kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 26, 2015

As You Wish: Andagi for BrendaC

Yesterday, in a lengthy conversation thread, one of my facebook friends said to me, "as you wish. . ."  This friend is several years younger than me and was one of those cute little boys who would say all kinds of crazy things to upperclassmen girls to get in good with them.  I'm sure you have had someone in your life who fits that description.  Anyway, his line, "as you wish. . .", was pilfered from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride.

I remember going to the theater in Oregon to see the movie.  I had it on VHS tape (showing my age), and I have it on dvd now!  If another format comes out, I will need to get it on that too.  The humor and the lines are timeless.  A favorite part in the movie is at the beginning when Buttercup asks Wesley to do all sorts of tedious tasks, and he responds on multiple occasions with "as you wish".  Of course, this is his pickup line and begins the story of true love between Buttercup and Wesley.  Sigh.

Anyway, about a month ago, I received an email from a reader, BrendaC.  BrendaC grew up in Pepeekeo and has bragging rights to declare "once a viking, always a viking".  Right on, BrendaC!  BrendaC is on a quest to find an andagi recipe similar to the one her grandfather made.  She said the andagi from the Okinawa O-bon festival in Mililani comes the closest.  Unfortunately, I am not familiar with either version, but if any of you have such a recipe, please share it.

In the meantime, I can share my version.  I need to issue a disclaimer here.  I am unable to drop the batter using only my hands.  My gramma in Honolulu could do this, and I remember taking a tub of her andagi back to Seattle with me while I was in college.  By some miracle, I did not eat the whole tub on the plane ride from Honolulu to Seattle.  My friends were totally impressed with the roundness and how the andagi were lacking "tails".  Those of you who struggle with the plopping of the batter into the hot oil know exactly what I'm talking about.  Luckily, there are some people out there (BT?) who enjoy eating the crunchy tails!

I'm also unable to really tell if the inside of the andagi is cooked, so I cheat and poke each one with a toothpick.  If the toothpick comes out clean, the inside is cooked (just like when you bake a cake).   Be sure the frying oil is about 360 degrees.  While most foods are deep-fried at 375 degrees, the sugar content of these will cause browning to occur too quickly.  For those of you not familiar with andagi, there is no need to roll these in any type of sugar after frying.  And if by some odd chance you have super-human willpower and do not consume the entire batch in one sitting, andagi may be heated in a toaster oven (275 degrees) for about 5 minutes.

I'm sure Wesley didn't know how to use a computer or hook up a new Sony TV, but he sure knew what to say to get the girl.  Those silly little boys from my high school days could've learned a lot from Wesley! 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 c flour
     4 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp salt
     1 c sugar
     2 eggs
     1 c milk
     1 tbsp oil
     oil for frying

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Beat eggs, milk and 1 tbsp oil together.  Add to dry ingredients and mix lightly.  Do not overmix.  Heat 1" - 1 1/2" oil to 360 degrees.  When oil is ready, drop batter into hot oil (I use a #50 disher).  Fry until golden brown all over.  Note:  if you manage to make round andagi, they will turn over themselves!

Note to BrendaC:  I hope you find your grandfather's andagi recipe.  When you do, please share it with me!

Monday, January 19, 2015


I am glad today is a holiday.  I really hate Mondays this year.   My students (the ones I grade) are great, but there is another component to Mondays which just makes me want to gag.  Best I stop there.

Before I go on, I'd like to congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes for winning the National Championship.  I was glued to the tube the entire game.  I waited all season long for that. . .or at least since October 2nd.  A big mahalo goes to The Help for cooking dinner so I could watch the game.

I was hoping to make it to Costco this weekend, but it just didn't happen.  I had too much to do.  I'm preparing for a presentation this week, and I didn't want to just "wing it".  These people deserve better.

I am also working on a post for blog reader BrendaC.  I should have a post for her real soon. 

