kruizing with kikukat

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snacking on the Ridge: Ranch Pretzels

Surprize, surprize!  I am still not back at work.  Its some kind of furlough day.  Yay!  I'll take the breaks when they come.  Would be nice to get paid on holidays, but with the Travelocity Gnome in office, government workers will get nothing.

Seems like the teachers have a tentative contract for the next 4 years. . .just need to ratify.  From what it sounds like, most people think its a good offer because of pay restoration, step increases & raises.  I just worry about what indignities teachers will be subject to by agreeing to this.  Never trust a troll.

Contract or no contract, this will be a short work week all around!  The only work days this week are Wednesday and Thursday.  I was planning on finishing up my CSI: Miami series on Netflix, but sometime last week, the Ds got into it (yes, I'm proud that D1 thinks Eddie Cibrian is hot stuff...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so I've been told by the Dom).  I  will save the 10th season and watch it when they catch up to me.  Should be summer by then, and the current season of my other favorite show, Criminal Minds, should be out on dvd or Amazon video.

When Uncle George came to town four months ago, he and Aunty Char spent some time at the home of his classmate ST.  ST gave Aunty Char a tub of these pretzels.  She claimed that she couldn't stop eating them and had never tasted anything so flavorful.  Aunty passed around the tub for everyone to eat.  One bite confirmed that ST's pretzels were garlic-heavy and not baked.  

I am well aware that there are many versions of this recipe out there (of course, you can only have so many variations when you are dealing with so few ingredients).  Some include garlic powder.  Some entail baking the pretzels while others merely suggest letting the pretzels sit for a while with the seasonings.

With my food OCD shifting into high gear, I cannot get over the idea of NOT baking the pretzels.  I do not mean to offend those of you who make the non-baked variation, but I would encourage you to try the baked version.  You will end up with a crispier product which will not get soggy from the popcorn oil.  Your mouth will not be coated in raw popcorn oil film, and your fingers will not be covered so thickly in white cheetos-like matter.  Trust me/

I've taken this to work functions, and when I can find the giant tub of honey wheat pretzels, I make a bunch of this and keep it in mason jars.  It makes a good grab-as-you-go-out snack.  It is also an excellent snack to take with you when you go horseback riding!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     18-20 oz honey wheat pretzel twists
     1/2 c popcorn oil
     1/2 tsp dried dill
     1/2 tsp lemon pepper
     1 envelope ranch dressing mix

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Combine oil, dill, lemon pepper and dressing mix.  Spread pretzels out in a shallow baking pan.  Pour oil mixture over pretzels, tossing gently to coat.  Bake for 40 minutes, stirring pretzels every 10 minutes.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

During Spring Break, we made the short drive out to Waipio Ridge Stables and enjoyed nearly 3 hours of breathtaking views while on horseback.  Here are some of my favorite pics from the adventure. . .
the tack room
D2 on Ka`eo
walk, walk, walk
D1 with Taro
D1 on Noni
at the halfway point. . .a good time to break out the ranch pretzels!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blond Brownies

Welcome to the first official day of spring break for public schools in Hawaii!  Yay!  Double yay!!  I really needed the break, and I am NOT going in to the office.  I am not going in to the office.  I am not going in to the office.  I need to keep repeating that so it sinks in.

The office needs to find another person to dump on.  I'm not dumb enough to get caught doing all the work, especially on my vacation.  The boss needs to get his shit together.  

Mr. Dependable was supposed to take the Ds on a trip, but he decided to postpone the trip and wait for good prices.  Uh, yeah, when will that happen when kids are on vacation?  Nearly fifty years on this earth and he hasn't figured that one out yet.

During the last break, D2 invited a friend over for a baking session.  They wanted to bake with bacon.  They made chocolate bacon cookies.  Turned out pretty good, at least the first few.  After about a half-dozen, the bacon flavor got really old.  I never thought I'd feel like that.  So far, D2 hasn't extended a baking sesh invite to anyone, but she did ask me if KN could spend the evening.

"KN spending the evening" entails hours of pool play (not sure how much of this will happen with the cold front) and tons of snacking.  Both D2 and KN are big time snackers.  In preparation of KN (or RT, perhaps) coming over, I prepared some blond brownies.  I guess my mind was elsewhere (not at work, thats for sure) because before I realized what I was doing, I added the nuts in the batter.  Both D2 and KN don't care much for nuts, so I guess I'm going to be eating the brownies without any help from them.  Anyone wanna come over for brownies?

