Wednesday, July 7, 2010

‘Garlic is to health what fragrance is to a rose’

Chef Marie-Annick Courtier puts honey in chili and kidney beans in a Mexican mock lasagna. An orange salad and carrot and orange soup sound intriguing, but one thing is constant in her book “Garlic.” It is of course, a love of garlic.
“Garlic is to health what fragrance is to a rose,” is a French proverb in this thin book full of hearty ideas. A bit of garlic folklore helps explain why I love it sooooo much and she even has tips on growing and braiding garlic.
Garlic lovers:
Cilantro Pesto
1 clove garlic
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor, fitted with a metal chopping blade, with motor running, drop 1 clove garlic through feed tube to finely chop. Add 1 cup packed cilantro leaves, 1/4 cup each chopped walnuts and grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process 45 to 50 seconds or until smooth, scrape down sides of bowl. With motor running, slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil and process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate several hours.

Argentinean barbecue trend
Argentinean barbecue is the rage this summer. Don’t worry if you’ve only read about it in magazines. I haven’t been invited to one either. The “asado” style goes with chimichurri sauce, blended with chopped parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, paprika and olive oil, or a tomato and onion in vinegar sauce.
Wineries are the swing of the trend, and are offering pairings to mesh with these flavors. Catena Malbec, High Note Malbec and Tilia Malbec are among some amazing offerings I’m still researching, so stay tuned Culinary fans. This will get you started on any kind of party:
• Tilia Torrontes is named for the Linden, a tree from which the Argentine vineyard workers gather flowers for a relaxing after-work tea. Florals, ripe citrus and apricot are evident in this aperitif that also matches with light seafood dishes.
• Root: 1 sauvignon blanc of chile has a distinctive bottle with the image of a fine root “growing” into the lettering explaining the company’s mission, accomplished in a snappy summer-ripe version of “the original ungrafted.”
• Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec 2009 — How nice that some areas remember years in vintages, not hurricanes. This Mendoza Argentina red is featured in a brochure so beautiful I want to live in it. Los Cardos means “thistle” and the colorful, thorny flower is featured on the label with explanation that its presence signals a good terrain. I loved the black fruit and “cigar box” flavors from this screw-top so much I got truly annoyed that I “wasted” a few drops that spilled onto my blouse. Then I had another sip and became relaxed again.

Riddle me camu camu
What has 30 to 60 times more vitamin C than an orange? The Rainforest superfuit so nice they named it twice, camu camu. Navitas Naturals encourages consumers to “Eat Your Way to Health” with a range of powders, and this sweet and sour taste is something that I blended into a banana smoothie for a power breakfast. Beta-carotene, potassium and amino acids are part of the mix. This company has an amazing catalogue.
Spare Soles, aromatic baths, essentials make life sweeter

Oils just got better
I got a little emotional when my college-aged daughter came to me with a headache, and asked me to apply tea tree essential oils for relief, like I did when she was little.
Pungent herbal oils in little bottles calm me when I open the lid, and now Aura Cacia oils got even better, by launching the first-ever line of USDA-certified organic essential oils. Lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and tea tree are leaders in the line of 25. I’ve tried my beloved tea tree in this format, as well as the Ylang Ylang III.
Makers say they are involved in the process from ‘the crop to the drop,’ to assure no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or processing agents are used. I’ve put them in cleaning solutions, mister bottles of water, massage oils and bath salts and used them as air fresheners. Find blending ideas at

Spare Soles
I spotted “emergency shoes” in a gift shop, then I got to experience a couple of Spare Soles for myself. Stylish flip flops and ballet flats fold into handy wristlets so you can subtly ease out of “killer heels” and let your feet enjoy summer. How handy is that? The new bejeweled flip flops are billed as perfect for the beach, spa, or a day of shopping with durable thick soles for all day walking comfort and a waterproof, skid-resistant sole for pool side. Find their online catalogue and you can imagine how bridal parties could benefit from these products. They’d be awfully handy to keep under your desk at work.

Bubalina scents and soothes
Aside from appealing trademark art of lovely ladies in their bath, Bubalina is spa-quality scent that epitomizes luxury. They tout the organics of aloe vera, sunflower oil, coconut oil and more for stressed summer skin. Butters, lotions, gels, massage oils are part of the mix. I just sent myself down memory lane with an orange-vanilla body sugar scrub that offers the experience of a frozen orange treat on a stick. It’s no surprise that this watercolor Bubalina Girl is emerging from just such a refreshment. Indulge.

Other skin
Living in the heat of Southeast Texas, we hardly know about itchy sweaters, but there are plenty more reasons to go “Autrepeau.” These "other skin" undershirts, camisoles, and pant liners seem to be made of some mythical fairy tale silk. I’m enjoying a scoop tank that’s so light to the touch. I keep imagining how many I could fit in an airline carry on bag. I’ve heard Oprah say foundation garments can change your life. I’m figuring out she’s right. The company outlines these perks:
• Lightweight, whisper-thin, form-fitting fabric adds no bulk under clothing
• Serves as a clothing "liner" so you can dry clean and launder less
• Catches embarrassing perspiration
• Long in length, stays tucked in and hides the muffin top! Also, great for maternity
• Made in the USA

Blistering news in sunscreen
I’ve used more protective sunscreen this summer than I ever have in my life, thanks to new spray brands. I’ve come to realize I was lazy before, because applying a cream seemed tedious. Mission Skincare All-Sport Premium Sunscreen goes on clear, you don’t need to rub it, it dries fast and the bottle reads that the world’s greatest athletes have developed it. So, with antioxidants like acai, goji, pomegranate and cranberry, this sweatproof stuff is protecting me on my summer walks. I guess I qualify to be an athlete. I’m doing six-milers on weekends. I’d wager Mission’s other products, from refreshing foot therapy and fast-acting muscle rub to lip glosses are also of high quality.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spare Soles, aromatic baths, essentials make life sweeter

Oils just got better
I got a little emotional when my college-aged daughter came to me with a headache, and asked me to apply tea tree essential oils for relief, like I did when she was little.
Pungent herbal oils in little bottles calm me when I open the lid, and now Aura Cacia oils got even better, by launching the first-ever line of USDA-certified organic essential oils. Lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and tea tree are leaders in the line of 25. I’ve tried my beloved tea tree in this format, as well as the Ylang Ylang III.
Makers say they are involved in the process from ‘the crop to the drop,’ to assure no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or processing agents are used. I’ve put them in cleaning solutions, mister bottles of water, massage oils and bath salts and used them as air fresheners. Find blending ideas at

Spare Soles
I spotted “emergency shoes” in a gift shop, then I got to experience a couple of Spare Soles for myself. Stylish flip flops and ballet flats fold into handy wristlets so you can subtly ease out of “killer heels” and let your feet enjoy summer. How handy is that? The new bejeweled flip flops are billed as perfect for the beach, spa, or a day of shopping with durable thick soles for all day walking comfort and a waterproof, skid-resistant sole for pool side. Find their online catalogue and you can imagine how bridal parties could benefit from these products. They’d be awfully handy to keep under your desk at work.

Bubalina scents and soothes
Aside from appealing trademark art of lovely ladies in their bath, Bubalina is spa-quality scent that epitomizes luxury. They tout the organics of aloe vera, sunflower oil, coconut oil and more for stressed summer skin. Butters, lotions, gels, massage oils are part of the mix. I just sent myself down memory lane with an orange-vanilla body sugar scrub that offers the experience of a frozen orange treat on a stick. It’s no surprise that this watercolor Bubalina Girl is emerging from just such a refreshment. Indulge.

Other skin
Living in the heat of Southeast Texas, we hardly know about itchy sweaters, but there are plenty more reasons to go “Autrepeau.” These "other skin" undershirts, camisoles, and pant liners seem to be made of some mythical fairy tale silk. I’m enjoying a scoop tank that’s so light to the touch. I keep imagining how many I could fit in an airline carry on bag. I’ve heard Oprah say foundation garments can change your life. I’m figuring out she’s right. The company outlines these perks:
• Lightweight, whisper-thin, form-fitting fabric adds no bulk under clothing
• Serves as a clothing "liner" so you can dry clean and launder less
• Catches embarrassing perspiration
• Long in length, stays tucked in and hides the muffin top! Also, great for maternity
• Made in the USA

Blistering news in sunscreen
I’ve used more protective sunscreen this summer than I ever have in my life, thanks to new spray brands. I’ve come to realize I was lazy before, because applying a cream seemed tedious. Mission Skincare All-Sport Premium Sunscreen goes on clear, you don’t need to rub it, it dries fast and the bottle reads that the world’s greatest athletes have developed it. So, with antioxidants like acai, goji, pomegranate and cranberry, this sweatproof stuff is protecting me on my summer walks. I guess I qualify to be an athlete. I’m doing six-milers on weekends. I’d wager Mission’s other products, from refreshing foot therapy and fast-acting muscle rub to lip glosses are also of high quality.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Trapped in pants: We pulled it off
I became trapped in my own pants this weekend, saved by prayer, patience and help from my husband. I’d like to say, Perfect Fit Button, as seen on TV, really does work. The pin looks like a button and you can move it to tighten or loosen your pants, and save money.
Now I’d like to say, you must follow directions that sound comical: “For best results and for safety, it is recommended that you don’t wear the pants while removing the Perfect Fit Button.” I did not, and, while attempting the squeeze and pull detachment on pants that didn’t actually have a button hole, I began thinking how tough it would be to get it off in a hurry, if you had to use the bathroom. Panic attack ensued, but we eventually pulled it off, literally.
The button pins, that match brown, black, tan pants and jeans, actually serve as promised, even though I had a tough time removing the backs. Just use them like they’re meant to be used. I still say this product has a “leg up.”
My daughter and I wondered if HeelTastic works like it does on TV. I found it a rich blend of anti-bacterial oils, moisturizers and nutrients that make heels look better instantly. The best part is the easy stick application. It’s very handy to apply when you’re ready for sandals.
For information, visit

Sock concierge
I have shoes that cost less than a new pair of Smart Wool walking socks I purchased in Austin. A young man I call the sock concierge knew everything about each sock sold in his store, and I heeded his advice much to my walking pleasure. Now I’ve set my husband up with a pair of Italian pill-resistant dress socks from Foot coverings of all manner are available through the Swiss e-tailer with this recently-relaunched website. I would trade all the socks in his drawer for this new, luxurious pair.
As my sock concierge pointed out to me, socks purchased in a bundle from mass retailers give out in the elastic area quite soon. The when-shoes-eat-socks situation is what sent me sock shopping in the first place.

