Sunday, April 24, 2016

All about Italy and patio style


Potatoes give more strength when they’re cooked with the peel.
 This is an Italian proverb I picked up in a book that makes me feel like I’m a family friend of Amy Riolo.
The deal is, “The Italian Diabetes Cookbook” is a great read, and hope for the newly-diagnosed that food can still be an adventure.
How can this be? Take Pumpkin Risotto. Olive oil and yogurt replace butter and cream to keep with dietary guidelines.
Chickpea Soup with Rosemary-Infused Shrimp is another pleasure for your table.
 Fascinating tidbits labeled Italian Living Tradition include that how one pronounced the word for chickpeas was an indicator if that person was a foreigner, thus a test for espionage.
More like that: In Roman times salt was heavily taxed, so people imported salted fish that was used as flavoring. Cheese rinds are used to simmer in soups and stews.
I’m loving every page of this book and want to put it in the hands of a diabetic I know, she will cook me everything in this book. Let’s start with Pan-Fried Fennel with Parmesan. I know several Southeast Texas Italians have this “finocchi” growing in their gardens.

Sounds Good This Sounds Good is about feeling good. I don’t know what you’ve heard about Vionic, but I’m finding it to be true. The sandals I can’t wait to get into every evening have “orthotic technology designed to help relieve heel, knee and back pain. My friend has something like seven pairs. The arch support is something you’ll crave. This combo of alignment, “addictive” support, stability and balance is an investment in yourself, that comes with a money-back guarantee for 30 days. By then, you will be addicted. All that entertaining you plan to do by the patio and pool this summer. . . Vionic has your back. 
 darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cake or bread?

 


Cake or bread?
I ate some cornbread so rich and sweet that people at the table debated if it was cornbread or pound cake. It came from Anna’s Mexican Bakery, where you walk in and grab a tray and tongs and pick your fill of colorful breads, cookies and other sugary delights.
It is at 2570 Calder Avenue in Beaumont.
I went back the next day and snapped a photo to prove that beautiful bread was cornbread. When I say beautiful, I mean that literally. Some breads are decorated with floral designs.

Sweet Poison
Beat sweet poison one meal at a time
Juice Lady advises you to go cold turkey and cut out the sweets. After some detox time, she say’s you’ll feel better and get all kinds of more healthy. Don’t worry. You can still have fruity desserts that satisfy, and she includes recipes.
The book is “The Juice Lady’s Sugar Knockout: Detox to Lose Weight, Kill Cravings, and Prevent Disease.”
I like her style, even though she presents some hard challenges for most of us. But you know author Cherie Calbom is right. Can you do it? I don’t even have a juicer, but I’d be up for something  with a name like this:
You are Loved Cocktail
From the Juice Lady’s Anti-Inflammation Diet
3 carrots, scrubbed well, tops removed, ends trimmed
2 ribs of celery with leaves
1 apple
1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
1 handful of spinach
1 lemon, peeled if not organic
1 half beet, scrubbed well, with stems an leaves
Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube. Juice all ingredients and stir. Pour into a glass and drink as soon as possible. Serves 1-2. 
darraghcastillo@icloud.com 





Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Grow something and pass the onion wine


Pineapple sage was one of my favorite finds at the Jefferson County Master Gardeners plant sale at the airport. My friend picked me up and we went as a trio with her daughter. They went nuts with the hanging baskets while I headed toward the herbs.
They were first timers and then we hit the test gardens at the airpor.
Then we had some more fun at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, where I again, headed for the herbs. As usual, the grounds were full of photographers and fresh-faced graduates.
Those with green thumbs are out there spreading their seeds of knowledge and anyone willing to learn will be beside them, digging in the dirt.



Onion wine
I got a little misty listing to the Pantano red onion cooking wine pitch. It’s for cooking, not drinking, and there’s no salt, a woman in the family of this Sulphur, La.-based company told me.
There’s a bayou scene on the label. That’ got me, too.
Then I saw a painting in their booth at a merchant show. The bayou sene, painted by a relative, had a pirouge boat with a tiny scripture verse painted on it. This story was like they where fishers of men, or fishers of cooking fans, like me. I took the bottle home and am using it with a variety of meats. Get their story at pantanocookingwine.net



Monday, March 28, 2016

Have you hit Aero Drive in Port Arthur?


