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When a request came in for a recipe for a pumpkin crunch dessert, I thought, “Finally, an easy one.” Even after I got to the caveat — a pumpkin crunch that does not use a boxed cake mix, please — I thought, “How hard could that be?”

Krizpin Oades finally has a room with a view. Specifically, a kitchen with a view, all the way to the sea. "Toward sunset you'll see the owls come out," Oades said during a recent interview at a table overlooking that vista.

Shibazuke is a member of the tsukemono clan of Japanese pickled vegetables. Although it is made with cucumbers and eggplant, its closest relation is umeboshi, the tart pink pickled plum that is the heart of a true musubi.

If your cookbook collection is multiplying faster than your shelf space, here's a thought: Use the library as your, well, library. Identify the cookbooks that you don't use often, check to see if your neighborhood library carries them, then kiss those books goodbye.

When it comes to the pursuit of meatloaf, there are certain truths that I hold to be self-evident. Among these: Must add a good amount of liquid (usually milk, for moistness) and something acidic (often tomatoes, to brighten up the flavor). Failure to do so leads to a big, brown blob.

If your mission is to save money and eat better by packing healthier home lunches, the Mason jar is ready to be your friend. The container that revolutionized home canning more than 150 years ago is undergoing a revival as a receptacle for grab-and-go meals.

Back in elementary school my class took a field trip to a Japa­nese fish-cake factory in Hilo. Whatever it was we were supposed to learn, I did not absorb the message — all I remember is passing by a bucket of fish paste that looked like congealed brain matter.

Traditionally, a pound cake comprises a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. By that definition, this cake is a half-a-pound cake. Sort of.

It's been a good season for lilikoi, judging from the bags of fruit I've been given in the last couple of months by my suppliers, who at this time of year are my very best friends.

Gwen Nakamura's friends and family reap the benefits of her inability to sleep until the sun comes up. "I'm an early riser," Naka­mura says. "I get up at 3 or 4 a.m." And then what? She bakes. "This morning I made a lemon pound cake."

It's all well and good to produce a loaf of bread that's packed with seeds, grains and nutrition. But if it resembles a brick, where's the joy? Happily, it is possible to bring forth from your oven, and without much trouble, a soft yet substantial loaf with various whole grains.

If you made a resolution to cook more good stuff and eat less bad, by this point in the new year, you already may be backsliding. Convenience meals and fast food can seem an easy fix when workdays are busy, commutes are long and your house is full of hungry people at 6 p.m.

Rainbow Drive-In serves roast pork on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays but generally sells out about two hours before closing time. Vernon Tam has been late too often and wants to take matters into his own hands.

It's great when someone does all your work for you; doubly great when in the end you get ice cream. My hero today is Mandy Blake, and by extension Louli Yardley, and by further extension Yardley's mother, the late, great Maili Yardley, who wrote The Honolulu Advertiser's food column, "The Island Way."

When a message begins "I am hoping for a miracle," I know what to expect: a request for a recipe from a restaurant long gone. But this is the season of miracles, so I close every year with a list of these long-shot requests, and sometimes we get lucky.

Talking to strangers can pay off. Especially when the stranger is a nice lady with a good recipe and a willingness to share.

You, or someone related to you by blood or marriage, had better start baking. Preferably cookies. It is required by law, I believe in the Constitution.

Korean-style fried chicken distinguishes itself in a world of chicken nuggets by way of its sweet-spicy-sticky sauce. Helen Slaughter has enjoyed this style of chicken for years and asked for a recipe.

Thanksgiving approaches, time for my annual mash-up of recipes and charity. This is our eighth year of offering the five top "By Request" recipes of the year as a benefit for the Star-Advertiser's Good Neighbor Fund, which provides aid to families in need.

While I was taking a nap one day last week, my slow cooker baked a cheesecake. It was a good one, too: nice, light texture, a chocolately crust and the sweet-salty flavors of the Snickers bar that was layered on the bottom.

I have two close friends and a brother-in-law who are gluten sensitive, so the world of baked goods is a minefield for them. Any type of wheat or wheat byproduct lurking in a muffin or a cookie could touch off symptoms from a stuffy nose to serious indigestion.

Last week's recipe for a guava chiffon cake led to this week's request for a coconut chiffon from a reader in Hilo.