Diaper bags could be getting smaller, because manufacturers are so clever. I admired a keychain type device that holds dozens of plastic bags to help you dispose of dirty diapers with grace. Now Baby Magic offers Patty Cake, a dustless baby powder in a compact. A click-open holder for flat rounds of flat cotton pads is housed under a cake of soft, white powder to dab on baby’s bottom. Of course, it packs that amazing fresh baby smell, but the talc-free formula won’t make a mess. It must be magic after all.

Years ago I succumbed to almond and honey bath products and have been looking to recreate that heavenly aroma ever since. Tree Hut has blessed me with creation of body wash and shea body butter that make you smell like a no-calorie dessert. Experts and ashy-skinned consumers agree that Shea is the stuff for long-lasting moisturizing. Readers know I consider sugar scrub a gateway bath product, and this line puts shea in that as well as a hydrating body splash and lotion that could be your summer highlight. Go, get sweaty, and shower off with this stuff.

Henna Hipster
Catalogues arrive at my Aunt’s house daily offering goods I never knew existed, for things like underwear that stays put. That’s not how I found ISIS active wear for women, but I’m glad I did. The Henna Hipster is billed as Clothing for Women by Women and comes with a Goddess Guarantee, but I’m not giving these nylon/spandex wonders back. They’re “Chafe-free seamless” and come in with a swirly design on a sort of lovely jade green. Simply said, they stay put. The company makes bras, active wear and something that sounds as good as it looks online, the Scenic Route jacket. Sounds like a day trip or a bike ride to me. Visit to get henna hip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Giant limas run amok in columnist’s kitchen

I met my first Giant Peruvian Lima Bean on a salad bar at Whole Foods in Austin.
Salad was sold by weight, so I got just a few because they were compelling in size. I’d put one in my mouth at a time to savor the experience. I then found them in the bulk beans and bought less than $3 worth to make for my dad’s prerequisite lima bean and rice Father’s Day dinner. The big pot full fed us all for days.
Giant limas are big raw, and expand to about quarter size when cooked. My Googling revealed that these beans are named for Lima, capital of Peru, and are also called butter, curry, Madagascar, lab, Cape Pea or pole beans.
They were my best beans, ever, cooked with Cajun seasoning. So creamy, I’m planning to get my hands on more and whip them into a spread for bread or crackers. I haven’t yet looked for them in local stores.

Too hot for gumbo?
I’d just taken a walk along the seawall at high noon and felt baked, when I saw that Diana LaBorde in our advertising department had brought gumbo. Her samplings, no matter if she or her husband cooked it, is something to be relished. I couldn’t seem to wait for the microwave, so I enjoyed a chunk of chicken from my mug, and ended up eating the whole serving at room temperature. It was that good.
So you see, it’s never too hot for gumbo.

Even though SooFoo takes about an hour to cook, I still consider it fast food. Put it in the pot and tend to something else until it’s time for a healthy serving of delicious. Brown rice and lentils, wheat berries, oats, buckwheat and more make a solid meal for any time, according to creator Maurice Kanbar. I cooked a purple onion into mine for lunch, but he suggests adding cinnamon for a breakfast booster. He says SooFoo is Super Good Food and I agree. I loved the flavor, the health aspect and the colors and textures in my blend. I served it over home-grown bean sprouts to give crunch to the creamy feel.
Visit for more details.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WWDB: What would Dad barbecue?
If your Pops is usually behind the grilling apron, you may want to role play and fire up the grill, or the stove, for him on Father’s Day, which is this Sunday.
The folks who make Tabasco and Hunter Public Relations offer this hot tribute to dads on Father’s Day:
Spicy Barbecued Pork Loin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon original Tabasco® brand pepper sauce
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin, about 6-inches long
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Heat oil in small 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; add onion; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Tabasco sauce and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside 1/2 cup sauce.
Rub outside of pork roast with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in roasting pan; top with sauce mixture to cover completely. Cover pan tightly with foil and cook 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium. Place pork on grill; cook, covered 30 minutes, turning frequently, and brushing with reserved sauce until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.
Serves 8.
Serving Suggestion: Sautéed green beans and sliced red onion; toss with cooked, crumbled bacon.
Leftover Suggestion: Slice leftover pork; place on rye bread; top with deli sliced ham, sliced Swiss cheese, pickle slices, mustard and rye bread slice. Press in a pannini machine until sandwich is golden and cheese is melted.

My kind of roast
Even though it makes me sneeze, I keep flipping the sleek, black lids on the new McCormick Gourmet Collection roasted spices and whiffing Roasted Ground Ginger and Roasted Ground Cumin. Eggs, potatoes and onions have received their exotic flavorings in my kitchen. The company has also roasted cinnamon and coriander for our ease. Makers suggest:
• Add Distinct Depth: Give dimension to Southwestern, Indian, and Moroccan dishes with Roasted Ground Cumin – one of the featured spices in the McCormick® Flavor Forecast™ 2010. Enjoy its full, earthy notes in recipes like Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish.
• Enhance Sweetness: Similar to the taste of red-hot candies, roasting cinnamon brings out a pleasantly strong and sweet flavor in desserts like Banana, Cherry and Roasted Cinnamon Bread Pudding. Roasted Saigon Cinnamon is also a great addition to mole recipes, spice rubs and dishes that do not require cooking, such as fresh fruit and yogurt.
• Savor Warmth: Roasting ground ginger balances the spice’s sharp notes for a warmer, rounder flavor in recipes like Roasted Ginger Vegetable Stir-Fry. Highlighted in the on-trend flavor pairings in the McCormick® Flavor Forecast™ 2010, Roasted Ground Ginger is incredibly versatile, and brings a mellow sweet heat to barbecue sauces, chutneys and marinades.
• Awaken Aromatics: The spice’s light, lemony notes are deeply intensified in Roasted Ground Coriander. Great in Indian and Middle Eastern recipes, roasted coriander is a flavorful addition to dishes like Roasted Coriander, Chickpea and Lime Rice.
Visit for more information about McCormick Gourmet Collection, as well as more delicious usage ideas and recipes.

The tea is part of the cure
The tea lover gets a range of summer flavors and the medical community gets relief. Sip for the Cure helps Republic of Tea support the Susan G.Komen for the Cure’s breast cancer project. Awesome pink-lidded tins house trademark round tea bags filled with pink Lady Apple, Pink Lemonade, Pink Grapefruit,, Red Cherry White and Pomegranate Vanilla flavors that are delicate and refreshing. The aroma alone is uplifting, and the flowery labels look great on a shelf.
Call 1-877 GO KOMEN for details.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A fighting wine …
It’s an Aussie wine with a Mexican back story, and one of those collectible labels you just can’t resist.
Luchador Shiraz combines two words I already love to say, and now I love to sip this spunky, screw-top red. A masked wrestler stares out from the label of a wine that comes with an introduction, or warning:
“Sometime soon you may hear a loud pounding on your door, the roar of a crowd, then a snicker, and a smile. Best of all, you’re about to have your palate body-slammed.”
I got body slammed on my front lawn, with plastic flamingoes guarding me. Want to know more, visit

Sweet stuff
I’m hooked on air-popped corn, but someone gave me a box of the microwaved stuff and I couldn’t help augmenting. I added cayenne pepper and honey for a southwestern twist.

Frozen bananas
If you didn’t believe me this past summer, try it this time around. I keep frozen discs of banana slices in the freezer and it feels like little bites of ice cream. They’re a healthy treat for hot months.
Take a krill pill

I’ve been consuming the same thing as baleen whales, manta rays, but I’ll bet my skin looks better. I’ve been calling these sleek, black capsules my shrimp pills, but they’re actually made with krill oil, from a shrimp-like invertebrate crustaceans. GliSODin makers say krill oil is like fish oil, a “super food” of a beauty product.
The dietary supplement appears to giving my skin a boost with hydration and a glow with a “pigment which offers photo-protection and carotenoid benefits.” The Japanese, apparently, have been on to the krill for a while. Advanced Daily Formula by GliSODin Skin Nutrients is billed as a Nutricosmetic beauty food, and my skin seems to be eating it up.
Here’s word on more goodies for your skin’s beauty and health:

Sanitzing wand
If germophobe made a science fiction movie, she might include a fantasy item to eliminate and control dust mites, E. Coli, Rotavirus and bacteria. The CleanWave is real, and it’s way cool. The UUV-C Sanitizing Portable Wand for $29.95 is a mini version of the full sizer that you can tuck in your baggage to hit hotel beds, etc. At home you can wave it over toilet flush handles, phones, computer keybords and countertops. 4 AA batteries will enable the light to keep your area a better place for allergy sufferers to live. It’s modern and sounds like a miracle worker, but be aware there’s some time involved. A toilet seat gets two wand minutes, a faucet gets one and a light switch ought to be clean in 20 seconds.
Visit for details on this and the CleanWave UV-C Sanitizing Furniture & Bed Vac.

Let the sun shine in … but wear sunscreen
A relative who just had a skin cancer removed said “we didn’t know any better back then.” She recalled parents dressing little ones in sun suits and releasing them to go play in the sun. Now parents are aware that burns early in life can lead to health problems later.
It’s a good day at work if I need sunscreen. It should mean I’m headed to cover something outdoors and fun. Coppertone Sport now has replenishing antioxidants with improved formulas that “fortify the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses, which can be depleted during sun exposure, especially during physical activity.” In lotions and incredibly convenient clear continuous sprays, it comes with a range of spf, including “ultra sweatproof,” which I’d better start using on my walks. These go on well and smell like a day at the beach. Look for them in blue bottles.
Zinc is the word from Elemental Herbs. Makers of Sunscreen Sport say zinc oxide is” one of the only single sunscreen ingredients to protect against both UVA and UVB rays and it offers the broadest UV protective spectrum, plus, it’s natural.”
Caroline Duell, president and founder of Elemental Herbs, says “Chemical-free zinc sunscreen is a natural alternative to the harsh ingredients found in other sunscreens. Rather than converting UV energy into cancer causing free radicals, zinc oxide turns it into undisruptive heat. It’s safer for both children and adults and it doesn’t destroy coral reefs, which is a devastating global problem.”
I liked the texture, aroma and philosophy of this product. The SPF 22 tinted variety went on thick and pink and I rubbed it in and had a fabulous noon walk. I especially enjoyed a cool application of their All Good Lips balm with comphrey, calendula, lavender and yarrow. The company suggests: “For the best protection against the sun, use a sunscreen with 20-25 percent zinc oxide and be sure to re-apply every two hours.”

