Sunday, September 12, 2021

Oysters in the house My love affair with tinned smoked oysters goes back decades. They’re little more than a dollar a can, stack well in the pantry and pack a strong flavor and oil that makes me feel luxurious. My whole family loves them, yet I know they are not for everyone. Pair them with cream cheese for appetizers or, fold them into an omelet for a meal good enough to go with Champagne.
Cooking with Truffles: I recently got a honeysuckle eating demo. I’d been doing it wrong. Since then I’ve heard of honeysuckle jam, moonshine and beer. I just picked up the new book “Cooking with Truffles: A Chef’s Guide.” Guess what I find? A recipe for Honeysuckle Gelato with Vanilla and Black Winter Truffle Salt. Is cooking with them all new to you? Try growing them. Truffles are mastery and mystery say famers. Susi Gott Séguret writes this book that offers glimpses of maybe not so much how you already cook, but about how you’d like to live. Truffled Roasted Leg of Lamb with Herbs and Tagliatelle with Truffle Cream and Asparagus Points look and sound fancy, but they’re actually doable in the home kitchen. Need more simplicity? Simmer some Truffled Bone Marrow. Yabbaduu How can you enjoy chocolate so much without eating it that you’re likely to break out in smiles? Yabbaduu Face Balm comes with a song and a smell. A little pot of cream holds this happiness. Rub a little under and on your nose and breathe in the aroma of chocolate. There’s like 60 substances that goes into your thought process. This cocoa bean fragrance made me feel like I was at a chocolatier in Europe. I felt better just twisting the lid off and getting a whiff. We have the Germans to thank for this product. Chasteberry releases dopamine and endorphins. Monk’s Pepper sounds cool. Too bad you can’t smell this good stuff through your computer, but you can hear the peppy song at www.yabbaduu.com Andrew & Everett This brand offers clean label cheese that’s with selections including “aged over 90 days,” rustic thick cut, and “udderly the best.” If you’re into healthier choices at all you can tell makers like this are proud to discuss preservative and hormone-free products with fewer and better ingredients and “clean label” is part of this honesty and pride. Sharp White Cheddar, Mozzarella, Fiesta Blend and American Cheese have your faves covered in delicious form. Get this: grass-fed cows are raised on small, fourth-generation family-owned farms in America’s heartland and each farm has around only 15 heads of cattle. Milk is made into cheese within 48 hours. Don’t you want to visit these cows? Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie checking her supply of smoked oysters. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Lucky Stripes! Always a classic

Stripes always a classic Black and white stripes are time tested from French royalty to punk rockers. Even Beetlejuice wore them well. Over the years I’ve been gifted stripes. We listened to Adam Ant cassette tapes in my Dodge Dart Swinger all night in the ‘80s when a friend gave me a chic box purse. It’s still kind of a culinary lunch kit. Another friend passed a Neiman Marcus travel bag I can’t bear to toss. Now I colleague gave me a durable plastic striped pencil case that is sure to outlive me. Readers, I’ll bet you have some patterns/colors that make you all sentimental. Share your memories with me.
Crunchy peas From TV’s “Ted Lasso” I learned “mushy peas” is a Northern England favorite. It’s not just for babies and seniors. It’s a nearly mandatory side for fish and chips in that region. Oregon is offering crunchy peas. Harvest Snaps is a lighter and healthier version of more traditional crisps. They look like green fries and I’ve crunched them with sandwiches for lunch on the go and even as an omelet side. Flavors beyond original include a touch of wasabi and Caesar. This bag does not over promise with phrases such as “deliciously baked crunch,” “fresh-picked goodness” and “light & creamy.” Huge green pea snack crisps are shown over a field of peas thriving in a mountainous region. Snaps are enlarged to show texture. It’s a lot of info on a bag to steer you to a lot of crunch inside. Strike! is different Designed for clean energy and backed by science, Strike! has a pleasant tropical – not chalky – taste. The 25 calories in this drink help to burn calories, increase strength and provide sustainable energy for peak performance, makers say. I’m not claiming I’ve been working that hard, but the Olympics brought out the dreams for us all. A little more working out will help us medal in good health. I like this drink and feel good about using it. It has: L-Citrulline: increases blood flow in the body, which improves endurance and reduces time to exhaustion. L-Theanine: provides clean energy that increases focus and concentration, leading to an optimal workout. Caffeine: decreases fatigue which reduces perception of effort. Rhodolia Rosea: improves aerobic exercise ability across the board by decreasing fatigue. L-Dopa: increases dopamine, which improves subjective well-being to help you push