kruizing with kikukat

Monday, October 27, 2014


This past week was an eating out week.  3M and I enjoyed a tasty lunch at Hilo Rice Noodle and the very next day, we had a nice breakfast at Coqui's Hideaway.  When we were hiding away, I saw LAMN's aunt having lunch with her lady friend.  Seeing LAMN's aunt, coupled with the ongoing conversation with 3M about our days in the Pacific Northwest, took me on a journey back to college days with LAMN.

LAMN's mom, unlike Kikukat Mom, would write to her nearly daily.  She would also send care packages with HOMEMADE goodies in them.  In case my mom is reading this, let me say that my mom sent me care packages too, but they were usually filled with purchased snacks...won ton chips, crack seed, colored popcorn, etc.

Okay, now where was I?  Oh yeah...LAMN's mom would send  care packages with HOMEMADE goodies in them.  One goodie stands out above everything else...her lavosh.  Mmmmmmmm. . .it was like a sweet cracker, which was ono enough to eat plain, without any cheese spread, potted meat, or fruit butter.

LAMN's mom's lavosh was very different from my first introduction to lavosh, the one at the now-gone Gourmet Hut Hawaii in the old Kaiko`o Mall.  They sold lavosh in waxed-paper wrapped parcels.  If you went in and requested a sample of a spread, it was likely given to you on a small piece of lavosh (or Carr's crackers).  The lavosh there was not something you'd eat plain. . .it had to be topped with a spread.

Now, several local companies make lavosh.  If you go to the local snack aisle (by the bakery) at KTA, you can find many different varieties/flavors of lavosh.  All pieces are nearly identical in size.  It's lavosh like the kine LAMN's mom made...local kine lavosh...somewhere between a cookie and a cracker.

A few years ago, I tried to make lavosh (local kine).  I remember seeing a girl doing a 4-H demonstration on lavosh.  She couldn't have been older than 13, so I didn't think it would be difficult.  My attempt turned out to be an epic fail.  The dough was sticky, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't get it thin enough to be crisp.  And to make matters worse, even with sticky dough, the poppy seeds went all over then dang place.  I had poppy seeds all over the floor!

Being older and wiser now, armed with a Dyson and having discovered the magic of parchment paper, I thought it was good time to give it another try.  This time, I added the poppy seeds in the dough (no more having to sprinkle it on each piece).  While I was able to roll the dough thinner and not worry about how I was going to get it on the cookie sheet, the baking time was still something I needed to work on.  The 8 minutes called for in the original recipe was not anywhere long enough to yield a crispy product, and soft lavosh is not acceptable in my book.  I fiddled with the baking time in order to get snapping-crisp lavosh. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 3/4 c flour
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c butter
     1 c buttermilk
     3 tbsp poppy seeds (or sesame seeds, or combination)

Sift flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar together.  Cut in butter until crumbs form.  Stir in buttermilk and poppy 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, October 20, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

Just before I went to Texas a few years ago, I purchased one of the Pastry Queen cookbooks.  Prior to purchasing the book, I knew nothing about the author.  The impulse purchase was made solely because I was utterly intrigued by the meringue picture on the cover.  Ever since I can remember, I have loved lemon meringue pie.  Perhaps it was because I grew up in a household which did not make regular trips to the bakery. . .perhaps because Kikukat mom was not into pie baking. . .perhaps I had been a naughty girl. . .for whatever reason, we NEVER bought lemon meringue pie.  On  occasion, my uncle, who was a frequent bakery patron, would bring over a lemon meringue pie (probably when the bakery was out of prune cake, his favorite).  I remember exercising restraint when all wanted to do was to stick a fork into the meringue and eat a big glob of it.

When I moved into my home, Kikukat mom bought me a Meyer lemon tree.  It was the first tree we planted.  When the men came over to dig the swimming pool, I made sure they did not touch the lemon tree with the heavy equipment.  Thankfully the lemon tree flourished and over the years, it has given me a nearly constant supply of big, juicy lemons.

Being a lemon meringue pie fanatic, you can bet it was close to the top of my list of recipes to make with my lemons.  I've tried several recipes, and I've discovered I prefer a slightly sweet filling (as opposed to tangy).  Another ingredient amount which varied among the recipes I tried was the cornstarch.  I don't like a soft runny filling; I like the filling to be able to stand when cut.

