Happy Birthday D1! I am eagerly anticipating your homecoming. It's been months since I've seen you, and while some might think separation gets easier as time passes, I don't think that's really true. Not a day goes by without me thinking about you. . .what you are doing, how your classes are going, how much $ you are spending, etc.
Same with my mom. Not a day goes by when I don't think about her and how much I miss her. Sure, the rest of us are plodding along; I would even go as far as to say we've actually got some routine going. But it isn't much easier now. The pain has not gone away. A co-worker told me it won't ever go away, but it just becomes more bearable as time passes. We'll see.
One thing that my mom during the holidays every year, as far back as I can remember, is bake fruitcake. Her fruitcake was called "light" or "white" fruitcake; it is not the kind of fruitcake which comes in the metal can. That type is laden with fruits and is more fruit than cake. My mom's fruitcake was definitely more cake than fruit. The cake was dense, similar (but not identical) to a poundcake in texture. It was more dense, actually.
And I never liked it (sorry, Mom).
My mom's fruitcake was too intense for me. Her siblings in town actually loved her fruitcake. In fact, I would always hear UJohn ask her when she was going to make it. I much preferred it when, on rare occasion, she strayed and made a more poundcake-like version. In hindsight, I think she made it so she could say how much she preferred her version.
There will be none of my mom's fruitcake this year. At least no rendition of it will come from my kitchen. Instead, I will be making the fruitcake I like. My fruitcake is like the "other" version which my mom would make, the one with the poundcake texture and flavor, studded here and there with bits of candied fruit (I fondly recall Pennant brand in the tubs) and pecans (Mom used walnuts). There will also be no raisins. One thing I remember was my mom adding whiskey to the batter. My recipe has no whiskey, but I highly recommend generously brushing the finished loaves with rum. The rum will add a nice flavor and help keep the cake moist. My friend Sid's mom would actually soak cheesecloth in whiskey or rum and wrap each loaf in the alcohol-soaked cheesecake prior to wrapping in plastic.
Oh, I'm certain my mom's family will ask if I plan to carry the fruitcake-making torch. I will politely shake my head. No point in leading them on only to end up with unfulfilled expectations.
1 c butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 c flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 c assorted dried/candied fruit
1/2 c chopped nuts
1/4 c rum
Grease and flour 5 mini loaf pans (cut parchment to fit bottom) or 1 tube pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 2 c flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, toss 1/4 c flour, fruit, and nuts until all coated. Fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan(s). If using mini loaf pans, a little more than 3 #10 dishers will go into each pan. Bake for 45 minutes (mini loaves) or 1 hour and 20 minutes (tube pan). Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set on wire rack. Brush top and sides of cake with rum. Cool completely then wrap with plastic wrap.
Fall break came and went. I'm not sure how I got so little accomplished. I'm glad tomorrow is a holiday, election results notwithstanding. I did my civic duty and voted (absentee). And I will be expecting a day of leisure tomorrow. Perhaps that's exactly how I got so little done over Fall break. Oh well. . .
This weekend was far from leisurely. I watched from the sidelines as our team lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals of the state football tournament. They lost by 1 point. One point. Sure, there were tons of terrible calls made and an equal amount of infractions overlooked. . .all benefitting the other team. But the boys held their heads high and hung in there until the end. I guess yanking the facemask is allowed in the other league. It's too bad stupid, integrity-lacking adults ruin it for kids.
On Saturday, OllieMama and I trekked over to the sunny side for some much-needed retail therapy. We braved the food at Genki Sushi (my first choice Japanese restaurant was not open for lunch). It was disappointing. They had no avocado, so they made sushi without avocado. How can a California roll NOT have avocado? OllieMama actually wanted to eat the scallop mayo sushi, but it was no longer on the menu. We also braved the Saturday crowds in Costco. It was crazy. At one aisle intersection, there was a massive cart jam. The ladies "talking story" in the middle of the cart tangle seemed oblivious to the mess they caused. Once again, I was reminded that Friday evening is the best time to go to Costco.
When I got home, which wasn't late at all, I was greeted by the smell of bananas. The aroma was a not-so-subtle hint that it was time to do something (other than eat raw) with the bananas. Luckily, I had sour cream on hand and could whip up a batch of these without a trip to the store.
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c mashed ripe banana
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 c sour cream
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with liners. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add banana, vanilla, and sour cream. Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to banana mixture. Divide batter among liners. Bake for 25 minutes.
Last Friday, I got a frantic call from D1. She wanted my salsa recipe. I chuckled silently to myself. She goes to college in the land of salsa, good, real salsa, and she wants to make the salsa I make. But being the good mommy that I am, I pointed her in the direction where she could get the recipe any time.
