Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nerd, tofu and tiny bagels make Culinary commentary

Fun with tofu
While it doesn’t qualify as “wild times,” my husband and I mixed up a batch of tofu this weekend. First you cook the powdered mix with water, then add coagulant, wait until firm, and invert the block into cold water. Doesn’t that sound fun? I was impatient and it inverted into curdy clots. I’m glad I noticed you can also make tofu milk, because then I made it into smoothies.
Lacking liquor, I got a pina colada feel with coconut milk and by blending in the coconut Manischewitz macaroons I wrote about earlier in column. Thumbs up.

Nerds rock
Texans have done it: San Antonio-based NERD Beverage Corporation has made an energy drink that is palatable, or as copy desk guy Cody says, “pleasant.” He’s a big fan of energy drinks and I am not. We both enjoyed this one and agreed it tastes like the lime sherbet punch served at baby showers.
NERD The Focus & Energy Beverage has Chinese Gingko Biloba and is said to increase mental alertness, memory function and retention. It is sold exclusively in stores in Texas and on the web.
Cody also said it is “yumtastic.”

Mini bagels
Heretofore, bagels haven’t exactly been considered a health food. I’d like to thank Lender’s Bagels for launching Little Lender’s and 100 Calorie Bagels, which I have been enjoying immensely with over easy eggs, curried tuna and syrup (all on different days). The mini bagels, aside from being cute, also come in cinnamon. Thanks, guys.

Liquid nutrition
Don’t drink Superberry Upgrade all in one day. The 16-ounce bottle has 16 servings of liquid dietary supplement with antioxidant that AgroLabs says “brings the health benefits Resveratrol including cellular anti-aging, revitalized hair, skin and nails, all day energy and antioxidants that scavenge free radicals.”
That’s a tall order for a 1-ounce shot, but I’ve been enjoying it daily.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cherimoya art in 4-22 folder

Kids and Earth Day go together

Kids love to save the planet … and cook.
Fun, color and creativity are on every page of Green Princess Cookbook: Sweets and Treats to Save the Planet. FYI, Earth Day 2009 is on Wednesday, April 22.
Barbara Beery’s latest installment in the Pink Princess Cookbook Series could also save a baby-sitter’s evening or a church camp agenda. This pretty spiral has fun, edible projects and tips on going green. Children will want to try new and healthy foods if they’ve made them look this fun.
Try Earth-Friendly Edamame Dip, Nutty About Nut Butters, Cornbread in a Recycled Can and take Beery’s advice for turning them into fun works of art and centerpieces. Here’s an easy one that all ages should appreciate:
Cherry Chocolate Dip
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped semisweet or milk chocolate
1 tablespoon freshly-grated ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. When cream is hot, gradually add the chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute more.
Remove from heat and add vanilla, stirring to blend. Transfer to a bowl and serve with fresh fruit dippers or gingersnaps.

Southern Fried Elvis opens in April
It’s time to take a road trip to New Orleans. “Southern Fried Elvis,” an exhibition of cookbooks that focus on the food eaten by the late King of Rock and Roll, opens on Friday, April 24, at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
“I think one of the things that people find interesting about Elvis is that he did not change his eating habits once he became famous,” Chris Smith, collection manager, said. “Even though he had the money to eat anywhere he wanted, he did not like fancy restaurants He preferred the food he grew up with. He loved Southern food as well as fast food.” 
Smith says that Elvis’ eating habits are well documented.
• Elvis did not like to eat fish
• He loved watermelon and cantaloupe
• He said his favorite meal was breakfast
• Elvis ate a lot of sandwiches because he said he didn’t have a lot of time to eat
• Elvis liked his meat cooked very well-done
• When Elvis cooked, he generally fixed eggs and bacon
• One item to be hand-made each night at Graceland was banana pudding
• Elvis did not drink alcohol
• Elvis drank milk and would say “Milk makes ya sexy!”
“Southern Fried Elvis” will remain on display until mid-summer.

Cheer for Cherimoya
Perched in a nest of purple packing shreds, three cherimoya sat like scaled dinosaur eggs on my desk. People passed by to squeeze them for readiness, but they stayed rock-hard for days. Finally, the green, heart-shaped orbs became like avocados and I sliced them open to reveal a creamy, white melon texture with a delicate fragrance that was like fresh cake.
Samplers who tried cherimoya at its peak loved it and ventured their comparisons on the fruit, grown for centuries in South America. Frieda’s Specialty Produce distributes California-grown cherimoyas, that make custard pie and have dozens of large, black seeds. Frieda’s describes it as a fragrant combo of pineapple, banana and vanilla, and another name for it is custard apple. We’re sold on something “new.”