Of course, the most important part of a lemon meringue pie is the meringue.  I like a generous ratio of meringue to filling.  In my experimentation, a 4-white meringue makes a nice topping.  The 3-white versions, while covering the filling, didn't seem high enough for me.  Some recipes called for more whites than yolks, but if you know me, you know the extra yolks sitting in my fridge would likely get thrown away before they get used.  When I first started making this pie, I would use a spatula and spoon to spread and smooth the meringue over the hot filling (the left side of the above photo).  After the Pastry Queen cookbook purchase, I began piping the meringue from an icing bag fitted with a large star tip.  I love the way the meringue looks (the right side of the above photo).  I guess it depends on the effect you are after.  If you are like me and love the slightly burnt tips, then use a piping bag.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a solution to keep the meringue from weeping (caramel colored drops on the surface of the meringue).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     9" baked pie crust

Filling:  7 tbsp cornstarch
              1 3/4 c sugar
              1/4 tsp salt
              1/2 c lemon juice
              2 1/2 c water
              4 egg yolks. beaten
              3 tbsp butter
              grated rind of 1 lemon

Meringue:  4 egg whites
                   1/4 tsp cream of tartar
                   1/2 c sugar
                   1 tsp vanilla    

Combine all filling ingredients, except lemon rind, in the top of a double boiler.  Heat over high, stirring constantly.  When mixture thickens (about 10 minutes), continue cooking 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add lemon rind.  Keep warm.  Using a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy.  Add cream of tartar.  Gradually add sugar.  Add vanilla.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Place filling back on heat source and heat briefly, stirring a few times.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place meringue in icing bag.  Pour hot filling into pie crust.  Immediately cover surface of hot filling with meringue, being careful to pull meringue to edges.  Either mound or decoratively pipe remaining meringue onto pie.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Meringue should be golden brown.  Let cool before serving.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Easy Minestrone

This was certainly an adventure-filled fall break.  I'm almost looking forward to this week back at least I know the bleeding ends at 3:00 pm.

On Wednesday, the Ds and I headed to Honolulu.  We were conveniently able to schedule a follow-up appointment with the allergist on Thursday.  We spent the rest of the time shopping, eating, and rubbing elbows with family at a wedding.

My "little" cousin LA and her fiancee SN tied the knot at the beautiful and classy Halekulani Hotel.  Talk about the wedding of weddings!  Every girl should want a wedding like that.  While the venue was impeccably set up, the food was absolutely delicious.  Glad the happy couple was so concerned about the guests eating well!

After all the indulgences last week, I think it's best to scale back and eat light this week.  I noticed the weather here seems cooler than it was a few weeks ago, making it good soup weather.  This recipe cheats a little and uses 2 cans of Campbell's condensed soup for the base.  But when you're pressed for time on a weeknight, the canned soup ensures everything will come together quickly.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Easy Minestrone

     3 slices bacon, chopped (or use 3 tbsp bacon bits + 2 tsp olive oil)
     1 c chopped onion
     1/2 c chopped celery
     1 can Campbell's bean & bacon soup
     1 can Campbell's beef broth
     18 oz water
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 can (14.5 oz) whole tomatoes or stewed tomatoes, broken up
     1/2 c pasta
     1-2 c diced zucchini
     1-2 c shredded cabbage
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1 tsp shredded basil leaves, optional

Brown bacon (or bacon bits and olive oil), onion, celery, garlic & basil.  Add soup, broth, water, tomatoes, salt, macaroni, zucchini & cabbage.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until zucchini is cooked.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Almost Cafe Kaila: Belgian Waffle Encore

I am finally on Fall break, a break from work, but a break from nothing else.  This is going to be a busy break!

A year ago, The Help and I headed to the Pacific Northwest to visit AChar and to pay homage to the greatest institution of higher learning (my opinion only).  This year, we're keeping it local.  I'm taking the Ds to Oahu.  We have an allergist visit lined up and a list of places at which to dine, but the high point of our visit will be a wedding!

