Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pecans deserve a festival

 
Pecans get to play in Groves
                      It’s the big 50 for the Groves Pecan Festival and we’re all ready for some pecan pie, and fun.
                      I turned straight to the pecan section when I received the book “Cork and Knife: Build Complex Flavors with Bourbon, Wine and Beer and More.” Matt and Emily Clifton, founders of Nerds with Knives blog, have done a little science – and genius contemplating -  to create some flavors that won’t quit. She’s from the Upper West Side and he’s from Britain, so, they’re open to a whole wide world of goodness.
                      A twist that caught my eye is Bourbon Sloppy Joes with Cheddar and Pickled onions. Don’t stop there. Gaze at photos and recipes for pears poached with hibiscus and rose, plum and rosemary galette with red wine syrup, chicken thighs with white wine, Meyer lemon and fennel and seared scallops in gin with brown butter and tarragon. Learn to cook with brandy, rum, tequila, wines, beer, sake, gin and more. They view the liquor cabinet as an extension of the pantry.
                      Back to the pecans, please. Turns out this couple would make Bread Pudding with Cinnamon-Whiskey Apples, and that sounds just like what we’d do with them in Southeast Texas. Now, they make Cheesecake Bars with Pecan Crust and Bourbon Caramel for the holidays. They claim that holiday gifts of the bites will make your neighbors forget about all the times you put out recycling while dressed in less than your best.
                      Get the book and make some of these delights to celebrate the Groves Pecan Festival, Oct. 24-27 in Groves.

                      More delish:

         * Jarlesberg Cheese Snacks – You know how there’s real, simple yogurt, and that conveniently packaged, sugary and colored stuff geared to kids? You really have to read the labels. Now cheese can be cheese, and go easily in your lunch. Jarlesberg has added individually wrapped mild, mellow and nutty cheese sticks to their line. I’d pack one of these to go anywhere. They taste a little more gourmet than you may be used to in this format.  There’s a 60 year old Norwegian recipe that makes it taste so good. I read up on this cheese, which has holes like cheese from other countries. Now I’m on board with the Norwegians. Remember, just as in a fine wine, it’s good to read your product’s tasting notes. That’s where I got the nutty note. Once you read about it, the “nutty” really comes out. Learn more at www.jarlesberg.com


                      * Borden Kid Builder -  I still don’t know if Mom ever knew my lunch money was going to chocolate milk. That was a little carton of fun for a stretch of elementary school. If you still crave it, Borden how has little packable bottles of Kid Builder, which is 2 percent reduced fat, no sugar added milk with 50 percent more calcium and protein. Parents and kids should love that in glorious chocolate. I’ve tried it and it’s so rich and creamy I made 1 12-ounce serving last three days in an attractive juice glass. Felt classy drinking chocolate milk from a glass in the morning. Like I was on vacation. And guess what? There’s strawberry, too!

                      Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is on board with kid foods and big-kid gourmet foods, too. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Not so hard to get into a pickle; Tuesday desserts

 It's not that hard to get in a pickle.
                      Okay, so maybe they’re not real pickles, but they sure look good in a fall kitchen display. And they could impress visitors. Just look how much time you must have spent growing, harvesting and pickling your produce. Or not.
                      I like the idea of pickles more than eating them. There’s such a thing as quick pickles but the ones I just “put up” are even quicker. I raided my mom’s condiment pantry and found a jar of “fire and ice” pickles she made some time ago. That’s the sugar and hot sauce trick on store-bought pickles. Love them.
                      There were only two pickles left in a jar of spicy liquid. I further consolidated other jars of capers, peppers, etc. and then cut up a store-bought squash my sister brought over. I packed the yellow slivers into the “new” liquid and have a jar full of fresh something to admire before I crack it open to enjoy.
                      If you have more faux pickling ideas, share them with our readers.
                     

              It’s Tuesday. How about desert?

