told me, "this year, I'm gonna be your favorite.  I'm just like ___".  Right on!  I love enthusiastic kids.  In other classes, some kids couldn't shut up.  Others kept pushing buttons.  Just after my partner told students not to sit on the desks, one boy sat on the desk.  She told them not to put their feet up, and seconds later, some kid put his foot up.  I wanna know if he is hard of hearing or just insubordinate.

Now that I think about it, I didn't see much of my coworkers at all.  I guess I was too busy working to even notice most of them!

After busting my ass all week, I knew the weekend would be more of the same.  I invited the family over for lunch on Sunday, so even going into the weekend, I knew I had to get in a Costco run before Sunday.  I would've just asked The Help to go, but he made a choice...a choice to re-enlist in the work force...thus his days are rather busy.

So after work on Friday, The Help and I headed out to the west side.  Our plan was to go right after work, but there were some things we had to do first, so by the time we got to Costco, it was after 6 pm.  I was hoping to stop in at Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies to buy a bag of coffee crunch cookies.  Unfortunately, we were too late.  They were closed.  Maybe we'll make it the next time.

It was always a treat to go to Kona and make a stop at Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies.  Without a doubt, my favorite was the coconut shortbread cookies.  Don't get me wrong...the coconut shortbread cookies are one of my most favorite cookies of all time, but I no longer buy it from Mrs. Barry's since I can make my own.

My friend's mom shared with me a cookie (and the recipe), and I was blown away at how much it tasted like Mrs. Barry's coconut cookies.  The one difference was that her cookies were round instead of quadrilateral (Mrs. Barry's version used to be rectangular but now they are more square-ish).  I put on my thinking cap and came up with a sure-fire way to get quadrilateral cookies. . . use a spam musubi mold to shape the dough! 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3/4 c butter, softened
     3/4 c sugar
     2 c flour
     1 c sweetened flaked coconut

Cream butter and sugar til fluffy.  Stir in flour and coconut.  Shape into a log (I use a double Spam musubi acrylic mold), wrap in plastic, and chill 5 or more hours.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Slice thin (1/8"-1/4") and place close together on cookie sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Secret Strawberry Smoothies

Summer came to a screeching halt on Thursday.  Come to think about it, I really didn't have much of a summer.  I guess the return to my regular job happened on Thursday, so having the all-day faculty meeting made the end of summer very real.

Shit!  I had lots of plans for the summer. . .clean my house, plant a garden, buy a new bed.  I've done none of those things.  Maybe it's the imminent departure of D1 that has me feeling a little sluggish.  I will miss her, and I'm really not certain how I'm going to cope with her being gone.  I will save my lamenting for another post, probably when it gets closer to THE date.

In spite of summer coming to an end, it was nice to see some of my coworkers.  I hadn't seen most of them during the summer, so the first faculty meeting is often when the catching up conversations happen.  Some people looked awfully well-rested (not me).

Today and tomorrow are faculty work days, which means it's time to trick out the room and get it "student-ready".  I managed to go in for a few hours last week, and The Help moved my desks for me.  It's practically ready to receive students, but I need to work on my syllabus and expectations.

I would have wanted to work on my handouts this weekend, but I spent the entire weekend in Honolulu.  It was awfully hot when I left for Honolulu, and it was just as hot there too.  The Hawaii Prince Hotel spends no money to cool down their garage, so walking to/from the car was miserable.

Speaking of the Hawaii Prince Hotel. . .they put us in a "handicapped" room.  It was interesting.  The door opened outwards.  There was also no tub in the bathroom; there was only a shower stall which was the same level as the floor.  No barrier to step over, so we had to be very careful not to get the rest of the bathroom floor wet.  It was a bit odd.

Anyway, since we are facing a bunch of additional hot days, I thought I'd post a recipe for a cool treat D2 really enjoys. . .strawberry smoothies.  While you can always use regular milk, we've found that Silk coconut milk makes a rich-tasting smoothie with just a hint of creamy coconut flavor.  Silk coconut milk can be found at the supermarket, but Costco offers the best price.  And you can get your strawberries there too!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     vanilla ice cream
     fresh strawberries
     Silk coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in the jar of a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Use more ice cream for a sweeter smoothie.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cold Tofu and Somen with Sesame Oyster Sauce

I cannot believe I worked the entire summer with hardly a break.  Actually, I feel very fortunate.  My boss for the summer is a nice guy and treated me well.  Can't complain.  Wait a minute!  My boss during the normal school year is a nice guy too. 

