kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just for you, January (or February) Boy: Ono Pasta

Happy belated Easter!

I spent a nice Easter Sunday at Hilo Bay Cafe, enjoying the brunch festivities.  It was The Help's idea to go there.  He figured all the Beautiful People would be on the other side of the island, celebrating the day at one of the fancy-schmancy hotels.  I missed them terribly.  not.  Hilo Bay Cafe brunch was probably the best kept secret.  There was a steady stream of people, but it wasn't so crowded that it was difficult to get food.  The buffet had enough selection, and the spicy ahi sushi was possibly the best I ever had.  I am not a fan of ahi, so this is definitely a compliment.  If the Ds had come, there would've been plenty of suitable options for them.  I need to have The Help call tomorrow to find out if they are planning a buffet brunch for Mother's Day.  I think Kikukat Mom would love it.

The long weekend was much appreciated.  I always say that a short work/school week forces kids (students) to squeeze all their bad behavior into 4, rather than 5, days.  That's why they seem so awful during a short week.  This was certainly true of this past week.

My favorite student charlie has a major case of senioritis.  Too bad he's had it all year.  He threw a tantrum when I told him his grade.  Can you believe that???  High school senior throwing a tantrum?  Oh wait, my mom told me my dad threw a tantrum once when I took his car.  Anyway, back to charlie. . .buggah should be thankful he is passing!  Never mind trying to bargain for a higher grade.  This is not Patpong Night such thing as bargaining for a grade! 

What I find interesting is that other students are beginning to diss charlie behind his back.  These are people he considers friends.  One of them said, "I do my work.  I not like some people." and nodded towards charlie, who was facing another direction.  Another student refused to work as charlie's partner and yet another refused to even help him.  I'm sad for charlie because if these "friends" can turn on him in school, once they are out of school, they will likely not even bother with him.  Charlie prides himself on being the star attraction, so this will certainly make for an interesting adjustment.

In a few months, most of charlie's classmates will be matriculating at institutes of higher education.  Not charlie.  He has no plans for any education.  Says he doesn't need it for what he plans to do for a career.  He may be right, but as an educator, I'm very sad.  Part of successful "teaching" is instilling a thirst for knowledge, and given charlie's attitude and words, I was not successful.  But I am happy for charlie's classmates.  They will soon be knocking on the door to the rest of their lives. . .college!

I often think about my days in college.  College was a great time for me.  Many good memories come from my years in Seattle.  I was fortunate that my parents had the means to send me to the mainland.  I hope to provide the same opportunity for my own children.  While exploring the Pacific Northwest was fun, it was also nice to return home on vacations and share stories with high school friends.  On my first vacation home, we got together and exchanged Christmas gifts.

One of the gifts I received was a local boys (not nekkid kine) calendar for Christmas.  I had the calendar hanging in my dorm room.  The boys who garnered the most ooohhs and aaahhs were January boy and February boy.  Some of my friends would even flip backwards to stare at them long after January (and February) was over.  Maybe I did that too.  Perhaps that's why I can still remember their names.

Fast forward nearly several thousand years. . .I was flipping through one of my gazillion cookbooks and came across a recipe submitted by January (or it might have been February) boy. . .or someone with his same name.  Actually, I'm quite sure it is his recipe. . .the graduation year is about right.  I was hesitant to try the recipe because I didn't think others would like it, but I finally decided to go for it.  The directions for the recipe were fairly loose, so I ended up doing my own thing, changing a little here and a little there.  What resulted was phenomenal.  No complaints from anyone here and a whole lotta ooohhs and aaahhs from the Facebook set.  I guess January (or February) boy still has his mojo, albeit as a cook instead of beefcake!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb strand pasta (nothing smaller than vermicelli; nothing thicker than fettucine)
     1 flat can anchovies
     half head of garlic, coarsely chopped
     1/4 c olive oil
     3 tbsp butter (may replace with vegetable oil)
     1 onion, sliced from pole to pole
     2 cans of clams, drained
     2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
     1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
     flat leaf parsley, chopped
     lemon wedges

