Sunday, October 28, 2012

Euphoria for Halloween

I’d like to say I’ve moved past candy corn, but I have matured to appreciate sophisticated chocolate billed as a Halloween treat for adults. Euphoria, is the latest in Kusmi Tea’s wellness line and features an aromatic blend of chocolate and orange with yerba mate of South America. You think you’re just enjoying your tasty, good-smelling tea, but you’re also reaping benefits of endorphin-releasing chocolate that acts as a mood enhancer, and there are no calories. Now that’s euphoria. As much as I like the tea, I’m also crushing on the metal tin.

Paint the Town Silver
This year Triangle Aids Network asks supporters to Paint the Town Silver, instead of the usual red, for the 25th anniversary of its Paint the Town Red benefit for those in need. The invite puts donors in the mind of silver spoons, silver bells, Andy Warhol’s hair and pound sterling. Join the party Call 832-8338 for information on this cause. The party will be Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Beaumont Country Club.

Savannah Food Mart
They’ve got oxtails. Savannah Food Mart 1200 Gulfway Drive, just had a ribbon cutting and I got to see a sparkling meat counter full of cuts that seem… adventurous. I’d love to try each one of them. You can also get foods ready to eat and a crispy coating on the chicken looked very tempting. I’ve been a fan of oxtails since a woman won the Port Arthur News recipe contest with a little something she called “oxtails marmalade.
They’ve got oxtails. Savannah Food Mart 1200 Gulfway Drive, just had a ribbon cutting and I got to see a sparkling meat counter full of cuts that seem… adventurous. I’d love to try each one of them. You can also get foods ready to eat and a crispy coating on the chicken looked very tempting. I’ve been a fan of oxtails since a woman won the Port Arthur News recipe contest with a little something she called “oxtails marmalade.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Have you met Capt. Ron?

Captain Ron’s Seafood
“Are you the captain?” my husband asked the man at the counter when we walked into Captain Ron’s Seafood.
“I am,” the man confirmed, proving that my husband continues his knack for asking the obvious.
The Captain confirmed he gets that question all the time. He’s new to the Westcourt Center, 6385 Calder in Beaumont and we ate there, as guests of my mother, two Saturdays in a row and saw old friend there each time. She’s such a fan she’d already tried a weekday lunch special and her dining partner is recruiting more customers.
My mother ordered several things so we could cover the menu with tastings and we rate bacon and cheese shrimp kisses No. 1. The bacon is fried, too, and it dips into a horseradish- spiked cocktail sauce for more pop. Even the fried onion rings, okra and French fries have an extra kind of crispness what will keep us coming back. If you meet the captain, ask him about oyster nachos.

A photo of a squirrel nibbling this season’s abundant acorns made the Houston Chronicle. The story says maybe this past season’s drought helpd trigger the plethora. Everyone here is talking about all the acorns, and maybe it’s the same reason pecans are  tasting so good. If you know anyone, perhaps in the great city of Groves, who needs help picking their pecans, offer your assistance now.

Get Popping
October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, like I need a calendar to be tempted. But has some crazy good ideas that need to be explored. The Popcorn Board sent ideas including Key Lime Popcorn Clusters made with chopped graham crackers, marshmallow crème, butter and lime peel. Nacho Mamma’s Popcorn gets a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, cayemme pepper sauce, garlic powder and sea salt.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumkinator on the table at beer tasting

The labels on some of these products are as interesting as what’s inside the bottle. See, and taste for yourselves. The Pint Jockeys are headed to Del Papa Distributing to share seasonal and rare brews. The Oct. 18 event will feature favorites from Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Rogue, Left Coast Brewing, Woodchuck and Rolling Rock, and introduce Shock Top fans to a bold new seasonal. Tastings are free and open to adults ages 21 and older.
 Loo for: The October tasting event will feature:

·         Saint Arnold Pumpkinator – Pumpkinator is a big, black beer full of spice and flavor. Originally released in 2009 as Divine Reserve No. 9, the imperial pumpkin stout soon became a Saint Arnold seasonal regular. Brewed at 10% ABV, Pumpkinator has a combination of pale two row, caramel and black malts; Cascade and Liberty hops for a background hop flavor; pumpkin for a rich mouthfeel; and molasses and brown sugar. One sip will remind you of mom’s homemade pumpkin pies.

·         Rogue Dead Guy Ale – A German Maibock characterized by a deep honey color and rich, full flavor. Dead Guy Ale is available in special 22-ounce and 64-ounce glow-in-the-dark bottles and is also available in six-packs and on draft.

·         Left Coast Voo Doo – Voo Doo is a full bodied, dark brew that is rich and malty with plenty of roasted barley character. This hearty stout is layered with flavors of roasted barley, chocolate, and coffee coming from the highest quality imported malts. Its creamy long lasting head completes the brew, tempting your taste buds to be spellbound.

·         Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat Ale – A bold new Shock Top seasonal, this wheat ale is brewed with midnight wheat, chocolate malt and chilies and delivers an indulgent flavor appropriate to celebrate the end of the world.
·         Woodchuck Special Release Pumpkin Cider -- Woodchuck has combined its signature hard cider taste with a refreshing pumpkin finish for their Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider. Limited to just two and half hours on the production line, this is a true connoisseur's cider.