through longer. Rocky-Roo Once again, the Once Again racoon has tempted me with organic nut butters I can’t resist. New single serve options with sunflowers or almonds or peanuts come in little packets that make lunch easier and more fun. It’s also good for people who consider nut butters their weakness and can’t keep a spoon out of the jar. Portion control. New flavors in the line include a sweet maple almond butter and sunflower hemp butter. Rocky-Roo is the racoon. www.onceagainnutbutter.com Jarlsberg for us You know that law of attraction theory? Like attracts like? I got some Jarlsberg Cheese to share with my cheese-loving sister and it turns out she brought a big chunk of it all the way from Alabama to share with me. You don’t need to be able to pronounce charcuterie to love these boards of meat, cheese, etc. They’re everywhere and it’s fun to make your own. It’s a cool summer option with mildly-nutty and silky-smooth Jarlsberg® Cheese. We loved it for breakfast, snacks and afternoon appetizers. She didn’t take any home. The company has used a secret Norwegian recipe since 1056. Sure there are many warm ways to try it, but we simply enjoyed it in the quickest way possible. If you want a recipe, go to www.jarlsberg.com Back to Thousand Island Here’s what got me back on the Thousand Islands boat… Small swaps save calories, reads a wheel on the Walden Farms Italian Dressing label. Whatever they’ve swapped dresses my veggies in “culinary-inspired blends of herbs and spices” with a fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free a gluten-free flavor with the calorie count reduced to 0. Go on… they have Thousand Island, too? That was my go-too as a kid and it is typically so rich I’ve avoided it. Now, I’m back on the islands. Raspberry Vinaigrette is a 0-calorie spark for when you want to add strawberries and almonds in there. Ranch? I’ve been drizzling this treat on to Taco Tuesday offerings that don’t even include greenery. If you need to inspire yourself or a loved-one to eat a salad, this line could do it. Find out more at www.waldenfarms.com Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie with a new head shot by local photographer Jerome Cabeen. For your own, reach him at https://www.facebook.com/WINDOWWORLDPhotography/ Darragh is at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sips of the Season

Sips of the season I burned a few magnolia leaves for a fall scent in hopes of cooling down the weather. Worked for me. This column is devoted to sips of the season. Take a moment to enjoy that fall feeling. It doesn’t last too long around here.
Pumpkin Update Fall is a good time to check the dates on your spices as you root around for cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. I consolidated some spices to work up a chai tea blend and/or something to sprinkle on French toast for a pumpkin flavor. I didn’t want to waste a thing, so I added a little water to a nearly-empty ginger bottle and shook it up. I poured it into a pitcher of tea and got an extra zing. Stash Tea Stash is a “little bag of crazy” according to this Portland, Oregon biz started in 1972. It’s crazy good on its own and www.stashtea.com has some ideas for those who like experimenting with Doublespice Chai, Mango Passionfruit, Asian Pear Harmony, Ginger Fire Chai, Sunny Orange Ginger, Wild Raspberry Hibiscus and Pomegranate Raspberry. I love how red teas look in a glass. I’ve tried them the mindful experience begins with the soft aroma that greets you when you tear open the outer pouch. Maybe you don’t need a recipe beyond hot water and bag of Stash. But I love to play. Be inspired with something like this: Citrus Hibiscus Sangria should include seasonal produce, such as blood oranges, apples and lemons, Candice young of From the Roots blog suggests. She uses a quart sized bag of Stash Wild Raspberry Iced Tea or 4 Wild Raspberry Hibiscus tea bags, 4 cups water, a half cup organic cane sugar, mint leaves, a liter of sparkling mineral water, a quart of 100 percent pure juice (try pomegranate, strawberry lemonade or cranberry) and your fruits and garnish such as grapes, berries, etc. Cucumbers & Roses “Botanicals” has a lovely ring to it. Back in the ‘70s this meant Clairol Herbal Essence Shampoo. Then I got into herb gardening and loved the aromas, textures and flavors of culinary and healing plants. I never would have dreamed I’d be enjoying cucumbers and roses in adult beverages. Finlandia Botanical has made it happen. The Finnish are crafting infusions for “mindful sipping in casual get-togethers. Cucumber & Mint and Wildberry & Rose are 73 calories a serve with no artificial flavors or added sugars. Sparkling water, tonic or lemonade will add to your mindful sipping, as will The Garnish Lounge touches of dried rose petals, lime, etc. This is light and lovely and is sure to connect you to nature. www.finlandia.com Ranch Water Ginn Fizz is a new thing for RANCH20 Spirits that is among my favorites of this fizzy water trend. If you’ve seen the term, you can call Ranch Water a mxi of tequila, lime and soda water a “skinny Margarita” or