kruizing with kikukat

Monday, May 27, 2013

Banana Muffins (or Bread): Version Two

Its Memorial Day, and in spite of having the day off, I am still not on vacation :(  I have 3 more days of work.  While its not "regular" work, it is still work, and it sucks as much as regular work sucks.  Actually, it might suck even more than regular work.  Based on preliminary directions we were given, the next three days appear to mostly be sessions of blecchhh.  I was also asked to destroy whatever I work on during the three days, as I'm not supposed to be taking any of it with me.  I wonder if Ichabod Crane will shoot me with one of those Men In Black flash guns which purge memories. 

These next three days will likely be the longest days of the school year.  We have three full days of professional development.  The teachers all around tell me they are PD'd out.  Many of them are planning to call in sick and/or are taking personal leave.  In the back of my mind, I recall hearing that personal leave was a "no no".  I wonder what occupational fine will be levied on those who do not sign in on the PD days.  Out of fairness to the brave souls who do show, there should be some cost for non-attendance.  Maybe I'm just jealous.  From what I understand about the scheduling for those days, we have 30 minutes to eat lunch AND, for some people, get from one school to another.  If there are any labor union people reading this, please take notice.  This cannot be pono.

I really wish I could gush about all of my summer plans, but at this point I'm feeling like the fun part of my summer is light years away.  Ok, ok, by the time this post is published it will actually be 2 1/2 days away, but it will still seem like parsecs.  Oh well, I need to follow Dory's advice and "just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . .".  I will be emancipated on Thursday at 3 pm.  Then I can begin my vacation!  Need to schedule a first aid massage, a pampering facial, and a pedicure.  I've been toying with painting my nails again, but I'm worried about Aki and Shaka getting sick from the nail polish fumes.  And I'm not game about dealing with the removal process either.  I guess I'm adding "manicure" to the service list.

Kids begin summer programs next week.  At least D2 does.  I'm not sure when D1 begins her internship.  I suppose I can get started on my summer cooking bucket list.  Sponge Drops and Gravlax are at the top of the list.  I tried sponge drops three decades ago at a party, and I never got around to making them.  I think its about time I try.  I saw Anthony Bourdain having gravlax with eggs in aspic on tv, and the gravlax looked good.  I'm not quite ready to tackle xiao long bao again.  Maybe next summer.

Summer strikes me as the time for a surplus of fruits.  It still grosses me out to see mangoes and lychees smashed on the ground rotting.  Mr. Dependable shares fruit from his sixty-year old navel orange trees.  Uncle James and Mr. Dependable both have banana trees and usually provide me with lots of bananas...often at the same time.  At that point, the only option is to make banana bread.

Last year, I blogged about making banana bread with the surplus of bananas I had.  While that recipe, Fluffy Banana Bread, is my all-time favorite banana bread, there are times when I have fast-ripening bananas but no sour cream.  It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I have never made banana bread/muffins which didn't have sour cream in it.  I spent countless hours poring through cookbooks to find a "standard" banana bread recipe which was made with pantry staple ingredients.  Some of the recipes I came across contained chocolate chips.  I love chocolate chip cookies, but I'm not so adventurous in banana bread, and I like it plain.

When I was growing up, Kikukat Mom would occasionally (I say "occasionally" because for a number of years, my aunt and grampa lived with us, and both of them began eating bananas when they were, in my opinion, still green.  This left little chance for me & Kikukat Dad to even eat bananas) make banana bread, and her recipe always had mincemeat.  Mincemeat is something that I find repulsive. . .not quite in the same echelon as mustard, but right there next to grapes.  This should come as no surprise since one of the things I always see in mincemeat is raisins.

Many cookbooks contained recipes for "Kona Inn Banana Bread".  The Kona Inn was a popular place to stay in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  Today, there is a shopping village (tourist-y) and restaurant at the Kona Inn site.  I'm not sure if the restaurant serves banana bread.  None of the Kona Inn recipes I came across had instructions for making muffins, so while I've included the recipe for the bread and muffins, the baking instructions for muffins is my own, developed through trial and error. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1 c sugar
     2 eggs
     1 1/4 c flour
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 c mashed bananas (may use as little as 3/4 c)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper cups or grease and flour a large loaf pan.  Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Add dry ingredients alternately with bananas, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Spoon batter into lined muffin tins or prepared loaf pan.  A #20 disher (full) works well.  Bake for 25 minutes.  If making bread, bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove to rack to finish cooling.  This will make about 12 muffins.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Easy Koko

After weeks of cholesterol (fat-laden baked beans, smoked brisket & multiple trips to Leungs), I needed some time to regroup.  I love fatty foods, but even I need a break from the lipids.

