No. 21 Winter 2011
Celebrating Central Texas food culture, season by season
Sugared A short history of sugar in Texas
Membe r of Ed ib le Commu n ities
Tickets and VIP passes on sale! edibleaustin.com
Benefitting Urban Roots & Sustainable Food Center Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week is Austinâ€™s premier local food event, celebrating local seasonal food and food makers in Central Texas while raising money for nonprofits Urban Roots and Sustainable Food Center.
We invite you to dine at our participating restaurants featuring a locally sourced menu and attend eight signature events throughout the week that raise awareness of our vibrant local food scene and funds for our beneficiaries. Why do we produce this event in December? Because late November through early January is one of Central Texas's most robust growing seasons, offering a bountiful selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
ThirdCoastActivist.org Third Coast Activist Resource Center
Bid now on these exclusive
Chef Dinners NEW this year! Go online to bid on a private dinner for eight with one of these amazing chefs: David Bull, Bryce Gilmore, Zack Northcutt, Sibby Barrett, Will Packwood, Jesse Griffiths, Terry Thompson-Anderson and the chefs at La Cocina Alegre.
edibleaustin.com/auction Start planning your week at edibleaustin.com
Mark Your Calendar! Saturday, Dec. 3
Urban Farm Bicycle Tour presented by Bicycle Sport Shop
Participating Restaurants ASTI Trattoria Barley Swine Buenos Aires Cafe Chez Nous Cipollina Contigo East Side Pies East Side Showroom Eastside Cafe Fabi + Rosi Farmhouse Delivery (food delivery) Fête Accompli FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar Finn & Porter Food 4 Fitness Cafe Green Pastures Greenling.com (food delivery) Guero’s Taco Bar Home Slice Pizza Hopdoddy Burger Bar Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Judges’ Hill Restaurant Kerbey Lane Cafe (all locations) La Condesa Manuels Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill Olivia Peoples Rx (S. Lamar location) Sagra Shoreline Grill Snack Bar Tacodeli (all locations) Tacos and Tequila The Leaning Pear TRACE Uchi Uchiko Urban an American Grill Wink check our website for updated list!
Discover Austin’s local food-producing gems on a family-friendly bicycle tour, including optional stops at more than nine urban farms, school and community gardens. 9 a.m. $30 (free for children under 16).
Pig Roast & Harvest Dinner at Springdale Farm
Community picnic featuring locally roasted pork and freshly harvested sides, live music by La Strada and farm tour. 4–7 p.m. $30.
Sunday, Dec. 4
Coffee & Chocolate Festival at Texas Coffee Traders
Meet your local coffee roasters and chocolatiers, sample and buy products. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. $25.
A Conversation with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson at Stateside at the Paramount
Spend unforgettable afternoon or evening with two of the most influential voices of the sustainable food movement. 1 p.m. $35. 8 p.m. show is sold out.
Monday, Dec. 5
Moonstruck Benefeast at Alamo Drafthouse
See the hit movie while enjoying an exquisite multi-course dinner inspired by food featured in the film at the South Lamar location. 7 p.m. $70.
Wednesday, Dec. 7
Better Bites of Austin Holiday Fair at The Domain II
Sample products from over two-dozen local food and beverage artisans and buy locally made treats for holiday gift giving. 4–9 p.m. Free.
Thursday, Dec. 8
Drink Local Night presented by The Carillon and Tipsy Texan
Meet local Texas distillers and sample product. Hosted in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center Grand Ballroom, the evening will feature the “Official Drink of Austin Contest” and chef-made appetizers. 6:30–9:30 p.m. $35.
Saturday, Dec. 10
Local Brew Fest presented by Black Star Co-op and Wheatsville Food Co-op Meet Texas’s finest craft brewers and sample their wares at this popular event. Event will be held at Black Star Co-op. 1–5 p.m. $20.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD CENTER FARMERS’ MARKET AT
S U N S E T VA L L E Y
Casual French Bistro Since 1982 510 Neches St. 473-2413
REAL FARMERS. REAL FOOD. FOR REALLY NICE PEOPLE - You !
LUNCH Tues.–Fri. DINNER Tues.–Sun.
Every Saturday 9AM-1PM
SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley 3200 Jones Road (Toney Burger Ctr) Saturdays 9:00AM - 1:00PM Closed Dec. 31 Saturdays in the Summer 8:30AM to 12:30PM
Friesenhaus on s. Castell www.nbfarmersmarket.com
eat well. 11th & lamar 512-482-8868
Local Hero AWARDS
Fredericksburg Grass Fed Beef Now available grass fed lamb, fresh sausage, summer sausage and snack sticks. Find us on Facebook
Available at the SFC Farmers’ Market—Downtown (830) 990-9353 www.fredericksburg-grassfed-beef.com
Vote Now for Sixth Annual Join us in celebrating the Heroes of your local food communities! Visit online at: www.ediblecommunities.com/heroes
Vote for the “Best of ” in each category:
Chef / Restaurant Food / Retail Shop Farm / Farmer Food / Beverage Artisan Non-Profit Organization Deadline is Friday, December 16, 2011
8 Publisher’s note 11 notable Mentions
Contents WINTER 2011
15 notable Edibles NurturMe, Bake a Wish, in.gredients. 22 Edible Cooperative Red Rabbit Bakery. 25 People David Kogan.