                      For 20 years Mary Younkin has remembered how a berry sauce concocted of nothing but frozen berries and sugar transformed bowls of ice cream. She shares Five-Minute Berry Sauce for your own pleasures, including cheesecake, brownies, cakes and yogurt.
                      She follows up her book “The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook” with “The Weeknight Dessert Cookbook” giving readers a grip on coconut lime cookies, brown sugar peach cobbler and pretzel avalanche fudge. Need something to take to all those school and church dinners? Younkin can make you popular. But tell everyone where you got this recipe. It’s a Page Street Publishing Co. book subtitled “80 Irresistible Recipes with Only 5 to 15 Minutes of Prep.”
                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves pickle and other ideas from readers. Share with her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, September 29, 2019

How hard is it to get some cereal?

 

Shopping for my mom

She had a list of three ingredients. How hard could that be?
I joked that I had “issues” with every single item of her longer list, but this was for cereal, cheese and SPAM. What is my gourmand, cookbook author mother going to do with SPAM? I dunno. But I was IN this thing.

I had to call her twice and seek professional Walmart help for the third thing.
Cheerios came in a dozen varieties, but not the one she wrote down. Something about clusters. I thought they were just Os. The shelf offered frosted, chocolate, peanut butter, regular, peach, honey nut this and that, multigrain, maple, oat crunch, blueberry, apple cinnamon, very berry, gluten free and some other things.
I called Mom. We worked something out.
She actually wanted some Kashi, too, so I kept her on the line and we went through those many varieties.
Then there was SPAM, of which I’m not a fan, but can tolerate being innovative with whatever is left over from hurricane season. SPAM comes in jalapeno, turkey, hickory smoke, bacon, hot and spicy, classic, reduced sodium, lite and more.
I called her a second time, and we chose the reduced sodium. Win-Win?
There was a wall of cheese offerings, but I didn’t see the little individually-wrapped ones she asked for. Thankfully, an employee passed by and directed me to deli.
“Thanks, I was about to cry a little bit,” I told her.
“That’s what we’re here for,” she cheerfully responded.
                     

                             “Cultural Insurrection: A Manifesto for the Arts Agriculture and Natural Wine” may require that you have two things nearby as you ingest Jonathan Nossiter’s writing: a glass of wine and a dictionary. I haven’t heard some of those terms since Dr. Roth’s film genre class at Lamar University. Nossiter is in the cinema business and this book relates film to wine and “cultural wine” of our society. He discusses the threat of an ecological apocalypse, both environmental and cultural and he has rekindled and interest in my viewing some classic films I’ve not yet studied. He has also made me aware that my $7 supermarket wine isn’t cutting it. Here’s an FYI. He mentions the movie “Paris, Texas.” I’ hear they filmed a segment at the Keyhole Club in Port Arthur. Anyone here have a story about that?

              Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready for more pumpkin spice updates from readers. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Have a bog this rice month


             
                      September is National Rice Month. You may have already celebrated that 100 times already this month. This is where we grow it and love it. What do you think they might be doing about it in South Carolina? Make a chicken bog. Never heard of that? Me either and the book with the recipe explains it is relatively unheard of outside of the Carolina region. They call it kind of a gumbo but the thickness makes me think of kind of a jambalaya. Get the book and you can make it and tweak it to your heart’s desire.
            The book is Smoked: One Man's Journey to Find Incredible Recipes, Standout Pitmasters and the Stories Behind Them.” Ed Randolph, owner of Handsome Devil Barbecue took on this task. Are you kidding me? This book could be torture to read if you were hungry or could serve as a heavenly travel wish list because you’ll want to go to all the places mentioned. Texas sites include Truth Barbecue in Brenham. Are the cows happy about this place? Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood it's a place I've had the good fortune to try and love. Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart tells how they do giant beef ribs.  How about that with some creamed corn? Hardcore Carnivore in Austin deals with Texas smoked tri-tip steak in a deep mahogany color. Leroy and Lewis Barbecue in Austin has Smoked Confit Beef Cheeks. I don't want to see that I get made but I sure want to eat it. And they share a cucumber salad marinated in rice vinegar with sambal. Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas does smoked lamb chops and puts blue cheese in the cole slaw. The author managed to go from California to New York so you can eat all the way across the country. Be sure to enjoy the rice along the way.


