kruizing with kikukat

Monday, October 29, 2018

Prepping for the Holidays: Ice Cream Cookies

Back in June 2016, I prematurely posted a recipe and pics for Ice Cream Cookies.  It was an accidental post, as I had not been totally aware of the posting dates.  My mother was in and out of the hospital, and I was not dealing well with everything.  Several months later, I realized what had posted while my mind was in the fog.  Rather than removing those posts, I have kept them on the site.  I think they are a reminder of a rough time as well as an accurate reflection of what was going on.

Anyway, back to the cookies.  My post wasn't complete because I meant to post two different methods for baking the cookies.  My friend LAMN's mom, baked these cookies in the way specified in the original post (she used a fork to flatten the dough).  She did not chill the dough prior to baking.  I have not come across her method in the plethora of cookbooks which contain this recipe (ingredients only).

Most cookbooks containing a version of this recipe have only vague instructions for the refrigerator method.  Some even give a range of oven temperatures!  I have not come across any recipe which gave specific instructions for forming the logs prior to chilling.  This was bothersome because I usually resort to the refrigerator method, especially if I'm baking on weekends.

Don't get me wrong.  If I have willing help available, I prefer the method LAMN's mom uses since it doesn't require refrigerator space.  But if I am doing all the work, then I usually resort to the refrigerator method since it gives me more control over the time/process. 

Whenever I bake refrigerated cookies (slice and bake), I use an acrylic double Spam musubi mold (8" long), at right, to shape the dough.  To make work easier, use plastic wrap under the mold to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface.  And always use a piece of plastic wrap between the dough and the plunger.  Ask me how I know.  For this particular recipe, it's not necessary to refrigerate the dough prior to shaping; other recipes may require chilling the dough for a short time before pressing it into the Spam musubi mold.  Do not be tempted to use any of the non-stick molds.  The plunger needs to fit snugly in the lower portion.

With either method, I vary the sprinkles to suit whatever holiday is near.  Because Halloween is a few days away, I used black and orange sprinkles.  I will be sharing these cookies with a few of my favorite work boys.  TheKeeper gave me for farm-fresh eggs.  Nakaz signed D2 up for the NAU mailing list, and UncleScott has been most generous with fish for my family.

The recipe below does not contain a typographical error.  I did NOT forget to list ice cream as an ingredient.  Cookbooks from Hawaii call like-ingredient recipes for this "Ice Cream Cookies", hence the title of this post.  I grew up calling this "Ice Cream Cookies".  I have seen similar-ingredient recipes from outside of Hawaii, and it's often called "Refrigerator Cookies" and, sometimes, "Ice Box Cookies".  I have no idea why Hawaii cookbooks call this "Ice Cream Cookies".  It contains no ice cream and would make a sad and wimpy ice cream sandwich.  I remember KikukatMom telling me these cookies go well with ice cream.  And, once again, mother knows best.  She is right.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb butter, softened
     2 c sugar
     1 tbsp vanilla
     1 egg
     5 c flour
     assorted sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add vanilla and egg.  Add flour, one cup at a time, until all incorporated.  Proceed using one of the following methods:
LAMN's mom: Using a #60 disher (a little less than a tablespoon), scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (a flat cookie sheet can accommodate 20-23 cookies).  Flatten to 1/4" thickness with the bottom of a drinking glass (use parchment paper between dough and glass) or a form (LAMN's mom's tool of choice).  Add sprinkles to tops of cookies.  Bake for 13 minutes, rotating cookie sheet once.  Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  For slightly larger cookies, use a #50 disher and bake for 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheet once. 
Kikukat's refrigerator method:  Divide dough into 4 portions and shape each portion into an 8" log.  I use a double Spam musubi mold (plain acrylic; not any of the non-stick ones) to shape the dough into a nice rectangular log.  Lay down a sheet of plastic wrap, place mold atop plastic wrap.  Fill mold with portioned dough.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of dough.  Use plunger to compact dough into mold.  Slide mold off and wrap in plastic wrap (bottom).  Chill for at least 5 hours.  Slice 1/4" thick and place on cookie sheet (20 on a large sheet).  Add sprinkles if desired.  Press down gently to set sprinkles.  Bake for 13 minutes, rotating cookie sheet once.  Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  Makes 10 dozen cookies.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Jougai Ichiba

Our first full day back in Sapporo was filled with eating.  The Keeper suggested we go back to Jougai Ichiba (Sapporo Curb Market) for breakfast.






We tried a different place, and, like last year, we were not disappointed.  The kitamae don (pictured at left) was worth repeating from last year.





On our way to the restaurant, I noticed a bunch of shops selling vaccuum-packed potatoes in butter.  I was intrigued so I ordered it alongside the kitamae don.  The lone potato arrived piping hot with a thick slab of butter.  There was also a thin crust of salt flakes on the skin.  Not expecting much, I took a bite.  Nothing could have prepared me for the taste.  The potato, which looked like a russet, was sweet and creamy.  I shared some with the others, and they agreed that it was not like the russets we have here. 





