Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pecans deserve a festival

 
Pecans get to play in Groves
                      It’s the big 50 for the Groves Pecan Festival and we’re all ready for some pecan pie, and fun.
                      I turned straight to the pecan section when I received the book “Cork and Knife: Build Complex Flavors with Bourbon, Wine and Beer and More.” Matt and Emily Clifton, founders of Nerds with Knives blog, have done a little science – and genius contemplating -  to create some flavors that won’t quit. She’s from the Upper West Side and he’s from Britain, so, they’re open to a whole wide world of goodness.
                      A twist that caught my eye is Bourbon Sloppy Joes with Cheddar and Pickled onions. Don’t stop there. Gaze at photos and recipes for pears poached with hibiscus and rose, plum and rosemary galette with red wine syrup, chicken thighs with white wine, Meyer lemon and fennel and seared scallops in gin with brown butter and tarragon. Learn to cook with brandy, rum, tequila, wines, beer, sake, gin and more. They view the liquor cabinet as an extension of the pantry.
                      Back to the pecans, please. Turns out this couple would make Bread Pudding with Cinnamon-Whiskey Apples, and that sounds just like what we’d do with them in Southeast Texas. Now, they make Cheesecake Bars with Pecan Crust and Bourbon Caramel for the holidays. They claim that holiday gifts of the bites will make your neighbors forget about all the times you put out recycling while dressed in less than your best.
                      Get the book and make some of these delights to celebrate the Groves Pecan Festival, Oct. 24-27 in Groves.

                      More delish:

         * Jarlesberg Cheese Snacks – You know how there’s real, simple yogurt, and that conveniently packaged, sugary and colored stuff geared to kids? You really have to read the labels. Now cheese can be cheese, and go easily in your lunch. Jarlesberg has added individually wrapped mild, mellow and nutty cheese sticks to their line. I’d pack one of these to go anywhere. They taste a little more gourmet than you may be used to in this format.  There’s a 60 year old Norwegian recipe that makes it taste so good. I read up on this cheese, which has holes like cheese from other countries. Now I’m on board with the Norwegians. Remember, just as in a fine wine, it’s good to read your product’s tasting notes. That’s where I got the nutty note. Once you read about it, the “nutty” really comes out. Learn more at www.jarlesberg.com


                      * Borden Kid Builder -  I still don’t know if Mom ever knew my lunch money was going to chocolate milk. That was a little carton of fun for a stretch of elementary school. If you still crave it, Borden how has little packable bottles of Kid Builder, which is 2 percent reduced fat, no sugar added milk with 50 percent more calcium and protein. Parents and kids should love that in glorious chocolate. I’ve tried it and it’s so rich and creamy I made 1 12-ounce serving last three days in an attractive juice glass. Felt classy drinking chocolate milk from a glass in the morning. Like I was on vacation. And guess what? There’s strawberry, too!

                      Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is on board with kid foods and big-kid gourmet foods, too. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Not so hard to get into a pickle; Tuesday desserts

 It's not that hard to get in a pickle.
                      Okay, so maybe they’re not real pickles, but they sure look good in a fall kitchen display. And they could impress visitors. Just look how much time you must have spent growing, harvesting and pickling your produce. Or not.
                      I like the idea of pickles more than eating them. There’s such a thing as quick pickles but the ones I just “put up” are even quicker. I raided my mom’s condiment pantry and found a jar of “fire and ice” pickles she made some time ago. That’s the sugar and hot sauce trick on store-bought pickles. Love them.
                      There were only two pickles left in a jar of spicy liquid. I further consolidated other jars of capers, peppers, etc. and then cut up a store-bought squash my sister brought over. I packed the yellow slivers into the “new” liquid and have a jar full of fresh something to admire before I crack it open to enjoy.
                      If you have more faux pickling ideas, share them with our readers.
                     

              It’s Tuesday. How about desert?

                      For 20 years Mary Younkin has remembered how a berry sauce concocted of nothing but frozen berries and sugar transformed bowls of ice cream. She shares Five-Minute Berry Sauce for your own pleasures, including cheesecake, brownies, cakes and yogurt.
                      She follows up her book “The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook” with “The Weeknight Dessert Cookbook” giving readers a grip on coconut lime cookies, brown sugar peach cobbler and pretzel avalanche fudge. Need something to take to all those school and church dinners? Younkin can make you popular. But tell everyone where you got this recipe. It’s a Page Street Publishing Co. book subtitled “80 Irresistible Recipes with Only 5 to 15 Minutes of Prep.”
                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves pickle and other ideas from readers. Share with her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, September 29, 2019

How hard is it to get some cereal?

