Saturday, December 29, 2018

Jam with Janis in Port Arthur


            To “Jam with Janis” is No. 61 in E.R. Bills’ new book, “100 Things to do in Texas Before You Die.” Oh, and there’s an image of a bucket on the cover. The listing encourages people to visit Museum of the Gulf Coast and see the Joplin collection in her hometown. Bills notes the following on the legendary singer: “A misfit in her hometown and the subject no small amount of scorn and ridicule at the University of Texas, Joplin moved to California and became a superstar in the music world, belting out psychedelic blues and gut-wrenching soul as powerfully as few artists before or since have even attempted, much less achieved.”
            Some other local mentions:
• Eat at the Old Orange Café, with down-home service and Cajun-smothered catfish.
• Bring beef jerky to the Big Thicket National Preserve just in case you see Bigfoot.
            I’ve enjoyed some of the big ticket stops, such as the Big Bend and Johnson Space Center. I’d love to travel with Bills and explore some of the smaller stops for adventure and dinner as the Intrepid Texan.

           


            Cowboy art and chili recipe
            Cowboy life Joe De Yong was the only protégé of famed cowboy artist Charles M. Russell. You’ll read that tidbit a lot in the new Alamar Media release “Joe De Yong: A Life in the West” by William Reynolds. Get ready for a beautiful book featuring art, history, photos of letters and a peek at the life of costume design, scenic sketch art and historical advice in the wild west movie world that created classic pictures such as “The Plainsman” 1937; “Union Pacific” 1939; “Buffalo Bill” 1944; “Red River” 1948; and “Shane” 1953.
            Readers even get glimpses of working with Cecil B. DeMille. Come along on a ride with DeYong and learn a little about a lot. Culinary Thrill Seekers, here’s a recipe, sort of, for chili, he wrote in a letter to “Mackey,” his friend Maxine. “Get Gebharts Canned (chili with beans) and add 1/3 chicken gumbo soup. It cuts the edge peculiar to canned stuff and adds fine mild flavor.” The hand-written recipe is followed by a typed note which is a joke about two drunks staggering along a railroad track. One says it’s the longest stairway he’s ever tried to climb. The other says it ain’t the number of steps that bothers him, but he never saw such long banisters in all his life.
            Darragh Doiron is a January birthday girl, just like Janis Joplin. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, December 24, 2018

Texas holiday spirit


                             Road trips are great things because you can have an adventure visiting family or perhaps hop in your car and drive a stretch for a break from the family.
                             The Courthouse Whistlestop Café in Livingston was my lunch break on an excursion to East Texas. I shared a burger with my husband, as we were on our way to another party. The onion rings were presented on a bed of lettuce. Fancy. Then Delores came in for a hug. She hugged my husband and then me and wished us the most heartfelt happy holiday. I thought that perhaps this friendly woman, who appeared to be a server from another table, had mistaken us for someone else. She then announced that the hugging is just what she does. Now that’s got to make you smile.
                             A sunny corner table offered a great view of the courthouse.

                             A symphony of good spirits in PA
                             Jeff Newman of Motiva was guest conductor and Dr. Mark Porterie was guest sleigh bell percussionist at The Sounds of Christmas concert that Symphony of Southeast Texas performed in Port Arthur. Motiva and the school district presented this event, featuring the Memorial High School Choir. This free event brought guests in a festive mood to the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School. As long as I've appreciated the city's history, I was among several who remarked it was their first time to enter the building, which has been beautifully restored. There's a story that Janis Joplin would cut class and hang out in the cupola, where her initials are supposedly marked. I didn't get that far in my explorations, but I did find a pre-reception featuring Moncla's white chocolate bread pudding, which was another hot topic of the evening.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Drunken onions in Groves

 



            The Collection
            I know I'm not the only one who finds a sample of spiced cider greatly enhances the luxury of holiday shopping. The Collection in Groves offered sweet and savory bites during my recent excursion and another shopper directed me to the hallway for a bite of "Drunken Onion" dip. Not only is the title a fun conversation starter, the product is full-on delish. You can buy the seasoning package and whip up your own at home. Across Lincoln Avenue, The Courtyard Café featured a display of Mexican Vanilla. I was just at a party where a baker brought out her stash and let guests sniff the alluring aroma from her stash of bottles. One guest was not aware that Mexican vanilla is a "thing" and the baker let her know that this Groves stop has some.