Fashion do
I’ve had some men tell me they enjoy my columns, but skip the “lady stuff.”
They can quit reading now.
I’m telling the women about MySkins, the most barely-there underpants in 20 different shades of flesh toned bras and panties. My “true nude” is parfait and you can get your match at The panties just end, with no bulky seams, and the color is to allow women to wear white pants, like the investigators do on “CSI Miami,” and look flawless. These are by no means granny panties, but grannies may like the way the look and feel.

Firm mamas
Women with or without infants should indulge with a new Tree Hut offering: Mother with Child Collection. Shae and vitamin E in a stretch mark firming lotion, smoothing belly butter and, my favorite, warming massage oil, smell amazing and skin seems to just drink it up. When I was in need of such belly butter, it was a novel concept and hard to find. Tee Hut is making it easy for moms-to-be and anyone else who’s gotten a bit stretchy.
Home of the slimmy chimmy-changa
I’m usually not a big fan of cutsie recipe titles, but I’m loving where Susan Irby, The Bikini Chef, is going with titles like No Pot Belly Here Chicken Potpie.
In “Substitute Yourself Skinny” she demonstrates simple substations aren’t scrimping in the flavor department. Ham it Down Breakfast Casserole uses extra egg whites, New You England Clam Chowder cuts fat with turkey bacon and Tune Up Tuna Salad pumps up flavor with curry powder and lemon juice.
Wait, one more: I’m Not Stuffed Tomato Salad uses high-flavor Parmesan and non-fat mayo. These pages offer 175 super-slimming recipes that the people of average households will enjoy. Some of the residents won’t even have to know they are more healthy than the previous versions.
“For my whole life I have strived to find a balance between staying slim and healthy and enjoying the fattening foods I love. People think that because I am The Bikini Chef being thin comes easy for me. It doesn’t,” the author says. “A few years ago I was stress eating and not exercising. I gained more weight than I ever have. So I made the commitment to get back on track. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t come quickly but I stayed with it and learned I could still eat my favorite foods but just make them ‘skinny.’”
Skinny Secret boxes include tips like pureeing potatoes for a less chunky, more creamy clam chowder. Here are her basic “skinny” pantry items to keep stock and replace high-calorie and high-fat options:
Canned diced tomatoes
Tomato paste
Dijon mustard
Fresh lemons and oranges
Lean turkey meat
Low-carb flour and whole-wheat tortillas
Unsweetened applesauce
Sugar Substitutes
Nonfat milk products

Crispy Mango
What’s better than a 100-calorie pack? Crispy Green uses science, or magic, to freeze dry sweet crisps of real fruit. This time they’ve done mango, at 4 calories a convenient pack. They suggest sprinkling this on yogurt, but once you open that bag, those mangos won’t take long to disappear with their 8 grams of carbs and is a fun and delicious way to add more fruit to your family’s diet. You’ll love the sweet crunch.

How to hemp
Our Canadian neighbors at Manitoba Harvest know how to handle hemp foods, and I believe their newest product has helped me to perfect the quest as well. New organic Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Hemp Protein Powders are rich smoothie additions.
Cold-processed raw whole food powders feature organic palm sugar with caramel and butterscotch flavor notes. Coconut palm sugar is a low glycemic index, high nutrition content and eco-friendly choice high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, and is also a good source vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.
The chocolate powder, a banana and ice blended a satisfying breakfast drink that fueled me through press releases and interviews. I like this taste better than any other hemp product I’ve tried, thought the company’s shelled hemp seeds are another favorite for their soft chewing sensation and delicate flavor. A coworker thinks these are the seeds that should top pretzels. “Best match ever,” he said when making a pretzel snack with hemp seed chaser.
Makers suggest tossing mint leaves in a chocolate blend and peaches in the vanilla mix. I’m there.

Just say ‘no’ to empty calories. Vega’s new Shake & Go Smoothies are billed as Smoothies on the Move, offering a quick way to get a daily dose of essential protein, fiber and greens. I’m keeping Choc-a-Lot in the pantry, but I’ve yet to try Bodacious Berry, Vanilla Almondilla and Tropical Tango, offering low-calorie smoothies with two servings of veggies, 11 grams of complete protein, Omega 3-6-9 and a day’s worth of probiotics. These kinds of health drinks used to be pretty yucky. I don’t consider this an acquired taste. I took to it right away. Vega is a blast.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get more nutritional bang for the grocery buck

Eating better, as in getting more nutritional bang for your grocery store buck is what “Cooking Light What to Eat” is all about. I think any one of any age can learn from this little book with eye-catching magazine-spread worthy photos designed to teach a lot in a glance. The book walks readers down every store aisle from bread to dairy, seafood to meat and snack to ready-to-go cook products with info on serving sizes and better choices. Look for answers to questions like these:
• Does peeling an apple negate the health benefits?
• What should I look for in a granola bar? Fiber? Sugar?
• When should I buy organic?
Here’s some answers I learned:
Fat-free balsamic vinaigrette and fat-free Italian are top healthy dressing choices, honey mustard is in the mid range and French, ranch and blue cheese are on the low rung of the nutritional ladder.
A few good oatmeal add ins:
• 1/2 slice crumbled bacon
• 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded cheese
• 1 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons diced apple
• 1 tablespoon chopped cashews
• 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
From the Believe it or Not boxes:
One cup of frozen spinach has four times more potassium than raw.

On the frontier of cinnamon
I currently have more cinnamon in my pantry than I have eaten in a lifetime. But I’m challenging myself to use, and enjoy, new shipments for Frontier Natural Products Cinnamon, some fair trade certified good stuff. Ceylon, “true cinnamon,” is so pungent I want to mix it with dusting powder and walk around smelling like a giant gingerbread woman. I’m also working from a big, foil pouch of the line’s premium Vietnamese blend that’s good and powerful. I know folks match cinnamon with Christmas months, but it’s got a summer-patio-grill bite going on, too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eat and look good
Figs, avocados, olive oil, crab and curry are a few ingredients Celia Westberry uses in “Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessley: The Easy Way to Slow Aging, Feel Great and Look Good.” The author has ties to Trinidad and tells how she lost her father when she was 5. She learned about diabetes and how health can related to what people put in their mouths. This is a simple book with great flavor, and I can’t imagine anyone who is advised to eat in a more healthy manner to feel anything but energized about her recipes. Here is a very easy one:

Parley Pesto
2 cups closely packed fresh parsley leaves
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, pecans or walnuts
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dash of hot sauce, water or chicken stock for smooth blending
Place parsley, garlic, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until pureed.
Add 2 tablespoons oil, nuts and cheeses and continue to puree.
Transfer to a glass jar.
Cover top with remaining olive oil. Refrigerated in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

My Rosemary secret
Rosemary does pretty well in my garden, but I’ve also liked the smell more than the little needles in my food. I ground rosemary into powder and it dissolved nicey into recipes.
Along comes Dry Spice: The Flavor Savor, a canister of drying agent that draws moisture from containers of spices. It’s like the kind one finds in medicine bottles. I can’t wait to grind my oregano, too. I’m sharing these with other spicy gardeners I know.

I’ll bet lumberjacks love it
So I’m listening to Monty Python while enjoying some Malbec on my front porch. I’m sure everyone does that, right? I happen to glance at the Redwood Creek Wines bottle at the same time their “Lumberjack” song said “Redwood.” What fun. As the sun set and the chiminea crackled with fragrant magnolia leaves, I sipped this 2009 Argentinean Malbec from Redwood Creek, now boating a portfolio of nine, “attractively priced and food-friendly wines.” I was friendly with the vintage, I served with served with pork-stuffed grape leaves, cherry tomatoes and dates.
The makers say Malbec is generally associated with the Mendoza region of Argentina, at the cusp of the Andes Mountains, an area reminiscent of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Makers traveled there to develop their California blend, offering flavors of black cherry, blueberry and dark blackberry fruit, with hints of brown spice and maple after notes.
Enter Blaze a Better Barbecue recipe contest by July 31 by visiting to submit an original grilling recipe using one of Redwood Creek’s nine, food-friendly wines as an ingredient. Barbecue authority Steven Raichlen, host of Primal Grill® on Public Television, shares some of his signature dishes on the website, including Grilled Clams with Sauvignon Blanc, Brats in a Chardonnay “Hot Tub” and Beef Ribs with Pinot Noir Barbecue Sauce.
Enter to win the ultimate grilling vacation – an all-expenses-paid trip to Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue University® in 2011 featuring Redwood Creek wine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Salt pipe a hit with allergy sufferer
If you have not heard me go on and on about the nasal bidet/netti pot, you just haven’t sneezed around me. After Dr. Oz showed the world, via Oprah, about this little teapot contraption used to drain salt water through your nostrils, I was among thousands who rushed out to get one. It took some time to learn the technique, but I’m hooked on natural, drug-free sinus relief.
Now I’m on the salt pipe, which I understand Doc Oz likes as well. Colored crystals of Himalayan salt go into this oddly-shaped device and the breather, that would be me, inhales the benefits from the minerals in through the mouth and out through the nose. It feels amazing, and my family is making fun of me only because they are jealous they don’t have their own Solay Wellness Inc. salt pipe. There’s nothing more to explain how good it feels in the lungs and nose, but I will tell you Solay has lines of Himalayan salts to eat, coffees, teas, chocolate, etc., and mineral bath and body products.
I’m hooked on the salt pipe and want others to follow me.

More on breathing
Redd Remedies cites the National Center for Health Statistics’ report that 84 percent of all colds in America occur among children under age 17, and are thought to be related to developing immune systems and exposure to other infected children while attending school or day care.
I know I’m loving the hand sanitizer about now.
Redd Remedies, natural dietary supplement and aromatherapy provider, has introduced Children’s Sinus Support and the Seasonal Sinus Support Aromatherapy Inhaler. I tried really tasty chewables designed to promote natural histamine response and healthy sinus cavities as well as supporting a healthy immune function.
I’m tickles and relieved from the inhaler, which is a milder form of me rubbing essential oil under my nostrils. The device looks like a tube of lip balm with an opening for the fragrant vapors to get out.

