Sunday, April 27, 2014

Green Ball your harvest

While I know some canners and try to stay on their “good list,” I’m in love with canning jars for a whole other reason. I repackage spices, grains and such into jars for a beautiful natural look and easy reference. You can see right through a  jar and know how much you have left.  It relaxes me to see a row of homey jars instead of crushed up boxes and folded over bags. One of my favorite things just got better.
Jardin Home Brands is offering limited edition Ball® Heritage Collection Spring Green Jars! 
They say they did it to celebrate the 100th  anniversary of the “Perfection” jar, the next iteration of the Ball brothers’ “Perfect Mason.” I say they did it just to spread cheer and good will. I’m now admiring the patterns made by the sun streaming through one of these green jars, labeled “Perfection.” How often does just an empty jar make you smile? Wait until it’s full of your garden goodness. They look old, but pack modern standards: they’re BPA-free and made in America.
Red Palm Oil
While my friend has a wall of gourmet butter bricks in her refrigerator, I don’t even buy the stuff. I use olive oil for everything. I rarely bake, so that’s not a deterrent. Nutiva gives me another option: Shortening and “buttery spread” made from red palm and coconut  oils. Fry and bake with the shortening and use the spread for your vegetables and toast. These come in attractive tubs and they also sell a jar of red palm oil that can stay outside with no refrigerator. My experiments have included bread, onions and red peppers. I give them high, flavorful marks. Red palm oil looks exotic and tinges your food a slight red-orange. I loved the flavor of all these organic superfood products that have all kinds of logos to tell you they’re good for you. Play around with Nutiva, found at Whole Foods. Their “superfoods portfolio” includes hemp and chia products.
Crazy crackers
I’m so glad Mary’s Gone Crackers. If you’re not familiar, this is an award-winning line of organic, vegan and gluten free foods, including cookies. I brought Curry Sticks and Twigs pretzels to a party and they were received with great curiosity. “Something different” was a frequent comment as people dug in for more. The whole grains did give the little sticks a woodsy look and they felt like such a more healthy way to get a crunch than some other snack foods. I’m especially pleased with new hot and spicy jalapeno round crackers. Something about the little rounds filled with sesame and flax seeds and quinoa make you want to slow down and savor each bite with appreciation. There’s 13 crackers in a serving, and I love every bite.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A tin of Colman's in the pantry

You may already have one of those classic yellow tins of Colman’s Mustard, with it’s medal of honor logo, in your spice area. If you do, here’s my suggestion. Empty it, attach magnets and stick it on your fridge as a pen or coupon holder. It will look so trendy, if you can refer to a product that’s been around since 1814 trendy.
This idea is good if you can’t recall how long the tin has been on the shelf. Get a new one and release the flavor. Did you realize the company is famous for a tartar sauce recipe, or that it makes a keen vegetable curry? It’s a given for a honey mustard glaze.
I’ve been dusting mustard powder on popcorn and mixing it into vinaigrette. There is so much flavor in this historic little condiment. Make it your secret ingredient, or proudly tell everyone what you’re doing with Colman’s. Here’s a tip right from

Hot Crab Dip

1 pound lump crab meat (substitute imitation lump crab)
2 half cup mayonnaise
16 ounces cream cheese
1 fourth teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons Colman’s Original Prepared Mustard
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 fourth cup dry white wine
Salt to taste

Heat all ingredients (except crab meat) to form a sauce. Set aside. Reheat sauce when ready to serve and add crab meat. Serve immediately with crackers or fresh-cut vegetables.

What’s sexy?
Ladies, if I suggested you pack some Clean, Lean and Sexy in your bag, would you guess I’m talking about air-popped popcorn with “sea salt and no artificial anything?” A 100 calorie bag of this stuff offers you antioxidants without the chemicals lining a microwave bag of popcorn. I’ve long been a fan of popcorn as an unprocessed whole grain and my mother would serve it up dry as an evening snack. I’m so happy I learned to enjoy the naked goodness of popcorn, though I don’t mind indulging it other tempting forms. This is how our ancesters must have popped it. It’s a 100-calorie, satisfying treat.
Clean, Lean and Sexy also offers dense whole food energy bars in flavors like Coconut Cashew and Honey Almond for a natural pick-you-up. 

Better Sweets
Surf Sweets has used organic fruit juice to make me like something I didn’t think I liked. Of course, many Americans are already hooked on gummy bears and jelly beans, but I always found them to taste so artificial. A look at the chemicals involved explains that. My family played around with Surf Sweets’ new Organic Watermelon Rings and Peach Rings, Organic Fruity Bears (Cherry, Grapefruit, Grape, Lemon, Strawberry, Orange) and Organic Spring Mix Jelly Bean (Tropical Punch, Lemon Aid, Mixed Berry, Pineapple, Tangerine, Watermelon). They’re free of artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup and GMOs. They actually taste “real.” By playing, we mean we got shot glasses and tried our rum version of what I’ve been hearing people talk about, “vodka soaked gummy bears.” Perhaps this is not what the makers intended, but my mom enjoyed a watermelon ring garnish in her glass. To me, it tasted like the Fourth of July. Learn more about the candies at  

A new kind of sweet
Act now for more limited edition innovations from Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagels, offering Cinnamon vanilla English Muffins and Maple French Toast Bagles that smell so good right through the bag.  Each one is perfect for a Canadian bacon sandwich. I suppose that makes an intercontinental breakfast. I like mine toasted. What a luxury.
The muffins are the only brand new flavor Thomas’ will introduce in 2014 . The bagels are a favorite that came back for a while, as will Apple Pie. So they’ve done all the work for you, as these babies are ready to go. As for those of you who like to play in the kitchen, use them as a base for something you create yourself. I’m seeing embellishments of cheese, egg, fruit and so on.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Detox, then have some chocolate?

