Sunday, April 20, 2014

A tin of Coleman's in the pantry

You may already have one of those classic yellow tins of Colman’s Mustard, with it’s medal of honor logo, in your spice area. If you do, here’s my suggestion. Empty it, attach magnets and stick it on your fridge as a pen or coupon holder. It will look so trendy, if you can refer to a product that’s been around since 1814 trendy.
This idea is good if you can’t recall how long the tin has been on the shelf. Get a new one and release the flavor. Did you realize the company is famous for a tartar sauce recipe, or that it makes a keen vegetable curry? It’s a given for a honey mustard glaze.
I’ve been dusting mustard powder on popcorn and mixing it into vinaigrette. There is so much flavor in this historic little condiment. Make it your secret ingredient, or proudly tell everyone what you’re doing with Coleman’s. Here’s a tip right from

Hot Crab Dip

1 pound lump crab meat (substitute imitation lump crab)
2 half cup mayonnaise
16 ounces cream cheese
1 fourth teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons Colman’s Original Prepared Mustard
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 fourth cup dry white wine
Salt to taste

Heat all ingredients (except crab meat) to form a sauce. Set aside. Reheat sauce when ready to serve and add crab meat. Serve immediately with crackers or fresh-cut vegetables.

What’s sexy?
Ladies, if I suggested you pack some Clean, Lean and Sexy in your bag, would you guess I’m talking about air-popped popcorn with “sea salt and no artificial anything?” A 100 calorie bag of this stuff offers you antioxidants without the chemicals lining a microwave bag of popcorn. I’ve long been a fan of popcorn as an unprocessed whole grain and my mother would serve it up dry as an evening snack. I’m so happy I learned to enjoy the naked goodness of popcorn, though I don’t mind indulging it other tempting forms. This is how our ancesters must have popped it. It’s a 100-calorie, satisfying treat.
Clean, Lean and Sexy also offers dense whole food energy bars in flavors like Coconut Cashew and Honey Almond for a natural pick-you-up. 

Better Sweets
Surf Sweets has used organic fruit juice to make me like something I didn’t think I liked. Of course, many Americans are already hooked on gummy bears and jelly beans, but I always found them to taste so artificial. A look at the chemicals involved explains that. My family played around with Surf Sweets’ new Organic Watermelon Rings and Peach Rings, Organic Fruity Bears (Cherry, Grapefruit, Grape, Lemon, Strawberry, Orange) and Organic Spring Mix Jelly Bean (Tropical Punch, Lemon Aid, Mixed Berry, Pineapple, Tangerine, Watermelon). They’re free of artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup and GMOs. They actually taste “real.” By playing, we mean we got shot glasses and tried our rum version of what I’ve been hearing people talk about, “vodka soaked gummy bears.” Perhaps this is not what the makers intended, but my mom enjoyed a watermelon ring garnish in her glass. To me, it tasted like the Fourth of July. Learn more about the candies at  

A new kind of sweet
Act now for more limited edition innovations from Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagels, offering Cinnamon vanilla English Muffins and Maple French Toast Bagles that smell so good right through the bag.  Each one is perfect for a Canadian bacon sandwich. I suppose that makes an intercontinental breakfast. I like mine toasted. What a luxury.
The muffins are the only brand new flavor Thomas’ will introduce in 2014 . The bagels are a favorite that came back for a while, as will Apple Pie. So they’ve done all the work for you, as these babies are ready to go. As for those of you who like to play in the kitchen, use them as a base for something you create yourself. I’m seeing embellishments of cheese, egg, fruit and so on.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Detox, then have some chocolate?

