kruizing with kikukat

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baked Crab Sushi

It was nice to have a holiday last week.  And it will be nice to have a holiday later this week.  I'm grateful for holidays which occur soon after a long vacation.  It makes it easier to re-adjust to the work week.

By this time next week, I will be done with two proms (only one to go!) and a sushi feast at Takenoko Sushi.

I am sooo looking forward to going to Takenoko Sushi.  I've been there several times, and each time, the food has been absolutely delicious.  I had the omakase (chef's choice) several times, and while I got to eat stuff I wouldn't usually order, there were other items on the menu which sounded good but weren't included in the omakase offering.  On my most recent visit, I tried the salmon skin salad.  It was different from the version I'm used to (Hayama Japanese Restaurant), but it was really good too.  They also happened to have mirugai (geoduck clam) that day.  I'm not sure what I will have this time.

Meanwhile, I still need to get through the 2 proms in order to get my sushi reward.  I'm amazed I still have $ left to enjoy a sushi lunch.  Proms cost a lot.  Bids (for a couple) are easily over $100.  Then there are flowers to buy.  Most proms include a dinner, but I'm sure there is some feasting which occurs after the prom...late night snack at Kuhio Grille or Ken's. 

As a teaser for my upcoming Takenoko Sushi trip, I'm going to make baked crab sushi sometime this week.  Of course, I'll substitute shredded kamaboko (pink & white fishcake) for the imitation crab so D1 can eat it.  And since we are playing nicely with The Help, I will use a portion (less than half) of brown rice so he will feel better about having a few pieces.

Baked crab sushi, has become a very popular potluck dish recently.  Its easy to take to parties and can easily be doubled (use a 9 x 13" pan) for larger gatherings.  Using the small, pre-cut Korean nori (seaweed) makes it even easier to serve (no need to cut the nori).

Many variations of this recipe can be found, some of which only contain mayonnaise (no sour cream).  I find the sour cream helpful in mitigating the oiliness of straight mayonnaise.  The Ds aren't big fans of shiitake mushrooms (I'm not sure I am either), so I just use a little or leave it out entirely.  We all enjoy the surprising crunch of tobikko (flying fish roe). 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c rice (rice cooker measure), cooked
     2 tbsp furikake
     1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked, squeezed and chopped fine
     1 pkg (10-13 oz) imitation crab or kamaboko, shredded and/or chopped
     2 tbsp tobikko
     1/2 c mayonnaise
     1/2 c sour cream
     Korean seaweed pieces

Combine shiitake mushroom, imitation crab, tobikko, mayonnaise, and sour cream.  Set aside.  Firmly press cooked rice into a square (8 x 8" or 9 x 9") baking pan.  Sprinkle furikake all over surface of rice.  Spread crab mixture evenly over furikake.  Broil until top is lightly brown.  Serve small portions of rice and topping in Korean seaweed sheets.

A year ago (Monday, March 24, 2014), I congratulated my friend CT for making the jump over to the dark side of town.  I knew the students would love her and she would be amazed at the amount she saved on gasoline.  This year, I am congratulating her again.  In a few short months, she will be starting another chapter.  Welcome, and really, what took you so long!?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sponge Drops

Today finds me heading back to work after nearly a week off (I worked on Monday).  I'm certain that by the time this workday is over, I will know exactly how many more slave days until summer vacation.  I always post a countdown in my room. . .one figure for most students, and the other, smaller figure, for the seniors.

This will be the first time in many years where the seniors are in school beyond Memorial Day.  For the rest of us, summer gets underway hella late!

By the end of today, at least one of my friends will be looking towards a change of work site for the next school year.  A few others won't know until later this week if they have tickets outta Dodge yet.  Choose wisely, young grasshoppers.   Actually, changing work site is truly exciting.  Best wishes to all.

