Friday, January 13, 2017

Pass a good time at Rodair Roadhouse



Rodair Roadhouse:  You can pass a good time Rodair Roadhouse just on the food. But wait, sometimes
there's a bunch of live music and dancing. Wonder how many calories a good
Cajun waltz will burn off.
 
"Where Bayou Country Meets Gulf Coast" is the motto which sums up a relaxed
attitude at Rodair Roadhouse, on Jade Avenue in Port Arthur. Even the
fishing lures that adorn the place tell the owners' stories. Richard Hudson and
Shawn Skinner are good talkers with good stories and John Dingle is keeping
the good stuff coming out of the kitchen.
Hush puppies with Steen's Syrup as a dip? Fried green tomatoes that make you
want to slap your mama? Hot and crunchy shrimp bites like none other? Rodair
Roadhouse has been paying attention to flavorful little details.
The proof may be in the pudding, as in the bread pudding that Skinner
reveals is buttery to the max. Some if their "secrets" are sharable and some
will remain in the family. If Skinner starts talking about that butter
content and you don't want to hear, cover your ears until he's moved on to
the banana or key lime pie.
I haven't even touched on the main dishes, so go see for yourself. They're
practicing in the back on crawfish, but promise that when they're bigger
and better, they'll be on the menu for fans.

                      Orange food
          A houseguest mentioned she wasn’t keen on orange foods. What? Around this season? Pumpkin and yams cooking are unpleasant, she said. No worries. I’m adaptable. But those sweet potatoes I’d planned to roast and serve with olive oil and curry powder were looking at me. I awoke extra early and cooked them for my breakfast while she was still asleep. Potato discs, crispy from grilling in coconut oil and topped with a bit of fruity jam went well with eggs for a cheerful morning meal. That’s thinking outside the orange box.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Langrty DUCK Farm is a 'maze'ing


                     
Duck Farm is a ‘maze’ing
                      Did I see ducks at Langry Duck Farm? People keep asking. There was a meditation labyrinth, a patio where we roasted marshmallows, friendly cats and dogs and a breakfast casserole spread with juice in long-stemmed glasses. What a way to interact with nature.
                      The “duck” stands for Discovering, Understanding, Creativity & Knowledge for a Farm Alternative Restoration Model. Barbara Lange has this spread in Liberty and I was lucky enough to “win”  a stay in the Breakfast with the Bishop silent auction fundraiser. My friends and husband spent an evening on the patio, retired to our lovely second-floor rooms and arose with the sun to walk the labyrinth. Then, breakfast was served.
                      Ms. Lange saw I was interested in her plants and herbs and took me for a walk around plantings surrounded by a fence made from bicycles. You read that right. Herbs and aloe was planted in every sort of vessel, including a retired coffee maker. This woman was a delight and told how she works with young people, veterans and other groups.
                      Want to know more about Langtree Duck Farm Retreat & Eco Center? Call 936-587-4325.

                      Resolution corner
                      I’ve hardly heard any talk of resolutions this year, but my January birthday gets me off to a later start. I do actually enjoy easing that stuffed feeling by experimenting with lovely vegetables after holiday excess.
              Ever heard of “tight junction function?” Makers of RESTORE liquid supplement sent me a bottle and I started using it before the heavier eating of the Thanksgiving season began. It works by “increasing tight junctions to promote a healthy internal firewall, which helps create a more resilient system by supporting gut health, respiratory wellness, balance immune function and enhanced mental clarity in the face of environmental factors.” Okay, the layman’s copy also says that herbicides we come in contact with can damage tight junctions, the Velcro-like proteins that allow the body to absorb the nutrients it needs and block the toxins it doesn’t. I don’t usually buy any extra supplements, but did try this one, available at GNC. My experience: I certainly think daily use kept me on track. Just seeing the bottle every morning reminded me to make more healthy choices as the temptations reigned down. RESTORE is about your “gut health.”
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, January 2, 2017

Culinary adventures of 2016

       
             
Hope you’ve resolved to try new flavors this year and focus on the healthy stuff. Over the holidays I received more challenges that I could handle, and now I have a waiting list of things I want to try, like cottage cheese stuffed in an avocado half for a light meal. At a crowded event I think someone asked me to look into acorn stuffing, and people were talking about acorns from trees. I’m now thinking that people were all thinking about acorn squash stuffing.
                      Here’s something I heard of and maybe don’t want to try: 

                      Squirel-possum-raccoon – Maybe I’m saying it wrong. I didn’t even bring it up but an esteemed college mentioned seeing a program about three animals stuffed into one for an East Texas version of the tur-duck-hen. That’s a hen inside a duck inside a hen, and it’s long been a thing around here. But this “squir-poss-coon” sounded truly strange. When a third woman overheard she asked where you get one. The answer is that you’d have to hunt it down yourself. We figured Tex-Joy would season that meal of critters up right. I did  a scant amount of research and have not found such a beast. Texas lore?
                     