The guava chiffon cake was born shortly after Herbert and Sue Matsuba opened Dee Lite Bakery on Mokauea Street in 1959. It was the younger sibling of Dee Lite's first chiffon cake, a coconut version.

The plate lunches at Rainbow Drive-In fall firmly in the category of not-broke-don't-fix. Change is unnecessary for purposes of taste or economics (Rainbow already moves 1,600 to 1,800 plate lunches every day, thank you very much). But growth, that's OK.

Chandra Lucariello is a fan of beets. "They're so sweet, and they have an earthy character to them." And a pretty ruby color, plus uniqueness. Because who thinks of boozing them up?

People generally like coleslaw because it's creamy, tasty and such a good match for barbecue, fried chicken and other foods that set off the happy meters in our minds.

Two supermarket chains were among the most active recruiters at the Culinary Institute of America when Keoni Chang was a student there in the early '90s.

What do you know about okra? It's slimy, right? And hairy. It goes into gumbo and lots of soups, stir-fries and stews, especially of the Fili­pino persuasion. And pickles — it makes nice pickles. And tempura.

We call ours Dobash cake; they call theirs Dobos torte. They are similar in name only. A Dobos, a 19th-century creation credited to Hungarian baker Jozsef Dobos, is many-layered and many-flavored, a vanilla sponge cake with raspberry and chocolate buttercream frosting between the very thin layers, caramel over all and nuts sprinkled around.

The world gives us many great food combinations: peanut butter and chocolate, sea salt and caramel, furikake and popcorn.

My friend Mary asked if I could track down the recipe for shrimp scampi that she remembers enjoying at the old Columbia Inn.

Sometimes a person's culinary advances simply outpace the ability of the average eater to appreciate their significance. For example, the time I baked a pie-cake, or a p'cake, as I have come to call it.

Recently we held a dinner with two highly revered winemakers from Italy. As expected, their wines were compelling and interesting, but it was the conversation we had that I found particularly thought-provoking.

I find myself feeling pretty virtuous when I can put a dish together using a handful of local vegetables and maybe some fish from local waters. Look at me, all locavore and such.

Sometimes in our attempts to eat better, we do a little bit right and a little bit wrong. It's that old two-steps-forward-one-step-back thing, in food form. Gordon Wong took note of the problem in a recent phone call.

At $22.99 a pound, salted butterfish can wreak havoc with your laulau budget. Solution: Salt it yourself. Allan Chun wrote for instructions in doing just that.

Hollandaise is one of the five French "mother" sauces upon which the cuisine is built (the others, if you're counting, are bechamel, veloute, tomato and Espanole, or brown sauce).

April was National Soy Foods Month. Don't be sad if you didn't realize you were supposed to celebrate. May is National Salad Month and now you can catch up.

Edwin Ohta is carrying a torch for one of his favorite meals:"I cannot find any place that serves old-fashioned-style hamburger steak," Ohta wrote.

I have been pairing German rieslings with Asian-inspired foods for a long time. Slightly sweet, fruity, lower-alcohol wines wonderfully counter salty and spicy components, the same way a bite of cold apple or pineapple would.

Our hero of the day wishes to remain anonymous, which is too bad, because when you taste her dessert you will want to shake her hand.

We never had peanut butter coffee cake in any of the school cafeterias in any of the three institutions of my public school career. I want my money back.

For those who think bread pudding is too mushy, too eggy, too bland: Give it another try, using this recipe from the past. Noella Narimatsu wrote in search of the bread pudding served at the F.W. Woolworth store downtown, which closed in 1997. She remembered it as "really moist."

Once in a while you should cook something that scares you. Builds character. That said, I decided against the scariest recipe I could find on the new website: grape Jell-O with sauerkraut and hot dogs. My brain recoils at the very thought.

To go forward, look back. Way back. Way, way back. This is the premise of the Paleo Diet, which advocates eating as our earliest ancestors did in Paleolithic times, before we learned to milk cows or raise grain.

Remember that big old horse at the entrance? The wagon wheels in the dining room? The animal heads over the buffet line? Remember the buffet?

An advantage of planning ahead: You can corn your own beef for St. Patrick's Day. I tell you this now, weeks before the day, so you can get your affairs in order.

Minute chicken is on the menu of just about any Chinese restaurant yet seems a dish loosely defined. The only requirement is that the chicken be cut small enough to cook quickly -- in a minute, literally -- which really is true of most stir-fries.

