Saturday, February 20, 2021

Get to the Hi Mountain for party to field dressing flavors

Hi Mountain’s for home cooks/field dressers Riverton, Wyoming is a far piece from the Gulf Coast of Texas. While I’m surveying the pantry for the never-ending hurricane/rare snow/whatever’s next season, I’m grateful for some shelf-stable dip mixes on the shelf. Hi Mountain Seasonings caters to the briners, smokers and field dressers who go for beef, venison and fish. A lightweight like me can go to town with Cucumber Dip Mix and Sun Dried Tomato Dip Mix. These powders mix into cream cheese and sour cream, but I’ve found that a sprinkle into Greek yogurt gets you flavor with fewer calories. Don’t be afraid to blend up the richer version for celebrations. Ready for that? I especially enjoyed the cucumber taste so late into the season and dipped with colorful bell pepper slices. Buffalo Wings Burger Seasoning – I worked at Bennigan’s in the ‘80s when this area got a buffalo wings introduction. Now the flavor is known to all and Hi Mountain’s blend lets you shake it on any sort of meat, so some flank steak got the treatment. I’m dreaming of tinting a giant, steaming baked potato with Greek yogurt and a shake of the orange seasoning. Satisfying for cooler weather meals, this can also go onto the cauliflower version popular for air frying. * Half my last turkey got Emeril’s seasoning found in my late mom’s stash. Hi Mountain Garlic Pepper Rub got patted onto the other side with great results. This is the kind of spice you may walk by in your pantry and just open the bottle to get a rich whiff. When I told friends about my Garlic Pepper turkey, one said she hoped I had enough left to try this spice on potatoes. A big old “yes” to that idea. Note to Southeast Texas has anglers and hunters enjoying the bounty of Sabine Lake, The Big Thicket and other points of our great outdoor: If you’re the kind to make your own sausages, visit www.himtnjerky.com for ideas on how to care for your catch.
Coffee in bourbon, woke style Coffee with a cause is kind of a new thing. Coffee with flavor has always been a thing. Serve yourself up some of these blends to make mornings meaningful: Don Pablo Coffee Growers & Roasters began as a love story. Darron and Eliana fell in love and traveled around Columbia and Latin America to learn the trade. How romantic. And that’s just from the single-serving cup version of Bourbon-Infused Coffee. Wait until you see the old barrel-style packaging on the whole beans. You’ll be grinding that aroma all over your house. My first cup did, as promised, knock my socks off. This is presented as an after-dinner, special occasion flavor. Don’t be afraid to wake up to it. www.donpablocoffee.com Caribbrew is Haitian direct trade coffee and hot chocolate and even coffee scrub. Aside from fulfilling aroma and flavor, it’s hard to pick my favorite thing about these products, but I’ll begin with colorful artwork on the bags, from a woman brewing a rustic coffee outside her yellow home to a couple gazing out on the fertile mountains of their homeland. See for yourself at caribbrew.com and find out why their whole beans are not shiny. It’s so much fun to read about your product. The Arabica coffees are intense and the drinking hot chocolate is a thick powder that makes a memorable sweet tonic for these winter months. What comfort. If you love to smell coffee, consider taking it to another room with coconut rum moisturizing body butter and coffee scrub. You can get “coffeed up” inside and outside. What is no-mess scrub? You’ve got to feel it to experience it. When these coffees are over (booo!), I’ll console myself over their loss by making something crafty from the bags, until more arrive. www.carribrew.com. This one is def coffee for a cause.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Sweet Life