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Drain anchovy oil into wok.  Add olive oil and butter.  Heat on medium.  Process anchovy fillets and garlic with a food processor or immersion blender until garlic is chopped and anchovies are minced (you can actually do all of this by hand, but its oily).  Add to oil in pan.  Add onions.  Cook 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add drained pasta, clams, and tomatoes.  Toss gently.  Place on platter and garnish with cheese and parsley.  Have lemon wedges on hand for diners to add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tarragon Chicken Salad

I think prom season is finally over!  Whew.  I guess I can save my $ for graduation gifts now. . .oh, but wait. . .some school organizations still had their hands out.  I guess the charity season never ends.

Speaking of never ending, it seems like the chilly weather will never end.  Just when I thought it was getting warmer, we had days on end of un-spring-like weather.  We haven't seen past 80 degrees for over a week!  I've been trying to shake a cough, the only lingering sign of my spring break cold.  I've tried anti-biotics, codeine cough meds, a bunch of inhalers and even a homeopathic remedy made with lemon, ginger and honey.  Last night, I attempted herbal tea, but I could not manage to swallow more than a sip.  That stuff tastes like shit.  I'm still not ready to hit the ching bo leung (Chinese cure-all).

While the weather has been nippy (to me, anything below 80 is nippy), it has, mercifully, been dry.  I'm not a fan of the effects of rain.  I hate the clammy feeling in the house, and I hate the proliferation of mold and mildew which seems to follow days of rain.

With the dry weather, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the backyard.  The stephanotis was in bloom (too bad there's no need to give anyone a lei now).  I was able to locate 1 ripe meyer lemon on the tree (to make the lemon-ginger-honey concoction).  And on my way back inside, I noticed that the tarragon had magically come back to life!

A few years ago, I bought a sad-looking tarragon plant.  I planted it, and it perked up and gave me all the tarragon I needed for hunter style chicken.  I thought it had gone bye-bye, so I was happy to see it coming back.  I decided to make tarragon chicken salad...hoping the "salad" would will the warm weather here.
 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c cooked chicken, diced
     1 c watercress leaves
     1/2 c chopped celery
     1/4 c chopped green onions
     1/2 c salted marcona almonds, chopped
     3/4 c wild rice, rinsed
     2 1/4 c chicken stock
     1 tsp beau monde or celery salt
     1/4 c vegetable oil
     1/4 c EVOO
     1/4 c white wine vinegar
     1 tsp tarragon leaves, chopped
     1 tsp rock salt
     1/4 tsp ground black pepper

For dressing, combine vegetable oil, EVOO, white wine vinegar, tarragon, rock salt, and pepper in a bottle.  Set aside.  Bring chicken stock to a boil.  Add wild rice.  Lower heat to simmer, add beau monde or celery salt, and cook for 45 minutes (can be as little as 35 minutes or as long as 55 minutes) or until wild rice "pops" open.  Rinse and drain.  When cool, combine with chicken, watercress, celery, green onions, and almonds.  Shake dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad mixture and toss gently to coat.
The Help celebrated his birthday this past week.  We had dinner at Miyo's (courtesy of Kikukat Dad) and then we came home and had giant spoonfuls of gelato (sub for cake).  The Ds gave The Help his birthday gift and received a huge thank you in return. 

The Help is THE hardest person when it comes to buying gifts.  If he wants something, he'll normally just buy it himself.  Or, what he wants (read:  automobile or photography) has more zeros in the price than I can afford on my paltry salary.  Last year we gave him Shaka.  I thought about a Solomon Islands eclectus parrot this year, but we have been so blessed that Shaka and Aki get along well that I'm not willing to chance it with yet another bird.

And as I mentioned at the beginning of this week's post, I believe prom season has finally come to an end.  The last prom (St. Joseph School) took place this past Saturday at the Wainaku Executive Center.  I haven't been able to get a straight answer, but supposedly, D1 went as the date of senior EB (she got him a maile lei and a boutonniere so I sure hope she was his date).  I did not get to meet EB because D1 went with a group of her girl friends. . .each of them being the date of a SJ senior.   I dropped D1 and her friends off at the park for a photo session and the took them to the prom venue. 

