Saturday, May 18, 2019

What to eat before & after Tai Chi

     
Pork skins and Topo Chico may not be the ideal pre-workout food, but they sure hit the spot when you pass by a Mexican market. I grabbed some before I tried something new and fun.
                             Through word of mouth I heard about a beginners Tai Chi Beaumont class and I headed in. I had blast learning about this ancient art that began as tactical military moves. Diane Rogers showed me how to “grasp bird’s tail” and cool slow moves that were pretty easy to pick up. The people were very kind and supportive. Look them up on Facebook and soon you could be repulsing the monkey or parting the wild horse’s main.
                             Fun stuff, and I craved Chinese food real bad later.

                 
                  HI Mountain flavors Wyoming
                             Hi Mountain Seasonings,  dubbed “authentic Wyoming,” offers western-style, small batch mesquite beef jerky hand crafted in Wyoming. That sounds like a write up for bourbon or a fine cigar, and I’m sure gentlemen hunters have relaxed by camp fires with all these things.
                             I met a representative who set up a fine display and she was very proud of her products. I’m waiting for Alaskan salmon to come my way because she offered me some brine to try. The packaging shows bears catching their own from a waterfall, but this line, which includes a Gourmet Fish and Wild River Trout line, is designed for people who like to catch their own fish and game. 
                                         Ordering Hi Mountain products is easier than tracking down the       “main ingredient” from nature. They have myriad selections.
                             For a hint of wine flavor in powdered form, stir in contents of Pinot Gris, Merlot or Chardonnay finishing sauce packets with water, heat to thicken and add cold butter. These are for meats and seafood, though I tried it with eggs.
                             Learn how to get smoking at www.himtnjerky.com

                             “Baker’s Passport”
                             Baking isn’t just about the sweets, though Black Forest Cake from Berlin and with Chantilly Cream photographs beautifully, inside and out. You use your baking skills for  vegetable quiche, and Creole Crawfish Pie as well.
                             Food Market Gypsy is a blog on dessert, culture and cuisine. Susie@foodmarketgypsy.com is the appealing Susie Norris, who has written “Baker’s Passport: Recipes for Breads, Savvory Pies, Vegetarian Dishes, Tarts Cakes and Cookie Classic.” Her writing takes you with her on adventures the world over.
                             I’ll never look at a croissant the same way after reading that in 1686 bakers early at work heard tunneling and alerted authorities and saved Budapest. They made a created a unique pastry depicting the conqueored crescents of the Ottoman flag, the book reports.
                             A recipe for dill sauce to go with Tatziki is on the same page as one for easy buttercream icing. The author gets down into “why” we are baking, affirms buying fresh ingredients and allowing time for baking, then icing.

                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to pack up and travel with Susie Norris. Reach Doiron at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Smokin' ideas from Operation BBQ



Operation BBQ offers 200 plus smokin’ recipes from competition grand champs. It’s a page-turner because each recipe and photo is another temptation. Then they gotta throw in all these techniques and seasonings and extras? Crispy Vidalia onions, cranberry brine and Jack Daniel’s?
Stan Hays is co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief, a group that serves in the time of need. They came together after the 2011 Joplin, Mo. tornado and have served after hurricanes. We know about that in the Port Arthur area. Thank y’all!

Competition-Style Pork Butt and Crunchy Deep Fried Ribs are early recipes and the good stuff keeps coming. Do you start with salmon or meats or dive into Nuke-Seared Squid with Bombay Curry-ish Hoisin Ketchup?

Pineapple and meat parings are trending in my experience and they get notice here. Have you ever smoked a cabbage or cheese or mac and cheese? Try serving Grandma Frances W’s Calico Beans in bowls fashioned from green and red bell peppers.

They’ve got a sense of humor. Look for Three Men and a Babyback BBQ Team and Disco Pigs with Mexican Lasagna.

I won’t say a word about desserts. Not about Light as a Feather Cantaloupe Pie or Texas Bourbon-Glazed Bread Pudding or Chocolate Truffle Stout Cake with Smoked Caramel Pears.