                             Press Club
                            A chocolate-merlot sauce topped my “Angel San Juan Food Cake” at the Press Club of Southeast Texas holiday party. This cake didn’t take the cake, as in a gift card to Bruno’s, but my mom’s bread pudding with bourbon sauce did. My husband asked her to make it for his entry and the general populace voted it as their favorite. Another winner, I got the leftovers. What little there was…

            Spot flowers on foodie road trips
            Ever been searching for jackass-clover or spectacle fruit? Keep an eye out for devil’s tongue or walking stick? Scrambled eggs? The Chisos Mountain Hedgehog is a cactus. “Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide” is a book as thick as the state is big that will guide you right to them. Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller must have had a blast compiling this new edition from Texas Natural History Guides. Here’s the thing. Maybe you didn’t know you love wildflowers until someone gives you a book like this. It’s surely an opportunity to flip through beautiful photos and learn some natural tidbits. Now, if you’re willing to brave the sun and cold and ants, etc. you can hunt for these beauties yourself. And that’s why a Culinary Thrill Seeker would be totally into this book. You can also hunt for Texas barbecue, tacos and pecan pies all along your journey.
 Darragh Castillo is a Port Arthur area foodie wishing readers the best of holidays. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com,

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Craft beers, prosecco spark gatherings


                             My Mom was in traveling party of the month club back in the day and she said this group of theatre and book lovers considered themselves connoisseurs of beer. This was the ‘60s an ‘70s where readily available options included your national labels and some seasonals.
                             When we invited her over to sample a six-pack of Texas craft beers I’d won in a door prize, she scooted on over and we tried blends with funny names, hearty flavors and unique blends. Banana and candy? I like the darker ones and my husband prefers lighter, and the fun part was finding out that you may not prefer the one you thought you’d like best and vice versa.
                             It was a fun night that also included rounds of duck on crackers, pretzels, pumpkin-spiced nuts and a Field Roast vegan loaf.  It was a “different” sort of gathering to have small bites spaced out over the evening and every new thing sparked another turn in the conversations.
                             Here’s what was in the pack:
                  Ale Mary, El Hefe Weizen from No Label Brewing of Katy
                  Legal Holiday is a Winter Warmer style beer brewed by Legal Draft Beer Company in Arlington,
                  Ale Mary is a Belgian Pale Ale style beer brewed by New Republic Brewing Company in College Station, TX
                  Crush City IPA is a American IPA style beer brewed by Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co in Houston, TX.

                  Mionetto holiday
                            Mionetto Prosecco is promising “luxury wines at various price points” to “sip away” while interacting with fruitcakes, as in the literal hard-as-rock ones and the various personalities in families.

I used to wonder why people raved about Champaign for the holidays, but now that I’ve discovered the sparkling joy that is prosecco, I’m board. Look for distinctive Mionetto bottles for your own enjoyment or as valued hostess gifts. I tried the classic Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut with a suggested retail price of $14. This is what you get: “Aromatic notes of honey, black licorice, and acacia blossom appealingly mark the palate of this cuvée. This wine can be served chilled on its own or used to create your own holiday cocktails.” Try Mionetto’s Chin Up cocktail, from master mixologist Justin Noel. It’s a combo of scotch, honey and apple juice.
Mionetto Rosé Extra Dry goes for about the same price as does DOC Organic Extra Dry Prosecco . The latter merges delicate fragrances of acacia blossoms and strong tastes of golden apple, pineapple and orange. Can you believe all that can go on in a glass?
 Now the Mionetto’s Cartizze DOCG Dry (SRP $35) has a ribbon embedded into the bottle, so no wrapping needed. This is the stuff to enjoy when you can truly concentrate on all the bubbles and flavors. Please, use your best glass for this one and enjoy with cake. Expect this: “A multi-faceted bouquet releases seductive impressions of apple and pear, alongside notes of citrus and glazed almond. On the palate it is crisp, well balanced, and elegant.” Can you stand it? Get shopping.
Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is taking extra walks to keep up with holiday feasts. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Vegan party gets photogenic


                          
   Turns out the Field Roast loaf of bread stuffing with mushroom gravy was a much-photographed aspect of a party I attended. It’s a good thing I’d pre-cut the loaf into smallish-pieces so that everyone got a taste.
                             I was invited to bring a vegan or vegetarian dish to a house potluck and this baby that looks a lot like a scored meatloaf went over well. I figured it would, so I brought the box and guests took out their phones to snap photos so they could look for it later.
                             I snapped a photo of a box of stroopwafels, which I learned were flat rounds of  soft waffles designed to be warmed up over your mug of tea and enjoyed. Don’t you love it when your food offerings are the conversation starters?