While you’re getting healthy you can enjoy a Portobello stacker with chipotle cashew cheese. Snappy Slaw with lime cilantro vinaigrette is part of the plan. Will coconut basil stir fry hit the spot?
So you’re eating healthy to stay healthy, but can you manage giving up sugar and coffee get clean?
Just flip through Melissa Costello’s idea of good eating and you’ll be sold. I already want to eat fresh, healthy foods all the time for flavor and health. Who needs junk in a box. “The Clean in 14 Detox” is “The 2-Week plan to melt fat, kick cravings and increse your natural energy.
It’s a better way to live, and easy-to-read info explains the “big, fat why” of it all.
Yes, you could get headaches, gas and even flu-like systems as you SAP, or sabotage addictive patterns. She explains how to deal with that and outlines the pros of making better choices.
I think I can live with red lentil curry stew and spaghetti squash Italiano in my life. Here’s just one amazing snack recipe from this helpful book. I’ll try soy in a whole new way:

Kickin’ Edamome
1 16-ounce package frozen, shelled edmame, cooked according to package directions
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 and one fourth teaspoon sea salt
One half teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
One fourth teaspoon cayenne
One fourth cup fresh cilandro
4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One fourth cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor except for the olive oil and lime  juice. Puree until combined.
Add the olive oil and lime juice an dpuree more, scraping the sides of the processor bowl frequently. If you like a smoother consistency, add purified water a tablespoon at a time while the processor is running, until the desired texture is achieved.

In Other Food News:
Should I offer some disclaimer from the above plea for healthy eating? I guarantee you I make way healthier food choices than I did a decade ago, and I feel better for it. But I don’t rule any foods out. So, with in the spirit of everything-in-moderation, here’s more culinary thrill seeking:

A girl walks into a room
And people offer her food. It has become my reputation and I’m fine with it. People give me food. Seems they’ve heard I LIKE eating. Surely it’s the column, and not that they were in line behind me at a buffet.
I just walked into The News and Merle Hebert asked me if I’ve tried the new Hershey’s spreads. She was not only willing to let me tried it, she said she’d been eating quite a bit of it and then retrieved the jar and released it to me. Think I was going to stop her? I had it on a clementine after lunch. Yes, it’s as good as the commercials make it look, though I haven’t tried it on celery like the commercial I saw.
At Rotary Taste of Gumbo, Etc., several people asked me which gumbos to try. I didn’t want to commit when a woman told me she’d just come from Weight Watchers and wanted to experience just two bowls. I sure didn’t want to be her deciding factor. And by the way, I had also just come from Weight Watchers. I had way more than two bowls, and enjoyed a nice long walk to balance it out.
Got to go. Someone’s knocking. It could be someone with more food.

It’s snowing!
It’s snowing at the new Donut Hole on Ninth Avenue and Patti Harrington says the juice is flowing. She’s been promoting the group through the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and has been sharing donuts and boudain kolaches. She says their new cones have ice as soft as snow and come in flavors like Bananarama, Texas Tornado, Pink Lady and Strawberry Shortcake.
And so much juice, she says.
“They’re absolutely phenomenal,” Harrington said.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's the Buzz? A 'Superstar' party

“What’s the Buzz?”
The Easter season means my family will gather to see two movies for sure: “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Ten Commandments.”
For Superstar, we’ll sit at a low table (the coffee table) and share bread dipped in herbed olive oil and red wine while we see our favorite rockin’ gospel movie.
I’m always happy to meet someone else who knows all the words to all the songs like we do.

Give peas a chance!
It could be that World Peas went into the non-GMO snack business specifically to create a catchy business title. I’m glad they did. While I’m into the Bombay curry, I’m sticking with Nagano Wasabi as my favorite that I’ve tried in the resealable bags. Crunchy and spicy and good for you, they also come in Texas Barbeque, Santa Barbara Ranch, Sicilian Tomato & Garlic, Hungarian Garlic and Sichuan Chili. 
They can certainly keep “peas” in your carpool when kids are hungry on the way to practice. I love these peas.
Coastal Collection
Once you realize William Hill Estate operates a beachland vineyard near the Silverado Trail, you’ll want to see what that looks like. I looked it up and it’s as beautiful as the mind can picture it. The recently-launched Coastal Collection wines brings the winery’s style from Southern Napa to California’s North Coast, makers say. Taste it in the pear and stone fruit aromas and notes ot toasted oak and caramel of the chardonnay. This one made me re-think deeming red as my permanent favorite. But William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon  also features a caramel mingled with brown spice and toasted oak. So I can’t go wrong. What’s more, the Estate has helped raise funds to restore music education in schools. These wines are in the $15 range and very memorable.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Master Gardeners host plant sale and Market Day

