Thursday, May 28, 2009

Taco time
What would you do with:
Chicken with apples and goat cheese, ceviche with coconut ginger, honey bacon, lamb, elk and calamari and blackened tomato?
If you never would have said, put them in tortillas, then Mark Miller’s beautiful book “Tacos” could be for you. It is for me. I want one on every page.
None of the amazing photographs show anything like the basic, fast food processed fillings America has come to label “taco.”
Miller is the founder of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe and also throws in some Thai ideas.

Super food
If you already consider chocolate a super food, read on:
I’ve shared Shaman Chocolates and the company’s “socially responsible collection of gourmet, organic chocolate bars.” I love the flavor and love the fair trade that supports Huichol Indians, a tribe living in central western Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains.
They’re said to be the last Indigenous Tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions. Thankfully, chocolate skills are included. Fruity, almost crystal-like bits highlight the new Organic Dark Chocolate with Acai, Lemon & Orange and Organic Dark Chocolate with Green Tea & Ginger chocolate bars. I savor each square until the chocolate melts to reveal the tangy fruit.
Antioxidants, baby.

Click crazy
Admit it. You can almost expect an artificial after taste to many health products. Click Espresso Protein Drink is the first I could actually crave. I’m surprised that with just water, and a shake up in a crazy cool shaker with a noisy metal sphere that mixes the powder up, I got a rich drink. I put it in a blender with ice for a great shake. You can drink it hot, but they have me at shake. Double Shot Espresso  is high in protein and low in calories, has vitamins and minerals and is an alternative to sugary coffee drinks. Ingredients include  calcium caseinate, instant espresso coffee, fructose, powder and sunflower oil. It’s the best think I’ve ever had out of a big plastic carton.

Every penny counts: Try tips to save on groceries
The executive chef of a fancy restaurant in Washington, D.C. says you can eat well and be proactive about keeping the grocery budget down.
“Everyone is realizing that right now is the time to tighten the purse strings wherever you can, when grocery shopping,” Enzo Febbraro, co-owner and executive chef of D’Acqua Ristorante, said in a press release e-mail.
Some tips:
 • Plan ahead. Take a few minutes to plan out the meals you will make throughout the week. Write up a list of all the necessary ingredients needed, take the list to the store, and stick to it, which will help you avoid impulse purchases. You can save even more if you build your grocery list and meal planning around what is on sale, each week, by browsing store circulars first.
• Compare products. Keep in mind that the most expensive items are usually at eye level. Look at the top shelves to find similar products that are less expensive. • Think beyond fresh. While fresh fruits and vegetables are great, they can also perish quickly, leading to wasted money, and they usually cost more to begin with. The American Dietetic Association reports that frozen and canned versions can be just as nutritious as the fresh, and are also usually more affordable and last longer. Just be sure to choose varieties that aren’t laden with excess salt, sugar or sweeteners.
• Think big. Opt for larger portion sizes and create your own single-serving portions. Invest in some re-usable containers so you can easily put items in lunches or carry bags. Not only will buying in bulk save you money, but it’s also better for the environment.
Hairy cherry, domino necklaces lead to summer fun
Summer schedules offer time for trying new things. I convinced a few co-workers to try lychee and rambutan, some fruits that even its marketers call weird.
Chinese royalty enjoyed lychee, with a delicate scent and flavor. Peel their rough skin to reveal what could be called a pearl, but also resembles and eyeball. I enjoyed the light, sweet flavor and watched for the large, black seed inside.
Rambutan are also called hairy cherry in Vietnam. Frieda’s Specialty Produce calls it the punky relative of the lychee, which gets its name from “rambut,” what they’d say for “hair” in Malaysia. This sea-creature of a fruit neatly cuts in half to get what seems like a larger version of the lychee.
Frieda’s also offers Dragon Eye Fruit, known as “little brother of the lychee.”
Put these fruits in a platter by the pool and you’ve got instant centerpiece/conversation piece.
Here’s word on some other new stuff that could get your summer started:

Cable Clutter
The very morning I glimpsed the tangle of phone, charger, mini vac and assorted electrical wires too near my dining table I found Cable Fish. It’s a simple plastic  bit that looks like a fish skeleton. Wrap the wires around it and the mess goes minimal. Cable Keepers, with shapes like little cats with various expressions, also get the job done. These are extra cool because they have a little suction cup, so they can hide on a wall. has more simple-yet-amazing ideas, like the Core, an apple core-shaped bit to keep your headphone cord managed.

