Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plan ahead for Mother's Day

I think the best thing you can do for Mother’s Day is to write a letter telling her how much she is appreciated. It could cost as much as a stamp to you, and mean the world to her.
That having been said, several families like to throw in a gift, too. Here are some ideas:

It’s for Mutter, Meré, Mater and Mom
Red Envelope, the online site that brought me much-discussed Panda bamboo wooden sunglasses, offers a Languages of Mom sterling silver bracelet etched with Mom in 32 languages. The elliptically Möbius  strip is dainty and durable makes me think of what makes the world go round. Even in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas, All-American moms come in all kinds. I do not personally know any Urdu speakers, but I’m enjoying the symbol.  The Dutch of Nederland and Cajuns of Port Arthur will find their “moms.”  Tribute to others are found in German, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Catalan, Swedish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Czech, Hebrew, Greek, English, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Swahili, Hindi, Latin, Estonian, Polish, Dutch, Tibetan, Irish gaelic and Italian.
Creative dads and children can find this at Red Envelope.

Mother’s Day
The jars are iconic, with flat sides and the checkered lid. Bonne Maman means something fancy to me, with the totally must-save container, but I never thought much about where this sweet stuff came from. I just knew that the  sweet stuff within was found at fancy places and just a glimpse of one makes me feel pampered.
The 100 percent natural preserves are from French culinary tradition and for Mother’s Day, they’ve come out with a little book of recipes, such as orange pancakes and blueberry croissant. There are also ideas for saving the jars, such as corralling artists brushes and perching a poached egg atop a mini jar. I tried a fig preserve layered with yogurt and granola. I tried a variation of this every night for a week. Here are some ideas from makers:

Not-a-Morning Mom:  For the mom, who cherish an extra hour of sleep, make breakfast in bed. Turn any scone, toast, or waffle into something incredible with the preserves
Hostess Mom:  Mom likes to celebrate this day with all the other moms. While hosting a  brunch each guest parts with a jar as a gift
Luxurious Mom:  Mom can feel spoiled at any price with this elegant gift under $5
Chef Mom:  Impress the chefs of the family with some recipes using Bonne Maman visit for ideas
Homemade Mom:   This mom likes gifts best when they are homemade. Make a signature spice mixture or rub and give it in an empty Bonne Maman jar
Empty Nest Mom:  Make sure the house feels full of life using jars to decorate. The Bonne Maman jars warm up any space when filled with candles or fresh flowers
Soccer Mom:  Mom spends her days in the car so prepack her lunch or snack in a Bonne Maman jar with some plain yogurt, mom’s favorite preserve, and some granola
DIY Mom:  Help kids surprise mom with a clean and organized crafting station using jars to store lots of little odds and ends.  For inspiration, visit Bonne Maman on Pinterest!

Walking Halsa style
Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has brought attention to Korea’s exercise of walking backwards. Halsa Resistance Poles could help Americans take to the streets with sticks. Naturally, a walker stands out with these high-tech poles that offer up to 13 pounds of resistance, depending on how hard he or she presses down. The end of the sturdy poles retract into themselves. Just take them down the street or to the track. Around here this season, it appears one is skiing on paths of pollen instead of snow.  As soon as they arrived, I tried them in my driveway for just a few minutes and the next morning, I felt it in my arms. When I took them for a public spin, my husband grabbed one and I took the other and he reported feeling a good stretch the next day.  Multi-taskers will love that all the energy your arms just “wasted” before can now be used for toning muscles. Halsa calls it a high-tech upgrade to power walking, combining a cardio burn with a total upper body workout to tone triceps, biceps, chest and back while increasing calorie intake and fat burn.
These poles are very well made and clip together for easy storage. Moms, check these out for gift requests.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Easter to all

I saw Carlita Zummo in her Easter sweater at Taste of Gumbo, so I know that spring is in the air.
Pick some flowers, plant a garden and feed the seagulls on the sea wall. Most importantly, hug a friend this season to spread some joy.

Let the chefs cook
Would you let the Golden Triangle Chefs’ Association prepare you a Cajun catfish with Creole mustard dinner for $30? Maybe you’d pick the baked chicken breast with roasted cherry tomato white wine butter sauce.
And you get to enjoy it all with Port Arthur area friends and visitors by attending Southern Summer Night, now set for 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center. Classics Recovered and Jag will play this event to benefit Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and the Port Arthur Seafarers’ Center.
Paige Snyder of the chamber has release more menu temptations:
Spring Mix Salad with Blackberries, Feta, Sugar and Spice Pecans, Cucumbers, Red Onion and a Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes 
Lemon Pepper Rice 
Roasted Garlic Green Beans 
Chipotle Lime Corn and Carrots 
Assorted Cupcakes
Call Paige at 963-1107 to get your tickets.

