Sunday, July 28, 2013

Get your links a Coke

Anthony Nichols of Port Arthur treated out-of-state relatives to a taste of Texas. His plans for Zummo links included giving those sausages a boil in a couple of cans of Coke. It takes the grease out and leaves you just “eating strong sausage,” he said.

Alter Eco
Mother Grain is what the ancients called it. Organic Royal Rainbow Quinoa from Alter Eco is now conveniently packages for your dining pleasure. It cooks in 20 and flavors easily. I put a little curry and garlic in because I was watching “Life of Pi.” My guests loved it and one taster said it was like India in her mouth.
Here are more taglines: the package calls it “bright, festive supergrain of the Andes.” I can’t top that. If you are already a fan of this grain, you’ll love this packaging. I made a salad drizzled it with olive oil, adding tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded lettuce. Three people who ate my salad and know about quinoa noted that just a little serving of this grain seems to continue expanding in the stomach to make one feel very well fed.
If you haven’t tried quinoa, know that this line is all organic, fair trade, and gluten-free. This is a do-good company offering fair trade. Visit to see how they serve it up.

Pop one out
Containers are so fun now I can’t imagine why anyone would think packing one’s own lunch could possibly be anything but exciting. My latest pick is Swissmar Pop’N Go Collapsible Silicone Boxes for meals on the go and  food storage.  They come in colors (mine is purple) and they collapse to half their size, with your spork still tucked inside the lid. Pop your rice salad, veggies are fruits into your purse and go. This pop is BPA free and ready for action. Let’s all pack one and head to Sea Rim State Park for summer fun.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flax & nutty stuff

You can inhale the fresh aroma through the bag. But hurry, Texans can grab this new twist through the end of August. Thomas’ Limited Edition Banana Bread English Muffins made my day, several days in a row. Makers suggest spreading butter or peanut butter on top. Cream cheese was not a shabby alternative. Has anyone thought of this before? Thank you Thomas.
Flax and nuts for your health
Linwoods did a trick and made flax fun. Milled Flaxseed Cocoa & Berries flavor went into my banana smoothie every morning for a week and I was never hungry before it was time to eat again. Read labels to know how to best enjoy other flavor combos: flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds & goji berries is the flavor in one package; flaxseed, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts & Q10 is in another. I loved shelled hemp seeds mixed into my afternoon yogurt. Health food has come a long way over time and now it’s trendy and something you can look forward to playing with.
Linwoods ( makes it easy to play with Super Food nutrition. It’s a lunchbox option.  I had great success with mixing it into pancakes. Makers say to sprinkle it onto snacks without it changing the flavor. Try it in mac and cheese or muffins, they suggest.

Just one look at Setton Farms new Pistachio Chewy Bites and you can sense the dense, sweet, satisfaction within. Cranberries and agave nectar are gluten- and dairy-free on-the-go snacks that will hold you over. Little as they are, some of this rich concoction kept me going. It’s a snack you don’t regret. The greens and reds of nuts and berries are like mosaic art.
GoBites Whole Snack Delivered is a dream for some of the busy health nuts who don’t want to be tempted at the market. They’re customized to your needs and they come to you. Are you a vegetarian on the Mediterranean Diet with gluten issues?  Just survey your GoBites options and choose your options. I can eat anything, so I loved Essential Energy Mix with sunflower seeds, organic dates and other good stuff, What A Pear pear and apple mix and a curry cashew blend. Ingredients in the little plastic packs are 100 percent natural and USDA Certified Organic. Who
From “Umami Crunch” to the “Path to Tibet,” GoBites’ individually wrapped snack packs are available in 26 different varieties and are filled with nutrient-dense ingredients, including nuts and berries, offering a healthy, filling and energetic boost, makers say. Get to to order yours.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Can't stand the heat? Cool off in the kitchen