On the way there, I almost choked when I heard the pre-prom conversation: "We can't twerk, you know.", "How do we dance to Catholic music?", "Are they gonna play songs like 'Hallelujah'?".  Gasp!!!  Apparently, D1 ended up having a lot of fun, declaring the experience to be the "best prom ever". 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Cream Cheese Marble Cake

Another busy week/weekend under my belt.  It would've been nice to see LAMN, but I think we both knew that would be near impossible.  I expected her to be busy, but it turns out that I was busy too. I hope to see her when she comes back again. . .should be in a few weeks.

For the latter half of the work week, I pored over the Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) report which was prepared by the state after visiting out school. OMG!!!  As a language arts instructor, I am appalled at the way the report was written.  Not only was it fraught with inaccuracies, but the grammar was deplorable.  Is it unrealistic for me to expect better from the state?  And where is the responsible behavior portion?  We always teach the students to research issues properly. . .use factual information. . .be specific when giving feedback. . .cite sources properly.  The state report broke dozens of writing rules.  And don't even get me started on how the bullets were used!

As if the CNA report wasn't enough to keep me busy, I got home late from work on Friday because I had a late afternoon meeting.  My favorite colleague was AWOL for the meeting; no harm, no foul.  The important people showed up and we were productive in taking care of business.  By the time I got home I was too tired to cook so we ended up at Hilo Rice Noodle.  I made the mistake of ordering the beef broccoli chow fun.  Fail.  Don't order that.  The other dishes, salt & pepper squid and Peking ribs, were delicious.

The better part of the weekend was spent grading papers.  Mid-quarter entries will be due soon.  Because I teach primarily seniors, it's imperative that I keep on top of their grades and let the counselor know if they are in jeopardy of not earning credit.  The 1-credit course I teach is a graduation requirement.  While it's not uncommon for seniors to slack off during the last term, they still need to be sure they earn a passing grade for the year.  I have a few students who will be dangerously close to not passing, so its important to notify them early and keep on their tails.

I also managed to sneak in a quick trip to Costco with D1.  We had a nice drive over, and I even let D1 drive part of the way.  I will definitely miss her when she goes off to college, but I need to make it through this learning-to-drive phase first.  I know she will improve with time and practice, but it's still spooky.  Kudos to The Help who took her out for her first official (legal) driving session.  He said he wanted D1 to have a healthy respect for the road, but he didn't intend to go into heart attack alert himself along the way.  I wonder if I was the same way when I practiced my driving.

D1 stayed home this weekend (instead of traveling to Honolulu with Mr. Dependable & Co) to attend the crosstown rival high school's Junior Ball (yes, she had a date. . .didn't go stag. . . finally).  A nice boy invited her.   Bless his heart. . .he really is a nice boy (nice parents too) so I hope she was nice to him.  Before they drove off, the nice boy said, "she is always nice, aunty".  Bullshit!  She was probably twisting his arm when he said that.  Both Ds inherited the mouth and attitude of Mr. Dependable's mom so I'm always worried about what will come out.

D2 went to Honolulu with Mr. Dependable this weekend.  They celebrated a birthday with dinner at Tsukiji Fish Market (I saw pics of them grinding out) and adventure at Podium Raceway.  There was also some kind of duck gathering in Honolulu so they met up with their favorite duck, who was part of the entourage.  What an honor for him. . .being invited to travel home and speak to prospective students.  Seems he is doing very well in Eugene.  I'm sure it wasn't too difficult for D2 to convince her dad to take her to Legend for another plate of beef broccoli cake noodle.  I know the Legend dish is better than what I had on Friday.