Master Gardeners Plant Sale and Market Day
The Jefferson County Master Gardeners Plant Sale and Market Day is when you can stock up on what grows good right here. Go for colorful annual and perennial bedding plants, shrubs, tropicals, bulbs and corms, citrus, avocado, olive and landscape trees, herbs, vegetables and more. Y’all know I want the herbs.
If plants aren’t your thing (why aren’t they?) go for handmade crafts, jewelry, etc., including locally-grown honey. There’s a kid’s corner with face painting.
The event will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport Hanger #4. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 409-835-8461.
Jane McBride, publicity chair, assembled some herb tips:
·         Among the easiest to grow is basil, which loves our summer heat. Plant in well-drained, rich soil. Harvest often and pinching flower buds before they emerge. Prune by a third every three weeks.
·         While we can’t grow tarragon here, we can grow Mexican Mint Marigold, which has a similar flavor. It takes heat well and produces fragrant yellow flowers on long stalks that brighten a bed.
·          Rosemary should be in every garden. It’s beautiful, provides strong fragrance and is a must for Italian cuisine.
·         Oregano and thyme also do well here, providing low, trailing mounds of fragrant green leaves.
·         Enjoy your herbs year-round by making butters, herb-infused vinegars and pestos.
·         and Melissa Starr, Out in the Yard columnist for Port Arthur News.
Tony Lucenti is president of Jefferson County Master Gardeners. Stellina Reed and Phyllis Smith are event chairs. And Melissa Star is editor of the newsletter The Latest Dirt, found on their web site. Star also writes the Out in the Yard column for Port Arthur News and may be reached at the AgriLIfe Ext. office at (409)-835-8461.

Taste of Gumbo, Etc.
The Port Arthur Rotary Club packed the house again and everyone seemed happy and full. One of my non-gumbo favorites included chicken salad from Courtyard Café. I wasn’t shy about asking for my third sample on a slice of  French bread instead of a cracker, and they obliged. Christus St. Mary offered boudain-jambalaya in a cup and Texas Roadhouse gave out bags of nuts that my family enjoyed on the patio to relive what we liked best about the gumbos. Catching up with old friends is just about the best part of the whole deal, plus knowing how Rotary will help area charities with the funds raised.
Queen Gumbo Libby Arnold rounded up a great krewe.

Spring greetings from candy
Tulips butterflies and cartoon chicks must still need help, because there’s also a “Happy Spring” message on the package. Anastasia Confections offers Coconut Patties, which are heavy little squares laden with rich, sweet tastes from your youth. They call it a creamy coconut confection dipped in a rich dark chocolatey coating. I did spell “chocolately” right? The Orlando, Florida company makes other fruity flavors dubbed a “souvenir from the Sunshine State.” I enjoyed my Easter basket-ready bite tremendously, and promise to eat no more than one a day. There’s a reason it’s suggested you bring a box as gifts. You don’t want to be tempted. It’s a coconut and palm oil-infused flavor from your past.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Alarm means dinner is ready

Bold & Orange
I just had a meal featuring six orange items, served on a pink Fiesta plate. I thought the baked sweet potato would be the star, and a little pumpkin cream cheese would top it well. Then Since the oven was going I grilled an orange in there, too and put carrot sticks out for crunch. The SAAS hot sauce was orange, too.
Bolds Cracker Sandwiches from Lance brought it all together. They’re new, in Buffalo Wing Blue Cheese. Good crunch, good flavor and good for on-the-go snacking. It’s a new “extreme” flavor with izza and Bacon Cheddar in the line. Look for a 6-count box exclusively at Walmart stores.

Alarm means dinner is ready
The smoke alarm is like a dinner bell at my house. Sensitive is an understatement. It goes off when you turn the oven on. It actually says “Fire, Fire, Fire.”
Anyone else have this problem? If you do, don’t let that alarm cry wolf. Don’t ignore an alarm. Check everything all the time and be safe.

