kruizing with kikukat

Monday, July 27, 2015

Secret Strawberry Smoothies

Summer came to a screeching halt on Thursday.  Come to think about it, I really didn't have much of a summer.  I guess the return to my regular job happened on Thursday, so having the all-day faculty meeting made the end of summer very real.

Shit!  I had lots of plans for the summer. . .clean my house, plant a garden, buy a new bed.  I've done none of those things.  Maybe it's the imminent departure of D1 that has me feeling a little sluggish.  I will miss her, and I'm really not certain how I'm going to cope with her being gone.  I will save my lamenting for another post, probably when it gets closer to THE date.

In spite of summer coming to an end, it was nice to see some of my coworkers.  I hadn't seen most of them during the summer, so the first faculty meeting is often when the catching up conversations happen.  Some people looked awfully well-rested (not me).

Today and tomorrow are faculty work days, which means it's time to trick out the room and get it "student-ready".  I managed to go in for a few hours last week, and The Help moved my desks for me.  It's practically ready to receive students, but I need to work on my syllabus and expectations.

I would have wanted to work on my handouts this weekend, but I spent the entire weekend in Honolulu.  It was awfully hot when I left for Honolulu, and it was just as hot there too.  The Hawaii Prince Hotel spends no money to cool down their garage, so walking to/from the car was miserable.

Speaking of the Hawaii Prince Hotel. . .they put us in a "handicapped" room.  It was interesting.  The door opened outwards.  There was also no tub in the bathroom; there was only a shower stall which was the same level as the floor.  No barrier to step over, so we had to be very careful not to get the rest of the bathroom floor wet.  It was a bit odd.

Anyway, since we are facing a bunch of additional hot days, I thought I'd post a recipe for a cool treat D2 really enjoys. . .strawberry smoothies.  While you can always use regular milk, we've found that Silk coconut milk makes a rich-tasting smoothie with just a hint of creamy coconut flavor.  Silk coconut milk can be found at the supermarket, but Costco offers the best price.  And you can get your strawberries there too!
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     vanilla ice cream
     fresh strawberries
     Silk coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in the jar of a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Use more ice cream for a sweeter smoothie.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cold Tofu and Somen with Sesame Oyster Sauce

I cannot believe I worked the entire summer with hardly a break.  Actually, I feel very fortunate.  My boss for the summer is a nice guy and treated me well.  Can't complain.  Wait a minute!  My boss during the normal school year is a nice guy too. 

Actually, I'm a little excited about the upcoming school year.  I get to do inclusion, something I've really never done, and I will be assigned to a great class.  Lots to look forward to!

But I am exhausted.  I spent the last 2 days of last week in a boring workshop.  It was actually painful to be there.  Between the sidebar conversations of my tablemates and having to deal with the uber-stupid content, I almost walked out.  It was nice to see a bunch of people I knew, but the presenter was not engaging at all. 

Last week Friday also signaled the end of D2s summer program.  She grumbled about going, but she had the opportunity to do things out of her comfort zone.  She discovered she enjoyed paddling.  And I never would have imagined she would have the guts to jump out of the canoe and swim in Hilo bay.  That's definitely something I have never done (and will never willingly do).  Actually, D2 surprised me on several occasions this summer.  I think I was totally blown away when she told me she tried hummus.  I would've guessed she'd do the Hilo Bay swim before I'd even think she'd try hummus.

D1 has only a few weeks left in the 808 before she heads to the 480.  I haven't  forced her to do much.  Looking back on my summer between high school and college, I didn't realize that it would be the last time I really "lived" at home.  It's definitely bittersweet, and since many of her friends will also be heading away from Hawaii, this might be the last time they are all together.  I guess that's my excuse for letting her play.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been trying to make an effort to prepare foods she enjoys.  During the summer, D1 enjoys salads. . .fairly substantial salads (not just lettuce).  This is one of the most refreshing things you can serve for a summer meal. 