 

Shopping for my mom

She had a list of three ingredients. How hard could that be?
I joked that I had “issues” with every single item of her longer list, but this was for cereal, cheese and SPAM. What is my gourmand, cookbook author mother going to do with SPAM? I dunno. But I was IN this thing.

I had to call her twice and seek professional Walmart help for the third thing.
Cheerios came in a dozen varieties, but not the one she wrote down. Something about clusters. I thought they were just Os. The shelf offered frosted, chocolate, peanut butter, regular, peach, honey nut this and that, multigrain, maple, oat crunch, blueberry, apple cinnamon, very berry, gluten free and some other things.
I called Mom. We worked something out.
She actually wanted some Kashi, too, so I kept her on the line and we went through those many varieties.
Then there was SPAM, of which I’m not a fan, but can tolerate being innovative with whatever is left over from hurricane season. SPAM comes in jalapeno, turkey, hickory smoke, bacon, hot and spicy, classic, reduced sodium, lite and more.
I called her a second time, and we chose the reduced sodium. Win-Win?
There was a wall of cheese offerings, but I didn’t see the little individually-wrapped ones she asked for. Thankfully, an employee passed by and directed me to deli.
“Thanks, I was about to cry a little bit,” I told her.
“That’s what we’re here for,” she cheerfully responded.
                     

                             “Cultural Insurrection: A Manifesto for the Arts Agriculture and Natural Wine” may require that you have two things nearby as you ingest Jonathan Nossiter’s writing: a glass of wine and a dictionary. I haven’t heard some of those terms since Dr. Roth’s film genre class at Lamar University. Nossiter is in the cinema business and this book relates film to wine and “cultural wine” of our society. He discusses the threat of an ecological apocalypse, both environmental and cultural and he has rekindled and interest in my viewing some classic films I’ve not yet studied. He has also made me aware that my $7 supermarket wine isn’t cutting it. Here’s an FYI. He mentions the movie “Paris, Texas.” I’ hear they filmed a segment at the Keyhole Club in Port Arthur. Anyone here have a story about that?

              Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready for more pumpkin spice updates from readers. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Have a bog this rice month


             
                      September is National Rice Month. You may have already celebrated that 100 times already this month. This is where we grow it and love it. What do you think they might be doing about it in South Carolina? Make a chicken bog. Never heard of that? Me either and the book with the recipe explains it is relatively unheard of outside of the Carolina region. They call it kind of a gumbo but the thickness makes me think of kind of a jambalaya. Get the book and you can make it and tweak it to your heart’s desire.
            The book is Smoked: One Man's Journey to Find Incredible Recipes, Standout Pitmasters and the Stories Behind Them.” Ed Randolph, owner of Handsome Devil Barbecue took on this task. Are you kidding me? This book could be torture to read if you were hungry or could serve as a heavenly travel wish list because you’ll want to go to all the places mentioned. Texas sites include Truth Barbecue in Brenham. Are the cows happy about this place? Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood it's a place I've had the good fortune to try and love. Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart tells how they do giant beef ribs.  How about that with some creamed corn? Hardcore Carnivore in Austin deals with Texas smoked tri-tip steak in a deep mahogany color. Leroy and Lewis Barbecue in Austin has Smoked Confit Beef Cheeks. I don't want to see that I get made but I sure want to eat it. And they share a cucumber salad marinated in rice vinegar with sambal. Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas does smoked lamb chops and puts blue cheese in the cole slaw. The author managed to go from California to New York so you can eat all the way across the country. Be sure to enjoy the rice along the way.


Are you a Hueligan?
What do you have in common with people in 80 countries who want to be healthy?
Maybe you never heard Huel, said to be the fastest growing nutrition brand in the world, that has sold over 50 million meals in 80 countries. The bottle is attractive and the people drinking it in the advertisements are beautiful. So what if I cracked a joke that was like a famous meal drink for much older people. This stuff, especially chocolate, has my attention. I gave a sample bottle to someone and he ended up buying a case of it in a day’s time. Get it in bottles or get it in powder to save more dollars. Your biggest question maybe why is it called Huel. That's a funny name. It stands for human fuel. See what they did there?
So what if you're not a straight up drinker? Just like I would do, people get all gourmet and cook with that stuff. I mixed it with egg and made a nice French toast. Lovers of this product pice it up with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Why here is your perfect opportunity for a annual pumpkin updates. Add pumpkin spice into some vanilla Huel. 