I figured I needed some nourishment while doing my grades and prepping for a presentation at UH-Hilo so as soon as I got home from dinner on Friday night, I popped one of these babies into the oven.  I have never tried this recipe using a cake mix other than Duncan Hines; the other cake mixes sold here have pudding in the mix.  From my baking experience, I do notice a difference in the final product when I use Supermoist (Betty Crocker).  For mini cupcakes, it doesn't matter, but for cakes baked in a large pan, I prefer Duncan Hines.  D2 was happy to come home and find this waiting for her.  Like me, she has a major sweet tooth.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     8 oz cream cheese, softened
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c chocolate chips
     1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
     1 box chocolate instant pudding
     1 c hot water
     3/4 c vegetable oil
     1 tsp vanilla
     5 eggs, divided

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and 1 egg.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Set aside.  In a medium glass measuring cup, combine hot water, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding.  Crack 4 eggs into bowl with cake mix and pudding.  Gradually add liquid while beating slowly.  When all liquid is added, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour chocolate batter into prepared pan.  Using a spoon, plop cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter, spacing evenly.  Swirl cream cheese mixture and chocolate batter with the blunt end of a toothpick or the narrow end of a chopstick.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Dear Uncle Al,
     Thank you for all that you've done for me over the years. . .

     -never taking me to Moloka`i (I would've died on the plane ride)
     -catching a`ama crab for me (yum)
     -subbing for me in my early years at HHS (the kids said you were more
          strict than me)
     -imparting your wisdom upon me in the most entertaining and humorous
          way (you gave me "names" to look out for)

     Like me, you were not a Viking by diploma, but it is where you left your
     mark.  I will never forget all the fun times hanging out with you in F-bldg.

     R.I.P. Uncle Al. . .you will be missed.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beryl's Meatloaf

For most people here, this will be the first full week of work since returning from Spring Break.  The next break will be Good Friday, in 3 weeks.

I was looking forward to warmer weather, but Hilo has been a little nippy.  It's definitely not swimming weather yet, although the Ds went for a swim last week.  My thoughts of making salads (or even cold somen) for dinner have been put on hold...gonna wait a week or so and hope the weather warms up.

I went for my check-up last week, and the hammer dropped.  It was Dougie's turn to deliver the message...don't eat so much cholesterol.  When the weather is this cold, I can't help it!  Nobody in their right mind would pick a salad over something warm and hearty.  But Dougie is right, and I do need to eat fatty foods in moderation.  Leung's will likely suffer economic depression without my regular patronage.  Gosh, I could surely go for a kau yuk and egg foo young plate.  Maybe I could convince 3M to go pick up Chinese for lunch.  Why am I jonesing for a plate of cholesterol?!?

. . .especially since I had a mound of cholesterol last night.  I made meat loaf, buttery mashed potatoes, and cole slaw.  Sometime during the first decade of the 21st century, I learned that meatloaf and coleslaw go great together.  My former coworker Beryl told me so, and after trying it out, I had to agree.  I like the taste of the packaged broccoli slaw with Marie's poppyseed dressing. The markets here don't always carry that dressing, but I've come across a few copycat recipes that I'd like to try out.  Luckily, I had some Marie's dressing in my fridge for the cole slaw this time.

The meatloaf I made was a recipe shared by Beryl.  It is easy to throw together, and for someone like myself (non-pea eater), I can do things to easily get rid of the peas:  pick the peas out of the soup before adding the soup in with the rest of the ingredients.  Best of all, Beryl's meatloaf contains none of the Devil's condiment.  I actually spat out my lunch once...someone slathered the top of a meatloaf with mustard.  D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb ground beef
     1 pkg Lipton onion soup mix
     1 can Campbells condensed alphabet vegetable soup
     2 eggs
     1/2 c dry breadcrumbs, e.g. Progresso
     1/4 c ketchup
     additional ketchup for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 1 3/4 quart baking dish.  Combine all ingredients.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Dot top with ketchup and spread evenly over entire surface (thin layer).  Bake for 50 minutes.
My bestie LAMN came home to Hilo this weekend, and we were able to get together for lunch yesterday.  Alas, the circumstances of her visit home were not the best, but it was still nice to catch up with her.  In spite of not seeing her for years, we just picked up the talk from where we left off.  It shouldn't come as a surprise...we went to the same elementary school, intermediate school, high school and college (after she got her head screwed on correctly).  LAMN was with us in the car when UGeo burned out the clutch on the return from Expo86.  She will be home again next weekend, but I don't think we'll be able to get together, as she'll have her hands full with family obligations.

