kruizing with kikukat

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ocean Somen Salad

I am looking forward to this coming weekend.  It will be an especially long weekend since teachers in my area have an articulation day on Friday to add on to the much-awaited Labor Day weekend.  The students in our district get to enjoy a good break.

My students will enjoy a break without me because I won't be at work on Thursday either.  I have a mandatory workshop to attend, so this will be the first time in years I will be calling a substitute.  As soon as I found out about the workshop, I called SM, one of my favorite subs from years ago, and asked him if he'd sub for me.  He accepted the assignment immediately, blue eyes twinkling.  My aide and students back then liked when he'd show up. . . and they'd always comment about his eyes.  I like him because he is a nice man and treats the students with respect.  I hope my students behave.  If they don't, I'll call in the witch man-ape to sub for me next time, and the kids will regret it.

This past weekend, I had lunch with Uncle E at Miyo's.  We got our food in record time!  The restaurant wasn't too crowded, so we were able to linger and chat.  I miss him and hope he will join me at work one day, like in about 4 years.  I suggested he come ASAP, but he said I am living his nightmare right now so he will hold off.  Shucks!

I am seeing signs now of summer coming to a close.  I went to Pahoa for dinner on Saturday (yes, the same day I had lunch at Miyo's with Uncle E) and I saw the yagura set up in the Japanese church parking lot.  I recall that the bon dance in Pahoa is one of the last ones of the season.  And this coming weekend will firmly shut the door on summer.  Labor Day here i the last "warm" holiday of the year.  Its the sad weekend when tarps in the beach area come down.  I really have no plans for the long weekend, but I'm sure some people will be doing picnics and potlucks.

If you are of the picnic and potluck set, consider making this salad to close out the summer.  Its light and refreshing and easy to pack.  While this salad usually gets piled in a large bowl with tongs sitting shotgun, it could easily be shoved into pre-seasoned aburage pouches like somen inari sushi.  Although the taste is slightly different, it would still be great.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     8 oz dry somen noodles, broken in half
     1/2 carrot, slivered
     1/4-1/2 lb ocean salad
     1/2 block kamaboko, cut in strips
     3 tbsp rice vinegar
     2 tbsp sugar
     1/2 tsp salt
     3 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt.  Stir until dissolved.  Add vegetable oil and set aside.  Cook somen noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Drain well.  Stir dressing and pour over cool noodles.  Toss lightly.  Add carrot, ocean salad, and kamaboko.  Toss lightly.  Chill.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Boiled Peanuts

I barely survived the long weekend (for those of you not familiar with Hawaii history, this past Friday was Statehood Day/Admission Day).  While county and state government employees get the day off, not everyone is pleased with the day.  Many native Hawaiians are still angry at the overthrow of the monarchy and being made the 50th state, so the day is also a day for demonstrations.  While I'm glad to have the day off, I do respect the opinion of others and am sensitive to the fact that not everyone sees this day as a cause for celebration.

The long holiday allowed D2 to host a sleepover for her birthday.  This was the first sleepover party D2 ever hosted...she had friends over for the night before, but 2 girls are a lot different from 8!  I must've been intoxicated when she asked me for permission to have a sleepover.

The party began with a pizza dinner, followed by the showing of Rise of the Guardians dvd with popcorn & kakimochi.  I went to bed before 11 pm, and I was awakened by laughter at 4:00 am.  I fed the kids blueberry muffins and apple strudels for breakfast.  I was planning on making li hing mui lollipops with them, but some kids were already in the pool.  At that point, I decided to forgo the lollipops.  While the kids were playing, The Help went to pick up the birthday cake and enough bentos to feed us all.  Kids had lunch, cake, ice cream, and pinata treats.  Then it was time to go home.

I barely had time to rest before it was time to watch D1 cheering at the 1st football game of the school year...a pre-season duel with the cross-town rival.  It was a great game, especially for my school because we won handily.  I hope this is a sign of a great season for the Viks.  I also got to flash my employee ID to get into the game at a major discount!