Fizzy fun
While I’m not ready to say I like Totally Organica Beverages better than Champaign, I’m fully committed to announce I enjoy the flavored sparkling water just as much.
And, it’s not unseemly to have a bottle before lunch.
Olympic marathon bronze medalist, Deena Kastor, is using it to keep hydrated and I’m sipping it on my lunch-break walks. I love the fizz in lemon lime, cranberry, berry, green apple, raspberry, pomegranate, melon and mint. Certified organic by the USDA, Organica Beverages’ sparkling waters contain zero sugars, carbs, calories and artificial flavorings.

Some like it hot
Readers may know I’m a Tabasco nut. You won’t believe what the hot stuff is in now. Tabasco Spicy Tequila is one heck of a shot, or the best new basic for a Bloody Mary or Margarita.
It made a hit with my mother at Easter. I actually think this could be a good remedy for sore throats.
Here’s what the call a Tabasco Rita
2 ounces Tabasco Spicy Tequila
1 ounce Orange liqueur
1/2 ounce lime juice
Dip rim of glass into salt. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake well and serve over ice in a margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Encouraging words can become a ministry
Ever hear of a greeting card ministry?
If your church group has collected bits of ribbon, lace, buttons and scraps of paper, and if you are geared toward mad scrapbooking skills, you can get one going.
Sue Banker includes photographs of cards inspired by stained-glass windows, doves and crosses as well as patterns and even scripture quotes in “Mailbox Ministry: Greeting Cards that Share the Faith.”
She includes anecdotes of times when some of these cards are truly needed in life. Put those crafting skills to work for the greater good.
Here’s a them to get you started:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust. — Psalms 25:1-2

“Fit Soul, Fit Body”
Evict anger; transform fear; laugh.
Brant Secunda is a shaman/healer in the Huichol tradition of Mexico and Mark Allen is a six-time Ironman Triathlon world champ. Together, they have written “Fit Soul, Fit Body,” which offers visualizations and practices on connecting a healthy body and outlook. Here are a few ideas from the dietary section:
• Good looking food equals a good-looking body; make it look appealing on the plat and you will get more value from it.
• Eat real greens. That means dark, leafy spinach, kale, etc. It doesn’t mean iceberg lettuce.
• Dark chocolate is a bit of decadence that is acceptable.

Give thanks
Kevin Brown discusses the politics behind the food pyramid and advocates full-fat dairy and animal products in “The Liberation Diet.” I found the most helpful advice to be on giving thanks.
“When we eat together in thanksgiving, it changes our attitude about food and helps us gain control over addictions and overeating,” he writes. “Being thankful changes the way we think and focuses our minds on the positive instead of the negative, improving our health and wellbeing. Giving thanks shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year. It is designed to be given before every meal.”

Finding yourself
Do not for a minute think age has anything to do with the amount of time you spend looking for lost stuff. You might think teens are glued to their phones, unless you’ve been asked to drive that phone/homework/band T-shirt to unite with your child.
Tweens and twiftys (tween 40s and 50s) spend time looking for the remote, purses and car keys, so EZ-Find is a product for everyone. A wireless remote sends signals over a 60-foot indoor range, through floors, walls and cushions and sounds a 92 decibel alarm to find up to 25 personalized descriptions. It’s a little intimidating to get it all working, but it pays off by reducing frustration later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Fling and gunfights fill the streets of Port Neches
Liz Ozment reports outlaws will have an all-day shootout Saturday in Port Neches.
Don’t worry … it’s historic. Port Neches Trade Days will host Spring Fling, featuring Big Thicket Outlaws with staged gunfights. There will be live music, food, a cake walk, pet show and craft booths from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 18, along 1300 Port Neches Avenue.