Are you a Hueligan?
What do you have in common with people in 80 countries who want to be healthy?
Maybe you never heard Huel, said to be the fastest growing nutrition brand in the world, that has sold over 50 million meals in 80 countries. The bottle is attractive and the people drinking it in the advertisements are beautiful. So what if I cracked a joke that was like a famous meal drink for much older people. This stuff, especially chocolate, has my attention. I gave a sample bottle to someone and he ended up buying a case of it in a day’s time. Get it in bottles or get it in powder to save more dollars. Your biggest question maybe why is it called Huel. That's a funny name. It stands for human fuel. See what they did there?
So what if you're not a straight up drinker? Just like I would do, people get all gourmet and cook with that stuff. I mixed it with egg and made a nice French toast. Lovers of this product pice it up with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Why here is your perfect opportunity for a annual pumpkin updates. Add pumpkin spice into some vanilla Huel. 

Here is more on Huel. You already know if you are into this kind of thing:

-      Nutritionally Complete: Huel Powder is a nutritionally complete food that is high in protein and fiber, low in sugar and salt, rich in phytonutrients and contains all 27 essential vitamins and minerals
-      Plant-based and Lactose/Soy/GMO-Free: It contains no lactose or any animal products, no soy and no GMO
-      Huel is Food:  Huel can replace any meal or even as a between-meal snack. In this way it can be an add-on improvement to your diet to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.
-      Vegan/environmentally friendly: Being vegan and producing zero food waste means Huel has much less of an environmental impact on the planet than many other food products

You can also get more information at Huel.com.


            Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is into rice month, or any and just about any other celebration of  food and the people who get it to the table. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Get relaxed with tea, then explore the world

 Zhi Tea
      I’d already had a pretty fancy Friday evening with inspiring art and tasty tidbits at the Dishman Art Gallery opening. I still had something “behind the door” as my grandma would say. I’d been invited over to try some new teas a friend had acquired. He was also excited about his new Mueller electric kettle that lights up blue. When the water boiled, it looked like a lava lamp in there with all those dancing bubbles.
                             The tall oval tea cans held fragrant combinations of colorful blends. Based on aroma, I chose Ambrosia and I chose wisely. Still more? The host offered honey to stir in and that put the treat over the top. But wait, there’s more. We all enjoyed two vintage Twilight Zone episodes that I’d never seen.
                             I credit the host and the Zhi, which asks drinkers to pause, reflect and connect. www.zhitea.com offers a lineup of the ways tea is very good for you. It’s even been known to fight bad breath and allergies. That’s something to reflect upon. And oh, we have a new electric tea kettle just like his, now. 


         eat2explore
                        Little foodies can grab their passports and discover the world. The last time you enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, were you thinking of ibex and Corsican hare? Did you know Italy’s flag colors are green for pastures and valleys, white for snowcaps of the Italian Alps and red for the wars fought for Italian unification? Discuss all that with your children over Chicken Marsala and Chicken Milanese. A box of fun comes to your door with eat2explore. A little passport comes with ingredients instructions and facts. You shop a little and then create and learn. Explore Italy’s box includes Caesar dressing mix, panko, herbs, etc. There’s also a cool spoon rest and an even cooler flag pin to wear. Do you really need to have a kid to have fun with this program? Bring on the world. www.eat2explore.com will get you through customs.