                             “The Fondue Bible: Second Edition”
                              When should a  woman kiss the man to her left? When she’s dropped her morsel into the fondue pot. It’s just a suggestion, as is dipping mango slices, ladyfingers or shortbread into your homemade rum and butter fondue.
                             Ilana Simon is still melting, stirring and dipping in “The Fondue Bible: Second Edition,” with 200 “best” recipes. I’m overwhelmed. In a good way. It’s the parings that stand out:
                            
                             Sweet Brie with pound cake or angle food cake cubes, apple wedges or orange sections.    
  M                    Maple Beef Fondue served with zesty mayonnaise or Thai peanut sauce.
                             Cajun Pork with blue cheese dip or honey mustard.
                             Hemp seed-encrusted shrimp with salsa verde.

                             There are modern twists and classic ones, like the following, which my mom made in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
                             Cocktail franks made with an 8-ounce jar of grape or seedless black currant jelly, 1/3 cup prepared mustard and a pound of cocktail franks or hot dogs cut diagonally into bite-sized pieces.
                             There’s fun stuff to read in this book meant for entertaining hearts. Of course, your big night can have other foods besides fondue. Try something with Zesty Mayonnaise.
                             Zesty Mayonnaise
                             1 cup mayonnaise
                             1 teaspoon paprika
                             1 half teaspoon cayenne pepper
                             In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, paprika and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
                            
                             Tamale stamps!
                             When my sister's seasonal greeting arrived, I was doubly excited by the stamp, featuring a dish of tamales. Making and enjoying them is a Christmas treat in my husband's family and his friend's mom makes amazing empanadas, which is on another in the postal tribute to Latin foods. More tempting favorites are featured on other stamps and there's one I had to look up. Don't worry, there's flan for dessert.
                        Darragh Castillo is a Port Arthur area foodie who is loving all the holiday celebrations of good cheer and good food. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Always thankful, ready for joy


                           
  Joy is one of my favorite sentiments of the season. A run by Missions Attic in Port Arthur can help you quickly furnish your table and home for guests. Bowls, serving wear, dishes and trees greet shoppers. It’s all sold for a good cause to help your neighbors.           
                             “Thanksgiving” should be an all-year sentiment for us. I have a silver Avon ring that scrolls out the word  “grateful” that’s everyday wear. The pointy letters often get caught in fabric, so that reminds me to be grateful for clothing and every little thing. So here I’ll mention I was grateful to begin Thanksgiving day with a small turkey sandwich breakfast that included za’atar from Ruth, jam from Jody, bread my church gifted to parishioners, coffee blended from two friends and a napkin from my mother. It takes a village. Give back more than you get.
                            

                  Try something new
                             Tried-and-true favorites are as important as innovation as we gather for the holidays. It’s easier if the “something new” appears as a sample from another cooks’ table.
                             It’s amazing what they do with Brussels sprouts these days. My hosts cut them in half and charred them and the sauce included grapes. From childhood on, this vegetable was something I avoided. They were only boiled back in my day. Even the woman who made the dish agreed, she did not used to like them as a kid, when serve bland and boiled. These “modern” sprouts had me going back for more. Today I love them raw and shredded and sautéed with bacon. Give speouts a chance.

