kruizing with kikukat

Monday, December 3, 2018

Roasted Kabocha Squash

Now that I'm relatively rested from Thanksgiving, the November Grand Sumo Tournament has come and gone, and the Huskies secured their Pac-12 championship trophy and made it to the New Years' Six, I can finally resume my dinner planning with more thought.

A steak is always simple (I'm not the one who cooks it!) and there are a handful of other quick, go-to options which would make mostly everyone happy.  It's usually me who is the least happy.

When I know we are having something I don't care for much, like corned beef and cabbage, I try to make a side dish that I enjoy.  Last week's cucumber dish was a prime example.

Since we are getting ready for the biggest eating season of the year, I thought another post with a side dish would be a good choice here.

I did not eat much kabocha/pumpkin while growing up because my parents did not cook it.  We ate more of the other type of squash...winter melon, fuzzy melon, long squash...cooked with some kine of meat or in soup.

But thanks to Thai curry, I've come to realize that I like pumpkin.  And I like it in all forms.  TheHelp likes it too, so he will often pick up a kabocha when he is at the market.  I would love to add chunks to curry, but D2 is not a huge fan.  So instead of adding it to dishes, I cook it separately.

Recently, my go-to method for preparing kabocha has been to roast it in the toaster oven.  My toaster oven is just large enough to accommodate a cut-up kabocha.  Once cooked, the kabocha can be cut up further and added to individual servings of curry.  The light seasoning makes the squash delicious on its own as a side dish.  Any leftovers can be mashed up and used for baking.

And a side note. . .I took advantage of the Black Friday sale at Eat.Sleep.Knit.  My order arrived a few days ago, which was, by coincidence, the same day I made the roasted kabocha.  I couldn't get over how well the color of the yarns matched with the food.
 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 medium Kabocha squash or small pumpkin
     2 tbsp butter, cold
     1 tbsp brown sugar
     1 tbsp maple syrup
     coarse salt, preferably in a grinder
     shichimi togarashi (Japanese spice), optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and slice into wedges.  Slice each wedge in half to form 2 triangular pieces.  Place squash skin-side down onto foil lined baking sheet. Cut butter into tiny pieces and divide evenly among squash.  Sprinkle squash with brown sugar, drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle lightly with salt and shichimi togarashi.  Roast for 35-45 minutes.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Otaru is probably THE destination for me when visiting Hokkaido.  There are so many things to eat (mostly sweets) and so many things to buy.

Our first stop in Otaru was the fish market adjacent to the train station.  We had an unmemorable meal there. . .the place we ate at last year was much better, although if compared to Hawaii, the fish market meal would've been awesome.

A trip to Otaru is not complete without a taste of the lavender soft cream.  The lavender soft cream from the small snack counter in Otaru (main street area) is the best I've ever had.  The snack counter is entirely unassuming.  There are 2 entrances to the place, one from the water side (Russia) and one from the street side (canal).  The eating area has stacking plastic chairs, the same type of plastic chairs popular here for patios.  The Ds made a stop here, and D2 swears that if I had taken the time to eat the twisty potato on a stick, I would've been impressed.  Unfortunately, I had just eaten at the fish market, so the only thing I had room for was the lavender cone.  Yum.

Upon the recommendation of Wi, TheKeeper and I bought a bunch of honey syrups from the Sugi Bee Garden store. 

TheKeeper, DHS, and Nakaz, all bought sake from the sake store.  I wanted to do the same, but I had to save my padded sleeves for TheHelps omiyage.

We revisited Kitaichi Glass, and I managed to double my sake cup collection.

No trip to Otaru is complete without eating something from LeTao.  The four of us, still full from fish market and soft cream, went to the 2nd floor salon to rest our legs.  Because of the season, LeTao had a pumpkin double fromage, which I ordered.  TheKeeper ordered the chocolate double fromage.  I cannot remember what Nakaz and DHS ordered.  I did not eat the bin de fromage this time, but it looked really nice in the glass case next to the chestnut tarts (for next time!).

On our way back to the train station, TheKeeper and I bought some fresh kakimochi from the kakimochi store.  I regret not buying more.  I rationed the kakimochi best as I could, but it was so good.  My favorite is the one coated in coarse crystal sugar.

We spent most of the day in Otaru, leaving in the mid-afternoon for Yoichi.  Last year, we did not go to Yoichi, but I wanted to get special omiyage for TheHelp.  The train ride to Yoichi was interesting.  It took close to an hour to get from Otaru to Yoichi on a small, 2-car train.  At some point, I wondered if we were really going to Yoichi, as I was shocked to be passing through what seemed like an endless rural landscape (think on the road from Kamuela to Kohala).  So why the journey?

Yoichi boasts the flagship Nikka Whisky distillery, a company started by Masataka Taketsuru and his Scottish wife, Rita.  The brick exterior fronting the street did not prepare us for what was inside.

Behind the brick facade was a sprawling array of lawns and brick buildings.  It actually looked like a college campus.

I was amused that Massan's home was painted in robin's egg blue!

We did not go to the tasting room (none of us drink whiskey), but I bought two special bottles of whiskey for TheHelp.

Was the trip to Yoichi worth it?  If you like whiskey, it would be wise to spend a few hours there.  For me, a non-whiskey drinker, I would say yes. . .TheHelp was thrilled with his gifts. 

Was it worth the trip for my fellow travelers?  Probably not, but they were great sports.

Our long day ended with a highly-recommended bowl of ramen in Susukino from Keyaki.  We waited about 20 minutes for space at the counter.  The tiny restaurant can fit 8-10 people, so the 20 minute wait wasn't bad at all.  The miso ramen was a bit spicy, but it hit the spot.  I also tried their pork and shrimp water dumplings. (sorry, no pic) 

And without TheKeeper, we would never have been able to find the place.