kruizing with kikukat

Monday, May 25, 2015

Almost Canlis: Almost Canlis Salad

It's a holiday today.  Memorial Day. . .the day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  Thank you. 

One of my friends shared this story on FB, and by the end of the text, I was in tears.  Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you. 

I am home, knee deep in poly-whatever tubing, ribbons, and candy.  The impulse sealer is on the counter, and my fingers are aching from tying countless bows (mostly blue).  This can mean one thing. . .the school year is winding down.

Graduation season is here!

In less than a week, I will be the parent of a high school graduate, at least I sure fricken hope so. . .given the volume of robocalls I received this past week, I am just crossing my fingers.  When the phone rings between 6:00pm and 6:30pm, my heart skips a beat.  Not again!

Last week Wednesday was senior awards night.  Seniors receiving scholarships and commencement honors were celebrated during a 2+ hour-long program at the auditorium.  Mr. Dependable and his mom actually arrived on time!  D2 only bitched once!  and D1 did okay! 

To top it off, we got a lot done last week:
  • After passing a competency exam, The Help completed his paperwork for a new employment opportunity.  He's not as excited as the rest of us, but I think he is looking forward to the challenge and the experience it will bring.  His mom is happy!
  • D2 participated in her final band concert.  Yeah!  No more afterschool practices.  No more practice cards.  No more snare drum.  Her teacher has been bugging her (and me!) about changing her schedule for next school year to accommodate band practice.  Apparently, she learned a skill from D1 (say yes to placate but do nothing to execute).
  • D1 took her math placement exam and registered for classes.  The math placement test was the precursor to registering for classes, and that darn kid put off taking it for so long.  When she finally got around to taking the practice test, she was flustered because she scored 3 points below what she needed to score (in order to get into the recommended math class for her major).  She put off taking the class for another week to get tutoring from her former math teacher.  That's when she realized she made stupid, careless mistakes.  When she took the real test, she scored well-above what she needed to score.  Whew!  Anyway, she was able to register for classes and is stupidly excited about a night lab she is taking.  She is even more excited that her first class doesn't start until after 10 am.
  • And I survived my EES rating!  EES is the educator effectiveness system, which translates into a major headache for most educators (teachers and school administrators).  The process is so labor-intensive and time consuming that one had to wonder what the brass was smoking when they came up with that baby.

The weather here continues to amaze me.  How can it be May and I'm still wearing boots and poofy coats to work?  Serious.  There were a few days last week where it was so cold that 3M complained that she was freezing in her cashmere sweater.  She even considered going home to change/grab a jacket.

On Saturday, we finally saw the sun.  In spite of still being ill, the sun made me feel upbeat and we ventured out to the farmers market.  I bought some lettuce and tomato, just so I could make this salad.  Unfortunately, by the time dinner rolled around, the weather turned back to winter.  It became cold and damp, and I found myself wanting a bowl of soup instead of this lovely salad, a copykat recipe of the signature salad served at the Canlis Restaurant.

The Canlis Restaurant is an old-time Seattle restaurant.  It's on the southern end of Aurora Avenue somewhere between Ballard and Queen Anne (more Queen Anne, I think).  There was once a Canlis Restaurant (same owner) in Honolulu, but that closed up many years ago.  I wish they were still open so I could go there and have this salad.  I guess my only option now is to go to Seattle to have it!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Salad:  2 heads romaine, chopped in 1-inch pieces
            2 large tomatoes or 1 dozen cherry tomatoes
            1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded
            2 tsp mint, chopped
            1 tsp oregano, chopped
            4 stalks green onion, chopped
            1 c croutons
            2/3 c-1 c bacon bits or 1 lb bacon, fried crisp and chopped

Dressing:  1 clove garlic
                 5 tbsp EVOO
                 3 tbsp lemon juice
                 1/2 tsp salt
                 1/2 tsp pepper
                 1 coddled egg (gently drop in boiling water for 1 minute; remove to bowl of ice water)

Arrange salad ingredients in a large, shallow bowl or large platter.  Whisk dressing ingredients together.  Pour over salad and toss lightly.  Serves 6.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

Last weekend, I accompanied D1 and a classmate to the 2015 Foodland Shop For Higher Education scholarship banquet.  The banquet honored scholarship winners from the class of 2015 across the state.  There were over 80 scholarship winners in attendance at the Hawaii Prince Hotel.  Foodland did a nice job, and the buffet was delicious.

Whenever I go to buffets at Oahu hotels, I'm always impressed with the food offerings.  Why can't hotels in Hilo offer such a pleasing array of food?  I am never excited about the buffets at Hilo hotel banquets. . .always the same shit:  fish, chicken and roast beef.  All boring, all tasteless.

The buffet at the Prince featured the usual green salad, but there was a somen salad and a delicious pasta salad too.  Instead of the boring fish/chicken/beef, there was mochiko chicken, Chinese-style steamed fish, and tonkatsu!  And everything tasted good.  I noticed that D1 loaded her plate with the tonkatsu!