Valentine’s Day approaches, a day when you’re expected to put in extra effort to validate your affection. May I suggest baking cookies, but not the quick and sturdy chocolate chip variety. Try harder.

Imagine yourself a newlywed, making dinner for your husband, a gentleman of Italian extraction. Let's say it's spaghetti and you make it the way your mother made it. Let's say he doesn't mince words.

I can't swear to the provenance of this recipe, but I can swear to its deliciousness and to its suitability to a rice-loving place like ours. Lee Wical wrote in search of a recipe for Canlis Rice, which his wife used to make in the 1950s. His request was published here in my annual New Year's call-out for recipes that have proved difficult to find.

Karaage chicken is the Japanese version of chicken nuggets. Like nuggets, karaage comes in many versions, but the general theme is bite-size bits of boneless chicken marinated in a soy-sauce base, then lightly breaded and fried.

Kathy Laoron emailed me early last year with a list of recipe requests from restaurants long gone. I told her not to get her hopes up, and she said, "If I get just one recipe, then it's as if I won the lottery."

I like to start out the year with a call for help, a tradition that often reaps rewards in recipes. It’s an out-with-the-old custom: Printed here are requests I received in 2013 that I could not fulfill. Through the kindness of strangers, I hope to bring a few recipes in with the new.

A recipe for New Year's good luck came to me in the form of an unsigned recipe from the Ozawa family in Mili­lani. It's a slow-cooker recipe for a traditional Japa­nese holiday dish, kuro­mame, or sweet black beans.

June Tong has a few thousand cookbooks left, and when they're gone, she's done. No more reordering from the printer, no more hauling boxes, no more mailing packages.

Here's a gift idea for the guy or gal who has everything: an invitation to the Bacon and Bourbon Dinner Party at Tiki's Grill and Bar. The event is Monday, so it will be an advance gift, allowing you to set the bar for a reciprocal present of equal warmth and yum.

This is my way of celebrating Thanksgiving: You send me five bucks. I send you five recipes. The Good Neighbor Fund gets your money to help families in need. You get ideas for entertaining your family at the dinner table. I get to feel good.

It’s two weeks and a day until Thanksgiving, not too soon to offer a couple of tips for easing the stress on Turkey Day.

This business of recipe requests usually follows a particular flow: Questions come in, recipes go out. But this time, Dagmar Oato sent in a recipe, totally unsolicited yet quite welcome in this season of pumpkins.

First, measure your pot. Circumference and depth. Then go squash hunting. Don't forget your tape measure.

You’d expect that what gets us excited here in the newsroom is news. But you would be wrong. What gets us excited are football and food, not necessarily in that order.

How come nobody ever told me sherbet was so easy to make? Four ingredients, a freezer and a mixer — I could have been doing this for years.

Typical complaint from people who have slow cookers but don't use them: They make too much food at one time. Leftovers are tiresome — just how much pot roast can a mere mortal consume? 

The ramen burger is not even 7 weeks old, and already it’s a phenomenon. They’re calling it “the food craze of the summer,” and by “they” I mean those who would stand in line for four hours for the chance at the latest, greatest edible thing.

Yes, you can find black bean sauce at any grocery store with a decent Asian-foods aisle. But make it yourself to get something fresh, suited to your taste, without additives.

Sang Yoon grew up by the beach in Los Angeles but hates sand. He was born in Seoul but as a chef only "lightly dabbles" in Korean cooking.

When Tim Rita was but a beginner — a budding bartender, a mixologist in the making — he was told to smile, often and widely.

If you saw a lady in the produce aisle last weekend spending way too much time looking at bags of carrots, that was me. I was trying to pick the one that had the most carrots of the size and shape of hot dogs. Not too fat, not too thin and not too tapered.

When I start my food truck operation (which would be after I get a truck, a lotta food and a whole lotta startup cash), the theme will be waffle sandwiches. Wafflewiches.

Georgiana Santana fell in love with a fish dish in the unlikely place of a hospital cafeteria. The salmon served at the Queen's Hospital Harvest Room had a sauce made with miso and lemon.

Ursula Hirao's request made me laugh out loud. (Is that redundant? Can you laugh silently?) Anyway, she is after a recipe for a chicken curry with tomatoes that she used to make for her family in the '80s, until "my husband found out it had apples in it and wouldn't eat it after that."

My friend Cynthia no longer has a positive relationship with dairy products. They are not friends.