In planning our eating, both Ds have requested we go to Cafe Kaila for breakfast.  Cafe Kaila, in Market City, seems to be a popular breakfast place with the Japanese tourist crowd.  They arrive in taxis, on foot, and one time, I saw a bus load arrive.  I notice they tend to order family-style, and this might not be a bad idea, after all, the portions at Cafe Kaila are ample.  While I enjoy the egg breakfasts and home fries (hoping I get to try the benedict this time), the Ds go there for Belgian waffles.  After swipering a bite of their waffle, they are not off base in declaring it the best waffle in the world.

The Ds are partial to the waffles at Cafe Kaila, but delicious Belgian waffles can be recreated at home with just a little effort.  I posted a Belgian waffle recipe a few months ago.  That recipe yields crisp, savory waffles which can be made with ingredients you likely have on hand.  However, if you want to capture the crisp, light and slightly lemony taste of the Cafe Kaila waffle, then this week's post is for you.  These waffles are crispier, lighter, and sweeter than my previously posted recipe.  Unfortunately, not many people have buttermilk in the fridge.  If you don't mind running out to the store (or making your own from a powder or milk/vinegar), then this is the recipe you need to make!  You can always use the leftover buttermilk to make red velvet cupcakes!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 3/4 c flour
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/3 c sugar
     3 eggs, separated
     1/2 c butter, melted
     1 3/4 c buttermilk
     1/2 tsp lemon extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.  Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.  Whisk egg yolks, butter, buttermik, and lemon extract.  Whisk in flour mixture, stirring until smooth.  Fold in half of egg whites, then carefully fold in remaining egg whites.  Cook on a pre-heated waffle iron for 6 minutes at medium heat (Use 1/3 cup or #12 disher for each waffle and #4 heat setting on All-Clad).

Homecoming was especially sweet this year with a victory over the Konawaena Wildcats.  The final score, 39-7, doesn't truly indicate how well the Wildcats were able to move the ball.  Moving the ball close to the goal line was not the problem.  The problem was crossing over with all the Viking defenders in the way!  
off to an early lead
difficult to escape from your own teammates
bringing down dangerous Nainoa Ellis-Noa
Best of luck next week, boys.  Let's finish the regular season with a victory over Waiakea.  I will miss the game but will definitely look at the pics when I return.

Kikukat and family would also like to ask anyone heading to the west side this coming weekend to cheer on hometown boy and Viking alumnus Colby LaBrie (bib #1565), who will be competing in the Ironman World Championships on Saturday.  It's people like Colby who remind me why I do what I do.  I am so proud of him.  Go Colby!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Black Bean Crab

I am in Honolulu today!  I haven't been back here since March!  I will be back here next week for LA's wedding, but today's trip came as a small surprise.  Last week I was asked by several school administrators to replace a fellow teacher on a school team.  They said she (my comrade) had suggested me as a replacement for her, as she currently has her hands full with personal issues.  Once I agreed, I was told to plan to be in Honolulu this week.  Yikes!!!

And leave it to the state to be so inept.  They "designated" a hotel to stay at, trying to ply educators with discounted room rates.  What a crock of shit!  First of all, the hotel is in a seedy area, which is ridiculous if you are a woman staying alone.  Related to the seedy area is the "entertainment" choices surrounding the hotel.  NO!  There are hardly any food establishments (not watering holes) within safe walking distance.  The hotel reeks of the days when smoking in hotel rooms was prevalent.  DISGUSTING.  And the worst can get a hotel room for the same $ or even less in a better part of town.  The discounted rate isn't really much of a discount at all.  And let's be clear...whether you stay at this dive or at a better place, the per diem offered as compensation is still the's not like it will cost them more if you chose to stay at the Hyatt.

I plan to devote my attention during the workday to whatever the workshop is about.  When I agreed to be on the school team, I realized that it came with a certain expectation.  It is only fair.  But when the workshop is done for the day, I'm going to have some fun and enjoy myself.  I can't wait to jump on the opportunity to enjoy 2 dinners in Honolulu.  Hmmmmm...where to go and what to eat?  The options are endless.  Hope I get to see some old friends too.