The dessert offerings at the Prince were also splendid.  There were multiple cakes, pies, and fruit desserts.  My favorite dessert was some kind of chocolate nut pie with a sugary layer just over the crust.  OMG!

Dessert turned out to be the theme of the weekend because I had dessert several times while I was there. . .not just after meals.  On Saturday afternoon, D1 bought me a slice of cheeseake from Kulukulu.  She thought she was buying me the Japanese cheesecake she heard me raving about.  While it was good, it was not THE Japanese cheesecake.  That evening, I took D1 and friends to Buca di Beppo for dinner, and we ended up across the street at Menchie's (froyo) after.  Menchie's has become a standard stop whenever I'm with the Ds on Oahu.  It's similar to Hilo's Yogurtland, but perhaps there are more toppings at Menchie's.

My Sunday began with dessert. . .after making a stop at Don Quijote, I took the girls to Ala Moana.  I decided to "right" things by having my Japanese cheesecake from Kulukulu.  It was divine.  I also realize why D1 was confused.  The sign did not say "Japanese cheesecake"; it said "pillow soft" cheesecake.  Oops!

And before leaving Honolulu, we stopped at The Mandalay to enjoy Mother's Day brunch.  I was stuffed when I headed toward the door, but D1 made sure I didn't leave without having a gai dan tat (egg custard tart).  I had been lamenting to D1 that they ran out, but just as we were leaving, a new platter of them appeared on the buffet line.  D1 ran up and grabbed me one "to go".  Harbor City in Seattle still makes the best, the the tart at The Mandalay is the best I've had in Hawaii.  The crust must be made with lard!

My dessert kick hasn't subsided yet.  I spent this past week finishing up the strawberry pie I made.  I experimented with a mandarin orange version of the strawberry pie.  D2 always wants dessert, so I try to have something on hand...we have "dessert time" on weeknights.  In case the mandarin orange dessert bombed, I also baked some other things D2 would like.  I'm hoping D1 will want some of these Mountain Dew cupcakes.

D1 is really the dessert oddball.  She is not into sweets.  I'm not sure why.   A few years ago, D1 was really into Mt. Dew.  She would beg me to buy some whenever we went to Target.  That was at the apex of her sweet phase.  Recently, she hasn't asked for Mt. Dew or anything sweet (aside from froyo).  In fact, I hardly ever see her drink any soda.  That's a good thing, but will she be able to stay away from the soda when she is in the sunny southwest? 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 box (about 15 oz) Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
     1 c Mountain Dew soda
     1/3 c vegetable oil
     3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with 24 liners.  Combine all ingredients.  Divide evenly among liners.  Bake for 17 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Mountain Dew Buttercream Frosting

     1/2 c butter, softened
     4 c powdered sugar, sifted
     2 tbsp mountain dew
     2 tbsp lemon juice
     yellow food coloring
     green food coloring

In a small bowl, combine mountain dew and lemon juice.  Set aside.  Beat butter for 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of mountain dew and lemon juice mixture.  Beat on low for 30 seconds.  Scrape bowl.  Beat on medium high for 1 minute.  Add yellow food coloring.  Beat for 30 seconds.  Remove half of frosting, and place in a small icing bag.  Add green food coloring to remaining frosting.  Beat for 15 seconds.  Scrape bowl and beat for an additional 15 seconds.  Place green frosting in a small icing bag.  Place both yellow and green frosting bags into a larger icing bag which has been fitted with an Ateco #844 (large closed star) tip or large tip of your choice.  Pipe icing in rose pattern on cupcakes.  Makes enough to frost 25-29 cupcakes.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sui Gao: Mom's Water Dumplings

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  I didn't get to celebrate the day with Kikukat Mom because I was in Honolulu with D1 and her friend.  But I did call my mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day, so that should count for something, right?  I'm thinking about taking my parents out to a nice dinner when it gets closer to Father's Day so we can celebrate both occasions at the same time.  I think they'd really enjoy the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's Clam Bake. . .all you can eat Maine lobsters, sashimi, and oyster shooters.  That's my idea of a feast.

It will be a nice change to take my mom out to eat.  My mom was the eldest of seven children, so going out to eat was out of the question for her family.  I guess old habits die hard because even now, while she can afford to go out, she will opt to slave all day and prepare a huge spread for the extended family.

I guess that's why, when I graduated from college, she did not even flinch when I asked her to cook for my graduation party with all my UW friends.

Graduation was such a busy time.  Many of my friends had family flying in from Hawaii.  Commencement exercises took place in the morning in the Hec Edmundson Pavilion (where the UW basketball home games are played), and we followed it up with a 10-course meal at the House of Hong in the International District.  That afternoon, my dad went with some of my friends to pick up a keg of beer, while my mom and the rest of the family got busy with making dinner.  They brought the food from UGeo's place in West Seattle to my apartment in the U District.  The one request I had were these dumplings.