My cousin Jenn asked me how to julienne the egg.  Here's what I told her:  Fry a thin omelet.  Use low heat so the egg won't brown while both sides get cooked.  If your omelet is thin enough, there will be no need to flip the omelet either.  When the omelet is cool, roll up like a jelly roll and make thin slices.   Like when you make basil chiffonade, its easier to get thin slices when the leaves are rolled together.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Cold Tofu and Somen with Sesame Oyster Sauce

     1/4 c sesame oil
     1/4 c shoyu
     1/4 c oyster sauce
     1 tsp sugar
     1/8 tsp shichimi togarashi
     16 oz somen noodles
     5 lettuce leaves, shredded
     1 egg, beaten, fried and sliced thin
     1 block kamaboko, julienned
     1/2 c thinly sliced ham or spam or shredded smoked salmon
     1/2 block firm tofu, drained and cubed small
     1 tbsp furikake
     1 tbsp sesame seeds
     green onion, sliced thin

In a small jar, combine sesame oil, shoyu, oyster sauce, sugar, and shichimi togarashi.  Set aside.  Boil somen noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain.  Make small balls with somen and lay in a single layer on serving platter.  Cover or surround noodles with lettuce.  Arrange egg, kamaboko, ham, and tofu over noodles and lettuce.  Sprinkle furikake, sesame seeds, and green onions.  Shake sauce well before pouring into a small dish.  Spoon small amounts of sauce over individual servings of noodles and garnishes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Zoku Fun: Frozen Cantaloupe Pops

Last week was so darn hot and humid.  I had no choice but to go swimming to cool off.  Then at the end of the week, The Help told me he had to treat the water for excessive phosphates.  This can only mean one this. . .pee in the pool  Euwwwww.

There were a few guests over in the past week so I'd hate to think any of them were responsible, but I who else could it be?  The Ds themselves have never caused a phosphate explosion, probably because they don't wanna swim in piss water, and they are well aware that pee doesn't magically disappear.

I came to the realization that summer vacation (what vacation?) is coming to an end soon.  In 10 days, I will need to report to my regular work site.  Cripes!

D2's summer program ends this week, and D1 will be writing the next chapter of her life in less than a month.  It feels surreal.

Meanwhile, I've been feeling like I'm about to melt.  The weather here has been terribly muggy.  On Saturday, the temperature was in the high 80s, but with the high dewpoint, it felt like it was close to 100 degrees.  Everything felt like it was sticking to my body.  I took to the water to try and cool down a little, but the water was over 90 degrees.  I always said I liked the water warm, but 94 degree water at night pushes even my level of tolerance.

In order to cool off, I've been trying to eat a bunch of cold things.  We had cool somen one night, and I must've gone through a dozen of those sparkling ice tea drinks from Costco.  The heat also prompted me to get off my butt and try out my Zoku pop maker.

A few Christmases ago, I bought a whole bunch of Zoku pop makers to give my nieces and nephews.  I had purchased one for the Ds a few months before, but I only got so far as to stick it in my freezer.  I finally got to use it.

When I was eleven, I took a trip to California with my grandparents.  We stayed at a hotel in San Francisco which was across the street from a Baskin-Robbins.  It was the first time I had ever had been to Baskin-Robbins, even thought I had seen the commercials on TV.  The first ice cream I had there was cantaloupe, and I never forgot how refreshing and tasty the cantaloupe ice cream had been (this was in the days when I wasn't allergic).

Since I had a cantaloupe, I figured I'd make my own cantaloupe ice pop.  The Help said it was good.  The Ds tasted it and said they'd prefer chocolate.  Well. . .I'm not taking it personally because that's something they'd say no matter what it was (other than chocolate).  And in spite of my allergy, I decided to indulge.  I had the benadryl right on the counter, just in case, but I guess I didn't have enough of it to react.  Whew.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c diced cantaloupe, no larger than 1/2" pieces
     1/2 c milk
     1/4 c sugar

Heat milk for 45 seconds in the microwave.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Cover and chill.  When milk mixture is cold, puree fruit using an immersion blender, conventional blender or food processor.  Add cold milk mixture to fruit and puree a few seconds longer.  Pour into Zoku maker, following instructions.  The first batch of pops will take 11 minutes to freeze.

Please do not eat this if you have a melon allergy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie

What a week I had!  I ended up in bed Monday afternoon and evening due to a bout of food poisoning.  I'm certain I got it from the Krispy Kreme donuts Mr. Dependable brought back from Maui.  I don't think he poisoned them on purpose, but it was my second experience with food poisoning from Krispy Kreme donuts.  My favorite Krispy Kreme is the chocolate (no hole) with creme filling.  I had one on Sunday evening and another for breakfast on Monday.  By noon on  Monday. I was praying to the porcelain god. . .sick, sick, sick.  I couldn't eat dinner.