Friends need your books
Kaye Jones is expecting “thousands of books” for the Shower of Savings Book Sale.
Friends of Groves Public Library will sponsor the sale, beginning Wednesday, April 29 for members of the organization only, and continuing through Saturday, May 2. The sale will be held at the library.
Jones said the Friends sponsor two book sales a year, Shower of Savings in April, and Spooktacular in October.
“Proceeds from the sales and related activities have enabled the group to purchase all outdoor decorations in front of the library and all furnishings in the foyer, computers for the Teen section of the library, a scanner and other library equipment, special books, as well as to fund other library projects,” Jones said.
Donations of gently used books are now being accepted.
“As always, the donated books are first considered for inclusion in the library's collection. Especially welcome for the sale are general fiction paperbacks, DVDs, Christian fiction and current hardback fiction,” Jones said. “Popular magazines like Southern Living, Good Housekeeping, etc. are also welcome. Space prevents acceptance of old encyclopedia sets, old news magazines, etc., and the Friends ask that books with mildew be thrown out, since mildew will spread.”
Call 962-6281 for membership information.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Flying Fish wine pairs well with seafood

A lighter wine is in order as the days grow longer. Washington State wine makers Flying Fish have partnered with City Catering, called one of Seattle’s most innovative caterers, to create recipes for this refreshing Riesling. 
I can tell you I think this wine is great. Makers say this is why: “In this world class wine region, long sun-drenched days, cool evenings and volcanic soils produce wine with an unmistakable precision of place. Flying Fish Riesling has fresh floral aromas, bright peach and apricot flavors with spicy mineralogy on the finish. The Riesling’s exquisite balance of flavors and crisp acidity make it a delicious accompaniment to spicy cuisines such as Asian, Spanish, Indian and Thai.” It’s gourmet budget-friendly at $12.99 a bottle. Try it with this:

Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi 
(Serves 4)
Recipe provided by The City Catering Company, Chef Russell Burton
1.5 pounds Mahi Mahi Filet, cut into 6-ounce pieces
1/2 pound macadamia nuts
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut (or pulse in food processor) macadamia nuts into small pieces no more than 1/4 inch. Mix the mayo and rice vinegar together. Lightly brush a thin layer of mayo on top of each filet. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle nuts over the top. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes. Time depends on thickness of fish. 

Diamond Wipes
Want to brand your company with cleanliness? Diamond Wipes will put your logo on thick, lemon-scented, damp, disposable towels that can be heated in a warmer, or packaged to-go with food. It’s advertised as a “wipe for all your needs.”

Food peace
Don’t totally give up your favorite foods, or you will defeat yourself, and learn to discover if you are heart hungry or stomach hungry, nutritionist Leann Simons writes. You can read her slim book, “At Peace With Food,” on your lunch break.

Emotional eating tips from TOPS
Some folks rush to the fridge when they’re down. TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly, suggests hitting the pause button when emotional eating is a temptation. TOPS has tips to avoid that pitfall: 
1. Prevention works. Don't bring high-calorie foods home from the store. 
2. Routine helps build good habits. Try to eat at the same time every day and stick to the basic food groups. Fill up on whole grains, vegetables and fruits, as well as low-fat dairy products and lean meats. 
3. Notice what’s happening emotionally within yourself. Learn to recognize if your hunger is real.
4. Monitor food intake for several days, writing down when, where, how much, and why food is eaten. Recognize negative triggers that prompt overeating. 
5. Before giving in to emotional overeating, hit the personal “pause” button. Take a walk, or call a friend.
6. Plan for healthy snacks between meals. Keep fresh fruit and pretzels available and skip the chips. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

‘Trashion,’ green finds help celebrate Earth Day

Anyone can celebrate Earth Day and everyone should. Mark calendars for April 22, the 39th anniversary of Earth Day.
Here are a few ideas to honor the place we live:

Try a few “Trashion” recycling ideas from The Handwork Studio, LLC, a Kids' needle arts, textile and fashion studio in Narberth, Pa.:
• Turn a creepy backpack into something chic: Re-use last year's backpack with iron-ons that can be used to cover up rips or marks.
• Add new life to an old sweater: Felting is a hot trend. Put an old sweater in a hot washer. This will cause it to shrink, aka "felt." From this dense fabric you can make warm leggings from the sleeves, bags out of the body and cut squares to use as patches on jeans.
• Go ‘70s: Cut the legs off an old pair of jeans and sew them closed across the bottom. Add a braid through the belt loops for a strap. Embroider or embellish as desired.
• Renew summer flip-flops: Wrap pieces of ribbon, fun fur or fleece around the straps. Hot glue a flower or other embellishment for additional chic.

Ecobag helps fuel fantasy
In my little fantasy world, where I use my turquoise bike with the big basket to make my daily seafood runs on the coast of Italy, I carry fresh vegetables home in something from Their Classic String Bags are guaranteed fair wage/fair labor and are 100 percent certified organic. Company collections come in jewel and earth tones and with names like Garden, Fiesta and Tropical. The little purple one in my real life expands to hold 40 pounds and the tag urges one to “use daily instead of paper or plastic.” I love it.
Enjoying Ecobags is a two-part process: Get some of these bags … and remember to take them to the store.

