kruizing with kikukat

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beryl's Meatloaf

For most people here, this will be the first full week of work since returning from Spring Break.  The next break will be Good Friday, in 3 weeks.

I was looking forward to warmer weather, but Hilo has been a little nippy.  It's definitely not swimming weather yet, although the Ds went for a swim last week.  My thoughts of making salads (or even cold somen) for dinner have been put on hold...gonna wait a week or so and hope the weather warms up.

I went for my check-up last week, and the hammer dropped.  It was Dougie's turn to deliver the message...don't eat so much cholesterol.  When the weather is this cold, I can't help it!  Nobody in their right mind would pick a salad over something warm and hearty.  But Dougie is right, and I do need to eat fatty foods in moderation.  Leung's will likely suffer economic depression without my regular patronage.  Gosh, I could surely go for a kau yuk and egg foo young plate.  Maybe I could convince 3M to go pick up Chinese for lunch.  Why am I jonesing for a plate of cholesterol?!?

. . .especially since I had a mound of cholesterol last night.  I made meat loaf, buttery mashed potatoes, and cole slaw.  Sometime during the first decade of the 21st century, I learned that meatloaf and coleslaw go great together.  My former coworker Beryl told me so, and after trying it out, I had to agree.  I like the taste of the packaged broccoli slaw with Marie's poppyseed dressing. The markets here don't always carry that dressing, but I've come across a few copycat recipes that I'd like to try out.  Luckily, I had some Marie's dressing in my fridge for the cole slaw this time.

The meatloaf I made was a recipe shared by Beryl.  It is easy to throw together, and for someone like myself (non-pea eater), I can do things to easily get rid of the peas:  pick the peas out of the soup before adding the soup in with the rest of the ingredients.  Best of all, Beryl's meatloaf contains none of the Devil's condiment.  I actually spat out my lunch once...someone slathered the top of a meatloaf with mustard.  D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb ground beef
     1 pkg Lipton onion soup mix
     1 can Campbells condensed alphabet vegetable soup
     2 eggs
     1/2 c dry breadcrumbs, e.g. Progresso
     1/4 c ketchup
     additional ketchup for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 1 3/4 quart baking dish.  Combine all ingredients.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Dot top with ketchup and spread evenly over entire surface (thin layer).  Bake for 50 minutes.
My bestie LAMN came home to Hilo this weekend, and we were able to get together for lunch yesterday.  Alas, the circumstances of her visit home were not the best, but it was still nice to catch up with her.  In spite of not seeing her for years, we just picked up the talk from where we left off.  It shouldn't come as a surprise...we went to the same elementary school, intermediate school, high school and college (after she got her head screwed on correctly).  LAMN was with us in the car when UGeo burned out the clutch on the return from Expo86.  She will be home again next weekend, but I don't think we'll be able to get together, as she'll have her hands full with family obligations.

This pic was taken back in the summer of 1995.  The baby in the picture is me.  Ok, ok, just kidding.  The baby is now a sophomore at the University of Washington.  LAMN still looks the same.  I wish I could give some of my wrinkles and ass fat to her!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cold Somen Noodles

Spring is here!

It's back to work today.  After a week off, school began today. . .kickoff the 4th quarter.  I've actually begun a countdown of the days left.  Some of my students requested it.  It is a reminder to both me and them how many days they have left in school. . .how many days I have left to prepare them for life.  It's actually a daunting thought.

Before I continue, I would like to extend my congratulations to two special people.  Kikukat friend CT has begun a new chapter in her employment life.  Way to go!!!  I still wish you were coming over, but that's me being selfish.  They are so lucky to have you and they will love you.  Enjoy the savings on gasoline and time...I wouldn't have realized it if I didn't go through it myself.  And after months of nagging, D1 finally got off her ass and took (and passed) the driver's permit test!  The minimum age for the driver's permit is 15 years and 6 months, so she was certainly in no hurry.  On the very day she received her permit, The Help took her driving.  I'm glad to report they both came back alive, although both were pretty well shaken.  Now to sign her up for driver's ed. . .

Spring break was busy, busy, busy.  Much to my relief, the 50-minute plane ride to Honolulu was smooth and unremarkable.  I was worried about the turbulence since there were high winds throughout the weekend.  Back in 1994, I flew to Hilo (from Honolulu) during a windstorm, and it was the worst flight I have been on (the flight to Anaheim in 2004 comes pretty close).  I actually considered postponing the allergist visit, but I decided to pull up my big girl panties for D1.