TheKeeper ordered some otoro sashimi and generously shared some with me.  This was the first time having otoro for me, as I don't think I tried any at Ohiso last year.  Oh my!  The fish melted like butter in my mouth.  The 5 pieces of otoro cost nearly 3000yen!







Nakaz and DHS somehow managed to each finish off a huge piece of grilled atka mackerel.


 I was happy to find reasonably-priced (now it really didn't matter because I would've bought them anyway) shine muscats.  Another taste worth repeating!



















Sapporo Bier Garten 

A trip to Sapporo would not be complete without a meal at Sapporo Bier Garten.

The grilled lamb was so tasty and juicy, and this year, they seemed more generous with the portions of pumpkin.


Of course, an added bonus for me is the bottomless glass of melon soda!

I was also able to replace the t-shirt I got for TheHelp last year.  The "large" I got him shrank to a "small" after washing!

When I went to bed that night, I was grateful for a few things.  I did not feel the earthquake the previous night; TheKeeper said the walls of the hotel were shaking and creaking (he was down the hall from me).  And I was even more grateful for being invited back to Japan with TheKeeper. . .even though he seemed to take great pleasure in watching me stammer and stutter and use some obscene hand motions while trying to buy a new camera strap.







Monday, October 22, 2018

Clam Rice

I was lucky enough to make another trip to Japan with TheKeeper.  And what made it even sweeter was that we went back to Hokkaido.  I love Hokkaido.  Of course, I need to make it clear that I have only been to Hokkaido in autumn, so perhaps I would not love Hokkaido during January or February. 

TheKeeper enjoys staying at branches of a moderate hotel chain, Toyoko Inn.  The hotel website promises clean and comfortable rooms at reasonable rates.  This time we stayed at a different branch from last year, and again, the service was great.  This place was even closer to the Sapporo main station, and it was surrounded by multiple 7-11s, Lawsons, and SeicoMarts!

One thing I really enjoy about this particular chain is the free breakfast.  Of course anything free is great, but more than the $, I really enjoy the food.  This year, the food was a little different that what was offered at the hotel last year.  We spent 5 nights at the hotel (read=5 breakfasts), and not one time did I see any kind of sausage as a breakfast meat.  The featured breakfast meat was meatballs.  The meatballs looked like they were swimming in a reddish-brown sauce which I assume was some kine of bbq sauce.  Not being much of a fan of the combination, I chose to bypass that selection.

On several days, the breakfast buffet line featured a green bean dish.  DHS and I loved it and swore to try recreating the dish when we got home.  I have yet to actually try a recipe for it, but it's on my short list of things I must cook soon. 

My favorite part of the buffet is the assortment of starches.  Every morning, there were at least 4 different starches, actually more if you include the different breads.  I am not usually a big rice eater, but I really enjoyed all the mixed rice selections.  Some days the rice was made into musubi (triangular onigiri?) and other days, it was just mounded in a large dish. 

A few weeks before I went to Japan, I actually made a delicious mixed rice dish.  I served it from a large dish, but I think it would be equally scrumptious pressed into shapes. . .or even used for the rice portion in a Spam musubi.
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 can (6 oz) kogai ajitsuke (seasoned clams), drained, juice reserved
     1/2 c bamboo shoots, slivered
     4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water and slivered
     1/2 c slivered carrots
     1/2 c soybeans, thawed if frozen
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp mirin
     1 tsp salt
     1 packet (about 1 tbsp) dashi-no-moto
     3 c (rice cooker cups) rice, prepared as usual

Add reserved clam juice, salt, and dashi-no-moto to rice and water.  Let stand for 20 minutes then cook as usual.  Cook shiitake mushrooms with shoyu, sugar, and mirin.  Add carrots and bamboo shoots.  Cook until carrots are soft.  Add soybeans and clams.  Remove from heat.  When rice is done, toss clam mixture with rice.

We arrived in Japan on Sunday, October 7, although it was around noon on Saturday, October, 6, when we left Hawaii.  For some reason, it felt like we arrived earlier than we did last year, as restaurants were still open for dinner.  We were lucky enough to go to our favorite tonkatsu restaurant, Tonkatsu Wako.









Monday, October 1, 2018

Oyako Donburi

One more week of work until fall break.  Five days.  I just need to hold on.  I have a ton of things which need to be done before the week is over.

The weather here has been record-setting hot and extremely humid.  I have been drinking at least one can of Diet Coke every day.  And it's not just because I like Diet Coke; it's because the contents of my Yeti are gone by the afternoon.

Given the weather, perhaps this is not the best thing for dinner, but I've been so lucky to receive fresh eggs from TheKeeper.  TheKeeper has several chicken varieties, and I have learned to distinguish each breed's eggs.  I'm quite proud of this feat, considering the fact that I have not had much experience with chickens. My favorite eggs are from the Whiting True Blue.  The eggs are a beautiful blue color.