While today marks the beginning of the 4th quarter, there is still much to be done.  I have another workshop to attend in Honolulu, as well as a workshop to give here.  I need to get through the Junior Prom (as an adult).  I also need to see D1 through two proms (as a parent only, since I am completely banned from attending one of them).  And that brings me to another thing on my mommy to-do list:  get D1 to commit to a college.  Is it important to go somewhere with low brand cachet but willing to offer a HUGE financial aid package?  Or is it more important to go to a school more respected for academics but very low in athletic team post-season March Madness/Big Dance/Bowl?  Does a school's performance in NCAA Division 1 athletics make a difference?  What about ease of the school in close proximity to an airport with direct flights from Hawaii?  Lots to think about, lots to weigh and ponder, lots of money to dish out!

While I'm waiting for D1 to make a decision, I think I will have a sponge drop.  I need one.  Maybe I need two.  Eating sweet things makes me feel happy.

As I mentioned in last week's post, I've been trying to support The Help's healthier eating effort by reducing the amount of desserts and sweets I make, but after dealing with D2 and her friends during the break last week, I broke down and decided it was time to save myself.  I made a batch of these sponge drops as a reward for surviving sleepover night and not smacking anyone across the head (including those 2 bratty kids who sat in the booth behind me in McDonalds and jumped on their seats while their lazy-ass parents sat away from them and pretended they didn't notice).

I first tasted sponge drops at a party in the early 80s.  I thought I was eating 2 'nilla wafers sandwiched together with whipped cream, but when I tried to do this at home, it didn't taste the same.  It wasn't until years later I realized the treat I had eaten was sponge drops

Normally, I don't enjoy a soft cookie, but sponge drops are different.  While they look like cookies, they are NOT cookies.  They are, as the name implies, soft and spongy.  They get even softer when the filling gets put between two of them.  And don't be afraid to be generous with the filling.  Any extra filling can be used as a topping for sliced strawberries or other tart fruit.  If you are like me, you will enjoy the filling on a big spoon too!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c flour
     1/2 tsp cream of tartar
     1/4 tsp baking soda
     3 eggs
     1 c sugar
     1/2 tsp vanilla
     1 tbsp powdered sugar
     1/2 c heavy whipping cream
     2 oz cream cheese, optional

Stir together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and sugar.  Add flour mixture and stir until well combined.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a small (#70) disher, drop rounded scoops of batter onto parchment in a 4 x 5 array.  Bake 7 minutes.  Let cool 3-4 minutes on sheet before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Make filling when cookies are cool.  Combine vanilla, powdered sugar and whipping cream (if using cream cheese, add it now and add another tbsp of powdered sugar).  Whip with an electric mixer until thick and stiff.  Spread on underside of a cookie, and top with another cookie (underside touching filling).  Chill in a single layer in an airtight container (may separate layers with plastic wrap).  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hong Kong Chicken

Spring Break is finally here!  Actually, it seems so early this year.  The weather has been freaking me's colder than it was in December!  I have worn boots more times since this month began than I did in all of 2014!  Serious.

D1 flew to Los Angeles last week for a convention.  She reported that the interisland flight was unbelievably rough.  I figured.  The weather report said more snow was expected atop Mauna Kea.  They even mentioned something called "freezing fog".  I never heard of it, but it sounds nasty.

I was hoping it would be warm and sunny so D2 could invite friends over for a splash, but with sub-80 degree weather, only Sammy is willing to go for a dip.  You won't even catch me lounging.  It's too damn cold.

In light of the cold weather, I've been holding off on preparing salads.  I want to eat Canlis Salad, but I just can't bring myself to have a cold meal, especially for dinner.  I'm not even able to have ice cream for dessert.  Not yet.  Maybe in a month. 

