CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Jubilee season: Pass the gravy, sit on Santa’s lap

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, November 13, 2019

If I had to pick just one holiday to spend with Charles Phoenix, I suppose I’d ring in the new year with him. This Ambassador of Americana would have a shiny suit, a dish of his Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms-based Fried Confetti and lots of energy on the big night, then … there’s the Rose Bowl parade.

Showman, crafter and fun guy Phoenix is into classic and kitschy. He had me at “Addicted to Americana” featuring roadside attractions. This colorful book, “Holiday Jubilee,” brings memories on every page merging vintage photos with his new creations to inspire those days of consumerism. You’ll remember grandma, mist up and get a good laugh in, too.

But first, Thanksgiving with Charles: Begin the festivities with guests admiring your turkey-shaped assemblage based on a meatloaf festooned with scores of cocktail weenies and cranberries. The tail is a hotdog fanfare and the wattle is, well, breathtaking. Or platter your cheese and crackers into turkey with a Cheez-It’s breast. Or maybe go Hawaiian with a pineapple chunks and cherries making a face on your Tiki Turkey Dinner Party.

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Then we head into the author’s most wonderful time of the year with tales of Santa villages and candy cane lanes. While the Light-Up Jell-O Christmas tree is a tribute to the season, I’m loving vintage photos of regular American families enjoying their holidays in the ’50s and ’60s. Frosty the Cheeseball Man will leave your guests with a nostalgic taste in their mouths. See what he has in store for Valentine’s Day and the rest of the calendar.

From this book we have our regular “pumpkin update.” Phoenix has informed me pumpkin is a superstar of the squash family, but no one wants to eat “squash pie.” Also, Reddi Whip, pumpkin pie’s best friend, is pressurized aerosol technology at its finest, originally invented for bug spray. In 1948 canners replaced insecticide with cream.

What the chairman reserved

I just call the holidays rum season. Sure, it’s great around Halloween for talking like a pirate, but the rest of the year deserves serious contemplation and reflection. Saint Lucia Distillers presents Chairman’s Reserve in original and spicy varieties that will help you give thanks in late November, get through political discussions and Christmas mixers and enjoy company gathering to honor the new year.

Ripe raisin fruit, tobacco and vanilla are “on the finish” of the original. This is “fancy,” but pairs well with another of my favorite holiday treats, Chex mix, heavy on the cayenne. It’s the spicy blend, steeped with local Caribbean tree bark, spices and fruits, most notably cinnamon, clove, citrus peels, orange and vanilla, that make me not mention this Chairman’s Reserve to the guests. It’s for alone time.

Wonder Melon

A bottle of Wonder Melon addresses your unanswered questions, but won’t necessarily answer them. Why does it taste so great? They wish they knew. How do makers get the melon into a drink and into the bottle? They’ll never tell. Why does watermelon have more lycopene than tomato? Weird, right? But they will tell you how to enjoy the melon all year long. Hint: look at the bottle.

I just enjoyed the watermelon, lemon and cayenne version so much that I went into the watermelon, cucumber basil batch sooner than I intended. But why hold back from good stuff?

They’re making cake with it

Things have come a long way since Woodstock. The Port Arthur News just wrote about a local CBD shop and here is Koi Naturals CBD with cooking tips. Read up and you’ll know the oil is a far stretch from other products made from the same plants, so no need to plug in your favorite ’60s rock. Unless you cook to those tunes anyway.

The company sent a strawberry tincture and a recipe for a cake along with some tips for the oil:

  • Use fat — For better binding, infuse into a fat or oil-based ingredient like butter, ghee, or coconut oil in order to increase bio-availability and receive full benefits.
  • Avoid heat — Be careful when it comes to applying heat as excessive temperatures can cause it to evaporate and lose potency. Use as a finishing touch: try drizzling the oil over avocado toast, pizza, eggs, or mixing into pesto.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie keeping up with trends and flavors. Reach her at