This week, although a short work week, will be very busy.  In addition to the presentation I'm giving, Kikukat Dad is having a birthday later this week.  His "new" favorite restaurant is Sansei, although he keeps hinting about Ruth's Chris Steak House.  If his birthday fell on a weekend, I would take him to Waikoloa for dinner, but since it's falls on a weekday, I will just invite him over for dinner. 

Of course, the invitation begs the perennial question, "What to make?"  Given that it will be a workday (for me, not him), the menu needs to be uncomplicated.  I think I'll ask The Help to cook some rib eye steaks.  I can do a Caesar salad, and we can get him a birthday cake for dessert.  But every time I have Kikukat Dad over, he seems to enjoy having something to pick on while waiting for chow time.  I've had boiled peanuts, roasted almonds, and spicy edamame before.  I think I will make some gravlax for him to munch on this time.  Gravlax is fancy, and since dinner is so simple, I think the gravlax would be appreciated.

I love gravlax, and Kikukat Dad loves it too.  I made gravlax last year and shared some with him.  It isn't difficult, and it is much better than any lox sold at the market.

For clarification purposes, especially for the relatives who are reading this, gravlax is NOT the same as the smoked salmon in the box from UGeo.  Gravlax is cured, not smoked.  No heat is used to make gravlax.  Gravlax might be more familiar as "lox", as in "lox and bagels". 

My family enjoys lox.  One of my relatives even brought it to a family party, much too the dismay of my late  uncleR, who had given specific instructions as to what everyone was to bring.  Ignoring uncleR's request, HE brought a platter of lox, bagels and fixins to the party.  While delicious, the platter stuck out like a sore thumb.  Kikukat Mom likes to eat gravlax plain.  I like it atop a bagel slathered with cream cheese and a sprinkling of capers.  It's good in sushi too.  Sushi Bar Hime makes a roll with lox, cream cheese, and asparagus.  The Help suggests using a sharp knife to slice it thinly across the grain for picture-worthy pieces.  He prepped the gravlax for the pictures (a good thing since I'd butcher the delicate flesh with my beast Henckels knife).

If I begin the process tomorrow, the gravlax will be ready in time for the birthday dinner.  I guess The Help will need to pull up his big boy pants, pinch his nose, and go to Suisan for a slab of salmon tomorrow.  While The Help likes eating salmon, he finds the smell of Suisan utterly unappetizing.
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 lb piece of salmon with skin
     1/4 c rock salt
     1/4 c sugar
     fresh dill, coarsely chopped

Wash and dry salmon.  Place skin-side down on a large piece of plastic wrap.  In a small bowl, combine rock salt and sugar.  Spread evenly over salmon flesh.  Top with dill.  Wrap tightly in plastic, place in a shallow pan, and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.  Slice thinly to serve.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ginger Sesame Lavosh

Well, it's game day.  As a die hard Washington Huskies fan, this season has been hard to stomach.  It bugs the shit outta me to see the Oregon Ducks doing well.  I still remember when the Oregon teams were at the bottom of the Pac-10 conference (actually one team still is, but I like the Beavers), and their annual football meeting was known as the "Toilet Bowl" instead of the "Civil War".  Its okay if USC or UCLA dominates, but really, NOT the Oregon Ducks.  Needless to say, I'll be cheering for Ohio State.  My favorite school administrator is a Buckeye.  His late sidekick, "Sugar Daddie", was also an Ohio State alumn.

In addition to being game day, it's also an administrative day at school.  The students come tomorrow, but today will be filled with meetings and the like.  That part sucks, especially since a nasty cold robbed me of the full enjoyment of a vacation. I teach year-long classes, but I was told that I'd be getting some additional students who were failing other classes.  I suppose I'll be expected to "courtesy pass" these new ones.  Well, I don't play that game.  They will be expected to work and submit quality work if they hope to pass. 

After months (yes, months) of being bombarded with requests for lavosh, I finally got off my ass and made some for D2.  The pictures for this post were taken a few years ago, and, for whatever reason, never got posted.  D2 would scream if she knew I put up this pic, especially since she looks so different now.  Oh well, she can just take a number in terms of getting in line to bitch me out. 