Can’t stand the heat? Cool off in the kitchen
Hug a farmer is one of Matt Kadey’s first suggestions. Invest in a good chef’s knife and slice your fresh produce really thin for a delicate taste is also high up there.
“The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It’s Too Hot to Cook” has art like a coffee table book and quick ideas like your favorite home magazine. It’s not billed as a diet book but my experience is that when you eat natural foods you will get good results all the way around.
How do you “not cook?” Kadey has ideas that take just a few minutes but end up looking more impressive than if you spent a lot of time on boring packaged foods. Rainbow Sardines on Rye is the simple concept of spreading something on a cracker or bread, but this offering looks like an expensive restaurant appetizer.
Everything from Shaved Squash Salad to Coconut Cream Pie Milkshake will call your name.
Cream Cheese Crackers with Smoked Oysters is a variation of a New Year’s favorite for me, but these are taken up a notch with something else I love, a pickled jalapeno chile pepper topper. Try avocado in your fruit salad or salmon crackers for breakfast. Here’s a twist on gazpacho that our peach-growing neighbors in Texas Hill Country ought to love:
Peach Gazpacho
2/3 cup water
2 pounds ripe peaches (about 6 medium,) pitted and chopped
½ English cucumber, chopped
2 green onions (scallions) white and green parts, sliced
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small red bell pepper, diced, for garnish
1 small peach, diced, for garnish
Add the water, peaches, cucumber, green onions, jalelpeno if using, garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor container. Blend togetheruntil smooth. If you’re using a small food processor or blender you may need to do this in batches. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
When ready to serve, ladle the soup in to serving bowls and garnish with bell pepper and peach.

s.a.l.t. sisters
I can already tell from the catalogue photos of herbs in Mason jars that I want in with s.a.l.t. sisters. What a cool family. Charmane Skillen named her herb business from an acronym of her daughters’ names and began educating the public on benefits of unrefined salt in Goshen, Indiana. Now she also promotes r.u.b.s. and vanilla infusion kits called b.e.a.n. as well as c.a.n.e. organic cane sugars. Can you smell this coming: It’s g.o.o.d.
As a hottie person, I am playing with Dragon’s Breath rub on everything from eggs and veggies to the intended meat rub. Applewood-smoked peppercorn and smoked paprika makes mayo sing. I very rarely add salt to anything, so this black truffle sea salt is a unique adventure. It’s intense over eggs, popcorn, whatever. The good stuff comes in resealable packets, but also look impressive in Mason jars. The’ve got lots of flavors including a lime sea salt to rim summer drinks. Visit for ideas like the following:
Dragon’s Breath Dip
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup half & half
1-3 tablespoons s.a.l.t. sisters Dragon’s Breath
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with fresh cut, roasted or grilled vegetables or grilled meat.
Packin’ cocktails
It’s a Southeast Texas Tex-Mex dream: Margarita in a bottle at less than 125 calories a serving. Pack this bottle, not a whole bar, in a picnic basket for a portable party. VitaFrute is “the first organic, all natural, ready-made drink with only the highest quality ingredients, perfect for summer celebrations with family and friends.” That’s a big first. You’ll want to be first in line for your lemon-lime, VeeV Acai Spirit and agave flavored sip of fun. I love the flavor and the notion that it’s a much lower-calorie option.  There are lemonade and cosmopolitan options. Summer also mixes well with Akvinta Vodka for recipes like this:
Akvinta Blood Orange Cosmo:
-2 oz. Akvinta Vodka
-1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
-.75 oz Mandarine Napoleon Orange Liqueur
-1 oz. Blood Orange Juice
-Lime wedge

Shake and strain all contents into a chilled cocktail/martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge

 Give me more to cook
With a new GreenPan Ceramic Grill Pan in the house, I can’t keep out of the skillet. Have you tried one? I’m a gracious recipient of other gardeners’ bounty, and it’s all going in this pan, which is billed as a great Dad’s Day gift. I agree.
Here’s the company pitch:
GreenPan ( uses a heavy aluminum base and natural Thermolon nonstick technology for beautifully browned food. Eco-friendly, it has 60% less CO2 emissions during application of coating. It is safe for halogen, gas, solid hob and ceramic stovetops, as well as for the oven.”
 Here’s my experience: Keep it on low and be amazed as food crisps up. It’s easy to clean, so you can’t wait to prep for the next meal. You’ve seen them on TV. They work. Go GreenPan.
And I have to say this, Mom was right. You can keep a pan nice by preventing time on the high heat burner. My Green Pan is used daily and still looks new.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Paper cooking and a popping family