Dicey art
It’s domino art, actually. Blind artist Ketra Oberlander founded Art of Possibility Studios and  necklaces that are bound to start conversations. I’ve got a lucky 7 domino piece that flips to a sort of blue-green fireworks display. Gauzy string turns it into a necklace.
Look her up, and look up Phenominoes, the art you wear pendants with built-in “how fun” factor. It’s a worthy project.

Lady stuff
LillyPadz has an amazing “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” product, a clear, smooth pad that kind of acts like a suction cup to prevent leakage in nursing mothers. You can work, dance and swim in them with no bulk, wetness, swapping or shifting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

‘Welford Street Miracles’ to tell West Side stories
R. Merial Martin’s book, “Welford Street Miracles,” is about “times, people, miracles” and the West Side of Port Arthur from the ‘30s through the ‘80s.
Christian publisher Tate will release the book in July. The back cover reads that it’s a story of Richard, who is “brainwashed into believing that the president of a Christian-operated insurance company is second to God. He becomes the company’s top producer, even though he is secretly being treated for cancer that is scheduled to take his life. Will he learn that a false idol should not be thought of as God-like?”
Martin is a bowler and golfer. He and his wife, Catherine, have been members of Fellowship of the Woodlands Church for 14 years.
Family friend Harry Essex, a Hollywood writer/producer, wrote the foreword.

Clem Webb Ministries
Local photographer Clem T. Webb is a pleasure to visit. He’s often snapping famous faces in the area, and mine, too.
He has note cards of amazing images that benefit his ministry work, which includes photography training so missionaries can better share the message of their work.
To learn more, visit

Back in the saddle
Mid-County author Kent Conwell has released two new books.
“Llano River Valley” tells the story of J.D. Thornton, who is wrongly kicked out of the Confederate Army for dereliction of duty. He helps newlyweds attempting safe passage to the valley. He finds himself the target of Comanche attacks and finally confronts the man who destroyed his reputation.
“The Puzzle of Piri Reis” is a Tony Boudreaux mystery involving catacombs of a New Orleans Cemetery, gators at Bayou Teche, an ancient crystal skull and even clubs on Austin’s Sixth Street.

Golden Triangle Sertoma Club promotes safe ears
Golden Triangle Sertoma Club’s Dr. Vickie B. Dionne, an audiologist and assistant professor at Lamar University, will present the Sertoma Safe Ears program at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 21 at Central Middle School and at 2 p.m. Thursday at C.O. Wilson Middle School. She’ll explain the best way to listen to ipods, radios and TVs and how unsafe use can damage hearing.
Member Linda Hebert reports Sertoma’s primary service project is helping the more than 50 million people with hearing health issues. Sertoma also sponsors community projects to promote freedom and democracy.
She also says the Golden Triangle Sertoma Club would “like to give a huge thanks You to the TOTAL refinery for donating 800 pairs of ear plugs to help with the demonstration. As always TOTAL gives to non -profit organizations and that helps  to make a difference.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Two favorite pastimes: Book promotes food and shopping
If cooking and shopping are your hobbies, you’ll devour “EatingWell in Season: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook.” I already praise the magazine and I’ve bookmarked the Web site. Readers can refer to it year-round to remind themselves to eat fresh and healthy and even economically from what’s in season. It encourages shopping at local produce markets and has meet-the-farmer info boxes. I can’t say enough good things about this book and here’s a shout-out to all you local tomato and zucchini growers: Keep me in mind when you’ve eaten your fill and need to share your bounty.
Here’s what to look for now and soon, followed by recipes on mixing them up:
Spring: Apricots, artichoke, asparagus, dandelion greens, mango, new potatoes, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, strawberries, sugar snap peas, watercress.
Summer: Blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, green beans, okra, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini.