I'll be back to my old cheery self next week (it will be a holiday!) and I should be done licking my wounds from bowl season. . .looking forward to the next college football season since Marcus Mariota should be in the NFL by then.  and if he isn't it will be apparent that he is either afraid of the big boys or a closet scholar
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 3/4 c flour
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp powdered ginger
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c butter
     1 c buttermilk
     3 tbsp black sesame seeds

Sift flour, salt, baking soda, powdered ginger, and sugar together.  Cut in butter until crumbs form.  Stir in buttermilk and sesame seeds.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Using a #40 disher (a generous tablespoon), scoop dough into balls onto floured surface.  Flour hands well and smooth balls.  Flour dough balls well.  On a piece of parchment paper, roll ball of dough out as thinly as possible.  Repeat with remaining balls of dough.  Place lavosh, parchment paper and all, on cookie sheet.  Bake for 23 minutes.  Remove lavosh to cooling rack and cool completely before storing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cookie Jar: Arare Cookies

2015 is finally here!

I'm looking forward to a better year than 2014.  I'm hoping to avoid being a client at the hospital ER.  I'm also hoping to avoid any type of medical procedure.  I had enough of that in 2014.

I'm down to the last few days of vacation.  Shucks!  And being laid up for most of it wasn't a good thing either.  We did still manage to get a lot done:  kittens for Kikukat Mom and Dad, passports renewed for the Ds, optometrist visit for all of us.  D1 is job shadowing at the dental clinic, but she is almost certain dentistry (other than as a patient) will not be a part of her future.  Mr. Dependable's mom should be happy. 

I guess there was no way to avoid the holidays without going to at least one party (I am so NOT a party person).  At the last moment, CAE and Kikukat Mom decided to have a small New Years party and put me in charge of desserts.  They told me there would be 20 people.  I figured that was manageable enough so I made a few things:  confetti jello, daifuku mochi, mini cupcakes with kick ass frosting, almond danish puff, and a jar of these arare cookies.

Now I'm not sure if "arare" is used much these days.  When I was growing up, arare was used interchangeably with kakimochi.  Nobody ever told me there was any difference.  When I went to college, many of my college friends from Oahu called it "mochi crunch".   When we went to the movies, "mochi crunch" was on the label of small bags of arare sold in the theater snack shop...purpose of the small, overpriced bag was to mix with the popcorn.  I guess this is a Hawaii thing; I don't think theaters on the mainland sell mochi crunch in their snack shops.  Anyway, arare, kakimochi, and mochi crunch all refer to small (quarter-size or smaller) Japanese rice crackers.

Sometime in the 1980s, Wholesale Unlimited became known to Hilo folk as THE place to go to in Honolulu to buy moonyagi ( before returning home.  They also sell all kinds of smelly (fishy) snacks, Chinese preserves, and gummy candies.  It's difficult to walk out of that store with just one thing.  Some people swear they have the best li hing powder.  My mouth is watering now!  Wholesale Unlimited was/is close to the airport, and they sell arare in all kinds of shapes, including the mini yakko, which is the shape you see in the picture at the top. 

Okay, so back to my party story.  The cookies were a big hit with the family.  Some old aunties were surprised that "could actually put furikake and arare in a cookie".  It took them a while to even guess there was furikake in it.

A few months ago, I ran a test batch past Aunty 3M (cookie baker snob), and the savory-sweet combo appealed to her palate.  I know Aunty 3M is a sucker for a non-chewy cookie too.  Of course, there will always be people who are not so quick to drink the water.  The Help and the Ds do not like this cookie.  The Help doesn't care much for arare so I can understand why he wouldn't appreciate it.  But I'm not sure why the Ds didn't like it since they both like arare AND furikake.  Perhaps their taste buds are not mature enough to appreciate the combination.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c butter
     1 c sugar
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 c flour
     1 tsp baking soda
     3 tbsp furikake
     1 1/2 c mini yakko arare