18 People Joaquin Avellan Joaquin Avellan follows in his father’s
footsteps with Dos Lunas Cheese.
38 Edible Foodways A Mess of Greens. 54 Edible Destinations Marfa, a bounty in the desert. 56 La Casita de Buen Sabor Winter soup.
26 Edible Ecology The Total Catch D iscover the obtainable, ample, healthful and beautiful food in our own backyard.
58 Edible Gardens Houses of green. 60 Behind the Vines Bending Branch Winery. 62 What I Eat and Why What is important.
34 Edible Imbibables Lara Nixon’s Bitters Bad Dog Bar Craft launches Texas’s first
64 Root Causes Burst forth. 65 seasonal Muse Fava time. 66 People Benjamin Baker.
line of locally produced, organic bitters.
42 Edible Brew Craft Beer Crusaders Texas craft brewers work together to convert beer drinkers to craft label enthusiasts.
67 Seasonal Plate Noble Pig. 69 Eat Wild ’Tis the wild seasonings. 70 Tipsy Texan Winter cocktails.
46 San Saba Pecans Treasure along the Banks Pecans grow deep roots in Texas.
73 Social Cooking Tales from a supper club. 74 Department of Organic Youth Urban Roots rap. 77 Back of the House Congress. 80 Directory 82 art de terroir Two Takes on One Space: Lauren Fensterstock and Steve Wiman
50 Cooking Fresh SUGARED A Short History of Sugar IN TEXAS
S ugar’s long, strange trip to Texas.
Cover: Southern Biscuit Muffins (page 50). Photograph by Knoxy.
“Eating is an agricultural act.” —from “The Pleasures of Eating” from What Are People For? by Wendell Berry
Publisher Marla Camp
Associate PUBLISHER Jenna Noel
rom the bottom of my heart, I cannot be more grateful that Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson are coming to town to lend their presence to our Fifth Annual Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week on Sunday, December 4.
One of the most influential and beloved voices of environmental stewardship in America, Wendell Berry has written about our relationship with the land in every possible literary form—poetry, fiction and essays. He is the farmer who planted the seed five decades ago that feeds the local food movement. A caring critic of American culture, he challenges us to define our relationship with the world from which food comes and to find our conscious place within it. The pleasure of eating—and life itself—depends on it.
PROJECT AND EVENTS MANAGER Jen Lester
Copy Editor Christine Whalen
Editorial Assistants Melinda Barsales, Dena Garcia, Cari Marshall, Michelle Moore
Advertising Sales Curah Beard
Distribution Manager Jude Diallo
Wes Jackson founded The Land Institute more than 30 years ago as a resource for research to “work on the problem of agriculture.” Their mission statement says it all: When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited. By consulting Nature as the source and measure of that membership, The Land Institute seeks to develop an agriculture that will save soil from being lost or poisoned while promoting a community life at once prosperous and enduring. When our evening show sold out within hours, Berry and Jackson agreed to do a second, matinee show for us. That generosity of spirit defines them. Please join us for a week of celebrating local food—the people, creatures and ecologies that feed us and create our vibrant food culture in Central Texas.
Contributors Full listing, bios and contact information online at edibleaustin.com
ADVISORY GROUP Terry Thompson-Anderson, Dorsey Barger, Cathryn Dorsey, Jim Hightower, Toni Tipton-Martin, Mary Sanger, Suzanne Santos, Carol Ann Sayle
CONTACT US Edible Austin 1415 Newning Avenue Austin, TX 78704-2532 512-441-3971 email@example.com edibleaustin.com Edible Austin is published quarterly by Edible Austin L.L.C. All rights reserved. Subscription rate is $35 annually. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2011. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us.
TOFGA Annual Conference
photo by Jody Horton
Twin County Lamb 830-864-4717
After youâ€™ve tasted the rest, come to us for the best! Beautiful lamb cuts from free range Dorper lambs raised in the Texas Hill Country
Feb 17-19, 2012 Mesquite Convention Center, Mesquite, TX Registration and more info: www.tofga.org
Workshops, Vendors, Networking and More! ÂŽ
The one independent food label that means healthy, safe, environmentally responsible and humanely raised.
find it at
Pull up a chair this winter Neighbors Making Great Food for Neighbors
Local in Source. Texan in Spirit.
Season All Stuff Sauce
Great Happy Hour Daily Sunday Brunch – the freshest & best in town Jack CATERS! We’ll bring Jack’d up Goodness to your next event
Baked with All Natural Local Ingredients
Dressing for Life!
Free Delivery within the Austin Area
Fabulous flavor with NO: gluten, cane sugar, corn syrup or unpronounceable ingredients!
OPEN DAILY Sun-Thurs 11am to 10pm | Fri-Sat 11am to 11pm | Sunday Brunch 10-2 At the “Y” in Oak Hill | 7720 Highway 71 West, Austin, TX 78735 512.852.8558 | www.JackAllensKitchen.com
Uptown Blanco Restaurant
The very finest in gourmet Gluten-Free products!