Actually, I'm a little excited about the upcoming school year.  I get to do inclusion, something I've really never done, and I will be assigned to a great class.  Lots to look forward to!

But I am exhausted.  I spent the last 2 days of last week in a boring workshop.  It was actually painful to be there.  Between the sidebar conversations of my tablemates and having to deal with the uber-stupid content, I almost walked out.  It was nice to see a bunch of people I knew, but the presenter was not engaging at all. 

Last week Friday also signaled the end of D2s summer program.  She grumbled about going, but she had the opportunity to do things out of her comfort zone.  She discovered she enjoyed paddling.  And I never would have imagined she would have the guts to jump out of the canoe and swim in Hilo bay.  That's definitely something I have never done (and will never willingly do).  Actually, D2 surprised me on several occasions this summer.  I think I was totally blown away when she told me she tried hummus.  I would've guessed she'd do the Hilo Bay swim before I'd even think she'd try hummus.

D1 has only a few weeks left in the 808 before she heads to the 480.  I haven't  forced her to do much.  Looking back on my summer between high school and college, I didn't realize that it would be the last time I really "lived" at home.  It's definitely bittersweet, and since many of her friends will also be heading away from Hawaii, this might be the last time they are all together.  I guess that's my excuse for letting her play.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been trying to make an effort to prepare foods she enjoys.  During the summer, D1 enjoys salads. . .fairly substantial salads (not just lettuce).  This is one of the most refreshing things you can serve for a summer meal. 

My cousin Jenn asked me how to julienne the egg.  Here's what I told her:  Fry a thin omelet.  Use low heat so the egg won't brown while both sides get cooked.  If your omelet is thin enough, there will be no need to flip the omelet either.  When the omelet is cool, roll up like a jelly roll and make thin slices.   Like when you make basil chiffonade, its easier to get thin slices when the leaves are rolled together.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Cold Tofu and Somen with Sesame Oyster Sauce

     1/4 c sesame oil
     1/4 c shoyu
     1/4 c oyster sauce
     1 tsp sugar
     1/8 tsp shichimi togarashi
     16 oz somen noodles
     5 lettuce leaves, shredded
     1 egg, beaten, fried and sliced thin
     1 block kamaboko, julienned
     1/2 c thinly sliced ham or spam or shredded smoked salmon
     1/2 block firm tofu, drained and cubed small
     1 tbsp furikake
     1 tbsp sesame seeds
     green onion, sliced thin

In a small jar, combine sesame oil, shoyu, oyster sauce, sugar, and shichimi togarashi.  Set aside.  Boil somen noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain.  Make small balls with somen and lay in a single layer on serving platter.  Cover or surround noodles with lettuce.  Arrange egg, kamaboko, ham, and tofu over noodles and lettuce.  Sprinkle furikake, sesame seeds, and green onions.  Shake sauce well before pouring into a small dish.  Spoon small amounts of sauce over individual servings of noodles and garnishes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Zoku Fun: Frozen Cantaloupe Pops

Last week was so darn hot and humid.  I had no choice but to go swimming to cool off.  Then at the end of the week, The Help told me he had to treat the water for excessive phosphates.  This can only mean one this. . .pee in the pool  Euwwwww.

There were a few guests over in the past week so I'd hate to think any of them were responsible, but I who else could it be?  The Ds themselves have never caused a phosphate explosion, probably because they don't wanna swim in piss water, and they are well aware that pee doesn't magically disappear.

I came to the realization that summer vacation (what vacation?) is coming to an end soon.  In 10 days, I will need to report to my regular work site.  Cripes!

D2's summer program ends this week, and D1 will be writing the next chapter of her life in less than a month.  It feels surreal.

Meanwhile, I've been feeling like I'm about to melt.  The weather here has been terribly muggy.  On Saturday, the temperature was in the high 80s, but with the high dewpoint, it felt like it was close to 100 degrees.  Everything felt like it was sticking to my body.  I took to the water to try and cool down a little, but the water was over 90 degrees.  I always said I liked the water warm, but 94 degree water at night pushes even my level of tolerance.

In order to cool off, I've been trying to eat a bunch of cold things.  We had cool somen one night, and I must've gone through a dozen of those sparkling ice tea drinks from Costco.  The heat also prompted me to get off my butt and try out my Zoku pop maker.

