kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 30, 2012

Thick Three Layer Chichi Dango

Chichi dango used to be something humbug to make.  It was traditionally prepared by steaming over hot water then cooled and cut into pieces.  At least that's what I remember from small kid time.  But sometime before I graduated from high school, baked chichi dango was introduced.  Baking was a way to nearly replicate steamed chichi dango with less effort, provided one had patience to wait at least ten hours for the pan to COMPLETELY COOL.

I often make chichi dango for Japanese occasions:  Girls Day (3-3), Boys Day (5-5), New Years Day (1-1).  I also bring it to pot luck gatherings.  I have go-to recipes, which I'm sure most people in Hawaii have.  The most common chichi dango is dyed pink.  These are sold in most supermarkets, and they come individually wrapped in paper.  If you are lucky enough to live in Honolulu, you can get a super cute friend to take you to the factory where its made.  They will hand-pack a box for you.

For special occasions, I like to make layered chichi dango.  I've recently discovered the "thick" style which is double the height of most baked chichi dango creations.  The fun part of layered chichi dango is varying the colors.  The traditional layered colors are green, white and pink, which are said to represent the seasons of winter, spring, and summer (no autumn because metaphorically, a girls life should have no autumn).  No, I didn't make that up.  I read that somewhere.  For looks, I prefer pink, white and yellow (as in the pictures).  I don't think blue chichi dango looks very appetizing, so I suppose a green-white-green or white-green-white combination could be done for Boys Day.

The chichi dango in the pics were colored with gel coloring.  Don't be afraid to be bold with the colors, as they will get somewhat washed out in the batter.  If you have made baked layer-type chichi dango before, you were probably instructed to cover the pan tightly with foil when baking each layer.  When I did that the first time, the chichi dango didn't cook properly, so please follow the directions carefully, covering with foil only after pouring the final layer.

Another mistake some people make is to rush the cooling process.  Please don't.  The best rule to follow is to cool the pan overnight.  If cut too early, the chichi dango will be very soft and will have a tendency to weep faster.

teflon knife

The best thing to use to cut the chichi dango is a teflon knife.  The plastic knife from McDonalds will also work.  Sprinkle potato starch as you are working to keep the chichi dango from sticking to itself.

For Girls Day, I gave the nice ladies in the office a little container of chichi dango.  They do so much for us so I wanted to show my appreciation.  I don't think anyone else gave them anything.  Real sad.  Real shame.  The bosses treated the clerical staff in the office to an office professionals day prime rib luncheon buffet, and they did not solicit donations from any of the other drones.  Yay!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of May, and we seem to be hitting the travel season.  D2 leaves tomorrow for a 3-night excursion to Kauai and Oahu with her class (bless you, Mrs. Ferreira, you are the best), and the Rents leave for the far east in a week.  The next "regular" post to this blog will be on May 15.  I am also hitting the road and will be updating as adventures unfold.  Stay tuned. . .   

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Thick Three Layer Chichi Dango

     2 lbs mochiko
     4 c sugar
     4 c water
     2 cans (13.5 oz each) coconut milk
     food coloring
     potato starch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  Combine mochiko, sugar, water, and coconut milk with a whisk.  Remove 4 cups of batter and tint with food coloring (or don't tint if you want an all-white layer).  Bake for 15 minutes.  While first layer is baking, remove 4 cups of batter and set aside.  To remaining batter, add food coloring if desired (or don't add if you want an all-white layer).  Pour over 1st layer and bake 25 minutes.  Add food coloring to batter set aside (or don't add if you want an all-white layer).  Pour over 2nd layer.  Cover pan tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil immediately.  Cool completely before slicing with plastic or teflon knife.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pussyfooting: Kilauea Lodge

Nestled in the heart of Volcano Village is the rustic grand dame of Volcano accommodations, Kilauea Lodge. We stopped by for a bite before a photojourney in Madame Pele's backyard.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tapioca and Coconut Milk Dessert

Now that the weather is getting warmer (actually got to go swimming yesterday. . .water temperature was 84 degrees), I'm looking forward to cool salads and desserts (of course, I'll never pass up a slice of cake).  No doubt, we're entering the season of outdoor eating.