the unofficial cocktail of West Texas. This brand has its version as well as Classic Marg, a Vodka Soda and the gin thing that’ll make you bubble with excitement. It’s a Texan thing and we’re proud like that. They’re boasting of “real” ingredients, great taste and no compromise. On the can, the H20 is written like the water symbol, and there’s a cattle brand like a flowing R. Now, get over to www.ranch20spirits.com and see if you can picture yourself like the cowboy-booted lady relaxing her legs out of her window. Since I’m quite sure she is of age and not driving, I’m imagining her cooling off after the head ranch hand has driven her around to survey her spread. Winewisk Wine is like music, they say, and we all like something different. Winewisk Aerator lets you taste before and after in your own glass experience levels of flavor and aroma. Swirl without judgement. The bonus is the slip of plastic is color coded, so you can keep up with your own serving. Clip it on the inside of your glass and you can swirl when you want to. These are the perks beyond smoother taste as you release your wine’s full flavor and aroma. Winewisk.com has more on this cool tool. I like that it slows you down and encourages you to use your senses. It does make a positive difference. www.winewisk.com Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie keeping hydrated. Let her know what you are enjoying this season via darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Golfers need to eat!

Pumpkin Spice and other updates Obligitory Fall Flavor is actually the name of the Pumpkin Spice Doughp cookie dough (that you can bake if you want to). September is National Recovery Month and the creator of this dough called Doughp and pronounced “dope” has a back story she turned into a success. #Doughp4Hope is a national giving back campaign regarding mental health policies. Engage in in a conversation, over this thick and rich concoction made with “better” healthy ingredients. This announcement is part of the annual Culinary Thrill Seeking Pumpkin Spice Update. But please note that Avocado Brownie Vegan Brownie Batter is also a winner spread over sliced green apples. Yummy and healthy. That’s your “obligation” to flavor and better choices. They call it ‘legit” dough.
Truffles, peas and Jarlsberg Can’t stop thinking about Susi Gott Séguret’s “Cooking with Truffles: A Chef’s Guide” mentioned here recently? Combine her truffle passion with a hobby I’ve just heard about. Melfies. This is people taking selfies of themselves while foraging for mushrooms. I looked it up and it’s amazing photography. When rains made shrooms appear in my compost pile, I tried to get a melfie, but couldn’t contort myself just so. The truffle book is very beautiful. You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1578268184 Jarlsberg In Norway, people once called this “extra” cheese. Jarlsberg Cheese is what you’re looking for today, so get to a computer and go to Jarlsberg.com to make any day more special. Harvest Snaps green pea snack crisps have a great bucolic label. The package says they are manufactured Calbee NA, LLC of Boardman, Or. I’m hearing headquarters are actually in Fairfield, California. I hope they eat them in all the states. www.harvestsnaps,com Darragh Doiron is a Port Area foodie who’s always got a eye out for new flavors. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Local books

New releases are stacking up. Read some of these while I continue to add more to this space.
Some Texas books are in this mix, including one by Penny L. Clark, an area historian I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years. She’s writing in “Images of Aviation: Beaumont’s Civil Air Patrol in World War II,’ filling in gaps on the short-lived but vital operation. You just may know some of the men and women pictured in this book. It’s from Arcadia Publishing, www.arcadiapublishing.com. It’s one of those neatly packaged issues on very interesting topics. Some others in this line are on a rack at the Nederland CVS on FM 365. “The Vanished Texas Coast: Lost Port Towns, Mysterious Shipwrecks and True Tales” by Mark Lardas features ships, the military, the Galveston hurricane and something I didn’t know. The USS Seawolf Submarine, honored in Galveston, was sunk by friendly fire. The Battle of Sabine Pass is a chapter topic. History Press, historypress.com, put out this book. “Texas True Crime Miscellany” – The Flapper Bandit had claimed she was from Beaumont. But her real mission wasn’t collecting news. She was set to claim some bank money and locked folks in vaults to get her way. Another woman aimed and got a man in a courthouse. She said he’d done her wrong, but some bystanders got her bullets, too. Disappearing men, oil field voodoo and double crossings appear in this Clay Coppedge book from History Press. Bone up on 18 obscure Texas cases.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

It’s sweet to support local business and what could be sweeter than honey spoons, up front and center at The Golden Cup coffee shop in Nederland? Stop buy and give them a swirl.