                             Vegan Holiday
                             Just to prove my point above, the recipe for Caramel Apple Brussels begins with a question: “ Have you been a Brussels sprouts hater all your life?” Tommy McDonald writes. He notes you can’t really blame kids for hating them boiled or steamed.
                             McDonald is head chef at Field Roast Grain Meat Co. He lives with his family in Seattle and shares memories of growing up with all the fresh flavors of the region. These are good stories in a book filled with beautiful photos and fresh vegan ideas. “Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share & Savor” is about the “meat” of the grain. You know those jokes about not watching sausage being made? It’s a bit different when you’re kneading and cooking with grains, apples, etc. to make a roast or stuff a sausage. Field Roast makes products and this book helps with ideas on their usage. Flavors can take you around the world with Little Saigon Meatloaf, Cornmeal-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Po-Boy, Whitebean and Eggplant Crostini and Picadillo Empanadas.
                             Field Roast sent me a Hazelnut Cranberry Roast ‘en croute” with rosemary, candied ginger and sausage stuffing. It was so good my mom decided she was going to acquire another to share with some friends. I had double portions that night. The roast gets baked and is ready to serve in about an hour. More good news:  I was invited to bring a vegan or vegetarian covered dish to an event and I have a Celebration Roast with traditional stuffing and mushroom gravy still in the freezer to look forward to.
                             Darragh Casitillo is a Port Arthur area foodie who is loving how the community comes together to show off their cultural flavors for the holidays. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pour Les Enfants


                             Cabo or Vegas? A children’s museum party? Celebrity chefs at your home?
                             Tough choices, but they all are Pour Les Enfants. This 28th annual benefit for Garth House, Mickey Mehaffy Children’s Advocacy Program, Inc., featured a catalogue of auction packages meant to entice big spending. Generous donors are needed to keep this important program going.
                             If you don’t have a luxury vacation home to offer up, how about your time? Marion Tanner, executive director, said more than 800 young clients were interviewed in 2018. The need has been rising for this program’s services to support children who have been abused. Volunteers are needed to help these children, Tanner said.
                             Their mission: To prevent child abuse and neglect and to lessen the trauma to child victims of sexual and severe physical abuse during the investigative, prosecutorial and healing process.
                             Love and dollars are needed. This benefit included a silent and live auction with a pirate theme, dinner under a stylishly festooned tent featuring Robert Louis Stevenson Grilled Veggies and Buried Treasure Shrimp Paella and the live auction. This was a seriously good time for a serious cause. 

 Versi

                             Perfect Pumpkin Update
                             Naomi Nachman grew up in Australia and started a personal kosher chef business. Flipping through her book, I could have stopped at the crazy easy avocado and chickpea salad, but I’m glad I didn’t. Not only can she help limited-space dorm students whip up fish with honey mustard and crunchy chip topping, she brings us our seasonal Pumpkin Update.
                             Pumpkin has been everywhere these past few years. Have you baked up a Pumpkin Challah topped with mini marshmallows? It’s beautiful. Her cooks’ tip: After applying egg wash to her classic challah, that’s when you can add various toppings, including sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion, za’atar, pumpkin seeds and streusel crumbs.
                             The book is “Perfect Flavors: Creative, easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by my family and friends,” from Artscroll/Shaar Press. I love the way she writes about how she created dishes such as Quizza, so her daughter could enjoy pizza and quiche at once.
                             Radish Dill Tomato salad is easy, and the chickpea and avocado
                  Delight involves 2 avocados, 2 cans of the peas, scallions, garlic, kosher salt, olive oil, lime juice and za’atar seasoning. Can you manage that? Count me in.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves to travel the world via a cookbook. Contact her via darraghcastillo@icloud.com



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Big Bend is big now

 

Big Bend is big now

I considered myself a “real” Texan when I drove a rented car into an epic movie horizon.
My heart stopped at every big bend in the area and I marveled at reach-the-clouds mountains as well as tiny insects, pebbles and plants on an unforgettable road trip.
Anthony Bourdain’s recently-aired “Parts Unknown” featured many stops I’d made, including some in search of the Texas Monthly best burger listings. Later, I found out the mayor of Lajitas was a goat.
But I did get to stay in the Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park, built by Civilian Conservation Corps. In that mode:


I’m thrilled to have an image of Big Bend’s Santa Elena Canyon done in Work Projects Administration Style. Old school lettering, coloring and view for the oldest-of-schools scenery. These National Park Posters are created by Rob Decker, a Colorado-based photographer and graphic artist who studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was 19. How lucky could he be? And how lucky could you be to own one. Decker is still traveling for iconic shots. If you’ve ever been to one of these parks, or want a bucket list collection, here’s your chance. National Park Posters are printed on “Conservation,” a 100 percent recycled paper stock with soy-based inks, are $35 each and available for purchase at www.national-park-posters.com. Every poster is dated, numbered and signed by the artist. The artist donates a percentage of annual profits to organizations that support America's National Parks.

