kruizing with kikukat

Monday, October 5, 2015

Yummy Salad

It's Fall break!  Yippeeee!!

I have so many things I want to do.  I have projects to finish.  I need to supervise the cleaning of D2's room.  The Help bought a bunch of pants from Banana Republic which need to be hemmed.  And in order to keep my day job, I need to finish my pacing guide.  I don't think I'll have much time for anything else.

Thankfully, my grades were done before I closed up my room on Friday.  I can't believe how many people wait until the last minute to do grades.

The start of Fall break was delayed a few hours because I had to work at a football game.  Sadly, our boys did not prevail, and we lost a tough home game.  There will be another game on Thursday, so hopefully that game will be a win for the Viks.

The concession at Friday's game was run by football parents.  I noticed they had pastele stew on the menu.  If I didn't need to be on the field, I would've ordered some.  I love pastele stew.  Sweetie often buys a big tray of it for Class of 2016 gatherings,  and I cannot get enough.  She also buys a tray of hunto rice to go along with it, and the combination is fantastic.  I'm hoping they will have more of it at Thursday's game, especially since I haven't been cooking much recently.

I still can't seem to get going when it comes to dinner.  I made beef teriyaki this past week.  I sent The Help to the store for thin sliced beef, and I was disappointed when he returned with 1 1/2 lbs of it; I had been hoping for a gigantic family pack so we could eat beef teriyaki for days.  The big draw of beef teriyaki is that The Help cooks it on the hibachi, leaving me free to cruise.  I don't know when I got so lazy.

In spite of not wanting to cook dinner, I don't mind making side dishes, snacks and desserts.  This week, in addition to the beef teriyaki (this only lasted for a dinner and a lunch), I made yummy salad.

The funny thing about yummy salad is that it is a gelatin mold, not a traditional salad made with vegetables.  When I lived with Mr. Dependable, I offered him yummy salad.  He refused saying, "you know I don't eat salad.  Why are you even wasting my time?"  So I stopped offering him any.  A few nights later, as I sat on the sofa eating the last serving of yummy salad, he said, "There you go again with only making food for yourself.  You didn't even offer to get me some."  I reminded him of our conversation a few nights prior.  He then got upset because I didn't bother telling him yummy salad was a gelatin mold.  What a fucker.

Now that I'm posting the recipe for yummy salad, he can go ahead and make his own.  If I find my jello mold gone, I'm going to assume he asked D2 to pilfer it for him. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c water
     2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
     1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple
     3/4 c sugar
     1 c cottage cheese
     1 c half & half or whipping cream
     1/2 c grated cheese

Sprinkle gelatin over water.  Set aside.  Heat pineapple (undrained) and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Remove from heat when boiling and stir in gelatin.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, add cottage cheese, whipping cream, and grated cheese.  Pour into a mold or 8 x 8" pan.  Chill until set.

Yummy salad is a nostalgic recipe for me.  When I was in the 9th grade, I won a blue ribbon for making yummy salad in a 4-H contest.  The award was a huge accomplishment, as KikukatMom was living in San Mateo at the time.  The only help I got was from KikukatDad, whose sole job was taking me to the market and paying for the ingredients. . .there's no way I would've trusted him to actually do the shopping!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Almost Pike Place Chowder: New England Clam Chowder

This past weekend, the weather was miserable.  After weeks of hot, sticky humidity, we got bombarded by rain.  A new weather system formed just southeast of us, bringing a ton of rain to Hilo.

The Help and I survived a wet football game at Wong Stadium (affectionately called "Lake Wong").  The Help learned that Columbia rain products are not on equal footing with NorthFace; he was soaked, while my layers remained dry.   Maybe Santa will bring him a NorthFace jacket this year.

On Saturday, as the downpour continued, The Help made a strange comment, something to the effect of "so this is what it's like to live in Seattle."  Ummmmm NO.

Seattle rain is nothing like Hilo rain.  In Hilo, the rain comes down in buckets.  Walking ten feet in the rain is capable of soaking through layers of clothes (including a Columbia supposed-rain jacket).  Seattle rain is different.  It doesn't come down in buckets, but it's always present.  I had a hard time explaining the difference to The Help.  I did, however, make a big deal about the temperature of the rain.  Seattle rain is cold.