Mango-Radish Salsa
3 cups diced mango, about 2 large ones
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced radishes ( about 1 bunch)
Toss mangos, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a bowl.
Stir in radishes just before serving.
Makes 8 servings, 1/2 cup each.

Tomato & Green Olive Salsa
1 1/4 pounds diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1 bunch sliced scallions
1/4 cup hot pepper relish
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine ingredients. Makes 14 servings, 1/4 cup each.

Puffed up
Easy in concept, yet tedious in application, puff pastry is one of my all-time favorites. I learned how to butter and layer the sheets, but you have to be quick and skilled to make a presentation. It tastes good even if your project appears amateurish.
Pepperidge Farm’s mini shells, in a box from the frozen food section, make bites of heaven all-to-easy to access. Jasmine made them for Mother’s Day and actually brought the raw, flat form to the table of guests because she was so impressed by how unusual they looked before rising into wee, puffy cups. We were impressed when tiny, flaky, buttery shells arrived at the table with berries and cream.
Bake them up and fill with whatever you like. I love that they’re versatile enough to switch from chocolate and fruit to sausage and cheese.

Spice it up
Herbs had me at flavor. McCormick’s Spices for Health site has info that may be new to you. A 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves has as many antioxidants as 3 cups fresh spinach, 1 teaspoon curry powder has as many as a 1/2 cup red grapes and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many as a 1/2 cup of blueberries.
• Perk up your morning coffee by sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon over ground coffee before brewing.
• For ginger lemonade, add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to 1 quart freshly-squeezed lemonade.

She’s so sweet
There’s a contest to guess the first name of Mrs. Butterworth, of the syrup Butterworths. Visit by July 17 to enter.
She has been in a Nirvana song, Kanye West song, the New York Times crossword puzzles, episodes of” Friends” and “Samantha Who,” and a Geico commercial. There’s a sweet $500 prize.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bornefeld shoots to win;
Port Arthur’s Bornefeld is ready for rifle scholarship
Nationally ranked shooter Christina M. Bornefeld received a four-year rifle scholarship to Jacksonville State University in Alabama. The Monsignor Kelly High School student is the daughter of Bruce K. and Vicki A. Bornefeld of Port Arthur.
Her father reports this is the first rifle scholarship awarded to a Kelly student.
Bornefeld is involved with the Texas State Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association, USA Shooting Sports and Civilian Marksmanship matches. She began shooting with Jefferson County 4-H Club. This past summer she finished sixth in the Women’s National Prone Position Championship. She will compete again this summer.