Cake balls from Debbie’s Delights Bakery are a culinary draw to new shopping and business developments on Aero Drive in Port Arthur. This adorable shop features pastels on the walls and in the sweets counter.
Wallpaper is coming back, say the women of Decorating Depot, who do the “legwork” and “research” for your home’s new look. Flooring, wall covering and décor are featured in a spacious setting for your consideration. Two + Company has an elegant look in its new Aero Drive home with the latest in elegant spring fashions and accessories. They make neutrals look like knockouts.

Tillamook
The Tillamook brand is something else my sister and her friend were happy to find on their visit to  Southeast Texas. They visited the place where this brand of cheese and ice cream is produced in Oregon. Tillamook is a Native American word for “land of many Waters.” Packaging features an 1855 schooner, “Morning Star,” that carried fresh dair products from Tillamook, up the coast to Portland. My mother noticed this brand of ice cream filling shelves when they were empty of Blue Bell. Our guests went shopping and brought some home.
Marionberry Pie features Madagascar vanilla ice cream with real pie crust pieces and an Oregon marionberry swirl. This puts me in the mind of the “Portlandia” sketch where everyone wanted to try the marionberry pancakes at a new restaurant on Portlandia. The line was down the block.
Oregon Hazelnut and Salted Caramel were good and creamy options. We sampled Tillamook cheese varieties and were happy new customers of that, as well.


Bevers ready to speak on ovarian cancer
I met Dennis Bevers at a business opening in Lake Charles. He was a chamber of commerce representative with a friendly attitude and he gave me his card, mentioning his promotional item business sometimes takes him through Port Arthur.
He stopped in to chat with me but I missed him, but got an update. He lost his wife to ovarian cancer, very quickly. Now, he’s all about speaking to groups to educate women and urge them to get tested.
Here’s a portion of what Louis Stutes wrote about Bevers in the Lake Charles American Press:
“Dennis Bevers, whose wife died just days after being diagnosed with cancer, knows all too well the words: “It’s just too late.” Now he wants to ensure that others never hear them.
Doctors diagnosed ovarian cancer in Bevers’ wife, Sandy, in September. Four days later she was gone.
“I just want to warn women everywhere,” Bevers said. “My focus will be warning women about the dangers of ovarian cancer for the rest of my life.”
He said he has so far warned about 1,000 women about ovarian cancer, passing along information about symptoms.
To reach Bevers about speaking to your group, call him at 337-527-8717.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Simply Delicious Creole opens in Groves and Touch Coffee


Simply Delicious, name says it all
The party began an auto parts store and gravitated toward the back, where Mavis R. Rodgers was dishing up shrimp and grits and good advice on Creole cooking.
“Everybody used to cook and get together as a family,” said Rodgers, of Simply Delicious Creole Kitchen, Main Ave., Groves.
She grew up grinding and prepping food for her grandmother’s table, then joined the U.S. Navy.
“I just happened to go in the kitchen and I was sold,” she said.
From Navy to restaurant runner, Rodgers offers a menu including fried catfish Maurice, jambalaya and red beans. She’s got a big smile and open personality that draws you into her stories.
Rodgers catered a Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce morning business connection at NAPA Auto Parts-Mid County Auto Supply on Nederland Avenue. Those who hadn’t already tried her dishes said they were headed there soon. Look for photos of her family influencers on the wall, she said.