Ever hear someone declare to be a sweet or a salty person? Wonder how they’ve taken to the salted caramel trend. Hopefully Culinary Thrill Seekers are still reveling in improved health from recent New Year resolutions, but you’ve got to get some sweet stuff now and then. Try these options:
Sweet Chaos Movie theatre butter popcorn was once the epitome of aromatic heaven and it’s still a classic crave. At what year in American history do you think jalapeno blue cheese popcorn stopped sounding “out there” and became a must have? Sweet Chaos offers both of those to suit your mood and I’m a very huge fan. This is not to snub honey chipotle, sea salt or the other sweet kettle guys. No way. I’m giving love to all these flavors, some of which got me through the first area hurricane of 2020. These flavors have come with me into 2021 with benefits of non-GMO kernels popped in coconut oil for a memorable snack that is “delightfully disruptive.” Pop over to www.sweetchaos.com to rank your choices. Hungry Buddha Nutrient- and flavor-dense, Hungry Buddha is “Keto Done Clean” as a trade-marked thing. Espresso Brownie and Triple Chocolate really tastes gooey and good is “enlightening.” I had to go there. Chocolate Chip and Coconut Cocoa are also little bars of plant-based healthy fats that can go everywhere you are. Long, distanced lines? You have Hungry Buddha to look forward to. Sunflower seed butter and coconut oil contributes to 11 grams of healthy fats for a lasting boost of energy. They’re also dessert-worthy. There are other fun lifestyle examples and products at www.buddhabrands.page.link/barsUSA This Saves Lives Hey honey? Would you like a Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey bar? It saves lives… This Saves Lives is actually a line of healthy – and very good – snack bars and crispy treats flavored for adults and packaged for kids as well. Each purchase helps gets food to hungry people and you’ll feel good about what you are serving to your family. Talk about diverse. There are 10 classic snack bar flavors alone including Dark Chocolate Caramel (a personal fave), Almond Mocha and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt. I love the kid stuff with fun characters and flavors with a full serving of fruits and veggies. Now here’s another fun fact. Actress Kristen Bell is a cofounder, along with Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell and Ravi Patel. Let’s go snack and know you are helping promote RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food). We eat together with these purchases. www.thissaveslives.com Rancho La Gloria Rancho La Gloria hotel in Tijuana is still giving us the Margarita. What began in 1938 is still popular and is now extremely convenient. Experience 100 percent Blue Weber Agave in every little plastic bottle of Rancho LaGloria ready-to-drink margarita in original (as we are most used to it), peach or strawberry. Real lime juice keeps it bright. On the rocks or blended, this is the pick-me-up many of us are seeking as the weather warms for the season. This offering keeps Margarita both classic and evolving. Easy and delicious and just right for social distancing. www.ranchogloria.com Take Five Are you a full spectrum chocolate lover? Five is named for the commitment to offer a 5:1 ratio of CBD to minor hemp compounds. Made in the U.S.A., this line offers a range of products in bottles and gummies and some delicious Original Milk Chocolate Squares and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. As if adults don’t already lock up their favorite goodies from little ones, this alluring pouch of squares is designed to keep away from minors. I think even the individual serving is intentionally challenging to open. It’s worth the wait. This full-spectrum CBD chocolate square is scored into four smaller squares so you can pace yourself and maybe save some for later. Read up on this product. I can say I love the flavor the first time I tried it. Another evening I finally sat down to a hot tea, movie and a square and 30 minutes later I was nudged awake. I’d relaxed that much. “We do it differently and you’re going to feel the difference,” is the message on their website at www.fivecbd.com Killer Creamery When did ice cream get so funny? Now we can “shop guilt-free pints of keto ice cream” in flavors of Peanut Blubber, which was my family’s pick of a sampling weekend. We tried fun flavors in very creative titles such as Jam Session, a raspberry flavor with dark chocolate chips. Other creative monikers: Chilla in Vanilla; Caramel Back, Salted Caramel flavor; Lemon Squeeze, lemon poppyseed flavor; and Got Buns, cinnamon bun flavor with dough pieces. Can you eat all you want? Never. But you can dish a smaller portion of guilt when you want some cool rewards. The folks at www.killercreamery.com can tell you all about the keto part. Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie living the sweet life. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Get set phoTet with cultural flavors

Dried baby sardines make Taiwanese bar snacks and ramen stacks make burger buns. If you like a little rap with your marbled eggs, Canadian Trevor Lui will set you up. He’s so fusion his Chinese history has gotten Nashville hot. “The Double Happiness Cookbook offers “88 Feel-Good Recipes and Food Stories” that can help flavor your lunar new year season. Stories and flavors sound so good you’ll want to hang out with this tattooed globe trotter who seems to have a different sassy T-shirt for every global market he shops. I’m so endeared to his “food saved my life” concepts that I’ll forgive him the one think in this book I could pass on: NOLA-Style Vegan Gumbo. In Texas, we’re too close to NOLA. It’s too soon, Mr. Lui. But I still want to hang with you.
TET Time Friday, Feb. 12 is the new year with Port Arthur’s Vietnamese shops prepping for the year of the ox/buffalo, said to bring prosperity and wellness. Bring it. Here are some other flavors the spark your senses: Noods A couple of self-proclaimed dorks and their friends are inviting you to shop their noods at viteramen.com They’re a mix of chefs, gamers and fun folk who think paying a fare wage and producing good ramen noodles is a good thing, because sometimes “everything you eat can have everything you need.” The future of food is nutritionally complete, says their entertaining site offering mixtures such as Vegan White Miso and Garlic Pork Tonkotsu. This means quick noodles in a packet that takes just as long as those famously cheap and highly processed versions. But these taste fresh and do have some essential vitamins, minerals and protein without artificial preservatives or frying. In a few minutes you can be slurping your noodles, just as these dorks invite you to. A friend of mine cooked some up and his guest proclaimed, “It’s like eating health.” Ricante Everything Sauce Is noting three times over the course of a meal now good the pineapple sauce is normal? For me, yes, but my husband also could not stop saying it. Ricante’s new line of Everything Sauce got him going in the Tropical Pineapple Habanero-Infused version. The thick sauce from a bottle dressed up some leftover turkey like you wouldn’t believe. It's actually from Costa Rica but the sweet and spicy of it all fits in with this Culinary Thrill Seeking theme. In addition to the flavor, I loved the yellow colors with colorful red and green specs that celebrate Costa Rican paradise. New flavor profiles let you “come to the rescue in a variety of culinary situations.” Yes! Tropical Guanabana ChimiChurri will likely be my favorite. I feel like I’m on the beach. Everything means dipping, marinating, salad dressing, reducing, etc. How freeing that word can be. I’m using the “approachable spice” and it does leave you wanting more. While New Year’s cabbage was priced right, I used the Mango Cocoa version in a slaw. Tamarindo went on eggs. Guanabana Chimi Churri went on “everything” like the makers suggest. Look for ricante.com products at Whole Foods. They are Keto-friendy and Whole30 approved. It’s like Tex-Joy with the local steak seasoning. We do use it on “everything.” Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves to experience other cultures. Tell her about yours at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Have a Heart? Just be a Sweetie to Someone Else

