kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 29, 2018

Clam Patties

There are nights when I really have no idea what to cook.  And for whatever reason, going to the supermarket after work seems like too much trouble.  That's when I start digging in the pantry for my stash of clams.

These clam patties are quick to make, and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.  Clams are reasonably priced, and they are often on sale at KTA or Longs.

Feel free to buy canned clams wherever you want, but you won't run into me at Long's.  I don't go to Longs anymore since the pharmacy lost my mom's pain killer prescription when she was dying of cancer.  Imagine that...the pharmacist blamed the misplaced prescription on a pharmacist-in-training from the local college.  She told me she would have the prescription ready the next day.  Bullshit!  My mother had just been released from the hospital and had only a few hours to fill her prescription before getting on a plane for a last-ditch treatment effort.  So no limp apology from a pharmacist can compensate for my mom's pain.  Thanks for nothing, you incompetent dipshits!  Actually, I stopped going to Long's way before that, but I was there to pick up my mother's prescription.  Long's pharmacy does not have their shit together, that's for sure.   They seem to have the fake apology down though, and the pharmacists are good at talking down to people too.  I take my business to Safeway or KTA.

Maybe this rant isn't fair.  Maybe there IS a Long's pharmacy out there which is staffed by competent people.  My mother's incident happened in June 2016 at the Long's which used to be next to the Hilo Safeway.  Okay, enough about Long's.  This is pissing me off all over again.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I was talking about clam patties.  When we have this, I ask The Help to make tartar sauce (he does a good job).  It also goes very well with potsticker sauce.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 cans minced clams
     1 egg
     2/3 c flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     dash of Tabasco
     1/2 tsp salt
     dash of pepper
     2 tbsp minced celery
     1 tbsp minced parsley
     oil for frying

Drain clams, reserving 1/3 c liquid.  Beat egg in a small bowl and whisk in reserved clam liquid, flour, baking powder, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.  Stir in clams, celery, and parsley.  Heat 1/2" oil in a skillet.  Drop a teaspoonful of batter into hot oil.  Batter will flatten out.  Flip when golden brown to fry other side.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with tartar sauce or potsticker sauce.  Patties can be kept warm in a 250 degree oven.

Hakodate, Japan
October 12, 2017:  Day 4

Prior to heading to the train station, The Keeper and I went to the far end of the Hokkaido University campus.  He wanted to check out picturesque gingko trees lining the entrance to the campus.

The Keeper told me Hakodate was a 3+ hour train ride away from Sapporo.  I was excited because I had fond memories of train rides.

 Our first stop in Hakodate was the morning market.  In spite of snacking on the train ride, I was starving when we arrived.

The Keeper suggested a restaurant on the edge of the market which served freshly killed seafood.  After the abalone at Ohiso (near Nijo Market in Sapporo), I knew I had to get abalone again.

The specialty of the restaurant was finely minced fatty salmon with ikura over a bowl of rice.  I regret getting the small portion.  I know I could've eaten the large size.  This was probably THE best raw food I had during the trip.

One of the "attractions" at the Hakodate market is catching your own squid and having them clean (read=kill) it and prepare it for you.  The restaurant we went to for breakfast also served freshly "prepared" squid.  It wasn't a big deal to me about catching my own squid, but I knew this was something I had to eat too.  Good thing The Keeper has a good appetite.

Like Otaru, Hakodate has a bunch of red brick buildings.  These are now filled with shops.  Marion Crepes, which also has an outpost in Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, has a counter in one of these buildings.  The yummy filled crepes are half the price of the ones in Honolulu!

We took a streetcar to get to Goryokaku, a star-shaped fort built in the mid-19th century.  We didn't actually go into the fort, but we went to the top of the observation tower.  The tower has sweeping views over the fort and the city.

I love how the manhole covers are whimsically decorated with regional touches.

We returned to Sapporo and went to grab dinner at the ramen yokocho in Susukino.  This time, we ate at Aji No Karyu, the place where Anthony Bourdain ate (this is the first shop, the one that is on the main street at the entrance to the yokocho).  I took a picture of the shop here.  I wanted to take a picture of my corn-less bowl of shoyu ramen (by this time, I realized I don't like corn in my ramen), but there was a large sign in English saying "no photos".  Shit!!!

This was a sad day for me because I knew that in a few days I would be back at work. . .and I was staring down the barrel of an 8-hour plane ride the next day.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cinnamon Pretzels

Have we recovered from the holiday?  Maybe you have, but I haven't.  I'm not looking forward to the full-blown work day, although I am prepared to welcome the 2nd semester. 

My vacation was really not a relaxing time.  There was so much to be done.  Not only did it take half my vacation to wash the winter ball linens, but I seem to have been in the cooking cycle for the entire time.  I had a bunch of guests to prepare for...the old aunties for Christmas lunch and working palz for sake.  By the time that was over, I was making desserts for New Years Day AND preparing for another bunch for dinner.

The Old Aunties coming over for lunch on Christmas was not bad at all.  I made prime rib with a nice chunk of beef The Help found at Costco.  The working palz were fed a bunch of things, but I think they appreciated the potstickers and sauce.  They also enjoyed the miso salmon.  My fave part of the night (in addition to the company), was the sake.  The Keeper brought some good sake.  We weren't able to finish all the sake (plus another guest brought a bottle), so I shared some with my cousins on New Years Eve, after the crab lasagna dinner.  I don't think sake would pair well with crab lasagna!