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter
     3/4 c sugar
     3/4 c brown sugar
     2 eggs
     2 tsp vanilla
     1 1/2 c flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 c white chocolate chips
     1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
     2/3 c chopped macadamia nuts or pecans, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually stir flour into butter mixture.  Stir in chips and 1/2 c nuts.  Spread evenly in prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining nuts evenly over top.  Bake 30 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting into squares or bars.

doing the Captain Morgan
Mr. Sun hasn't been seen for a while here.  In fact, its been freaking cold.  The electric blanket The Help got me for Valentine's Day Boss' Day has come in handy.  The last time I owned an electric blanket was when I was in college.  Speaking of college days, one of my friends from my freshman year, Flo Beck (Anchorage, AK), was known for a potent potable. . .Flo Tea.  Flo Tea was a staple at all the weekend/weeknight parties in her room.  It was Crystal Light iced tea (in those days it only came in 1 variety) spiked with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.  I made some for my grandfather when I came home for summer vacation after my freshman year, and he loved it.  He said he was happy I was learning a lot of new things in college.

I found this pic on my waterproof camera a few days ago.  It was taken before last week's post (Korean Tofu Salad), and that's probably the last time we saw the sun.  The Ds took advantage of a string of sunny weather days and went for a dip.  After a small battle over who had to get a dead bee out of the water, they decided it was easier to get along with each other than deal with me.  One of their pool play activities was attempting to do the "Captain Morgan".  Where do kids get these ideas?  I don't even buy Captain Morgan!  As a self-described "rum snob", my preferred brands are 10 Cane, Pyrat, and Tommy Bahama.  My current pour, Cross Keys, is also very smooth.

Since we had some time this past weekend (Mr. Dependable said he had to work), The Help got his background and lights set up for a photo sesh with D1.  I enthusiastically helped him with his equipment because it was a treat that there was someone else willing to pose.  It was a great opportunity all around.  The Help got to practice his action shooting skills with his new toy.  D1 got some neat pics, including portrait shots which she can distribute when yearbooks come out since her picture was again left out of the yearbook.  She happened to be away on a Key Club service project when it was her turn to take class yearbook pics.  D1 had a good week.  She was officially notified that she will be Junior class president next school year.

This is my favorite pic from the session.  She doesn't care for it, but I love how her hair is wanging all over the place.  Kinda reminds me of Medusa.

D2 was camera-shy and refused to pose for any pics.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Korean Tofu Salad

The weather seemed to be  getting warmer (I know I saw blue skies a few times last week), but if the local news weather bunny is correct, we have some bad weather coming our way.  I just hope the rain won't last too long.  If I recall correctly, it rained most of the time last spring break.  I am soooo tired of cold and rain.  I don't want to purchase blueprints for building an ark!

The last run of cold and damp weather took its toll on me.  I had a sinus infection, pink eye, a cold and some stomach virus (may have been food poisoning from a bad bento) within the past month.  I spent more days on drugs than off.  I managed to kick the Nyquil, but now I have an inhaler for the hypersensitivity in my bronchial tubes.  I'm also low on po chai.

GP was sick too.  He missed three days of work!  Thats unheard of for him.  He said he had a bad sinus infection which kept him in bed for five days, save for a quick trip to the doc.  He also told me he drank two bottles of Nyquil during that time.  Two bottles!  Thats insane.  I'm amazed he is still alive.  Perhaps he thinks the dosing info on the box is just a friendly suggestion.  GP does not understand the meaning of the word "moderation".  I've known GP to consume three cans of diet soda within half a work day!

Last week I anticipated the hammer falling at my visit with Dr. KO, but it looks like I'm going to live a little longer (at least until June, when I go for my next blood letting and visit).  I did not celebrate with a bacon and fried egg sandwich, but I did indulge in some food from Hilo Lunch Shop.  While they had warabi salad (usually something I like), I was sad to discover they were out of their pipinola shoots salad.  Bummers because I can make warabi salad, but I don't know how to prepare pipinola shoots, although I'm quite certain they need to be cooked in some fashion.