In a small bowl, sift flour and baking soda together.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add in vanilla and mix well.  Gradually stir in flour mixture.  Stir in furikake and arare.  Chill dough for 30 minutes.  Line several large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Using a #60 scooper, drop cookie dough onto parchment-lined sheets.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on sheets 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Healthier Spam Musubi

Christmas came and went in the Kikukat house.  All decorations have since been put away, and the tree has gone to the tree graveyard.  I can't believe I waited until I was on vacation to get sick.  I managed to avoid catching a cold all semester, yet I somehow had to be sick at Christmas.  Being sick certainly put a damper on my enjoyment.  Bleccchhhh.  I'm a little better now, but I am still hacking away.  I hope to be better by New Years, especially since I've been tasked with making a bunch of desserts for a party at CAE's house.

Since we are on vacation, the Ds have been home with me and are always looking for food.  We have a pantry full of food they can have, but they never seem to like my suggestions.  I guess even Cup O Noodle gets boring.

D1 isn't too picky about food.  Her food range is huge so she can usually find something to eat.  D2 is my picky eater.  She seldom wants what we have.  For a quick lunch, I've driven up the road to Ainaola Mart to buy the Ds mini laulau plate, but I can't do that every day.

One thing both Ds like to eat is Spam musubi.  Spam Musubi is such a decadent dish.  Sure, it may have humble beginnings with the Spam, a relatively inexpensive filler (rice), and a thin seaweed wrapper, but it is certainly decadent in terms of taste.

The easiest place to get it is 7-11.  They seem to have an endless supply.  Unfortunately, we don't live close to any of the four 7-11s in Hilo.  L & L Drive In also makes Spam musubi, but we don't live near any of those establishments either. 

The next, and obvious choice, is to make it at home.  It takes some time (waiting for the rice to cook), but homemade Spam musubi is truly better than what you can buy at 7-11, L & L or any okazu-ya.  We make ours a fraction healthier by substituting some of the white rice with brown rice.  Most kids don't care much for brown rice, but it's barely noticeable in a 1:3 proportion.  Some places do not do a good job of seasoning the Spam.  I've had Spam musubi where the Spam was just fried.  When you make it at home, you can go through the effort of cooking the Spam in a generous amount of teriyaki sauce.  When putting together the musubi, we also sprinkle on some furikake (Ds like katsuo or ebi flavor).  Kikukat Mom adds a squirt of neri ume (paste) for another taste dimension.  Some places will go the extra step and bread and fry the Spam (Spam katsu musubi) or add a thin sheet of fried egg into the musubi.  I noticed that KTA will make Spam musubi with beautiful edamame rice.  The possibilities are endless!

As the cook, there is also lots of latitude in presentation.  I have a mold which enables me to wrap a long Spam musubi (2 slices of Spam at a time).  Once wrapped, I cut the long piece in half to make 2 Spam-length musubis.  From there, you can either cut at a 45-degree angle (pictured) or just a flat cut (cut each half into halves or thirds).  The 45-degree angle cut is my choice for a platter.  The angles look very elegant.

In addition to the stay-at-home lunches which can be satisfied with Spam musubi, Spam musubi is a great potluck dish.  I'm saying this since we are in the midst of the holiday party season.  Its not hard to make a bunch of Spam musubi for a party.  If I'm taking Spam musubi to a potluck in a container, I would go with the flat cut in thirds, especially if I know there will be lots of other goodies to eat.  Leftovers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, placed in a ziploc bag, and reheated for about 15 seconds in the microwave.  The key is to wrap them as tightly as possible and store them in an air-tight an environment as you can manage...double ziploc or ziploc in a sealed container.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 rice cooker cup brown rice
     3 rice cooker cups white rice
     1 can spam
     2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1 tbsp mirin
     furikake (optional)
     neri ume (optional)
     5 sheets nori (roasted seaweed sheet)

Wash rice and cook as usual in electric rice cooker.  While rice is cooking, slice Spam into 10 slices.  Fry on both sides in a skillet.  Add brown sugar, shoyu, and mirin.  Cook until liquid is gone. Dampen spam musubi mold with water and proceed according to the type of spam musubi mold you are using: 

If using Spam musubi mold with flat packing plates, insert lower plate into mold, smooth side up.  Pack half-full with rice and press down with other packing plate.  Sprinkle furikake, if using.  Squeeze neri ume, if using.  Place Spam on rice.  Add more rice to fill mold.  Pack with packing plate.  Remove lower packing plate and center mold on sheet of nori. 

