kruizing with kikukat

Monday, May 4, 2015

Honoring Aunty 3M: Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week was a full week at work.  By "full", I don't mean just a mere 5-day work week.  I mean full of STUFF.

Some of us are finding that as it gets closer to graduation day, some seniors are making poor choices.  The principal announced on Monday that four seniors would not be "walking the line" (they will still earn a diploma, provided they pass their classes and earn enough credits in the required areas).  Being disallowed from "walking the line" happens for a variety of reasons:  fighting, possession of illegal/contraband substances, assault, repeated insubordination, etc.

Seniors are repeatedly warned about the consequences of Chapter 19 violations, but every year, there are at least 5 seniors who do not participate in commencement exercises (yet earn a diploma).  School personnel recognize that "walking the line" is a symbolic gesture meant to honor both the graduate and the support system (family, friends, teachers, etc.).  From months ago, some families have been planning graduation parties.

When seniors jeopardize their participation in commencement, I am always hit with mixed feelings.  While I am a firm believer in tough love, I think about the people who, for 18 years, have given their support to these kids, only to have it thrown away with, potentially, a single episode of lapse in good judgment.  Some parents, having never walked the line themselves, have waited all these years for the joy of seeing their own child accomplish what they failed to do.

In class, my students are reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  There is an exchange in Chapter 4, where Alex tells Josie that sometimes, doing what is best may not be what is right.  I feel like I'm a character in the novel.  Turning a blind eye to student infractions just so they can walk the line is not morally right, yet turning students in for infractions sets in motion a series of events which could lead to banishment from commencement.  This is where my role as a teacher and as a parent collide.

Where is this rambling going?  Am I crazy?  This week, I was faced with such a decision.  It was a hard decision, but I chose the latter.  Thankfully, the decision of whether a student walks the line is not mine to make.  I initially thought that admin makes the decision, but after pondering over it, I realized that the student is the one who makes the decision. . .the decision to make the right choices. 

I wonder how high the "not walking the line" number will rise before the end of the month.  I wonder how many stupid kids will feel they are invincible and above getting caught.  It's silly and just downright foolish for them to think they can get away with shit.  There are so many eyes on them.

On a more positive note, the Kikukat blog would like to extend a huge congratulatory shout out to Aunty 3M.  Aunty 3M will be getting paid the big bucks!  This week, she was selected for a coveted position.  Way to go!!!
In light of Aunty 3M's accomplishment, this week's post is dedicated to her.  Aunty 3M is an expert baker and a crispy, buttery cookie aficionado.  Every Christmas, she bakes close to 20 batches of cookies for gift-giving purposes.  She even makes cookies for special events:  baby showers, baseball fundraisers, etc.  Her favorite chocolate chip cookie comes from the Tate's Bake Shop cookbook.  I was lucky enough to receive the cookbook as a gift, so I have the recipe in my collection.  But the recipe for these buttery discs can be found here.

While Aunty 3M, usually makes this with semi-sweet chocolate chips, you can also use a variety of odds-and-ends chips.  They taste just as good.

I don't want to anger Aunty 3M, but I need to issue a caveat.  These buttery, snapping-crisp cookies are great for eating out of the jar (or Ziploc bag), but they are not the best bet for ice cream sandwiches.  The fairly low flour content, in proportion to the amount of butter, makes them too fragile (my opinion only).  If you want a cookie good for dunking as well as for making ice cream cookie sandwiches, try this recipe here.  While not as ostentatiously buttery, these so have the flavor of butter and will hold up better with a mound of Ben & Jerry's between them.

And if you're still with me, and even BIGGER shout-out goes to blog reader and pal BT.  You are beast!  I'm gonna miss you.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bang Bang Chicken

I cannot tell you why, but last week was absolutely exhausting.  Perhaps it was because so many things were happening.

Early in the week, I got observed by my administrator.  I had about a week to prepare for the observation.  I was so nervous about the whole thing.  He was a few minutes late in arriving, and that didn't help my nerves.  He is really nice and non-threatening, but still...any observation puts me on edge.