Paper, plastic or bamboo?
I’ve been green before it was hip. I prefer the term frugal over cheap. I find it difficult to throw away some things that are meant to be disposable. Core Bamboo's new disposable line of biodegradable, environmentally-friendly serve ware is forcing me to make decisions. Luxeware comes in three sizes of plates that put one in the mind of the tropics. Bamboo cutlery, even adorable, tiny sporks, look like fancy wooden products. The company calls it a “100 percent guilt-free, visually-appealing, and hassle-free option for the eco-conscious picnic and outdoor party set.”
I’m keeping fruit on my plates and using them as centerpieces. Look for it at major retailers, or visit

All pink, all fun
I’m guilty of flash forwarding when I spy a beautiful product. Twinkle Toes is a pink, glittery powder to sprinkle in “ballet slippers, dance bags and all over your body before slipping into your tu-tus,” Herban Renewal suggests. The pink stuff flies out of what looks like an over-sized Victorian salt shaker. The silver-topped shaker allowed the powder to flow so freely I made a little surprised sound. Then, as much as I’m enjoying the powder, I imagined filling that shaker with cayenne pepper and seasoning up all the air around me.
Urban Renewal’s kid and adult line includes Shoo Monster (anti-boogeyman) dusts and Fish’n and Hunt’n Lather. Fun stuff.

Bamboo and pine
It’s almost easy to imagine little German gnomes collect ingredients for Gehwol’s Fusskraft line. I get a “kick” out of their foot care products and am truly impressed with a bamboo scrub that’s soft and fragrant. Essential oils in a spray-on herbal lotion cool with the scent of rosemary, mountain pine and lavender. This one, which puts me in the mind of German forest tales, is a strong product that means business. I think these gnomes never get tired, because their feet are feeling so fit. I’m sure humans at the company love the product, too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grocery gardening fits the flavor bill, budget
Imagine the freshest rosemary for a black bean dish, sugar snaps for your pasta and goat cheese and fresh grapes for dessert. “Grocery Gardening” is just right for Southeast Texas. Jean Ann Van Krevelen never even met the three other contributors to this book in person, but they’ve created a picturesque, practical guide for getting the best bang for your garden buck. Make trellis, pot and window plantings and you’ll have something growing every season. The recipes here are easy and fresh. I already love the following. In fact, this blend finally made me realize I like cucumbers. Try the salad and try this book:

Asian Cucumbers
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, sliced lengthwise and then sliced crosswise in thin slices
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot, red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a skillet until golden brown
Toss the cucumbers with the sea salt and place in a colander in the skink. Place an ice-filled bag on the cucumbers to drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (The ice bag will weight the cucumbers to help their liquid drain.) Whisk the vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and hot pepper flakes until blended and the sugar is dissolved. Rise the cucumbers and pat them dry with paper towels Toss the cucumbers with the dressing. Top the sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Grape leaves
The above book got me onto grape leaves, which I found on vines taking over my mother’s back yard. I plucked some perfect ones and arranged them on a plate, like a charger. Then I plopped down a sort of black-eyed-pea “hummus” I made, and ground up additional leaves into that blend. I also wrapped pork bites in additional leaves.
My daughter says I’m addicted. I’ve learned how to blanch and store them, and I aim to grow my own vines at home.

The right pinch
Potatoes were my testing ground for new McCormick blends, but first let me clarify. I recently sent readers to learn more about the Perfect Pinch line by sending them to perfect.pinch, and the company ask that I make a correction, by sending readers to for the right address. Goodness knows what kind of pinching the other place could be discussing.
Cinnamon and coffee is my pick of intrigue in the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2010 grilling edition, but let it be known that spice folks have new ready-to-use blends on the market, including Lowry’s Szechuan Sweet & Sour BBQ and Tuscan Sun-Dried Tomato marinades and Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon and Mexican Fiesta Marinades, Applewood Rub and Smokehouse Maple Seasoning Blend. I couldn’t wait to fire up the grill and fried up some potatoes in olive oil and some of these blends for a flavorful dinner.

Do you have Paula Deen in a box?
We let her out for Mother’s Day, preparing Southern-Style Buttery Beer Bread, Homestyle Moist Yellow Cake Mix and Homestyle Sugar Cookie Mix. I ordinarily pass on sugar cookies, but the family seemed to concur these were the best ever. My mom voted the cookies as her favorite even before she tried the cake, but she also loved the cake’s texture and flavor. No one could have a problem with this beer bread. Designed to go quickly to the table, the Paula Deen line ranges from $.69 to $2.49, which makers say appeals to the increasingly cost-sensitive consumers today and still offers them a quality brand.
The roll outs also include Homestyle White and Chocolate Cake Mix; Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix; Blueberry, Corn and Raspberry Muffin Mix; and the spice grinders and shakers I shared with you earlier.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What a crock: Slow cookers do all the work

Slow cookers, as crock pots prefer to be called now, go beyond cheese dip, but it’s hard to resist the variety of dips that open “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook,” Phyllis Pellman Good’s revised and updated offering of 700 recipes.
You don’t have to get fancy to get supper on the table. If you can stock Velveeta, cream of mushroom soup and cans of beans, you are on your way to slow cooker heaven. Some cooks who share theirs recipes and tips say they keep a couple going for various stages of meals. They must host a lot of parties.
I thought Ham ‘n’ Cola would be an easy one to share. You rub a cooked ham with a mixture of brown sugar, dry mustard, prepared horseradish and cola-flavored soda , then cook for 2 to 10 hours.
A few pages down I found something even more easy, which can go with mashed potatoes and applesauce or cranberry sauce:
Chops and Kraut
1 pound bag fresh sauerkraut,
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
6 pork chops
1. Make 3 layers in well-greased cooker; kraut, onions and chops.
2. Cover. Cook on low 6 hours.

Deen is doin’ it
Ground cinnamon is the only ingredient in Paula Deen Collection spice bottle, and it smells remarkable. Why does it sound so clever that sea salt is featured in the Cajun seasoning? Louisiana is on the coast, and we are flavoring entrees fished out of the water. Her smiling face is also on the label for black pepper corn and sea salt grinders. Aromas from both are memorable. I know because I opened the lid to snatch crystal chunks of salt for the new salty and sweet trend. I was going for the sensation of crunchy salt atop a gourmet chocolate cupcake, but made do just as well by topping part of a doughnut I found in the break room.

Nori nirvana
I wonder if harvesting nori is as easy as collecting the algae that rolls in with the sea. I do feel abundantly healthy when enjoying a sheet of nor, made from the sea veggie, tucking a sushi roll together. I don’t know if I’ve eaten a whole lot of seaweed in my life, but I am feeling that Navitas Naturals has packaged the best raw nori sheets I’ve ever kept in my home. I could actually crave this stuff that packs an “umami” punch. Read the label to know it’s good for you, too. I also have Navitas Naturals wakame flakes to serve with rice.

Glazed over
Feeling trendy or healthy? Either way, there’s a fruit with your name on it. I’ve been telling readers about AgroLabs’ Naturally Pomegranate, a juice with amazing flavor and color that provides what makers call a healthy, flavorful and anti-oxidant-rich addition to any meal. I’ve made it an addition to mixed drinks and desserts. Bananas and ice cubes thank me.
One ounce of AgroLabs Naturally Pomegranate has the antioxidant equivalent of eating 15 whole pomegranates. Another version packs Resveratrol. This bottle keeps in the pantry and you don’t even have to peel the fruit. This recipe has something of everything I like: Something sweet, tart and hot:

Maple-Pomegranate Glaze
1/4 cup Naturally Pomegranate™
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Breathe it in
Aura Cacia has gone beyond Relaxing Lavender in its air freshening spritz line to offer Uplifting Bergamot & Orange, Refreshing Lime & Grapefruit and Comforting Spices & Clove. Made with 100 percent pure essential oils, these don’t smell artificial or give me a headache. Remember, they’re not to eat: keep them handy to make linen closet, car or sick room more palatable. This is a brand you’ll love, if you don’t already.
Going green, bags and bling

I recently told a clerk I’d let her keep the bag, meaning to recycle it for another customer. She took my purchase out, wadded up the bag and tossed it.
In the ‘70s, kids like me were learning to go green. I’d have thought a teen like here would be all into the amazing “green” bags out these days. I can’t get enough of them and I hope I’m reducing landfill accumulation while being so stylish.
I’m already a Bazura Bag supporter. The company has new styles that are helping the Women’s Cooperative of Manila get life back to normal after September’s Typhoon Ondoy. Crazy cool new styles of bags woven from pre-consumer waste include silvery foil evening bags and lipstick cases, bowler bags and messenger bags fashioned from colorful juice box and rice bag durable material. I love, love, love a rice-doy tote featuring some crazy goldfish and Fruit Chum juice labels. An inside pocket holds coupons and the sturdy bag will hold most all the groceries you’d want to deal with in one shopping trip (me, anyways). You’ll feel very international toting this line.
Earth Day is every day. Read more to find your bag, baby:

Bamboo, abounds
Bamboo takes over Southeast gardens. That’s a good thing for green people out to better the earth while looking fashionable. Mad by Design wholesale handbags is basement-to-big-deal business offering bags you wouldn’t believe are from bamboo. Visit to see what they also do with shells, animal friendly leather. Bamboo can look like that sofa pattern we all know, like a happy sunflower or like a fine wall of brown weave. I’m toting a round-handled number that reminds me, in all the best ways, of bags my mother’s trendy friends carried in the ‘70s. You can shop from their Facebook page. See for yourselves and love it.

b. happybags
If the name doesn’t get you, the patterns will. b. happybags are billed as bags for the planet. They’re simple cloth bags designed to get your groceries, wine, yoga goodies and dry cleaning from one place to the other and are made in the United States of domestic materials and they reduce plastic bag waste. I’m toting one blooming with big ‘70s-style flowers that remind me of my favorite bed sheets from my youth. Another flowery one looks like my sister would love it for her knitting. Fold up your soft bags in styles of stars and stripes, dots, paisley, etc. and be informed, be smart, be green, be responsible and be happy, makers ask. I think I will.

Sign of the times
I recently spent big chunks of time perusing various bags people tote to airports and I think a new Yak Pack TerraCycle Billboard Bag is a green winner. They’re like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates … you never know what you’re going to get. I can’t guess what my round-bottom bag once advertised, but there’s what looks like a moon on one side and the letters “ent” on a blue digital background on the flip side. I love that it appears to look cooler the more you use it, like favorite blue jeans, and that the “nearly indestructible material” offers resourceful totes, messenger bags, backpacks, laptop sleeves, MP3 cases and wallets.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enjoy RiverFest foods, then head for the veggies
Even if you indulge in this weekend’s Port Neches RiverFest goodies, you can still consider ways to get your greens, and reds and yellows.
Go veggies, says natural chef Patty James, author of “More Vegetables, Please! Easy Ways To Add More Veggies To Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”
She reminds that a vegetable-rich diet reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers as well as lowering pressure and the risk of eye and digestive problems. Try her tips to eat more veggies:
• In a bit of olive oil, sauté onions, peppers, zucchini and garlic for a few minutes and then add eggs or tofu and spinach leaves for a healthier scramble.
• Add a handful of leafy greens to your morning smoothie.
• Add shredded zucchini to your next muffin recipe.
• Add pureed pumpkin or other squash to pancake batter in lieu of some fat.
• On your next sandwich or wrap, add some grated carrots and zucchini, sprouts and lettuce.
• Add pureed peas to your next guacamole recipe.
• Steam the stems of the broccoli, puree and add to hummus to guacamole.
• Add grated carrots and slices of cooked butternut squash to your next grilled-cheese sandwich.
• Add minced red peppers, celery, red onion and shredded carrots to your next tuna salad recipe.
• Add some spinach leaves to your homemade hummus or place store-bought hummus in your blender and add spinach leaves yourself.