The right ribs
I’m sure that when decorations were ordered for the Champagne & Ribs Hog Wild party featuring pigs with bells on, no one was thinking of swine flu. Oh well, you’ve got to laugh at life.
These hogs represented motorcycles and the ribs were just right at the jam-packed event this past Thursday at Cowboy Harley-Davidson. Folks gladly dined to help raise money for the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Prostate Cancer Program.
Local musicians playing for good
Musicians with Beaumont ties will join singer/songwriter, producer and philanthropist Tracy Lawrence for the Tracy Lawrence Homecoming Concert, set for Saturday, June 6 at Foreman Memorial Stadium, in Foreman, Ark.
“Country Rat Pack” members Tracy Byrd, Clay Walker and Zona Jones are scheduled to play. Proceeds from the Tracy Lawrence Homecoming Concert will benefit the Tracy Lawrence Foundation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Save room for Top 10 dessert trends
The Food Channel researched dessert trends (I want that job) and reports that with today’s economy, we want pampering. This is how we’ll get it in 2009:
1. Ice Cream as the Star — Usually relegated to a topping or an accompaniment to the dessert star, frozen desserts are coming into their own with new flavors, styles and presentation.
2. Sippable Desserts — Big in non-alcoholic versions, but many offer a kick reminiscent of pairing your coffee with your cognac.
3. Sharing Comes into the Open — Sharing the price, the caloric guilt and the experience means that more desserts will be topped with two cherries, split in the kitchen, or built to easily pass without sharing germs.
4. Out of the Ordinary Presentation — Restaurants will be adding more entertainment value to end the meal; picture flambĂ©, which brings the same fireworks to the table as fajitas on a sizzling cast-iron skillet.
5. Interactivity — Play with your food; pour, dip or roll your dessert in another layer of sweet or salty. Dessert is the last impression of the meal. It should give you something worth talking about.
6. Nostalgia — Retro with a modern twist. Old standards like red velvet cake and bread pudding still work, but they’ve been contemporized.
7. Portability — Beyond the takeout cup or cone, the new portability includes edible containers.
8. Novelties — It’s a grim world, and novelties such as candies, ice cream pops, and crazy straws all have a place in cheering us up.
9. International and unusual flavors — Chocolate still reigns as the top flavor, but contrasting ingredients and international influences are stepping up.
10. Go seasonal and local — The trend toward “localvore” eating continues. Adding local fruits (or even vegetables — have you tried ice cream and beets?) gives a fresh sense to any dessert.

Top notch coffee
I confess I’m still new to enjoying coffee, but that makes me open and not set in my ways.
So I’m hearing about Sanani: The Original Mocha Coffee, a pure single-origin coffee that makers say is “so prized, that even the perceived imperfections are a desired characteristic. The irregular shape of these naturally organic beans, a result of inhospitable growing environment, produces one of the finest cups of coffee in the world.”
I couldn’t write copy like that. I want to savor those “perceived imperfections.”
This Yemeni coffee doesn’t have the aroma I’m used to. Sniffing the beans is my favorite part. But it does have its own, more subtle excitement. I’ve enjoyed it more each time I’ve brewed it. So now, I’m a fan like so many others. Sanani was in the Oscar nominee gift bags and appeared at President Obama’s pre-inauguration parties. Here’s more boast on the brew:
• Trade Mark: “The Most exclusive coffee in the world.”
• Promotional copy: “Once you have experienced this delightful coffee you will understand why it is by far the best coffee money can buy.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sun stuff keeps you safer; water bottle keeps you inspired
People used to think I was wearing white hose at the beach. That was just my pale, pale skin. I’ve been burned enough to respect sunscreen. While I can usually stretch a bottle out for years until it’s runny, I realized there are expiration dates on there and it was time to stock up. Coppertone’s product line has something for everyone, and I’m taking my afternoon walks with NutraShield with Dual Defense that says it will “naturally repair skin from past skin damage.”
Kids get Coppertone WaterBabies, which the company reports is the No . 1 recommended brand by pediatricians. There’s a new formula, WaterBabies Pure & Simple SPF 50, with Zinc Oxide, a physical blocker; it’s tear-free to avoid any pain if lotion gets in baby's eyes. Coppertone sport’s label says it is “very sweat resistant.”
I love the smell of these products. It makes one imagine oneself on the shore. Here are tips from the Coppertone Solar Research Center:
• Eat your greens. According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, eating a diet rich in dark green vegetables may actually help make your skin healthier.
• Watch for windows. The sun’s UVA rays (the type that penetrate deep into skin and contribute to premature skin aging) can pass through the glass windows in your car, your office, even your kitchen.
• Mind your medicine cabinet. Certain medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if anything you’re currently taking can make you more susceptible to sun exposure. If so, make sure to take extra care to protect your skin when outdoors.
•  Wear UVA/UVB-protective sunglasses. In addition to the effortlessly cool look that sunglasses give you, they also help protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them from UV rays, plus they may help reduce the risk of cataracts.
•  Stay hydrated. Drinking more water when you are spending time in the sun will help keep your body and skin hydrated.