There are so many great restaurants in Honolulu.  I think that's what I miss most.  It's the one thing that, even after moving to Hilo and living here for the past 20 years, I haven't quite managed to overcome.  Let's face it.  The dining out choices in Hilo are nothing compared to what you can find in Honolulu.

When I lived in Honolulu, me and my bff EDZ would dine out all the time.  We usually lunched together at Orson's on Sundays, although at any time during the week, we might hook up for a dinner.  Because EDZ was working with the inside-out aloha shirt crowd, he'd lunch during the week at all these places and we'd get to re-visit some of these places at night...Han Yang, Mama's, Kabuki...just to name a few.

Of course, if it was up to me, I'd invariably pick Chinese (this lapse in better judgment would eventually come around to haunt me in the future, and that itself would be enough fodder to begin a new blog).  Back then, THE dish I wanted to eat was black bean crab.  I must've ordered it at nearly every restaurant I visited.  Some places would just have some starchy black bean sauce poured over the cracked crab and vegetables.  At other places, the black bean sauce would be studded with ground pork.  It was a treat to eat the dregs (after all the crab pieces were gone) over a bowl of rice.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I've become rather adept at making this favorite dish at home.  I make it  the way I like it...crab and a hearty ground pork vegetables.  The Ds (well actually just D2 since D1 is now allergic) would prefer an unadulterated crab...just heated and served with a pot of melted butter.  But The Help and I love it this way.  I've trained The Help to disjoint, clean and crack the crab.  Perhaps he might be able to find employment at a Chinese restaurant, should his helping gig not work out.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 dungeness crab, cooked
     3 tbsp salted black beans, rinsed & chopped/mashed
     2 eggs
     1 tbsp sugar
     2 tbsp oyster sauce
     2 tbsp shoyu
     3 tbsp cornstarch
     1/3 c water
     2 tbsp oil
     2 cloves garlic, minced
     1" piece ginger, minced
     1/2 lb ground pork
     green onion, chopped

Clean and chop crab into serving pieces.  Combine black beans, eggs, sugar, oyster sauce, shoyu, and cornstarch.  Set aside.  Combine cornstarch and water, set aside.  Heat oil in a wok.  Saute garlic, ginger, and ground pork until pork is cooked.  Add crab pieces.  Stir until heated.  Add egg mixture.  Stir until cooked.  Push crab pieces to the side and add cornstarch.  Cook until thick, gradually stirring pork mixture into cornstarch mixture.  Remove to a serving platter and garnish with green onions.
What an up-and-down weekend!  My beloved Huskies lost a heartbreaker to Stanford.  They came so close to the upset but self-destructed in the 4th quarter.  I don't get it.  We were at home too.  Did we really hire the right guy for the job?  One must wonder.  I know I'm wondering.  Coach P, show us what you got.  Prove to me you deserve the job.  I'm still thinking MarquesT would've had my vote.  Not only did he get the bowl victory, but he is a hometown boy and a Husky. 

A bright spot of the weekend came late Saturday afternoon.  Leave it to high school football to rescue me from the dumps.  We scored a definitive victory over the Cougars to spoil their homecoming.  Actually, it was bittersweet.  Winning is always the goal, however when it's so lopsided, you can't help but feel for the other team.  Hopefully we can win our homecoming game next week.

Saturday evening turned out to be unexpectedly edgy.  What began as a calm night turned into turmoil just after midnight.  I felt something crawling on my tummy.  I flicked it off and was startled by the sound it made when it landed on some paper on the floor.  It was a blue centipede!  It took about 10 minutes of throwing things about to find it again.  It had crawled under some other papers and under the highboy before it crawled back out again.  The Help was able to snatch it up with a pair of tongs and douse it under the 190-degree tap.  Ughhhhh.  We haven't seen one of those in a while, but I suppose the hunt for water drove it indoors.

And just after the centipede incident, when I was already sinus-y from all the dust kicking up during the centipede safari, Mother Nature decided to have herself heard.  Flashes of lightning and loud bangs of thunder put the dogs on edge.  Between the thunder and the barking, I could not get back to sleep.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Feels Like Fall 2: Mini Dutch Apple Tarts

It was great to feel "back to normal" by mid week.  I was still a little queasy and weak when I went to work on Monday, but by Friday, I was BACK!  Both Ds spent a day out of school this week with miscellaneous ailments, but both of them seem BACK as well.  Unfortunately, by last night I felt under the weather again...sinus-y, scratchy throat, cold sore...yet totally different symptoms than the previous week.  I was hoping to begin the fall season with good health, but perhaps 2 out of 3 of us being healthy isn't too bad.