Here is more on Huel. You already know if you are into this kind of thing:

-      Nutritionally Complete: Huel Powder is a nutritionally complete food that is high in protein and fiber, low in sugar and salt, rich in phytonutrients and contains all 27 essential vitamins and minerals
-      Plant-based and Lactose/Soy/GMO-Free: It contains no lactose or any animal products, no soy and no GMO
-      Huel is Food:  Huel can replace any meal or even as a between-meal snack. In this way it can be an add-on improvement to your diet to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.
-      Vegan/environmentally friendly: Being vegan and producing zero food waste means Huel has much less of an environmental impact on the planet than many other food products

You can also get more information at Huel.com.


            Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is into rice month, or any and just about any other celebration of  food and the people who get it to the table. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Get relaxed with tea, then explore the world

 Zhi Tea
      I’d already had a pretty fancy Friday evening with inspiring art and tasty tidbits at the Dishman Art Gallery opening. I still had something “behind the door” as my grandma would say. I’d been invited over to try some new teas a friend had acquired. He was also excited about his new Mueller electric kettle that lights up blue. When the water boiled, it looked like a lava lamp in there with all those dancing bubbles.
                             The tall oval tea cans held fragrant combinations of colorful blends. Based on aroma, I chose Ambrosia and I chose wisely. Still more? The host offered honey to stir in and that put the treat over the top. But wait, there’s more. We all enjoyed two vintage Twilight Zone episodes that I’d never seen.
                             I credit the host and the Zhi, which asks drinkers to pause, reflect and connect. www.zhitea.com offers a lineup of the ways tea is very good for you. It’s even been known to fight bad breath and allergies. That’s something to reflect upon. And oh, we have a new electric tea kettle just like his, now. 


         eat2explore
                        Little foodies can grab their passports and discover the world. The last time you enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, were you thinking of ibex and Corsican hare? Did you know Italy’s flag colors are green for pastures and valleys, white for snowcaps of the Italian Alps and red for the wars fought for Italian unification? Discuss all that with your children over Chicken Marsala and Chicken Milanese. A box of fun comes to your door with eat2explore. A little passport comes with ingredients instructions and facts. You shop a little and then create and learn. Explore Italy’s box includes Caesar dressing mix, panko, herbs, etc. There’s also a cool spoon rest and an even cooler flag pin to wear. Do you really need to have a kid to have fun with this program? Bring on the world. www.eat2explore.com will get you through customs.


         Smelly Proof a bold statement
                        It was red onions always for a friend of mine. She ate them daily, and had an elaborate system for lopping off the top and bottom for the choicest of rings and then wrapped the ends in what seemed like yards of foil then bagged them to keep the rest from smelling up her fridge. I couldn’t fathom her complaint that she could smell them through her plastic bags. Until the day she sent me home with her red onion surplus and I got a whiff.
                             That pungency on the plate is way different if inhaled out of context. Whew! Smelly Proof storage bags are here to help. They’re reusable, durable and lock in odors as they keep food fresh with airtight zippers, makers say. Use them for cooked foods, marinades, etc. Smelly Proof is sold on Amazon, at Walmart and directly on SmellyProof.com. They’re almost too good to use, because you want to make sure you have plenty. Go ahead, stock up for kitchen, camping, trave, home and fishing. Keep some BPA-Free and FDA Approved, made-in-America bags in your desk. The nylon re-enforced extra-strength Poly Seals in odors for months, the packaging reads. Bring on those red onions.
                      Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves finding new flavors and experiences. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Greeks may have okra issues, too.


                   Slow here, in “The Greek Slow Cooker” cookbook, means an appreciation of the assemblage, flavor and love of preparation. You eat these meals slowly, too. Stuffed meatloaf, summer ratatouille and dill risotto calls for friends and good conversation. It’s expected.
                      What I didn’t expect was that Succulent Chicken and Okra Stew would be a “thing’ in Greece. Of course, we southerners deal with okra and sometimes overcoming an aversion to it. The stew is the love it or hate it dish there, because of the okra “gel” aspect and a touch of vinegar overcomes the issue there, too. That’s what Eleni Vonissakou, creater of The  Foodie Corner, writes in “The Greek Slow Cooker: Easy, Delicious Recipes from the Heart of the Mediterrnean.”  It’s a great read that wraps up with desserts and other offerings which also sound at home in Southeast Texas. Try Easy, Milky, Greek Rice Pudding and Flat Corn Bread with feta and Gruyere Cheese.