In honor of D2's birthday, this week's recipe is something she really enjoys. . .boiled peanuts.  I totally get why she loves this.  Boiled peanuts were one of my favorite snacks when I was younger.  I still can't resist buying a bag when I see it in the stores (supermarkets in Hawaii sell boiled peanuts near the produce department).

I've seen boiled peanuts for sale in the Smithfield Marketplace catalog, and GP, my former coworker, would tell me that boiled peanuts were a popular snack in parts of the south.  But I was taken by surprise one day when he asked me why the peanuts on my plate were so dark.  I told him they were boiled, and it was like he had never seen a boiled goober before.  So now I'm curious about what southern boiled peanuts are like.  The ones I see in Hawaii are all dark.

My buddy Tyson swears that the best peanuts in Hilo are sold at George's Meat Market.  I've had theirs, and he is right.  The salt is just right, and the peanuts are cooked just right.  George's Meat Market has some oddball hours, so if you find yourself jonesing for some good nuts and can't get to George's, you can always make your own.  It only takes a few hours to make, and if you are like me and D2 and have an affinity for flavor of anise, you can throw in a couple of stars for the "Chinese" taste.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 lbs fresh peanuts
     1/4 c rock salt
     2 star anise
     2 qts water

Place peanuts into large pot.  Cover with water.  Add salt and star anise.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Start timer (25 minutes) when water is at a rolling boil.  Remove pot from heat, but leave peanuts in pot until they all sink to the bottom.  Drain.

6/2014 update:  KTA sells raw peanuts with their signature "1916" label.  These peanuts are huge!  If using these special 1916 peanuts, boil peanuts much longer than 25 minutes.  Begin checking after 45 minutes of boiling.  You will also need to add water during the boiling process.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hawaiian Style Potato Salad

I have been at work for 2 weeks, and one of those weeks has been with students.  I guess teaching is similar to riding a bike. . . you never forget how, some people are better at it than others, being able to ride a bike is not the same as riding it well, etc.  I've been out of the high school classroom for over 10 years, but after this past week, I'm convinced that returning to the classroom was the right thing to do.

While I was a resource teacher, I heard sidebar comments from many people, and the song is always the same:  resource teachers are not in the classroom because they cannot handle.  That is a common belief many teachers have.  And I think that's why many people are shocked when they hear I went back to the classroom.  I get lots of expressions (both verbal and non verbal) of disbelief.

So far, my return to the classroom has been alright.  I anticipated the 9th graders being handfuls, but the seniors were the most intimidating.  The seniors already have a good sense of school culture.  They have established their own norms for teachers.  I wasn't sure how I'd fit in the mix.

D1 was also full of worry.  She was concerned about how I'd be perceived by her peers.  I think she was worried that they would see me as the wicked witch, but I think she has been pleasantly surprised to hear that I'm actually "okay".  Whew.  One guy even told her I was his favorite teacher.  WooHoo!!!

Honestly, the most challenging part about being back in the classroom is lunch.  I am totally not kidding.  I stopped buying school lunch years ago because I couldn't see wasting $4 on stuff I wouldn't feed my dog.  I believe its even more expensive now.  I try to bring a lunch from home, but we don't always have suitable lunch fare on hand.  Luckily, there are a few fast food places on the same street as the school, and one of them even has a drive-thru.  That happens to also be the place with one of the best plate lunch potato salad in Hilo.

Most plate lunches in Hawaii (not limited only to Hilo) come with a generous scoop of potato salad, a very decadent mayonnaise-laden salad.  In order to keep costs down, some places substitute macaroni for all or part of the potatoes.  I don't like it that way.  I'm old-fashioned. . .I like salad with potatoes, and I prefer ONLY potatoes. . .no macaroni.