A deed a day
Donate to charity is the April 12 idea in “The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference,” by Jodi Helmer. Go on a hike April 13 and park your car in the shade, spread mulch, feed your stale bread to the birds and shop second-hand stores on other days. The best part of this interactive book is that you can start all over again next year with reminders.

Work it on out
Just because I want to share Manduka mats with you, don’t assume I can do yoga. I just love the mat and its cause. Manduka calls its eKO Lite mat a “high-performance, environmentally friendly mat made with closed-cell rubber and comfortable sea grass texture.” The natural mat “won’t flake, fade or leave footprints in landfills, and will completely decompose at the end of its natural life,” makers say. The Recycle Your Mat program is on a mission to collect 10,000 recycled mats, and make them into shoes, rubber flooring, etc. Visit to learn more.
So what am I doing with a yoga mat? I’ve improved my endurance by doing 100 reps of floor exercises during the morning news or my favorite “CSI” shows. It does not take long to see results. I’ve been spreading a towel on the carpet so my OCD doesn’t kick in, but now that I’ve used a mat, I love the smooth surface and wide, luxurious space. I’m usually done with my exercises in a commercial break. Maybe I will progress to yoga.

Tease me
Because they’re so thin and soft, I think you could pack a week’s worth of Tees for Change into a tote bag for the most comfy vacation wear you can imagine. I used to avoid boxy shirts with itchy tags, but these are the softest of soft and have a flattering cut and an eco-friendly message. My brown one reads “Today Matters. “Other messages include “Laugh Often,” Practice Kindness” and “Choose Happiness.” Makers have partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every shirt purchased. The Organic cotton and bamboo shirts use water-based inks and low-impact dyes. Some shirts from this company are made in America and imported ones are certified fair trade and sweatshop-free. That makes me most comfortable. Visit for your new favorite.

Clean up
Some of those new bamboo fiber “green” towels would be perfect for Towel Butler. The clear or stainless steel portable holder that hooks over shelves, cabinet doors and ledges. You may have seen in on QVC. Visit UnSeenOnTV or inventhelpstore and you can see it in your kitchen, bathroom, shop, etc. Each of your kids can have one at eye level.

Picnic safe
I’m not suggesting you could use Nature’s Balance Care Organic Insect Repellent instead of cologne, but I am drawn to the lemony fresh scent. It’s strong, but it does put one in the mind of camping, hiking or enjoying a picnic in the back yard. It does not contain DEET, Resmethrin, Pyrethrum or neuro-toxicchemicals. Makers claim you can actually get refreshed soft skin from the lavender, geranium, lemongrass and other natural botanical ingredients. I’m ready for potato salad and kites. They also have stuff for horses and dogs.

Bag ‘n’ drink
Visit the saynomorestore to get your logo on a green bag. Won’t your team look good touting an eco-friendly recycling cause? The polypro bags look a little like skin to me. I prefer post-consumer PET and truly love the total organic cotton line.
SayNoMore! Promotions also had reusable water bottles like the h2go SS. I love taking water bottles on my daily walk and have tried ones that squeeze, those with a straw, some that dangle from your wrist and those that hang from your belt loop. I like the way this one just swings from your fingers with no effort, and the steel stays cool. The mouth is large enough for ice cubes.
Products are designed to keep bags and bottles out of the landfill.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sertoma Club parades fashions for a cause
The fun of a fashion show happens in the dressing room, I now know. Beverly Mire asked me to model Bella Bella fashions in the Gulf Coast Sertoma Club’s Parade of Fashions and boy, did I have a ball. The changes were so quick that jewelry and evening bags were flying through the air as women traded looks for their next walk on the runway.
Stretchable taffeta is what I wanted all the women in the audience to feel as I floated by in the most comfortable navy “gown.” It was actually a skirt and zippered top as comfortable as a sweat suit. I’m usually fairly humble, but I had to agree with the compliments I was garnering in this outfit. I truly felt like Cinderella.
La-Tee-Da Boutique showed an array of colorful linens at the show, staged at The Pompano Club. Color and florals are what’s in line for spring, representatives of both clothiers reported.