• Marinara sauce used for pasta or pizza is an easy way to add more veggies …shredded zucchini, finely chopped broccoli, chopped spinach leaves, red peppers, onions and garlic.
• Add peas, chopped broccoli, and grated carrots to your next macaroni and cheese recipe.
• A meat loaf is an easy way to add more veggies to your life. Finely chop and add red pepper, onions, celery, carrots and any other favorite veggie.

Sweet deal for ice cream lovers
An ice cream trip to Baskin-Robbins was a big deal in my youth. I still remember the 31 flavors school book covers. A 31 Cent Scoop Night will be from 5 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28, at all Baskin-Robbins locations nationwide. The business will make a $100,000 donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The Baskin-Robbins at 4030 Dowlen Road in Beaumont has invited Beaumont Fire & Rescue to collect donations for the State of Texas Fire Fighter Memorial. The firefighters will be scooping. All donors giving more than $5 to the firefighter tip jar will receive a free music download card while they last. Look for new flavors such as Carmel Praline Cheesecake and Cotton Candy. Look for a new store with drive through scoops at 775 South 11th Street in Beaumont near Gateway Shopping Center.

Get grilling
Don’t you feel ahead of the curve when Culinary Thrill Seeking reports McCormick Flavor Forecasts? This time, they’ve gone grilling and predict these trends:
• Fired Up Fruit - Grilled fruits are being skewered alongside meats, pureed to make tenderizing marinades, and chopped for salsas and relishes.
• Ethnic Sizzle - Nearly every cuisine around the globe claims a place on the grill – especially current favorites like Caribbean, Latin, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.
• Cilantro & Lime – Cutting across the diverse cuisines, this bright and zingy pair is a refreshing taste of summertime.
TRY IT: Tequila-Lime Skirt Steak with Avocado Chopped Salad
• Rosemary & Fig – Figs are an unexpected and regionally inspired match for aromatic rosemary.
TRY IT: Tuscan Grilled Lamb Chops with Warm White Beans Provençal
• Chipotle & Maple – This culinary comingling delivers an updated take on smoky, spicy and sweet.
TRY IT: Grilled Chipotle-Maple Salmon with Wilted Spinach
• Brown Sugar & Bourbon – A versatile duo that brings a delicious dose of Southern charm to the patio.
TRY IT: Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Cornbread and Peaches
• Cinnamon & Coffee – Bold and confident – with just the right edge of bitterness.
TRY IT: Cinnamon Mocha Ice Cream Sandwiches with Grilled Strawberries
• Red Chili Sauce & Mango –The unmistakable flavor of mango takes hot or sweet red chili sauce far beyond mere “condiment status.”
TRY IT: Thai Grilled Flatbread with Mango & Sweet Chili Sauce

Monday, April 26, 2010

That’ll wake you up
There’s a reason I put Tabasco in my smoothie. I love a recipe I saw years ago for a yogurt-poppyseed fruit salad dressing with a drop or two of Tabasco. I didn’t think it a stretch to add ginger and a few drops to my banana blender breakfast. It was a bit much, but tolerable. If you want to play with that, an after-dinner patio drink may work better.

Perfect Pinch
Many of you Culinary Thrill Seeking readers told me you were finding internet meal inspiration long before I got into it. All y’all, go to for a spin at McCormick’s latest concept, a personalized dinner plan to fit your mood. Categories range from Little Bit of Kick and Watch the Salt to Good for Guests and Surprise Me. The menu math calls for Lemon & Pepper Seasoning with fish, Salt Free Savory All Purpose seasoning with pork chops and Salad Supreme for a grilled chicken dish. I’ve enjoyed those three seasonings on a variety of grilled onions, omelet and salad.

Cereal stuff
Nothing against them, but I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve had Cheerios. A handful of the new Chocolate Cheerios, made with real cocoa, changed the course of my cereal path. I found them a great healthy dry snacking option with a sweet crunch.
The new Wheaties Fuel boxes make an impression on store shelves. Black and orange boxes with the artistic face of baseball champ Albert Pujols staring at passersby give a sleek, masculine feel. Sweet whole wheat flakes and crisp rice with real honey and cinnamon is the new breakfast of champions. Count me in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sounds Good: New stuff energizes, glamorizes

First it sprays on you; it might grown on you. BaBoom! Energy Spray provides the boost, without the calories. If you like energy drinks, look for this at 7-Eleven. Spray one to five times and get as much as you want without having to buy a big can of energy drinks. Generex Biotechnology has a clever idea. One of my tasters likened the flavor to orange-flavored baby medicine. Others made a “face” at the taste, but I have to say, the second time was a charm, and I finished my work on time. It’s designed so that the energy solution is quickly absorbed through the inner lining of the mouth, so the consumer achieves the desired "boost" at a faster rate. It should last you through the summer.

Why frown?
“Frownies” asks wearers to “Feel the magic” of polypeptides and phenols in a concentrated micro-emulsion to maintain pH. The anti-wrinkle therapy label reads that it works immediately to relive the signs of stress, and who doesn’t have that. I enjoy squeezing what looks like liquid mud out of the tube and watching it sink into my skin. Why, just the motions of that could reduce stress. Tell me next time you see me if it’s working.

Mineral concept
I’m on board with the mineral makeup boom, but surprised to hear what Christopher Drummond Beauty has to say about it. The former model and makeup artist’s line goes all-natural, vegan and organic because he says most mineral makeup contains potentially toxic ingredients titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride and zink oxide, that could irritate skin. He reminds us that skin is our largest organ. I’ve read rave reviews and have a few of my own regarding the smoothness and colors. Eye and lip colors feel light and rich at the same time and some even sparkle.

Herban Renewal
From Twinkle Toes natural, pink, glittery powder to sprinkle into dance shoes and Shoo! Monster anti-boogeyman dust to herbal soaps, salts, etc., Herban Renewal is making folks feel fresh and contributing to disabled and homeless in its Abilene home area. I’m sharing goodies from the Livi.LuLu “tween” line of skin nourishment. A clear bag suitable for a birthday gift includes Fab & Fruity fun with sparkling lotion, shower gel, lip balm and some lavender polish I covet. There’s even flip flops, stickers and spiky balls in there. The tag says WOW and I agree. Big girls like goodies, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I was the Hot Mama during ‘Zombieland’

I thought a bloody-red cocktail would be the perfect refreshment for viewing a “Zombieland,” as I am not the Twinkie fan level to the character Woody Harrelson plays in the movie.
I was pleasantly on fire after mixing a Hot Mama from Sobieski vodka. I had followed the recipe with much less modification than usual. Well, I did substitute wasabi powder for cilantro I didn’t have. On my second sip, I remembered the reason for the fire in my belly. I followed instructions to rim the glass with pepper. I had cayenne powder in the corners of my mouth.
Here’s the Hot Mama instructions:
Sobieski Vodka
Tomato juice
Fresh lemon juice
Fresh ginger and cilantro
Soy sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Muddle cilantro and ginger. Add remaining ingredients, shake with ice and strain into martini glass rimmed with pepper and chili.
Visit for specs on the reasonably priced Sobieski Cytron Polish vodka, or the regular and vanilla versions. Here are some other sporting blends:
Sobieski Safety
1 ounce Sobieski Vodka
1/2 ounce Sour Apple Schnapps
Serve in a shot glass.

Time Out Shot
1 ounce Sobieski Vodka
1/2 once chilled beef bouillon
Dash Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt & pepper, celery salt, soy sauce
Shake with ice and pour into a shot glass.

Going barefoot
What’s up with sandals? I went to a party and the hostess had a thing for flip flop decor. I suggested she pose her mannequin feet sticking out from under a long curtain, like some partygoer was stationed behind them. I understand her love for the casual attitude, and suggest going even more barefoot. A $7 bottle of Barefoot Moscato is the sweet stuff of spring with ripe pear and lemon flavors that can go with a meal or, makers say, fruit salad and cake.
This white gave my favorite meal plan a punch. I served it with a tray of “whatever I have picnic” on the coffee table, which this time included tortilla with herbed olive oil, dates and cherry tomatoes. I was, of course, barefoot.

21 new beers
Del Papa Distributing Company of Beaumont has announced it is adding 21 beer brands. The company has acquired distribution rights for the brands from Duff and Neches Valley Distributing Companies. Look for:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Big Bear Stout
Pete's Brown Ale
Hop Rod Rye
Racer 5 IPA
Red Rocket
XP Pale Ale

Cave Creek Brewing Co.
Chili Beer

Flensburger Brewering Co.

Indian Wells Brewing Co.
Lobotomy Bock
Amnesia IPA

Dixie Brewing Co.
Blackened Voodoo

Carslow Brewing Co.
O’Hara’s Irish Red
O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Southern Star Brewing Co.
Bombshell Blonde
Pine Belt Ale
Buried Hatchet

Cerveceria Costa Rica
For more information on Del Papa Distributing, visit or call 1.800.770.6046.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Presidential fare cookbook offers a taste of the past

Ralph Burch of Port Arthur loaned me a 1917 copy of “Presidential Cookbook: Adapted from the White House Cook Book” that crumbled a little with every page turned. The reader had made some pencil notes, now faded, and marked pages with Jell-O recipes dated much later than the book.
Aside from canning and stewing information, there are etiquette tips on how to hold one’s glass and how many berries to take. Here’s a recipe that surprised me:
Fried cucumbers
Pare them and cut lengthwise in very thick slices; wipe them dry with a cloth; sprinkle with salt and pepper, dredge with flour, and fry in lard and butter, a tablespoon of each, mixed. Brown both sides and serve warm.

