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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — ‘Making do’ continues with more possibilities

Watching a leek grow has been much more exciting than watching paint dry. Nature soothes in times of stress, and it felt like a small miracle to pass by rooted leeks and note what seemed like hourly progress.

That project tied in with “making do” from the garden during a Lenten quarantine. It’s a pantry raid with purpose and all those substitution hints are coming into play.

My favorite use-up of the week has been rescuing cream cheese with a powdered sugar and cinnamon mix-in.

Marketers have been calling on our craving for comfort foods as well as a modern call for health foods. I’ve been able to sample these:

  • Water Lily Seeds — #bohanalife — I can’t imagine what sort of tools were used, but Bohana says Indians have been popping water lily seeds for snacks for years. They’re makhana. Now you can get a bag full of these little puffs in flavors such as Soulful Sriracha Spice, Pink Himalayan Salt and Wild White Cheddar. They call it free-spirit snacking and it’s very light and fun. The cheddar ones rather taste like popcorn. Water lily seeds come from what looks like a showerhead floating even in our Southeast Texas swamps. Maybe the Cajuns never got around to harvesting them like our cousins in India. I’m glad I got to taste some.
  • Tuscanini Seltzer Water has become a sort of Champagne of the times … a treasured treat. If you’re lucky enough to be able to quarantine on a back patio, untwist a calorie-free burst of sparkling orange or other flavors. Sip it real slowly. Savor. Count your blessings.
  • Free2b has a dedicated facility that is gluten free plus a whole lot of other “frees.” What looks to be a dark chocolate peanut butter cup actually is fashioned from sunflower butter and you’d no-doubt enjoy it as I did. If you must avoid dairy, peanuts, eggs, soy, corn, mustard, sesame, fish and shellfish, see what their “made brilliantly” selections can offer for you. A bag of gluten-free bagel chips can be served as garnish for six meals. This is a calorie bargain when you just need a little crunch.
  • Big Sandy Organics is into preserving rural America and I’m into this Montana brand’s Kracklin’ Kamut toasted wheat snack that’s so flavorful and crunchy that I made one serving into several. I immediately thought it would be a great salad or soup topper then, oh, I saw that was printed on the bag. Great culinary minds think alike.
  • Crunchsters has the same effect on me. This little bag of sprouted protein snacks includes sprouted mung beans and flavorings that crunch you awake. Beyond Bacon is one flavor.
  • Wiley Wallaby Organic offers organic bites of black licorice with real molasses and strawberry bites with real fruit juice. They are free from high fructose corn syrup and made with sustainable palm oil. These are back-in-the-day treats sure to remind you of your dad or someone from your distant past.
  • RylieCakes has a tagline: Lick the Bowl, It’s Gluten Free!” A beautifully photographed cookbook offers “best practices” for using her cake and roux mixes for out-of-sight creations such as “No Matter the Question, Chocolate Cake is the Answer.” Recipes take some skill, but will surely garnish praise. I made numerous quarantine subs for the cake above and enjoyed the process.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie wishing you good health in challenging times. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icould.com