Chef Nathan Stevens creates exciting culinary specials daily using many of the local ingredients found throughout the Hill Country. These include cheeses, olive oil, produce and meats. Our private dining room is available for any, festive or intimate gathering.
On the Town Square in Blanco www.UptownBlanco.com . 830 833-1579
notable Mentions Want to farm, but need some land? Local, organic EIEIO Farm in Wimberley is leasing half-acre garden plots to people who want to try their hand at farming without having to invest in property and infrastructure. Farm owner Kathleen Mooney offers a turnkey solution for a monthly fee of $350 that includes fencing, well water, drip irrigation, rich riverbed topsoil, greenhouse space and use of tractor and tools. She offers advice on how to start your own CSA program, sell at farmers markets, wholesale product or just grow enough food to feed your family. Memberships are currently available in EIEIO Farm’s CSA program as well that includes seasonal produce, organic eggs, flowers, feta cheeses, jams and Mooney’s newest product, organic garlic mayonnaise ($35 weekly for 10 weeks). For more information call 512-847-2463 or visit eieiotx.com.
Sign up your chicken coop for the funky chicken coop tour! The deadline for submitting an application to be considered for the 2012 Funky Chicken Coop Tour is January 22. On Saturday, April 7, 2012, Austinarea poultry keepers will open their backyards to the public for the fourth year in a row to show off their chickens and their urban coops. Each year turnout for this tour has continued to grow, climbing to over 2,000 visitors in 2011. Austin is not alone in this growing trend of urban chicken keeping. Natural Life Magazine estimates that there are 300 North American cities that allow a few backyard chickens with more joining in as cities continue to overturn ordinances banning chickens. There are many reasons for this backyard chicken movement: chickens require a small amount of space, make it easier for their owners to decrease their carbon footprints, save taxpayer dollars and support local food supply production. In addition to being easy-to-care-for pets, chickens also provide manure for fertilizer and compost, along with helping keep both weeds and bugs in check, all of which helps create better yards and gardens. Of course they also provide delicious, fresh eggs right from your own backyard. Most chicken owners report that it’s just plain fun to have them around. Find more information about the 2012 Tour, application form and general resources for chicken keeping at austincooptour.org
Want your dog to be all he can be? Small group classes Day training boot camps Puppy playdates
Call Kim Roche! Austin’s Independent Professional Dog Trainer
“With your guidance, Carver is a much happier dog. He has come a long, long way. Thank you so much, Kim.”—Jill S.
SECOND ANNUAL TAMALES! FESTIVAL At Pearl Tamales! is an all-day celebration of family, food and fun featuring more than 30 different tamales vendors on Saturday, December 3. Guests are invited to explore the full range of tamales from traditional San Antonio classics to South American to sweet, vegetarian and more. The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio will partner with Pearl to bring the whole property to life with cooking demonstrations by instructors and students, and food served fresh off the roasting spit and the underground roasting pits. Festivities include a special holiday Mercado de Comida with farmers market vendors staying all day, bringing special products and produce for the holidays. Visit atpearl.com for details. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
“The Ultimate Nursery for Herbs” Austin Chronicle
Culinary herbs for chefs— and fruit trees, veggies and native plants for gardeners
Sign up for free gardeners tips newsletter at
Exceptional green kitchens, baths, closets and eco furniture.
Arnosky’s Family Farm has expanded to include a second location that will be the site of their new peony farm in the Minnesota Northwoods. The Arnoskys have planted 1,500 peonies on the farm in Toimi, Minnesota, the site of a historic Finnish homestead that once produced prize-winning rutabagas. Located near the Boundary Waters, surrounded by national and state forest land that is very sparsely populated, Pamela reports that the wolves howl at night and the stars are brilliantly bright! Why the expansion to the frigid far north? Peonies don’t grow in the Texas Hill Country with its wild weather swings, from arctic blasts in the winter to debilitating heat in the summers, but they do well in the Minnesota seasonal climes. It takes several years for the peony bushes to produce, and in the meantime, the Arnosky’s Wimberley home farm is perfect for winter and spring production in their fields, greenhouses and cold frames. Visit their farm market at the Blue Barn in Blanco, self-serve daily and on Saturdays for their full market. Directions and more at texascolor.com.
SLOW MONEY SHOWCASE DINNER ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2 Join Slow Money Austin on Friday, December 2 at Barr Mansion for a tasting of the bountiful harvests from local area farmers, prepared by Barr Mansion’s Chefs Chris and Simon. Tickets start at $25 and there will be opportunities to engage with local farmers and food producers from our community. Check for ticket sales and updates at slowmoneytexas.posterous.com.
Richardson Farms Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Pork, Poultry, & Eggs
ARNosky’s New Peony Farm
Luminations celebration at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Enjoy the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center gardens lit with more than 3,000 luminarias and 5,000 twinkle lights on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11. In addition to the beautiful holiday lighting, there will be numerous music acts throughout both evenings from local performers and area schools. There will be crafts for children in the gallery, photo opportunities with Frosty the Snowman, food and beverages from the café and treats from University of Texas student organizations. The gift store will have special deals and book signings and small vendors will have items for sale in the McDermott Learning Center. Admission is free with a donation of two canned goods for the Capitol Area Food Bank (please—no open packages or fresh foods). For more information visit wildflower.org/luminations.