Anyway, The Help's comment about Seattle brought back memories of a recent trip to the Emerald City.  I had the opportunity to stop at Pike Place Chowder for a steaming bowl of their award-winning chowder.  It was every bit as good as the hype made it out to be.  No disappointment at all, although I was somewhat surprised at how small the place was.  There were hardly any tables/chairs, yet that didn't see to stop people from lining up.  I tried both the seafood bisque and the New England style clam chowder.  Both were awesome, and they are high up on my to-eat list for my next trip to Seattle.

So as a reward for opening his mouth, The Help found himself heading out in the rain on Saturday to pick up the ingredients for my copycat version of Pike Place Chowder's New England Clam Chowder.  Although my next trip to Seattle will need to wait for a while (I need to go to AZ first), I found myself sitting down to a nice, hot bowl of soup while lamenting those darn Dawgs!  WTF?!?

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 tbsp butter
     1/2 onion, diced
     2 stalks celery, diced
     1/3 c flour
     1 can chicken broth (add water to make 2 cups)
     2 cans (10 oz each) clams (minced, chopped or combination)
     1 c heavy cream
     2 bay leaves
     1 lb russet potatoes, cubed 1/2"
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/8 tsp pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add onion and celery and saute until soft.  Stir in flour.  Add chicken broth, clam juice (reserve clams for later), cream, bay leaves, and potatoes.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.  Add clams, salt, and pepper.  Serve.

I had quite a scare on Saturday night.  Sometime during the slaughter at Sun Devil Stadium, I decided to check my fb page.  My heart sand when I saw a post about a stampede at the Summer Ends Music Festival at Tempe Beach Park.  Prior to leaving for Tempe, D1 purchased her ticket online, so I knew she was there (rather than at the stadium).  The fb news clip said two juvenile females, who were close to the stage, were taken to a local trauma center with life-threatening injuries.  I immediately texted and called D1, but there was no response.  As a parent 3,000 miles away, all sorts of things went through my mind.  I breathe a deep sigh of relief when the phone rang as I was talking to Mr. Dependable about the events.  Darn kid said she had left her phone at home for safe-keeping and was unaware (until later) as to why she had been ordered by concert officials to evacuate Tempe Beach Park.

Later, as I was praying and hoping for the best for all those injured, The Help said he knew all along D1 was fine...said she would never have dished out the extra $$$ to be close to the stage.  Being pake probably saved her ass.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chicken Satay

We finally caught a break in the weather.  This was the first week in a long time which felt even close to a normal September day.  I think I even wore something other than a sleeveless/short sleeve blouse this week...for the first time since school began.

The students were rather amusing this week.  Some students asked for extra credit work because they decided to act upon the "F" they currently have.  I find this amusing because they couldn't even do the regular work at a decent level and they want MORE work (yes, folks, extra credit = more work).

A separate group of students declared they'd like a local photographer to take pictures of them (as opposed to their teammates) at sporting events.  When I asked if the photographer knew them, they said,"no".  I find this amusing because they want someone to do something for them, yet they make no effort to communicate their request to the photographer.

My colleagues were rather amusing too.  Some are grumbling about the large class size; they have every right to grumble because their classes are ballooning.  I find this amusing because they were warned about this occurring if they didn't opt to do something about this 4 months ago.  I'm neither the one who warned them, nor am I part of the growing class group, but I saw this all play out before my eyes.  SHE was right; they should've heeded HER.

Along the lines of amusement, I received several pictures of food this week from D1.  There was a pic of an acai bowl, which I'm guessing was her breakfast.  The logo on the bowl was from the Original ChopShop.  I find this amusing because I never knew D1 ate acai bowls.  When I questioned her, she said Sweet Cane Cafe in Hilo makes the best.  I've never had acai bowl in my life so I guess I'd better add it to my to do list.