This pic was taken back in the summer of 1995.  The baby in the picture is me.  Ok, ok, just kidding.  The baby is now a sophomore at the University of Washington.  LAMN still looks the same.  I wish I could give some of my wrinkles and ass fat to her!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cold Somen Noodles

Spring is here!

It's back to work today.  After a week off, school began today. . .kickoff the 4th quarter.  I've actually begun a countdown of the days left.  Some of my students requested it.  It is a reminder to both me and them how many days they have left in school. . .how many days I have left to prepare them for life.  It's actually a daunting thought.

Before I continue, I would like to extend my congratulations to two special people.  Kikukat friend CT has begun a new chapter in her employment life.  Way to go!!!  I still wish you were coming over, but that's me being selfish.  They are so lucky to have you and they will love you.  Enjoy the savings on gasoline and time...I wouldn't have realized it if I didn't go through it myself.  And after months of nagging, D1 finally got off her ass and took (and passed) the driver's permit test!  The minimum age for the driver's permit is 15 years and 6 months, so she was certainly in no hurry.  On the very day she received her permit, The Help took her driving.  I'm glad to report they both came back alive, although both were pretty well shaken.  Now to sign her up for driver's ed. . .

Spring break was busy, busy, busy.  Much to my relief, the 50-minute plane ride to Honolulu was smooth and unremarkable.  I was worried about the turbulence since there were high winds throughout the weekend.  Back in 1994, I flew to Hilo (from Honolulu) during a windstorm, and it was the worst flight I have been on (the flight to Anaheim in 2004 comes pretty close).  I actually considered postponing the allergist visit, but I decided to pull up my big girl panties for D1.

The allergist visit went well.  We made it to Queen's and found Dr. Kuo's office.  He turned out to be soft-spoken and pleasant.  D1 is bummed because he told her to stay away from shrimp, crab, and lobster.  She has loved eating shrimp and crab for the past 16 years, and it will be a challenge to get her to stay away.  She is old enough to understand but perhaps not mature enough to tow the line.  Dr. Kuo cautioned her that while her reaction was a mild reaction to crab, the close relationship of crab to shrimp and lobster calls for discretion.  There is no way to predict when a severe reaction could occur.  Mollusks are still fair game for eating, so she can still scarf clams and scallops.

Spending just one night in Honolulu was not enough.  We managed to do lots of things, but it would have been nice to do it at a more relaxed pace.  That's why I'm allowing us more time to do things when we go to Honolulu for LA's wedding in October.  Although we didn't make it to Goma Tei on this trip, I was able to run into Marukai to get a few goodies like hamachi kama and good-quality Japanese somen noodles.

Spring is the perfect time for having somen noodles.   If the weather is warm, which it usually is, the sauce can be chilled before pouring over chilled noodles.  If the weather is still nippy, the sauce can also be served warm/hot over somen (be sure to warm the noodles too).  We tend to eat this as a cold dish.  It's also a good choice for home-lunch since it doesn't require heating.  Some sauces are meant to be served in a separate cup and the noodles dipped into the sauce prior to eating.  This sauce is NOT a dipping sauce.  Dipping sauces tend to be stronger with a more pronounced shoyu flavor.  This sauce is mild and can be sipped when the noodles are gone (or while consuming the noodles).

Somen was something I learned to make after I got married.  I don't recall it being served in my house growing up.  I remember eating it at the old KK Tei restaurant.  It came on ice and it was called "hiyashi somen".  Mr. Dependable encouraged me to make it (his mom made it), and the first time I made it, I drained the cooked noodles and mounded the somen in a tupperware container.  It was a big sticky mess, and Mr. Dependable was not happy.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but it was Mr. Dependable who showed me how to make it into serving-size balls! 