As the potlucks and gatherings ramp up, consider making this refreshing dessert, especially if you want something to complement fruit.  This dessert can be made ahead of time, and can be easily increased or decreased by varying the amount of fruit.

I love this with mango (as pictured), but when mango is not in season, I usually have The Help make a fruit salad:  melon, orange supremes, apples, maraschino cherries, grapes (I won't eat), blueberries, strawberries, etc.  The juice that comes out in the process of making orange supremes is enough to keep the apples from turning brown.

Purple Okinawan sweet potato can be substituted for fruit.  Steam a small sweet potato until soft, then peel and dice. 

I like this dessert on the thick side (like the pictures), but some people prefer it to be more soup-like.  If you prefer more of a soup instead of a pudding, add a few ice cubes to the tapioca before transporting.  The ice cubes will keep things nice and cold until serving time.  If you're in a hurry to thin the tapioca, use ice chips instead of ice cubes. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Tapioca and Coconut Milk Dessert

     7 c water
     1 c tiny pearl tapioca (size of pin head)
     1 1/2 c sugar
     1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
     fresh fruit or cooked purple sweet potato, diced into 1/2" pieces

Bring water to a rolling boil.  Add tapioca.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand for 20 minutes.  Add sugar.  Cool for an hour.  Add coconut milk.  Refrigerate overnight.  Just before serving, combine with fruit (and juice) or sweet potato.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Restaurant Chatter: 50s Highway Fountain

So much to look at. . .I'm on overload already!
 Tucked away in sleepy Laupahoehoe, Hawaii, is The 50s Highway Fountain.  As its name implies, the decor is a shrine to the bygone era of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Grease.  The picture above is the inner-most room of the restaurant, and tables adjacent to the back window overlook Mamalahoa Highway/Hawaii Belt Road.  But don't worry. . .there is a decent stretch of lawn between the speeding cars and the restaurant.

entrance to the restaurant

I couldn't resist getting a picture of the old-fashioned jukebox which sits just outside the restaurant.  I don't remember seeing anything like it growing up; for once, I'm too young.  But I love how the see-thru panel shows the vinyl and turntable inside.

The picture below is the front room of the restaurant.  I don't think the lady was happy about her picture being taken, but I couldn't resist firing my camera.  The floors were the first thing which caught my eye. . .reminds me of the Vermeer painting.  When I was going through my pictures, I noticed the tables.  I'm sure my grandpa's house in Hilo had a similar linoleum-topped table.

And yes, I do remember the jukebox in this room.  Sadly, I'm THAT old!
front room
old-fashioned soda/ice cream parlor set-up. . .except for the microwave in the upper right-hand corner
Larry's toys

There was a story on the back of the menu, which I never got to read.  I'm sure the founder of the restaurant is a dude named Larry who has a penchant for classic cars.  The back room of the restaurant had an odd mix of displays. . .cars, John Wayne, and Happy Days.  The bathroom was full of Betty Boop things.  If I had my camera in the bathroom, I would've taken a pic of the Betty Boop toilet paper holder.

The Help ordered a burger, which is what one is SUPPOSED to order at The 50s.  It was topped with two slices of pepperjack cheese and came with a small paper dish of what appeared to be some type of ketchup-mayo mix.  He offered me a taste, but I declined.  For whatever reason, I just didn't feel like eating a burger.  The Help enjoyed the burger and said he'd like to return to try other things. . .special of the day was khal bi.

I ordered the fish & chips platter instead.  The ono (wahoo) was sliced thin (the way I like it) and lightly battered.  Although it was fried crispy, the whole dish (fish & fries) seemed oil-heavy, some of which I'm wearing on my face now.

Maybe this seems manini (minor), but I dig the checkered tissue paper used to line the plates.