Here’s some more stuff to get you Culinary Thrill Seeking: True Scoops Is it a good idea to create powders so that those who avoid labor-intensive kitchen experiences can make delicious ice cream at home? True Scoops is truly good and easy. At first I thought I’d misunderstood, because you can use an ice cream maker, which I don’t have. I took the option of whipping the powder with half and half, freezing the mixture into ice cube trays then popping cubes into the blender and freezing that mixture to perfection. Another powder created a fantastic chocolate sauce. The process was waiting-intensive but not hard at all. It tasted like the one-and-only time I churned for homemade ice cream. I had a sense of satisfaction of creating and eating. Thanks go to Shelly and Kelly who craved ice cream and created a business. Check out their adventures and wares at www.maketruescoops.com Avocado reset I wonder how people in other states enjoy avocados. In Texas, we go straight to the guac. I remember reading it was once called “poor man’s butter” with a price point below those rich, yellow sticks. I know a man who eats them daily and spreads them onto sandwiches. Avocados, those green guys with the pit, are showing off in Utah, where BetterBodyFoods has released a naturally refined, 100 percent avocado oil spray that is new best friends with my morning egg. With a high 500 degree smoke point from the “king of oils.” There’s no propellants, preservatives or synthetic chemicals coming out of this green can of avocado goodness. Zyn The “amaZYN” thing about Zyn non GMO drink powder is 200 mg of curcumin from turmeric. That’s a thing now, but piperine from black pepper is new to me. It increases absorption. You know I love all things pepper. But these electrolyte powders, mixed into your water bottle, taste like Mango Pomegranate, Strawberry Yuzu and Passion Fruit Lemonade. While you get a tasty refresh, consider this irony. You’re getting cooled down with a drink that is committed to sustainable sourcing from solar-powered, community-based farms. That sun… always working for us. www.drinkzyn.com Piedaho I was going to start out by being amazed that the rhubarb plant actually does create an amazing pastry, just like I’ve seen in recipe books all my life. But now the focus on Piedaho’s beautiful offering could be the delicate and detailed dough flowers and leaves covering the sweet galette. It comes to your door from www.piedahocom. There’s not enough room to describe my pleasure in this space. You have to see for yourself. Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who would love to year about your culinary adventures. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com
When it takes guts A plethora of new books and products put gut health out there as a topic. Several of us don’t eat right or could always eat better. Learn bit about it and consider making some changes to feel better and be your best.
Be “out there” about your gut health Proclaim it. Tiiga, Nature’s Hydration is a Baobab Electrolyte drink mix that touts its mission: Hydration, immune support, gut health. Gut health may be a new buzz phrase, but if we all took care of ourselves we could all feel better and maybe pay it forward in the universe. Crazy talk? Eating better is a real thing for many of us. The Tiiga folks are combining the African superfruit baobab to promote sustainable practices and help us all feel better. My Raspberry Lemonade and Orange Mango got me in the right, hydrated direction. Check out www.drinktiiga.com then get your gut in order with finds below: “Better-for-you” cocktail All this kombucha talk! Would you be more willing to venture into the fermented “health” food world if your first taste was in a cocktail? A probiotic cocktail? Let KYLA, an Oregon-based brand, offer you cans of light, crisp, fruity, “multidimensional” flavors with gut-friendly probiotics. Please, let’s focus on the flavors that pop, because unless you need to know it is low-calorie, low-carb, low-sugar, vegan and gluten free, you’ll just be focused on the lovely fruity fizz. KYLA Riviera and KYLA Sunbreak Series are welcome summer treats. www.kylakombucha.com The Gut Health cookbook You don’t see many cookbooks start out with a diagram of your digestive organs in the “know your gut” section. But a few pages in and Chipotle-Braised Pork and Rice will sooth your fears. Freekeh Sal and nutrient -rick kale pesto may be new concepts, but photos of delicious meals should win anyone over. Food can make us sick and food can make us better. This book says it will work for “anyone and any gut.” Put me down for sweet potato tacos, Summer Rolls with Tofu and Peanut Dipping Sauce. Don’t miss bacon in Super Cobb Salad when you can saute mushrooms in smoked paprika and chili powder. The America Test Kitchens book is “Cook for Your Gut Health” with Alicia A. Romano. “Quiet your Gut, Boost Fiber and Reduce Inflammation,” the cover reads. Inside learn how to tweak your spaghetti and whip up a pineapple-lentil salad to go with grilled pork. Welcome better health as you enjoy your better diet. Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who has guts when it comes to trying new foods. Challenge her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com