         Smelly Proof a bold statement
                        It was red onions always for a friend of mine. She ate them daily, and had an elaborate system for lopping off the top and bottom for the choicest of rings and then wrapped the ends in what seemed like yards of foil then bagged them to keep the rest from smelling up her fridge. I couldn’t fathom her complaint that she could smell them through her plastic bags. Until the day she sent me home with her red onion surplus and I got a whiff.
                             That pungency on the plate is way different if inhaled out of context. Whew! Smelly Proof storage bags are here to help. They’re reusable, durable and lock in odors as they keep food fresh with airtight zippers, makers say. Use them for cooked foods, marinades, etc. Smelly Proof is sold on Amazon, at Walmart and directly on SmellyProof.com. They’re almost too good to use, because you want to make sure you have plenty. Go ahead, stock up for kitchen, camping, trave, home and fishing. Keep some BPA-Free and FDA Approved, made-in-America bags in your desk. The nylon re-enforced extra-strength Poly Seals in odors for months, the packaging reads. Bring on those red onions.
                      Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves finding new flavors and experiences. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Greeks may have okra issues, too.


                   Slow here, in “The Greek Slow Cooker” cookbook, means an appreciation of the assemblage, flavor and love of preparation. You eat these meals slowly, too. Stuffed meatloaf, summer ratatouille and dill risotto calls for friends and good conversation. It’s expected.
                      What I didn’t expect was that Succulent Chicken and Okra Stew would be a “thing’ in Greece. Of course, we southerners deal with okra and sometimes overcoming an aversion to it. The stew is the love it or hate it dish there, because of the okra “gel” aspect and a touch of vinegar overcomes the issue there, too. That’s what Eleni Vonissakou, creater of The  Foodie Corner, writes in “The Greek Slow Cooker: Easy, Delicious Recipes from the Heart of the Mediterrnean.”  It’s a great read that wraps up with desserts and other offerings which also sound at home in Southeast Texas. Try Easy, Milky, Greek Rice Pudding and Flat Corn Bread with feta and Gruyere Cheese.


              Liquid pleasures:
                      LaCroix is making sparkling water hip. It’s all of a sudden everywhere in my vision. It’s a can of zero-calorie sparkling water I look forward to sipping in the evening. I haven’t tried all the flavors because I can’t get past lime. My mother is into it, too. I see empties all over her house.


                      Butcher’s Bone Broth Roli Roti, the Bay Area food truck turned artisanal food production company, stemmed from a “rolling rotisserie,” billed as America’s first gourmet food truck. If you like the sound of that, know you can get a flavor of that from their partnership to  Farm Fresh To You to deliver the newest items in its line of premium products, Roli Roti Butcher’s Salad Chicken and Roli Roti Butcher’s Bone Broth. Roli Roti’s Butcher’s Organic Bone Broths and Salad Chicken, which will soon be known as “Butcher’s Chicken,” are available for Farm Fresh To You members to add to their delivery when customizing their organic produce farm box.
                      Okay, that’s the mouth full of background the makers proudly share. I’m sharing that cute little jugs of chicken and bone broth pour out this more-than-trending flavor that dates back to our roots. I’m looking at the stately chicken on the label of one jug that announces it’s simmered for 24 hours. It’s the stuff. I shared some with cooking friends and I’ve enjoyed both flavors alone and cooked into rice. Swiss tradition, organic bones and carrots go into this nutritious blend. People are talking about bone broth and you’d be doing right to be talking about this one, and eating it up.

                   Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves to take it slow with her meals. Got a tip to share? Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Harvey still in our hearts


                             I wrote and lived most of this column two years ago. We were so displaced you may have missed it. When I’m far away and represent Port Arthur, people ask how it was during and after Harvey flooding. I say that if you didn’t have your home or your house flooded, then you likely had someone staying with you. We got better.
                             My home was intact and I had no problem feeding myself resourcefully, but someone staying in our house put out a crisis call and said we were eating leaves off the patio for survival. Her relative promptly got a big ice chest over from Lake Charles with chicken, pasta and peanut butter. I just couldn’t explain that as herb grower, I always go out to snip oregano, sweet potato leaves, etc. to flavor my meals.
                             Here’s how it was:

                             Still riding high from our total eclipse viewing in Tennessee, we came home to Harvey, the top Texas news.
                             My mom, recalling long power outages after Rita, was hoping we’d take her out of the flash flood path and all the way to Sherman, but alas, plans come and go so quickly in a time of potential crisis. We had seven plans and ended up pretty safe at home on Sunday.
                             Thank goodness she didn’t look out the window when our street was flooded. 
                             She mentioned cleaning our her freezer before we left, as we recall how trashed, stinky ice boxes lined the streets before. I hadn’t realize that she was thinking we’d take an ice chest full of food to our host’s home so we could cook it there. That was too much, I thought, for the willing host family to deal with. As it became clear we were staying, we started defrosting and eating up the best stuff first.
                             Where had she been hiding all that chicken, roast and Italian sausage? I got crazy with her seasonings and sauces. The best, part, it was all pretty low carb.
                             I saw on a Weight Watchers Facebook page people discussing doing some heavy Harvey snack binging, but I stayed on track with meats and veggies. Low carb and all.
                             I saw other Facebook pages people kind of freaking about where to get food at restaurants, but thanks to my mad creative cooking skills, I stayed more than nourished.
                             My colorful pitchers of drawn tap water for emergencies could have made a Pinterest post.     
                             Readers, I hope you all can get Harvey behind you soon. The rain is picking up again a I write this.
                             Here’s one of the use-it-up bites I came up with:

                             Herbal Nachos
                             Cut corn tortillas into strips and sautee in butter. (Normally I’d use olive oil, but I was trying to use up butter if the power went out.)
                             Work in any dry herbs you have and melt cheese on top. Top with chopped onions if you are lucky enough to have them.
                             Mom’s bacon crumbles, a sprinkling, a dusting of crushed red pepper

                            Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie grateful for all the people who  helped our area out during and after Hurricane Harvey. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Time to pack lunch. For grownups

  My metal lunch box was plaid, and left over from my sister’s school days. These days I see more fancy lunch bag options for adults, with built-in ice packs and such for salads. New design options come out each year, but I like my open-style insulated bag with handles, because sometimes I luck into bringing more delights home than I left with.
      When I overheard some gentlemen at McDonald's discussing how they also like an occasional can of sardines with crackers so they can soak up the oil with them, I  knew I wasn't alone. I recently did that with cheese crackers. It's easy to keep canned fish in the pantry and oysters are my favorite. 
                     
                      Here are some more ideas on what to put in your lunch bag this season:

             
             
                      Coffee syrup is a two-in one
                      Retired News editor Roger Cowles always told me that people who “really like” coffee don’t go in for all that flavored stuff. This was before Starbucks was on every corner. I’ll bet he still feels the same way.
                      But, would he enjoy Runamok Maple Vermont Organic’s new coffee infused syrup. Possibly, but he’s not getting mine. I tested a small sample bottle on breakfast toast and all three recipients, myself included, truly appreciated this flavor-packed indulgence. It’s two-in-one flavor of the sweetness and the coffee. Mix some into cream cheese and pack it with sweet or salty crackers for a coffee-break snack.

                      Marie’s gives flavorful control
                      Salad is good for your body and the some primo dressing makes it all worthwhile. Marie’s Market Reserve is a new line of smaller, tuck-in-your-tote, salad dressings that the label says are 50 calories a serving. I couldn’t pick a favorite from the Southwest Style Ranch, Carmelized Onion & Sesame Seed Dressing and Smoked Black Pepper Caesar Dressing. There’s a Mayer Lemon Basil and Wildflower Honey & Lime Vinaigrette as well. You’ve seen this brand in the refrigerated dressing area. Look for what’s new and low-cal. I suggest them as a dipping sauce for packable veggie wraps, too.

                      Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who packs a bag of goodies for lunch or… whatever. Share your lunch idea with her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What's your dog about?