We’re thinking pink here with a bunch of sweet foodie news in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. Experiences to share? Gifts? Treat yourself time? Put your heart into these goodies:
Wine Purses are Real! I used to think long narrow bags were wine purses because you could put a bottle in there and tote it to a party. Now I understand the PortoVino line of totes, messenger bags and literally “swanky” purses. You put your wine in the bag, then the bag in the purse, then you bring it to your function and then, you impress your friends by dispensing said wine right from the subtle side flap. That’s just how it works. The bags are sturdy, stylish and are 100 percent conversation starters. Hey, you could keep a sandwich instead of wine chilled in the side pocket if it’s a work day. Because, you’re going to want to carry around one of these bags. I’m keeping organized in a perky pink polyester tote with great lines. It’s roomy and stylish and holds all the stuff other “dry” purses do. www.porto-vino.com also has very stylish masks that are like silk scarfs. It’s a bag of Valentine “yes.” Unwilted It’s not that I don’t love flowers, I have never enjoyed a bouquet as a gift. They don’t last forever, you know. Enter Unwilted, working with Italian crepe paper to create each leaf and petal that is hand-cut, painted, shaped and constructed for realism, and art. These beauties will last. They are both modern and classic. Recipients will think about the thrill of receiving and the giver’s thought for years to come. You’ll love the color, the detail and the arrangement names, such as Peony for your Thoughts, Crepe Paper Suzette and Saffron Lust. So, these are the arrangements people like me love to get. They’re sustainable, I’d say. If you know anyone named after a flower, shop their style at www.unwilted.com The Cocktail Universe The drama of Singani63 began in 1530 when a single grape grown and distilled in the Bolivian Andies unleashed the cocktail universe. What does this mean? I’ve shared in nearly a full bottle’s worth and I’m still not sure. But I love the intrigue. Try this clear brandy as suggested in a spicy margarita, Ramos Fizz, sangria, Vieu CarrĂ© or make up your own story. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh is part of this release which I agree, is a category of its own. The more I look into it the more of a mystery remains. A “63” pin implies you are part of a society with exciting plans ahead. A friend of mine let loose with the bottle and came back with a pineapple and ginger blend. Try what you like, or mix your Valentine one of these: Bolivian 63 2 ounces Singani 63 .75 ounces freshlemon juice .75 ounces simple syrup Champaign Lemon Twist Shake first three ingredients with ice, then stain into a flute glass. Top with Champaign and garnish with a lemon twist. www.singani63.com Safe Catch Do wild sardines sound wild to you? Who made them so fancy? Would you think of opening a little can of fish as your birthday meal? Care and consciousness has elevated the noble tuna fish to gourmet status, even when it comes in a little round can. Learn how Safe Catch tests every tuna and salmon for mercury at www.safecatch.com. You can also sort for recipes based on gluten-free, keto and other diets, and those friendly to pregnancy and kids. Bone up on their precautions and you’ll feel good about eating these products. Wild Pacific Pink Salmon looked so fetching in a pink/salmon toned can that I based my birthday meal around this luxuriant fish. Seafood always says celebration to my family and these are easy staples to stock. The company promoted salmon poppers with cranberry for the holidays and this fish, the official salmon of the American Pregnancy Association, could be my official seafood stock up of the Culinary Thrill Seeking pantry. Also, I’m upcycling the cute little can for succulent plantings. Wet Hydration The pink one is Dragon Fruit + Yerba + Hibiscus. But maybe your Valentine prefers the green one: Cucumber Lime + Vitamin E + Collagen. It’s all good and it’s no calories. That’s a plus in my glass. Wet Hydration “curated nutrients,” “blended in perfect harmony.” If you’re going Keto or Gluten-Free, vegan, Kosher and Non-GMO, grab a BPA-free bottle of these flavors and refuel. How well do you research your drinks? If you just go for flavors, such as Watermelon + Lemon Lime + Electrolytes, then you can get potassium with intrinsic antioxidants tossed in. Orange + Mango + Ginger + Turmeric is a flavor trend with zero calories and I’m drinking it up. www.wethydration.com Darragh Doiron is in LOVE with the notion of being a sweetheart to friends on Valentine’s Day. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Still Resolved to keep well fed and fit in 2021

