Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interactive parties call for bold personalities, flavors

I’m a little shy. It’s true! But I was part of two interactive productions in one week. I knew I’d get picked on at Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Altos: Like the Sopranos, Only Lower.” I was dubbed Sally Somersault, a dancer who got out of the business. The audience truly becomes part of this show, so check your weapons, and wallflower ways, at the door. Remember to dress as your favorite gangster and save room for “just desserts” at the Courtyard Café. The production has two more weeks in Groves.
I “played” an Aztec medicine woman in a mystery game at a wonderful hostess’ party. With an amulet and basket of herbs, I shook my gourd for emphasis. Between breaks, guests headed for an elaborate fiesta designed to match the game’s Mexican theme.
Ironically, chips, the hit dish of the party, seemed to frustrate generious hostess K.G., who claimed it was so easy to make. She wanted everyone to try the food she’d spent hours preparing. Don’t worry, we got to it all.
It was the crazy kettle chips that drove everyone to distraction. It’s easy as this: spread kettle chips in a casserole dish, sprinkle on bleu cheese and brown sugar. Bake. Serve and watch guests go crazy.

Snickers salad
If you were good enough to save any Snickers from Halloween, try a snicker’s salad. The general directions are to mix cut up candy bars and apples with Cool Whip and cream cheese.
How could you go wrong?

Noodle time
I was flipping through a book thinking there were enough noodle dishes to eat every day for weeks, then I remembered, the book is called “Noodles Every Day.” Corinne Trang guides noodle lovers (there are many in my family) through egg, buckwheat, wheat, rice and cellophane noodle intricacies with mouth-watering recipes. I want some of everything. Here’s a very easy starter:

Japanese Kelp Stock
2 ounces dried kelp, wiped clean
5 quarts spring or filtered water
To make kombu dashi put the package of kelp in a large glass bowl and add the spring or filtered water. Let steep for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. The longer the kelp steeps in the water, the more concentrated the stock. Strain the stock and discard the solids.

Bio bags
I am the customer Belief Beyond Bags is appealing to on the label, “today’s environmentally conscious shopper.” Denver area women started the company, tenderly known as 3B, that makes, among other things, fine mesh nylon bags with drawstrings you take to the store for your produce. Use your bag and not the store’s plastic bag and help preserve the environment. Visit to see the line’s shopping bags, and these clever mesh bags that can even hold bulk bin buys like beans. Thank you, 3B ladies.
Fashion is still important to the earth conscience, and EnV Bags has an amazing line of fold-into-a-pouch recyclable bags with eye-popping designs. The Road to Hana series of City Shoppers is the latest, with flowers, ferns, dots and stripes. The Eifel Tower model looks as good as an overnight bag as it does toting apples home from the grocer. Americans apparently use and average of 800 bags a year, so this is one handy way to look good and keep the volume down. Go green with EnV.

Brew for the kids
Natural Brew is hand crafted and the pleasure of consuming goes way beyond old-fashioned brown bottles. Ginseng Cola could be my favorite for the bubble and snap but Outrageous Ginger Ale is a close tie. My daughter has tried her share of root beer and this company’s draft version is different from the typical carbonated can. It simply tastes more sweet and natural and I can’t help drinking it without imagining little boys playing with marbles and slingshots. They use good stuff like Panax (all-healing) ginsing and bourbon vanilla. The Vanilla Crème should be reserved for dessert so that nothing else will compete for your culinary attention.

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