Saturday, June 30, 2018

Skipjack and cannellini is tuna and beans disguised

                             We can’t always get everything we want to eat. Fortunately a healthy lunch for me doesn’t mean a sacrifice in enjoyment. Sometimes negative associations with food are a mental hurdle we must jump.
                             For instance, I don’t know what happened to my husband in his youth regarding cottage cheese. He’s just not having it now.
                             So my non-fear of foodstuffs on the healthy side has exposed me to different combinations and even different names of food. I love a good tuna over white bean salad with a pesto drizzle. That’s full of low-guilt pleasure.
                             But in order to motivate my husband into some housework, I promised him skipjack and cannelloni for dinner. That’s tuna and beans, but he didn’t realize it.
                             My downfall was repeating the phrase too often and with too much gusto, so that he became suspicious. The salad arrived to the table on a bed of lettuce, with pretzel “croutons.” I enjoyed it more than he did, but we all came out ahead in the end. 

                             Houston Blend
                             If you asked for coffee with a Houston flair, would you automatically assume coconut flakes would be the ticket? How about that paired with pecan praline flavor?
                             Even though a newspaper editor of the old school told me that “real” coffee drinkers do not go in for these frilly flavors, I do.
                             H-E-B’s CafĂ© Ole coffee, such as Texas Pecan, gives my whole house a lovely aroma. I’ve been known to open a package and set it next to me while I watch a movie,  just to inhale the sweet scent.
                             I’m a fan of Texas Pecan and I had to pick up Houston Blend, with the praline/coconut accents. The rocket ship headed toward the moon on the label cinched the dea. NASA is trending, I think.
                             Try the Taste of Texas flavors and let me know what you think, “real” coffee drinkers.
                             Now excuse me. I’m going to have some Houston Blend and read “Texas Monthly.”

                             Barley tip
                             My mother loves barley more than most people around here. Her mother used it in Saturday soups for lunch. Yet, I never recall her preparing it when I was growing up.
                             I brought Mom a package of Knorr One Skillet Meals in the Lemon Chicken with Barley Meal Starter variety. It contains barley and seasonings and you add chicken, spinach and carrots. She enjoyed it twice before sharing some with me and said she was impressed with this new offering.
                             My husband would not be excited if I notified him in advance that he’d be having barley for dinner, yet he tried to hide the dish of leftovers I made for my lunch and move it to his area. We all liked this creation.

                  Darragh Castillo is an appreciative, if not “real” coffee drinker and Southeast Texas foodie. Reach her at

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's the little things

            I love little things that come in small packages. You can carry so many of them at once!
                             But don’t hoard them. Spread joy with them.
                             When I approached a rose bush, the most delicate pea-sized buds and blooms caught my eye and I had to gather a tiny bouquet. I collected them and searched for a “vase” small enough to display them. Then I spied a vintage blue glass salt cellar. There was just enough room for a couple of teaspoons of water and the roses.
                             When I showed my mother, she suggested I take a photo and share the presentation. May it inspire you to spark joy in your home.

                             Go Greek for Mexican   
                             If you’ve ever substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream, I’m guessing you were already a Greek yogurt fan. It’s  thick and creamy and has so many fewer calories than the sour cream. This means you can eat much more of it.
                             We love our Mexican food in Southeast Texas. We ask for hot salsa and all the toppings.
                             If you’re a sour cream junkie, this might be a hard sell. Try it. Then try it maybe two more times. I think you’ll come to the lighter side.

                             Upcycling into yard art
                             The same week I tried to fashion a bracelet from a Perrier can, I met a blacksmith who’d forged his own serious arm cuff in the fire. Can’t top that. But I made a nifty Chinese lantern as seen on Pinterest.
                             Does your kitchen herb garden need some pizazz? I carefully cut long slits in the can and folded down, as instructed. The strips bow out to form a graceful little lantern shape. Then I strung some fishing line through the pop top and hung it outside to twirl. Look it up and try it.

