Saturday, February 23, 2013

Copy your favorite snacks froms scratch

It’s part art, part science and part temptation. Casey Barber shows home cooks how to make versions that look and taste like your favorite snacks from Mint Milanos, and Mallomars to Goldfish Crackers. There are pages of this stuff and the photos look just like the professional versions. This book is fascinating and you get to know Barber and get some fun facts about your snack attack picks. 
I’m not gonna like, some of the processes are long, but if you’re working on a family fave, it sounds like fun. Even if you don’t make the actual product as designed, you still get “secrets” like how they make Dorito’s go all “cool ranch.”
Barber got me in her sweets and candies section when she writes that sometimes “bowl of popcorn = dinner. I love when that happens.

Sunny side blue
Go gourmet with two ingredients. I made a quick and memorable meal by frying an egg and melting blue cheese on top. Okay, you can cook with olive oil and add red pepper if you want to get really complicated.

Pass the Clongs
Okay germ freaks, get ready for Dreamfarm, an Australian design company that has a colorful way of solving problems.
There’s a bend in their kitchen utensils that keeps the bowl of your spoon, or silicone Supoon off the counter. The tongs become Clongs, and feature a click button to close them up. Models in yellow, pink, red, purple, etc., color up your kitchen.
New items feature a mini Supoon with a flat bottom that becomes a spatula to get every last scrape from your jar and the Chopula Steel chopping sit-up spatula. You other utensils will welcome the company.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"9 to 5" coffee break a hit


“9 to 5” opens with wine cheese and coffee
The stars of Port Arthur Little Theatre’s “9 to 5: The Musical” have taken everything we love about the classic movie and added their own creative touches. Opening-night laughter included my chuckles and smiles. Friday’s premier included a wine and cheese reception and complimentary coffee with a notice about the number of caffeine breaks allowed.
Catch this show and enjoy Katy Mulvany go from mouse to tigress as new-girl Judy; Krista Courts as Violet, who knows how to get things done; and Carrie Wilson as Texas-gal Doralee who’s got all that heart to go with all that hair. These women kept the show going at a rapid pace with help from a spirited cast. Jeri Boudreaux Sullivan gets extra laughs as Roz, the office busy body who has a not-so-secret thing for that no-good boss man Franklin, played by Jeff Courts.
I loved all the touches from ‘80s-style leg warmers and Violet’s violet costuming to songs that relate to just about every office and sets that rotate into everything the cast needs. Sanka anyone?
Okay readers, I’ve worked some food references in to get this in Culinary Thrill Seeking. My Sunday column wouldn’t give you much time to see the show, which continues March 1-3. Visit for more information.

Thin is in
Now that I read up on Blue Diamond’s new fresh-roasted, thin-shell almonds, it was almost too easy for them. They made their great, fresh product even better by reducing the consumer work load of shelling. Almonds go from the orchard into a slow-roasting process that makes them so thin they’re super-easy to open. The hand-to-mouth time is reduced in your favor and the reward is crunchy goodness. It’s my new snack of the season in unsalted green label and “hint of sea salt” blue label. Everyone who’s been around me to share uses their free hand to give a thumbs up.

Sparkling ICE Weather
Peach Nectarine and Crisp Apple are two new flavors of an already great product: Sparkling Ice, available at Walmart. I usually pass on fruity drinks because they have so many calories. Sparkling ICE has zero of them but does have natural flavor, vitamins and antioxidants and is lightly carbonated. I love these two straight up and they could join the party as mix-in for adult beverages. After pouring a fizzy peach nectarine, I got spring and summer on my radar. Bring on the new flavors and get crazy with the rest of the line, which features coconut pineapple and kiwi strawberry.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Valentine idea you'll eat up

If you were an ice cream flavor, what kind would you be?
“All you need us love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles M. Shulz
Plan a picnic for your partner.
What foods remind you of him or her?
Make a list of restaurants you want to try.
I promise that not all of the topics in “The You & Me Book” revolve around food, but “Love Journal” authors Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder have a pretty good idea of how important the memory of a good, shared bite is in relationships. This is a crazy fun book designed to write in and inspire countless ways to have fun with that special someone. It’s the kind of book  you might want to steer clear of if you seek a someone and haven’t found one, but on the other hand, it’s a great guide to consider the type of relationship you want and can strive to have. Quotes, activities and ideas jump off every inventive page.

Umami, baby
I’ve been hearing about umami for years and now I have some in my pantry. It’s that flavorful finishing touch and the Japanese call it shime, according to Mitsuwa Marketplace, called the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States.
 Ever paid more than $12 for a bottle of soy sauce? Marushima Fresh Soy Sauce, $12.29, is a like a sparingly-used vintage wine for me now. I’ve been enjoying it over jasmine rice with just a little Ogawa Premium Seasoned Seaweed dice into it and peanuts on top.
Marushima has 400 years experience in the soy brewing business and fans love to experience its nuances with simple food so the flavors don’t get lost.
The seaweeds is from the Ariake sea. It is seasoned with dashi (Japanese soup stock made from fish and kelp). You can pour some hot water over it and make ochazuke. That sounds exotic with a minimum of calories.
I’ve also tried Ohara Hisakichi Yuasa Soy Sauce, $10.59, made with 8 generation of experience in the birthplace of soy sauce. It’s artisan with a long fermentation time. I plan to enjoy it a serving at a time for years.
Yamamotoyama Roasted Seaweed sourced from Seto Inland sea is yielding more experimentation in The Year of the Snake.

Beaumont Gator boys
I don’t have a gator recipe here, but there’s news that Season 4 of “Swamp People” premieres this Thursday, Feb. 14, with two Beaumont boys. Here’s how The History Channel describes them:
T-ROY Broussard and Harlan "BIGFOOT" Hatcher from Texas are the top alligator hunters in the Lone Star state. They are trying to break into the Louisiana gator hunting scene after negotiating some tags from a Pierre Part landowner.  How will they fare on Troy Landry’s turf?

ZZ LOUPE may only be 16 years old, but he's lived on the swamp and handled gators since he was in diapers.  At 6'2" and 260 pounds, he's a child prodigy that is a force to be reckoned with - possessing a high level of swamp savvy and ingenuity.   In his first "professional" hunting season, ZZ has teamed with legendary swamp veteran, TOM CANDIES.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hiding carrots and getting out of a jam

One of my college-era friends posted on his Facebook that he had chili with carrots ground up in it. I replied that I had recently cooked up a batch of what I called Gratitude Chili for Martin Luther King Day. It was made with things that people gave me, and it all combined well. I had ground up carrots in that and had actually Googled “things to hide in chili.”
That’s how I found out about white or green vegetable purees people make up to “hide” vegetables in meatloaf and other dishes. It’s no secret that I like to experiment and eat healthy, so people automatically think I’m hiding some rare ingredient, even when I’m not.
In a jam?
Does your fridge have lots of jars with a little dab of jam or jelly? Most fruits mix well, so try what I did. I had a pretty jar with a serving or two of mango and I squeezed in some strawberry packets that made their way into my house. Waste not, want not is my motto, and the results were impressive.

Cheese and oatmeal?
I’m all into cheesy grits, but since I happened to have cheese and oatmeal, I thought I’d Ask the Internet. It’s already a thing, so I tried it.
A little instant oatmeal, feta, fire-roasted tomatoes and chili powder made a fine one-time breakfast. I’ve had it, it was fun, but I don’t need to try it again.