Fish fun
Gorton’s has a new resealable bag for beer batter fish fillets. I added to what the label calls “Crispy Pub Taste” with a dousing of malt vinegar. But my favorite news is of the newest product, which you may have sampled during Lent: Lemon Peppercorn Tilapia, which makers offers with some Weight Watcher-approved recipes. Get on their website for ideas. Gorton’s is working with cookbook author Aviva Goldfarb, founder of the “Six O’Clock Scramble,” who has a new cookbook coming out this spring. I’ve also recently enjoyed what was a seemingly-decadent breakfast of fish nachos, with Gorton’s Grilled Tilapia with roasted garlic butter. It was actually what Weight Watchers fans call “point friendly.”
Grilled Shrimp with Tropical Fruit Salsa
8 points per serving
2 servings
16-19 Gorton’s Scampi Grilled Shrimp
1/2 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 cup mango, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled & diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cups brown rice, prepared
Prepare Gorton’s Scampi Grilled Shrimp according to package instructions.
Combine pineapple, mango, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro, lime juice salt and pepper, place on top of rice with cooked shrimp and serve immediately.

On the border of too good
My fish nacho breakfast was also inspired by another shelf newbie, On the Border Monterey Jack, Asadero and Smooth Blanco cheese dip in a jar, that is not over-the-top calorie wise when you enjoy it in the proper serving size. I served that Gorton’s fish over shredded cabbage and On the Border’s chips, salsa and new dip to rave reviews.

Spicy inspiration
There’s one fewer excuse for people who claim they can’t or don’t have time to cook. McCormick Recipe Inspirations packets feature six pre-measured, no-waste spices and herbs with a perforated, plastic-coated recipe card on the back you can file. How does garlic lime chicken fajitas, rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes or quesadilla casserole sound? These cards, which make great gifts, take just a little bit of prep and cook time, and come with the trusted flavor of McCormick products.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The lobster/chocolate breakfast
My friend Claire’s birthday had my family enjoying remnants of a 6-pound Papadeaux lobster and Lir Irish chocolates for breakfast. She wasn’t even there, but we toasted her.
It’s always a long story with Claire. I fast-foward to the part where she’s generous with the leftovers, so they don’t tempt her later. We ate large on our spring break but to our credit, we walked or tried The Bar exercise routine daily.
And I was looking fierce, with a spa-day facial massage, make up application and sassy hairdo by Beth, Michelle and Daphne, the Ladies of Beau Visage in Nederland. They did amazing things to me and I looked great for the fair, a seder meal and Le Grand Bal.
Readers, you may not have missed me, because I left columns to run during my week off. I missed you, so here’s more on what I did:
Panda has a new raspberry licorice with all natural ingredients, like carrot juice, that is so superior to what we are used to. It’s how they like it in Finland. The regular flavor looks a bit like road material, but is soft and subtle molasses flavor.

Treated my feet
Gehwol has been the stuff for feet since 1882, when the Westphalia family couldn’t have imagined the sexy foot wear women would be wearing in 2010. Eucalyptus, rosemary, mint, wheat, lavender and avocado are some of the “real” goods in the various creams and remedies in this line. Active ingredients such as camphor, ginger and oat extract and menthol are in there, too. The foot salve for cracked skin feels amazing and the hand cream simply feels different, somehow better, when it goes on. I have seen two people recently with heels so cracked they seemed a different color and I read a novel of a girl in a snowy clime whose mother rubbed her hands daily to prevent bleeding. I’d love to hand these folks a tube. The company has a bamboo and sugar scrub that sounds transforming. Hand cream with tapioca starch, of all things, reads Gerlan on the label.

Decorated myself
Orna Lalo’s face is partially obscured by a cucumber eye mask in her PR shot, but her beauty is seen in Lalo Treasures, flora and fauna inspired jewelry that has never made resin look so good. The very breath of spring is molded, by Bulgarian family women, into coral blooms, statement rings and hair décor that looks as though something flittery has just landed on your locks. I love her version of bangles that resemble India’s glass bangles. Mine come in orange and magenta dot and floral patterns that also put me in the mind of ‘70s pop art my sister sported.

Read up
• I turned directly to the art department of “College in a Nutskull,” a funny spiral filled with Professor Anders Henriksson’s findings of what students have actually turned in on essays and exams. Funny, funny stuff for teachers and others. Here’s the artistic answers:
Fresco was a popular snack food supplied by the church.
Degas specialized in belly dancers.
Too Loose Latreck could be found at work in cafes and brassieres throughout Paris.
Diego Rivera lived with Frito the Mexican Lady

• Blaine Loomer describes work personalities you may deal with using terms such as The Rooster, who sits on the fence and crows about himself and The Point Shaver. You always owe him one. I don’t want to say the name of the book here. I’ll call it “Corporate BS,” though Loomer spells out, and sorts out, the BS. I agree that there are a lot of negative people out in workplaces who can make everyone miserable. I’m sticking with the suggestion of having a positive attitude and hoping it rubs off on others.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lift your cup and glass to support Haiti, Chile
The earth has moved in Haiti and Chile and it’s possible that we, a world away, can support a return to prosperity through drinking coffee and wine.
Oscar attendees always seem to rally around a political cause, and I toasted my own while viewing the awards by helping support a product of Chile.
While there’s concern over the country’s future fruit crops after the Earthquake, Root: 1 has done the work for this batch of wine already. Makers say Carmenere is known as Chile’s signature varietal, producing a deep colored, full-bodied wine that offers the charm of Merlot and the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was charmed by the story of this “lost” grape of Bordeaux, rediscovered in Chile in 1994 and doing just fine, thank you, in Chile’s long, dry growing season.
 Viña Ventisquero, in partnership with Click Wine Group, bring us Root: 1, cultivated on original, ungrafted roots, at about $12.99 a bottle. Collectors will love the bottle marked with a grape vine and long root, trailing through wording. Pair it with grilled meats, pastas and spicy entrees. At my party, it got Best-Wine award as I enjoyed it with steak bites and cherry tomatoes.

Haitian coffee “all about the bean”
Coffee and chocolate from Irving Farm Coffee Co. in Millerton, N.Y. are flavorful products, without question. The company has been working to do some good in Haiti long before recent tragedies. As part of the Haitian Relief Effort, Irving Farm Coffee Company will donate 100 percent of the profit from their new Reserve Select Haitian Highland Pic Macaya coffee to Konbit Sante, a Maine-based volunteer partnership working to save lives and improve healthcare in Haiti. 
The blend is a limited supply "in season" coffee grown by small landowners in the Pic Macaya National Forest, one of only two national forests in Haiti. Taste it for hints of almond, chocolate and ripe fruit. Visit

In support of Ireland
Bushmills Irish Whiskey is too good to color green. I’m not, however, above blending it into a chocolate, banana smoothie. It’s to get my fruit servings in. Think St. Patrick would approve?

In support of the cook
Redwood Creek Wine costs about $8 a bottle, and I dare you to get all wine snobbish about that. So called grilling guru Steven Raichlen has some ideas I’ve tried, though I almost hate to “waste” a nice wine by cooking with it. I know people do, so I tried this, and can say, it’s good stuff:
Grilled Skirt Steak with Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
3 cups Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade)
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Make the sauce.  In a heavy saucepan, bring the wine, stock, and shallots to a boil over high heat.  Boil until reduced to 1 cup.  Whisk in the butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  The sauce should be highly seasoned.  Keep the sauce warm.  
Rub the steaks on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
Grill the steaks for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or to taste.  Transfer to a platter or plates.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.  Serves 4.
Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Sauvignon Blanc (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
1 bunch rosemary (branches should be stiff)
1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground or cracked black peppercorns
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Redwood Creek Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine in a spray bottle
Grill shield or sheet of aluminum foil folded in thirds like a business letter.
Strip the leaves off the bottom half to two-thirds of the rosemary sprigs and finely chop. You’ll need about 1/4 cup.    
Skewer the shrimp on the rosemary skewers (or use classic bamboo skewers) so that it passes through both the head and tail of each shrimp. Align the shrimp so all face the same way — this looks more professional.  Place the shrimp in a baking dish.
Lightly brush each shrimp kebab on each side with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes (if using), chopped garlic and chopped rosemary.  Let marinate in the refrigerator while you set up your grill and preheat to high.  Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the kebabs on the grill and grill until the shrimp is handsomely browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Spray the shrimp with wine as they grill (Set the nozzle so the wine comes out in a mist). If the exposed parts of the rosemary start to burn, slide the grill shield or foil under them.   
Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Get rid of kitchen clutter by Easter
I organized my mom’s spice cabinet on the very day I read Barbara Tako’s dismay at finding five 5-spice jars in her own rack. In “Clutter Clearing Choices,” she explains how she came to alphabetize her seasonings after thinking that was just nuts, and how it helped her a lot.
At Mom’s, I found a few bottles marked Shwegmann’s, her favorite grocery store to visit when my sister lived in Baton Rouge, more than a decade ago. She was surprised to find extra dill and celery powder, and happily shared with me. I took a bunch of jars with tiny bits of green stuff and morphed them into a new mix I labeled Italian. I’m willing to make a sauce with this, because it was free to me, but I know Mom and Tako are right … fresher spices make a better meal.
Tako takes on other rooms in this book, and I already subscribe to her thoughts that items should flow through our lives, instead of park there and rot. One of her anecdotes is about a woman with beautiful, dusty candles sitting out. The friend won’t burn them because she’s afraid of starting a fire, but dusty candles aren’t attractive. They need to get out of her life.

Give him a foot . . .
Mel Bartholomew is my fantasy neighbor. In “All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook” he tells you how to get the most from a tiny space, offers both gourmet and “classic” recipes from your yield and even has games and lessons for the children. Fresh Pepper Lentil Salad, Zucchini Parmesan Pancakes and Asian Cucumber Salad are some temptations. Here’s another:

Sweet Peanut Carrot Spread
_ cup crunch peanut butter
1 to 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 large or 3 small carrots, shredded or grated
2 tablespoons raisins
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Use the mixture to fill sandwiches or spread it on crackers. Makes enough for four sandwiches.