This is a good time to take a trip down memory lane to Mt. View Gramma's house.  She was always cooking...always making something in the kitchen.  One thing I remember was her enameled tub in the corner of her immaculate kitchen.  Her tub was usually filled with some kind of vegetable, topped with a flat wooden board and weighted down with a large rock.  My "duty" was to clean my feet and step on the rock.  It was only when I was much older (and I was told not to step on the rock...I guess it wasn't cute anymore) did I realize what was the end result of this archaic contraption.

I think the formal/polite words to use to describe this might be tsukemono or oshinko or (fill-in-the-blank)zuke, but most people in Hawaii use koko to describe any type of humble pickles.

The modern way of making koko is to use a pickle pot.  The pickle pot is a self-contained vat where the pressure to smash the vegetables is provided by a screw-down plate aided by a spring.  This constantly applies pressure to the vegetables.  I got my pickle pot from Marukai.  If you don't have a pickle pot, there is nothing wrong with using Mt. View Gramma's veggies and other ingredients in a tub or bowl, put a plate over it and put something heavy on the plate.

There seems to be no law on how to cut the veggies to pickle, and while The Help told me they should be cut small, I've also seen people use large chunks of cabbage and cucumbers.  As far as the variety of vegetables...almost anything goes, but a cabbage or won bok is standard.  If you have ever dined at Miyo's, this recipe will produce a product very similar to the little plate accompanying the miso soup there (add grated ginger for the Miyo's version).  Sometimes, Miyo's will add bean sprouts to the vegetable mix and sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the top.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Easy Koko

     cabbage or won bok, cut small
     carrots (shredded, optional)
     daikon (cut into thin half moons, optional)
     cucumber (cut into thin half moons, optional)
     eggplant (cut into thin half moons, optional)
     1/4 c rock salt
     1/2 c sugar
     1/4 c vinegar
     2 c water
     grated ginger (optional)

Place cabbage in a pickle pot.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage.  Screw pickle pot down and leave for 2 days.  Drain well.

If using vegetable scraps (about 1/8 cabbage):

1 tbsp rock salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp water
grated ginger(optional)

This past Friday was the Ho`olaule`a at D2's school.  I passed on a work trip to Honolulu to attend, and I have no regrets.  D2 did an awesome job, and I am so proud of her.  D1 was in the audience too, and even she said she was proud of her sister.  Sniff, sniff.

We are down to the final days of school.  For some lucky people, Friday is the last day of the work for this school year.  For those less fortunate, there are eight days left.  Yippeeeeee!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Remember the Salt Lick: BBQ Brisket

Its been about a year since I went to Texas, but the smoky aroma wafting from the Salt Lick is still clear.  The Salt Lick was truly an experience, but I don't remember the food being fantastic...I was too busy trying to take pics.  I should've been more careful because I brought Salt Lick grease home with me via my lens filter.  That would explain the haze on all of my pictures taken after the first day.

In spite of the food not being to my liking, I would definitely go back, and I would encourage everyone to make the pilgrimage there.  Having dinner at the Salt Lick is not merely a meal...its an experience for the senses.  And liking or not liking 'cue is of no consequence.

I wonder if they will cater in Hilo

the famed BBQ pit at the Salt Lick. . .where magic happens

What bothered me most about the taste of Salt Lick food was that the barbecue sauce looked yellow.  Even under the outdoor lights, I could tell it was yellowish.  And in the land of Q, the yellow color usually means the devil's condiment.  Because I was "in the moment", I just ate the food in front of me, but after reading Steve Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, I'm certain that the hue was caused by Fucking Gross.  In order to purge that memory, I had to try making my own barbecue brisket and slather it in my own sauce.  With any luck, I could re-imprint my brain.