URBAN FARM BICYCLE TOUR
At t he Al am o D ra ft h o u s e we ’ re mo re t h a n j ust m ovi es a n d food . We co o k fro m s c ratc h e ach day, m a k i n g sau ce s , pi z z a do u gh , dre ss i n gs and de sserts i n h ou se! h o r mo n e - fre e be e f s o yo u ca n e njoy on e of th e be st bu rge rs i n Au st in alo n g si d e th e fi n e st fil ms o n t h e pl a n et .
Saturday, December 3, various start times Take a family-friendly, self-guided tour with stops at urban farms, farm stands, community and school gardens! Three convenient start locations. Produced by Bicycle Sport Shop. Register now!
PIG ROAST AND HARVEST DINNER AT SPRINGDALE FARM Saturday, December 3, 4–7 p.m. Community picnic featuring an on-site local pig roast and sides made from freshly harvested produce, live music by La Strada and farm tour. Get your tickets now at edibleaustin.com/eatdrinklocalweek.
BOOKPEOPLE and Edible Austin Present Mess of Greens author Elizabeth Engelhardt Join us on Friday, January 20 at 7 p.m. for an evening with author Elizabeth Engelhardt discussing her book about Southern gender and Southern food, A Mess of Greens. Our panelists will include special guests Carol Ann Sayle from Boggy Creek Farm and Stephanie McClenny of confituras. Enjoy special tastings inspired by the book along with Saint Arnold Brewing Company beverages. Read an excerpt from Engelhardt’s book on page 38 with recipes from Stephanie McClenny.
SAVE THE DATE: TOFGA Conference Register now for the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference on Friday, February 17 through Sunday, February 19. This year’s conference will be held at the Mesquite Convention Center in Mesquite. This annual conference is a valuable educational and networking opportunity for new farmers, experienced farmers and people who like to grow their own food, with an exciting lineup of workshops, vendors, a bookshop and more. Visit tofga.org for details and to register.
Groceries Specialty Items Cold Beer & Fine Wine Prepared Foods Fresh Flowers
CULTIVATING FARMERS After six years of operating a profitable organic vegetable farm on Austin’s “upper east side,” owners Erin Flynn and Skip Connett of Green Gate Farms have founded a nonprofit organization to meet a need for training, education and resources for beginning farmers. The mission of New Farm Institute (NFI) is to educate, assist and inspire a new generation of sustainable farmers, with a focus on the urban fringe —an area within 30 miles of medium to large cities. In addition to numerous classes, workshops, camps and events, the Institute has created an Incubator Farm for beginning professional farmers in Central Texas. NFI also explores emerging markets for new farmers, particularly in the field of public health. The Sponsored Share program is one example of the links possible between business, local farmers and disease prevention. Learn more at newfarminstitute.org.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper on Edible Radio’s Growing HOme Growing Home host Marla Camp visits with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host and cocreator of the American Public Media radio show The Splendid Table, about Lynne’s latest book, The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends. On this episode, Lynne talks about why we love cookbooks, the alchemy that turns groceries into meals and how to prepare a sumptuous vegan holiday dinner. Plus she gives us a tip on what to do with Franklin Barbecue leftovers (if there is such a thing). Listen at edibleradio.com.
BETTER BITES OF AUSTIN LOCAL HOLIDAY GIFT FAIR Wednesday, December 7, 4–9 p.m. Domain II Get an early start on your holiday shopping and meet over two dozen top local food artisans. Free.
E A T
L O C A L
1718 S. Congress Ave. • 512-462-7220 w w w. F M 1 7 1 8 . c o m • O p e n D a i l y 8 a m - 8 p m
Come visit us on the weekends for a slice of our Farm to Table pizza, with seasonal toppings from our local farms!
M-Th 11am to 10pm Friday 11am to 11pm Saturday 12pm to 11pm Sunday 12pm to 10pm
1401 B Rosewood Ave. 512.524.0933 (slices all hours)
5312 Airport Blvd., Ste G 512.454.PIES (7437) (take out & delivery only)
Picture Your HealtH ® CliniCal Thermography
Proudly Picturing the Health of Austin since 2004 Early Breast Cancer Detection Full Body & Region-of-Interest Screenings No Radiation / No Contact FDA-Registered Meditherm Equipment
Luminations at the Wildflower Center Saturday & Sunday December 10 & 11 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free with donation to the Capital Area Food Bank
Winter’s Eve on the square Join the Wimberley Merchants Association for the Winter’s Eve Festival on the Square on Saturday, December 10. Enjoy hours of fun with carolers, bands, food booths and spirits as you stroll through the historical Winter Wonderland. Embrace the season and wear your festive winter attire. Enjoy holiday lights and make your way around the square for your holiday shopping. Festivities and food booths begin at 4 pm. Shops are open late! Visit wimberleymerchants.com for details.