              Chaba Thai Bistro
                      Sorry Chef Monica Cobb of Monica’s, 2016 was not the year I got to try your Beaumont restaurant, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. My Mom, a big fan and follower, tried to get me there but there was a closed-for-the-holidays situation. Hey, everyone needs a rest!
                      No worries, Chaba Thai Bistro was across the way at 6434 Phelan Blvd. in Beaumont. My spicy eggplant dish was a hit, so thanks, Mom.
                      Chaba for a quiet lunch was a treat, and just as fun as the two pull-tables-together birthday celebrations I’d attended recently. Heat lovers, they don’t have the chili oil upon request, but the little plastic dish of dry pepper flakes will get you to the spice you crave.

                      The Big Cheese
                      Back on National Cheese Curd Day, Farm Rich, wanted me to help spread the word on their new Breaded Cheddar Cheese Curds, but I never did find it down here, so far from Wisconsin cheese. I did use that introductory coupon for breaded cheese sticks, which guests at my house ate up. I made a marinara sauce with tomato paste, olive oil, herbs and juice from a jar of olives. Spicy, and good, was one critic’s summation.
                             Maybe 2017 will bring me the whole curd.
                             darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas luxury


I’m thrilled I raised a daughter who identifies with the “great comfort” part of the definition of luxury  more than the “extravagant living” part.
            A warm cup of cocoa on a chilly night, quiet time with friends and an early bedtime could be luxurious for us. We both hear stories of people not quite satisfied with the size of their diamond earrings or bummed about toting last year’s designer handbag.                                                                                                                                                            
             She called to say a giant bag of crushed red pepper would be a luxury item for her gourmet Christmas basket and I ran out to a Vietnamese store for one. Guess we ran through the bag we shared two years ago. Neither of us can go without hot pepper too long, say three meals in a row.
            The next day I texted her to ask if she agreed that Dawn dishwashing liquid, noted for grease-cutting power and cleaning oily birds, was to be considered a luxury item. She sent back a yes and a smiley face, so I sent her a photo of Dawn in New Zealand scent, which is where she would have liked to go on her honeymoon. We decided to share a bottle. I refilled my pump bottle and handed her the rest when I saw her. She suggested I put it in the gourmet goodie basket, still under the tree. Crazy, but I like living in a world where two women can be happy with a half bottle of dishwashing detergent.
 Korean pepper shreds
My plan was to fill little jars of Korean pepper shreds I found at a Houston market and give them to foodies I know. Pepper power is subjective, but I didn’t find these hot at all. I did love how the thin red strands formed a little nest when sprinkled over a dish. They’re an edible conversation starter.
When a friend gave me jars of every combination of orange, lemon, pineapple and ginger marmalades I could imagine, I wanted to share pepper shreds with her. The next day she texted me an image of her strands over an omelet and how they added a sweet, smoky flavor.
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Christmas luxury

 
Luxury
I’m thrilled I raised a daughter who identifies with the “great comfort” part of the definition of luxury  more than the “extravagant living” part.
            A warm cup of cocoa on a chilly night, quiet time with friends and an early bedtime could be luxurious for us. We both hear stories of people not quite satisfied with the size of their diamond earrings or bummed about toting last year’s designer handbag.                                                                                                                                                            
             She called to say a giant bag of crushed red pepper would be a luxury item for her gourmet Christmas basket and I ran out to a Vietnamese store for one. Guess we ran through the bag we shared two years ago. Neither of us can go without hot pepper too long, say three meals in a row.
            The next day I texted her to ask if she agreed that Dawn dishwashing liquid, noted for grease-cutting power and cleaning oily birds, was to be considered a luxury item. She sent back a yes and a smiley face, so I sent her a photo of Dawn in New Zealand scent, which is where she would have liked to go on her honeymoon. We decided to share a bottle. I refilled my pump bottle and handed her the rest when I saw her. She suggested I put it in the gourmet goodie basket, still under the tree. Crazy, but I like living in a world where two women can be happy with a half bottle of dishwashing detergent.

 Korean pepper shreds
My plan was to fill little jars of Korean pepper shreds I found at a Houston market and give them to foodies I know. Pepper power is subjective, but I didn’t find these hot at all. I did love how the thin red strands formed a little nest when sprinkled over a dish. They’re an edible conversation starter.
When a friend gave me jars of every combination of orange, lemon, pineapple and ginger marmalades I could imagine, I wanted to share pepper shreds with her. The next day she texted me an image of her strands over an omelet and how they added a sweet, smoky flavor.
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, December 12, 2016

French toast/cake and diabetic comfort food

 

French toast? French cake?
I know from experience December and January birthdays can get lost in the holiday shuffle. But there’s always plenty of food. I attended my friend’s daughter’s 23rd birthday family meal, which was on the heels of  their pre-Christmas Christmas gumbo the day before. That’s why the dessert buffet included chocolate cake, cookie cake, nut bread, lemon cake, pie, another kind of pie, brownies, bread pudding, ice cream, chocolate candies and some other temptations I may have missed.
That’s why they begged me to take a mystery cake home. It was a little dry by the fourth day, but no matter. I figured if an egg wash and grilling in butter makes French toast, I could make French cake out of “lost bread.”Don’t worry. I’ve attempted this before with stellar results. That’s what became of French mystery cake, with a dusting of pumpkin pie spice on top. So glad to have helped another family with a dessert rescue.