Would someone just please make me a pork belly burnt end sandwich?

Grilled Pineapple Poblano Salsa
Diva Q, AKA Danielle Bennett suggests this for chips, over steak pork or chicken and with fish tacos and other seafoods.
2 teaspoons canola oil, plus more for coating
1 large, ripe pineapple, trimmed
1 large white sweet onion, halved
1 whole poblano pepper, seeded and halved
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 red bell pepper, finely minced
Juice and zest of two limes
One fourth cup finely minced red onion
1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the grill for medium-high heat. Oil the grates with canola oil. Slice the pineapple into half-inch thick slices.
Grill the pineapple slices directly, turning often until just tender and lightly charred, about 4 to 8 minutes.
Cube the grilled pineapple and chop the poblano and white onion into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and serve with chicken, pork or fish.


Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is very into the Q. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, May 11, 2019

You don't have to hide the califlower in the pizza

         
Pizzas with zoodles, avocado, cotija cheese and countless options are persuaders. The strawberry honey pie? That’s the one you may need convincing that it’s made with cauliflower.
                             Just let Amy Lacey have a few minutes with you. Turn pages of her book, “Cali’Flour Kitchen,” and view her smoky burrito bowl or her fig, goat cheese and arugula salad pizza. How could you not be persuaded to try her cauliflower meal made into pizza crusts as a base for super-healthy and delicious meals?
                             Lacey was willing to do a little work and research into a healthier lifestyle to deal with her diagnosis of auto-immune disease. She perfected her methods and several heads later, she mastered the cauliflower crust. Now we just have to follow her recipes.
                             When I first obtained the book, I thought “let there be desserts, too.” Naturally there were. I love it when cooks come up with better-for-you options for skeptics out there. With images in this book, even those who use fast food as a go-to would be willing to eat these natural offerings, which photograph so well. She’s not trying to “trick” picky eaters here, she’s trying to make them and their families enjoy doing the right thing.
                             Her recipes are great, but you can still use the crusts as a canvas to create your own goodies. And remember, there’s more to life – and this book – than pizza. Califlower fits into everything!



Kumana is avocado in a bottle.
                  Better let it out.
                  So, Venezuelans do this avocado sauce that I didn’t know about and Avocado in a bottle
                             Kumana has put it in a squeeze bottle and I’m squeezing it everywhere. I went through a bottle in a weekend, but is was Cinco de Mayo and I had some people over. Well, “people” was my mom and my husband, who already lives here. We all loved it. Fruits and vegetables are part of the avocado mixture that cooks into meats, serves as a chip dip and makes an easy salad dressing. I’ve been waiting for this. Here’s how the makers suggest using their different varieties:
                 
Be Original: Truest to the Venezuelan avocado sauce that inspired the Kumana line. It will take those traditional green beans to another level.

Be Mango:  Blends in mango puree which adds a hint of sweetness. Drizzle on ham (especially honey ham!) for a bold awakening.

Be Hot: Takes a splash of mango and finishes it off with just the right amount of habanero heat—delicious on potatoes.

            Darragh Doiron is an area foodie who has been eating her vegetables. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Stay Just Peachy all year long