The other picture I received was of a meal at a Korean restaurant.  There was chap chae, kalbi, and spicy ika along with all the banchan.  Food looked delicious.  I shared the pic with Mr. Dependable.  His reaction, "this doesn't look like dorm food."  I find this amusing because Mr. Dependable didn't miss a beat (not dorm food =$$$).  Good think I didn't share the ChopShop pic with him.

On balance, D1's pics this week were better than the one I received from her last Saturday.  I don't think many people get to see the first aid room of Sun Devil Stadium!  I'll take the food pics anyday.  She claims that the ambient heat coupled with all body heat of the students in the Inferno made her feel faint.  I'm glad she didn't faint at Friday's white out game too, although she said it was a lot cooler than the home opener last week.

To close out the days of heat (I'm sure both Hilo and Tempe will get cooler soon), I'm posting a recipe to try during the last few weeks of the grilling season.  I know this is something you can get year-round at any Thai restaurant, but it's nice to make it at home too, especially since you can use all white meat chicken.  This is also a nice change from the more common shoyu-sugar based sauces.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
     1 1/2 tsp curry powder
     2 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp fish sauce
     2 tbsp coconut milk
     1 stalk lemon grass, lower portion, chopped
     1 clove garlic, chopped
     1 tbsp vegetable oil
     1 1/2 tbsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste
     1 c coconut milk
     2 tbsp peanut butter
     1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
     1 1/2 tsp sugar
     15-25 skewers

Slice chicken breast halves across the grain into 1/4" thick strips.  Combine curry powder, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tbsp coconut milk, lemon grass, garlic and vegetable oil in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Marinate chicken strips in mixture overnight.  Soak skewers in water for 45 minutes.  Thread marinated chicken onto skewers.  Grill until done.  For satay sauce, place red curry paste in a small saucepan.  Gradually add 1 c coconut milk, stirring constantly to evenly incorporate curry paste.  Heat for 8 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Add peanut butter, 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce, and 1 1/2 tsp sugar.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Serve satay sauce in a small bowl alongside chicken skewers.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tricks and Trix and Treats

D1 has been away for 34 days, and it will be another 90-or-so days before she returns, not that I'm counting or anything.

Again, I find myself going back to the time I went away to college.  There was no texting, no facetime. . .only long-distance calling.  My parents always welcomed my calls, no matter what time of day it was.  Now I know why.

I think it's becoming very apparent that I'm missing D1 more than she is missing me.  I think, or I'm convincing myself, that's a good thing.  She doesn't appear homesick.  Maybe she is just too busy.  I'm grateful she's kept her promise of sending me a picture a day.  I've noticed a preponderance of food (eating out food, not dorm food) in her pics.  She also told me she's discovered Starbucks.  WTF?  Starbucks has been in Hawaii for years.  Prior to leaving for college, the only drink she's ordered at Starbucks has been a hot cocoa.

Not like I haven't been busy either.  I made a ton of lemon bars for KikukatMom to distribute to her friends who wished her well after her surgery.  I made so many bars that I had to ask KikukatMom to come over and help me (if she can go shopping at Costco and Target, she can help me with lemon bars).

Even though it was only a 4-day work week, it felt like forever.  I had a hard time finding my balance this week.  I'd like to blame it on the lemon bars, but I know I'm also at fault.  A short week just throws my whole schedule into a tailspin.

Oh, nvm.  I remember now why the start of my week was so shaky.  sigMAX knows, and a big bear-hug shout out goes to him for holding my hand and suffering along with me.  Let's hope we won't need endure something like that for a while.

This weekend I went to a high school football game.  I also managed to get my hair cut.  And I finally got my cotton candy fix (It's county fair time in Hilo!).  I was planning to buy a bunch of Bradda Pops, some to send to D1 and some for D2 to snack on after school, but when I went to the Bradda Pop store, there was a sign saying the shop was closed and they'd be at the county fair.  Shit.  I knew I wasn't going to the fair so the Bradda Pops would need to wait for another month or so.  Had I known this last week, I would've sent D2 to search for the Bradda Pop booth. . .just like she did for my cotton candy.

