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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — How big is Texas?

You can join in an epic road trip with three Lone Star travel professionals trekking the Texas perimeter, clocking about 3,100 miles.

That total is longer than the 2,907 miles from New York City to San Francisco. Dianna Bayes knows it’s 852 miles from Orange to El Paso, but she was thinking “bigger.” So she rounded up Morgan Taylor and Debra Bustos to travel the outline of Texas, which includes the coastal beauty of Port Arthur. The stretch between Orange and Galveston hit at lunchtime, so the group enjoyed alligator bites and pistolettes at Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp to refuel, and got a table visit from singer Hunter Courts.

Texas is a state of mind, these women agree. They know people all along the way and naturally everyone wants a visit. They’re even taking Flat Bob and Flat Kelli from Texas Country Reporter on their journey.

They’re packing a lot of fun into their trip and you can follow along at HowBigisTexas.com.

Cast Iron Keto

“One Pot” does not need equal mushy meals.

Cast Iron Keto: 75 Low-Carb One-Pot Meals for the Home Cook authors/bloggers Alex Lester and Lauren Lester prove it with photos of succulent shrimp posed atop paella and a fully, white side of cauliflower rice next to ginger-spiced classic Indian chicken curry. I wish they could prove it to me in person with a plate of crispy pork belly collards with kimchi.

They update everything with a little savory twist, as if subbing rice for cauliflower and Portobello mushroom caps for burger buns was not already enough shakeup for some cooks. I embrace it all and I’m only past the Land section and into the Sea pages. Nut-free pesto and Reuben casserole just make me want to get into the rest of the pages.

I appreciate that authors note they will not pretend that their Southern Gumbo stew remotely comes close to the real deal in flavor or texture – what with that pile of riced cauliflower in the middle of the bowl – but I sure would gobble up a serving of the rich broth with andouille, chicken thighs and shrimp. You’ve got to give and take for the keto lifestyle.

The bowls, such as ahi tuna poke salad and surf and turf Caesar salad, that could be my favorite. It’s possible that I’ve tended to eat this way with some unexpected combos and garnishes (think edamame and shredded greens), but I’ve just failed to assemble them so attractively into a bowl.

It’s very appealing to the eye and also makes it look like you have even more delicious food for your meal. And please, don’t knock walnut chili until you have tried it.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to enjoy Southeast Texas and beyond. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.