Deliver a switch
Although this pizza box doesn’t have cheese and sausage inside, it is by no means empty. Makers of World Famous Chocolate Pizza from suggest watching Dad’s face when he opens a gift of a “pizza” of Belgian milk chocolate blended with puffed crispies to make an extra large 14-inch sweet and crunchy “crust.” White chocolate drizzles make the “cheese,” and toppings include yummies in shapes of mushrooms, pepperoni and pepperoni. The supreme comes with complete with chocolate mugs of beer and remote control. Now that spells “Dad.”
Can I get some of these for April Fool’s Day? Who doesn’t like fun you can eat?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh nuts … foodie crosses over to the healthy side

I may have crossed over.
I could be one of those health food nuts. In fact, nuts … maybe almonds … sound good about now. I’m also craving some brown rice with … how about a hemp oil dressing?
Processed, salty boxes of just-add water foods are not tempting to me now that I’m making sure to get my vegetables and whole grains in. I work a little olive oil into my daily diet, but this week I’m trying Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil in everything.
I baked it into chocolate bread and folks seemed to enjoy the “grassy, nutty” flavor. I’ve also drizzled it on popcorn, couscous and fruit salad. My bottle is emptying fast. I’ll have to contact Canada for more. Hemp Pro Fiber powder comes in regular, dark chocolate and vanilla flavors that when blended, with a banana if possible, keep me really full until lunch.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils has improved packaging on the omega-rich oil with a no-drip spout. Makers suggest it on salad dressings, soups, sauces, juices and smoothies: You can substitute hemp oil for other oils in recipes that are not heated above 350 degrees, or drizzle it on cooked food. Hemp oil comes with a list of benefits so long that I’ll advise you to look it up yourself, so I can have space for this recipe:
Hempini Dressing
(Makes: 1 1/2 cups; Prep Time: 5 min.)

1/2 cup Hemp Seed Butter
1/2 Cup Hemp Oil
1/4 Cup Tamari
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Combine Hemp Oil and Hemp Seed Butter in a bowl. Stir until creamy and smooth. Add tamari and maple syrup. Mix well. Will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days in a sealed container.  This is a high protein dressing that is ideal for salads, rice or veggies.

Still snacking like astronauts
Co-workers ate all the new Frutzio varieties of freeze dried fruits in peach and apricot. At just 40 calories a serving, I suggest these as croutons for a fruit salad. You’ve got the crunch with 0 grams of fat.

La Linda
The year 2008 brought us Hurricane Ike. For Bodega Luigi Bosca, Argentina's leading family-owned premium wine producer, it produced Finca La Landa Malbec, a $10.99 bottle of wine that can lead you into the Easter/Passover season. It’s my favorite time of year to have a glass of red, but I’ve already consumed most of this bottle.
The makers have just shipped new vintage releases from its Finca La Linda portfolio with new take-note packaging. The 2008 La Linda Malbec, 2008 La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 La Linda Viognier and 2009 La Linda Chardonnay represent the initial introductions, with more to come.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick, are you ready for raw?
Looking for green food this St. Patrick’s Day? You can get much greener than the way some people are choosing to eat. I learned so much from meeting area raw foods enthusiasts. They all said that they gained a lot of energy from eating real food over processed junk. That sentiment is echoed by people in a new book.
“Raw food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day” by Erica Palmcratz and Irmela Lilja is filled with beautiful pictures of food and people. They aren’t all young model-quality beautiful. They’re real people of all ages who eat this stuff up. They make vegetable lasagna, and marinated salads look amazing, and who could go hungry with soaked buckwheat and fruit snacks and smoothies. I think people have forgotten what real food is and these authors are ready to make us healthy with wakame burritos, stuffed peppers and parsley tabbouleh.
I’m ready for summer where I could enjoy one of these recipes a day in the back yard.
Raw foodist heat food only up to about 104 degrees to make the most of nutritional value. They prepare — not cook — foods via soaking, grinding and sprouting. I’m starting with the following recipes, providing my lemongrass bush didn’t freeze.

Avocado Lemongrass Dip
A guacamole variation, good as a side dish, but equally yummy as a dip for carrots, cucumber slices and celery sticks.
1 avocado
1 lemongrass stalk
1/4 red chili pepper
Pinch of chili flakes
2 apricots, soaked
1 or 2 tablespoons of the soaking water from the apricots
1 teaspoon tamari
Put all ingredients in a food processor. Start by adding a little bit of the chili pepper if you don’t want too much spice.
Remove any remaining large pieces that have not mixed in well.

Sweet Breakfast Porridge
1 banana, chopped into large pieces
1 apple, chopped into large pieces
1 pear, chopped in to large pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
First put the pear into the blender, then add the banana and then the apple. Blending the fruit in this order prevents the mixture from getting too sticky.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and flaxseed over the mixture.

Raspberry Coconut smoothie
1/4 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 banana
1 cup apple juice
Fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon coconut flakes
Blend the raspberries, banana and apple juice in the blender.
Garnish with mint leaves and coconut flakes.

Green reverse
I’m thinking of my grandmother’s day as a young homemaker. After a quest to collect crystal-like glasses from deterrent boxes, could she have imagined an era where people would spend money for a cup that only looks disposable?
Copco makes a clear, reusable To Go Cup that holds your cold drinks and helps keep an average of 312 cups a person out of the landfills, makers say. I say this 24-ouncer has been my smoothie savior, because the straw has stirring paddles on the bottom and the non-slip grip feels so good with its BPA-free self. Look for it at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores for $7.99. 

Asian popcorn
I started my Oscar party the night before the ceremony, just to play popcorn. Black Sesame Mustard Popcorn is a perfectly good recipe from The Popcorn Board, but I was out of mustard powder, so I used wasabi powder instead. I used less butter than called for, and got flavor from the dark sesame oil, kosher salt and black sesame seeds. Results are attractive, and the photo shows some black-seeded popcorn in fancy glasses, as though they’re set out for a party. I just held my biggest mixing bowl in my lap and gobbled it all up.

Wine Wand
Glass jewels sound like their summoning fairies as they slide in the glass Philip Stein Wine Wand, a tool to aerate fine red wine in 2 to 3 minutes, saving the connoisseur hours of waiting. Just set the wand in the poured glass and let it do its stuff. The wand, a beauty even denuded from its leather case, replicates natural frequencies of air and oxygen, infusing them into the wine, which, makers remind, is “alive.” It sounds crazy, but I could tell the difference between the taste of a glass that had been wanded and one that had not. Another bit of wonder: the test glasses should be several feet apart on non-conductive surfaces (not glass or metal). I’ll bet you didn’t realize your wine was so reactive.
The wine wand is a perfect gift for your favorite onephile.

Perky Jerky
Everyone who got a taste of my Perky Jerky loved the flavor, the texture and just saying the name of it. It’s flavorful and juicy and so tender it didn’t even hurt my teeth. Billed as the world's first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack, the extra dose of energy comes from guarana’s caffeine for a “jerky experience you won’t find anywhere else.” I suppose it will keep you alert in the deer blind.
Development behind this fine product is told in the story, “Two Jerks in a Ski Lodge.” To shorten it, they spilled their energy drink on their peppered beef jerky and found it pretty good. We agree.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I prefer the term ‘frugal’ over ‘cheap’

My dinnertime topics often include a bit of a boast about how inexpensively I made such wonderful fare. But I’ve never written a whole cookbook about it.
Erin Chase dishes up kid-pleasing fare in “The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook” with 200 tempting recipes. They’re not all pasta, rice and lentils, but she does a great job with those basics, as well.
Barbecue lentils, blueberry wild rice and green pepper soup may be adventurous in your book, but cranberry pork chops, sloppy chicken joes and beef tacos sound like something the kids would try. I love her ideas and will probably make her whole wheat pizza dough often. I’ll pass on making my own hot dog buns, but hey, it’s there for you.
Chase lived abroad, where there was only one toothpaste brand to choose from. Now back in America, she found her food budget shrinking as she began to buy more and more from her vast selections. Now couponing and healthy choices for her family has her back on track, and she wants to help readers budget their money and calories as well.
Here’s a Lenten idea: Make a shrimp marinade for about 40 cents with two crushed garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper.
She calculates her pizza sauce can be made for 84 cents:
Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a small saucepan or skillet, whisk the tomato sauce with the spices and olive oil. Simmer for 2 to 8 minutes. Makes 2 cups.

Ginger Salmon Marinade (estimated cost, 35 cents)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
In a small bottle or plastic container, shake the soy sauce, ground ginger, oil and salt and pepper. Pour over four salmon fillets. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before grilling.

Link to your drink
We’re handed Sharpies with cups and my friend’s house, so no one loses their drinks. Drinkmarx customizable beverage markers take it up a notch with plastic collars you can snap on to cups, bottles and cans. Stickers spell out my name on a pink link and stickers with chocolate cake, the Eiffel Tower and a glass of wine symbolize things Darragh might like. I’m thinking creating your “marx” is part of the party fun. Hey wait, that Sharpie could come in handy by creating your own artistic designs on this cool tool. It’s fun, and prevents the spread of germs.

Beemster sounds like a European car, but it’s an awesome Dutch cheese, which could help the good people of Nederland celebrate the Nederland Heritage Festival. I find the original so compelling it’s like a cheese candy. I’ve now enjoyed BeemsterLite Matured, which uses only grade-A milk from cows that have grazed freely on lush, pesiticide-free grasses of the Dutch Beemster Polder in North Holland.
People, the food pyramid says we’re supposed to have dairy daily, so we ought to enjoy it as much as we can. A serving of this is like a dessert that you’ll look forward to all day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cook this, have fun, get full
Eating great food is a priority for me. If I can make it more healthy and save money doing it, that’s icing on the cake, so to speak. It’s an exciting mission to me, but those who thought it would be boring need only pick up “Cook This, Not That!”
Authors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding have sassy commentary and eye-popping photos comparing dollars and calories saved recreating versions of popular restaurant foods. Try one restaurant’s baby back ribs for 3,021 calories, or make Dr. Pepper Ribs for 400 calories on your plate. Cornmeal catfish, teriyaki scallops, butternut ravioli, loaded pizza and turkey meat loaf mimic what you could get out. This is a good guy cookbook, it’s easy to read and it could just be the motivation you need to be good to your gut.
Here’s some quickie goodies from just two pages of this useful book:
• Mix a can of tuna with chopped pickles, minced onion, and equal parts Dijon and olive oil mayo. Stuff into a whole wheat pita.
• Mix together a bit of mayo with grated horseradish. Spread on toasted rye or wheat bread, then top with roast beef, sharp Cheddar, sliced cucumbers, pickled onions and arugula.
• Slice an avocado and remove the pit. Fill the round cavities with canned tuna and a squeeze of lemon, plus salt and pepper. Eat with Triscuits.
• Mix equal parts of cooked brown rice and drained canned black beans. Top with leftover chicken or steak (or deli turkey), salsa and guacamole. Eat with a small stack of tortilla chips.