EMILYANN THEATRE & GARDENS TRAIL OF LIGHTS www.wildflower.org
4801 La Crosse Avenue • 512.232.0100
W W W . M R N A T U R A L - A U S T I N . C O M
The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights is open nightly (weather permitting) through December 31, Sunday through Thursday 6–9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 6–10 p.m. Admission to the Trail of Lights is free although donations are accepted. Stroll along a walking trail through eight acres of lighted displays decorated by more than 100 local businesses, community groups and families! 1101 FM 2325 in Wimberley. More at emilyann.org.
Edible Austin correction:
In our Fall issue of Edible Austin in our story on CSAs and local food delivery services, both Millberg Farm and Tecolote Farm should have been included in the local food delivery category as they offer delivery service to their customers. Tecolote Farm is, in fact, the oldest home-delivery CSA program in Texas! You can find out more about Tecolote Farm at tecolotefarm.net.
Winter Greetings to you from the children in Ronda’s Montessori Garden! Children learn to appreciate Healthy Living in Ronda’s Montessori Garden! Part time openings for an immersion into organic gardening!
Enroll Today! It takes a garden to grow a child. Yoga and Spanish in the Garden
Ronda’s Montessori Garden www.rondasgarden.net 512-707-8635
Boggy Creek Farm
Market Days: Wednesday and Saturday 9 AM to 1 PM www.boggycreekfarm.com
Winter Crops Let Food Be Your Medicine. North 219-9499 • South 444-8866 • Central 459-9090 • Westlake 327-8877
notable Edibles Pouch Potato n a little stone house near Zilker Park, beneath a sprawling oak tree and behind some very prickly cactus plants, lies the future of prepared baby food. This unlikely setting is the headquarters of NurturMe, a scrappy young company that seeks to revolutionize the baby-food market. This is also the home of Lauren McCullough, who, along with partner Caroline Freedman, launched NurturMe in 2010. It’s Freedman’s concept that makes NuturMe foods special—instead of gloppy baby chow housed in breakable glass jars, this is certified organic, gluten-free and made from fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas and squash, freeze-dried and tucked inside sustainably produced pouches. The drying process exposes foods to significantly less heat than traditional cooking, so more nutrients and phytochemicals are retained. “Some of our products are freeze-dried, meaning they’re not cooked at all before drying,” McCullough explains. “Other products are drum dried, meaning they’re flash cooked for thirty seconds and then dried down.” With no added salt, sugar or preservatives—just add water or breast milk—it’s farm-to-baby fresh. Freedman’s idea was, of course, baby inspired. When she was six months pregnant and investigating the baby-food market, she was surprised to learn that nothing had really changed since she was little. “It occurred to me that not much progress had happened in recent decades, despite all the trends towards healthier, organic eating and things like convenience packaging and sustainability,” says Freedman. “I immediately spotted an opportunity.” Freedman was well aware of the nutritional benefits of drying fruits and vegetables, and her concept took root and quickly blossomed. “If it’s dried and requires liquid, nursing moms could use breast milk!” she says. Plus, the ability to package the product in lightweight, sustainable pouches instead of bulky glass meant easier handling options for moms and dads who fly, camp or who are simply on the go with baby. NurturMe has grown faster than a well-fed toddler—quickly expanding to national chains like Whole Foods Market and Babies “R” Us—and the company expects to hit $1.5 million in revenue in 2011. Freedman and McCullough consider their location to be a major fac-
Photography by Teresa Nguyen
NurturMe founders Lauren McCullough and Caroline Freedman
tor in their success. “The company’s biggest blessing is being based in Austin,” says McCullough, a former culinary arts teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf. “Austin is such an inspiring city, where people’s dreams come true every day. It gives you the confidence in what you are doing.” —Cari Marshall or more information about NurturMe, visit nurturme.com or call F 512-326-4910.
DELI & GOURMET
WEEKLY LUNCH SPECIALS
BEER & WINE TASTINGS
CATERING & DELIVERY
Downtown Austin, Texas 3rd & Lavaca • 4th & Nueces 6th & Congress EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
When You Wish upon a Cake
Make your holidays Savory.
40+ Distinctive Gift Sets including: Lone Star State Fare Surf & Turf • Jumbo BBQ • Curry Collection • Steak Lovers
Mention this ad & receive 10% off when you buy three or more gift sets by 12/24/11. Custom sets included, shipping not included. This cannot be used with any other offers and is not valid on-line.