I may have passed by Pasha many times, but that night I was hungry in Houston the tiny house was lighted up and called my name. Award-winning Turkish-Mediterranean foods and intimate service await those who can navigate the unusual parking.
You have to wait for one car to leave before you get in the drive to go in the back. Tricky, but worth it.
I had the good food karma to get seated quickly and platters of things like lamb kebab and eggplant began to arrive to me and other diners. I’d love to go back and go down the reasonalbly-priced menu. The staff treated us like family.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Succulent display

Succulent display
While I love shopping at Whole Foods in downtown Austin, I was willing to skip it on my most recent trip. Turns out I stopped in, because their underground lot was the only place I could park. No worries. I enjoyed  a samples of cucumber and apple salad with a dill and mustard vinaigrette, popcorn with red hot candies melted into it and chocolate pita chips.
I snapped a photo of the café table centerpieces. Sea salt and peppercorn grinders flanked succulents which were growing out of Mason jars. Silver rims were screwed on, but the flat part of lids were off to allow the fresh greenery to flourish. It was an inviting breath of spring.

Energy trend
Energems offer edible energy made from real milk chocolate that you can look forward to every day. Afternoon is my preference.
Energems, are made to allow your body to absorb its B-vitamin blend faster and come in a little box for on-the-go action. I don’t know how to take the makers’ press release pointing out that you can keep them on the bedside table because “they will make sure you enjoy your night, too.” At any rate, they come in flavors and I like the mint. I guess I’ll come out and say it: They do pretty much look like a giant m&m what with the hard shell and all. Oh, and celebs are eating them up at red carpet swag situations.

Roll with the rum balls
Is chocolate rum balls the gift for every 30th anniversary? Or is it just Tortuga Rum Cake Comanpy? We are the ones who get to celebrate, with a coating of crispy sprinkles around a soft, fudgy center that packs rum flavor. Those balls are like “medicine” for those who long for a Caribbean beach break. Yep, those little rum cakes are still around with the galleon pirate ship label. Port Arthur folks with Cayman ties are probably familiar.
I’ve never had a rum ball I didn’t like, but I’m saying, these rum balls are my new standard of what I do like.
 If you’re not headed to the beach, visit

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lenten and bacon thoughts

Bacon S’mores
My Fat Tuesday breakfast followed in the spirit of feasting and “getting rid” of all the fat in the house. My daughter had a few marshmallows left over from a project and I heated them over graham crackers and spread Jif Hazelnut Mocha Cappuccino on them. I figured a little Canadian bacon couldn’t hurt. It didn’t.

Lent in a can
Those who eat more fish in this season may now replace sensations like the fragrant aroma of extra virgin olive oil and lemon dill; the ease of pulling the tab on a can and the flavor of fresh and firm chunks of fish with the mess and smell of opening a can of tuna. Starkist Gourmet Selects elevates the experience of a quick and light meal. Look for packages flavored with roasted garlic, or pick solid light tuna fillet in oil or solid albacore fillet in water. While there are suggested recipes, I could mix and match these cans with lettuce, crackers, fruit and cheese for 40 days or more.  Even though I wrapped up my cans in the pantry and labeled them “No!,” they caused a rather spirited disagreement until she convinced me to share one willingly. The cans do offer two servings, though the calorie count made me feel no guilt about consuming the entire contents on other days. Gourmet Selects do deserve to be served on a fancy plate and savored by candlelight.

Bacon Jam 
I actually got in a bacon jam over Better Than Bacon Jam. My aunt picked it up for us as a gift, and I followed her example by sampling it on a biscuit. I wasn’t impressed. Tried it again later with the same story and even brought it over to a party for other culinary thrill seekers I know to try. Then, I read the label.
Sugar-cured bacon jam is labeled as a topping flavored with real bacon. On the back it says it’s not your grandma’s jam for spreading on scones at tea parties. It’s grandpa’s jam for slathering on juicy burgers, potatoes and vegetables.
Upon reading that, I turned on the skillet and dropped a spoonful in to try on the first thing I could find, which was a tortilla. Success. Once heated, all that flavor comes out to get you.
You now how people say things like, “You had me at bacon,” and they’re in? This is a lesson on reading a little further for the best experience. The same goes for the opposite. If you hear about something and turn your nose up, learn a little bit more and the story might evolve.