Sunday, November 25, 2012

Booster Buddies collects for a cause

Barbara and M.L. McMahon offer a drive-through donation station for those who like to clean up and thrift shop bargains for those who like to collect. “We Support PN-G and Nederland Booster Clubs,” reads the card for their shop at 3417 Nederland Avenue. I had a great chat with this couple. They say they have lots of family in the area and they support both teams.

Gala for TAM 40th
At $40 a couple with dinner and drinks, The Texas Artists Museum’s 40th anniversary gala is a hot ticket. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Museum, Cultural Center Drive.
This month’s show features fall foliage from Tex Norwood. He grows Plumeria in pinks and yellows and transforms them into bright, detailed canvases. You can buy this art on notecards, too.
TAM favorite Shirley McGraw Peel is also showing a range of her talents from fruit still life works to portraits. Call 983-4881 to get to the party.

The Rev. Roberts retires
The Brandenton Herald of Florida featured retirement news of the Rev. Don Roberts, who attended school with Janis Joplin and Jimmy Johnson. Roberts and his wife, Peggy, were honored at Goodwill’s 30th anniversary tribute luncheon there and they spoke about his serving as a Methodist Minister for 48 years and retiring after 30-plus years with Goodwill Manasota. He was the chief executive officer and president and Peggy, its president of housing. She’s retiring, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oyster hummus is one holiday temptation

Get cooking for the holidays with ideas from these books:

“Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun and Soul Food from New Orleans’s Famous Neighborhood of Jazz,” By Todd-Michael St. Pierre — Some folks still aren’t familiar with Treme, the New Orleans neighborhood bording North Rampart to North Claiborne and Orleans Avenue to St. Bernard Avenue. This is a beautiful book with photos and recipes that will put you in NOLA with some strong coffee, andouille, muffuletta, oysters and whatever else you crave. I love every page. Here’s a blend that goes with just about anything in the book:

Suck da Heads and Pinch da Tails Creole Spice
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons salt
Combine all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for an extended shelf life for up to 1 year.

The Blississippi (Frosty Mochas)
1 cup hot coffee
6 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup cold coffee
Combine hot coffee and chocolate syrup in a blender, and blend until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add the ice crem and the cold coffee. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and serve immediately.

“Duncan Hines Complete Cake Mix Magic: 300 Easy Desserts Good as Homemade,” by Jill Snider – Peachy Angel Dessert has you whip up an angel food cake and get layers of cream cheese, icing, whipping cream, peach schnapps and pie filling on top. What a stunning display in stemmed glasses. Devil’s food cake becomes chocolate banana muffins and white cake mix becomes cookies. Make pudding cream frosting by beating flavored instant pudding mix and milk, and folding in whipped cream. Go banana, vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, lemon or butterscotch.
Lemon Zucchini Cake
1 package lemon cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In large mixer bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, zucchini oil and water. Beat on low speed for one minute to blend, then on medium speed two minutes. Spread batter in prepared 13- by 9-inch pan, greased. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. For a variation, add dried cranberries or raisins to the batter.

“250 Best Beans, Lentils & Tofu Recipes,” a Robert Rose book of Healthy, Wholesome Foods – My mother was skeptical when I invited her for lentil stew. She left a believer. Cool weather is the season for a book like this of hearty fare, and I love that beans and lentils are so good for you and so inexpensive. Make them a staple in your pantry, because they look so beautiful in glass jars. Recipes in this book include Lentil Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios, Cheater’s Cassoulet, Not Too-Corny Turkey Chili with Sausage and Beer-Braised Chili. I love smoked oysters for the holidays, and I made a pate with them and cream cheese. The following version will be much more calorie-friendly:

Smoked Oyster Hummus
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large roasted red pepper
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 can smoked oysters, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted pepper, garlic and salt until smooth, stopping and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add oysters and pulse just to chop and combine, about 5 times. Season with pepper to taste. Serve with pita bread, pita toasts or crudités.

“Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds” by Denise Vivaldo is a Robert Rose title with more than 1,000 photos for guidance. I’m thinking young teens would love to get this hardback spiral as gift to inspire years of future hosting. Clamshell, Elf Boot and Luna Moth are in the advanced section. I think I can master a trifold, tray roll and rosebud in no time. Ample photos make it easy to adapt the offered ideas and to make them your own. Some holiday tips: add a flower or seasonal twig for extra flair. This book is a great way to get the whole family involved in entertaining family and friends.

Monday, November 12, 2012

County Home & Ranch can fill a stocking

If all those gardening pots haven’t attracted you from U.S. 69, pull over and visit County Home & Ranch in Nederland. Years ago a hardware store that smells like candles would have sounded odd, but it makes sense that you can buy items to repair and maintain the home you love as well as adorn it with garden art and décor. I saw a can of Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup like my daddy used to love, a canteen that could decorate a camp wall and some jeans and western shirts that would be best served on the dance floor over baling hay. It’s a natural mix of Texas country needs.

On the boardwalk in Anahuac

I’ll bet you’ve seen the signs on Interstate 10 for the turn to Anahuac Wildlife Refuge. Take the turn. I saw a hummingbird, frog, banana spider and other creatures on a boardwalk through cypress knees. A huge lake was a surprise at the end. Bring the family to the visitors center for a film where the seating is in a mock airboat. Learn a lot and visit the gift shop. For more information, call (409) 267-3337.

A bully book

An educator told Sheridan G. Doyle, Ph.D. that a book was in her. She wrote “There’s a Pint-Sized Bully in Our School” a long time before an illustrator came into the picture. I met Doyle, an educational consultant with ties to Humble and Vinton, La., this weekend and she told me an amazing story about her book, featuring Trussie, who needs some positive influence in her life to develop her assets. Doyle wanted a child to illustrate the book, and told how she was close a couple of times. In one instance her young artist was homeless, and cleaned up at a gas station before school each morning. This child’s family disappeared from the radar before the project was complete. Doyle then made contact with a woman who was so in tune with the project, she said she’d dreamed these pictures years before. To lean more, visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jackie Simien says “Boujour, Tee Belle”

Jackie Simien of local news anchor fame has written a book. I know her just a tiny bit from Press Club of Southeast Texas and I think she is lovely inside and out, so I’m excited that this Lake Charles, La., native has written her first children’s book, “Boujour, Tee Belle.” It’s a tribute to the culture and Simien’s mother, Annabelle Simien Amos.
She will sign copies from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 Ninth Ave. Follow Simien on Facebook on any of three pages under her name.

Here are some more books to indulge in on a cool, fall evening:

 “The Power of Focus”  The Ta-Da Formula stands for Think, Ask, Decide and Act. It’s one of a bunch of little peppy positive success tips from this revised 10th anniversary edition book by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt. It’s designed to help readers hit personal and financial targets with certainty.

“The Power and Grace Between Nasty or Nice” You can be too nice, there is power knowing how to act and life is an experiment, so trying new things is okay. Those are some take aways I got from this book by John C. Friel and Linda D. Olund Friel, who want readers to replace entitlement, narcissism and incivility with knowledge, caring and genuine self esteem.