              Liquid pleasures:
                      LaCroix is making sparkling water hip. It’s all of a sudden everywhere in my vision. It’s a can of zero-calorie sparkling water I look forward to sipping in the evening. I haven’t tried all the flavors because I can’t get past lime. My mother is into it, too. I see empties all over her house.


                      Butcher’s Bone Broth Roli Roti, the Bay Area food truck turned artisanal food production company, stemmed from a “rolling rotisserie,” billed as America’s first gourmet food truck. If you like the sound of that, know you can get a flavor of that from their partnership to  Farm Fresh To You to deliver the newest items in its line of premium products, Roli Roti Butcher’s Salad Chicken and Roli Roti Butcher’s Bone Broth. Roli Roti’s Butcher’s Organic Bone Broths and Salad Chicken, which will soon be known as “Butcher’s Chicken,” are available for Farm Fresh To You members to add to their delivery when customizing their organic produce farm box.
                      Okay, that’s the mouth full of background the makers proudly share. I’m sharing that cute little jugs of chicken and bone broth pour out this more-than-trending flavor that dates back to our roots. I’m looking at the stately chicken on the label of one jug that announces it’s simmered for 24 hours. It’s the stuff. I shared some with cooking friends and I’ve enjoyed both flavors alone and cooked into rice. Swiss tradition, organic bones and carrots go into this nutritious blend. People are talking about bone broth and you’d be doing right to be talking about this one, and eating it up.

                   Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves to take it slow with her meals. Got a tip to share? Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Harvey still in our hearts


                             I wrote and lived most of this column two years ago. We were so displaced you may have missed it. When I’m far away and represent Port Arthur, people ask how it was during and after Harvey flooding. I say that if you didn’t have your home or your house flooded, then you likely had someone staying with you. We got better.
                             My home was intact and I had no problem feeding myself resourcefully, but someone staying in our house put out a crisis call and said we were eating leaves off the patio for survival. Her relative promptly got a big ice chest over from Lake Charles with chicken, pasta and peanut butter. I just couldn’t explain that as herb grower, I always go out to snip oregano, sweet potato leaves, etc. to flavor my meals.
                             Here’s how it was:

                             Still riding high from our total eclipse viewing in Tennessee, we came home to Harvey, the top Texas news.
                             My mom, recalling long power outages after Rita, was hoping we’d take her out of the flash flood path and all the way to Sherman, but alas, plans come and go so quickly in a time of potential crisis. We had seven plans and ended up pretty safe at home on Sunday.
                             Thank goodness she didn’t look out the window when our street was flooded. 
                             She mentioned cleaning our her freezer before we left, as we recall how trashed, stinky ice boxes lined the streets before. I hadn’t realize that she was thinking we’d take an ice chest full of food to our host’s home so we could cook it there. That was too much, I thought, for the willing host family to deal with. As it became clear we were staying, we started defrosting and eating up the best stuff first.
                             Where had she been hiding all that chicken, roast and Italian sausage? I got crazy with her seasonings and sauces. The best, part, it was all pretty low carb.
                             I saw on a Weight Watchers Facebook page people discussing doing some heavy Harvey snack binging, but I stayed on track with meats and veggies. Low carb and all.
                             I saw other Facebook pages people kind of freaking about where to get food at restaurants, but thanks to my mad creative cooking skills, I stayed more than nourished.
                             My colorful pitchers of drawn tap water for emergencies could have made a Pinterest post.     
                             Readers, I hope you all can get Harvey behind you soon. The rain is picking up again a I write this.
                             Here’s one of the use-it-up bites I came up with:

                             Herbal Nachos
                             Cut corn tortillas into strips and sautee in butter. (Normally I’d use olive oil, but I was trying to use up butter if the power went out.)
                             Work in any dry herbs you have and melt cheese on top. Top with chopped onions if you are lucky enough to have them.
                             Mom’s bacon crumbles, a sprinkling, a dusting of crushed red pepper

                            Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie grateful for all the people who  helped our area out during and after Hurricane Harvey. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com