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Culinary thrill seeking: Always thankful, ready for joy 


Joy is one of my favorite sentiments of the season. A run by Missions Attic in Port Arthur can help you quickly furnish your table and home for guests. Bowls, serving wear, dishes and trees greet shoppers. It’s all sold for a good cause to help your neighbors.

“Thanksgiving” should be an all-year sentiment for us. I have a silver Avon ring that scrolls out the word “grateful” that’s everyday wear. The pointy letters often get caught in fabric, so that reminds me to be grateful for clothing and every little thing.

So here I’ll mention I was grateful to begin Thanksgiving Day with a small turkey sandwich breakfast that included za’atar from Ruth, jam from Jody, bread my church gifted to parishioners, coffee blended from two friends and a napkin from my mother. It takes a village. Give back more than you get.

Try something new

Tried-and-true favorites are as important as innovation as we gather for the holidays. It’s easier if the “something new” appears as a sample from another cooks’ table.

It’s amazing what they do with Brussels sprouts these days. My hosts cut them in half and charred them and the sauce included grapes. From childhood on, this vegetable was something I avoided. They were only boiled back in my day. Even the woman who made the dish agreed, she did not used to like them as a kid, when serve bland and boiled. These “modern” sprouts had me going back for more. Today I love them raw and shredded and sautéed with bacon. Give speouts a chance.

Vegan Holiday

Just to prove my point above, the recipe for Caramel Apple Brussels begins with a question: “Have you been a Brussels sprouts hater all your life?” Tommy McDonald writes. He notes you can’t really blame kids for hating them boiled or steamed.

McDonald is head chef at Field Roast Grain Meat Co. He lives with his family in Seattle and shares memories of growing up with all the fresh flavors of the region. These are good stories in a book filled with beautiful photos and fresh vegan ideas.

“Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share & Savor” is about the “meat” of the grain. You know those jokes about not watching sausage being made? It’s a bit different when you’re kneading and cooking with grains, apples, etc. to make a roast or stuff a sausage. Field Roast makes products and this book helps with ideas on their usage. Flavors can take you around the world with Little Saigon Meatloaf, Cornmeal-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Po-Boy, Whitebean and Eggplant Crostini and Picadillo Empanadas.

Field Roast sent me a Hazelnut Cranberry Roast “en croute” with rosemary, candied ginger and sausage stuffing. It was so good my mom decided she was going to acquire another to share with some friends. I had double portions that night. The roast gets baked and is ready to serve in about an hour. More good news: I was invited to bring a vegan or vegetarian covered dish to an event and I have a Celebration Roast with traditional stuffing and mushroom gravy still in the freezer to look forward to.

Darragh Castillo is a Port Arthur area foodie who is loving how the community comes together to show off their cultural flavors for the holidays. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com