Thursday, May 30, 2019

Loving foods and food is love

                  Hang on Culinary Thrill Seekers. Read up about the local business For the Love of Foods and a book called “Food is Love.” Foodies, this is our stuff:

For the Love of Foods
                If you call yourself a foodie, you have probably already supported For the Love of Foods, the celebrated, cheerfully appointed, much-praised meal provider based in both Nederland and Beaumont.
                I’m a believer, and it took me way too long to make my first visit. A gift card prompted me. It’s not quite right to say I was pleasantly surprised, because I fully anticipated it would be a lovely experience. I just had to wait until my Mom could come with me. Now she’s a believer, too.
                I made a noonish pre-visit to the cheerful Beaumont location that’s adorned with sunflowers in the window box. All the foods were packaged in black boxes with clear lids in a fashion that would thrill the most OCD neat freak from any kitche. Spiffy millennials  were actively scanning labels for content and I heard everything was basically $10.
                Armed with the lowdown, I went back with my Mom and we selected Asian meatloaf, a Cobb Salad and a salmon dish. Sides were combos of rice, green beans, etc. The whole idea is to have healthy, quick meals at the ready. We could not help mixing and matching at the table so four people actually enjoyed their fill that night.
                The menu rotates so you can check it all out on Facebook.
                I’m thrilled that my octogenarian mom is planning to head back, to stock up on healthy – and very delicious – options. For the Love of Foods should make any foodie feel like they have the energy of a bright, yellow sunflower.
            Update: Mom’s headed back for a third round of stock-up meals.

                  Food is Love.
                             There are no rules in food and love.
                             Those lines are a way to look at life, and “Food is Love” is also the title of Angelique Santana's book.
                  Food is sharing.
                  Food is receiving.
                  Food is adventure.
                  Food is inspiring.
                  Warmth, Caring, Abundant: in your own blank. I know you’ve got one.
                             While this book reflects the thoughts of many, and the some recipes reflect certain refined tastes – or adventuresome culinary thrill seeking – I think it’s good for both experienced and novice cooks.
                             Crab-less cakes and beet smoothie are short recipes requiring as much adventure as skill. So I think a book full of quickies that are full of flavor, such as garlic smash, eggplant stacks and chickpea tuna are good ones for those just starting to feel their overnight oats. This book is refreshing, and nourishing.
                             Here are a few simple offerings from the book that should make a diner grateful:

                             Lentil Gravy
                             1 cup lentils, green or brown, dry
                             3 cups water One half teaspoon sea salt
                             One fourth teaspoon black pepper
                             In a medium pot, cook 1 cup lentils in 3 cups water until tender. Add lentils to a high-speed blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding additional water until you reach your desired consistency.

                             Cilantro Lime Slaw
                             4 cups cabbage (green or napa) thinly sliced.
                             1 bunch cilantro, chopped
                             4 tablespoons lime juice
                             One half cup vegan mayo
                             1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
                             1 teaspoon sea salt
                             One fourth teaspoon black pepper
                             Shred cabbage, rinse and place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who knows food is love. Reach her at

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Summer Lovin' these new finds

Summer’s here, according to the fiscal, if not actual, calendar. As you approach party season, consider some of  these “new” things I’ve had the good fortune to encounter:

                             FONDBone Broth Tonics
                             FOND is the brand of a bone broth that is made with such love, I feel like I want to be “worthy” of the family that created it. “Broth on!” is Alysa Seeland’s message on a note called the The FOND Story. Her broths are rich, nutrient-dense liquids made with bones of an animal and cooked for a period of 16-24 hours in the case of chicken bone broth. She calls her blends tonics as they’re infused with flavor combos and called inspirational names such as Liquid Light, Inside Job and The Spur.
                             I’d heard a bit of “the talk” on bone broth and this one discusses points like gut health, soothing inflammation, amino acids for respiratory  health and improved digestion, nutrient superfoods, healthy bone formation, collagen for healthy skin and weight maintenance. Here are some outlines of mixtures:
                             Youth Tonic – It wasn’t just because of the shitake, shallot and sage that I grabbed Youth tonic first. I mean, Thanksgiving in a jar is a strong endorsement, but who wouldn’t want a tonic of youth?
                             Trolley Dodger – This one is described as a fun, tangy bone broth tonic infused with a surprising combination of lemon, garlic, radish and onions. Customers say “excellent antidote for a late night.
                             FYI, I can virtually guarantee you’ll invest some time in soaking off the labels so as to re-use the attractive Mason jar packaging. This is such a home-style product that you’ll want to re-use the jars to give other items in your pantry a homemade flair. It sealed the deal that I found Seeland’s note encouraging keeping the decorative packing box for future use, as I had already done so.  FOND cares.

                  Simple Mills
                             Almond flour mix goes into naturally gluten-free brownies from Simple Mills. I promise, they are as quick and easy to make as any other brownie mix and the results are superior. The texture is moist and the chocolate is gooey and yes, you’d better divide up the servings and put some away before you eat the whole pan. Make your piece the last one out, so you can scrape up any edges and crumbs that remain. Everyone who I allowed to sample Simple Mills brownie was down with it. Wait, Simple Mills also has a chocolate muffin and cake mix, but that’s still on the pantry shelf for a special occasion (like this weekend?)
                             Simple Mills is going for “clean, nutritious foods for a better life – it’s that simple.” They call it “full-body, inside-out happiness” for a well-being that starts within. The line includes several baking mixes and dietician-approved almond flour flavored crackers, including Smokey BBQ Cheddar and Fine Ground Sea Salt. I’ve been enjoying those with salads. People trying to eat better don’t have to do without. There’s usually a flavorful work-around. Simple Mills has found several.
                  Pretzels to your door
                        Straight outta Boston, Eastern Standard Provisions Company is offering a new line of gourmet, handcrafted snacks. Doesn’t hand-tied pretzels sound better than what’s in that snack machine?
Top Knot, Wheelhouse, and Turnbuckle with dipping sauces Party Queso Dip and Get Lost Maui Onion Mustard are, according to these Boston fellows, crafted with the finest ingredients and ready to ship to you from There’s credentials and awards and 209 years of hospitality experience behind these fresh pretzels that you pop in the oven to make your whole house in Texas smell like their bakery, I suppose.
I’m boiling the rest of my thoughts into this thought, and will say now that my mother agrees with me: Tear off a chunk of fresh, hot, fragrant bread and dip it in sweet & sour Maui onion mustard, and you’ll be a believer. It’s that simple.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who’s motto is “Try it, I’ll Like it, Most of the Time.” Reach her at

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

                             “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. 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

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

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

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 a 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 set 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.
Recipe reprinted with permission from "Just Peachy" by Belinda Smith-Sullivan, Gibbs Smith, publisher:

              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