Being on vacation is great, but I really earned it.  Last week, work was brutal.  I had a student attempt to steal from me.  I caught him in the act, which went from "stealing" to "just using".  What's the matter with some of these fucking kids?  They are seniors but still haven't learned about personal space/property.  And the idiot adults who defend the inappropriate behavior of these kids.  Amazing.  It's actually frightening that some adults who work with students cannot themselves distinguish right from wrong or, equally vile, choose to make excuses for the students.  "Oh, but the family is so poor" Since when does being poor give one a right to steal.  "Oh, but he really is a good boy".  Good boy, my ass.  This "good boy" just talked smack about you behind your back, and you are defending his character...yes, that's after you gave him part of your lunch.  "Oh, they are Hawaiian and that's local style"  Stealing is NOT local/Hawaiian style; it is a crime, and it doesn't matter what your ethnicity is.  And yup, this is someone who works with students! 

So yeah, last week I was a little pissy.  It was rather entertaining to hear an adult plead with me not to levy consequences on a student for stealing.  Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to turn away and let this go, but then I would be a fucked up as the adults who make excuses for the kids.

In previous years, I've looked forward to spring break.  Not only does it present a time to relax/regroup, but it was also a good time to try different recipes.  This year, however, things are different.  The Help, with his new eating regimen, is not so enthused about a plate of sugar (I still am) and carbs.  Since early February, he has lost over 10 pounds!  I'm trying to realign my cooking to support him. So instead of dessert, I'm going to focus on an entree that all of us can enjoy.

Upon college graduation, I took a trip to Vancouver, BC, with my grandfather, uGeo, CAE and UL, to visit some Canadian cousins.  We went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and that's where I had Hong Kong Chicken for the first time.  I don't think it was called "Hong Kong Chicken" on the menu, but it was a Chinese-style roasted chicken, chopped into pieces, and served with a small dish of spiced salt.  It was heaven.

Years later, I remember Mr. Dependable's mom bringing home roasted birds (duck, chicken) from Honolulu and producing a small, foil packet of damp, spiced salt.  Not sure what kind of warped thinking goes into keeping salt with hot food, but I realize we're not dealing with the brightest light.  This reminded me about the dish I had in Vancouver, and I wanted to make it myself (salt not damp, no duck, skin crispy).

Getting back to present day, Hong Kong Chicken is something we can all enjoy.  The Help can eat it as a topping for a salad.  D1 (when she gets back) can load the leftovers with a ton of spicy salt.  D2 can shred the breast meat and stick it between bread to make a Costco-chicken-like sandwich.  Me?  I always go for the wings.  The carcass can then be used to make a soup...perfect for those nights with freezing fog (whatever that is).

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Hong Kong Chicken

     3-5 lb chicken, neck and innards discarded
     1/4 c oyster sauce
     1 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp salt
     1 tsp 5-spice
     1 tsp sesame oil
     2 cloves garlic, grated
     1/2" piece ginger, grated

Basting Sauce:  1 tbsp oyster sauce
                          1 tbsp shoyu
                          1 tbsp mirin

Spiced Salt:  1 tsp salt
                     1 tsp 5-spice
                     1/4 tsp white pepper
                     1/8 tsp sugar

Wash and dry chicken.  Combine chicken with other ingredients (except basting sauce & spiced salt).  Marinate overnight.  Roast breast-side up (tuck wing tips under body) at 350 degrees (20 minutes per pound) until done.  Combine basting sauce ingredients.  Baste twice while chicken is roasting.  Chop chicken as desired.  Combine spiced salt ingredients.  Serve in a small dish alongside chopped chicken.

It's boys volleyball season!  I'd be hard-pressed to decide which sport I prefer or volleyball.

I was fortunate enough to be at the first home game of the season (not the first game of the season).  I was planning to attend as a spectator, but the opportunity to help out a friend presented itself so I found myself working at the game.  In spite of it being "work", I had a great time, and I got to watch both the jv and varsity games from a great seat.

The Viking victory (varsity) made the experience even sweeter.  Let's hope the jv can find their groove and win their next game.

This was my first athletic event in the new gym.  The new gym is first-rate.  You can even look onto the court from the AD's office. 

