kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cookie Jar: Orange Slices

I am candy-d out!  I think I overdid the Easter candy.  I figured it would be a full year before I saw one of my most favorite candies (Cadbury creme eggs) in the stores again, so I bought a bunch and ate my fill.  I went to three different Longs Drugs stores on the island to seek out their supply of creme eggs.  I just cannot get enough of those creme eggs!  The Ds like chocolate too, but neither of them will touch the creme egg (yay!  More for me).  D1 cannot get enough of those mini eggs.  D2 likes the Nestle Crunch eggs.  Nobody here is into Peeps, so I'm not sad to see those leave the shelves, but Cadbury chocolates will be sorely missed. 

As I was saying, I think I over-indulged in candy this year.  I still have some left,  but I'm in rationing mode.  Maybe a lesser person would feel like tapering off the sugar, but I'm all psyched up.  I want more sugar. . .but in a different form.  I want cookies, and I want cookies NOW!  I was planning to make the standard (chocolate chip cookies) but I'm kinda tired of chocolate (duuuhhhhhh. . .I wonder why).  Instead I will be making these orange cookies, thanks to Mr. Dependable's prolific navel orange tree.

These orange cookies are a cross between a shortbread and an icebox (known as ice cream cookies here) cookie.  Like a shortbread cookie, this cookie contains no egg.  And like an ice box cookie, the dough needs to be chilled prior to shaping.  For those who like precision cookies, roll out the dough and cut with a round cookie cutter.  If you're not so concerned with nice, manicured edges, shape the dough into a log and cut into slices when chilled thoroughly.  The cookies in the picture were made using the rolling technique. . .I wasn't as desperate to eat cookies then.

And no matter how lazy you are, don't forget the icing!  The icing is yet another way to pump up the orange flavor.  If you prefer crunchy cookies, as tempted as you might be to heavily ice the cookies, keep in mind that the more icing you use, the less crisp your cookie will be.  Lines of icing dry a whole lot faster than solid patches of icing.
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3/4 c butter, softened
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c powdered sugar
     2 tbsp orange juice
     1/4 tsp vanilla extract
     1/4 tsp orange extract
     orange food coloring (optional)
     2 c flour
     1/4 tsp baking powder
     1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugars.  Add in orange juice, extracts and food coloring.  Mix until well blended.  Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt, and combine with butter mixture.  Proceed with 1 of the following shaping techniques:
  • Chill dough until cool enough to handle.  Roll out to 1/4" and cut with 2 1/2" circle cutter.  Cut each circle in half and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Divide dough in half.  Shape each half into a 6" long cylinder.  Chill overnight.  Slice 1/4" and then slice each circle in half.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  
Bake for 11 minutes (bake for 12 minutes if using Airbake cookie sheets).  Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate with Orange Royal Icing when cool.

Orange Royal Icing

     1/2 c powdered sugar
     1 tsp meringue powder
     2 1/4 tsp warm water
     1/4 tsp orange extract
     orange food coloring (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small, deep bowl.  Beat for 7-9 minutes with electric hand mixer.  Fill pastry bag fitted with #2 round tip.  Decorate cookies.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just for you, January (or February) Boy: Ono Pasta

Happy belated Easter!

I spent a nice Easter Sunday at Hilo Bay Cafe, enjoying the brunch festivities.  It was The Help's idea to go there.  He figured all the Beautiful People would be on the other side of the island, celebrating the day at one of the fancy-schmancy hotels.  I missed them terribly.  not.  Hilo Bay Cafe brunch was probably the best kept secret.  There was a steady stream of people, but it wasn't so crowded that it was difficult to get food.  The buffet had enough selection, and the spicy ahi sushi was possibly the best I ever had.  I am not a fan of ahi, so this is definitely a compliment.  If the Ds had come, there would've been plenty of suitable options for them.  I need to have The Help call tomorrow to find out if they are planning a buffet brunch for Mother's Day.  I think Kikukat Mom would love it.

The long weekend was much appreciated.  I always say that a short work/school week forces kids (students) to squeeze all their bad behavior into 4, rather than 5, days.  That's why they seem so awful during a short week.  This was certainly true of this past week.