The only thing missing was Fonzie!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Restaurant Chatter: Full Moon Cafe

Surfboard sign outside the restaurant
Hilo is now in the recovery phase...recovering from the 49th annual Merrie Monarch Festival.  The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long hula extravaganza, dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, who was known as the "merrie monarch".  In that week, Hilo is abuzz with craft fairs, traditional Hawaiian food offerings, and dancing exhibitions.  The week culminates with three huge events.  The Miss Aloha Hula contest takes place on Thursday evening.  The halau (dance troupe) kahiko competition is on Friday evening, and the halau auana competition is on Saturday evening.  Each halau is led by a kumu hula (main hula instructor).  Announcement of the winning halau takes place on Saturday, following the auana competition, so Saturday is a very late night.  This year, there was no Big Island halau represented in the competition.  Kinda sad.

glass noodles with pork
If you are here and hoping to see Merrie Monarch Festival pics, I will save you a lot of trouble and tell you there are none in this post, and there will not be any until, possibly next year (50th anniversary of the festival).  I did my best this year to avoid the crowds this year.  Next year, I plan to hang out at events and see the "head gear".  It amazes me how some women have these elaborate floral arrangements atop their head.  Makes me wonder how much salons charge to put something like that together.  Or would a florist be the one to do it?

close-up of glass noodle dish
I was hoping to eat some Hawaiian food this week, but it didn't happen.  In my attempt to avoid the throngs/masses/asses of people everywhere with even a remote connection to the festival (Ken's Pancake House, Farmers Market, KTA...yes, KTA), I cut off the possibility of Hawaiian food (okay, well, I did go to KTA, but not on Sunday).  I decided to  play it safe and do Thai instead.

penang curry with tofu
In spite of being a small town, Hilo definitely has its fair share of Thai restaurants.  I know of at least five places in the downtown area.  There are two Thai restaurants on Kalakaua Street alone.  Chiang Mai is located next to Kalakaua Park (where lotsa bums & ne'er do wells hang out).  Further makai (towards the ocean) on the next block is Full Moon Cafe.  Full Moon Cafe is a gem of an eatery that serves up fresh food with vibrant flavors.  And bums aren't hanging out in the immediate vicinity either.

spring rolls---only okay
I wanted to try the pad thai, but I was intrigued by the glass noodle dish.  It was delicious.  The Help wanted to try a curry dish so he chose penang curry with tofu (note to self:  next time, go with green curry and shrimp or chicken).  Its not that the penang curry wasn't good; green curry is Kikukat's favorite thai curry.  The jasmine rice was nice and fluffy.

The only somewhat disappointing dish was the spring rolls.  I swear its the same mediocre spring rolls served at Charley's Thai Restaurant in Waimea, and I swear it comes frozen in a bag from Costco.  The spicy peanut sauce that came with it was very tasty...full of peanuts.  Its a shame it wasn't paired with good spring rolls (Hilo Rice Noodle or Royal Siam).  The Help ordered Thai iced tea, which he liked but I found "bleccchhh".  I can't get past the burnt bamboo taste which can't even be covered up with tons of sugar and condensed milk.  If I wanted to eat burnt bamboo, I could do it for free with the bamboo in my yard!

peanut sauce for spring rolls
Overall, I did enjoy Full Moon Cafe and will definitely be going back to try the pad thai and green curry.  The service was fast and courteous, and the tables were large enough to accommodate the multiple dishes we ordered.  They even had Diet Coke (as opposed to Diet Pepsi)!

tables are large enough to accommodate dishes without crowding
Parking is available on the street, just be sure to go when its not movie time or else you'll be competing with Kress Cinema movie-goers for parking stalls.  A few doors up from Full Moon Cafe is Full Moon Coffee (same owners, do doubt).  Full Moon Coffee serves breaksfast-type food, sandwiches, and, of course, coffee drinks.  I can't remember if I saw any burnt bamboo drinks on their menu.  No matter. . .I wouldn't order anyway.

Work-wise, the week went well. . . nothing remarkable.  I considered calling in sick on Wednesday.  I was very congested and sinus-y, probably an allergic reaction to one of the placeholders who was at a meeting with me on Tuesday.  I'm convinced that some people just talk to hear the sound of their own voice.  And the more they talk, the more they let on to how little they know.  No wonder the Hawaii educational system is so messed up.

Speaking of messed up, most of my lunches for the week  were, predictably, egg-salad sandwiches.  I like egg salad, but I think there should be a two-day limit on eating them.  I'm so over egg-salad sandwiches for a while. I broke down on Thursday and went to J & J for a lechon (fried pork belly) plate.  Forgive me, but it was either that, pigs feet adobo, or go nuts, so I sacrificed my arteries for the greater good.