While you’re getting healthy you can enjoy a Portobello stacker with chipotle cashew cheese. Snappy Slaw with lime cilantro vinaigrette is part of the plan. Will coconut basil stir fry hit the spot?
So you’re eating healthy to stay healthy, but can you manage giving up sugar and coffee get clean?
Just flip through Melissa Costello’s idea of good eating and you’ll be sold. I already want to eat fresh, healthy foods all the time for flavor and health. Who needs junk in a box. “The Clean in 14 Detox” is “The 2-Week plan to melt fat, kick cravings and increse your natural energy.
It’s a better way to live, and easy-to-read info explains the “big, fat why” of it all.
Yes, you could get headaches, gas and even flu-like systems as you SAP, or sabotage addictive patterns. She explains how to deal with that and outlines the pros of making better choices.
I think I can live with red lentil curry stew and spaghetti squash Italiano in my life. Here’s just one amazing snack recipe from this helpful book. I’ll try soy in a whole new way:

Kickin’ Edamome
1 16-ounce package frozen, shelled edmame, cooked according to package directions
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 and one fourth teaspoon sea salt
One half teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
One fourth teaspoon cayenne
One fourth cup fresh cilandro
4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One fourth cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor except for the olive oil and lime  juice. Puree until combined.
Add the olive oil and lime juice an dpuree more, scraping the sides of the processor bowl frequently. If you like a smoother consistency, add purified water a tablespoon at a time while the processor is running, until the desired texture is achieved.

In Other Food News:
Should I offer some disclaimer from the above plea for healthy eating? I guarantee you I make way healthier food choices than I did a decade ago, and I feel better for it. But I don’t rule any foods out. So, with in the spirit of everything-in-moderation, here’s more culinary thrill seeking:

A girl walks into a room
And people offer her food. It has become my reputation and I’m fine with it. People give me food. Seems they’ve heard I LIKE eating. Surely it’s the column, and not that they were in line behind me at a buffet.
I just walked into The News and Merle Hebert asked me if I’ve tried the new Hershey’s spreads. She was not only willing to let me tried it, she said she’d been eating quite a bit of it and then retrieved the jar and released it to me. Think I was going to stop her? I had it on a clementine after lunch. Yes, it’s as good as the commercials make it look, though I haven’t tried it on celery like the commercial I saw.
At Rotary Taste of Gumbo, Etc., several people asked me which gumbos to try. I didn’t want to commit when a woman told me she’d just come from Weight Watchers and wanted to experience just two bowls. I sure didn’t want to be her deciding factor. And by the way, I had also just come from Weight Watchers. I had way more than two bowls, and enjoyed a nice long walk to balance it out.
Got to go. Someone’s knocking. It could be someone with more food.

It’s snowing!
It’s snowing at the new Donut Hole on Ninth Avenue and Patti Harrington says the juice is flowing. She’s been promoting the group through the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and has been sharing donuts and boudain kolaches. She says their new cones have ice as soft as snow and come in flavors like Bananarama, Texas Tornado, Pink Lady and Strawberry Shortcake.
And so much juice, she says.
“They’re absolutely phenomenal,” Harrington said.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's the Buzz? A 'Superstar' party

“What’s the Buzz?”
The Easter season means my family will gather to see two movies for sure: “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Ten Commandments.”
For Superstar, we’ll sit at a low table (the coffee table) and share bread dipped in herbed olive oil and red wine while we see our favorite rockin’ gospel movie.
I’m always happy to meet someone else who knows all the words to all the songs like we do.

Give peas a chance!
It could be that World Peas went into the non-GMO snack business specifically to create a catchy business title. I’m glad they did. While I’m into the Bombay curry, I’m sticking with Nagano Wasabi as my favorite that I’ve tried in the resealable bags. Crunchy and spicy and good for you, they also come in Texas Barbeque, Santa Barbara Ranch, Sicilian Tomato & Garlic, Hungarian Garlic and Sichuan Chili. 
They can certainly keep “peas” in your carpool when kids are hungry on the way to practice. I love these peas.
Coastal Collection
Once you realize William Hill Estate operates a beachland vineyard near the Silverado Trail, you’ll want to see what that looks like. I looked it up and it’s as beautiful as the mind can picture it. The recently-launched Coastal Collection wines brings the winery’s style from Southern Napa to California’s North Coast, makers say. Taste it in the pear and stone fruit aromas and notes ot toasted oak and caramel of the chardonnay. This one made me re-think deeming red as my permanent favorite. But William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon  also features a caramel mingled with brown spice and toasted oak. So I can’t go wrong. What’s more, the Estate has helped raise funds to restore music education in schools. These wines are in the $15 range and very memorable.