If my birthday weren’t in January, I’d be as fit as all The News readers have been since 2021 hit us, right? It’s a Capricorn bump I have to face, but I’m back to plant-based options and I haven’t missed my 10,000 steps goals. Read on for tips on healthy ways that may serve you well:
When seedy is good Top Seedz could be the best cracker I’ve ever eaten. Dense with seeds, they’re baked in a sheet so we get the “cracked” pieces. No sleeves of uniformity here. Each bite is a treasure, just like the sporty New Zealand mum who conceived of them imagined. There’s a sea salt version, another with cumin and more options. One of the things that makes them memorable is that different seeds create a pattern resembling an edible mosaic. Artsy huh? They’re crunchy, gourmet, on the healthy side and delish. The 6-Seed version could be my favorite weighing in with sunflower, sesame, flax, pumpkin, chia and hemp. I had them as a birthday treat with wine and I believe I could feel their health benefits with each crisp bite. I had to say “mmmm” after each sample and I kept holding them up to the light to enjoy the seedy designs. Rosemary with sunflower, sesame, flax and pumpkin was a top pick. Top Seedz does just seeds, too, but they’re “just” roasted with Maple Magic to give a sweet and nutty crunch. There’s more for your lunch, yogurt topping snacks, etc. at topseedz.com “Whole Person Integrative Eating” You may be consuming “foodish” substances instead of the fresh, real food your body deserves. Ditch the preservatives, slow down and enjoy, authors Deborah Kesten, M.P.H. and Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., write in this book, offering “A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat the Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity.” Easy to read and follow advices includes the “raisin meditation,” where you pause to ponder the feel and flavor of your food and also appreciate how it got to you. What’s your best meal memory? Probably not a cold bite over the sink or a burger while stuck in traffic. The WPIE method asks us to enjoy food with family, collect relatives’ recipes, experiment with cultural traditions and even include your pets in dining time. Some of us don’t even know how to eat real food so recipes for wild spinach omelet, Thai basil rice, and fig fruit salad can help in a journey that should change us for the better. ISOPURE Think beyond smoothies with this zero carb protein powder you can cook, blend and bake with. Unflavored powder can give you an oatmeal boost, but think about game day with recipes such as Protein Boneless Chicken Bites. It’s a food supplement (not for weight reduction) that comes in many forms, as well as flavored infusions. Here’s a double tip: I put some powder in a tea strainer and sprinkled over French toast. It looked like powdered sugar but my husband got a breakfast boost instead. Learn more about this 100 percent whey protein isolate at www.theisopurecompany.com Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie resolved to keep well fed and fit in 2021. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, January 17, 2021

January is Soup Month. Can that mean gumbo?