I paid a weekend visit to my new favorite pampering place, Nicole's Salon & Spa in Keaau.  I needed grooming (Jennifer) and a pedi-paw clip (Tiffany).  I figured Keaau was beyond the Merrie Monarch inundation zone. Ross welcomed me back with open arms, and I showed my appreciation by buying two Free People blouses.  I was tempted to buy a few more things, but I figured I could go back anytime (until Lent next year).

I also paid another visit to Hilo Bay Cafe and tried to do a mobile post from there, but due to technical difficulties, I wasn't able to post the title/picture/text combination from my phone.  I'm still trying to figure out whats wrong.  I am able to post text from my phone, but once I add the picture, it won't go through.  This is even more puzzling because I managed to post a title/picture/text last weekend.  I tried doing a post from my iPad, and it worked okay, but I refuse to carry my iPad around with me and use it as a camera just to post.  Like I said, the frustrating part is that it was working just fine last weekend.

I'm ending this week's post with a joke from my pal Kevo, his contribution to the Merrie Monarch Festival.  "How does a kumu hula say hello?"  The answer:  "halau".  Ya get it?  Hello?????  Halau?????  Awwwwww. . .
some people need to learn how to park

Saturday, April 14, 2012

iPad blogging

It's been a frustrating day with mobile blogging. I've been trying since noon to post some pics from one of my favorite restaurants in Hilo. I can't figure out why it's not working.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Salt & Pepper Shrimp

I'd like to wish happy birthday to The Help today.  Its a milestone birthday, and I hope he buys whatever he wants.  I was going to get him a Canon 7D, but both Adorama and B & H Photo are closed for most of the month.  Oh well, I guess he'll just have to settle for the Rottweiler puppy.

The high point of my week was being invited to add my blog to, a foodie website based in France.  I'm glad I have three years of high school French and a year of college French under my belt.  I might be able to understand any comments en francais. 

Unfortunately, my week was littered with low points too.  The Rents' new printer crashed, and replacing it entailed multiple visits to OfficeMax.  I also had a situation where I NEEDED to take po chai pills (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).  There were major issues at work too.   Why won't some people just admit fault and work towards resolution.  Why do we pussy-foot and tell people its a "win-win" situation?  Games have winners.  This is not a game.  I guess when you deal with people who think like adolescents (or preschoolers), it is perceived as a game.  Anyway, I should've guessed how the week was gonna go when we began the week at an all-day draining at Imiloa Astronomy Center.  Double ugghhh.  The information shared in the morning was interesting, however the presenters sucked.  I don't even think they knew a lot about education.  I got the impression they didn't prepare adequately.  But a day at Imiloa beats a day at the office, so it wasn't all that bad.  At least the toilet paper at Imiloa is in a dispenser.

The best part about Imiloa is the on-site restaurant.  They offer an all-you-can-eat-stuff-your-face buffet, complete with salad bar, a myriad of entrees, and a wide dessert selection.  Most people pile their plates with salt & pepper shrimp, and I can't say I blame them.  I love salt & pepper shrimp.

While Imiloa's salt & pepper shrimp is good, homemade salt & pepper shrimp totally rocks.  While some people get grossed out when they see the shrimp head, I like head-on shrimp because I like to suck on the head.    This happened to be local (Kauai) shrimp which I found at KTA.  Not all markets have it.  For salt & pepper shrimp, the shrimp should be no larger than 26/30. 

Cornstarch-dusted shrimp are deep fried until cooked.

Seasonings are added to the fried shrimp.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb shrimp
     1/4 c cornstarch
     1 1/2 c oil
     2 stalks green onion, chopped
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1 chili pepper, minced
     1/2 tsp salt
     2 pinches 5-spice
     2 pinches sugar
     1 pinch white pepper
     1 tbsp rice wine

If using head-on shrimp, begin by tossing shrimp with cornstarch.  If using headless shrimp, prepare shrimp by slitting back to remove intestinal vein.  Slip shrimp out of shell but do not detach shell.  Toss shrimp with cornstarch and let stand 10 minutes.  Heat oil in a wok.  Fry shrimp until crisp (this will need to be done in batches).  When all shrimp are fried, drain oil from wok.  Return shrimp to work and add all ingredients except rice wine.  Toss.  Add rice wine.  Toss.  Remove from wok to serve.

