Saturday, May 18, 2019

What to eat before & after Tai Chi

     
Pork skins and Topo Chico may not be the ideal pre-workout food, but they sure hit the spot when you pass by a Mexican market. I grabbed some before I tried something new and fun.
                             Through word of mouth I heard about a beginners Tai Chi Beaumont class and I headed in. I had blast learning about this ancient art that began as tactical military moves. Diane Rogers showed me how to “grasp bird’s tail” and cool slow moves that were pretty easy to pick up. The people were very kind and supportive. Look them up on Facebook and soon you could be repulsing the monkey or parting the wild horse’s main.
                             Fun stuff, and I craved Chinese food real bad later.

                 
                  HI Mountain flavors Wyoming
                             Hi Mountain Seasonings,  dubbed “authentic Wyoming,” offers western-style, small batch mesquite beef jerky hand crafted in Wyoming. That sounds like a write up for bourbon or a fine cigar, and I’m sure gentlemen hunters have relaxed by camp fires with all these things.
                             I met a representative who set up a fine display and she was very proud of her products. I’m waiting for Alaskan salmon to come my way because she offered me some brine to try. The packaging shows bears catching their own from a waterfall, but this line, which includes a Gourmet Fish and Wild River Trout line, is designed for people who like to catch their own fish and game. 
                                         Ordering Hi Mountain products is easier than tracking down the       “main ingredient” from nature. They have myriad selections.
                             For a hint of wine flavor in powdered form, stir in contents of Pinot Gris, Merlot or Chardonnay finishing sauce packets with water, heat to thicken and add cold butter. These are for meats and seafood, though I tried it with eggs.
                             Learn how to get smoking at www.himtnjerky.com

                             “Baker’s Passport”
                             Baking isn’t just about the sweets, though Black Forest Cake from Berlin and with Chantilly Cream photographs beautifully, inside and out. You use your baking skills for  vegetable quiche, and Creole Crawfish Pie as well.
                             Food Market Gypsy is a blog on dessert, culture and cuisine. Susie@foodmarketgypsy.com is the appealing Susie Norris, who has written “Baker’s Passport: Recipes for Breads, Savvory Pies, Vegetarian Dishes, Tarts Cakes and Cookie Classic.” Her writing takes you with her on adventures the world over.
                             I’ll never look at a croissant the same way after reading that in 1686 bakers early at work heard tunneling and alerted authorities and saved Budapest. They made a created a unique pastry depicting the conqueored crescents of the Ottoman flag, the book reports.
                             A recipe for dill sauce to go with Tatziki is on the same page as one for easy buttercream icing. The author gets down into “why” we are baking, affirms buying fresh ingredients and allowing time for baking, then icing.

                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to pack up and travel with Susie Norris. Reach Doiron at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Smokin' ideas from Operation BBQ



Operation BBQ offers 200 plus smokin’ recipes from competition grand champs. It’s a page-turner because each recipe and photo is another temptation. Then they gotta throw in all these techniques and seasonings and extras? Crispy Vidalia onions, cranberry brine and Jack Daniel’s?
Stan Hays is co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief, a group that serves in the time of need. They came together after the 2011 Joplin, Mo. tornado and have served after hurricanes. We know about that in the Port Arthur area. Thank y’all!

Competition-Style Pork Butt and Crunchy Deep Fried Ribs are early recipes and the good stuff keeps coming. Do you start with salmon or meats or dive into Nuke-Seared Squid with Bombay Curry-ish Hoisin Ketchup?

Pineapple and meat parings are trending in my experience and they get notice here. Have you ever smoked a cabbage or cheese or mac and cheese? Try serving Grandma Frances W’s Calico Beans in bowls fashioned from green and red bell peppers.

They’ve got a sense of humor. Look for Three Men and a Babyback BBQ Team and Disco Pigs with Mexican Lasagna.

I won’t say a word about desserts. Not about Light as a Feather Cantaloupe Pie or Texas Bourbon-Glazed Bread Pudding or Chocolate Truffle Stout Cake with Smoked Caramel Pears.

Would someone just please make me a pork belly burnt end sandwich?