I was originally going to post a recipe for a grilled shrimp, but out of respect and compassion for D1 and her allergy diagnosis, I'm posting something she can safely consume, provided it's made with katsuo-(fish) based dashi-no-moto.  Unfortunately, it was a different story in Honolulu.  I couldn't help myself and ordered the shrimp tempura at Kunio!  Sorry.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 pkg dashi-no-moto (katsuo, for D1)
     3 1/4 c water
     1/4 c shoyu
     2 tbsp sugar
     1 tsp salt
     3 tbsp mirin

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Chill.  Serve cold with chilled somen noodles.  Garnish noodles with kamaboko, green onions and sliced fried egg.

1 recipe of sauce is enough for 3/4-1 lb of somen noodles, depending on how much sauce you use. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Easy Mochi Rice

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Spring Break is finally here!

I'm headed to Honolulu today to take D1 to see an allergist.  This is a much-anticipated visit, as we first attempted to see an allergist over 3 months ago, albeit a different one in Kona.  Thanks to my medical insurance, part of our trip will be subsidized since we had problems getting an appointment with the allergist in Kona.

This whole allergy thing is quite bothersome.  Nobody in my family is really allergic to anything (one minor test said I was allergic to melon, but I'm not quite certain how much I believe that) except D1.  D1 is already allergic to penicillin.  We'll find out today if we need to add to that list.  Shit.  I'm feeling bad for her already.  She knows what seafood tastes like, and she loves it.  NN (soccer mom from a few posts ago) told me she has a wicked shellfish allergy.  It began with itching when she was a kid, and by the time she was in high school, the severity of symptoms progressed from itching to her throat closing.  Yikes!  Kikukat Mom cannot eat fresh scallops, but she is able to eat the really expensive dried scallops sold in Chinatown. Is this considered a true allergy?

Before I left work for vacation, I made sure to input my 3rd quarter grades.  Not too many Fs...mostly As and Bs.  The Fs were definitely appropriate...absences affecting grades, work not turned in, class too difficult (perhaps).  It amazes me how students can be told they are failing at midquarter yet they do nothing to change their habits.  Anyway, I didn't want the grades hanging over me while I shop in Honolulu, so it was imperative that I get them done.  I also tried to do all of my copying for the remainder of the year.  We will be reading Romeo and Juliet and Lord of the Flies during the 4th quarter, and I need to be sure we have plenty of activities so the students can truly make meaning from the text.

Inputting grades was not the last work-related thing I did before embarking on vacation.  The senior prom was on Friday night, and being the good soldier that I am, I agreed to chaperone (actually I was afraid to say no to 3M since I already begged out of chaperoning the winter ball).  Students sure go all-out for the night!  The girls were dressed in beautiful gowns, mostly floor-length.  Most of the boys wore tuxedos.  Nice to see the kids enjoying themselves.  Nice to see them all cleaned up too.

Although we are going to Honolulu for medical reasons, D2 is tagging along.  She says she wants to shop and eat.  Just like her sister.  Just like me.  We each have a list of things we need to buy.  D1 is shopping for a dress for the junior ball at the crosstown rival high school.  D2 wants slippers and clothes.  I want to add to my Manuheali`i collection.  Both Ds have requested we dine at Legend Seafood (yes, I know!!!) Restaurant.  They both love the beef broccoli pan fried noodle (contains no seafood other than oyster guess).