                      Maybe you’ve never really had a peach.
                      Belinda Smith-Sullivan thinks maybe you’ve never had truly real peach experience. I mean the kind of emotional, juicy, sweet experience that makes you cry. Even those Texans who get fresh Hill Country peaches know that some of us just haven’t had that kind of one-on-one contact with a good peach that she writes about in her beautiful cookbook, “Just Peachy.”
                      Face it, many if us grew up with canned peach halves in syrup. It’s time to branch out.
                       I have a close connection to peaches from my youth. Every summer I attended Mrs. Outlaw’s sewing club with my mom and grandma and mingled with women who worked on fine needlepoint, sequined Christmas balls and myriad detail work. The Thursday sessions featured lunch at Mrs. Outlaw’s table sat with silver and fine napkins and I helped get the peach cobbler servings to the table. Those women with health issues got fresh cut peaches and a tiny bit of crust topped with a tad of cream.
                      Peach cobbler is always a happy memory for me. This book does things with the fuzzy fruit that I had never imagined. Peaches are good for the skin and are said to reduce anxiety. There are more than 300 varietals of peaches in the United States and thousands worldwide. This book has peach facts, peach festival listings and fabulous beyond-the-cobbler recipes.
                      Hot curry is a thing I’ve had before, also because of Mrs. Outlaw. Other ideas include pecan tomato gazpacho, pick pistachio chicken salad, Peach sweet potato casserole, mustard pork tenderloin and other amazing offerings.
                      For dessert you can have peach pie, fluff, cobbler, bread pudding, cake and more cake, ice cream and tart.
                      How about working peek into your corn bread or your omelet?
                      Here’s a very easy and very tempting one:

              Peach Salsa
              2 cups chopped peaches
              1 red bell peper diced
              one half red onion, diced
              2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
              1 tablespoon chopped mint
              2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
              1 tablespoon honey
              Pinch of red pepper flakes.
                      This  sweet and tangy sauce is a great accompaniment to any meal, especially baked chicken, grilled pork chops or fish.
                      In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the peaches, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, honey and pepper flakes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

              Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who aims to feel “just peachy” all year long. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, April 29, 2019

Which kind of Mom are you?


                             Don’t think you’re taking the easy way out by shopping for Mother’s Day baskets at GourmetGIftbaskets.com. It will take some shopping and clicking around to decide if she’s a Rose, Spa or gift tower kind of mom. (Pause here to say grads are covered at this site, too). I watched a mom open a slatted gift crate, unlocking rose, chocolate, cheese and crackers. The red Mother’s Day bow was an added perk. Wow, hope she shares!

                             So. Many. Ideas. For. Mom:

                             Some new, and usual, suspects are below:
                            
                             * Keto Mom: ChocZero is dark chocolate Keto bark that personal trainers and health professionals are getting behind. I’m hoarding my samples of dark and milk low carb blocks that are attractively and individually wrapped into 40 and 50 calorie servings. It tastes very rich to me, and ChocZero sugar free maple is labeled as the thickest sugar-free syrup on the market with ingredients you can trust. I’m glad industry is keeping up with this trend.
                             * Classic Mom: A waft of chocolate aroma puffed out of the bag of American Heritage Chocolate bag as I opened it to sift a small amount of finely grated dark chocolate with a hit of vanilla, orange and cinnamon onto green apples and yogurt. Just a tad elevated this simple breakfast into a gourmet treat. Oh, it’s good. Later KVLU’s classical music played as I dunked a bar of the same blend into coffee. How relaxing. The company’s other offering incude milk chocolate gourmet hot cocoa mix. It’s a Mars Wrigley Confectionery offering that connects you to their refresher course: “With its origins in the Americas over 3,500 years ago, chocolate has been woven throughout the fabric of culture for millennia. Inspiring creativity and a catalyst for making new family traditions, chocolate’s timeless story is one that spans cultures, peoples, rituals and experiences. If love makes the world go ‘round, chocolate makes it richer.” Agree with that? My yogurt breakfast was richer, as was the rest of the day.

                             * Lookin’ good Mom: ‘ME’ Lazy Daze Buttercream is a color from the upper crust Dermelect Spring Classics Collection of nail polishes inspired by Pantone’s seasonal palette. If you stroke some of this uplifting color on before you go about your motherly business, know that the peptide-infused color treatment strengthens weak, brittle nails, is water and detergent resistant and it otherwise “fancy” for mom. Wear it while you bake with the offerings from above! The “buttercream” name reminds me of some amazing homemade cakes I’ve enjoyed, though I was reminded by makers that this one is to wear, not eat. Demerlect has some products sold exclusively at Ulta.com. Iconic is a more nude/pink shade I’m enjoying form Demerlect Cosmeceuticals; 4-in-1 Snmooth Lip Solution, combining lumnouse properties of lipstick, lipstain, lip balm and lip gloss all in one. Colors are from sheer to red. Indulge mom, or yourself.
                            