I was worried one kid would be a problem.  I spoke to him quietly beforehand and reminded him of two referrals for theft I had sitting in my desk drawer.  He said he only took a pen.  Funny because when I spoke to him at the time of the pen incident, he denied taking anything.  I reminded him about the noodles he attempted to take earlier in the school year.  He tried to argue by saying I gave it to him.  I told him I gave him noodles the day before, and that did not, in any way, mean he was entitled to go into my things and help himself.  What's wrong with him?  I cannot believe he was raised that way because his family is NOT like that.  When I called home, his family asked that I allow him to apologize for his actions.  My guess is other adults, well-intentioned but misguided, have allowed him to think he can get away with small things.  If I had a dollar for each time this one lady says, "oh, he is a good boy", I could take a trip to Sapporo!  He was visibly salty after our conversation, but that was something he had to deal with.  I plan on reminding him about those referrals, and if I do need to submit them, that will guarantee his banishment from commencement exercises. 

Nevertheless, I did manage to survive the observation.  My students were great.  My admin was impressed with the knowledge demonstrated by my students.  The post-conference went quite well.  I think I need to get some treats for my students for making me look so good. 

The Help and I attended our last regular season volleyball game.  I was amazed at the amount of people who showed up.  Unfortunately, the concession did not have smoke meat bowl.  I guess I will need to wait until next volleyball season to have it again.

In the middle of the week, D2 asked me to attend an informational meeting about an east coast trip in 2016.  Two social studies teachers are taking a group of interested students to Washington, DC.  They are hooking onto a trip with some nice teachers from a cross-town middle school who are veteran travelers with Worldstrides.  Nice to see collaboration amongst schools.  The meeting participants filled a classroom, and the teachers spoke of the perks in going.  One of the other parents asked me if I would send D2 alone or go too.  Seriously? 

Anyway, D2, who really hardly asks for anything, asked me to attend because she is interested in going.  I suppose seeing your sister traveling multiple times a year out of state has some influence on what you'd like to do.  And D2 must have some influence on us because her deposit has been paid.  Perhaps this might be a good opportunity to visit D1.  The last time I brought up visiting D1, D2 agreed to come along but said she would wait in the car.  Ahem. . .one does not travel so far to wait in the car!

My work week culminated with an all-day workshop.  Ugh.  It was painful.  The content was good, but it was still painful.  On the plus side, I did get to see someone I hadn't seen in over 30 years, one of my high school teachers.  Nice to see him still kicking.

Prom season came to an end this weekend.   D1 was fortunate enough to borrow a gorgeous dress from a friend.  I still can't get over how much some people spend on gowns.  I think I lucked out overall. . .short gown and stylish BCBG dress last year and only one long gown (purchased with Macy's discount coupon) this year.  The only thing D1 asked to have professionally done was her nails.  A quick trip to Aunty Tiffany took care of that.  Whew!  Either I am totally done or I have a few years to rest between D1 and D2.  Only time will tell.

And after all the craziness of the week, I was relieved to sit down to a refreshing meal this weekend.  I prepped the chicken early in the day so it would be nice and cold by dinner.  If I was smarter, I would've made this LAST weekend to serve during the week.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1-1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
     1 tbsp vegetable oil
     2 Japanese cucumbers, sliced thin on bias
     1/2 c chicken broth
     1" piece ginger, grated
     1 clove garlic, grated
     3 1/2 tsp sugar, divided
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp chili oil
     2 tsp salt
     2 tbsp rice vinegar
     1 tbsp mirin

Place chicken in a pot with water to cover.  Remove chicken and bring water to a boil.  When water is at a rolling boil, add chicken and immerse for 1 minute.  Remove chicken and rinse under cold water.  Bring water to a boil again.  Place chicken back in pot.  When water returns to a boil, cover pot and turn off heat.  Let stand 30 minutes.  Bring pot to a boil again.  Turn off heat, cover and let stand 1 hour.  Remove chicken.  Place in a ziploc bag with vegetable oil.  Rub chicken to coat with oil.  Store in refrigerator.  This can be done ahead of time.  In a small pot, combine chicken broth, ginger, garlic, 1/2 tsp sugar, and shoyu.  Bring sauce to a boil and simmer until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and add chili oil.  Set aside sauce to cool.  Sprinkle cucumbers with salt, let sit for 5 minutes, rinse, drain, and pat dry.  Combine rice, vinegar, mirin, and 3 tsp sugar.  Pour over cucumbers.  Set aside.  Slice cold chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Arrange chicken in center of platter.  Garnish with seasoned cucumbers.  Pour cooled sauce over chicken.

*this dish has multiple names:  ban ban ji, pang pang chicken, bon bon chicken

Monday, April 20, 2015

Toaster Oven Food: Fresh Strawberry Pie

Late in 2014, KikukatMom and KikukatDad adopted Tuffy and Missy, two kittens, likely litter mates, abandoned in Kalapana.  The kittens were picked up by the Hawaii Humane Society, and D1 and D2 thought they'd make the perfect Christmas gift for my parents.  Before I receive any hate mail and hostile words about giving pets as gifts, I need to make it clear that my parents WANTED a cat.  They were really sad when Oreo went M.I.A. after KikukatDad had the bright idea to leave him in Paradise Park with CAM while he went to Honolulu for a wedding.