My mom used to make these all the time when I was younger.  I remember eating these and thinking "this will be my last one" with each successive dumpling.  I had a hard time stopping.  On occasion I helped her fill them, but she had a specific way of pleating them (I know my pleats are not the same as hers).  I didn't dare help with the cooking because I know there was some kind of formula for cooking them...wait for the water to boil, add a cup of water, wait for the water to boil again...or something like that.  I didn't want to be the one to mess up the system.

In the wisdom which accompanies the fat of middle age, I've learned that its much easier to clean up water than oil.  It's also a lot healthier to eat a boiled, rather than deep fried, dumpling.

I still don't know how KikukatMom boils them, I still don't make my pleats like hers, but my dumplings are pretty close to the ones she used to make...or at least I think they are because they have the same effect on's hard to stop eating them.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb ground pork
     1 box (about 10 oz) frozen chopped spinach
     1 can water chestnuts, chopped
     1/2-inch piece ginger, grated
     2 tbsp shao hsing wine
     3 tbsp shoyu
     1 tbsp sesame oil
     1/2 tsp salt
     round wrappers (If using Twin Dragon brand, buy 2 packages)

Mix all ingredients.  Place 1-2 tsp filling in center of wrapper.  Moisten edge, pleat, and fold over.  Pinch to seal.  Cook 6 at a time in gently boiling water.  Remove from water with slotted spoon and place in a single layer on large, rimmed cookie sheet.  Use plastic wrap if adding a second layer.  Serve with dumpling sauce.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Honoring Aunty 3M: Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week was a full week at work.  By "full", I don't mean just a mere 5-day work week.  I mean full of STUFF.

Some of us are finding that as it gets closer to graduation day, some seniors are making poor choices.  The principal announced on Monday that four seniors would not be "walking the line" (they will still earn a diploma, provided they pass their classes and earn enough credits in the required areas).  Being disallowed from "walking the line" happens for a variety of reasons:  fighting, possession of illegal/contraband substances, assault, repeated insubordination, etc.

Seniors are repeatedly warned about the consequences of Chapter 19 violations, but every year, there are at least 5 seniors who do not participate in commencement exercises (yet earn a diploma).  School personnel recognize that "walking the line" is a symbolic gesture meant to honor both the graduate and the support system (family, friends, teachers, etc.).  From months ago, some families have been planning graduation parties.

When seniors jeopardize their participation in commencement, I am always hit with mixed feelings.  While I am a firm believer in tough love, I think about the people who, for 18 years, have given their support to these kids, only to have it thrown away with, potentially, a single episode of lapse in good judgment.  Some parents, having never walked the line themselves, have waited all these years for the joy of seeing their own child accomplish what they failed to do.

In class, my students are reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  There is an exchange in Chapter 4, where Alex tells Josie that sometimes, doing what is best may not be what is right.  I feel like I'm a character in the novel.  Turning a blind eye to student infractions just so they can walk the line is not morally right, yet turning students in for infractions sets in motion a series of events which could lead to banishment from commencement.  This is where my role as a teacher and as a parent collide.

Where is this rambling going?  Am I crazy?  This week, I was faced with such a decision.  It was a hard decision, but I chose the latter.  Thankfully, the decision of whether a student walks the line is not mine to make.  I initially thought that admin makes the decision, but after pondering over it, I realized that the student is the one who makes the decision. . .the decision to make the right choices. 

I wonder how high the "not walking the line" number will rise before the end of the month.  I wonder how many stupid kids will feel they are invincible and above getting caught.  It's silly and just downright foolish for them to think they can get away with shit.  There are so many eyes on them.

On a more positive note, the Kikukat blog would like to extend a huge congratulatory shout out to Aunty 3M.  Aunty 3M will be getting paid the big bucks!  This week, she was selected for a coveted position.  Way to go!!!
In light of Aunty 3M's accomplishment, this week's post is dedicated to her.  Aunty 3M is an expert baker and a crispy, buttery cookie aficionado.  Every Christmas, she bakes close to 20 batches of cookies for gift-giving purposes.  She even makes cookies for special events:  baby showers, baseball fundraisers, etc.  Her favorite chocolate chip cookie comes from the Tate's Bake Shop cookbook.  I was lucky enough to receive the cookbook as a gift, so I have the recipe in my collection.  But the recipe for these buttery discs can be found here.

While Aunty 3M, usually makes this with semi-sweet chocolate chips, you can also use a variety of odds-and-ends chips.  They taste just as good.

I don't want to anger Aunty 3M, but I need to issue a caveat.  These buttery, snapping-crisp cookies are great for eating out of the jar (or Ziploc bag), but they are not the best bet for ice cream sandwiches.  The fairly low flour content, in proportion to the amount of butter, makes them too fragile (my opinion only).  If you want a cookie good for dunking as well as for making ice cream cookie sandwiches, try this recipe here.  While not as ostentatiously buttery, these so have the flavor of butter and will hold up better with a mound of Ben & Jerry's between them.

And if you're still with me, and even BIGGER shout-out goes to blog reader and pal BT.  You are beast!  I'm gonna miss you.