kruizing with kikukat

Monday, September 23, 2013

Feels Like Fall II: Apple Cheese Crisp

This is typical autumn scenery in Connecticut.
This past week I could really tell the weather was changing.  Its been getting dark earlier too.  I learned to love fall when I was in Seattle, and I fell in love all over again when I visited Connecticut.   I associate autumn with all sorts of feel-good things. . . halloween candy, football, pumpkin pie, apples, colored leaves, spiced cider.  If you are in Hilo, fall is also the time of the year for the Hawaii County Fair.  This is when Hiloans know it is guaranteed to rain.

There are no fall "colors" in Hawaii, but the stores are already full of halloween candy and supplies.  Kona Costco had a bunch of sweat-producing costumes.  Spookier still is the fact that Costco even had some Christmas things on display. . .wired ribbon, wrapping paper, lights, tags, and gift sets.  I went to Target this week, and I couldn't resist buying some fall-colored sprinkles (for cupcakes) and a few bags of "halloween candy", knowing full well the halloween candy wouldn't last past the end of the week.  I think they must put something in halloween candy to make it taste even better.  I swear the full size bar of Three Musketeers doesn't taste as good as a dozen of those mini ones eaten in one sitting.

One thing I have busied myself with has been football.  High school football.  The season seems a tad longer than it was last year, and being able to put forth a decent team makes the games very entertaining.  The Help has been doing some photo work for the coach.  He has taken some really cool action shots of the players.  I go to the game to cheer for my students and keep an eye on D1.  My favorite part is when the players gather at the end of the game to sing the alma mater.  Its always chicken skin.

This past weekend, I accompanied The Help to the game.  He thought it would be a good idea for me to accompany him onto the field and carry his other camera body.  I had a different idea.  I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to watch the game from a normal vantage point.  For those of you not familiar with Hilo, high school football home games of East Hawaii high schools are played at Wong Stadium, which is actually a baseball stadium.  This means that the football game is played in the outfield and part of the infield portions of the diamond.  Watching the game sucks because you are so far away.  Watching the game from a proper stadium was great, but I came home  soaking wet.  The sky opened up in the middle of the 4th quarter and didn't stop until after the game ended.  East Hawaii is one of the wettest areas in the entire state. . .why the heck is there no COVERED football stadium? 

While I was at the game, I realized that the weather really is beginning to cool down.  For the first time in months, I felt like eating something warm, like a big bowl of Portuguese Bean Soup.  My late friend Colleen made a great bowl of bean soup.  Its not exactly like the version The Help makes, but it is hearty and good.  I haven't eaten it in years, and thinking about Colleen and her life made me sad.  I worked with Colleen in the mid 90s.  She left the teaching profession and did a bunch of odd jobs.  I remember her with lots of fondness, and whenever she'd invite me and Mr. Dependable over for bean soup, she often made this kick ass apple crisp for dessert.

What set Colleen's apple crisp apart from all others was the addition of cheese in the topping.  Having bits of savory goodness just makes the sweet flavors burst even more.  Colleen took the time to cut in the butter with a pastry blender, but I'm lazy.  I found that the fastest way to make this dessert is to use a food processor.   Make the topping first and keep it chilled.  Use a 6 mm slicing disc to slice the apples.  I changed Colleen's recipe and used minute tapioca for part of the cornstarch.  I like the way tapioca thickens a filling. . .thanks for the tip, AJanice.  And whatever you do, do not be tempted to add a shortbread crust base to this dessert.  You will end up with a soggy bottom.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Topping:      2 c flour
                    2 c sugar
                    1 block + 2 tbsp butter
                    8 oz grated cheddar cheese

Combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter to form a crumbly mixture.  Stir in grated cheese.  Refrigerate while preparing filling. 

Filling:        6-8 apples, peeled, cored & sliced ¼” thick
                   1 tbsp lemon juice
                   2 tsp cinnamon
                   ¼ c sugar
                   1 tbsp cornstarch
                   2 tbsp minute tapioca (may substitute and equal amount of cornstarch)

Combine all ingredients and arrange evenly in a greased 9 x 13” pan.  Sprinkle topping over apples.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.

If you prefer, the above filling can be substituted with 2 cans of sliced apples or apple pie filling.

On Thursday, we celebrated Kikukat Mom's birthday with a nice dinner at Imiloa Sky Garden.  I had been ono for crab, and I knew they boast crab legs in their buffet spread.  Of course I brought my own mayonnaise and Joyce Chen scissors.  I think Kikukat Dad was impressed with my forethought in planning.  He was amazed at how much easier it is to get the meat out of crab with kitchen shears.

Its rare when a crab dinner gets overshadowed, but I think thats just what happened last week.  On Monday, Kikukat Mom & Kikukat Dad (with D2 in tow) brought home their newly-adopted children from the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Keaau.  They actually went last Saturday, thinking they were going to adopt ONE kitten.  Somehow, they ended up with TWO.  FYI, two kittens can be adopted for the price of one, and senior citizens get an additional discount.  They thought they'd be able to bring the cuties home then, but they were told to return on Monday to get the boys (they were "fixed" on Monday).

Oreo and Mickey seem to be adjusting well to life in the Waiakea Uka manor.  After a few days of being confined to a safe area to establish litterbox norms, the boys are now exploring the house, climbing on furniture and napping on the sofa.  And should the Humane Society check up, the Ds can reassure them that Oreo and Mickey (aka Rider and Chris, respectively) are not being abused.  In fact, Kikukat Dad wants then to remain indoors until they are larger.  He said he doesn't want other cats to pick on them.  The only toxic element they have encountered thus far has been Kikukat Dad's everyday profanity.

On a disappointing note, I wrote my first disciplinary referral on a student last week.  He would not keep his mouth shut so I told him to stay after class.  When the bell rang, in spite of me and his skills trainer telling him to stay put, he bolted and said, "fuck you!  I don't need this fucking class!".  As he left, he slapped an old metal cabinet and pushed past other students in the hallway.  I wouldn't tolerate my own children speaking like that to me, and I'm certainly not going to tolerate it from him.  Needless to say, it was a rum & diet Coke weekend for me!

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