So having had my line cut by Bradda Pops, I needed to find something else to pack in the box to send to D1.  I already had the box packed nicely and included goodies for her roommates.  It had to be something that might possibly get smashed a little but suffer no permanent harm.  While I was trying to decide, I came across some cereal in the pantry.  Taking a nostalgic trip within my mind, along with a real trip to the store to buy supplies, I spent Sunday in the kitchen.  D1 should be receiving some of these shortly. . .along with her UGGs.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/4 c butter
     1 lb mini marshmallows*
     12 c Trix cereal*

Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  In a large pot, melt butter.  Add marshmallows.  Stir until melted.  Add Trix.  Mix until Trix is coated with marshmallow mixture.  Press into prepared pan using a plastic glove which has been sprayed with Pam (or greased).  Cool completely.  Cut into 24 pieces using a teflon or greased knife.

*I've noticed that marshmallows come in bags ranging from 10 oz to 1 lb.  If using a 10 oz bag, use 9 c of Trix.  Treats will be slightly shorter, but barely noticeable.

D2 had a function at her school a few years ago, and there was a request for dessert.  I hemmed and hawwed about what to make and then I remembered the box of Trix I bought (thinking 1 box wouldn't be enough).  I made Trix Treats for her to take, and it took me a moment to think about how I should package the treats.  In Hawaii, nothing can stay out long without getting soggy, so I knew I had to wrap each piece individually.  Not wanting to chance Mr. Dependable bringing home a pan for me, I decided to send the treats in the Trix box.  I was going to remove the entire front section of the box, but The Help suggested cutting only 3 sides so I would have a built-in lid.  He is soooo smart!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Chocolate Mochi

Today is a holiday!  Yay!!!

Last week was a busy week.  I was thinking all the parent festivities were behind me, but I forgot about senior parent night.  I guess I excluded myself mentally since I'm not the parent of a senior, but I forgot about my other responsibilities.  Anyway, senior parent night was on Wednesday.  The parents were informed about the major activities happening for their children this year.  They were also given fair warning about the $$$ of prom bids this spring.  I already had a parent complain.  Well, prom participation IS voluntary.  And I should note that prom participation costs are a fraction of an iPhone.  I see so many kids at school flaunting their smartphones.  When I went to high school, nobody had phones so we had no choice but to pay attention to the lessons.

The Help went to Honolulu this weekend for some family stuff, so I had the weekend to myself.  My 10-hour day in Kona ended up costing me over $2k.  Of course, this included a car repair.  Ouch!  Since I had some time, I walked around the dealership to look at what my next steps might be.  The new x3s are nice.  I wonder when they began having air vents to the back seat.

Costco was awful.  It was packed.  It took me forever to find parking, and I had to park twice (I bought a bed, had to drive my car to the front of the store to load the bed, then I had to park again so I could go back into the store for other things).  They also didn't have any carts.  While I was waiting, I saw KikukatMom and KikukatDad exiting the store.  I helped them unload in the pouring rain and then took their cart.  While in Costco, I did run into some nice people like Van Gogh.  Van Gogh and I both agreed that Friday after work is the best time to head over to Costco.

On Sunday, since The Help was still away, I baked.  My original plan was to make snickerdoodles for D1 to cheer her up, but since I had recently opened a large container of unsweetened cocoa powder, I decided to make a tray of chocolate mochi for KikukatMom, who is finally feeling better after her surgery.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 box (16 oz) mochiko
     2 c sugar
     1/4 c cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
     1 tbsp baking soda
     1 can (13-14 oz) coconut milk
     about 1 1/2 c milk
     1/2 c chocolate syrup
     1/4 c butter, melted
     2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour coconut milk into a large measuring cup.  Add enough milk to equal 24 fluid ounces.  Combine with chocolate syrup, melted butter, and eggs.  Add to dry ingredients.  Use a whisk to mix until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.  Cut into pieces when completely cool.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I am eagerly awaiting the holiday this coming weekend.  I know we just had a holiday here (Admissions Day), but I need another break.  I've been busting my ass!