What's your dog about?
                      For two years I’ve been invited to a friend’s summer pool/Astros viewing party and the varied foods have had a vegetarian bent. This time, she announced, she’d serve carrot dogs.
                      Whatever you are imagining, you’re right. It’s a carrot on a bun. Dress it up with your standard hot dog toppings and go to to town with your dog. Laugh if you want, but I wanted to see how it was done.
                      The deal is, I knew I’d be out of town and missing the party. Now I was missing carrot dogs, too? Don’t worry, she saved some for me and I picked up a bag of whole wheat hot dog buns and a container of lovely carrots with grill marks. The carrots looked so good, I ate one cold and loved it. Total confession, when I warmed up my stash, I put some leftover barbecue on the bun, so it came out like a long sloppy joe. The grilled carrots went on the side, until I ate them all up.
                      Maybe I’ll try it as the hostess intended, when I have leftovers of the leftovers.


                             Mushrooms in the boil?
                             A newspaper friend Tweeted surprise that people put mushrooms in their crawfish boil. I have seen it done, and I love mushrooms. But I always considered mushrooms a pricy extra that gets lost in the commotion of  the boil. Onions, corn, potatoes and sausage are good for me. But I can see wanting to season everything you have on hand in that pot. I’d love to know how all those “extras” started. Readers, if you have some thoughts on mushrooms, etc., share them.
                             I sent word back to my friend that I’d recently boiled some eggs and peeled them, then let them heat some more in retained crawfish juice. By that I mean I removed some heads from boiled crawfish and boiled them down to make a stock for my next gumbo. I have a freezer full of spicy blocks of ice. Anyway, the spicy boiled eggs made a great lunch accompaniment for the rest of the week.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who knows it’s always crawfish season somewhere (if you froze ahead). Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, August 12, 2019

Seriously, salads can be creative


“Seriously Good Salads: Creative Flavor Combinations for Nutritious, Satisfying Meals”
Can you get a bit naughty with salads?
Nicky Corbishley, founder of Kitchen Sanctuary, thanks her family for eating so much salad in preparation of this book. We all win, with “nourish bowls” of firecracker chicken and wild rice; duck and plum business; lamb and orange; and prosciutto and peach salad with figs. She wants us to say goodbye to sad salads.”
The author suggests a BLT Chicken Salad and cooks chicken breasts on a tray under the bacon, so that the bacon fat drips onto the chicken. “A little naughty, but so, so good,” she writes.
Are you on board with this attitude? I’d never get board of these offerings, which include coffee-crusted seared steak with savory rice and stilton. If you make the chorizo and lima bean blend, you can go warm, or cold for the lunch bag.
Other touches that go “beyond” are: walnut brittle, grilled romaine and smoky eggplant.
Here’s a quickie from her dressing collection:

Smoky Cajun Buttermilk Dressing
The author loves this creamy dressing with chicken and shrimp, especially if they’re crispy coated. The slight spiciness works well with snap peas and other sweet, crunchy vegetables.
1 half cup mayonnaise
One half cup buttermilk
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 half teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 fourth teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 
In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients until combined

And now for my salad:
The book above inspired me to assemble a salad that was delayed by days, so kept getting more ingredients.  A slaw mix got a small packet of honey mustard dressing acquired at a previous outing, a fresh apple cut up into little chunks, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, purple onion and some gyros meat. A huge bowl of that was all the dinner I needed. Crunchy and sweet, it lived up to the hype I’d created in my own mind.
Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to crunch into a seriously good-for-you and delicious salad. Got good ideas for add-ins? Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The great recipe cull


                      
I still can’t believe my mom, a fabulous and creative cook, let me go through her bulging recipe files, with intent to reduce.
                      We both realized some of those carefully-clipped newspaper recipes from the ‘80s simply were not going to get made. Lots of recipes had the word “surprise” in the title. While it was fun to view them, there wasn’t a sense of loss to “let them go” because we all eat differently now. Foods are not so rich and have different, less processed ingredients.
                      Still, I did divvy them up among cooks I figured would be interested in reviewing them, too.
                      I recognized many contributions from the Port Arthur area, including Angus McIntosh, who cooked for St. Mary Hospital and had a column in The News. Of course, I saved clips that appeared in my column. I hope you would have, too.
   