My family thinks I don’t like soup. It’s because I told them I don’t like soup and have avoided certain soups from them. But I actually mean I tend to really hate vegetable soup or bland and salty canned soups. Bring on a good French onion, potato or gourmet cream version. In January, when one craves a bowl of warm comfort, I’m all about gumbo. I’m about gumbo in steamy summer months as well. My husband loves gumbo, but he always brings up his musings of if gumbo is really a soup. This is tedious, as he’s still going on about it as he dishes his second bowl. Readers, let me know what you think. Do you consider gumbo as soup? Or is it a special category of Cajun elixer?
Moocho Fiesta “Let’s YUM this thing,” the shreds say. “Mmm-oo-cho.” If every night was taco night, except when it is enchilada night, you might need to examine your cheese habits. You might need to go non-dairy, into Moocho’s world of Fiesta, Mozzarella and Cheddar shreds plant-based, non-dairy shreds. HEB has added plant-based options including Moocho. They work like cheese for me and the aged Fiesta Blend melted into a skillet full of refried beans on my last Taco Tuesday. If cheese should not be an everyday thing in your life, yum up with Moocho shreds. Circle B Ranch, Rogersville, Mo. Do Texans treat themselves to pork chops? We smoke our brisket and grill our steaks, but pork chops don’t pop into my mind until I see a beauty packed up at the store. And I sure didn’t realize there’s a think called Big John’s Chop and Steak Sauce that is tomato-based, molasses spiked ease for dipping, marinating, pouring on pork steak or poultry or, as makers say, great on fresh garden tomatoes. Big John’s Uncured Hickory Smoked Pork Pineapple Snack Stick is thicker in more moist than most options, in my opinion. Uncured Bacon Pork and a jalapeno version of that are great hiking snacks to tuck into a backpack. www.circlebranchpork.com The Paleo Sheet Pan Cookbook Jennifer Bumb challenges us to get our sheet together. Pumpkin update: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes is the first recipe to greet readers. You slice them into squares. Sweet Potato Bennies, using the potatoes instead of bread for a benedict, is the second breakfast option and the rest of the section makes eggs look artistic. Then you’ve get to stuffed poppers, salmon, meats and nuggets in the main dishes. I can hardly stand it. Bumb is founder of “Pretend it’s a Donut” and her writings are popular and funny. I noted a sheet pan in the tempting photos looks like it has been around, then I noted her observation that kitchens ought to have real, dog-eared cookbooks with blotched pages. I like her. And I like her dishes. Spaghetti Squash Pork Chow Mein and Buttermilk-Drenched Caveman Pops, what I used to call turkey legs, are calling my name. A sheet pan is an easy way to get dinner in the oven and to the table and it helps with cleanup, too. I’ll bet you’ve got one that you haven’t touched in a while. Have you ever jerked your carrots? Roasted your mini sweet potatoes Reuben style? Invited an avocado into your brownie mix? If you by into the sheet pan ease idea, don’t think there are just a few recipes to try. These come from all over the world and they have varied textures. Don’t worry. The sheet pan is still good to make dessert. How about fruit roll ups? Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who’d love to hear how you have already changed your habits in January. Let her know if you consider gumbo as soup. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Turns out, turnips are tops

Turns out… I truly like nearly any food, or at least like trying it. For decades, if someone asked a food I don’t like, and I’d shout out “turnips” quick. Truth is I probably had one dull, bland bite as a kid and they never came up again. I didn’t even realize people grew them around here. A local gardener gave me some and I didn’t hesitate to try it. He suggested a method that involved bacon but I happened to have some chicken fat at hand so I tried that with great results. He doesn’t peel them, so I didn’t either. Just pretty much roasted them, with great results. The greens were also surprisingly easy and good and did have the promised spicy “bite.” This is a guilt-free addition to my diet, so not worried about finding a new food to enjoy. But what will I say when people ask what I don’t like? Turns out, turnips are terrific.
And here’s some of that January health roundup I promised: Tofurky Plant-Based Roast & Gravy When all your plant-based friends are hanging on the patio, roast up a Tofurky. My friend said he’d had something like this about 10 years ago and imagined the process had improved. This time around, he complimented the texture several times and said it was filling, too. On my end, I have to say the round ball looked like a big mound of modeling clay. There was also a gravy pouch. I roasted it with cabbage, turnips and onions and guess what? People liked Tofurky. It sliced well, revealing stuffing and just like that, Tofurky was the talk of the day. If you are doing plants, check into this easy-to-handle roast. Cart Safe Did you assume grocery carts were “icky” even before the pandemic? Studies show they have more saliva, bacteria, etc. than public telephones and bathrooms. Did you ever want to put like a giant shower cap around your hold cart while you’re loading up on fresh produce and the rest of your necessities? Thank a mom who invented Cart Safe for the times of Covid. Gonna say, of when you push your cart around the market that’s lined with this blue protective layering you’ll get notice from other shoppers who will likely want to order, too. Get a look at Safe Cart at www.cartsafe.com Keto Beam Are you trying to maintain ketosis? Some of you know just what I mean but I don’t have much experience with this lifestyle. Keto-BEAM.com will hook you up with Electrolyze, Micro-Boost and Insta-Lytes. I received samples and will agree that they taste like water, which is a welcome sensation when compared to some supplements. I’m most interested in the Insta-Lytes Electrolyte Misting Spray you can spray on your face and elsewhere to soften cramps, sooth aches and recharge electrolytes. I do like this sensation. Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie committed to a new year of healthy resolutions. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com