1201B West 6th St., Austin, TX 78703 • (512) 524-1093 • Mon-Sat: 10-5:30, Sun: 12-5
Ove Glute r 30 n Flavo-Free rs!
or more information about Bake a Wish, including volunteer and F sponsorship opportunities, visit bakeawishaustin.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
47 flavors including:
Holiday Mix - Pumpkin Pie Spice White Chocolate Candy Cane New Location! 8708 S. Congress
hat’s the strangest cake request Karen Nichols has ever received? It would have to be the one from a nine-year-old boy who wanted “a giant chocolate-chip cookie with a school bus with Hannah Montana driving it, with a rainbow overhead,” Nichols says with a chuckle. “And that was just the beginning.” Nichols is the founder and president of Bake a Wish, a volunteer group that provides birthday cakes to shelters throughout Austin. “Most people have never thought of a kid not receiving a birthday cake,” Nichols says, “and when people realize it, they want to help.” The group’s first cake, several years ago, went to a youth at a local homeless shelter on his 19th birthday. “We got a note from him afterwards,” Nichols remembers, “saying that this was the first birthday cake he’d ever gotten in his whole life. We’ve had several stories like that.” While the group may have started as a way to get cakes to low-income children, it has since expanded to provide cheer to the orphaned, disabled, elderly or otherwise in need. “The shelters we’re serving are all nonprofits, and with people’s budgets being cut, we’re really hoping to fill that gap.” Bake a Wish relies on a local network of over 100 volunteers who take requests from more than 30 local agencies and shelters. The organization is 100 percent volunteer staffed, has no paid positions or funding and no centralized commercial kitchen—all of its volunteers bake and decorate at home. The process is simple: when a cake request comes in, a volunteer signs up for the task online. Children at the shelters have asked for superhero cakes, Elmo cupcakes and the like, while the elderly have had such requests as a Valentine’s Day cupcake party with a decorating lesson from Bake a Wish. “We really let the kids get specific with their requests,” says Nichols. “They’ve never gotten to express their desires or wishes, so it can be a new thing for them. We deliver them their dream cake.” Bake a Wish volunteers currently make about 75 cakes a month. Some of the group’s volunteers are professional pastry chefs who make elaborate dessert creations, while others are simply home bakers hoping to help. The group has applied for recognition as a nonprofit, but despite the growth, Nichols says that the core of the project will always remain the same. “It’s really more than cake. It’s letting them know that they’re special, they’re valued, that people care about them.” —Terrence Henry
DINE OUT AT OUR PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS December 3–10 Go to edibleaustin.com for a list of participating restaurants and food delivery services.
hristian Lane remembers that his grandmother hated to throw anything away. “She was always reusing margarine tubs for everything,” he says. “She had this Depression-era ethic and verve that I really looked up to.” As an adult, he’s decided to take his grandmother’s frugal habits and apply them a little bit further—to the supermarket. Along with brothers Joseph and Patrick and partner Christopher Pepe, Christian is working to open in.gredients, the country’s first packagefree, zero-waste grocery store in East Austin this winter. The store will carry what you’d find in a neighborhood grocery store of old: produce, grains, spices and even beer and wine. But their products will be locally grown or sourced, organic (or natural when organic is unavailable) and sold either package-free or “package light” in recyclable containers (necessary for some items because of food safety). How does a package-free grocery store work? In.gredients will use a CSA program-style model for their produce: customers can simply pick up fresh, local produce that they order directly from the farmers and that is delivered to the store by the farmers themselves. Many items will be sold in bulk for easy access. But what about things like milk, eggs and yogurt? “We’re encouraging customers to bring in their own containers,” says Christian, “but we’re not going to turn people away.” Compostable containers will be used for many goods, and milk will be sold in containers at first, but ultimately a dispenser machine will be available. For things like salad dressings, marinades and sauces, Christian says they’re encouraging customers to make
their own by offering dispensers for vinegars, oils and spices. With the in.gredients model, Christian hopes to provide a cheaper way of getting food to both owners and customers. “They can save money by not buying these value-added products that use a lot of processing,” Christian says. And there’s money to be saved on shipping, delivery and, of course, dealing with spent packaging. In fact, the nascent company’s mantra is a twist on the usual: “Refuse, reduce and reuse.” “Instead of energy-intensive recycling because of product packaging, we’re trying to refuse packaging itself.” The path to package-free and zero-waste shopping hasn’t been without hurdles, though. The logistics and economics of “going zero” were the easy parts. The biggest difficulty has been navigating the city regulations. “Overall it’s just a really time-consuming process of paperwork and bureaucracy,” says Christian. But the brothers have been amazed by the passion and interest they’ve already seen from the community. The team picked East Austin for a reason: it’s an area greatly underserved for access to fresh, local food, and one that’s ripe for a return to the old neighborhood grocery store. “It’s amazing how many people there are here in Austin wanting to make this happen,” Christian says. “It’s a true sense of community.” —Terrence Henry in.gredients 2610 Manor Rd. 512-266-8271 in.gredients.com
Lone Star Foodservice sources and delivers the finest cuts of natural beef, pork and lamb to tables across Texas. We are committed to promoting sustainable agriculture and humanely raised livestock through our partnerships with local farms, ranches and chefs.