                      It’s not even green, but it’s good. I refer to Avocado Mayonnaise by BetterBody Foods.
                      Avocados are very hip and avocado toast is super trendy. Why not add a touch of this 100 percent pure avocado oil mayo to your breakfast. Also, did I just use the word “avocado” much? I don’t think you can overdo this non-GMO, gluten-free, soy and canola-free, 100 calorie a tablespoon creamy spread made with cage-free eggs. Conveying all that was more work than making my simple, creamy and yummy toast, Avocado Mayo and fried egg sandwich. Man, I wish dealing with avocados was always as easy as just opening a jar. 

  Fu
                             Fun Size: I'm often late to candy trends. Did you know m&m’s has Fun Size bags of Mexican Jalapeno, English Toffee and Coconut? I loved trying them but I’m still gonna list peanut as my personal favorite. I do like that you can eat some now and then later, because of the coating that won’t melt. I can even stretch the Fun Size into multiple servings.

                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who will continue to make new recipes and save the old. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Try dessert from the dashboard



  
   W            
Whiskey Cake  "I’ll need a minute,” I told my husband and the signature dish in the Katy restaurant arrived at the table. The server had asked if we wanted cream on top or on the side and ended up just leaving the container. We were at “Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar” at just the right slow time on a Monday afternoon. Short ribs over spaghetti squash tasted lovely and everyone said the Brussels sprouts were famous. I never, ever thought I would like them but I would’ve tried them if I weren’t already decided on the other. Then came the whiskey cake. I will call you out and say you should feel guilty if you eat a whole one by yourself. You          could take it home and eat it for a couple days if you were really good. But I wasn’t necessarily that good. The cake here was made with layers and thoughtfulness of deliciousness. This is a chain restaurant, but the best kind.


 

                            Some more easy stuff
                      


                             Stuffed Puffs are marshmallows stuffed with real chocolate. So, did    your mind just go to s’mores? Bingo. That was easy. A Culinary          Institute of America grad designed this scientific wonder that you can pick up at WalMart stores. Now, here’s my trick. I put one in a dish on the dashboard in Southeast Texas heat. That afternoon I had a super-sweet reward. The marshmallow and chocolate were melted to perfection, but the little plastic dish was flat! Next time, I’m going with a deeper vessel, like on old-school coffee cup. Stuffed Puffs are easy to use around a camp fire. This melty trick doesn’t even need a flame. 

Garden District Kitchen
            What’s cooking behind the doors of those iron-gated, columned Garden District homes you view from your New Orleans street car? It could be Zatarain’s boxed dinners. Hey, sometimes you want easy prep so you can head out to hear the jazz. The beloved brand has released Garden District Kitchen boxed dinners with a flavor of the city’s Italian heritage. Parmesan Garlic features brown rice with white beans and Roasted Garlic Adobo is brown rice with black beans. It’s a little bit “different” and a lot of easy. Ten minutes of cook time? Who could argue with that from a trusted brand? While I did eat these hot off the stove, I’m imagining them served from a covered to-go bowl and mixed with sliced green onions and other vegetables. What a lovely dish for a summer’s evening picnic.


                 
                  Veggies Made Great
                             My husband called and said some “discs” had arrived for me to try. Huh? His description emerged to Garden Lites’ Veggies Made Great muffin-shaped pleasures. Little frittatas include new flavors Broccoli Cheddar Frittata and Mushroom & 3 Cheese Egg White Frittatas. They’re so easy to have for breakfast or a meal on the go, with less than 90 calories. New choices in their veggie cake line are Butternut Squash (my personal fave of the whole lot) and Broccoli Cheddar. I’ve excited some of my veggie-loving friends with samples of these, which can be found at Kroger and Costco. If you think you don’t have the time to eat better, stock up on these.