If using Spam musubi mold with single packing plate, center empty Spam musubi mold on sheet of nori.  Pack half-full with rice and press down with packing plate.  Sprinkle furikake, if using.  Squeeze neri ume, if using.  Place Spam on rice.  Add more rice to fill mold.  Pack with packing plate.  Pressing down on packing plate, slice mold up, leaving rice on nori.  

Roll tightly with nori.  Wrap in waxed paper.  Let set at least 10 minutes before cutting with a dampened knife.  Keep knife damp in order to minimize sticking.
On January 2, 2015, I will be busy watching my beloved Huskies kick some Pistol Pete butt in the Cactus Bowl.  Hope Coach Peterson will be able to win his first bowl game as a Husky coach.  Ironically, the game will be played in Tempe, AZ (guessing Sun Devil stadium).  ASU is one of D1s choices for college...and probably my wish for her...sorry, Wildcats.  Tempe is just much more convenient to the airport.    

The Ds, while grateful for gifts they received at Christmas, seemed much happier helping Kikukat Mom and Dad with their gifts. 
Missy and D1
Tuffy and D2

Since this will be my last post of 2014, I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy closing out of 2014.  I'll be here in 2015, looking forward to bigger and brighter things.  Things should definitely be brighter soon for me...going to the big city to get my eyes checked out by a glaucoma specialist.  I have Kikukat Mom and Dad to thank for this.

Thank you all for reading my blog!  See you in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Confetti Jello

Yikes!  Last week was bad.  Why do students go all crazy right before long breaks?  For that matter, why do adults act like assholes before long breaks.  Last week, I asked a science teacher if she could assist one of my students.  I am NOT a science teacher (the 10 credits from college are indeed telling), but if a student needed assistance with their language arts work, I wouldn't hesitate to help them.  Well, this science teacher told me she is "busy too" (what the hell is that supposed to mean...she wasn't teaching a class), and if this student needs help, she should go see so-and-so or so-and-so during her recess or after school.  Where did that rant come from.  A simple, "I cannot" or "I'm busy now" would've sufficed.  The lingering bitter taste in my mouth triggered my suspicious brain cells and left me wondering if the science teacher was unable (competency-wise) to help.  Luckily, a competent science teacher was willing to assist.

Wednesday was one of the worst days I've seen in a while.  There were at least a half-dozen fights.  The first fight happened before school even began.  It was actually two separate fights happening at the same time at the same place.  The adults in the area had a hard time keeping order and were lucky that a well-respected student was there.  He single-handedly pulled off 2 of the fighters and was talking nicely to them, asking them to calm down.  I'm glad he was there because I could've easily been hit too.  I assessed the situation and saw no adult in the immediate vicinity.  I surmised that the boys he pulled off were likely done fighting (if they weren't, they would've wrangled free of him and attacked again) and were looking for an out.  I suggested they leave the area and go to a quiet place to gather themselves and get back in control.  Both boys obliged politely.  Whew!

Later that day, the student who stepped in to help break up the fight told me I should not have stood where I had.  He said he did not want me to get hit and if I had gotten hit, he would've stepped in and done something.  He told me not to ever do that again because he won't always be there to look out for me.  D1 echoed his sentiments, telling me I was stupid.  Probably.  Would I do it again?  Probably.  It's not in my fabric to just sit back and let kids punch each other silly.  But it is nice to think that a student thinks enough of me that he would have my back.  Bless him. . .he is awesome.  Bless his family. . .they did a great job raising him to be an honorable young man.