I didn't want to risk prison and reprint the recipe I used for the brisket rub, and it turns out I'll be okay because Steve Raichlen's recipe for Texas-Style Barbecued Brisket can be found on Epicurious.  I used my kamado to smoke the brisket, and I instructed The Help to keep the temperature at 250 degrees.  It took about 6 hours to smoke a 5-pound brisket.  BTW, do not try to find brisket (other than corned beef) in Hilo.  I had to drive to Kona Costco to get it.  I don't think most people in Hilo know brisket in any way other than stew meat or corned beef, which I completely detest because it's often accompanied by the vile condiment.

I think my brisket endeavor turned out well.  I served it with cole slaw, baked beans, and Ina Garten's  Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes, which is my favorite mashed potato recipe of all time.  Too bad I don't always have sour cream on hand. The Help did a good job slicing the brisket thinly (between 1/8" and 1/4").  I was able to cut bite size pieces with the side of my fork.  In order to complete the memory imprint, I used my own BBQ sauce recipe to serve with the sliced brisket. I think my memory has been successfully excorcised!

The baked beans and cole slaw recipes were featured last week and the week before that. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Toaster Oven Food: Baked Beans

Last week's post was cole slaw, a wonderful accompaniment to barbecue.  This week's post features another terrific side dish for 'cue:  baked beans.

If you grew up in Hawaii, especially if your family hails from plantation days, I'm almost certain canned Pork & Beans was served at some time in your home.  I often had it with cut-up hot dogs (red, of course).  Sometimes it was served alongside hot dogs (yes, red again) in buns.  When I lived in Honolulu, my roommate used to eat it with mayonnaise.  As she ate the pork & beans, she would mix in small amounts of mayonnaise (Best Foods, of course).  She said she learned to eat it that way from her dad.  She grew up in Kona (Holualoa, specifically), so maybe thats Kona style.

Although I ate pork & beans, I never thought it was anything special.  I didn't learn how to doctor it up until I was an adult.  Once again, playing league tennis in Hilo afforded the opportunity to sample this dish at one of the after-match potlucks.  Since that time, this is the baked beans I've made.  A bowl of this has been taken on fishing trips to the southern part of the Big Island:  Honomalino, Kahuku Ranch, Kapoho.  It was requested by one of Mr. Dependable's friends, a fucking idiot who promised me a mu (bigeye emperor fish) in exchange for this.  I guess I'm the bigger idiot.  I made the beans and never got the mu.

Two weeks ago, I began a new posting category, "Toaster Oven Food".  These are dishes which I can prepare in my toaster oven (Cuisinart).  Of course, all of these dishes can be done in a conventional oven as well. This baked beans recipe will easily fit in a toaster oven.  You may need to play around a bit with the casserole dish/pan you use.  Its just nice to know you can do this without heating up a huge oven and racking up the kilowatts.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 cans (about 15 ounces each) Pork & Beans
     1 small onion, diced
     1 portuguese sausage, diced
     1/2 lb bacon, diced
     1 tbsp instant coffee crystals
     1/2 c ketchup
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp white vinegar
     3/4 c brown sugar

Fry onion, portuguese sausage, and bacon.  Drain fat.  Place pork & beans in a large bowl.  Add coffee, ketchup, shoyu, vinegar, and brown sugar.  Add bacon mixture.  Stir well.  Place in a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.  At this point, beans can be refrigerated overnight.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes (45-60 minutes if refrigerated overnight).

Shaka continues to charm us with his antics.  The Help swears Shaka has been saying "hello" and making obnoxious burping sounds.  Most of his talking seems to happen in the morning, when I'm not home.  Aki is growing into his role as older brother.  He loves flying over to Shaka's cage in the morning.
Crocodile Dundee stopped by on Wednesday afternoon with a package for me (courtesy of The Help).  It replaces the 2-waffle Krups Belgian waffle maker I've been using.  The Help thought it was taking too long to make waffles with making just 2 at a time.  His reasoning was that he could eat sooner with 4-waffles at a time.  We tested it out this weekend. . .recipes to come later.

top view

And for anyone out there keeping track, there are 15 days of school left in the school year...Zone adults have 18 days left.  I have 17 days left since I'm on personal leave today, preparing treats for BOTH Ds to take to a K-Kids potluck. D2 volunteered for cupcakes, and D1 decided to bring rainbow jello.

There will be big changes happening.  Soon it will be time to pack my stuff. . .