By the time I left Hilo Lunch Shop, I was jonesing for a good sesame-tasting salad so I decided to make Korean tofu salad.  Having learned lessons from previous encounters with Korean tofu salad, I didn't use most of the watercress stems.  The stems tend to have major bite, and I didn't feel like having a mouthful of bang.  My favorite taegu (other than the one Mom makes, although she hasn't made for a long time) is the ManNani brand, which is sold at most supermarkets here.  The one sold in the big tub at Costco is also good.  Taegu is seasoned Korean codfish strips. . .should've mentioned this earlier.

I can never eat the entire Korean tofu salad in a single sitting by myself so I split it among several containers when I make it.  To make it easier for serving, I also toss the dressing with the salad instead of serving it layered (come on. . .we all know dressing hogs!).  I was looking forward to taking leftover salad for lunch, but having to eat the same thing for 3 lunches in a row was NOT my idea of pleasure.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 bunch watercress
     1 pkg bean sprouts
     1/2 red onion, sliced thin
     1 block firm tofu, cubed
     2 tomatoes, diced
     6 oz takuwan, slivered
     8 oz taegu
     1/4 c green onions, chopped

Dressing:  1/2 c vegetable oil
                 1/2 c shoyu
                 2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine dressing ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cool thoroughly.  Wash watercress and cut leafy portion into 1 1/2" lengths.  Discard stems or save for another use.  Layer all ingredients in the order given.  A 9 x 13" pan or a large round platter works well.  Pour dressing over salad 10 minutes before serving.  If you are not planning on consuming this salad in a single sitting, pour dressing over individual servings.

In the middle of last week, D2 asked me if I could help her read directions from a Christmas gift.  Puzzled, I took the package from her and soon realized there was NO WAY I could read the directions. . .they were in hieroglyphics (likely Japanese).  Someone had given her a Japanese food craft kit...Happy Kitchen Donuts.  It was a candy-making kit where the candy gets shaped in donuts (that part I got).  She ended up going to you tube to learn how to do it.  Here are the products of her hard work, and no, we did not eat them. 

Who thinks of these things anyway?  I'm squeezing ass here because she still has another kit to play with. . .extremely ominous-sounding "Decoration Cake".  Doesn't the sound of that send shivers through your spine?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hoisin BBQ Sauce

Tomorrow is the big day!  Tomorrow I go to see Dr. KO to find out how my numbers look.  If my numbers look good, I'll celebrate by having some smoked meat & onions.  If my numbers aren't good, I'll drown my sorrows in a bacon and fried egg sandwich.  Okay. . .now that I've given myself a pep talk, I can head to her office and face my maker doctor. . .but first I need to survive a meeting that will likely take all day today.

For the past 2 weeks, I've posted pictures of food brimming with cholesterol.  Aaaaahh. . .fat, you never looked so good.  Anyway, both the kalua pig  and rib posts featured a barbecue sauce.  This barbecue sauce has never failed to impress.  Everytime (except 1 time) I made food with this sauce, someone has always asked me for the recipe:  Mr. Dependable's mom, Ray Liotta (his Asian twin), Mama Help, to name a few.  Mama Help shared the recipe with Sister Help.  Ray Liotta made ribs for some guests from Japan (and they all asked for the recipe).  Mr. Dependable's mom, quite possibly assisted by arrogance-induced dementia, now passes this sauce off as HER recipe!  

This sauce was originally used as a rib sauce, but over the years, we have found other uses for it.  We have brushed it over hibachi chicken and used the chicken for a shredded chicken salad (like Chinese chicken salad).  Being inspired by "mainland" barbecue, we started smearing it on kalua pig.  When the McD drive-thru people forget to include the little tub of sweet & sour sauce with an order of chicken mcnuggets, the Ds warm a spoonful of this sauce for dipping.  Perhaps the last statement should have been left off, as it may fail to inspire confidence in this sauce.  But keep in mind the Ds and their of them would choose chicken mcnuggets over prime rib!

click on recipe title for link to printable recipe

     14 oz ketchup
     4 tbsp hoisin sauce
     2 tbsp rock salt
     1 tbsp ginger, grated
     1 c sugar
     2 tbsp sesame oil
     2 tbsp liquid smoke

Mix all ingredients together.  Use as needed.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Makes about 4 cups.

BTW, the one time I can recall someone NOT asking me for the recipe to this sauce was at a family New Years Day party at Aunty's house.  I'm guessing its because everyone thought Mom made it. . .and they asked her for the recipe, which they never got.