What’s poppin’ in Nederland
Pop Family has taken its successful Beaumont Business to Nederland and the grand opening featured the No. 1 customer pick at both stores: caramel sea salt.
Nancy Lamson said everybody loves that, but she’s noticed her Mid-County shoppers have a flair for the spicy. Crawfish, gumbo and bloody mary are favorites here. But please, don’t forget the sweet flavors. Get some of everything.

Cook in paper
Grilling seafood, chicken or vegetables on parchment is a way to cut down on high-fat oils, some Canadians tell us. PaperChef (www.paperchef) makes bags, sheets and cups that make cooking and cleanup easy. Pre-folded parchment bags steam and “dramatize” flavor, the Toronto-based company reports. I spread some paper onto a baking sheet and crisped up tomatoes and vegetables. I loved how the one sheet lasted through a couple of baking projects. My friend is already a parchment fan and simply won’t bake her Portobello mushroom pizzas without it.
PaperChef shares this recipe:

Colorado Trout

4 medium whole trout, cleaned, boned. Head and tail attached.
1 handful bunch of fresh dill (do not chop)
1 handful bunch of thyme, on stems
1 handful bunch of chives, do not chop
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking twine
1 lemon, sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, reserve fronds for garnish
Drizzles of olive oil
4 PaperChef© parchment cooking bags
Fennel fronds (for decoration)
Preparation Instructions:
With the trout prepared and deboned, open the trout and place all fresh herbs divided equally among the whole trout. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Score multiple slices through the skin on the top to allow the lemon and fennel to infuse into the center. Tie with twine similar to a butcher's running knot (this insures that the trout stays tightly closed so the herbs infuse into the fish.
Place lemon slices and thinly sliced fennel on the bottom and top of the fish, then drizzle lightly with olive oil for taste.
Using a long handled fish spatula, place each trout into the Paper Chef© parchment bag. Fold the ends and crimp to seal with wooden skewers to keep the folds securely closed.
Follow instructions below to “grill/steam” the pouches. Allow approximately 20 minutes to grill/steam the fish. Serve with parchment steamed grilled vegetables and garnish with fennel fronds.

“Grown-up” potatoes
Still into tots? Go beyond ketchup with what’s billed as a ‘grown-up” taste to a classic. Alexia Crispy Seasoned Potato Puffs is out from Alexia Foods, a line of premium, all-natural frozen potatoes, breads, and side dishes. I baked up a batch seasoned with roasted garlic, cracked black pepper, sour cream and chives. Makers suggest this be served with a gourmet sandwich and perhaps a dip, but I had it with roasted garden vegetables. I enjoyed mine by following baking directions. My mom would have left them in a tad for her desired crispy perfection. I loved the flavor. Makers say puffs are” available at retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.89 and go from the freezer to the table in approximately 20 minutes.”
Little Bottles
There’s a reason the bottles are so tiny. Science has allowed T.A.S.T.E. Technology to make the Butterfly Kiss and Rose ‘N’ Blum experience the same in a sample form so you know what to purchase and store in the future. Can’t have the wine cellar space go to waste with bottls you don’t just love.
Total Anaerobic Sample Transfer Environment is a patented process that allows winemakers to taste small and large batches at the same time to assure they are indistinguishable.  I loved flavors such as the following:
Butterfly Kiss, including pink and white Pino Grigio.
Moscato: This sweet stuff is what my husband goes for. It’s a lighter summer pick.
Chardonay: Hits the spot with chilled fruit.

Rose ‘N’ Blum
Pinot Grigio: A big flavor in a tiny bottle.
I will also note to crafty ladies that once emptied, I filled the adorable bottles with colored water and bunched them into a showy “chandelier” that’s hanging in the garden.