Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ready for Raw Living?

Ready for raw living?
The raw food lifestyle requires prep time, but not like you might think. What you save in cooking time may be spent in soaking time. You have to plan ahead in some cases, such as the 8-hour sunflower seed soak time for veggie spread spring rolls or the 20 hours dehydration time required for ginger snaps. David Coet and Mathieu Gallant just might convince you to switch off your oven for good through their new book, “Raw Essence: 180 Delicious Recipes for Raw Living.
Mushroom cannelloni, crepes Florentine and spinach pie sound good as main dishes. Save room for Dark Desire Cake or Sugar Pie with Coco-Pecan Crust.
In this world,  BLT means eggplant bacon on almond bread with caper aioli.
I’ve met raw food folks in Southeast Texas and I know they’d love the recipes and photos in this book. Here’s an easy one for newbies to play with:
Hummus Sun Spread
Try this as a dip with raw vegetables, in a salad, on crackers or as a sandwich, either wrapped in lettuce or spread on raw bread.
2/3 cup unpeeled almonds
2 cups coarsely chopped peeled zucchini
¾ cup tahii
1 clove garlic
6 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1.   Soaking: In a bowl, soak unpeeled almonds in water to cover for 8 hours. Rinse thoroughly and discard soaking water.
2.   In blender, combine all ingredients including soaked almonds and reduce to a smooth, creamy paste

Not  your mother’s molcajete
Some of today’s Cajun women use roux from a jar and, with one Mexican-American comparison being mole in a jar. Who can grind all those flavors anymore? I just spent some time over IMUSA’s granite molcajete fashioning a guacamole that got rave reviews. I didn’t spend extra time and ended up with one less bowl to wash. You’ll want to serve your masterpiece in this little footed beauty. Even if you don’t  know this word, you know the sight of this mortar and pestle used to crush and grind spices for salsas and guacamole. The heavy, solid granite is not porous, so all your flavor stays in the food. I crushed fresh oregano leaves before adding all my other goodies and felt in close contact with nature. IMUSA products, great for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, are available through Target, say makers who have quite a range of tools. I tried their manual citrus juicer that is a press on a yellow base that looks like it came from Grandmother’s kitchen. It’s just the thing for entrepreneurial lemonade mixologists. It’s way fun for adults, too. Billed as a leader in Hispanic cookware, IMUSA offers a cast iron skillet with a wood base for charring fajitas and a paella pan, perforated for even heat distribution.

GiGi’s Cupcakes update
These cupcakes have kept coming into my life since a salted caramel epiphany. I have since sampled Mojito, Kentucky Bourbon,  and some chocolate and cheesecake wonders. Just a bite will do you. My mother picked up a box for sampling and it came with a catalogue. Be aware, the colorful spread noted dates your selections are available. For instances, Southern Comfort is made on Wednesdays; Wedding Cake is made daily. All this tasting and I haven’t been inside the shop at 3050 Dowlen Road in Beaumont.

Kidz Zone
Brightly-colored bags and water bottles and flavors like yellow cupcake and caramel crunch hook children into the Kidz Zone ZonePerfect kit. What’s not to love about a clear pouch hooked onto your pocket, showing your treat? Children raised with a little knowledge and control to choose don’t have to be tricked into eating better. This line features 23 vitamins and minerals, five grams of protein and three grams of fiber.  I loved the taste of these and children will love that it’s all geared toward them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Champaign, ribs and cupcakes

Champagne & Ribs and cupcakes
Greg Gentry, Dr. Coffy Pieternelle  and Judge Jeff Branick were the rock ‘n’ roll honorees at Gift of Life’s Champagne & Ribs on Thursday at Cowboy Harley-Davidson. The food was amazing, as is to be expected. I heard there were Gigi’s Cupcakes in the tent and I got there as fast as I could without knocking over the other guests. They were gone.
Word is there were 500 cupcakes and they were gone “in a heartbeat.” No matter, the rest of the spread and the company was great and it’s all for a great cause.
Ironically, the next day, GIgi’s Cuopcakes came into my life. Someone had picked up a Margarita one just for me and it was sweet and salty and weighed a ton. I shared it with three other people. I also got a taste of the salted caramel and chocolate cupcake that made me want to visit this new Beaumont bakery in person.
Whipped and tangy
Of all the years Hellmann’s® has been around, they’re just now introducing the brand’s first Real Whipped Tangy Dressing. Not all of us Americans can get it. It’s exclusive to the Mid-West and Central Region and made with high-quality ingredients like oil, vinegar, cage-free eggs and select seasonings.
 I visited and think that Jalapeno Jack Tuna Melts looks like something to try. My debut of the dressing was for a cabbage slaw with cubed orange and ground jalapeno. I like how the squeeze bottle fits well into the refrigerator door.

Le Peep
When I went to Le Peep CafĂ©’s bright new restaurant in downtown Beaumont, I ordered something the waitress hadn’t tried, the Strawberry Patch salad. She asked me how I enjoyed the spinach, berry, bleu cheese and Parmesan-crusted chicken and I suggest it be her next meal. Belgian Waffles, omelets migas and more make up the menu at 350 Pine Street, on the ground floor of what’s formerly known as the Entergy Building. My own peepers popped wide open at the transformation. The dining area is light, bright, sunny and open. It looks like a place people will be meeting friends.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

One okra, fried and pickled

Starvin’ Marvin’s
While I enjoyed the chipotle maple quail at Starvin’ Marvin’s, I was glad I wasn’t dining with anyone I needed to impress. Just my husband. Quail is tiny, and it was nearly impossible to get some meat off those tiny thighs with a knife and fork. It was a messy job, but I got it done.
My curious side dish selection was fried whole pickled okra. The batter was delicate and the salty, pickled taste was still prominent. Maybe this is a “thing,” but it was my first time to try it. The place was doing a booming business on a Friday night featuring the Moe Haynes Band, which includes Barry Piggot and his pop, still playing after all these years. Most everybody else on the patio was enjoying fragrant trays of crawfish.