Sorry, it wasn’t Amuny’s
I came into a sandwich and cut a half for my husband’s dinner. He said it was okay, but he didn’t like the tuna part. I told him I bet he didn’t because the wrapper said it was pulled pork. He pulled that part right out of the sandwich.
What made it worse, is that when he first saw it, he thought it was an Amuny’s sandwich. Boy, did I feel bad that he even for a moment thought he was getting a taste of one of Port Arthur’s most flavorful delicacies ever. It was a dirty sandwich trick and I’ll have to make it up to him.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Panhandle experience: Blizzards belong at Dairy Queen

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My daughter Jasmine moved all the way to the Panhandle, about 13 hours away from her Gulf Coast home.
She’d been there since August, and the first time I visited was to help her move to Kaufman, this side of Dallas. Much closer.
I’d never been to that part of Texas and on my way, I experienced something else new to me. She phoned us halfway through our journey up to warn us of an impending blizzard. It was the one that just crippled Amarillo.
We drove the final few miles at about 12 miles an hour. The next day we were snowed in. Dalhart is already very small, more than an hour away from a Walmart. Dalhart, the “snowed-in” edition, makes it smaller.
It was days before I got to the XIT Museum. It was fascinating.
The tumbleweed really got to us. Jasmine’s apartment manager said that some sturdy ones could really cause some car damage. The first ones were little tufts, but they made me scream. Then they got more common. The largest ones I saw were trapped in the corner of the apartment’s parking lot. I wondered if I could take some home, spray them gold and make some sort of Panhandle welcome wreath.
In Dalhart, there was a main grocery store. A woman referred me to the “big” Dollar General for wine. A department store featured Larry the Cable Guy skillet dinners. I took a photo of this for Facebook and some readers wanted to know how it turned out. Sorry folks, we didn’t buy it. We had to eat all the nacho cheese leftovers out of Jasmine’s refrigerator so she could clean it out for the move.
We crossed the border to Clayton, New Mexico to see the volcano, covered in snow. Then we had a quick walk around the town square, which was cold. There was a time zone crossing involved in this excursion.
Of course the Panhandle is flat. I’d heard that. Snow on the ground four days after the blizzard made it look even more level, but the oddity of cactus emerging from snow was beautiful.
One of the little towns had a small lodging called the “It’ll Do Motel.” Don’t know if I’ll ever need it. There are other parts of
Texas I need to explore.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Janis Joplin and fans "Super-Valid"

Janis Joplin called connection with her fans “super-valid” in a program displayed at America’s Music, a project celebrating American Popular Music, on display through March 24 at Museum of the Gulf Coast.
During a performance she and fans are all into each other, she said. I also saw a performance outfit that belonged to Isaac Payton Sweat of Cotton Eyed Joe fame. Great anecdotes about the Texas International Pop Festival are on the wall.

Mary L. Dauphine is ready to look younger and she’s on a health kick to drink more water, get to Zumba at the Recreation Center, keep up her energy for her work at Bob Hope school. Why is she telling me all this? She wanted to win a copy of the book “7 Years Younger,” and she did.
The editors of Good Housekeeping compiled this book that offers “The Revolutionary 7-Week Anti-Aging Plan.” Dauphine sound ahead of the game, because this well-organized book does tell us what we should already know. We should keep moving, eat right and keep a positive attitude. We need to hear that and actually do it. There are also many tips for the right kind of beauty products for our needs and great inspiration from women who have incorporated these simple practices and how much better they look and feel.
It’s also a cookbook, which I love. Here are some ideas for whole wheat pasta, which is the only kind I use now: creamy peas and ham, fall sausage and veggie; Italian tuna with capers; feta and tomato; spring shrimp and tofu lo mein.

What’s in your jar?
Andrea Jourdan has taken every variation of chocolate, fruit, cream and herbs and put them in a jar. I don’t know who had the countdown job, but she narrowed down her triumphs for “150 Best Desserts in a Jar.” Want to go in order, or skip around to:
Pineapple Rum Vanilla Baba, Nectarine Cream with Crunchy Meringue, Cantaloupe and Raspberry Splash, Rose Jelly and Lemon Cream?
I learned a lot of background from her notes and got ideas aplenty. All these little beauties come to your table in little Mason or other decorative jars to wow your guests. What? You didn’t invite anyone else to enjoy? Mar jars for you.
 Here’s just one:
Excerpted from 150 Best Desserts in a Jar by Andrea Jourdan © 2013 May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Balsamic-Spiked Strawberry Tartare
Four 8-ounce jars
4 cups hulled strawberries, cut in small cubes
3 tablespoons confectioner’s (icing) sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
Small pinch of fine sea salt
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
1. Place cubed strawberries in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with

confectioner’s sugar and toss gently. Add orange juice and mix gently. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Drain strawberries, discarding liquid, and return to bowl. Add orange zest, mint and salt and mix very gently. Transfer to jars, dividing equally. Serve immediately or cver and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
3. When you’re ready to serve, top each serving with 1  tablespoon balsamic vinegar.