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who doesn’t mind getting spoiled around Mother’s Day. Reach her at www.darraghcastillo@icloud.com
                 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Watch your tail at Cajun Fest


                            
Knights of Columbus, 3491 of Groves, is a group you’re sure to catch at Cajun Heritage Festival in Port Arthur. They show up with the food. This time I enjoyed a flavorful bowl of jambalaya while the music played.
                             Southeast Texas Arts Council hosted the fete at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center and I chatted with several Louisiana folk who came to pass a good time Saturday. Most people were there for the music, but we also focused on the food.
                             Jerry Latiolais of the Knights of Columbus said the group has been with Cajun Fest from the beginning and proceeds from their boudain balls and other fare supports community projects such as donations to the Fetters Center and ultra sound machines for the Hope Center. Those knights can cook, cher.
                             I made a new buddy this year, Pincher. He was a big conversational fella, in a crawfish suit. He handed out big red buttons so attendees could say they got “pinched” at the festival. Who couldn’t love Pincher? I asked if he had a quote for me.
                             “Watch your tail. And stop running over my house with your lawnmower,” Pincher said, waving a claw for emphasis.
                             Gloria Roy of Cajun Sounds Internet Radio can be credited for creating awareness and excitement of this festival. She’s always busy.
                             I also met Jan Shavers, who proudly calls herself  “the mother.” Her son is Joshua Rodrigues, also know as Big Doobie of Big Doobie’s Boudain & Cracklins. In addition to big, juicy cracklins made on site, their menu included “link on da bun.” Mom admits, the cracklins are “addictive.” Hope I don’t have to wait a whole year for my next bag full.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie whose Cajun roots come from her grandma, who hailed from Breaux Bridge, La. Reach her at darraghdoiron@icloud.com

Monday, April 8, 2019

Are you up to “Make Today Ridiculously Awesome?”
If that sounds like a dare, switch it into your life’s motto. And of course, the people of Consuelastyle.com would love you to do it with one of their colorful, uplifting bags on your shoulder.
I’ve been reading about “Connie,” who was bestowed a nickname based on her “consuela,” or “comfort” with friends. Now these shiny Consuela bags and totes are sold at upscale stores, and Buc-ee’s.
I’ve got a little one that’s great for lunch and a larger one, both adorned with bright sugar-skull motifs. You can go for roses, stripes, cactus, etc. with varying degrees of pricing. Connie wants us all to be ridiculously awesome and tell the company about awesome women for their “It’s Not About the Bag” program.
                So I’m walking along Congress Avenue in Austin and the colorful bags are in a window, calling to me. I pop in and was told I found the Austin Flagship Store, with the design studio next door. I was offered sparkling water and a cookie and began feeling awesome. The challenge to “Make Today Ridiculously Awesome” is written on their window.
                Next time you want to make a culinary impression, unpack your lunch or picnic spread from a Consuela bag.


Cheers to a Good Idea

Do you ever wish you had a Good Idea? My husband was going on about how I had one and I was thinking, “about time he acknowledges.”
Actually, he was joking that I should take a selfie, as I raised up a can of Good Idea, a naturally flavored sparkling water that’s known as the Swedish Sugar Buster. I already love sparkling water as a guilt-free treat and this one is the “only mealtime beverage on the U.S. market with a significant amount of the essential mineral chromium, proven to make weight loss both healthier and more sustainable, by increasing the proportion of lost fat. This adds to the beverages ability to cut post-meal blood sugar spikes.”
                That part in quotes is what makers are saying about this drink, with a blend of five amino acids and chromium.
                So, how about a dragon fruit version? I hid all the flavors in my fridge to hog them for myself. Now that’s saying something that you have to hide your zero-calorie treats from your spouse. It really is a Good Idea.

                Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves sparkling and sparkling water and strives to be ridiculously awesome. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com