CEO and third generation butcher
Windy Bar Ranch Stonewall, Texas
1403 East 6th Street Austin, TX • 512-646-6218 NaturalMeats@LoneStarFood.com
Photography (this page) by Chris Corona Clockwise from top left: Five month old Jersey cow at Stryk Jersey Farm; raw milk is mixed with cultures and sets between 30 to 90 minutes; Avellan measures the PH of the milk, which defines the flavor and its aging process; cheese curds are separated as the whey drains, a delicate process; cheese curds are checked for texture before saltingâ€”the texture of the curds and how they are cut determines the moistness of the cheese; final packaging for an order from Williams-Sonoma of the Clasico (left) and the Especial (right). 18
Joaquin Avellan Photography of Joaquin Avellan (left) and his nephew Javier Antonio Avellan by Whitney Arostegui
b y E l i z a b et h W i n s l o w
fter years spent working in the film industry, Joaquin Avellan fell into his new avocation by accident. His father came to the States from the family’s native Venezuela for heart surgery. After the surgery, the elder Avellan needed help returning home to his dairy, where the Llanos grasslands meet the Andes mountains, near the village of Barinitas. Joaquin volunteered to go back with him and get him settled. “My father could not go into the dairy, so I set up cameras so that he could monitor the operation remotely. I got in the habit of waking early to make sure the cows were being milked and that my father’s standards were being
met in the cheesemaking shop.” In time, his father grew stronger, and Avellan returned home. Once back in Austin though, Avellan found himself waking in a panic at 3:00 each morning. “I need to milk the cows!” he would think in a haze, before realizing that he had returned to his film-editing career and left the cows thousand of miles to the south. He found himself thinking fondly of the tricky business of cheesemaking—the nuances of temperature, salinity, texture and cultures. It wasn’t long before he succumbed to the siren song and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Photography of Joaquin Avellan (left) and Bob Stryk at Stryk Jersey Farm by Chris Corona
“I would never try making cheese from pasteurized milk.” —Joaquin Avellan
He began a search for quality milk, and soon the first of many, many test batches of cheese were made in his home kitchen. Avellan’s sister Elizabeth discovered a local dairy, but he wasn’t happy with the cheese that resulted. Something wasn’t quite right, and the supply of milk was low. Then Avellan heard about Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg. He went out to meet Darlene and Bob Stryk, and knew immediately that he’d found his source for milk. “Darlene and Bob are just amazing—really happy, joyful, beautiful people. They truly love their animals and this shows in every aspect of their work.” Learning from his trial-and-error phase, Avellan was now insistent that his milk come from grassfed cows and be unpasteurized— like the milk his father uses. Luckily, the Stryck Jersey Farm is a completely grassfed operation that offers raw milk for sale. “The milk from grain-fed cows makes cheese with a funny texture,” says Avellan. “It’s chemically different, and the nuances of flavor are lost when the cows eat grain. Even worse is pasteurized milk. It is difficult to digest and kills the cultures that make good cheese. I would never try making cheese from pasteurized milk.” Avellan began making cheese with the raw milk from Stryck’s happy cows. “I made a queso fresco at first,” Avellan explains. “This is the cheese we all eat in Venezuela.” Avellan’s queso fresco was delicious—tart and crumbly, a little salty, tasting of the wide, green pastures of Central Texas. He took a sample to Austin’s resident cheese expert, John Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. “It was incredible,” Antonelli recalls. “We were all loving it, and then he told us 20
it was made with raw milk. I told him, ‘you’ve got to get this out of here!’” As delicious as the queso fresco might have been, the FDA requires all raw-milk cheese sold in the U.S. to be aged a minimum of 60 days. Rather than feeling discouraged, though, Avellan simply wondered what would happen to a queso fresco when it was aged. “Every day it kept getting better and better,” he says. “It has the same tartness as a queso fresco, with nuances of lemon, lime and kiwi. I was so excited about the 60-day aging process that this is where I got the name. Sixty days equals two moons, so I named my company Dos Lunas.” Avellan even developed a unique aging process. Rather than aging in a cave, Dos Lunas cheeses are suspended at a temperature of 41 degree and wrapped rather than exposed to the air. Moisture remains in the cheese, and ultimately it takes on the character and complexity of an aged cheese but with a soft, melting unctuousness from the retained moisture. It wasn’t long before Avellan’s father made the trip to Austin to sample the cheese he had inspired. The senior Avellan was so pleased with it that he’s just released a first run of Dos Lunas Barinitas in Venezuela. In his son’s mind, this honor is the greatest stamp of approval he could ever wish for. or more information on Dos Lunas Cheese and where to buy it, visit F doslunascheese.com.
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Red Rabbit Bakery b y A n d r e a A b e l • P h o t o g r ap h y b y A n D y S a m s
From left: Cooperative members Samantha McCormick, Cathy Ruiz, Bryce Benton, Gayathri Marasinghe and Christina Waite.