Oh, and Easter, yeah, Easter.  I had lots of fun coloring eggs by myself.  I got to leave them in the dye for a long time, and I made all solid color eggs.  The Ds would've been so upset.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Kikukat & the gang.  This is Desi, filling in for Kikukat...she went to Ross!

Click to see the entire photo

Made with Smilebox for iPhone

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Restaurant Chatter: Hilo Bay Cafe

Mom treated me to lunch on Friday, and I chose Hilo Bay Cafe.  I thought it was funny that we both ordered the same thing:   fish & chips!  Hilo Bay Cafe makes the best fish & chips in Hilo.  I was going to say "in the world", but having gone to school in Seattle, nobody makes fish & chips as good as Salty's on Alki.

I'm practicing again from my phone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Korean Long Rice Salad

I'm glad this past week was a short week (thank you, Prince Kuhio), and I'm thankful to be looking down the barrel at another short week (thank you, Jesus).

Even though work weeks are short, it never ceases to amaze me at how much things can go wrong within a short week.  Argghhhh.  I started off my week at a school to try and help them analyze their data.  We spent 30 minutes discussing what "curriculum" is/is not.  Just fill out the damn form!!!  If that wasn't bad enough, a counselor yelled at me because SHE is computer illiterate.  This is the same counselor who marveled two years ago at how much she learned in our training, declared she didn't need any training this year (to the point where she walked out), and is now screaming because she doesn't know how to enter data into the computer.  If this is how she behaves with data entry, can you imagine how she is with students?  Spooky. . . I wouldn't want her to have anything to do with the Ds.  The icing on the cake was finding a screw in my tire.  I had to drive The Help's car to Naalehu for a meeting on Friday.  Doesn't it just suck when you're not familiar with the instrumentation on the dash?  Because I couldn't locate the cruise control, I had to be really vigilant when driving through the national park...didn't know if the Redline would pick up the rangers lurking amongst the ohia.

I'm still waiting for my new toy to arrive (the website now says ship date April 16).  At this rate it should arrive before the new school year starts (likely July 16 for those of you working in the south).  Summer vacation sure ain't what it used to be (thank you, idiots who voted YES).  Just thinking about that makes my blood boil.  Now that a proposed schedule for the school year is out, I'm once again reminded that my non-work time will be ever-more valuable.  Need to think about what I can do to plan ahead for meals and/or save time on weeknights.  Enter the marvelous world of take-out...

While Cham Cham Restaurant remains atop on my list of Korean restaurants in Hilo (and yes, they do offer take-out), there are times when food courts and pick-up places in malls might be the fast option. Now this is definitely something I miss about Honolulu. . .there are just so many of these Korean take-out places to choose from.  Even Palama Supermarket has a kick-ass take out counter (and you can buy your own kim chee inside the store first).  Korean take-out choices in Hilo are rather slim but the food is decent.  Before I go on, I went to Cham Cham again this week so here are a few more pics of what we got.

banchan. . .bottom right was pipinola shoots
fish juhn & spicy pork w/2 mandoo on the side
tong kal bi
garlic shrimp with noodles
My favorite part about Korean take-out places is getting to choose the sides.  Once you place your order, most places will allow you to choose four sides (two for mini plates).  I will always choose bean sprouts because they are available all the time.  The long rice is a more difficult to come by, as not every place has it, and even when they have it, its often too peppery for my taste.  With a little forethought, the long rice can be prepared in advance at home.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Korean Long Rice Salad

     5 pkgs (@1.785 oz) Nice brand long rice
     1/4 c sugar
     1/4 c sesame oil
     1/4 c shoyu
     1/4 c oyster sauce
     3 tsp sesame seeds
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1/2 tsp tabasco
     1/2 tsp pepper
     green onion, chopped

Soak long rice in warm water for 10 minutes.  Cut strands into thirds.  Boil long rice for 10 minutes.  Drain well.  Combine sauce ingredients and mix with long rice.  Chill overnight, tossing several times while long rice is cooling.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
Don't be alarmed at the amount of long rice called for. . .you're not feeding an army.  Nice brand packages are fairly small, so this will make enough for a side dish.