KikukatDad said he wanted ONE cat. . .just in case Oreo found his way home, but the Ds were convinced that he would be okay with two, after all, when he got Oreo, he also got Mickey.  Needless to say, he wasn't thrilled when the Ds showed up with 2 kittens, although he had spent hours of the previous week in the pet aisle at Target, looking for kitty things.

Nevertheless, he grudgingly took both kittens in, saying how he was gonna kick them out in a month.  It's been nearly four months, and the kittens are still inside.  KikukatDad feeds the cats and does the litter thing.  He has also been buying different varieties of cat food to see which they like best.  He was amazed to hear that Tuffy was "trending" on The Help's photo blog, getting all kinds of "likes" from people all over the world.  In fact, KikukatDad even asked me to show him how to get the Target mobile coupon so he could get his discount on pet stuff.  He thought the Target pet supply coupon was a reason enough to get an iPhone.

Why all the fuss?  KikukatDad is a closet cat lover.  KikukatMom, not so much.  She grew up in a household which always had pets, and she thought of them as pests, not pets.  She is usually not the type to carry or pet the kittens, and you won't catch her scooping litter either.  So it came as a small shock last week when I got a frantic call from KikukatMom.

KM:  "I think something is wrong with Tuffy.  I think he is sick."

K:  "Why?"

KM:  "He hasn't been himself.  He doesn't want to play with his sister.  All he wants to do is sit on my lap.  He comes by me and wants me to carry him."

K:  "Maybe he just likes you."

KM:  "Hmmm.  I didn't think about that."

Thankfully, Tuffy returned to his normal, bubbly self within 24 hours.  I went over to visit on Tuesday, and Tuffy greeted me by asking for a tummy rub.  Missy was AWOL for most of the time, but she managed to come swaggering through the living room on her way to the food dish.  While Tuffy is fat, Missy is obese.  She has a cute, tiny face, which appears even tinier because her belly is huge.  She waddles when she walks.  D2 was not kidding when she said she tried to carry her but couldn't because her belly kept sinking down.  KikukatDad said he might need to start feeding them less.  He should've started that 3 months ago!

When I see kittens like Missy and Tuffy. . .chubby, happy, secure. . .it makes me happy.  I'm certain they were starving when they were picked up.  Now, they don't need to worry about their next meal.  All they need to be concerned about is avoiding the leftover cans of Science Diet which KikukatDad received from a friend.  KikukatDad said Science Diet must taste awful.

Speaking of tasting awful, The Help picked up fried chicken for dinner from the Waiakea Sack N Save (Foodland), and it was horrible.  Sack N Save is known in East Hawaii for having outstanding fried chicken thighs.  I'm not a fan of dark meat, but I will eat the Sack N Save thighs because it's fried crispy, "okazuya style", as 3M says.  Anyway, the recent batch of fried chicken just wasn't the same.  On a whim, I asked 3M if she picked up recently.  She had!  Then she launched into how it wasn't the same.  Apparently, the Waiakea Sack N Save has some kind of issue with their hot case.  Both 3M and The Help said the interior condensation was spectacular.  It was nearly impossible to see through the condensation to make out the signs by the dishes.  I hope they get it fixed soon.

Traumatized by the soggy, gummy fried chicken, I had to make something to lift my spirits.  On my last Costco run, strawberries were nice and inexpensive so I picked up a tray to share with the Ds.  They enjoy eating strawberries plain, but I need the berries adorned in some way.  They are too sour on their own...the strawberries, not the Ds, although they cross the sour line occasionally.   

Anyway, I ended up making a small strawberry pie with the strawberries left after the D-tornado went through them.  This size was just right for me and The Help, since he was willing to sneak in a small piece during "dessert time".  It was a perfect size for the fridge too, as refrigerator real estate was precious...a 5-dozen pack of eggs takes up a lot of room!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Crust:  1 c flour
            2 tbsp sugar
            1/2 c butter

Combine flour, sugar, and butter until crumbly.  Press evenly into a 9" x 9" or 7" x 11" pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes ( 7" x 11") or 11 minutes (9" x 9").  Cool before placing strawberries on crust.