             

                      Diabetic comfort food
                      Master basics from seared chicken breast, and pan-grilled pork chops to sautéed shrimp and (don’t be alarmed) tofu, and you’re on your way to mixing and matching a lifestyle from “The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection.” Robyn Webb gives readers “9 Essential Recipes You Need to Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals.”
                      Doubters? Try Thai Beef Salad, Blackened Beef Tacos and Apple Cider Chicken and pretend you’re in a restaurant. But you’re at home, controlling the ingredients you don’t want and boosting the flavor of your nutritious options. Wait until you get to the lasagna chapters. You can try something new for nine days in a row, but hey, you’d want those leftovers, too.
                      This book has the American Diabetes Association stamp and the author offers reminders for seasoned cooks. Reminder: Pick a theme, such as Italian or Asian, for your salad and it will come out better than if you simply dump and toss ingredients. On that note, here’s one of the dressing choices that go with a spinach and mushroom salad:
                      Hot Bacon Dressing
                      4 slices lean bacon, chopped
                      1 small onion, finely chopped,
                      2 cloves garlic, mince
                      one half cup cider vinegar
                      1 tablespoon sugar
                      1 tablespoons tomato paste                                                                      
 Cook   Cook the bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste. Stir to blend. Toss salad with dressing and serve.


              Thank you, pig
              A plastic child is excited by a fish market’s case full of crab and lobster in the Fine Dining section of “Animals of the World,” a Richard Unglik Playmobil book. Again, those little toys go around the world for adventures and share how they live. The counter man on the meat market page wields a tiny cleaver! Readers are asked to celebrate all the animals, large and small, who provide us with the nutrition that is essential for our growth. “Thanks to you, little pig, who gives us ham, bacon and sausages,” the book reads. “Don’t forget the fish, crabs, mussels and shrimp that smell so delicious on our plates!”


              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rogers BBQ Barn, Sugarmaker's cut and goat poop for Christmas


                             My mom, sister and I waited at a table under a sprawling oak, inhaling aromatic smoke, as we waited for ribs, links and a potato bomb at Rogers BBQ Barn. Then we moved to a screened-in, rustic dining area to feast. The view from there was another oak with low branches, a garden and a field, that made Mom reminiscent of Louisiana visits in her youth.
                             I know this place at 15879 Old Sour Lake Road has been around more than a year, because a friend of mine ordered her holiday spread from there and raved. For me, it was worth the wait. It’s not far from the track where I walk near Westbrook High School in Beaumont.  Yet it’s down scenic country road that makes you feel like you’re on a road trip. We saw horses and what Mom insists was a jackass, not a mule.
                             Refinery workers, motorcycle riders and pickup truck drivers paraded past the ordering window of this little red “barn” and they all seemed like they were regulars on return visits. I got to weigh and buy sweet potatoes on the honor system from under a tent. Every bite was good, and there was plenty of  raw, white onion, my favorite barbecue side. I”ve driven much farther for “famous” barbecue that was less impressive than Rogers. I’ll be one of those repeat customers and I’ll be ordering ribs again.



          Sugarmaker’s Cut
          Runamok Maple’s barrel-aged syrups are high-end breakfast enhancers. The skill and knowledge that comes out of Cambridge, Vermont comes at a price, but syrup in the $16.95-$27.95 range is sometimes the only thing that will highlight your masterpiece pancakes or sausage. Sugarmaker’s Cut reserve, not blended or homogonized, is the most romantic variety name in the line. Bourbon Barrel-Aged is as beautifully packaged as its neighbors, like Cinnamon+Vanilla Infused. That’s Madagascar vanilla, and pairs with apple pie, pancakes, ice cream or yogurt.
          But it is the Hibiscus Flower Infused, with a ruby-red tint and a warning to not share with friends unless you’re ready to run out that gets most of my love. Granted, I haven’t tried them all, though Cardamom-Infused beckons. But I’m guessing that the hibisucus will remain my favorite straight up. Makers suggest it to enliven cocktails. Runamokmaple.com can get some of these flavors to your holiday tables.
            Goat poop blessings
            Goat poop and bee vomit for Christmas? A goat for milk and manure and a hive for honey is considerably more valuable to a family somewhere than a singing trout would be here.
            World Vision Gift Catalog guides gift givers to stylish jewelry and décor handcrafted with the intent to give back. Make a donation and receive something like prosperity cinnamon, carved wooden spoons or a turquoise medallion necklace made by families in Delhi. The chain is distinctive and the medallion is a web of beads on gold wire that’s eye catching.  If your “gift” is wearable, you have the added bonus of a conversation starter, so you can spread the word on this program. It’s tax deductible. To order from World Vision’s Gift Catalog, visit www.worldvisiongifts.org or call 855-WV-GIFTS.
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com