In addition to potatoes (and/or macaroni), the salad usually contains chopped boiled egg.  From there, things get a bit creative.  I add pitted olives, sliced (and squeezed) cucumber, and some kind of seafood.  I like the way the salad looks when shredded kamaboko is added, but nothing beats crab or lobster.  Many people now use shredded or chopped imitation crabmeat instead of the real thing.  Sometimes, I will also add in some finely shredded carrots, but I don't add too much of that because it turns the salad a yellow color.  Mayonnaise serves as a binder to hold everything together.

I don't make potato salad too often because it usually makes so much that its hard to consume all of it.  I usually make it for family gatherings, although uJohn prefers the salad made by Kikukat Mom.  While Kikukat Mom uses real crab in her salad, she also adds in green peas and broken up spaghetti noodles.  I'm okay with the spaghetti noodles, but I think green peas are just a hair away from mustard on the disgusting food scale.  Some people add chopped onion, but I don't.  Kikukat Mom said onions cause the salad to spoil faster.

I know Kikukat Mom doesn't like onions, but I don't have the courage to come out and say that she made up the spoilage story just to keep me from adding onions to my salad.  Sometimes you just gotta know when to shut up.

Click here for the recipe:
Kikuchan's Potato-Crab Salad

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cookie Jar: Rice Krispies Crunch Cookies

Today is the first day of school for most public school students in Hawaii.  D2 began today, and D1 will begin tomorrow.  Today is a 9th grade-only day at her school.  I have 2 classes of 9th graders, and historically, 9th graders have been the class I try to avoid.  They are 1 step outta intermediate (middle) school and tend to be social buffoons.  In the old days, when classes were mixed grades, the 9th graders would be set straight very quickly by the upperclassmen.  Now that they are separated by grade levels (thank you, Common Core State Standards), the 9th graders will just fester.  Ugh.

I barely recovered from hosting the Japanese girls.  They were fun, but its very intense while they are here.  I'm grateful they don't come during the school year because it would just be too much.

It took the better part of last week to attempt to switch gears from vacation mode to work mode.  Work mode kicked off with a work session on Monday. We were supposed to stay until 3 pm, but the school kicked us out because of impending bad weather from Tropical Storm Flossie.  That ended up being much ado about nothing because there were no torrential rains, no thunder, no lightning, no flash flooding, and no gusty winds, at least where I was.  It was a missed opportunity (and I'm grateful) to see the flooding pattern of my classroom.

Tuesday was the first OFFICIAL day of work, and the hospitality at work was amazing.  Near-bottomless supply of candy on the table; sushi, teri beef, katsu, korean chicken and chips for morning snack; steak fry for lunch.  At my previous work site, the only type of meal was a potluck lunch (with the exception of generous meals provided solely by the High Commander).  The potlucks were a joke because there were those chronics who never brought anything to share, pretended to forget, then heaped it on when some kind person offered them a plate.  Fricking shame!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were a blur, but I know that the HHS custodians are the best!  They take care of the teachers BIG TIME.  My swivel chair and phone got swipered, but they returned my phone to me and they also got me 2 swivel chairs!  They replaced my burnt out light bulbs and also gave me another trash bin.  I totally lucked out!

I spent the weekend either at school or doing school stuff at home.  I think I am ready to begin.  I just need to get to OfficeMax to take advantage of the 50% off lamination.  School has a machine, but trying to get to use it is absolute hell, and I'm not sure if it laminates with the same thick film as OfficeMax does.

With all this work, I didn't have a decent meal all weekend.  I did have some of these cookies to snack on, but they are gone now.  I need to bake another batch to share with the custodians!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb butter
     1 1/4 c sugar
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     4 c flour
     1 c pecans, chopped fine
     3 c Rice Krispies

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in vanilla.  Stir in flour.  Stir in pecans.  Fold in Rice Krispies.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Plop tablespoon-sized balls (use #50 disher) onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with fingers to 1/4" thickness.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from sheets and cool completely on rack.  Makes 76 cookies.

If you prefer smaller cookies (silver dollar size), use #60 disher (makes 102 cookies) and shorten baking time by 1-2 minutes.