                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie always looking to enjoy the most foods in the healthiest manner. Tips? Send them her way via

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Runamok mocktails and a slow-motion melon rescue

                             It’s not enough to have a beautiful bottle and uber-cool names for your concoctions. You’ve got to have quality backing your name. Let me pause to have you imagine a tequila/guava cocktail with ginger-infused maple syrup dubbed Wardrobe Malfunction.
                             Your name, here, is Runamok Maple, a Vermont-based organic syrup company.
                              These “sweet” people have pure-joy ideas for blending their many flavors into foodie-worthy meals. Yes, I’d love some broiled salmon with mustard and smoked maple syrup. Sure, I’ll pair hibiscus flower-infused maple syrup with blue cheese, smoked gouda and baked feta.
                             Have you ever uttered the phrase “They had me at cole slaw?”  Maybe not. This “side” often blends into the background. But with red cabbage, apple and corn, try aa Merquen infusion in a vinaigrette.
                        Today I want to talk to you about Romamok’s elderberry, which is simply superb on warm tortilla and French toast.  Runamok Maple’s Elderberry Infused Maple Syrup features what makers call a mix of wild berries and figs with a hint of woodsy-ness. Visit and try this:

Kafka’s Mocktail

·  30 grapes
·  1 oz Runamok Elderberry Infused Maple Syrup
·  ½ oz fresh lime juice
·  Seltzer
·  Ice
·  fresh tarragon (optional)

Place the grapes in a tumbler and crush them (citrus reamer).  Add the Elderberry Infused Maple Syrup and lime juice and continue to mash the grapes until you have rendered all of the juice you can from them.  Alternatively, you can put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse.  Strain the liquid into a glass filled with ice, pressing out as much from the solids as possible.  Top with seltzer and a sprig of tarragon (optional) and serve.

                             Watermelon resue
                             An audience of bystanders gasped allowed at a slow-motion watermelon rescue.
                             Eyes turned as a  rounded, basketball-sized melon jumped a cart at the grocer’s parking lot, hesitated, then negotiated a path toward oncoming traffic. We gasped as it paused beneath wheels of an upcoming SUV which caught it, skidded it a few feet, then bumped it under the vehicle and out toward the truck coming the opposite direction.
                             Cheers emerged as an employee stopped traffic and retrieved the errant melon. It was a tiny real-life drama for shoppers.

                             Micro mask is macro luxuriant           
                             Avocado, sweet orange oils , coconut oil and bergamot selections sound like you peeked into a health food nut’s pantry. Dermelect researchers weren’t playing with their food when they created a new Microfacial Exfoliating Masque. They were perfecting a natural blend with the trending kaolin clay and THD ascorbate, which they call the gold standard form of Vitamin C to fight the look of dark spots. The delicious-sounding ingredients in the first paragraph are blended to make skin appear supple, smooth, glowing, healthy and hydrated.
                             So there, keep kitchen ingredients in this handy red tube of Dermelect in your bath area. In the summer especially, an exfoliation is a treat to refresh the face at the end of an adventurous day. In fact, after one of these scrubs, I’m refreshed enough for another round of excitement.

                             Darragh Doiron is up for foodie adventures in the Port Arthur area. Let her know if you’ve tasted something she needs to try by contacting her at:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

How's your melon?

                  How do you have your melon?
                             The various methods of serving watermelon and utensils of choice for consuming it have always intrigued me.
                             Picking the perfect melon, hauling it home, clearing space for it in the fridge and wrestling it into storage containers is slightly less of an ordeal now than when I was a kid. I used to cringe when one came home because I knew it would stress out one or more adults in the house who had to contend with it.
                             They were long and heavy and had so many seeds and what if you went through all that trouble and it wasn’t any good? Someone could hold that against the person who thought it was a good idea to take one home. Just sayin.’
                             These days watermelons are commonly smaller and seedless. I don’t think I’ve dealt with significant seed count in years.
                             My vision is that if I get one on the weekend, thick, sweet and juicy slices will be the focal point of evening meals and water down any other food choices that sent the scale numbers climbing. But then you get that “I feel like I ate a watermelon” sensation, which comes from eating pretty much all of a watermelon.
                             My mom used a dinner knife to stab her portions on her plate and now I use a very sharp knife to do the same. She’d probably tell me that was dangerous, like running with scissors. I’ve always wondered, who was in such a hurry for scissors that you’d be running. Anyway, my husband prefers a spoon. But that’s because I serve him the rounded end, so I can get that out of the way and fit whatever’s left over into the fridge.
                             A few summers ago, a produce manager suggested I look for yellow bottoms and stem “tails” that suggested the melon had been in the field for a while.
                             Readers, let me know your melon selecting and recipe tricks.
                             Darragh Doiron is a local foodie who is not ashamed to sometimes make a meal from one food group, such as melon or popcorn. Write to her at