The allergist visit went well.  We made it to Queen's and found Dr. Kuo's office.  He turned out to be soft-spoken and pleasant.  D1 is bummed because he told her to stay away from shrimp, crab, and lobster.  She has loved eating shrimp and crab for the past 16 years, and it will be a challenge to get her to stay away.  She is old enough to understand but perhaps not mature enough to tow the line.  Dr. Kuo cautioned her that while her reaction was a mild reaction to crab, the close relationship of crab to shrimp and lobster calls for discretion.  There is no way to predict when a severe reaction could occur.  Mollusks are still fair game for eating, so she can still scarf clams and scallops.

Spending just one night in Honolulu was not enough.  We managed to do lots of things, but it would have been nice to do it at a more relaxed pace.  That's why I'm allowing us more time to do things when we go to Honolulu for LA's wedding in October.  Although we didn't make it to Goma Tei on this trip, I was able to run into Marukai to get a few goodies like hamachi kama and good-quality Japanese somen noodles.

Spring is the perfect time for having somen noodles.   If the weather is warm, which it usually is, the sauce can be chilled before pouring over chilled noodles.  If the weather is still nippy, the sauce can also be served warm/hot over somen (be sure to warm the noodles too).  We tend to eat this as a cold dish.  It's also a good choice for home-lunch since it doesn't require heating.  Some sauces are meant to be served in a separate cup and the noodles dipped into the sauce prior to eating.  This sauce is NOT a dipping sauce.  Dipping sauces tend to be stronger with a more pronounced shoyu flavor.  This sauce is mild and can be sipped when the noodles are gone (or while consuming the noodles).

Somen was something I learned to make after I got married.  I don't recall it being served in my house growing up.  I remember eating it at the old KK Tei restaurant.  It came on ice and it was called "hiyashi somen".  Mr. Dependable encouraged me to make it (his mom made it), and the first time I made it, I drained the cooked noodles and mounded the somen in a tupperware container.  It was a big sticky mess, and Mr. Dependable was not happy.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but it was Mr. Dependable who showed me how to make it into serving-size balls! 

I was originally going to post a recipe for a grilled shrimp, but out of respect and compassion for D1 and her allergy diagnosis, I'm posting something she can safely consume, provided it's made with katsuo-(fish) based dashi-no-moto.  Unfortunately, it was a different story in Honolulu.  I couldn't help myself and ordered the shrimp tempura at Kunio!  Sorry.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 pkg dashi-no-moto (katsuo, for D1)
     3 1/4 c water
     1/4 c shoyu
     2 tbsp sugar
     1 tsp salt
     3 tbsp mirin

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Chill.  Serve cold with chilled somen noodles.  Garnish noodles with kamaboko, green onions and sliced fried egg.

1 recipe of sauce is enough for 3/4-1 lb of somen noodles, depending on how much sauce you use. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Easy Mochi Rice

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Spring Break is finally here!

I'm headed to Honolulu today to take D1 to see an allergist.  This is a much-anticipated visit, as we first attempted to see an allergist over 3 months ago, albeit a different one in Kona.  Thanks to my medical insurance, part of our trip will be subsidized since we had problems getting an appointment with the allergist in Kona.

This whole allergy thing is quite bothersome.  Nobody in my family is really allergic to anything (one minor test said I was allergic to melon, but I'm not quite certain how much I believe that) except D1.  D1 is already allergic to penicillin.  We'll find out today if we need to add to that list.  Shit.  I'm feeling bad for her already.  She knows what seafood tastes like, and she loves it.  NN (soccer mom from a few posts ago) told me she has a wicked shellfish allergy.  It began with itching when she was a kid, and by the time she was in high school, the severity of symptoms progressed from itching to her throat closing.  Yikes!  Kikukat Mom cannot eat fresh scallops, but she is able to eat the really expensive dried scallops sold in Chinatown. Is this considered a true allergy?

Before I left work for vacation, I made sure to input my 3rd quarter grades.  Not too many Fs...mostly As and Bs.  The Fs were definitely appropriate...absences affecting grades, work not turned in, class too difficult (perhaps).  It amazes me how students can be told they are failing at midquarter yet they do nothing to change their habits.  Anyway, I didn't want the grades hanging over me while I shop in Honolulu, so it was imperative that I get them done.  I also tried to do all of my copying for the remainder of the year.  We will be reading Romeo and Juliet and Lord of the Flies during the 4th quarter, and I need to be sure we have plenty of activities so the students can truly make meaning from the text.