·         Rolling Rock – This American-style Premium Lager is a light-bodied lager with a rich malt character. At 4.5% ABV, Rolling Rock has a distinctive taste and subtle hop character.
When can you try this out? 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Del Papa Distribution Center Hospitality Room, 410 I-10 South in Beaumont. Here’s the background: This past year a group of beer fans launched The Pint Jockeys blog and Facebook page to help raise awareness for craft beer in Southeast Texas. The Pint Jockeys invite fans to join them online and at the monthly tasting events to share craft-beer related news and opinions. For more information on Pint Jockeys, visit or

Sea plants in your pocket
Genesis Today’s GenEssentials comes in single servings to keep you going. You have to be careful with energy “shots,” so be careful of these carry-alongs that are popping up everywhere. You want one as natural as possible and even then, you may want to ask your doctor about them. This company has a Greens offering with nutritional support of “nutrient-rich green superfoods, land and sea plants, superfruits, vegetable powders, antioxidants and so much more.”
I’ve tried Genesis Today Pure Energy™ Organic Goji Energy Shot  that’s organic with a good berry flavor. Here’s what was in it that fueled me through a garage sale full of early-bird shoppers: “120 mg of natural caffeine (derived from guarana and tea leaf extract), goji, and B-vitamins which work together to naturally support your body's energy levels and your mood.*”  These are low in calories for the punch they pack. I like it in Acai, too. Learn more at:
Skinny Coffee Vanilla Latté™ and Skinny Coffee Creamy Cappuccino™ blends with pure green coffee bean extract sounds tempting, too.

I confess, when I was a kid and tried my first gazpacho, the thought of a cold vegetable soup made me uneasy. I didn’t like it. My mom’s club made this traditional Spanish dish with cream and it’s now a different story. Mom served me some in a cup, garnished with parsley and with cheese crackers, after a round of hot, outside work. I couldn’t stop having the thought “refreshing.” The flavor was so delicate. Some regions feature more or less tomato, make it white with fruit or green with avocado, thicker with bread or more tart with vinegar. I’m on board, and wouldn’t mind trying each variation Spain has to offer.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Watermelons and pumpkins?

With a chill in the air, I’m loving seeing bins of pumpkins pop up in stores. Does this produce season always cross with watermelons? I just hauled a big melon home from the store and enjoyed this summer treat even as I craved gumbo and chili for the fall table.
Got to love Texas weather.

Orange Hocus Pocus Fizz
McCormick has created an orange drink, rimmed with black sugar and garnished with a spooky worm. Serve it up for adult trick or treaters this Halloween, or remove the liquor for “mocktails.” Makes 6 servings.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup rum
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Imitation Coconut Extract
3 drops McCormick® Red Food Color
2 drops McCormick® Yellow Food Color
1 bottle (750 ml) sparkling white wine
1. Mix pineapple juice, rum, coconut extract and food colors in measuring cup.

2. For each cocktail, pour 2 ounces pineapple juice mixture into beverage glass. Top with 4 ounces sparkling white wine.
How to Rim Glass with Black-Tinted Sugar: Place 2 tablespoons sugar in small resealable plastic bag. Add 10 drops McCormick® Black Food Color. Seal bag. Knead sugar until the color is evenly distributed. Pour out onto shallow plate. Dip rim of beverage glass in water, then into black-tinted sugar to lightly coat.
Tip: This drink may also be prepared in a pitcher. Mix pineapple juice, rum, coconut extract and food colors in 2-quart pitcher. Add sparkling wine just before serving.

For a nonalcoholic version, omit rum, increase pineapple juice to 1 1/2 cups and use 1 bottle (750 ml) sparkling white grape juice in place of the sparkling white wine.

Gourmet pickles
Please chill Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles. Mrs. Pickles wants you to experience that sweet and sour, garlic and pimento blend that way. Hot Mama has her own story, and you can put some of her juice into a bloody Mary that’s Halloween-worthy. Lynnae’s began with Great Grandma Toots and the women of this family have pickled up a classic business. Mrs. Pickles is headed to my fridge so I can stick a fork in for a crisp, sweet treat. They’re keepers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Kitchen improve and oranges optional

Kitchen improv
Someone peeked into my small pantry, then my fridge/freezer and announced I had nearly nothing to eat. On the contrary, I believed I had enough store for weeks and weeks. Did she not intake the spices of different countries, awaiting to season pastas and grains with international flavor? The frozen vegetables to add color, flavor and nutrition without meat? Legumes awaiting to be transformed into hearty stews?
This anecdote leads into my tip of the week: Improvise. I usually prefer to concoct almost anything over buying it ready made. Imagine my disappointment when I went all out for a jar of garlic and eggplant spread and found it to be just so-so. So I transformed the spread into a “sauce” for whole wheat pasta, added more Italian seasoning, olive oil, cheese and red pepper, and it became a worthy meal.
With that attitude, I’ll always have something behind the pantry door.

Orange cleaner
I’ve got a tool that helps me spiral cut orange peels into beautiful strips. They can be used for craft and culinary purposes and make me feel fall is in the air. I saw a photo of a Mason jar full of orange peels and vinegar. The idea is to let it set up a while and put the scented vinegar into a mister to use as a cleaner. I made up a jar that looked great on the counter and I finally got the vinegar into a spray bottle and it cleans great and smells even better. I started thinking about those lovely vinegar-soaked peels and discovered they are great chopped into a salad with cucumber and purple onion. Talk about a beautifully colored mixture.

Oranges optional
Eppa has an autumn sip. Oranges and cinnamon sticks are optional in Eppa Punch, but the do make the green apples pop. Crisp air and a fall fete are props for Eppa Supra Fruta Red Sangria, which is certified-organic, 120 calories a glass and full of Mediterranean blood oranges, acai, pomegranate and blueberries. Makers say Eppa has twice the antioxidants as a glass of red wine. I tried it right out of the colorful bottle, and found it light refreshing and just right for entertaining. Here’s how to make Eppa Punch:
1 bottle Eppa Sangria
1 green apple
Oranges (optional)
Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Chop apples and cranberries and pour mixture into a decanter with 1 bottle of Eppa Sangria. Allow blend to sit in the fridge for an hour to chill and flavors to mesh.