And now for Texas State Parks
You know the kind of book with dozens of sticky markers guiding you back to reference pages? “Official Guide to Texas State Parks & Historic Sites” will be one of them, from the moment you tear off the wrapping.
Freelance photographer Laurence Parent of Wimberly got to take all these photos and tell these stories that bring Texas to your living room.

Sea Rim State Park, our own span of natural beauty, is featured with two images.

Memories of my great adventure to the Big Bend area are captured with images of Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park, spiny octillo plants designed to ward off hungry deer, the vast pools of Balmorhea State Park and mountains that cast shadows upon other towering mountains.
Hill Country? Who doesn’t want to retire there? Maybe not near the Devil’s Sinkhole, if you’re a sleepwalker, but I’m still hoping to hike up Enchanted Hill after my drive-past a decade ago. I’m more fit, now. I can do it.
Turns out there are many, many state parks in Texas. Pack your picnic and go Culinary Thrill Seeking.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to pack a basket and head out for adventure. Contact her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Runamok with your cheese, and a pumpkin update

 love w            
     Don't you love when you can pair with pears? Runamok Maple is making it even more tempting to upgrade your syrup collection. There's a set for ice cream pairing, featuring Rum and Rye Barrel-Aged; tea pairing with Makrut Lime-Leaf infused maple (have you ever heard of such a thing?); Day + Night with Sugarmaker's Cut; and what I got for cheese.          
                             For cheese you have my already-fave  creation from this company, Hibiscus Flower-infused Maple, Elderberry Infused Maple, Pecan Wood Smoked Maple and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple. Did you think your cheese game could get any better? Go with hard cheeses such as cheddar or gouda for the barrel-aged and smoked and get soft with brie or camembert for the infused goodies.          
                             This pairing collection would be a great gift and recipients could think about the larger version of the beautiful bottles thee elixirs come in. Also, consider Runamok Maple recipes that will at least make you think you've been to Vermont.
                             We love salmon and Dijon mustard, but would we Cajun-style lovers have thought to season that blend with a bit of Runamok Smoked Maple Syrup as well? I took a photo of  my family’s “sweet” cheese party featuring a pair dish a guest whipped up. Get creative.
                 
            Pumpkin update: You have to plan for lunch at my friend B's house. It's not like we hadn't already had our fill of fajitas and assorted salsas. There was Butterscotch Bomb puddings with heaps of freshly-whipped cream. Someone brought in a sopapilla cheesecake.
            Festive Hershey's chocolate bites adorned the dessert table. Then my friend pops up like a light bulb goes off over her head. "Do you like Pumpkin?" she asks. Now, what was I supposed to say?
            That's how I found out about Blue Bell's Spiced Pumpkin Pecan ice cream. It's everything you love about pumpkin pie, but cool and creamy. That's this week's update for the flavor that has dominated the season for the past several years.

            Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready for adventure in travel and on the plate. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Poke .pngIf you've got to be editor of “Surfer” magazine, you’re going to get hungry after hitting the waves. As long as you’re enjoying the amazing waterside views in Morocco, Peru, Indonesia, Tahiti, etc., you may as well pick up some cooking tips.
                             Thank you, Jim Kempton, for taking us places some of us will never get to go. If we do go, we probably won’t be out in the surf, like you. But I’d sure join you fireside and tableside for one of your dinners. His new Prospect Park Books release is “First we Surf, Then we Eat.”
                             Everybody’s got priorities. Don’t worry, photos of rocky beaches, sandy shores, rainbows, cactus and glorious spreads of food don’t leave out coverage of the two surf sites we may be most familiar with: California and Hawaii.
                             I saw an announcement for this book regarding Ono Poke Bowl around the time Hawaiian Poke Bowl opened in Port Arthur. This Hawaiian treat has become a mainland trend, Kempton writes, and reports it’s pronounced “poh-kay.” The recipe here includes a pound of sashimi-grade tuna, avocado, ginger and pepper.
                             After that, I’d love to try a Porterhouse Steak with Herbed Butter and Portuguese Chimichurri. Dona Victoria’s Kahlua Kahlua Coconut Flan is from Margarita’s Village in Mexico as is Avocados Stuffed with Jumbo Shrimp. This fall, try Santo Domingo Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple Rum Balsamic Glaze. This book will take you away and it also may take some surfers back in time.
                             Kempton is keeping the flavors and action coming. The section titled Makka Beach, Jamaica, offers Jerk Chicken Salad with a dressing designed to impress. Here’s that recipe:
                             Agave Lime Dressing