The best thing about Saturday's game?  The concession!  Having been watching my cholesterol for the past few weeks, I broke down and bought a smoked meat & onion bowl.  The $5 price was a bargain for the thrill it brought me.  Even my cousin, who has lost over 20 lbs just from eating healthier, broke down and had a bowl.  The meat was tender, and there was a good proportion of meat/onions to rice...not just rice in the bowl.  I was told the volleyball parents did the concession.  I hope they will take care of more concessions...I would have a hard time not buying the smoked meat bowl every time.

Matsu, Brenda & visit to Hilo, stop by and check out the gym!  They are still accepting donations for the gym, so if you're interested, here's a link to the donation form

I must apologize...this was not the first home game of the season.  The first home game was on Wednesday, March 11, against Christian Liberty (varsity only).  I heard it was a very quick game.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cookie Jar: Potato Chip Cookies

Another hellish week in the books!  The week began with an observation by our district office.  We were assured the observations were not evaluative, however, I'm certain the data collected will be used to bite someone in the ass.  Never trust a person from the district office. . .lol.  I know some of you district office people are reading this and laughing!

Actually, the two groups of guests who visited me were really nice.  Perhaps they reamed me in the initial debrief, but they were nice and polite.  That was the overall sentiment echoed by many coworkers.  The last group of intruders were rude to some teachers.  Of course, some teachers weren't around to experience the rudeness, while some of us had polite people the first time too.  We'll see how the department debrief goes tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I won't be there.

In retrospect, the observations were the worst part of the week, but when you couple being "on stage" with trying to catch up from being out so much during the previous two weeks, it seems like even treading water is barely manageable.

I could not help being out of the classroom.  I had a workshop on Oahu that had been scheduled for some time.  My aunt passed away just before that, and services were held on Oahu.  Then I was out for a day to attend a pretty worthless workshop.  That workshop was in town, but it still kept me away from my students.  I hope I'm done traveling for a while.  I need time to plan for the 4th quarter, get my classroom up to speed, and get my house up to speed.

Unlike me, several others here will be traveling soon.  The Help will be heading to Oahu next week to celebrate his mom's birthday.  D1 will also be hitting the road, er, skies.  She is headed to SoCal for some kind of convention.  It will just be D2 and I holding down the fort.  Yippeeeee!  I guess that means cookies and pistachio nuts (another guilty pleasure) for dinner!

 I often talk smack about D2, saying she is a picky eater and difficult to feed.  That's true, no doubt.  But D2 and I are kindred spirits when it comes to snacking.  We love cookies, chips, salty nuts, cake, li hing mui, arare. . .anything without mustard or wasabi.

D2 and I find it impossible to walk past a cookie jar without dipping into it at each pass.  We both like crunchy cookies.  D1 can easily stay away from a cookie jar (as long as it's not filled with chocolate chip cookes).  D1 will eat soft cookies, warm from the oven.  D2 and I NEED the cookies to be crunchy.

One of our favorite cookies is potato chip cookies.  Potato chip cookies are easy to make and it gives us a good excuse for not eating all the way down to the bottom of a bag of potato chips.  None of us (even D1) like eating the potato chip crumbs, so potato chip cookies are a good way to use those small bits.  And D2 is okay with nuts, as long as they are chopped fine.  I prefer to use pecans or macadamia nuts in my baking; I never use walnuts.  I find walnuts to be slightly bitter, and I don't like them.  I can get into the rich, buttery quality of macadamia nuts or the toasty, warm taste of pecans.  I can't get into bitter.