A few Christmases ago, I bought a whole bunch of Zoku pop makers to give my nieces and nephews.  I had purchased one for the Ds a few months before, but I only got so far as to stick it in my freezer.  I finally got to use it.

When I was eleven, I took a trip to California with my grandparents.  We stayed at a hotel in San Francisco which was across the street from a Baskin-Robbins.  It was the first time I had ever had been to Baskin-Robbins, even thought I had seen the commercials on TV.  The first ice cream I had there was cantaloupe, and I never forgot how refreshing and tasty the cantaloupe ice cream had been (this was in the days when I wasn't allergic).

Since I had a cantaloupe, I figured I'd make my own cantaloupe ice pop.  The Help said it was good.  The Ds tasted it and said they'd prefer chocolate.  Well. . .I'm not taking it personally because that's something they'd say no matter what it was (other than chocolate).  And in spite of my allergy, I decided to indulge.  I had the benadryl right on the counter, just in case, but I guess I didn't have enough of it to react.  Whew.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c diced cantaloupe, no larger than 1/2" pieces
     1/2 c milk
     1/4 c sugar

Heat milk for 45 seconds in the microwave.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Cover and chill.  When milk mixture is cold, puree fruit using an immersion blender, conventional blender or food processor.  Add cold milk mixture to fruit and puree a few seconds longer.  Pour into Zoku maker, following instructions.  The first batch of pops will take 11 minutes to freeze.

Please do not eat this if you have a melon allergy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie

What a week I had!  I ended up in bed Monday afternoon and evening due to a bout of food poisoning.  I'm certain I got it from the Krispy Kreme donuts Mr. Dependable brought back from Maui.  I don't think he poisoned them on purpose, but it was my second experience with food poisoning from Krispy Kreme donuts.  My favorite Krispy Kreme is the chocolate (no hole) with creme filling.  I had one on Sunday evening and another for breakfast on Monday.  By noon on  Monday. I was praying to the porcelain god. . .sick, sick, sick.  I couldn't eat dinner.

By Tuesday morning, I was much better, but going to Asami's to buy lunch for D2 was totally unpleasant.  The food aroma was excruciating.  I think the cause of my troubles was the staphylococci bacteria.  It was horrible, and it wasn't until the end of the weekend that I could even think about eating normally again.  I don't want to see another Krispy Kreme for a while.

Sometime in the middle of my recovery, it turned into July.  This means that my summer is over halfway done.  That sucks.  In just a few weeks, I'll be back at my regular job.  Hmmmm. . .maybe that doesn't sound so bad.  I've been working all summer, and my summer job is actually more intense than my regular job!

July also means that it's ohelo berry time!  I wonder if I will be able to make it up to the mountain to pick a quart.  Probably not this year.  This past weekend would've been a good time to go, but I didn't wanna chance walking in a rocky area with my ankle not yet fully healed.  I forgot to mention that I twisted my ankle when we had the earthquake last week.  My foot had fallen asleep, but the earthquake scared me so much that I jumped out of my chair, forgetting that my foot was numb.  I didn't step properly and I stumbled around before being able to regain my balance.  It still hurts when I bend and rotate it.  Ohelo tends to grow in rocky terrain so there's no way to avoid walking on rocks.  Luckily, ohelo berries freeze well, so at least I'll get to have my annual ohelo berry dessert since my tummy is better now.

When I worked for a government office, one of my former coworkers would recount tales of an annual trek to Hilo just to pick ohelo berries at a "secret family spot".  She made some kind of cream cheese pie with the berries and served it at a luncheon hosting new teachers.  While I was ecstatic at being reacquainted with ohelo, I wasn't liking the pie much...the topping was hopelessly runny and fell off the pieces when she cut them.  The runny topping also diluted the cream cheese layer.  Auwe!

About a year ago, I posted a recipe for Ohelo Berry Bars.   Those are good to make if you don't have the refrigerator real estate to hold an oblong pan.  If you have space in your refrigerator, then this is THE ohelo berry dessert to prepare.  Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie, at least this version, will not disappoint.

Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie

Crust:  2 c flour
            2 tbsp sugar
            1 c butter

Filling:  8 oz cream cheese, softened
              1 c sugar
              8 oz Cool Whip

Topping:  4 c ohelo berries
                1 c sugar
                1/4 tsp lemon juice
                pinch of salt
                1 tsp gelatin, optional
                4 tbsp cornstarch
                2 tbsp water

Combine flour and sugar for crust.  Cut in butter.  Press into 9 x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool completely before adding filling.  While crust is baking, make topping.  Combine ohelo berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and gelatin in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Combine cornstarch with water.  While stirring berry mixture, add cornstarch and water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Beat cream cheese with sugar for filling.  Mix in Cool Whip until well combined.  Spread evenly over cooled crust.  Keep chilled until topping is cool.  When topping is cool, spread evenly over filling.  Chill at least 2 hours before cutting into squares to serve.

Last month, Mr. Dependable went to the mainland with AC.  They visited Las Vegas and Oregon, the zenith of their trip being T's graduation from THAT school.  Since the Ds were left with the task of feeding, watering, and caring for his pets, I asked him to bring us back some Trader Joe's cookie butter.  In addition to my request, he also gave me 2 chocolate bars.  One said "Thank You", and the other, well. . .let's just say it had profanity on it (look at the gold foil-wrapped bar).

Mr Dependable must be on a generosity streak.  On Friday, before taking the Ds on a mini vacay, he brought over a box of apple bananas and 2 more of those nasty chocolate bars.  Talk about adding insult to injury (my ankle and tummy)!

I agree that the sentiment of bringing back omiyage from traveling is a generous gesture, and sharing the bounty of your harvest is also very generous, HOWEVER, the candy bars celebrate the team in the entire NCAA I loathe most.  

Once my tummy is totally better, I will be disposing of those darn chocolate bars in an utterly undignified manner. . .I will gnaw on them with my canine teeth!

I will NEVER EVER cheer for the ducks. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Seven-Layer Jello

I guess it's that time of year again. . .Fourth of July will be upon us soon.

With the exception of last year, I would try to post something red-white-and-blue, just to keep with the theme.  Last year I broke from tradition, and my post had nothing to do with the holiday.  This year, I'm tiptoe-ing on the edge.

While the picture on the left shows multi-colored layers, this could easily be adapted to the red-white-and-blue color scheme.  This is a popular layered jello which can be found on the dessert buffet at local parties. . .if they HAVE a dessert buffet.

Oh, who am I kidding?  All local parties have a table with a bunch of desserts laid out.  Or they SHOULD.

Last week, D2 went to a birthday party.  She and the others were told to arrive at noon and get picked up at 4:00.  Since I was working, I asked The Help to drop her off and pick her up.  When she got home, I asked her about the food.  She said she ate cake.  I asked what else was served.  She replied, "cake.  I told you already."

I guess that was one party which did not have the usual dessert buffet.  Of course, there was no "BYOB" on the invitations (like some of the graduation parties D1 gets invited to).

I suppose I'm just a fuddy-duddy with ideas stuck in the 1970s where parties had tons of food (more than triple what could be consumed there).

If you are like me and expect (and hope) parties have a huge variety of food with interesting and tasty desserts, you can contribute to the dessert table by bringing a platter of Seven-Layer Jello.

Everyone always loves Jello.  My favorite thing to do is to peel the layers apart as I'm eating.  If I'm lucky, I can separate all the layers nicely.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Milk Mixture:  1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
                         2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
                         1/4 c cold water
                         1 3/4 c hot water

Soften unflavored gelatin by sprinkling over cold water.  Add hot water.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Add condensed milk.  Stir.  Set aside.

Gelatin Mixture:  4 boxes (3 oz each) jello, any flavor(s)/color(s)
                             5 c hot water, divided
                             4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

In a small bowl, stir together 1 box of jello and 1 envelope unflavored gelatin.  Add 1/4 c hot water.  Stir for 30 seconds to soften.  Add 1 c hot water.  Stir until gelatin dissolves.  Pour into 9 x 13" pan and chill 20 minutes.  While first layer is chilling, dissolve remaining boxes of jello/gelatin in separate bowls.  Set aside.

After 20 minutes, carefully pour 1 cup of milk mixture over first jello layer in pan.  Chill 20 minutes.  Pour second jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour 1 cup of milk mixture over jello layer.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour third jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour 1 cup of milk mixture over jello layer.  Chill 15 minutes.  Discard any extra milk mixture.  Pour final jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes before covering pan.  When completely set, cut into bars or squares.