Filling:  1 3/4 c water
              2 tbsp cornstarch
              3/4 c sugar
              1 box (3 oz) strawberry jello
              1 tsp vanilla
              1 lb basket fresh strawberries

In a saucepan, combine water, cornstarch, and sugar.  Cook, stirring constantly, on high heat until clear and thick (7-10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add jello and vanilla.  Stir until jello is dissolved.  Cool.  Wash, hull, and cut each strawberry into 3-5 pieces.  Spread evenly over cooled crust.  Pour cooled jello mixture over strawberries.  Chill at least 3 hours before serving.  Cut into squares and top with whipped cream if desired.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pastel Purple Potato Salad

This past week was Merrie Monarch Festival week.  I didn't do much to celebrate the annual festival, and I was away for part of the time anyway (work trip to Honolulu).  Once again, I missed my favorite event (Friday's hula kahiko competition).

In addition to the Merrie Monarch festivities, the Hilo High School gymnasium dedication was this weekend.  I wasn't going to attend, but the boss asked The Help to help him (the governor was coming), and The Help graciously obliged.  The Help likes my boss and does not mind lending a hand for him.  While The Help busied himself with the honorable governor, I tried to look busy.  I ran into a former coworker who made some remark about me pretending to work.  Ummmm, yeahhhhh, but at least I know how to teach kids and I'm not afraid to be in a classroom.  Take that, ya old bag!

For the most part, with the exception of the gym dedication, I tried to stay away from places where crowds gather.  I hate crowds.  It drives me berserk to get shoved and elbowed.  I even sought refuge in Kona, making a late Saturday run to Costco.

My drive to Costco was really not for frivolous purposes.  I was in need of a vacuum to replace my near-paralyzed Dyson.  D1 has been especially pissy lately about the house being messy.  I've been trying to keep the floors in the great room clean, but that was impossible to do with the Dyson I had. I ended up buying a small ball Dyson, which was roughly $200 less than the larger ball model.  I tried it out when I got home, and shit, it FEELS $200 less good than what I'd imagine the larger ball model to feel like.  Oh well, The Help said that it does work, which is 95% better than my old vacuum.

One thing I really wanted to do this week was make a stop at the Hawaiian food truck run by the Hawaiian church group.  I never had the chance.  By the time I got my act together to go, they had dismantled their site.  I guess I will need to wait a whole year to eat their food.

There is one downside to the Hawaiian food truck.  They do not automatically give a portion of potato salad with their plates.  I think you can order a side of it, but it does not come standard.  I know potato salad is not traditional Hawaiian food, but it goes great with kalua pig and lau lau.  Since I missed out on the Hawaiian food last week, I'm going to make sure dinner this week includes some type of Hawaiian food.  Of course, if you come over for dinner, you can count on having this yummy and pretty potato salad as an accompaniment for your meal!

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Pastel Purple Potato Salad

     3 lbs russet potatoes
     1 lb purple sweet potatoes
     3/4-1 c bacon bits
     2 tbsp minced parsley
     salt to taste

Boil potatoes.  Peel and cut into 1/2" pieces while still hot.  When completely cool, combine with remaining ingredients.  Season to taste.  Chill until ready to serve.

Beneath the tropic skies of Hilo. . .

                                                              . . .loyalty and honor shall forever be thine.

April 11, 2015
Hilo High School Gymnasium Dedication

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cookie Jar: Crunchy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm here.  I made it.

Prom #1:  Glad it's over.

Prom #2:  Glad it's over.

Takenoko Sushi:  When is the next time?

Prom #1 was a headache and a half.  For many of the students, this was their first formal dance, and since a dinner was provided, it became apparent early on that not all high school juniors have a grasp on proper table manners.  Last weekend, my cousin asked me, "do they know how to dine?".  Now I can officially answer her, "NO".  They have a year to prepare themselves for the senior prom, and if they plan to have prime rib, then the learning curve will be steep.

My main objective was to keep the students safe and contained within the facility.  I'm always amazed at how students look forward to these things, yet the moment they arrive, they want to "go".  And while they are in line, they can't wait to get in, but before the event is over, they are lining up by the door, ready to go.  Amazing.  I'm thankful that everyone who went to the venue also left safely.  We lost nobody along the way.

Prom #2 was D1's last high school prom (as a host).  Bittersweet.  I'm not sure what time she and her friends (2 spent the night) rolled in.  According to The Help, they went for a swim at 3 am.  The water must've been freezing!