Do you know Hungry Girl?
This real lady has a cool avitar kind of character that appears on healthy stuff. If you’re not familiar, get to know her, because Hungry Girl can point you in good directions, like toward Mann Packing Co. clean and cut-up packaged products. She’s on packages of cut up sweet potato, courage musquee (butternut squash) and other natural goodies you see right in front of you in the produce section, but may not be trying.
Snacks on the Go come in a party pack with the best celery I’ve ever tasted. That sounds funny, but it’s true.
Sweet potato slices tumbled out of a bag ready to be baked in olive oil. I actually blackened some (on purpose). Sprinkled with cinnamon, baked sweet potato spears also made a fabulous breakfast, paired with my famous special sauce of ketchup and Taco Bell packets, seasoned with chipotle dust.
Nothing could be easier than mixing olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard into their slaw mix, unless it would be putting the mix directly on a sandwich. Try something new.

“Quick & Easy Tips to Lose Weight”
Drink water, make juice, ditch stress and eat real food, Georgia Salgado Chavez asks readers in this slim little book. You may have heard it all before, but have you listened? The author keeps things short and simple, like this:
Simple recipes:
Smoothie: Orange, pineapple, coconut
Milkshake: 1 cup of milk, 1 banana, 1 spoon of honey
Juice: Carrots, parsley, cucumber, celery, beets and grapes
Fruit water: 1 cup of water, 1 spoon of raw sugar (honey) 1 slice of melon
Tea: Sage
Meals: Fish, steam it with some spices; lemon adds great taste to fish.
Seafood combo: add chopped tomato, cilantro, serrano pepper, onion (don’t add salt). Add lemon juice, mix it, and eat it with crackers.

Hippie Chips
You’ve gotta just love saying “Hippie Chips.” The baked potato chips come in fun flavors like White Room Cheddar, Woodstock Ranch and Memphis Blues BBQ. I’m hooked on the goods and groovy labels from Rock-n-Roll Gourmet, launched by a rocker couple. I think you’ll love eating and saying Hippie Chips, too.
“Don’t Worry, Be Hippie!” and “Peace, Love and Gluten Free” is how the all-natural snack is billed.
Rock & Pop Jalapeno Korn and Kettle Korn bags feature a suited keyboardist in a fedora and a rocker girl guitarist in black. This line puts me in an ‘80s feel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Aromatherapy is real

If you don’t believe me, watch me spray it into the newsroom. People raise their heads and perk up. One reporter gets visibly relaxed. Aura Cacia, a favorite brand of mine, suggests a bottle or two of its latest offerings is an economical bargain, considering it gives you a spa feeling at home. The popular Lavender Harvest line has opened the door for peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree.
Multitasking Harvest Collection scents come in aromatherapy mineral bath; bath, body and massage oil; and mist for room and body.
Peppermint Harvest promises “refreshing” and lavender, a favorite of my next-desk neighbor Mary Meaux, promotes “calming.” I love that my daughter got a whiff of “purifying” Tea Tree Harvest and it gave her memories of my pampering her through childhood aches. Eucalyptus has an “awakening” label.
I don’t worry that I don’t have a bathtub. I can use that packet of bath grains for a grainy rub down and foot soak. Wouldn’t that have been nice after my sprint down Procter Street to catch up with the News Mardi Gras float?
These goods are free of synthetic fragrances, colors or preservatives.
In other smelly-good news: Vermont Soap Organics has made my happy list again with a new collection of certified organic and USDA approved moisturizing shower gels in Sweet Orange, Country Lavender and Sweetgrass Shea. Besides the aroma and feel, I love the extra-large pump head ideal for folks who shower without benefit of their glasses or contacts. They’re proud that it’s a “shake first” product, because it helps keep everything natural. It leaves the entire bathroom smelling like a spa.
CleanWell wants to promote that it’s free of controversial triclosan, a known endocrine disrupter and synthetic chemical that mimics or blocks hormones. Well, I’d never heard of them, but I’m glad to know this stuff does more than kill germs and smell amazing. Look for the sprays at Target in original kid-safe and the invigorating new orange vanilla that leaves hands soft. It really does clean well.

Hairs to lookin’ good
I’m a sucker for fancy bottles, but even more of a fan of stuff that works. HerCut comes in slightly more sexy versions of some hair coloring squeeze bottles that my chemistry teacher’s wife saved for our lab chemicals. What memories.
I’m squeezing out shampoo and conditioner for The Shag. The line is designed for special needs of styles from the blunt, bob and pixie to long layers. The science of the shag formula comes from patent-pending Ionic Polymer Technology that creates separation and weight dispersion through negatively charged macromolecules that repel each other and create controlled separation. Whew. I actually do feel a positive difference in my hair, especially with the HerCut catalyst.
It also notes women with a shag (curls really, in my case) are rebels who rock, roll and never fall flat. Yep, that’s me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Creative eaters unite!

Don’t say June Lay is on a diet. Just try her book for inspiration, recipes and motivation. “It’s Not a Diet, It’s Creative Eating!”
Trust me, Lay can make healthy eating an adventure, and that’s just how I think about it already. Her salad-a-day section includes enough variation to make me want every one, including Tuna Avacado, Lobster Mango, Heart of Palm Red and:
Shrimp and Bean Salad
1/2 cup diagonally sliced green beans
6 large shrimp, cooked and peeled, chilled
1/2 cups cubed seeded cucumber
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 tablespoon thinly choped fresh basil
1/3 teaspoon vinegar to taste
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
Dash of fresh black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 cup gourmet mixed salad greens
Steam the beans, covered, until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Combine beans, shrimp, tomatoes and cucumber with all spices/herbs/condiments. Place shrimp, beans, etc., on a plate on top of salad greens and add dressing. Enjoy and of course, add your own variation. This recipe can be made with lobster meat instead of shrimp, which is lower in cholesterol despite rumor to the contrary.

Turning to wine and chocolate
There doesn’t seem to by any way for a wine and chocolate pairing to meet with anything but blissfull success, yet Turning Leaf Winemaker’s, Nicole Hitchcock has sweet ideas for matchy-matchy fullfillment. I loved the rich red and dark chocolate combination so much I could hardly speak. While experts may not consider white chocolate a true chocolate, please consider it fine with this wine: Turning Leaf Chardonnay is a true find.
Get your glasses and friends and try these suggestions from the company:
Dark Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
• The richest of all the reds, this wine boasts notes of vanilla and brown that perfectly complement the bitterness in darker chocolates.
Milk Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Merlot
• The fruitier character in this Merlot brings out the natural, bright flavors in classic milk chocolate.
White Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Chardonnay
• A twist on the common red wine and chocolate pairing, the acidity level in drier whites, such as Chardonnay, cuts through the sweetness of white chocolate making for a more balanced bite.

Whee! Tea!
I didn’t realize hibiscus is the new superflower, but I do love to pluck them off bushes and stick them in my hair.
Republic of Tea is blooming with five new versions of caffeine-free herbal bouquets of premium African hibiscus, which makers call a “Superflower that brews a rich, full-bodied cup and features remarkable health benefits,” and is said to lower blood pressure. It makes a beautiful ruby red tea with layers of cranberry/citrus and gentle hints of rhubarb and raspberry. I’m enjoying the pineapple lychee variety as I write this. Lovely canisters also hold a natural, unflavored pure hibiscus, anther with blueberry, a vinilla apple and … get ready … a hibiscus key lime.
If you missed the baby tiger at Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, check out the adorable one on the tin of Year of the Tiger Tea, a limited edition chocolate orange rooibos Republic of Tea offering. The oranges are a traditional Chinese symbol of wealth, and you may feel pretty rich enjoying this filling blend. For every tin sold, the company will contribute $1 to Room to Read (, a group that benefits children of the developing world.

Persian Superfood
Pomegranates whole are sexy. Luscious, tempting red fruits are even a table decor. The powdered stuff may seem less glamorous, but it sure is practical. Navitas Naturals has released a version that’s designed for pinking and perking up your smoothes, yogurt and desserts with potassium, polyphenols and iron. I’m mixing it into tap water and will soon experiment with a more potent liquid to see if I can get a pomegranate cocktail mixing. I blended some powder with banana and froze it in a bowl for a fabulous evening treat. A table spoon of fancy coffe creamer topped it off.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taste of the Triangle draws food lovers to sample specialties

BEAUMONT — Taste of the Triangle has moved to Ford Park in Beaumont, and the venue is still packed with food lovers lined up for what area restaurants are dishing out. Fans of gumbo, bread pudding and wine were in luck. There was abundant flow of each of these.
As for our Mid-County contributions, Sanderson’s delivered chicken Pontchartrain as promised and Geo Burrito made countless mini versions of their giant wraps and Stingray employees asked “pecan or raisin” as they moved hundreds through their line.
The Sabine Area Restaurant Association raises scholarship funds at this event and this year, honored the Young Men’s Business League.
The Grill won best restaurant with Goodfellows second runner-up and best decorated and Moncla’s first runner-up.
Savor of Ford Park won best associate with Lamar Institute of Technology as second runner up.
The next chance to feast like that:
The Rotary Club of Port Arthur will present the 23rd annual Taste of Gumbo, Etc. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, along Texas 73.
Restaurants and other groups will provided tastes of their specialties. There will be a silent auction. Tickets will be $8.

Poor, healthy potato
Mourn the poor potato, forced to carry all that extra fat, dietitian Susan Burke March tells readers.
“Oh, the poor potato — never did any harm, just sitting there, waiting to be eaten for its delicious flavor, in its own lovely bare skin, without all that added fat,” she laments in “Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally.”
I hear her. I used to think a baked potato was my healthy option, without realizing I was piling on several servings of cheese, sour cream and butter. Now I pretty much enjoy the flavor of the actual potato, like she does, by splitting baked potatoes, brushing them with olive oil and broiling them until toasty.
Fitness and diet charts help readers track their progress as they read through this thick book and learn about portion control and alternative food picks and healthy habits. The author used to weigh a whole lot more than she does now, and takes a bit of offense when folks give her the old “You don’t have to worry, you’re naturally thin” bit. She wants everyone to know fitness is a commitment you have to work at, and it can be a fun and healthy deal for you and your loved ones.

Open It
Statistics are, you have someone in your life who could use Open It!, if not now, then soon. My mother was thrilled to try out a set of three red tools that have all you need to open tricky medicine bottles. OPENRX1 is bulbous, for pushing and turning, and has a slide-out magnifier for reading labels. OPENRXFT slides over push and turn bottles and has a blade for opening foil packets. OPENRXST is like a thick band for squeeze and turn lids. I was amazed by them all and she called them invaluable. Look for them at CVS or at