I am not sure if I will get to make oyako donburi this week.  Although I have good quality eggs on hand, the days are just too hot to appreciate a hot rice dish.  On the flip side, D1 is getting swamped and stormed upon (thanks, Rosa) so she might be able to enjoy this in the air-conditioned comfort of her building.  And D1, if you're reading this, it won't taste the same if you don't cut the carrots into flower shapes!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 tbsp oil
     1/2-3/4 lb chicken (about 1 1/2 c), cut in slivers
     1 c chicken broth
     4 tbsp shoyu
     2 tbsp sugar
     5 eggs, beaten
     1/2 tsp salt
     2 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked and sliced thin
     1/4 medium sweet onion, julienned
     green onion, chopped
     1 carrot, julienned or cut into flower shapes
     nori (dried seaweed sheet), slivered

Heat oil.  Saute chicken and sweet onion.  Drain.  Add chicken broth and simmer.  Add carrots and shiitake mushrooms.  Simmer.  Add shoyu, sugar, and salt.  Pour eggs over chicken and cook over low heat until eggs are coddled.  Do not stir.  Serve over hot rice.  Sprinkle nori on top just before serving.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Toaster Oven Food: Buttery Pan Biscuits

I think we are finally drying out.  We were supposed to be pummeled by another storm, Olivia, but we (most of the Big Island) were lucky enough to emerge virtually unscathed.  I was also relieved to hear that D1's bf's family on Maui also made it through the storm okay.  I am eagerly awaiting the end of this hurricane season.

The storms disrupted work flow.  I was scheduled to attend a 2-day training, but the training had to be postponed.  I also needed to sort out my pacing guide, as missing work due to training, compounded with the storm days, meant altering my lessons.

In spite of the multiple storms (Lane, Miriam, Norman and Olivia), TheHelp and I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Honolulu to see the eye doc. The trip occurred somewhere during those few days of rest between Norman and worrying about Olivia.

Since this past weekend was the first somewhat-typical weekend I've had in weeks, I decided to make us something good for breakfast...I was already in the baking mood since D2 voluntold me to make lemon bars for a Japan Club concession.

These biscuits are not your typical biscuits.  They are sweet and buttery and can be eaten out of the pan without any additional accompaniment.  They are quick to throw together, and most people have these common ingredients on hand.  Because they are portioned prior to baking, they are true pull-apart biscuits and do not need to be cut.  I find it easier to use a disher rather than my hands to portion the dough into golf-ball sized balls, but if you don't mind touching sticky dough, then there's no need to get a disher dirty.  My favorite part is not having to grease the pan (I always dread that part!).
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3/4 c butter
     2 c Bisquick
     1/3 c sugar
     1/3 c milk
     1 egg
     1/3-1/2 c flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using a dark, non-stick pan).  Place butter into 8" square pan.  Place pan in preheating oven and leave in oven just until butter melts.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Whisk Bisquick and sugar.  Make a well and add milk and egg.  Mix well.  Using a #50 disher (goal is golf-ball sized portions), scoop dough and drop into flour.  Turn to coat.  Dust off excess flour and place dough atop melted butter in pan.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool pan on a wire rack until cool enough to eat.  Makes 12 biscuits.  Although I have never tried this, recipe can supposedly be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13" pan.

As I mentioned above, TheHelp and I took a short trip to Honolulu.  What was unusual was that we did not go to our usual eating places.  All meals were taken at new-to-me places.

We had breakfast at Bogart's Cafe.  This was completely by accident, as TheHelp was actually trying to go to Cafe Morey's.  We used the Bogart's parking lot to spin around to do another pass at Cafe Morey's, but decided to that the parking availability there as a sign to patronize one of the businesses.  We chose Bogart's because the only other place looked like they only did acai bowls.  Bogart's turned out to be really good.  I had their loco moco, which was thinly sliced ribeye (not the usual burger) with a rich port gravy.

After my appointments were over, we headed to Piggy Smalls for lunch.  I had not summer rolls, which was assorted chopped veggies tossed in a sweet-spicy peanut dressing.  Instead of being wrapped in rice paper, the veggies are meant to be eaten in endive cups.

For dinner, MamaHelp treated us to a fine meal at the Signature Prime Steak and Seafood.  It was THE best steak I have ever had.  Since it was dark, I wasn't able to get a picture of the steak, but I did manage to get a picture of the dining area.  I had not been to this place for over 25 years (when it was called Nicholas Nickolas).   I hope I can go back to the Signature another time to try the seafood...I would prefer NOT to wait another 25+ years before I go back again.


Monday, August 27, 2018

IP Food: Cheesecake

OMG!

Hurricane Lane was a doozy!  The amount of rain it dumped here was absolutely insane.  I can only imagine it will take weeks (maybe even months for some residents) for East Hawaii to recover from the flood damage.