We celebrated Uncle Edz' belated birthday at Takenoko Sushi.  The food was delicious.  Upon the advice of a coworker,  Uncle Edz ordered the lobster miso soup.  There was half a lobster floating in the bowl.  Talk about decadent.  The Hamakua mushroom appetizer was also good.  Uncle Edz went the no-fail omakase route, substituting something else for the uni.  I had one of the mini bowls and the baked avocado/crab/scallop.  That was tasty, but its probably not something I'd order again.  You really need to like avocado!  I'm not sure when I'll be lucky enough to get back to Takenoko Sushi again.  What blew my mind was that there was a high school couple sitting next to us at the sushi bar.  They kept ordering things, and I'm sure their bill wasn't much less than mine.  How do these kids do it?

This is the start of another busy week.  A two-day workshop means I'm out of the classroom for two days.  I don't mind learning things at these workshops, but I don't like making substitute plans.  What a pain!  And this workshop requires traveling.  I am so not looking forward to getting up early to catch a plane, only to arrive at the workshop ready to nap.  I thought my days of these early morning flights were behind me.  I'm getting too old for this!

In preparation for the boring workshop ahead of me, I spent a few hours yesterday in the kitchen.  I baked a batch of these cookies.  I will sneak them in to the workshop so I will have something to do. . .eat instead of sleep.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Crunchy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1 c sugar
     1 egg
     3/4 c flour
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 c quick oats
     6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
     1/2 c pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add to creamed mixture.  Stir in oats, chocolate and nuts until just combined.  Using a #60 disher (about 2 teaspoons), drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Allow to remain on baking sheet for 3 minutes after removing from oven.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

love the hand face
D1's last prom (as the host). . .it's been fun. . .the seemingly endless stream of girls coming over to test makeup and hair. . .the seemingly endless stream of girls coming over to get ready for the big night. . .cars all over the driveway. . .bags and bags of chips. . .the aroma of hairspray (I think the hairs in my nose were stiff from all the particulate matter in the air). . .

This year, several of the girls were picked up by their dates at my home.  It was a treat to see them all dressed up.  The plan was for us to get a few shots of them outside, then they planned to head down to the park to take pics with another group of friends.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperative anywhere in Hilo, and a frantic D1 asked if The Help could set up a backdrop and lights in the living room.  Talk about rush job!  The Help and I set up everything in record time, and within an hour, The Help was snapping away.  I will definitely miss these moments (the squeeze-ass-assemble-photographic-equipment-quickly-moments notwithstanding).
I PROMise I won't cry

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baked Crab Sushi

It was nice to have a holiday last week.  And it will be nice to have a holiday later this week.  I'm grateful for holidays which occur soon after a long vacation.  It makes it easier to re-adjust to the work week.

By this time next week, I will be done with two proms (only one to go!) and a sushi feast at Takenoko Sushi.

I am sooo looking forward to going to Takenoko Sushi.  I've been there several times, and each time, the food has been absolutely delicious.  I had the omakase (chef's choice) several times, and while I got to eat stuff I wouldn't usually order, there were other items on the menu which sounded good but weren't included in the omakase offering.  On my most recent visit, I tried the salmon skin salad.  It was different from the version I'm used to (Hayama Japanese Restaurant), but it was really good too.  They also happened to have mirugai (geoduck clam) that day.  I'm not sure what I will have this time.

Meanwhile, I still need to get through the 2 proms in order to get my sushi reward.  I'm amazed I still have $ left to enjoy a sushi lunch.  Proms cost a lot.  Bids (for a couple) are easily over $100.  Then there are flowers to buy.  Most proms include a dinner, but I'm sure there is some feasting which occurs after the prom...late night snack at Kuhio Grille or Ken's. 

As a teaser for my upcoming Takenoko Sushi trip, I'm going to make baked crab sushi sometime this week.  Of course, I'll substitute shredded kamaboko (pink & white fishcake) for the imitation crab so D1 can eat it.  And since we are playing nicely with The Help, I will use a portion (less than half) of brown rice so he will feel better about having a few pieces.

Baked crab sushi, has become a very popular potluck dish recently.  Its easy to take to parties and can easily be doubled (use a 9 x 13" pan) for larger gatherings.  Using the small, pre-cut Korean nori (seaweed) makes it even easier to serve (no need to cut the nori).