We finally got around to celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day this weekend.  We indulged at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's Clambake.  The Clambake is probably the most decadent (and most $) dinner buffet on the Big Island.  The $100+ price tag per person seems steep, but bring a daddy who can eat at least 2 lobsters, and you will get major bang for your benjamin(s).  Kids 12-and-under are considerably less.  While the lobsters are the star, I gravitate to the endless supply of raw oysters on the half-shell.  The tossed-while-you-wait Caesar salad may seem like a waste of tummy space, but the dressing is yummy (no sign of the vile condiment) and you can add your own garlic later.  The dessert array was adequate, but the build-your-own-sundae appeal is lost on me. . .I'm not a huge fan of ice cream.  BUT, if you have even a tiny bit of room to spare, treat yourself to the mac nut cups, tiny tarts filled with chocolate and macadamia nut mousse.  Check out the Clambake menu here.

The beautiful setting out on the lanai near the beach.  The last time I went to the Clambake, the weather wasn't good so they moved the entire buffet to the hotel ground-level lanai.  The beach lanai venue has the various stations nicely spread out so traffic jams by popular food stations are kept to a minimum.

The salad station. . .probably the most un-popular of all the stations.  I was going to try the tomato and ogo salad (middle), but I got sidetracked by the following picture.  The Help said he had the cole slaw.  Baka.

Half of this station (you can guess which half) has got to be tied for my favorite area.  Raw oysters are awesome, and these oysters were fresh and sweet.  The mignonette sauce provides a tart departure from my standard shoyu.  The only improvement would be a vat of chili-pepper water. 

Judging from the looks of this area, this pic was taken before D2 got in line.  She took two large scoops of rice.  Did she miss my message about eating the $$$ stuff?  Who goes to a buffet and has rice?  Apparently, D2 does.

Where else can you find a nice man who will extract the lobster meat for you just by asking?  The lady waiting for her lobster meat must've missed the waiter's explanation about those blue and white platters.  He clearly indicated that those dishes were for for the lobster shells; dinner plates were at the end of each station. 

After fiddling with half a lobster on my first round, I decided not to waste my time.  The next time I went into the lobster line, I asked the nice man (in pic above) to give me just the tails and claws.  I ended up eating just the tail portions. . .D2 discovered that she enjoys lobster after all.  Her fave part:  the claws.

While we were waiting for our check, er, while I was waiting for the check, a young family (dad, mom and son) sat on the table next to us.  They wasted no time in going for the lobster.  Dad's plate has 3 whole lobsters and son's plate has one lobster on it.  The son must've been somewhere between 7-9 years old.  Mom's plate is hidden, but there's a thick slab of prime rib on it.  Luckily they left the table to get other things so we could snap a pic.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sour Cream Muffins

OMG!!!  I'm getting too old for this.  I don't know how my friends who are resource teachers do it.  The stuff one must deal with. . .the stories, the crises.  I cannot.  I just cannot.

While I've been stressing out with my "cruise" summer job, the Ds have been chugging along.

D2 is enrolled in a summer program with the county.  Last week she went paddling and did something I have never done. . .she swam in Hilo Bay.  Yup.  She came home and said prior to jumping in the canoe, she had to take a swim test which entailed swimming a lap in the bay and treading water for 10 minutes.  I wouldn't have passed the test.  Then after paddling, she said she willingly tumbled "scuba style" out of the wa`a and into the bay.

This week she is going camping for 2 nights.  KN's mom told me they are sleeping in tents and have been practicing putting up a tent during the program.  Bingo!  Again, something I've never done. . .never went camping where I had to sleep in a tent.  Glad it's not me! 

D1 has been spending a lot of time, hanging out with friends.  She has been going out, and they have also been hanging out here.  I don't mind them coming over, but sometimes I feel guilty about not always having stuff for them to munch on in the morning when they spend the night.

I am a breakfast person, probably because I am a morning person (another reason why I agreed to my second summer job).  D1 is not a morning person, although she might have the potential to turn later in life.  But that's how I know she won't be up early cooking breakfast for her friends.

I suppose if I wasn't so lazy (apparently laziness trumps feeling guilty), I'd make these muffins more often.  These are easy to throw together and can sit without refrigeration while waiting to be eaten by hungry teenagers, or guilty adults.

And if you buy the big tub of sour cream, you will have enough leftover to make a delicious dip or real dessert (cake).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c Bisquick
     1 c (8 oz) sour cream
     1/4 c sugar
     1 egg
     1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 12-cup (regular size) muffin pan with paper liners.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Turn into prepared muffin pans (I like to use a #20 disher) and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.  These muffins do not get very dark.