By Tuesday morning, I was much better, but going to Asami's to buy lunch for D2 was totally unpleasant.  The food aroma was excruciating.  I think the cause of my troubles was the staphylococci bacteria.  It was horrible, and it wasn't until the end of the weekend that I could even think about eating normally again.  I don't want to see another Krispy Kreme for a while.

Sometime in the middle of my recovery, it turned into July.  This means that my summer is over halfway done.  That sucks.  In just a few weeks, I'll be back at my regular job.  Hmmmm. . .maybe that doesn't sound so bad.  I've been working all summer, and my summer job is actually more intense than my regular job!

July also means that it's ohelo berry time!  I wonder if I will be able to make it up to the mountain to pick a quart.  Probably not this year.  This past weekend would've been a good time to go, but I didn't wanna chance walking in a rocky area with my ankle not yet fully healed.  I forgot to mention that I twisted my ankle when we had the earthquake last week.  My foot had fallen asleep, but the earthquake scared me so much that I jumped out of my chair, forgetting that my foot was numb.  I didn't step properly and I stumbled around before being able to regain my balance.  It still hurts when I bend and rotate it.  Ohelo tends to grow in rocky terrain so there's no way to avoid walking on rocks.  Luckily, ohelo berries freeze well, so at least I'll get to have my annual ohelo berry dessert since my tummy is better now.

When I worked for a government office, one of my former coworkers would recount tales of an annual trek to Hilo just to pick ohelo berries at a "secret family spot".  She made some kind of cream cheese pie with the berries and served it at a luncheon hosting new teachers.  While I was ecstatic at being reacquainted with ohelo, I wasn't liking the pie much...the topping was hopelessly runny and fell off the pieces when she cut them.  The runny topping also diluted the cream cheese layer.  Auwe!

About a year ago, I posted a recipe for Ohelo Berry Bars.   Those are good to make if you don't have the refrigerator real estate to hold an oblong pan.  If you have space in your refrigerator, then this is THE ohelo berry dessert to prepare.  Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie, at least this version, will not disappoint.

Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie

Crust:  2 c flour
            2 tbsp sugar
            1 c butter

Filling:  8 oz cream cheese, softened
              1 c sugar
              8 oz Cool Whip

Topping:  4 c ohelo berries
                1 c sugar
                1/4 tsp lemon juice
                pinch of salt
                1 tsp gelatin, optional
                4 tbsp cornstarch
                2 tbsp water

Combine flour and sugar for crust.  Cut in butter.  Press into 9 x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool completely before adding filling.  While crust is baking, make topping.  Combine ohelo berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and gelatin in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Combine cornstarch with water.  While stirring berry mixture, add cornstarch and water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Beat cream cheese with sugar for filling.  Mix in Cool Whip until well combined.  Spread evenly over cooled crust.  Keep chilled until topping is cool.  When topping is cool, spread evenly over filling.  Chill at least 2 hours before cutting into squares to serve.

Last month, Mr. Dependable went to the mainland with AC.  They visited Las Vegas and Oregon, the zenith of their trip being T's graduation from THAT school.  Since the Ds were left with the task of feeding, watering, and caring for his pets, I asked him to bring us back some Trader Joe's cookie butter.  In addition to my request, he also gave me 2 chocolate bars.  One said "Thank You", and the other, well. . .let's just say it had profanity on it (look at the gold foil-wrapped bar).

Mr Dependable must be on a generosity streak.  On Friday, before taking the Ds on a mini vacay, he brought over a box of apple bananas and 2 more of those nasty chocolate bars.  Talk about adding insult to injury (my ankle and tummy)!

I agree that the sentiment of bringing back omiyage from traveling is a generous gesture, and sharing the bounty of your harvest is also very generous, HOWEVER, the candy bars celebrate the team in the entire NCAA I loathe most.  

Once my tummy is totally better, I will be disposing of those darn chocolate bars in an utterly undignified manner. . .I will gnaw on them with my canine teeth!

I will NEVER EVER cheer for the ducks.