kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cinnamon Pretzels

Have we recovered from the holiday?  Maybe you have, but I haven't.  I'm not looking forward to the full-blown work day, although I am prepared to welcome the 2nd semester. 

My vacation was really not a relaxing time.  There was so much to be done.  Not only did it take half my vacation to wash the winter ball linens, but I seem to have been in the cooking cycle for the entire time.  I had a bunch of guests to prepare for...the old aunties for Christmas lunch and working palz for sake.  By the time that was over, I was making desserts for New Years Day AND preparing for another bunch for dinner.

The Old Aunties coming over for lunch on Christmas was not bad at all.  I made prime rib with a nice chunk of beef The Help found at Costco.  The working palz were fed a bunch of things, but I think they appreciated the potstickers and sauce.  They also enjoyed the miso salmon.  My fave part of the night (in addition to the company), was the sake.  The Keeper brought some good sake.  We weren't able to finish all the sake (plus another guest brought a bottle), so I shared some with my cousins on New Years Eve, after the crab lasagna dinner.  I don't think sake would pair well with crab lasagna!

I did get a special treat this vacation...I got to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her family for breakfast.  Michelle grew up and lives in Honolulu, but her hubby is from Hilo.  In a strange coincidence, his older sister is my high school classmate.  Small world!  The Old Aunties joined us, and Michelle got to ask them a bunch of questions about her grandfather (their brother).

In addition to the get-togethers, I was busy with projects.  I did a test knit for Kay Hopkins.  I knew when I agreed that the cardigan was not something I would wear, but I saw it as an opportunity to practice stranding.  I gave the cardigan to one of the Old Aunties for Christmas (whew...I managed to finish the cardigan in a week!).

I was not as successful with another cardigan (veronika) D1 requested.  I was hoping to finish it before she left, but with all that was happening (cooking, get-togethers, etc.) between Christmas and her leaving, I was not able to finish.

With the beginning of the 2nd semester tomorrow, I am grateful to be done with my advisorship (and the after-shit which accompanies the event...the washing of the linens).  The students I got to work with for the project were awesome, and they did a great job putting the event together.  On the final day of bid sales, I distributed Cinnamon Pretzels to the students who helped.  I made a few extra bags so I gave some to Ma (if you know, you know), which she consumed in lieu of lunch.

Although I would've enjoyed relaxing during the vacation, seeing friends and family was not a bad trade-off.  

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     18 oz pretzels (we like butter snaps or honey wheat twists)
     1/3 c butter
     1/4 c sugar
     3/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Place pretzels in a 9 x 13" pan.  Melt butter.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour over pretzels and toss gently to coat pretzels.  Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

 Otaru, Japan
October 11, 2017:  Day 3

We spent the 3rd day in Otaru.  Otaru was about a 45 minute train ride from Sapporo station.

In a way, Otaru reminds me of Lahaina, where much of what's to see is along one main street.

Otaru boasts a picturesque canal, which was probably vital to the main economic base of the town back in the "olden days". 

Before tackling the shops, we stopped at a small cafe to sample soft cream.  I got the 3-flavor variety...lavender, vanilla, and melon.  It was delicious, but I should have just had a gigantic cone of just the lavender.  A few of my friends bought the 7-flavor jumbo cone, but I knew I would not be able to finish that, lunch, and what I really HAD TO HAVE.

Today, Otaru is known for glassware.  A wise friend told me that the glass industry evolved from Otaru's past as a fishing village.  In the "olden days", fish net floats were made out of glass.  With more modern materials being used for floats, the glass industry switched their focus from fish floats to table ware.  Kitaichi Glass, a famous glass vendor, is based in Otaru.  Encouraged by The Keeper, I spent a shameless amount of $ on no-drip shoyu containers (KikukatDad requested at least 3 large dispensers) and hand-carved glass, one-of-a-kind sake cups.

I ended up having lunch at a place recommended by The Keeper.  He said it was where the tour bus and taxi DRIVERS dine with the locals.  I had a raw scallop and ikura don.  The ikura was perfectly seasoned, and all of this came on a bed of finely shredded egg.

But my real goal for the day was getting to LeTAO, a pastry shop reknown for creamy desserts.  Prior to my trip, I spent a good amount of time researching specialty food of the region.  Several guides mentioned the Double Fromage cheesecake and Bin de Fromage.  I had been talking about LeTAO to The Keeper weeks before we left Hawaii, so it was only fitting to enjoy the LeTAO experience with him.  I was worried about finding LeTAO, but it turned out that LeTAO is like Starbucks...there were several LeTAOs on that one main street! We ended up at a small LeTAO outpost where there was an open table and a bathroom.

Double Fromage is a luscious cheesecake-like layered creation.  This alone was worth the trip to Otaru.  I have never had anything like it before, and if anyone wants to try testing a copycat recipe for it, I'm in!  It IS available in Sapporo Station, but really, this experience wasn't about finding it in Sapporo. . .it was about having it where it was born. . .in Otaru.

And since I was at the shop, I really wanted to try the Bin de Fromage which was like the Double Fromage but in a cute miniature milk bottle.  I was too full to eat it then, but since it was available frozen in a 3-pack, I bought the 3-pack to share.   The frozen bottles kept nicely during the ride back to Sapporo.

A word of caution with the Bin de must be eaten all the way to the bottom of the bottle for the full taste experience.
After the Double Fromage, I had a gigantic square of kakimochi (The Keeper was sent to buy this for some friends in Hawaii) courtesy of DHS and a persimmon-filled daifuku from a small store on the way to the Otaru station.  Yet, I knew I still had to have dinner.

Because Otaru wasn't far from Sapporo, we returned to Sapporo at a decent hour.  Not everyone was hungry, so everyone went their own way.  I was hungry and thinking about going back to Tonkatsu Wako when I ran into The Keeper.  Turns out The Keeper was also looking for food.  We ended up at an unagi restaurant in the station, Miyagawa Honten.

It turns out that Miyagawa Honten is actually in the Daimaru department store at the station.  Apparently there were some bad reviews, but The Keeper and I were well-aware that the eel is prepared (read:  killed and cooked) to order, so it's certainly not fast food.  I ordered a small set, so the eel came in a porcelain bowl.  The Keeper ordered a larger meal so his eel was in a lacquered box.  I didn't take a pic of his meal, but it was lavish.  And in spite of the humble appearance of my bowl, this was THE best unagi I have ever had.
After the unagi meal, The Keeper and I stopped at a convenience store to buy stuff for the 3-hour+ train ride to Hakodate the next morning.  

. . .another day of mega-eating in the books and another epic eating day ahead. . .

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