Holy water
Blue Q Stainless Steel Water Bottles call themselves cute and quirky, and who wouldn’t like that description. The Nature Conservatory’s global clean water initiative must love it, because they’re getting support of a clean water initiative in developing countries when people buy these 20-ounce stainless steel beauties that come with art of birds and flowers. Perhaps you’d rather a monkey or whale. Me, I chose Mary and Jesus, sharing a cup from the bottle labeled “Holy Water: Tap into It. Redeems Parched Sinners.”
All my rowdy friends (I mean all my Catholic friends) enjoyed the fun, yet inspirational image. I can say a little prayer for everyone to have clean water every time I take a sip. I thank the makers for this new view.

Going green in purple
Lots of women will consider going green as long as it doesn’t impact their glamor factor. Chances are most people don’t even give some things a thought, such as how chemicals in their products rinse off and get into the water table. The earth and your body is absorbing lots of stuff, Afterglow Cosmetics charges.
I love the long list of what products are “free” of, including paraben, phthalate free, bismuth oxychloride, nano and stuff I don’t understand. I do understand that I feel really good about Swing lip color and Sublime eye powder in the kind of purple shades I can’t stop loving. I feel good about going green in purple.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jesus, olive oil go together in food lover’s imagination

I can’t help but think of Jesus when I dip the staff of life into a good, herbed olive oil. It’s the “good oil” nutritionists say we need and top chefs always talk about buying the best you an afford. I’d love to go to Europe and research it first hand.
In all the diets out there, it seems everyone agrees olive oil is good for you. I’ve just tried Biolea lemon and nerantzi (bitter orange) oils and Mylelia Olive Oil and found them to be a taste of heaven. Mylelia tosses a few whole olives in the bottle, like the worm in the tequila. The two Biolea citrus flavors add unexpected zest on breads and vegetables. If you’re already hooked on olive oil, you’ll love this. I keep finding folks who have yet to experiment. They ought to start with these addictive flavors. Demeter’s Pantry/Taste of Crete can hook you up.
“Women-owned” Demeter's Pantry is now represented by European Imports Ltd. and is the exclusive importer for leading Greek artisanal specialty food brands, such as Taste of Crete, Biolea and Anydros. Their products have won awards and been in the news. Biolea stone ground organic olive oil ranks in the top five "must haves" for Food & Wine Magazine. For details, visit or

A fillo loaded with good stuff?
I don’t know who Aunt Trudy is related to, but her 3 Bean Veggie Chili and Mexicali Vegetable fillo pocket sandwiches are just the ticket. Good Housekeeping uncovered the top "100 Healthiest Convenience Foods" and listed some of Aunt Trudy’s concoctions by The Fillo Factory. The dough is usually associated with rich stuff, so I love that these flaky meals are loaded with good stuff. I was surprised by how good they were out of the microwave.

General Mills munchies
New stuff from General Mills includes Fiber One chocolate mocha and Nature Valley dark chocolate and nut trail mix bars. I couldn’t even tell you which one I liked better. Crazy good.
Banana Nut Cheerios suitably impressed everyone who enjoyed the coloring, the glaze and the flavor on this cereal redux. I’ve never been a cereal-and-milk fan, but I’m loving these for dry snacking and sprinkled over smoothies for crunch.
Those on the Weight Watchers online community have been talking about new Fiber One Complete Pancake Mix. I’m liking it.

