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CULINARY THIRLL SEEKING — Holidays have hit Port Arthur

Foodies are festive this season, making the round and finding what’s trending at fabulous spreads. Remember bread bowls full of spinach dip? That’s still good. Boudin dip? I’ll still take some.

It’s also fun to return to time-honored events where you expect certain bites to always be there, and they are. Port Arthur Historical Society hosts holiday fellowship at Pompeiian Villa with silver service, mixed nuts, tiny sandwiches and fancy fare. It’s lovely to mingle with people who support Port Arthur’s history now, and also imagine how many holiday guests this home has hosted in decades past.

Pumpkin update: Pairs well with peanuts

Some would say the humble peanut needs nothing more than to be stirred with its oils and scooped out of its jar. Then there’s that “vintage” commercial where an innocent bump gets peanut butter mixed into chocolate. So, let’s play.

PBfit, billed as peanut butter without the love handles, now comes in pumpkin spice. Peanut flour, coconut sugar, spices and salt mix into smoothies and pancakes. Mix it with water to make a fruit or pretzel dip. Your imagination is the limit here. Thank you, versatile peanuts.

On the more indulgent side, bNUTTY rich gourmet peanut butter ready for that swirl and scoop from the jar, but with surprises: the 100 percent creamy pumpkin & holiday spice jar is a standout, blueberries and milk chocolate is a totally different twist, cinnamon sugar cookie is a “why didn’t I think of that” and peppermint brownie with white chocolate is just right for the holidays. They’ve got more where that came from. But it’s the totally toffee with milk chocolate and almonds that is just a nut beyond. I’ve met some peanut butter nuts before. They need to bNutty.

Baking season

Remember dirt cups made with chocolate wafer cookies? Years ago we served them in flower pots with plastic flowers and it sure looked like a patio plant. Today’s kids get an environmentally conscious update by creating Earth Day Dirt Cups with unsweetened cocoa powder, serving in glass jars and “planting” a sprig of fresh mint. “The Ultimate Kids Baking Book” takes young folks through the seasons, birthdays and milestones with presentations that “cook up” fun learning projects. Splashy photos bring Grasshopper Torte and Maple Spiced Pumpkin Pie into focus. Tiffany Dahle makes us believe in sugar… in a good way. Reindeer Munch is a great one for Christmas. Make sure you save some for yourself. Santa’s guys get plenty of goodies along their route.

Chai Spiced Monkey Bread does sound approachable, but newbies could shy away from Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pinwheel Rolls and Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Rolls could intimidate. Trust Rebecca Lindamood and her book “Ready, Set, Dough! Beginner Breads for All Occasions.” You can do it, and won’t everyone be thanking you for it? Bread making is not a lost art for the everyday cook when you have a photo-friendly guide like this one. Don’t worry. They don’t all call out for rich and creamy butter. Others are topped with icing, cheese and seeds.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is not technically counting calories this season. Share you ideas at darraghcastillo@icloud.com