I did get a special treat this vacation...I got to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her family for breakfast.  Michelle grew up and lives in Honolulu, but her hubby is from Hilo.  In a strange coincidence, his older sister is my high school classmate.  Small world!  The Old Aunties joined us, and Michelle got to ask them a bunch of questions about her grandfather (their brother).

In addition to the get-togethers, I was busy with projects.  I did a test knit for Kay Hopkins.  I knew when I agreed that the cardigan was not something I would wear, but I saw it as an opportunity to practice stranding.  I gave the cardigan to one of the Old Aunties for Christmas (whew...I managed to finish the cardigan in a week!).

I was not as successful with another cardigan (veronika) D1 requested.  I was hoping to finish it before she left, but with all that was happening (cooking, get-togethers, etc.) between Christmas and her leaving, I was not able to finish.

With the beginning of the 2nd semester tomorrow, I am grateful to be done with my advisorship (and the after-shit which accompanies the event...the washing of the linens).  The students I got to work with for the project were awesome, and they did a great job putting the event together.  On the final day of bid sales, I distributed Cinnamon Pretzels to the students who helped.  I made a few extra bags so I gave some to Ma (if you know, you know), which she consumed in lieu of lunch.

Although I would've enjoyed relaxing during the vacation, seeing friends and family was not a bad trade-off.  

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     18 oz pretzels (we like butter snaps or honey wheat twists)
     1/3 c butter
     1/4 c sugar
     3/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Place pretzels in a 9 x 13" pan.  Melt butter.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour over pretzels and toss gently to coat pretzels.  Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

 Otaru, Japan
October 11, 2017:  Day 3

We spent the 3rd day in Otaru.  Otaru was about a 45 minute train ride from Sapporo station.

In a way, Otaru reminds me of Lahaina, where much of what's to see is along one main street.

Otaru boasts a picturesque canal, which was probably vital to the main economic base of the town back in the "olden days". 

Before tackling the shops, we stopped at a small cafe to sample soft cream.  I got the 3-flavor variety...lavender, vanilla, and melon.  It was delicious, but I should have just had a gigantic cone of just the lavender.  A few of my friends bought the 7-flavor jumbo cone, but I knew I would not be able to finish that, lunch, and what I really HAD TO HAVE.

Today, Otaru is known for glassware.  A wise friend told me that the glass industry evolved from Otaru's past as a fishing village.  In the "olden days", fish net floats were made out of glass.  With more modern materials being used for floats, the glass industry switched their focus from fish floats to table ware.  Kitaichi Glass, a famous glass vendor, is based in Otaru.  Encouraged by The Keeper, I spent a shameless amount of $ on no-drip shoyu containers (KikukatDad requested at least 3 large dispensers) and hand-carved glass, one-of-a-kind sake cups.

I ended up having lunch at a place recommended by The Keeper.  He said it was where the tour bus and taxi DRIVERS dine with the locals.  I had a raw scallop and ikura don.  The ikura was perfectly seasoned, and all of this came on a bed of finely shredded egg.

But my real goal for the day was getting to LeTAO, a pastry shop reknown for creamy desserts.  Prior to my trip, I spent a good amount of time researching specialty food of the region.  Several guides mentioned the Double Fromage cheesecake and Bin de Fromage.  I had been talking about LeTAO to The Keeper weeks before we left Hawaii, so it was only fitting to enjoy the LeTAO experience with him.  I was worried about finding LeTAO, but it turned out that LeTAO is like Starbucks...there were several LeTAOs on that one main street! We ended up at a small LeTAO outpost where there was an open table and a bathroom.

Double Fromage is a luscious cheesecake-like layered creation.  This alone was worth the trip to Otaru.  I have never had anything like it before, and if anyone wants to try testing a copycat recipe for it, I'm in!  It IS available in Sapporo Station, but really, this experience wasn't about finding it in Sapporo. . .it was about having it where it was born. . .in Otaru.

And since I was at the shop, I really wanted to try the Bin de Fromage which was like the Double Fromage but in a cute miniature milk bottle.  I was too full to eat it then, but since it was available frozen in a 3-pack, I bought the 3-pack to share.   The frozen bottles kept nicely during the ride back to Sapporo.

A word of caution with the Bin de must be eaten all the way to the bottom of the bottle for the full taste experience.
After the Double Fromage, I had a gigantic square of kakimochi (The Keeper was sent to buy this for some friends in Hawaii) courtesy of DHS and a persimmon-filled daifuku from a small store on the way to the Otaru station.  Yet, I knew I still had to have dinner.

Because Otaru wasn't far from Sapporo, we returned to Sapporo at a decent hour.  Not everyone was hungry, so everyone went their own way.  I was hungry and thinking about going back to Tonkatsu Wako when I ran into The Keeper.  Turns out The Keeper was also looking for food.  We ended up at an unagi restaurant in the station, Miyagawa Honten.

It turns out that Miyagawa Honten is actually in the Daimaru department store at the station.  Apparently there were some bad reviews, but The Keeper and I were well-aware that the eel is prepared (read:  killed and cooked) to order, so it's certainly not fast food.  I ordered a small set, so the eel came in a porcelain bowl.  The Keeper ordered a larger meal so his eel was in a lacquered box.  I didn't take a pic of his meal, but it was lavish.  And in spite of the humble appearance of my bowl, this was THE best unagi I have ever had.
After the unagi meal, The Keeper and I stopped at a convenience store to buy stuff for the 3-hour+ train ride to Hakodate the next morning.  

. . .another day of mega-eating in the books and another epic eating day ahead. . .