My home is generally good during heavy rains.  Even though our foundation is a slab, it's built high enough and has fairly good drainage.  Unfortunately, part of my property borders a pasture which also shares a boundary with another lot.  Both property boundaries meet up along my fence, and both have contributed to headaches for me during heavy rains.  The runoff from the pasture is just disgusting, and somehow, during heavy storms, the pasture flows alongside my fence.  The other property owner is elderly and has done nothing to maintain the far reaches of her property, so the area along my fence is overgrown with weeds.  No doubt that these weeds and brush contributed to the backup of the drainage, which makes the pasture flow into my property even more.

Luckily, after the pic below was taken, TheHelp was able to figure out from where the gush of water from the pasture was entering, and he was able to put up a reasonable dike to minimize the pasture water flowing into the pool.  In addition to the outside water woes, this time TheHelp also had to crawl into my attic to fix 2 places in my roof where water was seeping into the wall.  I am hoping that there will be no lasting effects, as the water was draining out (I saw the water draining onto my patio and master bedroom sliding door area).  With the exception of the roof and the pasture, we managed to fare alright.

I was pleasantly surprised that we had power during the storm.  I was worried about having to deal with thawing food, not being able to do laundry, having to cook on the patio, and, the worst, having no internet.  And with a storm like Lane, there would have been no way for HELCO to get power back on until after the storm settled.

School was cancelled on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, and I was glad the decision to cancel was made early.  The decision-makers in the past, especially when I was in school as a student, had a tendency to wait for a long time before making the decision (in my older years, I've come realize that the decision-maker back then was just pathetic).  Having time off was nice, but like other "vacations", the time seems to just slip by.  I realized today that we will soon be entering September.

Even if school has been in session for close to a month, in my mind, it's still summer.  Anything August is summer.  And one of my favorite desserts to have during the summer (actually, I lie...anytime is good for this) is cheesecake.  Like D2, I cannot get enough of cheesecake.  My aunty in Seattle made THE BEST cheesecake.  I was lucky enough to eat it often when I lived in Seattle.  It was like AChar had an endless supply of cheesecake in her chest freezer in the basement.  It was a heavy, stick-to-your-ass kind of cheesecake.  And I loved every ass-sticking bite I had of it.

Of course, it was an old-fashioned cheesecake, baked in a springform pan.  Yes, baked.  I have baked a few cheesecakes, but recently, caught up in the Instant Pot craze, I experimented with making cheesecake in the Instant Pot.  I will be the first to admit, it's not even close to AChar's, and her cheesecake did not have a sour cream topping.  But it's fast and rather convenient.  No need to worry about the water bath and cracking.  And because the size is rather limited, it makes a cheesecake sized just right for a small family.

One of the popular cheesecakes for the Instant Pot is Cheesecake #17.  This recipe is not cheesecake #17.  In fact, this isn't anyone else's cheesecake.  This is MY cheesecake.  I came up with this formula because TheKeeper often blesses me with fresh eggs.  Unlike store eggs, TheKeeper's eggs come in various sizes, so that is why this recipe has a volume measurement for eggs.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     8 rectangular graham cracker sheets
     1 tbsp brown sugar
     2 tbsp butter, melted
     16 oz cream cheese, softened
     1/2 c sugar
     1 tbsp flour
     1 tsp lemon juice
     1/4 tsp vanilla
     7 1/2- 7 3/4 tbsp beaten eggs (a little less than 3 large eggs)
     1/2 c sour cream
     1 tbsp powdered sugar
   
Line bottom and sides of 7" springform pan with parchment paper.  Pulverize graham crackers into crumbs.  Add brown sugar.  Add butter.  Press into pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes.  Prepare filling.  Combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon juice and vanilla.  Add in eggs.  Pour over baked crust.  Add 1 1/2 c water to Instant Pot (IP) and place trivet in pot with arms folded.  Center a 20" aluminum foil sling on trivet.  Place springform pan on sling.  Set IP to Manual (high pressure) for 35 minutes.  Set valve to seal.  When cooking is done, use natural pressure release for 20 minutes.  Release any pressure left and open the lid, being careful not to drip water on surface of cheesecake.  Combine sour cream and powdered sugar.  Spread evenly on surface of cheesecake.  Chill cheesecake at least 12 hours prior to serving.

The bad weather brought by Hurricane Lane was perfect for one thing...knitting.  I finished one project, which is currently blocking.

Another project finished drying just before the storm actually hit.  This was a good thing because alpaca takes a while to dry (and is horrifically stinky when wet).
Pic was taken just one day before the pool picture earlier in the blog post



This is Keene by Alicia Plummer.  How can anyone resist such a cozy, snuggly turtle neck?

...and huge hugs and a big thank you to TheHelp for the new banner art...maybe I need a PhotoShop Elements upgrade.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Korean Lettuce Wraps

My summer vacation is officially over.  Actually, it's been over for more than two weeks.  The Hawaii school year seems to begin while most of the northern hemisphere is still enjoying the dog days of summer.

