DARRAGH DOIRON — Consolidate Spices for Fall

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Got a little bit of nutmeg and a few cloves? Mix ‘em up and create your own pumpkin spice mix, chai tea flavoring or something to make that chili warm you up.

I have “Frankenstein” blends in the pantry that are forever undergoing changes.

Fall’s a good time to make a clean sweep. That leads right into your Culinary Thrill Seeking Pumpkin Update of the week:

Everyone Loves Pumpkin

This week’s Pumpkin Update is chapter 9 of “The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook.”

Even the Mayans experimented with a seed dip, according to this 400-plus page book covering everything from soup (intensely flavored Moroccan lentil harira) to nuts (spiced pecans with rum glaze as a hostess gift).

The Everyone Loves Pumpkin chapter includes Slow-Cooker Creamy Pumpkin-Chai Soup, Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Wedges, Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce and Pumpkin Pecan Cookies.

I love the “Why This Recipe Works” boxes with each recipe. Maybe you were concerned that the Ancho Chile Liqueur you are steeping for a week wouldn’t work, but they’ll tell you why it will.

Go now and assemble your winter squashes, hearty greens, fruits and ginger. It’s time to make gourmet comfort food for your autumn and winter kitchen.

My deal with popcorn

Salty-n- Sandy is for people who have made the choice to enjoy popcorn but can’t decide between addictive savory or seductive sweet.

A tub of  this Johnson’s Popcorn arrived as a product sample and the rep contacted me to make sure I got it.

I told her I was about to travel, thus indulge, then I’d have to wait a while and plan on a popcorn dinner. She gave me an ‘lol’ then realized I was serious.

This tub of “World Famous Quality Caramel Corn since 1940” trademarked concoction contained 27 servings. Through careful rationing I was able to enjoy this for dinner, two lunch snacks and one breakfast.

Then there was the Cheddar Corn variety with artisan cheese. Same story. It was a popcorn week and I was happy. I also had orange fingers. Worth it.

These Ocean City, N.J., folks obviously know what they’re doing. The paired tub with mixed flavors kept integrity of crunchy and soft, and when the cheese stood alone it was another joy.

I know there are others like me who plan ahead for popcorn. Do this with 26 of your closest friends. Or, my way. More amazing flavors await at johnsonspopcorn.com.

The Racoon is into Tahini

Creamy Tahini (Only Sesame Seeds) could be your thing, and now Creamy Tahini with Lemon is mine.

The attentive folk and mascot racoon of Once Again nut butters sent out these creations for fall cooking, including a suggestion to drizzle over baked squash or bake into breads.

How organic does that sound?

I need to mention this cooking thing now, so you’ll be planning the pumpkin spice season. But much of my jars are being diminished now with just the benefit of a slice of green apple to get it to my mouth.

I love that they have a space on the label for you record the date the jar was opened. Keepin’ it fresh. Onceagainnutbutter.com has ideas and info on goodies such as packets of sesame seed butter to toss in your lunch.

Jim Stevenson on Birds

Sabine Woods could be the “crown jewel” of the Texas coast, noted birder Jim Stevenson writes in his latest book “Birds of the Gulf Coast.”

A photographer and guide, Stevenson is always in the field for birds and sometimes snakes.

Want to know when to listen for that nasal “quok” or quark” from a Black-crowned night heron?

Learn tricks of the parking lot killdeer to lure you from his eggs?

Stevenson shares his hot tips. He’s  involved with the Galveston Ornithological Society and his photos help guide readers to best birding locations, safety, seasons and nature study. For your autographed copy, send your requested message and $30 to GOS, Rt. 1, Box 185C, Galveston, Texas, 77554.

Darragh Castillo is a Port Arthur area foodie who is also, apparently, a birder. Visit with her about both topics at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.