The thing that's most bothersome with fighting is that students all just wanna watch.  It takes a lot to be someone who attempts to dissolve a fight.  Most of the spectators are there for the show and don't want the fights stopped.  As a parent, if it was my child fighting, I would want someone to stop the fight.  It's just wrong.  

Anyway, both recess and lunch on Wednesday were fighting times.  Two fights occurred near my room.  Security actually had to pull one kid off of another kid.  Ughhhh.  The other fight was between 2 girls.  I saw some JROTC boys trying to hold one of the girls back.  I know there were other fights (I saw crowds of students heading in one direction en masse), but mercifully, they took place away from my room.

I was worried about Thursday and Friday, but they were both quiet days.  I managed to get my grades done.  Now I can work on pacing guides during my break.

D1 attended her last winter ball (as a student, and I hope, for the love of God, that she does not become an educator and has to chaperone or advise the winter ball).  I asked Aunty 3M to keep an eye on her.  At last years dance, she seemed to have befriended this attitude-rich boy.  Unfortunately, I saw him picking up a permission form this year, and I can only hope she didn't rekindle any friendship with him.  With all the nice guys out there, I don't know why she would want that one!

Because D1 went to the winter ball, I was banned from attending.  I was hoping to begin my vacation, but someone asked me for a favor, so I went to school yesterday to chaperone some students.  It was a good chance for me to prep for 3rd quarter.

So now I am finally on vacation, and it could not have begun soon enough!  Unfortunately, this means the holiday party season is upon us.  I'm really not into the whole holiday party thing.  It's just so much work for just a few hours.  It also bugs me when guests don't come on time, or they come with food that isn't ready to present.  I think I inherited that part from my uncle.  I knew that irked the shit outta him to no end.  With any luck, this holiday season will be quiet.

If I need to go anywhere, I decided that my go-to potluck dish of the season will be confetti jello.  Many people love jello desserts, and I am one of them.  I grew up in a home which did not make a lot of desserts, and our refrigerator was always full so there was never enough room for a pan of jello.  I usually alternate between layered jello and confetti jello.  What I like about confetti jello is that you can switch up the colors for the occasion (red & green for Christmas, red & blue for Independence Day, orange & yellow for Thanksgiving, etc.).  It also firms up fairly quickly, allowing you to make it in the morning for serving that evening.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 (3 oz) boxes Jello in assorted colors/flavors
     4 c boiling water
     4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
     1 1/2 c hot water, divided
     1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
     1/2 c water

Dissolve 1 box of Jello in 1 c boiling water.  Pour into 8 x 8" pan (or simlar) and chill until firm (2 hours is adequate).  Repeat for remaining Jello flavors.  In a 2-cup measuring cup, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over 1/2 c hot water.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Add remaining 1 c hot water and stir until gelatin is dissolved.  In a 1-qt measuring cup, stir condensed milk with 1/2 c water.   Pour gelatin mixture through a sieve and add to condensed milk mixture.  Let sit until cool (room temperature).  Cut flavored Jello into small cubes and toss gently in a 9 x 13" pan.  Add condensed milk mixture to cubes.  Chill until firm.  Cut into serving size pieces (we like to cut into 1 3/4" pieces because they fit nicely in serving cups).

For several past posts, I've mentioned D1s saga in applying to various colleges.  So far, she has received email acceptance (unofficial to me...I'm old-fashioned...I wanna see the hard copy letter) from one school and official (yes, paper) acceptance from two schools.  One of the "real" acceptance letter places is in her top three.  Rawr!!!

I hope she hears from the other places, especially the other one in the top three, soon.  She needs as much time as possible to mull over her choices and make an informed decision.

While D1 and I are proud (and relieved) that she has options, D2 is ecstatic.  She was worried that no college would accept her sister and she'd be living here for years to come.  D2 sent me a text a few weeks ago:  "mom, D1 needs to get out of the house NOW".  I explained that it was nearly 11 pm and there was really nothing I could do at the moment.

This will be my last post before Christmas, so I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  From my family to yours. . .
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