In preparation for those cookies & nuts dinners, I made some potato chip cookies this weekend.  There is a chance they may be gone before the week is over, but that won't be a problem.  We are also "working" on another Costco-sized bag of potato chips (we buy the Kettle Chips).  By the end of the week, we should have more potato chip crumbs to use for cookies!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c butter, softened
     1/2 c sugar (plus additional sugar for dipping)
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 c flour
     2/3 c potato chips, crushed
     1/2 c nuts, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment.  Cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy.  Add vanilla.  Add flour, crushed chips, and nuts.  Stir until evenly combined.  Using a #60 disher (2 tsp), drop dough 2" apart onto prepared sheets.  Using a flat-bottomed glass dipped in sugar, flatten each dough ball until 1/4" thick.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Leave on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wi's Japanese Eggplant

Another busy week in the books!  I headed to Honolulu again on Monday to attend a training.  This trip had been planned for a while, but coming so close on the heels of an unexpected trip made it even more tiring.  A whole bunch of us from my school attended the training, and it was nice to be with colleagues.  I don't think I could've said the same about where I worked previously.  Taking a trip with any one of those clowns would've been hellish.  Oh, wait.  I did, and it was hellish.

Yes, HELLISH.  I took a trip with a colleague pickier than D2.  She kept saying she "wanted to try new things", but everywhere we went, she ordered the waitstaff to cook things SHE would eat, not what was on the menu.  She even admonished the waitstaff about lying to her about a dish.  I'm not kidding!  And probably the worst part...she stole hotel towels, something most people outgrow before their 21st birthday.  I know I will never room with her again, lest the thievery be mistakenly attributed to me.  I might be a bitch, but I am not a thief.  In kindergarten, someone at the sitter told the sitter that "kikukat takes things from people's lockers".  The sitter reported this to kikukat Mom, who proceeded to admonish me.  The next day I got in bigger trouble because I punched the girl in the mouth for talking smack about me.  Like I said, I might be a bitch, but I am not a thief, even way back then.  And a big "fuck you" goes to the sitter, for being an adult and just repeating shit she heard from a 5 year old.  Dumb wench!

Taking stock of my travels, I spent 5 days of the past 2 weeks in Honolulu.  That translates to 5 days of eating out.  I normally eat at the same places every time I go to Honolulu, but I actually broke new ground during these 2 trips.  We dined at Liliha Bakery, Aiea Bowl, Gyotaku, Kulukulu, Morimoto, and Kunio.  After 5 days of eating out, it was nice to come home and eat "home food".  The Help was nice enough to have prepared the Ds favorite, shoyu-sugar hot dog.

I did not grow up eating shoyu-sugar hot dog, but many of my friends say it was something served at home.  One thing I remember being served a lot of while growing up was eggplant.  It was sliced, seasoned, floured, and fried.  I enjoyed eating fried eggplant, but now I eat it another way, thanks to Wi.

My friend Wi (not the girl I punched in the mouth) has shared some great recipes over the years.  Nobody makes jello like she does.  Her layers are also perfectly level.  Kikukat Mom says Wi makes the best warabi rice she has ever had.  Wi's warabi rice is indeed ono and has a nice caramel color all over.  Maybe one day I will make it and post the recipe.

Wi happens to be a generational friend.  She comes from an old Hilo family.  Her parents know my parents and their siblings, and her grandparents were good buddies with my grandparents.  They went to the same church, had kids around the same age, and lived on the same street.  In fact, it was Wi's grandma who made me fall in love with botamochi decades before Wi's mom became known as a Hilo mochi maven. 

Years ago, when we were both pregnant, we'd email back-and-forth about cravings we were having.  Okay, even when we aren't pregnant we email each other about cravings, but the pregnancy seemed like a good excuse at the time.  One craving Wi had was for eggplant, and she shared with me this preparation method.  This has since become my go-to way of cooking eggplant.  Now that The Help is watching what he eats, this is something we can both enjoy. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     Japanese eggplant, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
     1 tbsp oil
     Japanese dressing (mayonnaise & shoyu mixed together)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan.  Add eggplant, skin touching oil.  Cover and cook until side flattens, about 3 minutes.  Turn eggplant so another surface (still skin-side) will be in contact with hot pan.  Cook another 3 minutes.  Repeat 2 more times.  If necessary, cook a little longer until eggplant is soft.  Serve with Japanese dressing.

Cooked eggplant doesn't look so flattering in pictures, but trust me...this is delicious.