I know I haven't been too good about blogging recently. I just haven't been able to do it weekly like I used to (a few years ago, I had the gumption to do it twice per week). Blame other hobbies and having a shitload of other things to do, as well as poor time management on my part. But D1's call reminded me that being able to provide her with recipes of "home food" (or at least a place where she can go to get them without relying on her own organizational skills) is a good reason to try to post regularly.
Back in 2013, I posted a recipe for beef stew made in a crock pot. I went on at length about my history with beef stew. It's been about three years since that post, and a lot has changed. I will never get to have my mother's "natural" stew again. I'm not saying that I would want to eat it, but I would love to have her offer some to me. That won't happen, and I have very little confidence that my father would actually know how to make it. And if he offered me some, I'd refuse it anyway.
I still don't like beef stew very much, but I cook it more now than I used to. But after D1's call, I thought I'd be remiss in not posting a beef stew recipe she could easily make. According to The Help and UJames, this version tastes very much like the one served at Cafe 100, an iconic Hilo drive-in. Many Hilo ex-pats make it a point to stop there when they come home for a visit. And if, like D1, you don't own a pressure cooker, you can make this the traditional way. The pressure cooker advantage is being able to cook and serve a pot of beef stew for dinner in the short time between the end of the standard work day and dinner.
So after D1 had a chance to go to the website and check out the salsa recipe, I received another call from her. This time, she asked, "Mom, do you really put in onions, bell peppers and olives, in the salsa? Did you really put stewed tomatoes in the salsa I ate at home? I don't think I eat any of those things." I told her she did indeed eat all of those things. Now I'm hoping she won't call and ask about the stewed tomatoes in this recipe!
2 lbs boneless beef stew meat
1 c water
1 onion, cut in chunks
1 stalk celery, sliced
3 carrots, cut in chunks
2 russet potatoes, cut in chunks
1 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes (broken up with hand blender or kitchen shears)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
Pressure Cooker instructions: Dust meat in flour and brown in heated oil. Drain excess fat. Add water, bring to a boil and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes (may go up to 30 minutes if meat chunks are large). Use natural release method to lower pressure. Add vegetables and other ingredients and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Use cold water release method to lower pressure. Thicken gravy by mixing 1 tbsp flour with some water and add to stew. Return to a boil, then simmer until ready to serve.
Traditional instructions: Dust meat in flour and brown in heated oil. Drain excess fat. Add water, bring to a boil and simmer about 1 hour. Add vegetables and other ingredients and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked. Thicken gravy by mixing 1 tbsp flour with some water and add to stew. Return to a boil, then simmer until ready to serve.
Nice to have a holiday, and a Monday holiday beats a Friday holiday.
I know I've been slacking here, but I was just overwhelmed with other duties to keep up with the blogging. I hope I can be more reliable with the posts. . .not sure if I'm ready for the weekly schedule yet. Blogging has been a way for me to keep in contact with my far away cousins and friends.
I was supposed to host a get together with my work friends, but we cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Lester knocking at the gate. This was unfortunate because Lester turned out to be nothing, and I know we would've had a nice time.
One monumental thing about this past weekend was trying Indian food. Members of the Panda Club go to one of the local Indian restaurants, Kamana Kitchen, for lunch, and they keep going back for more. Not being too adventurous when food is concerned, I never had the desire to try it. The Help, on the other hand, has been itching to go. The Panda Club had graciously offered to take him, but the last time they offered, the timing wasn't right.
In a weak moment this weekend, I allowed The Help to pick up food from the restaurant of his choice, and he chose Kamana Kitchen. Luckily I had a message thread on my phone and piped in, "someone says chicken saag is good". I had no idea what chicken saag could be.
To my great surprise, the food turned out to be delicious. Of course, I didn't eat any lamb. The mixed kebab was tasty (I ate the shrimp and chicken), and the chicken saag was also good. There was absolutely nothing in the seasoning which I found offensive. And no sign of the devil's condiment in any of the dishes The Help chose.
But there was something missing, and I realized it during my conversation with The Keeper. The meal needed some kind of alcohol. The Keeper suggested beer, but I don't drink beer (or any malt-based beverage). I have a fine bottle of sake, but that wouldn't match. Earlier today, I realized I missed the opportunity to have a Moscow mule.
You can read all about the Moscow mule here, and I'm sure Otee's friend Rick, bartender extraordinaire at MW Restaurant can make a mean one. At home, The Help is in charge of bartending, and had I been thinking straight on Saturday, I would've definitely put in my request. The Help adds something a little special to his version. The picture to the left showcases the special ingredient.
I think I will have one of these tonight. . .with a teriyaki steak!
4 lbs country style spare ribs
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c catsup
1/2 c shoyu
1/2 c oyster sauce
thumb-size ginger, divided
1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tbsp orange marmalade
Boil ribs for 25 minutes with half of ginger (smashed). Meanwhile, grate remaining ginger and combine with remaining ingredients. Drain ribs well and place in shallow baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour sauce over ribs and bake for 1 1/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.