                             One half cup sesame oil
                             One fourth cup agave nectar
                             One fourth cup apple cider vinegar
                             2 tablespoons finely diced onion        
                             2 tablespoons lime juice
                             1 tablespoon Myer’s dark Jamaican rum
                             Pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
                             Place all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. Store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator until needed.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur foodie who has never been surfing, but she is willing to watch you do it. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

A squeeze of oatmeal, Field Roast, Struck

A squeeze of oatmeal
So many foods are more “fun” than they used to be. I just consumed oatmeal without ever having seen it. That sounds weird, but what if you were on the best hike of your season and there’s a beautiful view ahead and you want to get a photo of it just when that cloud should float past…. And  you’re hungry?
            Just reach in your pack for a peach-chia-vanilla Munk Pack of Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze and remove lid and squeeze it right into your mouth. You don’t even have to finish it all at once. Save some of that just-right, filling0-in-the-good-way flavor for after you snap that perfect photo. Or maybe that’s when you crave the Maple Pear Quinoa.
            Your “hike” could be a long wait at the department of motor vehicles or the car pool line. Have some for the kids, too. I’ll bet they’d like Raspberry Coconut. This brand is all about whole grain, vegan and gluten-free goodness. So load up.


Field Roast
Here’s some ad copy/poetry from Field Roast: “Our mornings are defined by the nourishing foods we provide for our bodies when we break the fast of a good night’s sleep!”
Doesn’t that want to make you whip up something good and good for you? How about artisan vegan breakfast sausage? What’s that look on your face? What if Field Roast threw in Washington apples and real maple syrup? I tried these little bits of sizzlers and I’d deem them for the more serious non-meat eaters among us. The numbers are growing every day, really. I offered some on the side of eggs as an evening meal, and I was told I that the time to mention that they were vegan was after everyone had sampled. This Seattle-based company is proud of what they’ve ground. You can have a field day with Field Roast mixing it into biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, scrambles and quiches.



“Struck”
Most of us have begun ordinary days with life-changing twists. The term “life changing” has a range of interpretations, but you know when nothing will be “the same” again. Then there’s the cliché of being prepared because you could get “hit by a bus.” These things happen.
“Struck: A Husband’s Memoir of Trauma and Triumph” shares what it was like when Douglas Segal’s wife got hit by that real-life bus. Her daughter walked away from the accident and people watching newscasts could not even believe that Susan could have survived.
Segal is a film and television writer, so the emotions are real, and he knows how to convey them. He shares his family’s struggles a long hospital stay, rehab and life beyond. His family and friends and a larger community became involved via social media postings on her progress and the “takes a village” thought evolved. Reading this Prospect Park Books offering will have you emotionally invested along this journey, too.
Susan could be a difficult patient and couldn’t eat “real food” for a long time. I want to mention a culinary note. Nearly immobile, she pined passionately and loudly for a particular diet soda for weeks. When she finally was allowed a sip….. meh.
The writer doesn’t mention exactly how this bus accident happened until way in. It’s kind of crazy, and within days after finishing a book, I passed by a situation where a vehicle ended up in a canal in the same fashion as this book’s story. Little twists have happened to this couple and readers are sure to be left enjoying the gift of each day with a little more intensity.
Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who especially loves fall and is totally into that pumpkin thing. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, October 29, 2018

Vegan Strong and the Sea Ranch KETO thing

 "Vegan Strong: The Ultimate Field Manual for a Kick-Ass Plant-Fueled Life" illustrates the many paths people take toward this lifestyle. Bill Muir is a registered nurse in the military, taught English in Japan, listened to punk rock and is an all-around character. We will follow his lead and now refer to him as Sgt. Vegan from now.
                              I enjoyed this book that shares how hard it was to get vegan food anywhere, much less in the military, a few short years ago. Then you had to deal with attitudes, too. He's still sensitive about his locker search that yielded artificial bacon bits that made salads fun.
                             His own family and friends group was sure he'd wither away after just giving up meat for Lent. He's story is interesting and his recourses are valuable. I'd also like to meet Sgt. Vegan's mom, who shares kickin' recipes for pea soup, carrot and curry soup and vegan chili. Report for duty.
                 