In a few weeks, the first quarter of the school year will be ending.  Most of my students are passing, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how they have been willing to rise to the challenge of SpringBoard.  This commitment to working steadily at something difficult will serve them well in the future.

Speaking of working steadily, The Help was extremely busy this week.  He took on the daunting project of cleaning the fishpond filter.  In spite of having a UV sterilizer, the fishpond had been looking rather dirty recently.  He also ordered new gaskets for one of the pool controls, cut back the bambusa chungii clump in the back yard, took my car for a safety check, and was finally able to pick up his car from the dealer in Kona.  He made a second trip to Kona on Saturday to take me to Costco and shoot the high school football game.  Whew!

Since he was already on the other side of the island on Wednesday, The Help made a quick stop at Costco to pick up provisions.  I told him to buy a tray of apples, and he came back with SweeTango apples for us to try.  I never heard of SweeTango apples before, and after eating them, I can honestly say I didn't care much for them.  I prefer a sweeter, crisper apple like Fuji or Envy.  SweeTango is known as an extremely juicy apple, but I guess juiciness is not a characteristic I value in an apple.  So not wanting to have to force myself to eat a dozen "not my cup o' tea" apples out of hand, I decided to make some type of dessert with the apples, after all, my fresh apple cake has become my most popular blog post.

TBH, I am really not much of a pie person.  I hate to make the crust.  I am not good at rolling out the dough in to a flat, even disk.  My rolled-out crust dough often is scraggly and has pukas (holes) everywhere.  While I don't like to get my hands dirty, pressing a crust into a pan is preferable to the whole rolling out process.

Perhaps that's why I've taken so well to mini tarts.  A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Chinese egg custard tarts.  I actually enjoy making those tarts because they seem like they are a lot of work when they really aren't so difficult.

These mini Dutch apple tarts really aren't the hell work they seem to be either.  The crust comes together so quickly.  The filling is also easy to prepare.  While the posted recipe doesn't make a lot, my suggestion would be to at least double the recipe if you plan on serving this to more than 4 people. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Mini Dutch Apple Tarts

Crust:  1 1/2 c flour
            1 tbsp sugar
            1/2 c cold butter
            2 tbsp cold Crisco shortening
            1 egg

Filling:  2 apples, chopped (best to use at least 2 different types)
             1/4 c sugar
             1/2 tsp cinnamon
             1 tbsp minute tapioca

Topping:  2 tbsp sugar
                3 tbsp flour
                1 1/2 tbsp cold butter

For crust, combine flour, sugar, butter and Crisco in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until fine crumbs form.  Add egg.  Process just until dough holds together.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead 15 seconds.  Divide into 18 pieces.  Press each piece into a 2 1/2" mini tart pan.  Place on a flat baking pan and chill while preparing topping and filling.  In same food processor bowl, make topping by combining all ingredients.  Place in a small bowl and keep chilled.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Make filling by combining apples, sugar, cinnamon and tapioca.  Divide evenly among tart shells.  Spoon topping over filling.  Place on foil/parchment/silpat lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool on rack (in tart pans) for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove from tart pans and leave on rack to cool completely.

Makes 18.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Almost Zuni Cafe: Oxtails for Dinner

This week started off fine, but by the time the work week was over, I had been through hell.

I woke up Thursday morning with severe stomach cramps.  The cramps were so bad that I succumbed to The Help's suggestion of the ER.  Luckily, when we got there, they weren't too busy and could take me immediately.  They hooked me up to all kinds of IV fluids and gave me a narcotic painkiller which I think screwed me up for most of the day.

Before I got to the ER, I wasn't suffering from nausea, but by the time I left (to make space for others who needed a room more than me), I was so nauseated that the nausea became my greatest enemy (not the cramping).