Many variations of this recipe can be found, some of which only contain mayonnaise (no sour cream).  I find the sour cream helpful in mitigating the oiliness of straight mayonnaise.  The Ds aren't big fans of shiitake mushrooms (I'm not sure I am either), so I just use a little or leave it out entirely.  We all enjoy the surprising crunch of tobikko (flying fish roe). 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c rice (rice cooker measure), cooked
     2 tbsp furikake
     1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked, squeezed and chopped fine
     1 pkg (10-13 oz) imitation crab or kamaboko, shredded and/or chopped
     2 tbsp tobikko
     1/2 c mayonnaise
     1/2 c sour cream
     Korean seaweed pieces

Combine shiitake mushroom, imitation crab, tobikko, mayonnaise, and sour cream.  Set aside.  Firmly press cooked rice into a square (8 x 8" or 9 x 9") baking pan.  Sprinkle furikake all over surface of rice.  Spread crab mixture evenly over furikake.  Broil until top is lightly brown.  Serve small portions of rice and topping in Korean seaweed sheets.

A year ago (Monday, March 24, 2014), I congratulated my friend CT for making the jump over to the dark side of town.  I knew the students would love her and she would be amazed at the amount she saved on gasoline.  This year, I am congratulating her again.  In a few short months, she will be starting another chapter.  Welcome, and really, what took you so long!?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sponge Drops

Today finds me heading back to work after nearly a week off (I worked on Monday).  I'm certain that by the time this workday is over, I will know exactly how many more slave days until summer vacation.  I always post a countdown in my room. . .one figure for most students, and the other, smaller figure, for the seniors.

This will be the first time in many years where the seniors are in school beyond Memorial Day.  For the rest of us, summer gets underway hella late!

By the end of today, at least one of my friends will be looking towards a change of work site for the next school year.  A few others won't know until later this week if they have tickets outta Dodge yet.  Choose wisely, young grasshoppers.   Actually, changing work site is truly exciting.  Best wishes to all.

While today marks the beginning of the 4th quarter, there is still much to be done.  I have another workshop to attend in Honolulu, as well as a workshop to give here.  I need to get through the Junior Prom (as an adult).  I also need to see D1 through two proms (as a parent only, since I am completely banned from attending one of them).  And that brings me to another thing on my mommy to-do list:  get D1 to commit to a college.  Is it important to go somewhere with low brand cachet but willing to offer a HUGE financial aid package?  Or is it more important to go to a school more respected for academics but very low in athletic team post-season March Madness/Big Dance/Bowl?  Does a school's performance in NCAA Division 1 athletics make a difference?  What about ease of the school in close proximity to an airport with direct flights from Hawaii?  Lots to think about, lots to weigh and ponder, lots of money to dish out!

While I'm waiting for D1 to make a decision, I think I will have a sponge drop.  I need one.  Maybe I need two.  Eating sweet things makes me feel happy.

As I mentioned in last week's post, I've been trying to support The Help's healthier eating effort by reducing the amount of desserts and sweets I make, but after dealing with D2 and her friends during the break last week, I broke down and decided it was time to save myself.  I made a batch of these sponge drops as a reward for surviving sleepover night and not smacking anyone across the head (including those 2 bratty kids who sat in the booth behind me in McDonalds and jumped on their seats while their lazy-ass parents sat away from them and pretended they didn't notice).

I first tasted sponge drops at a party in the early 80s.  I thought I was eating 2 'nilla wafers sandwiched together with whipped cream, but when I tried to do this at home, it didn't taste the same.  It wasn't until years later I realized the treat I had eaten was sponge drops

Normally, I don't enjoy a soft cookie, but sponge drops are different.  While they look like cookies, they are NOT cookies.  They are, as the name implies, soft and spongy.  They get even softer when the filling gets put between two of them.  And don't be afraid to be generous with the filling.  Any extra filling can be used as a topping for sliced strawberries or other tart fruit.  If you are like me, you will enjoy the filling on a big spoon too!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c flour
     1/2 tsp cream of tartar
     1/4 tsp baking soda
     3 eggs
     1 c sugar
     1/2 tsp vanilla
     1 tbsp powdered sugar
     1/2 c heavy whipping cream
     2 oz cream cheese, optional

Stir together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and sugar.  Add flour mixture and stir until well combined.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a small (#70) disher, drop rounded scoops of batter onto parchment in a 4 x 5 array.  Bake 7 minutes.  Let cool 3-4 minutes on sheet before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Make filling when cookies are cool.  Combine vanilla, powdered sugar and whipping cream (if using cream cheese, add it now and add another tbsp of powdered sugar).  Whip with an electric mixer until thick and stiff.  Spread on underside of a cookie, and top with another cookie (underside touching filling).  Chill in a single layer in an airtight container (may separate layers with plastic wrap).