Grilled Pineapple Poblano Salsa
Diva Q, AKA Danielle Bennett suggests this for chips, over steak pork or chicken and with fish tacos and other seafoods.
2 teaspoons canola oil, plus more for coating
1 large, ripe pineapple, trimmed
1 large white sweet onion, halved
1 whole poblano pepper, seeded and halved
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 red bell pepper, finely minced
Juice and zest of two limes
One fourth cup finely minced red onion
1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the grill for medium-high heat. Oil the grates with canola oil. Slice the pineapple into half-inch thick slices.
Grill the pineapple slices directly, turning often until just tender and lightly charred, about 4 to 8 minutes.
Cube the grilled pineapple and chop the poblano and white onion into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and serve with chicken, pork or fish.


Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is very into the Q. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, May 11, 2019

You don't have to hide the califlower in the pizza

         
Pizzas with zoodles, avocado, cotija cheese and countless options are persuaders. The strawberry honey pie? That’s the one you may need convincing that it’s made with cauliflower.
                             Just let Amy Lacey have a few minutes with you. Turn pages of her book, “Cali’Flour Kitchen,” and view her smoky burrito bowl or her fig, goat cheese and arugula salad pizza. How could you not be persuaded to try her cauliflower meal made into pizza crusts as a base for super-healthy and delicious meals?
                             Lacey was willing to do a little work and research into a healthier lifestyle to deal with her diagnosis of auto-immune disease. She perfected her methods and several heads later, she mastered the cauliflower crust. Now we just have to follow her recipes.
                             When I first obtained the book, I thought “let there be desserts, too.” Naturally there were. I love it when cooks come up with better-for-you options for skeptics out there. With images in this book, even those who use fast food as a go-to would be willing to eat these natural offerings, which photograph so well. She’s not trying to “trick” picky eaters here, she’s trying to make them and their families enjoy doing the right thing.
                             Her recipes are great, but you can still use the crusts as a canvas to create your own goodies. And remember, there’s more to life – and this book – than pizza. Califlower fits into everything!



Kumana is avocado in a bottle.
                  Better let it out.
                  So, Venezuelans do this avocado sauce that I didn’t know about and Avocado in a bottle
                             Kumana has put it in a squeeze bottle and I’m squeezing it everywhere. I went through a bottle in a weekend, but is was Cinco de Mayo and I had some people over. Well, “people” was my mom and my husband, who already lives here. We all loved it. Fruits and vegetables are part of the avocado mixture that cooks into meats, serves as a chip dip and makes an easy salad dressing. I’ve been waiting for this. Here’s how the makers suggest using their different varieties:
                 
Be Original: Truest to the Venezuelan avocado sauce that inspired the Kumana line. It will take those traditional green beans to another level.

Be Mango:  Blends in mango puree which adds a hint of sweetness. Drizzle on ham (especially honey ham!) for a bold awakening.

Be Hot: Takes a splash of mango and finishes it off with just the right amount of habanero heat—delicious on potatoes.

            Darragh Doiron is an area foodie who has been eating her vegetables. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Stay Just Peachy all year long


                      Maybe you’ve never really had a peach.
                      Belinda Smith-Sullivan thinks maybe you’ve never had truly real peach experience. I mean the kind of emotional, juicy, sweet experience that makes you cry. Even those Texans who get fresh Hill Country peaches know that some of us just haven’t had that kind of one-on-one contact with a good peach that she writes about in her beautiful cookbook, “Just Peachy.”
                      Face it, many if us grew up with canned peach halves in syrup. It’s time to branch out.
                       I have a close connection to peaches from my youth. Every summer I attended Mrs. Outlaw’s sewing club with my mom and grandma and mingled with women who worked on fine needlepoint, sequined Christmas balls and myriad detail work. The Thursday sessions featured lunch at Mrs. Outlaw’s table sat with silver and fine napkins and I helped get the peach cobbler servings to the table. Those women with health issues got fresh cut peaches and a tiny bit of crust topped with a tad of cream.
                      Peach cobbler is always a happy memory for me. This book does things with the fuzzy fruit that I had never imagined. Peaches are good for the skin and are said to reduce anxiety. There are more than 300 varietals of peaches in the United States and thousands worldwide. This book has peach facts, peach festival listings and fabulous beyond-the-cobbler recipes.
                      Hot curry is a thing I’ve had before, also because of Mrs. Outlaw. Other ideas include pecan tomato gazpacho, pick pistachio chicken salad, Peach sweet potato casserole, mustard pork tenderloin and other amazing offerings.
                      For dessert you can have peach pie, fluff, cobbler, bread pudding, cake and more cake, ice cream and tart.
                      How about working peek into your corn bread or your omelet?
                      Here’s a very easy and very tempting one:

              Peach Salsa
              2 cups chopped peaches
              1 red bell peper diced
              one half red onion, diced
              2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
              1 tablespoon chopped mint
              2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
              1 tablespoon honey
              Pinch of red pepper flakes.
                      This  sweet and tangy sauce is a great accompaniment to any meal, especially baked chicken, grilled pork chops or fish.
                      In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the peaches, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, honey and pepper flakes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

              Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who aims to feel “just peachy” all year long. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, April 29, 2019

Which kind of Mom are you?


                             Don’t think you’re taking the easy way out by shopping for Mother’s Day baskets at GourmetGIftbaskets.com. It will take some shopping and clicking around to decide if she’s a Rose, Spa or gift tower kind of mom. (Pause here to say grads are covered at this site, too). I watched a mom open a slatted gift crate, unlocking rose, chocolate, cheese and crackers. The red Mother’s Day bow was an added perk. Wow, hope she shares!

                             So. Many. Ideas. For. Mom:

                             Some new, and usual, suspects are below:
                            
                             * Keto Mom: ChocZero is dark chocolate Keto bark that personal trainers and health professionals are getting behind. I’m hoarding my samples of dark and milk low carb blocks that are attractively and individually wrapped into 40 and 50 calorie servings. It tastes very rich to me, and ChocZero sugar free maple is labeled as the thickest sugar-free syrup on the market with ingredients you can trust. I’m glad industry is keeping up with this trend.
                             * Classic Mom: A waft of chocolate aroma puffed out of the bag of American Heritage Chocolate bag as I opened it to sift a small amount of finely grated dark chocolate with a hit of vanilla, orange and cinnamon onto green apples and yogurt. Just a tad elevated this simple breakfast into a gourmet treat. Oh, it’s good. Later KVLU’s classical music played as I dunked a bar of the same blend into coffee. How relaxing. The company’s other offering incude milk chocolate gourmet hot cocoa mix. It’s a Mars Wrigley Confectionery offering that connects you to their refresher course: “With its origins in the Americas over 3,500 years ago, chocolate has been woven throughout the fabric of culture for millennia. Inspiring creativity and a catalyst for making new family traditions, chocolate’s timeless story is one that spans cultures, peoples, rituals and experiences. If love makes the world go ‘round, chocolate makes it richer.” Agree with that? My yogurt breakfast was richer, as was the rest of the day.

                             * Lookin’ good Mom: ‘ME’ Lazy Daze Buttercream is a color from the upper crust Dermelect Spring Classics Collection of nail polishes inspired by Pantone’s seasonal palette. If you stroke some of this uplifting color on before you go about your motherly business, know that the peptide-infused color treatment strengthens weak, brittle nails, is water and detergent resistant and it otherwise “fancy” for mom. Wear it while you bake with the offerings from above! The “buttercream” name reminds me of some amazing homemade cakes I’ve enjoyed, though I was reminded by makers that this one is to wear, not eat. Demerlect has some products sold exclusively at Ulta.com. Iconic is a more nude/pink shade I’m enjoying form Demerlect Cosmeceuticals; 4-in-1 Snmooth Lip Solution, combining lumnouse properties of lipstick, lipstain, lip balm and lip gloss all in one. Colors are from sheer to red. Indulge mom, or yourself.
                            