                  Sea Ranch KETO Boudain
                             Boudain lovers, you may have heard. Sea Ranch Café in Port Neches is making KETO boudain - with cauliflower instead of rice - and it's selling like crazy. Thibodeaux and Boudreaux might not even notice the substitution.
                            I couldn't wait to get my hands on some and I found the texture to be very good. It passed my Mom's test and she's got ties to Breaux Bridge, La., I did add some cayenne to my serving, because that's just how I roll. Spicy. You've got to plan ahead to get your share, so monitor them on Facebook.
                             I had another round of guests from Alabama and I'm happy to report that they scored a few pounds for a relative who is on the KETO diet. They also packed dry ice to take a chest of their standard favorite, DJ's Boudain, back home.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is happy to spread the Vegan message, yet is pretty strict about her boudain desires. Contact her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Spices (other than pumpkin flavor fall


If you woke up in a hotel in India, I’m not sure what a breakfast could look like. But I went to my sister’s house in Alabama the night before her son’s wedding and I’ll call that my bed and breakfast.
                             Debbie’s husband is from India and we were on our way to an Indian ceremony so what could be more appropriate than some spice to get us started? We were happy to indulge in her platter of raw vegetables and flavors she set out for our arrival, close to midnight the pervious evening. So I wasn’t that hungry the next morning, but the aroma of upma got me going.
                             I liken this “porridge” to the consistency of  the Malt –O-Meal I had as a kid with butter and sugar. This upma was a bit thicker, with onions, peppers and spices mixed in. It was savory and warm and filling. She made hers from a packet and served it with a southern biscuit on the side,  jelly and fresh apples.
                             Again, not sure how they’d serve the same dish in India, but I’m all about the fusion flavors.

                  Spice of  life

                             You can go around the globe from your spice cabinet, thanks to McCormick Gourmet Global Seasonings. Some pre-mixed concoctions in their famous jars include flavors I already crave, such as shawarma Middle Eastern blend of cinnamon, coriander and cardamom, and some new-to-me traditions such as berbere, a blend of cayenne, paprika, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon to make Ethiopia’s most popular seasoning.
                             With my samples of harissa, a Tunisian chili paste, and za’atar, I’ve seasoned eggplant, eggs and meats in a fashion that makes one want to set a whole table for entertaining. The aromas are intoxicating.
                             Peruvian, a blend of chilli pepper, paprika, cumin and black pepper, is another offering you’ll want to experience. 


                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who likes it spicy. Contact her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Snack, then eat your plants


                             Road trip! Don’t you love the words? The adventure? The snacks?
                             I have hit the roads with carrot sticks, boiled eggs and nuts, but someone else packed the bag with munchies for a 12-plus hour excursion to my nephew’s two wedding ceremonies. We headed toward Alabama, then Tennessee with our red, insulated bag full of Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets, a round of peanut brittle (I did share!) and pretzels from a recent flight.
                             Did I mention I was in the back seat the entire time and helping someone study for a nutrition test?
                             The best way to sample “everything” on a road trip is to share. When I’m with my husband, we plan for stops featuring regional specialties and divvy up a serving. Well, he was not with me on this leg of the journey.
                             Lots of Greek yogurt is helping me get back on track. And, the healthy attitude discussed in the following mention:
                            

                             Veestro, Plants Please, wants you to “feed your happy.”
                             I love healthy discussions about food and nutrition. But if people are still “making fun” of vegan choices, that’s unfortunate. If you’ve gone that way by choice, then perhaps Veestro’s plant-based frozen meals are the the path to switching provokers into supporters. They could at least be jealous of the ease of delivery, variety and flavor.
                             Red curry is sweet with coconut milk, kaffir lime, broccoli, cauliflower and more over brown rice. The breakfast burrito features potatoes and roma tomatoes in a whole wheat tortilla with a red sauce. I tried several meals and juices sent my way and loved them. I also admire the company’s approach toward health and simply enjoying food, nutrition and meal time. If you’re already into foods with titles such as oatmeal breakfast pie, Portobello steak and black bean alfredo, you’ll want to check this out. info@veestro.com  
 Versio               Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who supports lots of things in moderation. Snack well and keep your plate full of the rainbow. Contact her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com