                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to try anything new. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Getting gourmet and getting better


                             Rivky Kleiman’s cookbook is so beautiful and literally feels so good in your hands that you want to just start flipping pages. Roasted olives, honey mustard salmon with pretzel crumb topping and cranberry chicken sheet pan dinner all look so good and, hey, look pretty doable. Then I notice the title “Simply Gourmet” is a play on words. These dishes are simple to create. Then I noticed this is a “complete culinary collection for your kosher kitchen.” All good, all good Southeast Texas cooks. You got this. Just look below at how the book’s lamb chops, which photograph beautifully, come together:

                             Simply Savory Lamb Chops
                             Editor’s note* Perfect for that special occasion, these tender and succulent lamb chops are sure to impress.
                             8 lamb chops, 2 per serving
                             Marinade:
                             4 cloves garlic, crushed
                             1 shallot, finely sliced
                             1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (leaves ony)
                             3 tablespoons olive oil
                             one fourth cup red wine vinegar
                             1 Tablespoon kosher salt
                             one half to 1 teaspoon black pepper
1.     Prepare the marinade: combine all marinade ingredients in a large resealable bag. Shake well to combine.
2.     Rinse and dry lamb chops. Add to marinade; seal bag. Marinate for 20-30minutes at room temperature.
                  Pan sear, broil or grill lamb chops for 2-3 minuts per side or until desired doneness. Serve warm.

                             Readers, here are some other new books dealing with getting your self better all the time:


                  “woulda. coulda. shoulda” is a little book with the secret sauce she developed too late. Maintaining a better marriage could be easy as pie. Well, pie is kind of hard, so maybe PB&J, is what Jennifer Hurvitz writes. If you’re in a trap of complaining because you don’t see what good is being done, and you finally get some help around the house but the dish towels are folded the “wrong” way, then it’s time to sit at the Peace Table and discuss.
                             See all the food references I’ve already worked in to her book, subtitled “A divorce coach’s guide to staying married.” She says she had an amicable divorce, but asks people to really think of the specific hurts and ordeals that could follow (your kids spending holidays away from you) and try to work on solutions for better communication. Does it all come down to silly arguments on housework? Maybe sometimes, when that blow up represents deeper issues. This author has a bit of a potty mouth, but she’s funny and genuine and has truly good advice. Talk less, listen more.

                             Take yourself to dinner. Heal. Use voicemail ministry, where toxic people go straight to voicemail, so you can answer calmly. You may have a family you want to throw mashed potatoes at, but you can give yourself a “new name,” take responsibility, let go of what has hurt in the past and tell others you are not angry any more. Note I picked up on food references in “The Death of the Angry Black Woman,” by Jameliah Young-Mitchell. Her self-help book is in “digestible” short chapters, so read a few when you’re treating yourself to dinner. This 2019 is half over. Start her journey toward a better you, so next time you’re ringing in a new year with black-eyed peas, you’ll be making more of your resolutions.


                             Got goals? Write them down, refine them and get to them with help from Craig C. Stroda in “The Ultimate Manual.”  This work book is for note taking and evaluation and can help steer you toward better relationships, better work goals and even your diet and health.
                             A chapter called “Time, or Empowering Yourself” reminds us that time is a non-renewable resource. The reader records how much time is typically spent on grooming, breakfast, relationships, etc. and helps us put it all into perspective. The morning routine is important, because it can help prepare us to feel ready for what’s to come. Investing in yourself can reap benefits for our family, too.

                             Cultural Insurrection: A Manifesto for the Arts Agriculture and Natural Wine” may require that you have two things nearby as you ingest Jonathan Nossiter’s writing: a glass of wine and a dictionary. I haven’t heard some of those terms since Dr. Roth’s film genre class at Lamar University. Nossiter is in the cinema business and this book relates film to wine and “cultural wine” of our society. He discusses the threat of an ecological apocalypse, both environmental and cultural and he has rekindled and interest in my viewing some classic films I’ve not yet studied. He has also made me aware that my $7 supermarket wine isn’t cutting it. Here’s an FYI. He mentions the movie “Paris, Texas.” I’ hear they filmed a segment at the Keyhole Club in Port Arthur. Anyone here have a story about that?
                 
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who enjoys a good meal and a good read. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com