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who doesn’t mind getting spoiled around Mother’s Day. Reach her at www.darraghcastillo@icloud.com
                 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Watch your tail at Cajun Fest


                            
Knights of Columbus, 3491 of Groves, is a group you’re sure to catch at Cajun Heritage Festival in Port Arthur. They show up with the food. This time I enjoyed a flavorful bowl of jambalaya while the music played.
                             Southeast Texas Arts Council hosted the fete at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center and I chatted with several Louisiana folk who came to pass a good time Saturday. Most people were there for the music, but we also focused on the food.
                             Jerry Latiolais of the Knights of Columbus said the group has been with Cajun Fest from the beginning and proceeds from their boudain balls and other fare supports community projects such as donations to the Fetters Center and ultra sound machines for the Hope Center. Those knights can cook, cher.
                             I made a new buddy this year, Pincher. He was a big conversational fella, in a crawfish suit. He handed out big red buttons so attendees could say they got “pinched” at the festival. Who couldn’t love Pincher? I asked if he had a quote for me.
                             “Watch your tail. And stop running over my house with your lawnmower,” Pincher said, waving a claw for emphasis.
                             Gloria Roy of Cajun Sounds Internet Radio can be credited for creating awareness and excitement of this festival. She’s always busy.
                             I also met Jan Shavers, who proudly calls herself  “the mother.” Her son is Joshua Rodrigues, also know as Big Doobie of Big Doobie’s Boudain & Cracklins. In addition to big, juicy cracklins made on site, their menu included “link on da bun.” Mom admits, the cracklins are “addictive.” Hope I don’t have to wait a whole year for my next bag full.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie whose Cajun roots come from her grandma, who hailed from Breaux Bridge, La. Reach her at darraghdoiron@icloud.com

Monday, April 8, 2019

Are you up to “Make Today Ridiculously Awesome?”
If that sounds like a dare, switch it into your life’s motto. And of course, the people of Consuelastyle.com would love you to do it with one of their colorful, uplifting bags on your shoulder.
I’ve been reading about “Connie,” who was bestowed a nickname based on her “consuela,” or “comfort” with friends. Now these shiny Consuela bags and totes are sold at upscale stores, and Buc-ee’s.
I’ve got a little one that’s great for lunch and a larger one, both adorned with bright sugar-skull motifs. You can go for roses, stripes, cactus, etc. with varying degrees of pricing. Connie wants us all to be ridiculously awesome and tell the company about awesome women for their “It’s Not About the Bag” program.
                So I’m walking along Congress Avenue in Austin and the colorful bags are in a window, calling to me. I pop in and was told I found the Austin Flagship Store, with the design studio next door. I was offered sparkling water and a cookie and began feeling awesome. The challenge to “Make Today Ridiculously Awesome” is written on their window.
                Next time you want to make a culinary impression, unpack your lunch or picnic spread from a Consuela bag.


Cheers to a Good Idea

Do you ever wish you had a Good Idea? My husband was going on about how I had one and I was thinking, “about time he acknowledges.”
Actually, he was joking that I should take a selfie, as I raised up a can of Good Idea, a naturally flavored sparkling water that’s known as the Swedish Sugar Buster. I already love sparkling water as a guilt-free treat and this one is the “only mealtime beverage on the U.S. market with a significant amount of the essential mineral chromium, proven to make weight loss both healthier and more sustainable, by increasing the proportion of lost fat. This adds to the beverages ability to cut post-meal blood sugar spikes.”
                That part in quotes is what makers are saying about this drink, with a blend of five amino acids and chromium.
                So, how about a dragon fruit version? I hid all the flavors in my fridge to hog them for myself. Now that’s saying something that you have to hide your zero-calorie treats from your spouse. It really is a Good Idea.

                Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves sparkling and sparkling water and strives to be ridiculously awesome. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Market selfie part of Culinary Thrill Seeking
For months my Aunt Anne in Katy has been anticipating the opening of H Mart near her home, and the thought of her extended family exploring it together. We had so much fun walking the aisles and filling our cart with octopus, fungi and noodles, we figured we’d better take a selfie. Are we weird?
                Don’t answer. Just see for yourself. This store has all sorts of Asian flavors and a super-fresh produce section. It doesn’t matter that you may not be familiar with a good portion of the fruits and veggies. I’m up for giving them a try.
                The area has several little restaurants, and I’ll bet all of them are good. We stood outside and registered on an ipad for our turn. Taped to the window was a review that said the crispy duck was the best. We got in quickly and ordered them. The server said the duck was for the place next door. Okay. I don’t know how the sign could have been any closer to his restaurant’s window. No matter. We ate shrimp in a sauce from carved out mango shells. And we loved it. We got a second little individual pot of rice to extend the pleasure.
                We said we could not eat another bite, but H Mart is liberal with the samples, so we gave in. Then we navigated the attached bakery and shared a cool tiramisu after gazing at intricately braided pastries.
                My Aunt was thinking this store was nearly close enough to take exercise walks from her house… straight to the bakery.
                On Friday my husband and I shared a bowl of meatless pho at a different Houston eatery. It wasn’t until I was leaving that I saw a closed bin labeled pho veggies. I’d missed out on the fresh jalapenos, sprouts, basil, cilantro and lime that I love to top my bowl.
                Oh well, there’s always another culinary thrill around the corner.
                Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves spicy things. And sweet things. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com


A drive in the country

           V            A recent “fish Friday” with visiting relatives demanded a drive in the country, looking for birds and other fun. The sight seeing brought my family to 10025  Highway 124 and fried seafood at Doug Nelson Café.
                             The funny thing is, the view inside was of a country drive. A mural depicts a vintage car in the setting sun at a store stocked with familiar old-time products and a Clabber Girl Baking Powder sign. I was drawn to snuggling kittens nestled into the painting, and a little boy who escaped his parents’ table was interested in petting the creatures.
                             If you didn’t know, you can buy Doug Nelson seasonings packaged up for your own kitchen experiments.
                            
                            
                              Eat right to ease your mind
                             I love being right. When offered a review copy of “Mind Easing,” I anticipated a healthy diet would be part of Bick Wanck, M.D.’s advice. Right.
                             He writes “prescriptions” for mindfulness, exercise and a diet of no-sugar or low-refined grains that’s high in fresh vegetables. When your diet is in alignment with the needs of your body and mind, healing flows evenly and effectively. When you eat food that is bad for you, healing becomes disjointed, disharmonious and derailed, he writes.
                             “Your flow of healing needs a safe and healthy diet to stay on track,” he relates, in this book, subtitled “The 3-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression.”
                             The steps are enhancement, guidance and restoration.

                             Snickers stuff
                             I was at a reception with an already lovely spread, and out came a bowl of Snickers creamy blends candies. Maple Almond Butter and Peanut Butter squares stopped conversations. Everybody already loves Snickers and these “gourmet” versions were popular. I ended up having to share the one I was trying to enjoy all to myself. My husband owes me one.
                             Look for these in when creating Easter baskets.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who does her best to enjoy and eat in balance for pleasure, nourishment and health. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Urban forager finds her flavors


                            
Elisa Callow is a writer, appreciator of food and history and a lucky soul who has made friends, convinced them to share and – I hope – gotten to eat all the dishes described in her book.
                             “The Urban Forager: Culinary Exploring & Cooking on L.A.’s Eastside, is an adventurous and useful book with Ann Elliott Cutting’s photos. The Prospect Park Books offering gets us talking with cooks from so many cultures. That’s how history and recipes are preserved, so thank you, Ms. Callow.
                             You read the stories. I’m going to quickly convince you to by noting these flavors:

                             Over-the-Top French Toast forces the cook to decide. Should Cointreau or Grand Marnier be part of the recipe that calls for butter-filled brioche.
                             I’m not sure why the Savory Double Pecan Scones are “double,” but I loved finding Dijon mustard, thyme and Gruyere cheese in the ingredients list
                             Yogurt Soup with barley sounds soothing and a beautiful color photo illustrates how Minh’s Vegan Porridge with Spring Green Sauce can be appealing.
                             Other illustrations show cooks’ influences, such as Jack Aghoia’s grandmother who stretched meat by creating stews and casseroles with cracked wheat and vegetables.
                             I want to try Minhs Habanero and Kumquat Salt, made by roasting citrus skins and chilies and grinding them up.
                             I don’t know if  I’ll ever get to East L.A., but I kind of feel like I’ll have friends when I get there.
                  Darragh Doiron has a bag packed for Culinary Thrill Seeking. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Slow cooker speeds up meal planning