Crown of thorns
Just like planners hoped, it was dramatic to hold a “crown of thorns” in my hands.
Trinity Lutheran Church, 2400 Fifth St., will present Journey to the Cross, a sensory event, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9.
Pastor Tim Dinger said the crown to be used in the production — which is tied together with discreet, green bread bag twisties — was hanging on a nail when his congregation moved in. They’ve respected it ever since, he said.

Guillory paints the town red
Ora Guillory found a white cowboy hat, but she wanted a red one for the Scottish Rite Lodges & Chapters convention in Mobile, Ala.
Guillory had a local auto shop paint her hat, belt and shoes red so she could represent Southeast Texas. That’s style.

Mercado Days set for April
Maybe you’ve seen the big, yellow posters advertising Mercado Days Latino Fest.
Music, vendors, a car show, carnival rides, a pageant and food will be part of the multi-cultural festival at the Pavilion, 500 Procter St. in downtown Port Arthur. Times will be 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday, April 17 and from noon to midnight, Saturday, April 18. Gate prices are $6 to 6 p.m.; $10 after 7 p.m., children 12 and younger, free. Advance tickets are $5 at sites including Fast Lane Stores, Neches Federal Credit Union and Hernandez & Solis Inc.

Knights to golf for Fetters Center
Randall Burt of the Groves Knights of Columbus says his group is planning its second annual Association for the Retarded Golf Tournament on Saturday, April 25, in Groves.
“All the proceeds go to the association. We have been selling hole sponsor signs for $50 each and asking for door prizes from area vendors along with trying to get four-man teams ready for the tournament. Mr. Leroy Falcon is our committee chairman for the event,” Burt said.

Battery help
An on-line reader helped Yvonne Sutherlin get word that Radio Shack will accept used batteries. Thanks to all the loyal Port Arthur News readers who follow us on Twitter and at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chocolate matzo for Passover … who knew?
I love a good matzo cracker to enjoy while watching “The Ten Commandments.” Now there’s dessert. Manischewitz has brought Ultimate Double Dipped Egg Matzo to the masses, and I’m first in line.
Milk chocolate smothered Passover egg matzo drizzled with dark chocolate is even better than you might imagine. As it says on the box, if you are of Sephardic ancestry, consult your rabbi.
Manischewitz also got an array of flavored macaroons that sound like cause to celebrate. Pure and simple almond may be my favorite, followed by coconut and chocolate. Look for Rocky Road, Ultimate Triple Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Honey Nut, Cappuccino, Chocolate Nut Brownie, Cookies 'N Cream, Banana Split, Toffee Crunch, Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Chunk Cherry. If you’re trying to be good, look for reduced sugar varieties of Coconut and Chocolate macaroons.

Seal it for real with Banana Seal
Sometimes OCD is a good thing. My orderly pantry and freezer have garnered comments from visitors. They could be jealous. I tend to empty bags and boxes of food into mason jars so they look nice on the shelves, so I don’t have a problem with stale food.
When I saw the Banana Clip, I loved the simplicity of two strips of plastic that slip into a groove to seal food bags. But I don’t have any bags left in the pantry. It makes me nuts to see chip bags loosely folded over, with the chips fading in flavor inside.
Then I realized the seals are perfect for frozen vegetable bags in the freezer. I sealed my okra and green beans into small, stackable blocks and cut off the excess bag on top. The pitch is that in today’s economy, you don’t want to waste money tossing stale food, but Banana Seal is also an obsessive-compulsive cook’s dream. Visit to get yours.

I can’t speak for pandas
I remember hearing that in some foreign countries, they assume the photo on the package is an ingredient in the food. That’s why baby food with pictures of cuddly infants didn’t sell.
ZenSoy has a drawing of a cute panda eating a cup of soy pudding with a spoon. Panda looks happy, and so were reporter Mary Meaux and I when we tried it. So We loved organic banana and I shared the richest chocolate and vanilla with my appreciative family. We agreed the banana pudding looked a little gray, but it gets natural coloring from annatto, not chemicals. Paws up.