Touch Coffee, taste coffee. Fast
       Makers are calling the Touch® T526S coffee system “ground-breaking,” no pun intended. My favorite part is that in addition to brewing up your favorite K-Cup, you can use the mesh cup included to make a cup, or larger carafe, or travel mug, of you own loose grind. That’s good for the environment and your smooth, tasty morning.
       You’ll be making your own coffee memes for Facebook about how much you love it.
       It’s a handsome machine, compatible with “any cup at all—from existing Keurig K-Cups® to generic cups, in addition to Touch's ground-breaking  XBold Cups™, XLarge Cups™ and reusable Refill Jumbo Cup.” 
       Got 20 seconds? Here’s what the makers say:
       According to the National Coffee Association USA, the brewing water temperature for a good cup of coffee is "between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction." The Touch® T526S brewer reaches  this ideal temperature by using its Flash Heating system and starts brewing in under 20 seconds after being off all night. Plus, Touch heats just enough water for the selected  cup size as opposed to the entire tank of water, and the machine turns itself off after using, making it more energy efficient than its competitors.”
       I’m trying this with Touch L.A. Coffee, in Sunset Strip roast. These cups allow up to 30 percent more coffee from each capsule. All this coffee talk has its own language. I’m just speaking the delicious-convenient-efficient dialect.
       Look it all up at www.TouchBeverages.com.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bacon-Wrapped boudain is trending. Who's tried it?


       Who tried the bacon-wrapped boudain?
       Nadine Kibodeaux of Nederland read about my “discovery” of  bacon-wrapped boudain in last Wednesday’s Culinary Thrill Seeking, ran to Market Basket, and was dining on it by day’s end.
       A certain officer of the law with a Port Arthur News column messaged me that he had possibly gained weight just by reading about this temptation.
       My family tried it for company and we have plans for the next installment.
       The story is that I just heard about the concept that does seem pretty obvious around here. I love that I kept mentioning it to hard-core cooks I know and everyone’s eyes got big. I “put it out there” and area foodies are responding.
       I tried the bacon wrapped boudain, Darragh, and will definitely have it again,” said Kebodeaux,” who I met through Texas Artists Museum.  “I used Zummo boudain and I did not pre-cook the bacon. I wrapped a thin sliced piece of bacon in a spiral manner around
the link of boudain and put it under the broiler, turned iftover a couple of times, and removed it when
the bacon was done. It was wonderful. I used a throw-away foil pan because all the fat from the bacon
goes into the pan and keeps it from getting in your oven. You are right, being on the border of Louisiana
where boudain is "king", I can't believe we had not heard of doing this.”
Here’s what we did:
My sister and her friend were headed in from Alabama, so here’s how we tried the bacon-wrapped boudain idea that just came into our lives.
First of all, ordering a shipment of D.J.’s boudain to take home to her son is always a priority. That done, we tended to our own links, cut in half and wrapped around the links, with the skin still on.
Just as predicted, they were popular.
My mother’s critique is that she got thick-cut bacon and she thought that a thinner cut would have crisped up more. I had already pre-cooked the bacon to give it a head start before running the pan under the oven.
These were served as supper with an omelet, biscuits and jasmine tea jelly that my nephew’s fiancé sent over.
Still loving your reactions and stories, readers. Keep ‘em coming.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Salad .jpgDeclare it salad week. Photo by Darragh Doiron.
Salad all week
The date on the package said my cottage cheese should still be good, but after looking forward to plopping some giant berries into it all morning, it was decidedly not good.
At lunch break I headed to the grocery store for a week of salad fixings, but there was no way to wash all that goodness off and assemble a salad within the hour.
That’s why I ended up getting one chicken leg for 88 cents at Walmart. Turns out Walmart fried chicken is pretty good, even on the run.
So what do I have to work with?
I bought romaine lettuce, kale, carrots and avocados. At home there was a purple onion and oranges. I’m seeing variations all week.
If you didn’t know, a bag of chips turns into great croutons. Crush them up in the bag a little or a lot. I’m adding nuts some days and pork skins other days.
Some new cottage cheese and Greek yogurt will also go into the mix.
Dressings? Olive oil and vinegar most days, but green salsa will make a nice switch.
Oranges and apple slices will add color and crunch on other days.
Do I have more salad ideas than days of this week?
Yes. Do you now have more salad ideas? You’re welcome.