My favorite student charlie has a major case of senioritis.  Too bad he's had it all year.  He threw a tantrum when I told him his grade.  Can you believe that???  High school senior throwing a tantrum?  Oh wait, my mom told me my dad threw a tantrum once when I took his car.  Anyway, back to charlie. . .buggah should be thankful he is passing!  Never mind trying to bargain for a higher grade.  This is not Patpong Night such thing as bargaining for a grade! 

What I find interesting is that other students are beginning to diss charlie behind his back.  These are people he considers friends.  One of them said, "I do my work.  I not like some people." and nodded towards charlie, who was facing another direction.  Another student refused to work as charlie's partner and yet another refused to even help him.  I'm sad for charlie because if these "friends" can turn on him in school, once they are out of school, they will likely not even bother with him.  Charlie prides himself on being the star attraction, so this will certainly make for an interesting adjustment.

In a few months, most of charlie's classmates will be matriculating at institutes of higher education.  Not charlie.  He has no plans for any education.  Says he doesn't need it for what he plans to do for a career.  He may be right, but as an educator, I'm very sad.  Part of successful "teaching" is instilling a thirst for knowledge, and given charlie's attitude and words, I was not successful.  But I am happy for charlie's classmates.  They will soon be knocking on the door to the rest of their lives. . .college!

I often think about my days in college.  College was a great time for me.  Many good memories come from my years in Seattle.  I was fortunate that my parents had the means to send me to the mainland.  I hope to provide the same opportunity for my own children.  While exploring the Pacific Northwest was fun, it was also nice to return home on vacations and share stories with high school friends.  On my first vacation home, we got together and exchanged Christmas gifts.

One of the gifts I received was a local boys (not nekkid kine) calendar for Christmas.  I had the calendar hanging in my dorm room.  The boys who garnered the most ooohhs and aaahhs were January boy and February boy.  Some of my friends would even flip backwards to stare at them long after January (and February) was over.  Maybe I did that too.  Perhaps that's why I can still remember their names.

Fast forward nearly several thousand years. . .I was flipping through one of my gazillion cookbooks and came across a recipe submitted by January (or it might have been February) boy. . .or someone with his same name.  Actually, I'm quite sure it is his recipe. . .the graduation year is about right.  I was hesitant to try the recipe because I didn't think others would like it, but I finally decided to go for it.  The directions for the recipe were fairly loose, so I ended up doing my own thing, changing a little here and a little there.  What resulted was phenomenal.  No complaints from anyone here and a whole lotta ooohhs and aaahhs from the Facebook set.  I guess January (or February) boy still has his mojo, albeit as a cook instead of beefcake!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb strand pasta (nothing smaller than vermicelli; nothing thicker than fettucine)
     1 flat can anchovies
     half head of garlic, coarsely chopped
     1/4 c olive oil
     3 tbsp butter (may replace with vegetable oil)
     1 onion, sliced from pole to pole
     2 cans of clams, drained
     2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
     1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
     flat leaf parsley, chopped
     lemon wedges

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Drain anchovy oil into wok.  Add olive oil and butter.  Heat on medium.  Process anchovy fillets and garlic with a food processor or immersion blender until garlic is chopped and anchovies are minced (you can actually do all of this by hand, but its oily).  Add to oil in pan.  Add onions.  Cook 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add drained pasta, clams, and tomatoes.  Toss gently.  Place on platter and garnish with cheese and parsley.  Have lemon wedges on hand for diners to add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tarragon Chicken Salad

I think prom season is finally over!  Whew.  I guess I can save my $ for graduation gifts now. . .oh, but wait. . .some school organizations still had their hands out.  I guess the charity season never ends.

Speaking of never ending, it seems like the chilly weather will never end.  Just when I thought it was getting warmer, we had days on end of un-spring-like weather.  We haven't seen past 80 degrees for over a week!  I've been trying to shake a cough, the only lingering sign of my spring break cold.  I've tried anti-biotics, codeine cough meds, a bunch of inhalers and even a homeopathic remedy made with lemon, ginger and honey.  Last night, I attempted herbal tea, but I could not manage to swallow more than a sip.  That stuff tastes like shit.  I'm still not ready to hit the ching bo leung (Chinese cure-all).