Refreshment in a can
My daughter thought tonic was spelled with an “ic,” not “iq,” but quickly noted Brain Toniq is spelled such to imply your IQ is high for choosing “the clean and intelligent think drink.
I’d back that up, because it’s very tasty and different that others with bold claims. I can’t officially attest to removal of my “head fog,” but I did like this drink that makers bill as “the world's first organic, botanical-based, non-caffeinated think drink specifically designed for those who need more mental focus and clarity.” It must be the rhodiola root, blue-green algea extract and organic agave nectar.
VIB stands for Vacation in a Bottle and has a beach scene on the pomegranate berry can. It advises to “Drink. Chill. Be Happy!” Don’t confuse it with other weirdness in a can. It’s caffeine-free and low calorie. It may be the only vacation you get this season.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Book shares ‘man secrets’ so women can try to understand
I announced to readers that I’m reading lots of self-improvement books during Lent. There are so many out, I’ll still be sharing after Easter, but here’s word on two more:

Man stuff
Christopher Blazina gives readers the Ten Commandments of Growing Up Male and details of the secret shoe box to get him to unlock his “holy of holies.” The book, subtitled “What Men Want You to Know About Love, Sex and Relationships,” is designed for women to get a better understanding of spouses, brothers, etc. Its a big, thick book, but here’s a quick snippet from a chart on how to give better feedback.
The Mean Way:
• Name calling
• Purposefully trying to wound
• Using a barrage of words that are designed to hurt him intentionally
• Holding grudges
• Withholding love or affection in a punishing way to show him who is boss

A Better Way
• Identify specific behaviors that offend or hurt.
• Give feedback in the spirit of trying to make the situation better for you and the one you love.
• Use honest, strong words when needed, but realize a little goes a long way.
• If the relationship is going to work, some hurts have to be placed in the relationship stream to be carried away.
• Making up cannot only be fun, it can allow a tender connecting feeling back into the relationship.

Speak up
Pause before answering, make eye contact, pull up a chair and avoid interrupting. You may have heard all this before, but it sure doesn’t heart to hear it again from experts Stacey Hanke and Mary Steinberg. “Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action” is a handy guide that may convince you to actually volunteer for your next speaking engagement.
It’s basic stuff, that most of us have forgotten, if we ever learned it. It’s time to learn again.

Coming soon:
Earth Day finds help readers go green.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

‘Bank’ on fauxtatoes for convincing side dish
I was surprised to learn women at Guarantee Bank have been eyeing me on my daily walk over the past year. I stopped in and Jeanne Young started talking health food, including a recipe she loves for converting cauliflower into something resembling mashed potatoes. She’s a South Beach fan.
I found a South Beach version of this process that called for cauliflower florets, butter-flavored cooking spray, fat-free half and half, a pinch of salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Puree the florets in a food processor. I’m betting garlic would be a fine addition.

Bento box
In our love of all things Asian, my daughter and I would love to pack our lunches in bento boxes. The April issue of Eating Well magazine has a beautiful spread on the concept, that came with this tip: separate food or condiments in the boxes by serving in cupcake liners (good one) or lettuce leaves (great).

C is for cookie
Pepperidge Farm has something new: Pepperidge Farm Granola Cookies. Raisins, almonds, pecans and cranberries in Fruit & Nut fill you up at coffee time. I haven’t yet tried Triple Nut and Dark Chocolate Almond.
Customer feedback drove PF to introduce 100 Calorie Milano cookie packs. These are the crispy, chocolatey ovals we all know and love. Thanks guys.

Back with sugar
Natural sugar is what’s making Log Cabin syrup. They took out the high fructose corn syrup that a health concern topic. It’s good stuff and I’ve tried it on frozen yogurt and as a cookie sauce over frozen bananas. I haven’t had time for actual pancakes, but confidence is high. I recently paid a lot of money for a tiny tin of Vermont maple syrup, and found the Log Cabin to be comparable in quality. Here’s a Log Cabin recipe:

Apple Pecan Baked Pancake
1/2 cup favorite pancake mix
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
3 cups Log Cabin syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pancake mix according to package directions; and set aside. Pour melted butter in 9-inch pie plate. Place apple slices in bottom of pie plate; sprinkle cinnamon and pecans and drizzle syrup over apples; carefully pour batter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Loosen edges and invert onto serving plate. Cut in wedges and serve with warm maple syrup and/or fresh apple butter. Serves 4 to 6. Good served with sausage links.

Do you love garlic?
I was willing to share Frieda’s Garlic Delight with coworkers, but I warned them in a memo they couldn’t just like garlic … they had to love garlic to try it. This dip/marinade/spread is intense, and that’s how garlic lovers want it. I just had pretzels for a dip, but I took it home and tried it on bread, pasta, chips and a potato. The original is a simple blend of canola oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice and salt. Frieda’s also makes the mouths of garlic lovers sing with an olive, sun-dried tomato and chipotle. I don’t know if it keeps vampires away, but it does keep you in garlic-loving buddies.