Sunday, October 25, 2015

'My Fat Dad' offers tasty memories, life lessons

‘My Fat Dad’ offers tasty memories, life lessons
Dawn Lerman grew up in my time frame, but in Chicago and New York, where her fat dad could visit Dr. Atkins and have him phone in dad’s lunch order at his club.
He was a successful ad exec making slogans we all know, such as  “Fly the Friendly Skies,” “Coke is It,” and “Leggo My Eggo.” He went up to 450 pounds and loved food. Her mother was happy to eat a can of tuna over the sink.
Lerman learned to cook from her grandmother, Beauty, who put love in every recipe. The book “My Fat Dad’ would have been great just hearing about Beauty, with recipes at the end of each chapter. But then readers get to head to New York city, where her new lunch buddies pull things like lobster salad out of their Partridge Family lunch boxes. Our young hero is exposed to gourmet and health food, while still hanging on to the Jewish recipes of her youth.
So Mom still likes frozen TV dinners while Lerman still likes shopping for the freshest ingredients for her carob cookie business. She loves to experiment with flavors and does not have the weight problem Dad has. He loses half his weight at a “ricer” fat farm, then struggles upon his return home.
This food journey book yields a delight on every page as we grow up with Dawn, and try some of her flavors, like the Italian Sunday Gravy story and recipe she got from a homeless angel.
I can’t stop talking about “My Fat Dad.”

‘Leading Ladies,’ The Farce is with them
Who doesn’t love a good door-slamming, mistaken identity, men-in-dresses kind of theatrical production.
Sean McBride, your favorite Port Arthur News movie critic, is directing “Leading Ladies” for Beaumont Community Players.
Saturday, Oct. 31 is the final showing if this funny show where two English actors pretend to be long-lost nieces to inherit a fortune. There’s a Shakespeare play-within-a-play and romantic get-togethers and breakups as well. You’re in for a good time. Roller skating Audrey, played by Kaasaundra Davis, just about steals the show, but every one of the cast has his or her or his-and-her moments.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tabasco peppers offer a kiss of spice

         I’m such a Tabasco fan that I’ve been to Avery Island in Louisiana three times. It looks different every time I go, and I love it. It’s where they bottle the stuff that’s been to the moon.
         Remember when everybody was sporting Tabasco ties? Now there’s a fancy souvenir shop with goodies to serve your sauce in style and adorn your kitchen. The product line is over the top with sports editions and flavors including the latest, raspberry chipotle. They had to pry me away from the tasting station.        
         The best part is the factory tour where you get mini bottles as souvenirs, get to see a film that takes you through the process of checking peppers for ripeness with the red stick, or baton rouge, method and a look at the bottling and labeling.
         My family drove through the island’s Jungle Gardens, making stops at bamboo, Buddha aviary and botanical scenes. We spotted a baby gator in a mossy swamp and spied birds from a walking trail.
         I was sorely tempted to pick a pepper from one of the bushes lining the walkways near the plant entrance. They were covered with chicken wire to protect them from birds (and tourists), so I felt that would be wrong. Then someone pointed out some tiny peppers had fallen to the ground, and it would be a shame if they were wasted. So I ate one.
         My husband saw my put that fresh, red, potent pepper in my mouth and I immediately asked if I could kiss him. For some reason he was surprised at how spicy that kiss was and wasn’t pleased at all.
         The best I could offer as a remedy was to guide him back to the tasting station where and offer him some Tabasco-flavored ice cream to help him put the fire out.
         I think I have finally been forgiven.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tiny forks could help Steven the Stomach

Just a bite
         I’m a fan of tiny forks and spoons. Vintage pickle and cocktail forks, found tucked away on antique shelves or bargain priced at estate sales are fun finds that come with a bonus. These delicate utensils make my dining experience “bigger.”
         A tiny fork inspires tiny bites and the food tastes so much better when I savor instead of “shovel.”
         Young Life manages area estate sales that I’m loving. I picked up my first “set” of four Nobility Plate forks. It’s fun to look online and try to discover a history behind a found fork. Or maybe I’ll make up a story for all the parties they must have served.
         I just may keep one in my purse to remind me to slow down at restaurants, too.

Why is Steven so upset?
         In a new children’s book, Raymond Brain is sending cake, cola, candy and  ice cream down to Steven so quickly he can’t break it all down.
He’s thinking of sending it back up.
         That reference is about it for “gross factor” in Justin Noble’s helpful book. Ann Bonin illustrates Steven as a muscled little stomach in a yellow hard hat on a line, just trying to keep up with the incoming junk food. The taste buds are happy, but even Lyle Liver has to question the brain.
         Raymond Brain later apologizes to our hero and promises to do better. I hope I can remember this sage advice to young readers next time I’m tempted to go back for thirds and raid the pantry. I don’t want my own “Steven” to have to work so hard.
         Noble and his wife, Le-Ann, created My Body Village Series. In his asthmatic youth, the author’s parents found a book that helped him understand what was happening to his body. I think this is a great idea for families. Look up “Artie’s Party Featuring the Vita-Men!” and more, at

Cattle Raisers talk branding and theft in Anahuac

Branding still the deal in the ranching business ANAHUAC - Branding is still
important. We're talking cattle, not just company logos.
Jimmy Belt, whose title is "special ranger," said cattle theft is up, and
old-fashioned branding can help place recovered animals back in home pens.
He spoke at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association ranch
gathering, Oct. 6, at White's Park in Anahuac. The day's topic included
market outlook and the economic impact of calf and reproductive management
practices. I heard of oral supplements and injections.
Belt told how a farmer recognized his stolen calf from a large pen of
recovered animals, but without that crucial brand, he was not allowed to
claim them.
Branding is old-school, but social media plays a modern role in recovery,
Belt said. A stolen hay baler made an appearance years after it was stolen
when someone sold it on Craig's List.
That's stuff many of us enjoy dining on beef "rarely" think about. The
blessing over dinner reminded us to think about those who produce our "food
and fiber." This fall is a season of harvest, so find a rancher and farmer
to thank for your bounty.
TSCRA is a 138-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest
livestock organization based in Texas. For more information, visit