While the weather has been nippy (to me, anything below 80 is nippy), it has, mercifully, been dry.  I'm not a fan of the effects of rain.  I hate the clammy feeling in the house, and I hate the proliferation of mold and mildew which seems to follow days of rain.

With the dry weather, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the backyard.  The stephanotis was in bloom (too bad there's no need to give anyone a lei now).  I was able to locate 1 ripe meyer lemon on the tree (to make the lemon-ginger-honey concoction).  And on my way back inside, I noticed that the tarragon had magically come back to life!

A few years ago, I bought a sad-looking tarragon plant.  I planted it, and it perked up and gave me all the tarragon I needed for hunter style chicken.  I thought it had gone bye-bye, so I was happy to see it coming back.  I decided to make tarragon chicken salad...hoping the "salad" would will the warm weather here.
 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c cooked chicken, diced
     1 c watercress leaves
     1/2 c chopped celery
     1/4 c chopped green onions
     1/2 c salted marcona almonds, chopped
     3/4 c wild rice, rinsed
     2 1/4 c chicken stock
     1 tsp beau monde or celery salt
     1/4 c vegetable oil
     1/4 c EVOO
     1/4 c white wine vinegar
     1 tsp tarragon leaves, chopped
     1 tsp rock salt
     1/4 tsp ground black pepper

For dressing, combine vegetable oil, EVOO, white wine vinegar, tarragon, rock salt, and pepper in a bottle.  Set aside.  Bring chicken stock to a boil.  Add wild rice.  Lower heat to simmer, add beau monde or celery salt, and cook for 45 minutes (can be as little as 35 minutes or as long as 55 minutes) or until wild rice "pops" open.  Rinse and drain.  When cool, combine with chicken, watercress, celery, green onions, and almonds.  Shake dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad mixture and toss gently to coat.
The Help celebrated his birthday this past week.  We had dinner at Miyo's (courtesy of Kikukat Dad) and then we came home and had giant spoonfuls of gelato (sub for cake).  The Ds gave The Help his birthday gift and received a huge thank you in return. 

The Help is THE hardest person when it comes to buying gifts.  If he wants something, he'll normally just buy it himself.  Or, what he wants (read:  automobile or photography) has more zeros in the price than I can afford on my paltry salary.  Last year we gave him Shaka.  I thought about a Solomon Islands eclectus parrot this year, but we have been so blessed that Shaka and Aki get along well that I'm not willing to chance it with yet another bird.

And as I mentioned at the beginning of this week's post, I believe prom season has finally come to an end.  The last prom (St. Joseph School) took place this past Saturday at the Wainaku Executive Center.  I haven't been able to get a straight answer, but supposedly, D1 went as the date of senior EB (she got him a maile lei and a boutonniere so I sure hope she was his date).  I did not get to meet EB because D1 went with a group of her girl friends. . .each of them being the date of a SJ senior.   I dropped D1 and her friends off at the park for a photo session and then took them to the prom venue.

On the way there, I almost choked when I heard the pre-prom conversation: "We can't twerk, you know.", "How do we dance to Catholic music?", "Are they gonna play songs like 'Hallelujah'?".  Gasp!!!  Apparently, D1 ended up having a lot of fun, declaring the experience to be the "best prom ever". 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Cream Cheese Marble Cake

Another busy week/weekend under my belt.  It would've been nice to see LAMN, but I think we both knew that would be near impossible.  I expected her to be busy, but it turns out that I was busy too. I hope to see her when she comes back again. . .should be in a few weeks.

For the latter half of the work week, I pored over the Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) report which was prepared by the state after visiting our school. OMG!!!  As a language arts instructor, I am appalled at the way the report was written.  Not only was it fraught with inaccuracies, but the grammar was deplorable.  Is it unrealistic for me to expect better from the state?  And where is the responsible behavior portion?  We always teach the students to research issues properly. . .use factual information. . .be specific when giving feedback. . .cite sources properly.  The state report broke dozens of writing rules.  And don't even get me started on how the bullets were used!

As if the CNA report wasn't enough to keep me busy, I got home late from work on Friday because I had a late afternoon meeting.  My favorite colleague was AWOL for the meeting; no harm, no foul.  The important people showed up and we were productive in taking care of business.  By the time I got home I was too tired to cook so we ended up at Hilo Rice Noodle.  I made the mistake of ordering the beef broccoli chow fun.  Fail.  Don't order that.  The other dishes, salt & pepper squid and Peking ribs, were delicious.

