Saturday, November 25, 2017

Relish the Holidays

                             While I did not grow up sticking black olives on my fingers as a child, I have seen enough children from several families get into the holiday relish tray in this fashion. Maybe it’s not the best of manners, but it’s fun, and it makes me smile to see them do it.
                             My grandma had a glass serving tray for such relishes and I have a divided on I received as a wedding gift. It has four spaces plus a round center that could hold a dip or spread. It’s always fun to consider what goes in the spaces. I go for color and flavor. Or maybe just what I have on hand.
                             This Thanksgiving spaces went to fire and ice pickles with a hot and sweet crunch. Because the the jar of pickled ginger had such bright orange contents, I went for it, making a space for ginger and chopped fresh green jalapenos. I thought it was pretty, and maybe a little offbeat, but my guests appreciated the flavor, paired with rich turkey and rice dressing. Mom’s must-have cranberry relish with, with pecans this time, starred in the middle.
                             What’s on your relish tray?

                             Not missing the gluten here
                             If you’re a gluten-free person, would you be spending your kitchen time whipping up Irish Soda Bread,  buttermilk scones and cheese biscuits two ways?
                             Two authors will help you with their book “100 Classic Gluden-Free Comfort Food Recipes,” and show you some of what Canadians enjoy as well.        
                             Donna Washburn and Heather Butt are friends who cover it all, so if you’re a southerner and crave some GF cornbread, it’s in the book. But I’m just gonna say, all this baking of bread, pies and cookies looks tempting, but I’m even more excited about entrees and sides such as oven-fried chicken, chicken pot pie and fish and chips. Get going GF folks. Here’s a few tips from Wahsburn & Butt:
                             * Shiny baking sheets produce soft-bottomed cookies, while darker pans result in crisper cookies.
                             * When baking two sheets at once, place themin the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Switch their positions halfway through the suggested baking time.
                             * When baking with only one baking sheet, let it cool for 2 to 3 minutes between batches.

                             Ready for vegans, or anybody
                             Pavolavas, cream cheese frosting for a carrot-orange cake and caviar in the “Vegan Holiday Cookbook?” It’s like a detective story, with beautiful photos, what Marie Laforet shows readers and food lovers in this book covering what appetizers to desserts.
                             The “caviar” is created by molecular cooking and seaweed seasoning, mushrooms act like pate. Other foods behave like what we may be more familiar with and some foods are happy never needed animal products in the first place. More people are coming out as vegan and I’m all for learning about new things. This book has inspired me to even seek out appetizer breads I was not familiar with, such as Paris toasts and Swedish polarbread.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Duck egg and NPR wine club are culinary adventures

                             Port Arthur’s Vietnamese groceries offer finds from fresh vegetables, savory spices and attractive dishes from which to serve it all.
                             I stopped by one for a cucumber and spotted large, blue-tinted eggs. I supposed they were duck eggs, but thought I’d ask. Turns out they were the kind of duck eggs with a little duck, instead of a yolk, inside.
                             I’d heard on National Public Radio (see below) that these sold cooked at Asian markets and small children who behave themselves while shopping consider them a treat. You crack it open and eat the duck what’s inside, bones and all.
                             For about $1.50, I figured I’d try that experience, but I was told to boil the egg for about 40 minutes. And give it a “shot” of salt and maybe pepper.
                             I love culinary thrill seeking, but I was getting nervous as I cracked the tough shell and then pierced through a tough skin on the inside to reveal just what was supposed to be in there. I hesitated, but tried it.
                             It’s certainly the final time I’ll do that again, but won’t rule out trying one boiled and seasoned by someone who knows what he or she is doing.
                             The spread included sticky rice, pickled ginger, cucumber, carrots and persimmon, so I considered myself very well fed in the end.

                  NPR wine club
                             I’m a big fan of KVLU, 91.3, Lamar University’s public radio station. I grew up with it because my mom played it. The All Things Considered theme music has a Pavlov’s dog effect on me because it meant dinner was cooking.
                             When I had the chance to save items from recent flood waters, I nabbed my National Public Radio coffee mugs that I’d collected from fund drives.
                        Imagine my excitement about the new NPR Wine Club, dubbed an  innovative way to support public radio. How about a serving of “Weekend Edition,” which was like savoring a sweet grape jam at brunch. Hmm, maybe the experienced and comical label writers describe the notes better, but I loved it.
            "All Grapes Considered" Malbec,"Weekend Edition" Cabernet Sauvignon and an "Uncorked" Merlot, are some combos as clever as what you’d expect from the vineyards and NPR creative minds that got this deal together. Of course, some of my favorite public radio programs and interviews are about sharing stories of  travel, cultures and the foods that tell the stories of the world. That’s big news.