So once again, the dilemma of packing a lunch presents itself.  I really don't enjoy making sandwiches.  Seems like a lot of dishes for a mediocre output.  Leftovers are a better choice for me, and a great way to use up leftover barbecue (beef, chicken or, my favorite, pork) is to make lettuce wraps.  My last post, Korean spicy bbq pork, is what I normally use for lettuce wraps.

The Help remembers having lettuce wraps as a kid.  He said they did a simple one where they put rice and some shoyu on a lettuce leaf.  D1, before she was rat lung worm-phobic, couldn't get enough of the minced chicken lettuce wraps from Hilo Rice Noodle.  We would need to buy 2 orders...1 for her and the other one for the rest of us.

For the neatest lettuce wraps, use Manoa lettuce.  The leaves are soft enough to mold around the filling, but not so soft that it will disintegrate.  I've seen it described as a leafy, bibb-type lettuce.  It is readily available in supermarkets here, and I usually buy the hydroponically grown type sold in the giant plastic bubble (takes up lots of space in the vegetable bin).  If Manoa lettuce isn't available, a boston or bibb lettuce will work.  A leafy lettuce would also do fine.  I had The Keeper over for sake sipping and served lettuce wraps using organically-grown baby Romaine.  That worked out well, since the leaves were just the right size to hold a golf ball-size rice clump and some meat slivers.  But please don't use iceberg lettuce...that would be more appropriate for minced chicken.
What makes these lettuce wraps really tasty is the sauce.  I used to buy kochojun, until my friend's mom shared her sister's recipe for the homemade stuff.  It's infinitely better than the store-bought variety.  My dad even uses it to make his own taegu.  Of course, if you're not so ambitious and don't want tubs of kochojun in the fridge, buying it in small jars is the sensible alternative.  The sauce (you can see some of it on the rice in the pictures above and below) has some kochojun in it, and I think it adds a nice flavor to the wraps.  But my dad prefers to use straight kochojun.  He smears it on the lettuce leaf before adding the rice. 
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     Manoa lettuce, separated
     cooked rice
     strips of cooked, seasoned beef, pork, or chicken 
     3 oz shoyu
     1 tbsp kochojun (gochujang)
     1 1/2 tsp sugar
     1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
     chopped green onion

Combine all ingredients except lettuce, rice, and meat.  To eat, place rice and desired meat on lettuce leaf.  Spoon sauce over.  Wrap up and eat.
 
It's been a little over two years since my mom passed.  Although I still miss her dearly, I feel like some normalcy and routine have returned to my life.  I'm hoping to post more frequently since I'm cooking more now (I have another mouth to feed during the work week).  Over the past few years, I've become more adept at knitting, something which would have made KikukatMom proud.  While I will continue to share favorite recipes, I hope to also share my knitting triumphs, fails, WIPs and FOs.
    

Monday, July 30, 2018

Korean Spicy BBQ Pork

Gaaaah!  Today is my last day of vacation.  Talk about a real bummer.  I guess my total house cleaning will need to wait until my next break.  Oops...I won't be around for the next big break, so we can put off house cleaning until winter vacation.

I spent a good chunk of the summer working, but I really cannot grumble about that because I have a bunch of trips planned, and the extra $ will come in handy.

The Ds made it safely back from Russia and Japan; it was always in the back of my mind that they would be detained in Russia so I'm very relieved.  D1 also made it safely back to AZ.  She seems to be settled into her new digs, although she was splitting her time between both places so she could help clean the kitchen.  I was proud to hear that she was doing her part and sharing in the move-out cleaning duties, but then it hit me...how come she never offered to clean the kitchen here?

I did manage to take a trip to Oahu during my vacation for my cousin's wedding.  KikukatDad came along, and we were lucky enough to stay with UMiles in his new home.  When I grow up, that's the kind of place I want to have....huge kitchen, lots of storage, and tons of bathrooms!  It would have been nice to play with my youngest relative, Cody, but he was attending a wedding in Long Beach that weekend.  Cody isn't even eating solid food yet, but the kiddo has logged in more traveling miles than many adults I know!  UMiles deserves a huge shout out.  Not only did he chauffeur us around, but he took the hit from KikukatDad for all kinds of stuff.  He did it all with a smile (and sometimes a head shake).

My cousin's wedding was absolutely gorgeous.  The ceremony was at her picturesque home on the windward side.  They were married at the poolside gazebo which had been decorated with tulle and fresh flowers.  She must've been a good girl because the weather held up just long enough for Judge Sakamoto to marry them.  We toasted the newlyweds with flutes of Prosecco and sparkling cider.  Then the sky opened up.

Thankfully, the reception was at Ruth's Chris Steak House on the other side of the island, so we were able to escape from the rain.  I enjoyed the reception immensely, as we were given the luxury of selecting our entree.  I could not pass up the rib eye.  Of course, it was just too large for me to finish.  KikukatDad could not finish his rib eye either.  UMiles chose the fish option, as he had just regaled KikukatDad and me with tales of how beef/anything from the cow is bad for the health.