Slow cooker speeds up meal planning

Who’s going to say no to Brown Sugar Chili Bacon Meatballs?
Not me.
Not Drew Maresco, but he’ll make you wait a while to eat them. It’s his recipe, for slow cooking,
Maresco is editor-in-chief of BestRecipes magazine and a self-taught cook living in Detroit Michigan.
Everybody seems to have a slow cooker in the cabinet, but not everyone uses it.
Dig it out and put it center stage. Don’t worry that we tend to think of it best used for heavy stews and chili dinners. It’s spring and there’s plenty to cook. Slowly.
                This attractive page Street Publishing Co. release is called “3-Step Slow Cooker Cookbook” and subtitled “Delicious, Hassle-free Homemade Meals.”
                Who doesn’t want that?
                So sure, your slow cooker probably came with a book. Years ago. Like everything good, the process gets updated.
Pineapple cooked with meat is trending and this book is in on it with Pineapple Short Ribs with Brown Gravy.  Kale fan? It’s covered.
South of the Border, Asian at Home and Italian Hour sections let you slow cook around the globe.
Maresco’s recipes include Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup, Caramelized Onion Pot Roast, Classic Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, Lemon Basil Chicken with Orzo, a meatball sub and Extra Sloppy Sloppy Joes.
There’s a common ingredient in every Italian dish, the author proclaims. Think it’s garlic. It’s actually “love.”
For Meatless Mondays, try Tex Mex Sweet Potatoes.
For “sticky good” Honey BBQ Chicken Thighs, stir in ketchup, honey, sugar, vinegar, water, pepper, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce with brisket, etc. and some time later, serve it up over Texas Toast.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who likes the slow-cooking process for meal prep that makes fast eating for later. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Doug Nelson seasons drive in the country


                             A recent “fish Friday” with visiting relatives demanded a drive in the country, looking for birds and other fun. The sight seeing brought my family to 10025  Highway 124 and fried seafood at Doug Nelson Café.
                             The funny thing is, the view inside was of a country drive. A mural depicts a vintage car in the setting sun at a store stocked with familiar old-time products and a Clabber Girl Baking Powder sign. I was drawn to snuggling kittens nestled into the painting, and a little boy who escaped his parents’ table was interested in petting the creatures.
                             If you didn’t know, you can buy Doug Nelson seasonings packaged up for your own kitchen experiments.
                            
                            
                              Eat right to ease your mind
                             I love being right. When offered a review copy of “Mind Easing,” I anticipated a healthy diet would be part of Bick Wanck, M.D.’s advice. Right.
                             He writes “prescriptions” for mindfulness, exercise and a diet of no-sugar or low-refined grains that’s high in fresh vegetables. When your diet is in alignment with the needs of your body and mind, healing flows evenly and effectively. When you eat food that is bad for you, healing becomes disjointed, disharmonious and derailed, he writes.
                             “Your flow of healing needs a safe and healthy diet to stay on track,” he relates, in this book, subtitled “The 3-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression.”
                             The steps are enhancement, guidance and restoration.

                             Snickers stuff
                             I was at a reception with an already lovely spread, and out came a bowl of Snickers creamy blends candies. Maple Almond Butter and Peanut Butter squares stopped conversations. Everybody already loves Snickers and these “gourmet” versions were popular. I ended up having to share the one I was trying to enjoy all to myself. My husband owes me one.
                             Look for these in when creating Easter baskets.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who does her best to enjoy and eat in balance for pleasure, nourishment and health. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Was your Tuesday Fat?