I'm looking forward to grabbing a few items from the dim sum carts.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the fried taro, scallion cake and look fun.  Let's also not forget about the mango pudding there.  I haven't had mango pudding in ages!  Legend also makes really good mochi rice.  You can get it wrapped in lotus leaf (joong), but they also have it packed into see-thru bowls.  While I've made both, the latter type is much simpler to make at home. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c mochi rice (glutinous rice)
     1 c regular rice (Calrose)
     1 lb assorted cooked toppings*
     1 tbsp minced dried topping**
     1 can mushroom stems & pieces (do not drain)
     1 can chicken broth

Combine mochi rice and regular rice.  Rinse well.  Cover with water and soak for 1 hour.  Drain well and place in rice cooker.  Empty entire can of mushroom stems & pieces over rice.  Add assorted cooked toppings.  Pour chicken broth into 2-cup measuring cup and add enough water to make 2 cups.  Pour into rice cooker.  Cook rice as usual.  When rice is done, stir well before serving.

*assorted cooked toppings:  any combination of the following:  steamed lup cheong, BBQ pork cubes, roast pork cubes, roast chicken cubes. 

**dried topping:  dried shrimp or dried scallops

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crock Pot Cassoulet

I went to Kona this past weekend to buy some bulk food, eggs, toilet paper, etc.  It was the first weekend for the new offers, so, as can be imagined, Costco was packed. 

Going to Costco on a weekend is a sure-fire way to run into many people you know.  I saw the boss man and his lovely wife in the frozen foods aisle.  I even saw my neighbor!  Had I stayed longer, I would have also run into the BWCK ohana.  But staying longer in Costco was out of the question.  Because of the crowd, it was difficult to navigate, and I spent barely over $100.

In spite of the masses at Costco, the worst part of the day was driving to and from Kona.  There were a whole bunch of idiot drivers on the road.  Going over, some slow ass red Geo Metro was taking their sweet time.  The Honda Pilot following was no better, as it refused to pass.  Fortunately, the Pilot pulled off the road, which allowed The Help to pass the red Geo Metro just before we got to the thick blanket of fog on the DKI.

On the way home, a white Toyota Corolla held up over 2 dozen cars.  The Help was too far back in the lineup to make any attempt to pass, but it didn't stop him from cursing the second car, who should've been the one to pass the Corolla when the fog cleared.  Because of the Corolla, it took nearly 2 hours to get home, which is unheard of since the new section of the Saddle opened.

I didn't mention it above, but one of the things we bought was a bulk package of little smokies.  Costco sells them in 3- or 4-pound bags, and they have my favorite brand, Hillshire Farms.  Little smokies are a guilty pleasure.  Yes, I know they're packed with fat and sodium, but they taste so darn good.  I've tried several Pinterest recipes with them...grape jelly bbq smokies and the bacon-brown sugar baked smokies.  Both were delicious.  I love them just fried too!  Unfortunately, I'm getting back on the wagon in my battle against cholesterol, so I need to diffuse cholesterol in preparation for my upcoming dr appt.

About a year ago, I saw the recipe for Smoked Sausage Cassoulet Soup in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser one morning (I've since seen that version called Smoked Sausage Cassoulet in Cooking Light).  I don't normally get to the paper until the afternoon, but I happened to open up the app one morning.  12 hours later, we were sitting down to our version of it for dinner.  Thank goodness The Help wasn't working that day, and thank goodness he can follow my directions.  I adapted the recipe to make use of what we already had on hand. . .little smokies and fresh herbs!

In spite of being tempted to make the brown sugar-bacon smokies, I will be making Crock Pot Cassoulet instead.  The chilly weather and the smell of it cooking sort of eases the pain of missing out on brown sugar & bacon!
click on recipe title for printable recipe
(adapted from Hawaiian Electric/Cooking Light)

     3 bacon slices
     1 onion, chopped
     3 thyme sprigs
     1 tsp rosemary needles
     3 garlic cloves, minced
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
     2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
     2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
     1 pound boneless pork (I used shoulder), cut into 1-inch cubes
     1/2 pound little smokies smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
     3 tbsp finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
     2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion, thyme, rosemary, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.  Stir in crumbled bacon, salt, pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Add beans, pork, and sausage; stir well. Place half of bean mixture in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; top with half of tomato mixture. Repeat layers.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.  Ladle into bowls, removing thyme sprigs.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Makes 6 servings.