I spent mid-week worried about KikukatMom.  She had her gallbladder removed on Wednesday in what was supposed to be a simple, out-patient procedure.  It turned into an overnight stay because her heart beat became irregular during the procedure.  Her gallbladder was also infected, which means it's a good thing the surgery wasn't put off any longer.  She was given the "all clear" the next day, and by morning the day after, she was out and about.  It blew ABetty's mind when she showed up at her doorstep in Mt. View after going to Target and Safeway.  ABetty had offered her services to stay with the Rents during the recovery period and was surprised when KikukatDad declined.  ABetty didn't realize KikukatMom would be up and about so soon.

I spent the weekend doing work, work-related work.  I made a flowchart, worked on my professional development goal, and tried to process how my lapse in judgement at the moment resulted in being the advisor for 2 HUGE senior class activities.  I purchased a video class on pastry via Craftsy, but I never got around to watching it.  I was too tired.

In spite of my lethargy, I have been able to bake.  Yeah, go figure.  Baking is not so much a problem as cooking.  I think it's because it's a lot easier for me to get excited over sweets.  I know I have a major sweet tooth, and my biggest weakness is cake.

This weekend, I baked pound cake.  I like the tight crumb of pound cake, and the buttery flavor is to-die-for.  The cream cheese adds just a hint of tang.  The best part about this recipe is that it makes two at a time.  We are almost done with one of the cakes, and the other one is nestled in the freezer. . .perhaps I will need to eat it during the recovery period after Jimena, since it appears Ignacio will bypass us!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 1/2 c butter, softened
     8 oz cream cheese
     3 c sugar
     6 eggs
     1 tsp vanilla extract
     1/2 tsp almond extract
     3 c flour
     2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 8 x 4-inch loaf pans, being sure to grease all the way to the top of pans.  Cream butter and cream cheese.  Add sugar and beat 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and almond extracts with last egg.  Stir in flour and salt just until combined.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Tent pans with foil and bake an additional 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before removing cakes from pans.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Similar recipes suggest baking in a tube or bundt pan for a total of 80 minutes.

This freezes well too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Missing D1: Soft Wontons with Spicy Sauce

It's been nearly two weeks since D1 has been gone.  I could say I'm so excited about her beginning her college career, and I wouldn't be lying.  But that's only half true.  The other part of the story is that I'm missing her dearly.  It's not the same as the two times she went to Japan or the time she went to California.  This is different.

This makes me think back a thousand years or so to when I left for college.  I can even remember what I had on when I boarded the plane out of Hilo!  Now that I'm the parent, I relive that time through my mom's eyes.  Who gives a shit about what I was mother must've been so sad when I left, but she kept her game face on and told me to do my best.

Since I'm missing D1 so much, I'm posting a recipe for a dish I know she'd want to eat.  Don't let the benign looks of this dish fool you.  The sauce is packed with flavor and the soft wontons don't disappoint either.  This reminds me of a dish I had at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue, WA.  I finally found a similar recipe on Diana Kuan's Appetite for China blog.  I didn't have Sichuan pepper, and I wanted my sauce to have a little kick of ginger so I made a few changes to her recipe.  It's been too long since my trip to Din Tai Fung to know how close the sauce is to theirs, but if it's not similar, it's certainly equally tasty.  Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to mastering their xiao long bao yet.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb ground pork
     1 can water chestnuts, chopped
     1/4 c green onion, minced
     2 eggs
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp salt
     2 tsp sugar
     1 tsp sesame oil
     won ton wrappers (3 trays of Chun Wah Kam or 2 pkgs of Twin Dragon brand)

Combine all ingredients except for wrappers.  Wrap 2 tsp of filling in each wrapper by encasing filling in a rectangle shape (wet edges of wrapper) then overlap lower left and right corners, forming a diamond shape.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 6 wonton and cook for 4 minutes.  Wonton will float when cooked.  Remove with a slotted spoon (shake off excess water) and place in large serving dish.

Spicy Sauce
     1 tbsp minced garlic
     1 tsp minced ginger
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1/2 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp chili oil
     2 tsp black vinegar (original recipe said may substitute with balsamic)
     green onion, minced

Combine all ingredients except for green onion.  Pour evenly over cooked wonton.  Sprinkle green onion before serving.

I am relieved D1 seems to be enjoying her new digs and adapting well to life in the desert.  Perhaps it's her reptilian brain kicking in.