                           
  Finally, it’s here!
                             Was your Tuesday Fat? Now it's time for Ash Wednesday.
Now
                             I love putting away Mardi Gras décor as much as I like setting it out. My drapes of beads are replaced with simple, empty bowls.
                             I love the “rest” we get during Lent. I credit learning about Mardi Gras in Port Arthur and the season’s history with my deeper understanding and appreciation of this stark – often cold and dreary – season. I imagine my Cajun ancestors as they collected fresh eggs and scooted to outhouses on frigid Louisiana properties. They must have surely been awaiting spring’s first shoots and lighter and warmer days in a way that I can barely understand as I dash from heated car to heated building.
                             Live Simply is a message on one of my favorite tiny bowls. It’s decorative, but it can also hold a few nuts or raisins that I can eat slowly and think about those who haven’t got a bite. If they had that much, it would be their meal, not their snack.
                             My culinary adventures are relevant as I appreciate each bite, avoid meat, hear stories of other cultures’ traditions and focus on whole grains, fruit and foods that don’t come in boxes.
                             One egg, one apple or one dish of  yogurt is simple nourishment during this time.
                             And, by the way, smoked meat never smells so good to me as it does on a Friday, when I’m abstaining. I know that those with other traditions have felt “sorry” for me that I couldn’t “have” what they are having. I in turn have felt “sorry” for those who have not taken some time to live a little simply.
                  Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who’s doing more with less this season. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Chicken finger beads for Mardi Gras?

Do you need a set of beads to promote your love of chicken fingers?
If they're throwing Mardi Gras beads, I'm catching them. Big, red beads with a Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers "medallion" came my way at Saturday's Majestic Krewe of Aurora ball. I also raised my hands for beads with masks, commemorative beads, beads not unlike pink crystals an all manner of shiny, blinky things.
This year's ball was as awesome as ever, with the festival's Color Me Carnaval theme. I finally got to hear DeAndre Nico sing. He performed the National Anthem before at the beginning of festivities. Costumes, friends and beads made for an exciting evening at the Robert A. "Bob" Bowers Civic Center. 

You should have seen the size of the king cakes.

When you're out on Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas grounds this weekend, have some Cajun flavors for me!


Bread pudding in the morning
What's not to love about a serving of bread pudding for breakfast? Pairing it with eggs is not a stretch. There are lots of eggy and bread-based morning casseroles that don't involve rum sauce, so try a basic bread pudding this season with a hint of syrup.
In fact, we here in the Cajun part of Texas claim bread pudding, but there's a lot to a less sweeter version that puts me in mind of a Mexican breakfast. So that's how I ended up with a bit of bread pudding, egg and spicy red salsa on my plate. You know what? It sounds good for dinner, too.

Taste of the Triangle
So this Fat Tuesday, consider ringing out the season with the 36th annual Taste of the Triangle at the Beaumont Civic Center. The Sabine Area Restaurant Association benefits from ticket sales and you won't leave there hungry. This is a very cool area event and Mid-County restaurants are often the stars of the show. 

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie having so much fun during the Mardi Gras season that she can't wait for Lent to begin. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hearts and the Year of the Pig


                              
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                             If you’re of the mind that a Valentine’s Day celebration – held on Feb. 14 or thereabouts – absolutely must include red wine and chocolate, I’m with you.
                             We’d be good friends. Let’s do this.
                             Everything in moderation, right?
                             But just saying, I’d be happy with a good Judice’s burger with and chips. Or a fudge malt from Dairy Queen. Gumbo is always good.
                             But Valentines, like relationships is about compromise. Pizza would be my sweetheart’s pick.            
                             Also just saying, I hope that if that’s the way the night goes, he knows about the obligatory wine and chocolate thing. 



Tet m                Tet made me head to Port Arthur’s Vietnamese markets to stock up on spices. I was there a day before the dragon dancers and focused on fresh vegetables including eggplant and mini bok choy.
                             I looked up how to make egg drop soup the right way. It turns out the translation is “flower” so you don’t really drop in that egg and swirl it in the soup pot. You crack it into a bowl first and then swirl and pour it in to the bigger pot. A bit of cornstarch makes it thick and a tad of turmeric gives it the golden color.
                             The Tet season also inspired me to cook a pot of rice flavored with all the fish powder I had in the pantry. After all, the new year is a time to make way for the “new.”
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie with a heart for exploring new flavors. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com