So with summer vacation over, I plan to mope a bit over the next few days/weeks.  It's just something I do every year.  My classroom is still not set up, and I have no desire to rush in to get everything set.  I'm hoping that the kind folks who took down my room at the ending of the school year kept everything in good order.

I will definitely miss the warm days, hanging out on the patio, the smell of food on a hibachi, and not having to worry about lesson plans and meetings.  In spite of my battle with GERD at the beginning of summer, I did do a lot of good eating (I just couldn't eat much).  The Help and I visited Shiono a few times.  They make a great salmon skin salad.  I was fortunate enough to be invited over to dinner by a coworker.  She and her husband made us (me and The Keeper) okonomiyaki.  Their version was much better than what I had in Japan.  They used a generous amount of bacon and poured some really good sake alongside.  Thanks to The Keeper, I got my bon dance andagi fix, and along with Nakaz and DHS we even managed to squeeze in an MKB brunch.

I did some pretty good cooking too.  We enjoyed Caprese salad several times, thanks to the thriving basil in the whiskey barrel garden.  The Help and KikukatDad enjoyed some grilled spicy pork.  Because the pork is marinated, it can be prepared in advance.  The pork I purchase for this is sliced "teriyaki" style, so somewhere between 1/8"-1/4". 
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 1/2 lb thin sliced pork (not paper thin!)
     1 tbsp grated ginger
     2 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp sesame seeds, ground
     1 tbsp sesame seed oil
     4 tbsp kochujang
     2 tbsp green onions, chopped
     4 cloves garlic, minced
     1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients except sliced pork.  Coat pork slices well and marinate at least 2 hours (overnight is best).  Grill pork slices.  Slice in strips to serve. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Easy Inarizushi

The Ds are still gone.  They have been gone nearly 2 weeks.  I am at the point where I've nearly forgotten their bickering, messiness(D2)/OCD(D1), and eye-rolling, and missing them a lot.  I'm hoping the weather will be settled by the time they get to Osaka.  Right now, they have probably crossed back into Japan waters.

And speaking of water. . .we have been seeing a lot of it (for this time of year)!  It's been so rainy.  Actually, no, the weather has just been fickle.  One minute it's sunny, then, in the blink of an eye, it's pouring.  There were even some violent thunderstorms and monsoon-like rains about 25 miles away in the area of the active lava.  According to the news, the thunderstorms are indeed related to the lava flow. 

Where was I?  Oh yeah...missing the Ds.  The animals here have also noticed the Ds are gone.  The cats make daily morning trip into their area of the house; even Rain seems to know D2 is not here.  Usually, Rain tries to breach the barstool barricade which D2 uses to prevent Rain from going into her bedroom.  Since she has been gone, Rain doesn't even go near the area.  The cats are both sleeping in my room at night, and that makes for some interesting jousting over bed real estate.  I'm glad Rain isn't part of the jousting.

I haven't received many texts from the Ds, but I'm attributing that to the limited availability of free WiFi in the area where they are traveling.  In a few days they will be back in the city, so I'm expecting to hear from them then.  I'm curious to know what they ate in Russia. 

Since they've been away, I have been able to plan meals better since I know the exact # of dinner eaters.  I also took the opportunity to make things I know they would not care to eat.  Neither D would touch inarizushi (cone sushi).  Neither TheHelp nor I have an explanation for this.  They both eat sushi (as in Genki Sushi or any other sushi place), so it cannot be the seasoned rice.  They also eat tofu/fried tofu.  I just don't get it.

Last week, on one of the scorching hot days (we had both hot days and cool, late-autumn-like days), I broiled some salmon belly strips to go with inarizushi.  While filling the sushi, I remembered how I would see the older ladies cooking the aburage (fried tofu) to prepare for sushi.  It was an elaborate process. . .taking hours to make, as it involved not just preparing the cones, but the filling required preparation as well.  I felt almost guilty, just ripping open a package of seasoned cones and, gasp, using an ice cream scoop to help portion the rice into the cones.

Inarizushi is an okazuya staple here.  No self-respecting lunch shop would dare NOT offer cone sushi!  And with the ease of preparation today, there is no excuse for not having it in the food case.  Most of the inarizushi served at okazuyas here are in the traditional cone shape.  You can find the pre-seasoned cone-shaped pouches in some of the supermarket here, but the oblong variety is easier to locate.  Some are shelf-stable, while other supermarkets keep their cones in the refrigerated area.

The picture on the left is the brand I usually buy at the local supermarket.  It contains 16 pouches.  Another brand has fewer pouches, but the 16 pouches can accommodate 2 cups of cooked rice, so it's convenient to make.  So far, all the brands of inari pouches I've tried have been tasty.  I have also tried the canned pouches, and they were very good too.  The pouches, no matter how they are sold, have instructions for making the rice.  At right are the directions from the back of the Misuzu brand package.  I have only a faint clue as to what it says to do (guessing from looking at the pictures), as I cannot read Japanese. 