Inputting grades was not the last work-related thing I did before embarking on vacation.  The senior prom was on Friday night, and being the good soldier that I am, I agreed to chaperone (actually I was afraid to say no to 3M since I already begged out of chaperoning the winter ball).  Students sure go all-out for the night!  The girls were dressed in beautiful gowns, mostly floor-length.  Most of the boys wore tuxedos.  Nice to see the kids enjoying themselves.  Nice to see them all cleaned up too.

Although we are going to Honolulu for medical reasons, D2 is tagging along.  She says she wants to shop and eat.  Just like her sister.  Just like me.  We each have a list of things we need to buy.  D1 is shopping for a dress for the junior ball at the crosstown rival high school.  D2 wants slippers and clothes.  I want to add to my Manuheali`i collection.  Both Ds have requested we dine at Legend Seafood (yes, I know!!!) Restaurant.  They both love the beef broccoli pan fried noodle (contains no seafood other than oyster guess).

I'm looking forward to grabbing a few items from the dim sum carts.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the fried taro, scallion cake and look fun.  Let's also not forget about the mango pudding there.  I haven't had mango pudding in ages!  Legend also makes really good mochi rice.  You can get it wrapped in lotus leaf (joong), but they also have it packed into see-thru bowls.  While I've made both, the latter type is much simpler to make at home. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c mochi rice (glutinous rice)
     1 c regular rice (Calrose)
     1 lb assorted cooked toppings*
     1 tbsp minced dried topping**
     1 can mushroom stems & pieces (do not drain)
     1 can chicken broth

Combine mochi rice and regular rice.  Rinse well.  Cover with water and soak for 1 hour.  Drain well and place in rice cooker.  Empty entire can of mushroom stems & pieces over rice.  Add assorted cooked toppings.  Pour chicken broth into 2-cup measuring cup and add enough water to make 2 cups.  Pour into rice cooker.  Cook rice as usual.  When rice is done, stir well before serving.

*assorted cooked toppings:  any combination of the following:  steamed lup cheong, BBQ pork cubes, roast pork cubes, roast chicken cubes. 

**dried topping:  dried shrimp or dried scallops

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crock Pot Cassoulet

I went to Kona this past weekend to buy some bulk food, eggs, toilet paper, etc.  It was the first weekend for the new offers, so, as can be imagined, Costco was packed. 

Going to Costco on a weekend is a sure-fire way to run into many people you know.  I saw the boss man and his lovely wife in the frozen foods aisle.  I even saw my neighbor!  Had I stayed longer, I would have also run into the BWCK ohana.  But staying longer in Costco was out of the question.  Because of the crowd, it was difficult to navigate, and I spent barely over $100.

In spite of the masses at Costco, the worst part of the day was driving to and from Kona.  There were a whole bunch of idiot drivers on the road.  Going over, some slow ass red Geo Metro was taking their sweet time.  The Honda Pilot following was no better, as it refused to pass.  Fortunately, the Pilot pulled off the road, which allowed The Help to pass the red Geo Metro just before we got to the thick blanket of fog on the DKI.

On the way home, a white Toyota Corolla held up over 2 dozen cars.  The Help was too far back in the lineup to make any attempt to pass, but it didn't stop him from cursing the second car, who should've been the one to pass the Corolla when the fog cleared.  Because of the Corolla, it took nearly 2 hours to get home, which is unheard of since the new section of the Saddle opened.

I didn't mention it above, but one of the things we bought was a bulk package of little smokies.  Costco sells them in 3- or 4-pound bags, and they have my favorite brand, Hillshire Farms.  Little smokies are a guilty pleasure.  Yes, I know they're packed with fat and sodium, but they taste so darn good.  I've tried several Pinterest recipes with them...grape jelly bbq smokies and the bacon-brown sugar baked smokies.  Both were delicious.  I love them just fried too!  Unfortunately, I'm getting back on the wagon in my battle against cholesterol, so I need to diffuse cholesterol in preparation for my upcoming dr appt.

About a year ago, I saw the recipe for Smoked Sausage Cassoulet Soup in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser one morning (I've since seen that version called Smoked Sausage Cassoulet in Cooking Light).  I don't normally get to the paper until the afternoon, but I happened to open up the app one morning.  12 hours later, we were sitting down to our version of it for dinner.  Thank goodness The Help wasn't working that day, and thank goodness he can follow my directions.  I adapted the recipe to make use of what we already had on hand. . .little smokies and fresh herbs!