It is my job to taste food. Presented with something succulent, I will consider the cholesterol content, then eat it no matter what. It is my sacred duty. Then sometimes I figure out how to make it and put it in front of other people, who then must do their own weighing of cholesterol versus succulence.

Joe Abilay ran a restaurant for two decades. OK, so lots of people do that. But Abilay ran his for a good chunk of that time while undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week. On another island.

I wonder how many banana bread recipes there are in the world. Thousands? Tens of thousands? A bazillion? I guess there's no such thing as too many, as long as the world gives us bananas.

Marc Vogel is a travelin' man with a travelin' pan — a 45-inch paella pan that has seen the world. Vogel is a San Francisco-based chef with a varied resume.

Went to Kauai last week. Saw new things. Made a new friend. Picked up a new recipe. That's what vacations are for.

Lisa Tam's request is for a treat that takes me back years, to my early days of operating a stove: "It was a fake malasada that was made with bread and tasted pretty much like the real thing without all the deep-fat frying," Tam wrote.

Last week, due to a little miscalculation while grocery shopping, I ended up with an excess of cucumbers in the vegetable bin. Miscalculation as in, “I wonder if I have any cucumbers, oh well, I guess I’ll buy three,” and it turns out there were already three at home.

We make cakes out of carrots, zucchini and a host of fruits, so why not tomatoes? No reason not to, and in fact bakers have been using tomato sauce, condensed tomato soup and even ketchup to make cakes for generations.

Couscous is a teeny, tiny type of pasta — so tiny that it looks like a grain and has a texture something like a grain, which makes for very interesting salads.

This story begins during the childhood of Rachel Kaminaka, specifically in the kitchen of her aunt, Natsue Iwamoto, "Aunty Na-chan." Aunty made a favorite family dessert that she just called dango.

Despite the advice of my doctor regarding sodium, and despite last week's news regarding processed meat (it's not kinda bad for you, it's REALLY bad for you), I love corned beef.

She calls him "Querido" (Spanish for "darling"). He calls her Mrs. Soto. Together they are a finely tuned pasteles pair.

A cup equals 8 fluid ounces, equals 16 tablespoons, right? It's a standardized thing, so a cup of sugar and a cup of rice take up the same amount of space in the universe. Right?

First of all, sorry, sorry, sorry. A recipe printed here Jan. 9 for Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Aikahi Elementary School proved popular with those who fondly recall their school cafeteria cookies or who just liked the idea of chocolate in their shortbread. That was the good news.

We should all eat a snake in the next few days, given that Sunday marks the dawning of the Year of the Snake.

Frances Kitabayashi would like to make use of the lilikoi growing in her yard by making lilikoi butter, a treat handy as a spread for toast, a topping on pancakes, a filling for parfaits.

If you're planning to make today's cake, a banana chiffon, get organized. This is not the kind of easy recipe that you can pull off on the fly, measuring as you go.

The recipe posse opens the year with a score of plus 5, minus 10. A list of elusive recipes printed last week in this space drew responses from readers that I expect will yield five solid recipes.

Here it is, 2013. How did that happen so fast? As is my custom, I am looking back on recipe requests that have come in through the year. I am sadly behind. How did that happen?

One holiday down, one to go. More cooking on the horizon before we make those typical January promises to be good, eat less, yada yada.

I can't really afford the cash going out or the calories coming in, yet I continue to order the peppermint mocha at such coffee emporiums as Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

What are you doing Friday night? I will be at the movies with Balin and Bilbo, Bifur and Bombur, Gandalf and Gollum. And 100 million other people. And my seed cake.

Jell-O is the go-to dessert for many during the holidays. Easy, refreshing and — with all those choices of red flavors — so full of ho-ho-ho. We all have an auntie or cousin who brings the red-green-cream-cheese layered dessert to the potluck, right? It just says Christmas.

It is the day before the great turkey holiday, time for me to say thanks to everyone who has shared a recipe with me this year.

Baking mistakes can yield happy results. The problem is re-creating the mistake, especially if you weren’t there.

Of everyone in my household, the one who spends the most time with me in the kitchen is my dog. Not that he's much help. Mostly he stares at me and waits for food to drop.

June Tong's friends and fans have been after her for years to publish a second cookbook. Tong's first, "Popo's Kitchen" from 1989, is a staple of many island kitchens, a straightforward guide to Chinese home cooking.

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