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CULINARY THIRLL SEEKING — Squash is the new spaghetti

I’ve dealt with spaghetti squash four times in my life, and I’m so glad the first time it was presented to me ready-to-dine, or else I might have given up.

The take-away is that the texture and adaptability of this big, yellow thing is quite good and somewhat of a conversation piece.

Perhaps I’ll never convince you it would sub for grandmother’s homemade fettuccini, and it should not. But on a typical weekend, I can enjoy a much larger serving of this delicious squash than I can of pure pasta.

This fall I got one on special and the clerk was curious about it. I quickly told her my experience: The skin is tough so you must decide if you want to struggle to cut it first and easily scoop out the seeds or bake first for an easy cut then work harder to get the seeds untangled from glorious strands of golden squash.

It’s remarkable what that vegetable is hiding in there.

I just learned to cut it into circles to get longer threads. Just shred them out with a fork. Now you have this plate of strands and you can do anything with it.

I tend toward white cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, but my husband requested a red sauce and I was easily sold. Because you can get several servings from one of these giants, I enjoyed spaghetti squash in several flavors over the holidays.

Don’t fear the squash. Just dress it up with Italian flair, or even make it cinnamon sweet.

 So you forgot to thaw?

Lobster rolls on sweet potatoes and a recipe called Barbacoa for Days drew me to “No-Thaw Paleo Cooking in Your Instant Pot.” I’m not on that diet and I don’t have a pot like that. But I couldn’t resist chapters with titles like Fins and Shells and Slurping Noodles.

The “modern” part of this appliance-based book is that it features many cultures with photos of finger-licking Cajun shrimp and adult sloppy joes with a kick. Many Asian dishes look restaurant-quality. If you compare these offerings with a “vintage” cookbook, I’m tickled by the promise of simplicity in the names, such as “Dump and Forget Chicken Cacciatore” and Easy Peasy Coq au Vin.”

Dr. Karen S. Lee, a retired holistic practitioner, is the author who was a busy mom who still wanted to create healthy menus for her family. “Forgetting” to thaw the meat is still an issue for home cooks. Time is precious and we now are more willing to be culinary thrill seekers at home. Doesn’t chicken potpie soup sound fun?

I love this book and can still create these flavors with out that famous pot, but that’s not to say a pot isn’t in my future. Read this book to find out how she makes her turkey curry chili “nightshade free.”

“Hunt” down some Hi Mountain

Sporting people who enjoy the bounty of Southeast Texas in regards to catching their own dinner are in tune to Hi Mountain Seasonings, bringing “Authentic Wyoming” to the table.

Jerky kit? They’re on it.

Need brine? What flavors?

So far, my most favorite quickie transformer is the blue cheese dressing and dip mix. The directions are easy enough, but I just like keeping the powder handy to sprinkle into salads, eggs, etc. It dissolves into whatever you’re working with to create a great tang.

But hey, some people like following directions. Easy enough. Creamy Chipotle Dip mix requires you blend the product with sour cream, water and cream cheese and refrigerate for an hour. Can you do that? Thought so. Let the party begin. Oil and vinegar with a bag of Sweet Honey Marinade is all you need to make beef, wild game, fish, chicken or vegetables the talk of Sunday dinner.

Get outdoors (or to the market) and bring home your base. Go to www.himtnjerky.com to find your meal. Hunters gotta love that you can shop by categories such as beef and venison and poultry and game birds. Don’t worry Port Arthur, seafood is a category, too.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready for a 2020 full of Culinary Thrill Seeking. Tell her what’s new at darraghcastillo@Icloud.com.