After playing with a few different proportions, and taking KikukatDad's constructive criticism into consideration, I think I've come up with an easy way to make the rice filling.  The carrots are for color (KikukatDad once commented that HIS MOTHER would never have stuffed the cones with plain sushi rice),  especially if you are accustomed to a grandma making inarizushi.  It tastes perfectly fine without the carrots. The rice can also be cooked without the dashi konbu, but using it gives it a flavor profile which I find reminiscent of old-fashioned, grandma-type cooking. . .it just adds something. 

And if you are fortunate enough to find dashi konbu and add it, you might actually be able to hear your grandma scolding you for using the #16 disher to load the rice into the pouches!

clcck on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 pkg. pre-seasoned inarizushi pouches (Misuzu brand is 9.5 oz. and comes with 16 squares, divided into
          packs of 4).
     2 c raw white rice (rice cooker cups, not regular cups)
     water
     2-3 tbsp finely grated carrot
     1" square piece of dashi konbu (optional)
     3 tbsp rice vinegar
     2 tbsp sugar
     1/2 tsp salt

Wash rice and place in automatic rice cooker.  Fill water up to the 2 cup line.  Place carrots and dashi konbu on rice.  Cook rice.  Meanwhile, stir sugar and salt into rice vinegar until both are dissolved.  Set aside.  When rice is done cooking, remove dashi konbu.  Place rice in bowl and pour vinegar mixture over hot rice.  Stir gently to coat rice with vinegar mixture.  Stuff inarizushi pouches with about 1/4 c of seasoned rice.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Almond Panna Cotta

Since nearly the beginning of 2018, I have been suffering from shoulder pain.  What began as stiffness, which I attributed to sleeping funny, turned out to be the beginning of adhesive capsulitis, aka "frozen shoulder".  Over the course of 4 months, my shoulder when from slightly stiff to absolutely painful upon certain motions.  I have had surgeries, sprains, fractures, ischemic colitis, and a bunch of other painful things, but nothing compares to the pain from frozen shoulder.  Nothing.

While the pain didn't start off as all-consuming, it gradually caused a few lifestyle changes which really put a damper on comfort.  I had to resort to sleeping flat on my back; any degree of rotation caused pain, either from direct pressure on my shoulder or from my shoulder being unsupported.  At some point, I reached for the Aleve, but it wasn't very helpful.  I blame the combination of Aleve and sleeping flat on my back as the cause of my GERD.

So in addition to restricted movement/motion while I was awake, I had some difficulty eating, fearing the resulting heartburn and gas which followed.  As I mentioned before, sleep was out of the question.  This was my life for the second half of April and all of May.

MMM suggested that consuming yogurt might be soothing.  The Help had no problem going to the market and buying tons of one of my favorites.  My yogurt jag failed to remedy my stomach ills, but it did contribute to my growing war chest of cover-less, smallish glass jars.  A work friend, who also had an affinity for that brand of yogurt, and I talked about what we could possibly do with all of the jars.  We both thought it would be a shame to throw them out, as the jars were sturdy and cute.

On a hot day in May, I had D2 make jello for dessert, and she poured them into those jars since they were out on the counter already.  She stacked them in the fridge (our fridge real estate is always limited) since the bottom of the jar is larger than the top.  That's when it occurred to me that the jars would be perfect for panna cotta, a dessert I've enjoyed at Noodle Club and some other restaurants.  And being able to stack the jars meant I wouldn't need too much space in the fridge.

I tried a few different recipes, but some were too firm, and some did not set up adequately.  A few recipes also called for odd amounts of not-usually-in-my-fridge milk varieties.  After some trial and error, the recipe with this post is what turned out to be a good texture (to me).  Reduce or increase the amount of milk to get the texture you prefer.  Although this recipe is for almond panna cotta, there is a small amount of vanilla extract in the recipe.  I find that adding a bit of vanilla nicely softens the almond flavor, which can sometimes be very bold (think Chinese almond float).

Because cherries are now in season, I made a topping with fresh cherries (thank you Ds for pitting and halving all the cherries).  I hope The Help can come up with a summery drink using the cherry syrup.  Any type of fruit can be used as a topping.  I've had this at a restaurant with some lavender syrup and it was delicious.  I think chocolate lovers might enjoy it with a spoonful of Nutella.

Now that June is nearly over, my shoulder is almost back to normal, thanks to the MUA (manipulation under anesthesia) I underwent just after Memorial Day.  I am able to sleep on my side, my GERD is gone, and I can actually straighten my arm and lift it over my head.