I was able to go to the doctor on Friday, and he suspected it was some kind of virus which caused all the discomfort.  He also took me off of the antibiotics from the ER.  By Friday evening, I was ravenous!

Luckily, earlier in the week, I had made braised oxtails for dinner.  We hadn't revisited the leftovers all week because we kept going out for dinner (we went twice this week to Restaurant Kenichi!) but having the leftover oxtails came in handy.  In spite of my stomach discomfort, I wolfed down a bowl of food.  Even leftover oxtails are delicious.

Did I mention how much I love oxtails?  I really do.  I remember eating it (oxtail stew) as a little kid.

Kikukat Mom recently made Chinese-style oxtail soup with peanuts.  It was delicious.  We had it for lunch at ABetty's house in Mountain View.  My favorite part, after the oxtails, was the peanuts.  Yum.

I occasionally see oxtails in the market here, but I usually buy the double pack from Costco.  The double-pack contains about 4 lbs of oxtails.  It's the perfect amount to make a quasi-Zuni Cafe version of braised oxtails.

Admittedly, I have never been to the Zuni Cafe, but back in the 90s, I received a fundraiser cookbook which had some kind of Zuni Cafe scone recipe in it.  A few years later, I purchased the Zuni Cafe cookbook from Borders (before they went out of business in Hilo).  I spent days poring through the book, mentally separating which recipes were feasible for home construction and discounting anything which contained the Devil's condiment (the short ribs sounded yummy until I saw IT in there).

However even after all these years, the only recipe I've made from the cookbook is the braised oxtails.  I've been wanting to make the scones and try their version of roast chicken, but like many of their recipes, including the braised oxtails, the directions are extremely exacting/fussy.  Having made the braised oxtails multiple times, I decided to exercise some amateur cook judgment and cut some corners.  The original recipe suggested using the shank of a pigs leg to add more flavor.  I've never done that.  The recipe also included directions for browning the oxtails, instructing one to start over if things began burning.  Too fussy.

And after exploring the Zuni Cafe website for this post, I think I'm going to spend some time revisiting the Zuni Cafe cookbook.  Maybe, after all these years, I'll finally make the scones and roast chicken!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3-4 lbs oxtails
     4 c beef broth
     1-2 tbsp olive oil
     1 3/4 c red wine
     splash of brandy
     2 bay leaves
     1 branch parsley
     1 branch thyme
     few cloves garlic
     1 large carrot, cut into 2" lengths
     few stalks celery, cut into 2" lengths
     1 medium onion, cut into wedges
     1 can (about 15 oz)  canned tomatoes (whole peeled), coarsely chopped
     2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 8-10 2" pieces

Simmer beef broth until reduced to 2 cups.  Salt oxtails and brown in olive oil in a 6 qt Dutch oven.  Deglaze pan with red wine and brandy.  Heat until wine is reduced to half.  Add reduced beef broth.  Return oxtails to pot, "eyes" facing up.  Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and garlic.  Fit carrots, celery, onions & tomatoes in spaces between oxtails.  Cover and bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours.  Remove cover and bake an additional 30 minutes.  At this point, oxtails can be refrigerated overnight and hardened fat removed before proceeding, or ladle liquid into a fat separator to remove as much fat as possible.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place potato pieces under oxtails.  Bake (covered) for 45 minutes or 60 minutes (if chilled overnight), uncovering for last 30 minutes.

Since I was feeling almost normal by Saturday afternoon, The Help and I accepted Brucie's generous offer to come out to his place to view the smoke from the burning trees caused by the advancing lava flow in Pahoa.  
We got there in the late afternoon and stayed for a few hours (until it got dark).   The weather was beautiful, save for the brief, light shower just before dark.

The Help was able to get some neat pics like this (to the left).  The picture shows the glow from the lava as it makes its way towards Pahoa town.  It was surreal to see the long-exposure picture, which allowed both the lava glow and stars to be visible.  The Help also managed to get some "silky water" pictures from the top of the cliff.  While he was busy doing his thing, I got to chitchat with Brucie and play with my niece Nicole.  She is absolutely darling.

We'll be heading out there again on a cloudless night to get some pictures of the Milky Way.  I've said this before, and I'll say it again...Brucie is whom I wanna be when I grow up!