The better part of the weekend was spent grading papers.  Mid-quarter entries will be due soon.  Because I teach primarily seniors, it's imperative that I keep on top of their grades and let the counselor know if they are in jeopardy of not earning credit.  The 1-credit course I teach is a graduation requirement.  While it's not uncommon for seniors to slack off during the last term, they still need to be sure they earn a passing grade for the year.  I have a few students who will be dangerously close to not passing, so its important to notify them early and keep on their tails.

I also managed to sneak in a quick trip to Costco with D1.  We had a nice drive over, and I even let D1 drive part of the way.  I will definitely miss her when she goes off to college, but I need to make it through this learning-to-drive phase first.  I know she will improve with time and practice, but it's still spooky.  Kudos to The Help who took her out for her first official (legal) driving session.  He said he wanted D1 to have a healthy respect for the road, but he didn't intend to go into heart attack alert himself along the way.  I wonder if I was the same way when I practiced my driving.

D1 stayed home this weekend (instead of traveling to Honolulu with Mr. Dependable & Co) to attend the crosstown rival high school's Junior Ball (yes, she had a date. . .didn't go stag. . . finally).  A nice boy invited her.   Bless his heart. . .he really is a nice boy (nice parents too) so I hope she was nice to him.  Before they drove off, the nice boy said, "she is always nice, aunty".  Bullshit!  She was probably twisting his arm when he said that.  Both Ds inherited the mouth and attitude of Mr. Dependable's mom so I'm always worried about what will come out.

D2 went to Honolulu with Mr. Dependable this weekend.  They celebrated a birthday with dinner at Tsukiji Fish Market (I saw pics of them grinding out) and adventure at Podium Raceway.  There was also some kind of duck gathering in Honolulu so they met up with their favorite duck, who was part of the entourage.  What an honor for him. . .being invited to travel home and speak to prospective students.  Seems he is doing very well in Eugene.  I'm sure it wasn't too difficult for D2 to convince her dad to take her to Legend for another plate of beef broccoli cake noodle.  I know the Legend dish is better than what I had on Friday.

I figured I needed some nourishment while doing my grades and prepping for a presentation at UH-Hilo so as soon as I got home from dinner on Friday night, I popped one of these babies into the oven.  I have never tried this recipe using a cake mix other than Duncan Hines; the other cake mixes sold here have pudding in the mix.  From my baking experience, I do notice a difference in the final product when I use Supermoist (Betty Crocker).  For mini cupcakes, it doesn't matter, but for cakes baked in a large pan, I prefer Duncan Hines.  D2 was happy to come home and find this waiting for her.  Like me, she has a major sweet tooth.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     8 oz cream cheese, softened
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c chocolate chips
     1 box (about 18 oz.) Duncan Hines devils food cake mix*
     1 box chocolate instant pudding
     1 c hot water
     3/4 c vegetable oil
     1 tsp vanilla
     5 eggs, divided

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" pan.  In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and 1 egg.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Set aside.  In a medium glass measuring cup, combine hot water, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding.  Crack 4 eggs into bowl with cake mix and pudding.  Gradually add liquid while beating slowly.  When all liquid is added, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour chocolate batter into prepared pan.  Using a spoon, plop cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter, spacing evenly.  Swirl cream cheese mixture and chocolate batter with the blunt end of a toothpick or the narrow end of a chopstick.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
*If you are using a new cake mix with less than 18 oz (about 15 oz.), add 6 tbsp flour to cake mix before proceeding with recipe.

Dear Uncle Al,
     Thank you for all that you've done for me over the years. . .

     -never taking me to Moloka`i (I would've died on the plane ride)
     -catching a`ama crab for me (yum)
     -subbing for me in my early years at HHS (the kids said you were more
          strict than me)
     -imparting your wisdom upon me in the most entertaining and humorous
          way (you gave me "names" to look out for)

     Like me, you were not a Viking by diploma, but it is where you left your
     mark.  I will never forget all the fun times hanging out with you in F-bldg.

     R.I.P. Uncle Al. . .you will be missed.