Best of all, my MUA was done on Oahu, so I got to check out the Memorial Day sales at the Waikele Outlets and Nordstrom Rack. And the Rack just happened to be having a fabulous sale on boots.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c heavy cream
     1 c milk, divided
     1 envelope unflavored gelatin
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 tsp almond extract
     1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Soften gelatin in 1/2 c milk.  Heat heavy cream, remaining milk, and sugar, to just below boiling.  Stir in softened gelatin and milk.  Continue stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Remove frm heat and stir in extracts.  Pour into small containers.  Chill until set.  If not serving within 8 hours, cover each container to avoid drying out.  If serving unmolded, lightly grease containers prior to filling.  Serve with fruit or desired topping.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Fried Mahimahi

I guess summer is here.  The rain has tapered off, the termites come around, and I haven't had to turn on my electric blankie for over a week.

When the weather turns warm, I try to serve food that won't add much to the heat...more veggies...less rice...no "gravy" foods.  The warm weather is also perfect for outdoor eating and "build your own" foods like fish tacos.

For several years, I've been making breaded mahi (short for mahimahi).  Breaded mahi/fried mahi, is an okazuya staple.  Pieces of golden brown fillets line trays, waiting to be packed in a box lunch.  "Breaded" usually refers to the use of panko breadcrumbs.  The Ds and The Help enjoy mahi because it's easy to eat; no bones to pick out.  I like making fried mahi at home (maybe because The Help makes the absolute best tartar sauce).  I would post his recipe for tartar sauce, but I am certain he doesn't use a recipe.  Magically, it turns out delicious every time.

In spite of willingly consuming breaded mahi, The Help isn't normally much of a fish, rice, and Japanese pickles eater.  So it wasn't a huge surprise when he broke from the norm and used my breaded mahi in fish tacos.  I suppose the stars were all in the right place. . .we happened to have won bok, carrots, purple cabbage, tortillas, AND salsa, on hand.

Whether you have breaded mahi in a bento, with rice or in a taco, making it at home isn't too difficult.  The results are delicious and well worth the effort.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb mahimahi, thinly sliced
     1 tbsp sugar
     2 tbsp cornstarch
     1 tsp salt
     1 tbsp sake
     1/2 tsp curry powder
     1 tbsp shoyu
     1 egg, beaten
     1 1/2 c panko
     oil for frying

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, sake, curry powder and shoyu.  Add mahimahi and marinate for 1 hour.  Heat oil in a skillet.   Dip fish into beaten egg then roll in panko.  Fry until golden brown.
    
It seems like it's been a while since I went anywhere.  But a few weeks ago, I went to Honolulu to "fix" my shoulder.  A trip to Honolulu would not have been complete without visiting the newest (for now) member of my family, Cody.  Big congratulations go out to his parents, LA and Stason, and his beaming grandpa Miles.  Cody will have many rich years of listening to Grandpa Miles' stories about his youth, the dangers of going into Waikiki, and how he didn't enjoy napping while he was younger.

And we will forgive Stason for his ugly shirt.






Although I was in town for only an evening, I managed to get my dim sum fix.  We tried a new place called Yum Cha.  I was excited to see xiao long bao on the menu.  It was actually just okay, although this was the first place in Hawaii where I've actually had xiao long bao.  My previous experience has been limited to Din Tai Fung, so perhaps it's not a fair comparison.  The shrimp look funn was delicious.  Yum Cha is one of those places on Oahu where you can get the cute animal buns (I think the other place is Panda Dim Sum, a place I have yet to try).

The animal buns are dessert buns.  The piggies are filled with custard, and the doggies (sorry, no pic) have a black bean filling.  If you know me, then you know why there is no doggie bun pic.  I'm not a big fan of black bean.

The Help had to have his steamed char siu bao, and we also had an order of lo bok gao.  I managed to eat just one of the piggie buns because I could not leave without having my favorite, mango pudding.

For our only dinner,  it was a no-brainer.  We ended up at Tonkatsu Tamafuji.  I was smarter this time and ordered the white rice.  But next time, I think I will try the oyster and shrimp combo.  I don't think I need to eat the pork loin katsu again...not because it wasn't good, but it was just too heavy.

Since returning home, I've been putting a lot of time into my recovery.  In addition to physical therapy, I've been trying to stretch and do more at home.  While I am not back to normal yet, I can tell that I have made progress.  I can actually put on my own deodorant and wash my own hair.

While all this was happening, Kilauea volcano continued producing lava.  It is rather difficult to grasp the magnitude of changes which have occurred in the lower Puna area in the past 5 weeks.  I know of several people who had to evacuate, as well as others who have actually lost their homes.  D1 called me last week Thursday to tell me her long-time friend no longer has a home in Kapoho.  This is not a stranger.  This is someone who has spent time with our family over the years.  It's difficult to find words.

The Help allowed a friend to try out his Fuji, and he captured this amazing picture from his bedroom.   The foreground is bayfront (downtown Hilo).  The lava fountain (fissure 8) is about 20 miles away.
photo credit:  Nakaz42
And yesterday, I received an awesome gift from the valley of the sun. . .D1 returned! 😻