Walk into spring
It seems half the town knows — and loves — “Marlinda from Weight Watchers.” She hooked me up with Kristi Widmar, of WW public relations, who wants to remind readers that “research shows that 90 percent of people who keep weight off successfully include regular activity into their lives, like walking.”
Widmar sent info from trainer Jenny Hadfield, who suggests the following tips to start moving more:
• Go for the goal. Whether it’s to walk in a 5K, or simply set up a course in the neighborhood to walk with friends, set a tangible goal. Write that goal on paper and mark a date to reach it to stay accountable.
 • Evolution versus revolution. Evolve into a fitness routine; don’t give your body a reason to revolt. Start where you are instead of where you want to be to prevent injury or burn out.
• Switch to manual. Bypassing everyday conveniences can help a person move more. Take the stairs. Climb the escalator. Keep your car parked at a large strip mall and trek from store to store.
 • Get fit with friends and family. Gather a group of friends and set a time to walk or run each week. 
 • Fitness Checking Account. Think of the food you eat as money spent, and the activity burned as a deposit, similar to a checking account. 
Take the Momentum Walk-It Challenge. Through June 6, Weight Watchers members who join a walking team, create one, or sign-up for a selected 5K event will receive access to a free 8-week online interactive walking training guide, and may have the opportunity to train with a walking team in their area. To find out more go to Widmar tells readers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reduce your 'cookprint' and money worries
Maybe we all ought to get a copy of “Grace on the Go” with our income tax returns. Barbara Bartocci’s little book in the series is “Powerful Prayers to Ease Money Worries.” Who doesn’t need that these days?
I love that she appeals to the notion that a cluttered house makes cluttered thoughts. I’m the neat one. I’m alone on this.
Here’s a sample of the kind of quick, commonsense prayers in this book:

The Fulfillment Prayer
“Just enough” is a fearless place.
A trusting place.
The place where I pray to stop.
Save me from excess and clutter, Lord.
Give me the grace to feel complete
When I have “just enough.”

Reduce your cookprint
Author Kate Heyhoe brings those green produce bags to the store so she can avoid wasting the store’s bags and start her produce on the road to freshness before she checks out. She packs lunches in repurposed plastic contaners with cloth napkins and likes to stir fry to conserve power.
I’m happy I already practice some ideas in the book. There’s a lot to learn about the most efficient appliances. She even includes recipes such as Tea-Infused Eggplant Salad.
• Store bulk grains, sugar, etc. in glss jars or used plastic containers.
• If you buy peanut butter in bulk from the store, bring your own container.
• With the same pot of boiling water you can blanch vegetables for the week, boil pasta, mellow garlic cloves, etc.
• Use “passive cooking,” as in turning off the heat before the designated time and leat the reserve heat finish the job.
• Use ice packs to take up vacant freezer space so the motor won’t have to work so hard.
• Eat lower on the food chain.

Sniff, sniff
You can cry from the sentiment, or from the allergic reaction to fresh flowers. Pop Flower Shop has it under control with some creative artificials bound to make mothers smile on Mother’s Day. Some pop out of a bottle, there are DIY kits for the family and a bucket of swirly, flat, plastic poseys in a cheerful bucket on my desk. Visit for floral fun.

Smart saving
Do you really need all the sugary drinks in your shopping cart?
Wouldn’t a wedding dress your grandmother sewed be more treasured than an expensive showpiece?
Friends can have as much fun at a potluck backyard party as they would on an expensive night out.
Authors of “The Smartest Way to Save: Why You Can’t Hang on to Money and What to Do About it” just want you to think about things like that.
Samuel K. Freshman and Heidi E. Clingen have loads of tips, like these:
• Daily choices add up.
• Pay yourself first.
• Never take a risk or purchase an item you cannot afford.

Prom hair
Some things really do work as good as they do on TV. EZ Combs is stretchy beaded strands attached by two combs that with a tiny bit of tugging can give you a look that will take you from the market to prom. I love that it works on my thick hair. Ladies, if you don’t have this problem, you have no idea how lucky you are.
The silver one puts me in mind of a quinceanera tiara. Cute and fun. The suggested retail price is $9.99; look for EZ Combs at WalMart, CVS, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Visit for directions.