Boldly distilled
Cucumber and watermelon are summer flavors that just got a new kick from Pucker Vodka. Watermelon Wow Vodka is the latest release from these innovators and it comes in a glass cylinder adorned with a lipstick print and melon slices, proclaiming its made with “vodka boldly distilled four times.”
It may put you in the mind of a candy store or your favorite childhood cough syrup, but this grown-up flavor is meant to be mixed into cocktail creations, like one that follows with cucumber juice. I’ve got my Pucker on some berries I harvested on my noon walk and I’ll be mixing a tablespoon into my yogurt for evening dessert parfaits. Those with adventuresome palates will get inspired. Here are some ideas from Pucker:

Sultry Spring Bloom

1 3⁄4 parts Pucker® Watermelon Wow Vodka
2 parts Cucumber Juice
Splash Fresh Lime Juice
3⁄4 part Simple Syrup
Watermelon Candy Slice
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass. Garnish with a Watermelon candy slice.

Brazen Watermelon Blush
1 1⁄2 parts Pucker Watermelon Wow Vodka
2 parts Kiwi and Strawberries, Pureed
Bunch of Mint
Kiwi Slice
Strawberry Slice
Red Sugar Rim (optional)
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake and strain over crushed ice into a highball glass. Stir/swizzle and top with a mint bunch, kiwi slice and strawberry slice. Optional garnish: a red sugar rim.

What we call a sparkling wine, the Italians call “frizzante,” according to makers of the new “IL” collection from Mionetto Prosecco. These bubbles offset a wine’s sweetness and I’m all about this new word and new line. It tickles and tastes so light.
One of the coolest things about popping the “cork” on these is that the lid is actually a bottle cap, like what comes on your favorite soda pop. The bottles are elegant and I’m trying to learn the new word for whatever this shape is called. The Lambrusco red, defined as “truly fun” pairs with Indian food, sweet Moscato goes with the spicy flavor of Port Arthur’s Vietnamese foods and Prosecco’s robust style keeps up with our Tex-Mex selections. So you can see, these would make hostess gifts for spring patio parties, but go ahead and Google where these grapes are grown, the Veneto and Emilia regions of Italy. You’ll get an extra “vacation” just looking at that beauty.
Now for one more idea. I love these bottles so much I want to use them to make those glass garden totems I’ve spied on Pinterest. “IL” delivers a lot.

Frinkles on your nanners
Yonanas is the machine that turns your frozen bananas into cool, healthy desserts. Now they’ve come out with Frinkles, 100 percent fruit sprinkles to enjoy with your dessert maker. Berry Blast , Tropical Fruit and Cranberry Pomegranate are some of the flavors in re-sealable packages. I think kids will like them best.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Urban Gardening gets everyone growing

Give boring planters the boot. I mean, plant your herbs or flowers in a boot. That’s an idea from a book appealing to city dwellers with big plans and tiny spaces.
Vertical gardening means saving space and water with vines growing up, but “Urban Gardening for Dummies” reminds us it can mean growing down, too. Consider an apartment dweller who can drape sweet potato vines over a balcony.
Clever tips for rooftop and community gardens fill this book designed for beginners. Here are a few ideas:
* Think of the Rule of Three for your balcony garden and select a tall, spiky plant; one that flowers; and another that sprawls or crawls.
* Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrots, beats and herbs do well in container gardens.
* Sun-loving perennial flowers include bee balm, aster, coneflower and daylily.

Tea ritual
Hibiscus, matte, chocolate and orange herbal teas have been part of my evening ritual since the day my Trudeau tea maker arrived. I’m up to two pots a night and the warm brew has helped my disposition and kept the scale numbers in a good range. A stainless steel filter keeps the leaves out of a little see-through canister you can keep on the coffee table to re-fill you cup. Tea service has been around for centuries, but a look at this cylinder gives a modern glint on hydration. To have is to brew.
The title character in “The Mentalist” doesn’t go long without his tea and I’m keeping up with him from my couch.

Put a lid on it
CapaBungas creators  Walt Averill and Maire Murphy met and married through their wine industry careers and their like minds created a clever way to reseal Rua, their wine line. The seals became the deal, with colorful and funny messages to suit the mood for a princess, girl’s night in and “me time.” Sure the holiday “naughty and nice” set or Valentine heart messages of “be wine” and “drink me” are designed to bring  a smile, but the sturdy lids that won’t  let your fine wines leak in the fridge are designed for reusable efficiency. CapaBungas also promotes another virtue I’m fond of: savoring. With such a seal in you house, you can save some wine for later. My pick: the Wine Safe model that looks like a combination lock, over a bottle of merlot.
This wise couple noted the silicone bung seals for oak barrels and designed the wine bottle seal for consumer use. One more virtue to discuss: recycling. If you turn your beautiful wine bottles into vessels for vinegars, oils, vanilla, etc., a decorative Capabunga will offer even more personality.