In spite of being tempted to make the brown sugar-bacon smokies, I will be making Crock Pot Cassoulet instead.  The chilly weather and the smell of it cooking sort of eases the pain of missing out on brown sugar & bacon!
click on recipe title for printable recipe
(adapted from Hawaiian Electric/Cooking Light)

     3 bacon slices
     1 onion, chopped
     3 thyme sprigs
     1 tsp rosemary needles
     3 garlic cloves, minced
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
     2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
     2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
     1 pound boneless pork (I used shoulder), cut into 1-inch cubes
     1/2 pound little smokies smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
     3 tbsp finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
     2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion, thyme, rosemary, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.  Stir in crumbled bacon, salt, pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Add beans, pork, and sausage; stir well. Place half of bean mixture in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; top with half of tomato mixture. Repeat layers.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.  Ladle into bowls, removing thyme sprigs.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Makes 6 servings. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Girls' Day: Hishi Mochi

Happy Girls Day!!

Today is a day of celebration for girls!

I contemplated what to buy myself for Girls Day, but I pretty much buy what I want anyway, so there was really nothing I HAD to have.  It would've been nice to take a day off, and I seriously considered it, especially since I have my worst class today.

I cannot wait until the school year is over and my time with one of my classes is behind me.  A bunch of them will be very sorry when they get into the real world.  This is the class with a few who come in and ask, "what, we gotta do work today?"  Not a day in the school year has gone by where they did not do work, so I'm not sure why a one guy, "Charlie", keeps asking.  Charlie wanted me to curtail all assignments for the week of his birthday AND bring in a cake for him.  Get real!

Half of the class will be enrolling in institutions of higher learning after graduation, and I have faith they will do well.  

Sadly, the other half of the class have no realistic plans for anything.  They say they want to work, but who will hire them?  I certainly wouldn't.  And should they get hired, their variable school performance and lingering sour attitudes have not inspired thoughts of long-term employment.  They do not see the parallel between hard work in school and working hard in an employment setting. 

Anyway, my conscience got the better of me and I went to work. In spite of having to deal with the ups and downs as they pass through adolescence, I do enjoy teaching them.  Since they are boys, they may be oblivious to any Girls Day traditions. . .not sure how many of the student population even know it's Girls Day.   That's not how they roll.

Realizing that I have girls of my own, I made sure to have something for them.  D1, the pickiest of the picky, got a gift card.  No point in trying to pick something she'd like.  D2 is slowly morphing into her sister, so she also got a gift card.  Now they can buy what they want.

In addition to the gift cards, I made hishi mochi for them.  I don't know how much they consumed (probably just a piece), but both of them wanted to take some to school to share with teachers/friends.  Knowing this, I made 2 pans. . .so the 3 of us could eat and share!

In April '12, I blogged about the significance of the colors.  I also included a recipe for making a thick version of chichi dango, which can easily be made into hishi mochi.  When it is made in specific colors (pink, white & green) and cut in a specific way (diamond shapes), it takes on a different name:  hishi mochi.  This week's hishi mochi recipe is for narrow layers and uses just 1 pound of mochiko.  For many people, it's easier to eat this thin style rather than the thick version.  I like them both, but since I planned to give some away, I decided to stick with the thin style.  If you are lazy or just have no dog in the fight, you can cut the mochi into square or oblong shapes. . .it's trickier to get the diamond shape just right.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Hishi Mochi
(3-layered, diamond-shaped chichi dango)

     1 box (1 lb) mochiko
     2 c sugar
     1 tsp vanilla
     1 can coconut milk
     food coloring (2 different colors)

Grease a 9 x 13" baking pan.  Be sure to grease far up the sides too.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine mochiko and sugar in a large bowl.  In a 1 quart measuring cup, empty coconut milk.  Add enough water to make 3 1/2 cups of liquid.  Add vanilla.  Add liquid to dry ingredients.  Remove 2 cups of batter to a small bowl.  Add green food coloring.  Pour into prepared pan.  Cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 15 minutes.  While green layer is baking, remove an additional 2 cups of batter to a small bowl.  Add red food coloring.  Set aside.  When green layer is done, remove foil and pour white (uncolored) batter evenly over green layer.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  When white layer is done, remove foil and pour pink batter evenly over white layer.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove foil.  Cover with a dishcloth or place under food net.  Allow to cool at least 10 hours before cutting.

Saturday night was Endless Twilight, the junior prom.  D1 and her friends spent the afternoon getting ready for the big night.  Before they headed out, The Help snapped a few pics.
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