t started with a movie—a political documentary, to be exact: Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. Cathy Ruiz watched it and was captivated by the featured cooperative bakery that offered equal compensation for all member workers, including the CEO. She went to her job at a commercial bakery the next day and posed a question to her fellow bakers: “Does anyone want to start a cooperative bakery?” Such was the beginning of Red Rabbit Bakery, a cooperatively owned and managed business currently turning out delectable vegan doughnuts for Wheatsville Food Co-op and local coffeehouses, as well as hearty vegan breads for Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery. In June, 2010, a core group of experienced bakers trained in the culinary arts got together to explore the concept. The first step was to decide on the product. Ruiz, a committed vegan, remembers that she was set on going the vegan route. The others agreed it would be a good idea, even though they weren’t vegan. “We settled on vegan doughnuts,” she says, “because there isn’t any competition. It’s not the kind of thing that you
would make at home—they’re yeast doughnuts; they’re fried. We want to expand, but we thought this would be a good place to start.” “For six months, we met once a week,” says Gayathri Marasinghe, also an original co-op member. “We had a doughnut recipe and we tweaked it and tweaked it and tweaked it…we ate a lot of doughnuts.” After a dough was chosen, the crew worked to perfect glazes. “We decided to keep it to six different flavors: lemon sugar, coffee, chocolate, Mexican chocolate, sugar glazed and maple walnut,” says Marasinghe. Eventually, Samantha McCormick—who joined the group a little later in the process but who had the most experience with yeast doughs— fine-tuned the recipe and developed the additional bread recipes that would include sourdough loaves, baguettes and hamburger buns. With the perfected recipes in hand, it was time to start the business. “We knew we wanted to start a worker cooperative, but we didn’t know how to go about it,” remembers Marasinghe. Serendipitously, the group spotted an ad in the Austin Chronicle about a course being
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offered on the fundamentals of starting a worker cooperative offered by Third Coast Workers Cooperative. Kismet. “Third Coast really helped us figure out what we needed to do,” says Ruiz—noting that Texas statutes typically bypass cooperatives and rely instead on more general business codes. While all businesses share certain aspects, worker cooperatives have their own challenges and rewards. In the case of Red Rabbit, members invest equally and share profits equally, and decisions are made by unanimous vote. Members attend weekly meetings and also constitute the company’s board of directors. Production is shared, though members have favorite tasks. Ruiz and McCormick like the scientific precision of mixing ingredients— creating something out of nothing, as Ruiz describes it. Artistic Marasinghe and newer member Bryce Benton find satisfaction in glazing. Each member also takes on additional tasks. For example, Ruiz does the bookkeeping and handles delivery, and as board president, McCormick sets the meeting agenda. Although they all have academic and professional experience in other fields, they were drawn to baking by the tactile satisfaction derived by working with their hands. For now, Red Rabbit keeps up a grueling schedule, baking overnight Wednesday through Sunday—sharing a commercial kitchen space with three other food businesses. Although tough physically and socially, cooperatively owning the business helps to compensate for the difficult hours. “I would not work overnight unless it was for myself in this capacity,” says Ruiz. The bakers eventually hope to have a brick-andmortar retail bakery, which would enable them to add new baked goods to their repertoire and expand bread production. “We have plans to include cinnamon buns, sticky rolls and cookies,” says McCormick. While business decision-making must be unanimous, selecting a favorite doughnut is not. “Mexican chocolate is the one I can’t resist,” says Benton. “Sometimes I really want a chocolate one,” says Ruiz. “Sometimes I really want maple walnut. I think it’s maple walnut…and coffee… and chocolate.” “But then, there’s nothing like the good-old sugar glazed,” McCormick chimes in. Red Rabbit Bakery redrabbitbakery.com 512-537-8546
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David Kogan b y S OLL S U S S M A N
Photography by Aimee Wenske
unning just a few minutes late because of a kosher Parmesan cheese emergency, David Kogan settles into a comfortable chair at Texas Hillel to reflect on his life and work as a kosher chef and caterer. In his third year as general manager, executive chef and director of catering and kosher operations for Ecstatic Cuisine, Kogan heads a full-service catering operation out of the commercial kitchen at the Texas Hillel Foundation. He’s also in charge of the Ecstatic Cuisine café at the Region XIII Education Service Center. A philosophy major when at the University of Texas, the 30-year-old self-taught chef says his interest in cooking started when he became a fan of TV’s Japanese Iron Chef. “That was my soul and inspiration,” he says. As it turns out, his major wasn’t too far from his new hobby. “I found cooking a lot like philosophy: endless to learn, endless to consider.” Kogan currently spends his days contentedly preparing food according to Jewish religious practices. Kosher is procedural, he explains—the best-known facet may be the separation of meat and dairy. “Kosher, first of all, involves no blessings or holy water,” he says. “It’s purely an operational method just like cross-contamination or anything. That’s my short answer. Except the procedure is very, very complicated, and it’s entirely based on Jewish law.” Certification and supervision are key to kosher commercial operations, he says. With such rigorous standards, it’s probably no surprise that there are only three certified kosher kitchens in all of Austin (H-E-B Kosher Store and Delicatessen on Village Center Drive, the Madras Pavilion Indian vegetarian restaurant on Research Boulevard and the kitchen at Hillel). He’s held about a dozen full-time jobs since graduation, but the first opportunity to run a kitchen was at Camp Tel Yehudah, the national teen leadership camp of Young Judaea in Barryville, New York. “I have put sweat equity into learning what kosher really is,” Kogan says. “At the end of the day, I’m like an operations expert and a logistics expert.” Born in Philadelphia, he spent part of his childhood in Arizona and went to high school in Houston. He had been a camper and a counselor at the Young Judaea camp before the opportunity came to take over the food operations there. With his well-trimmed beard and crisp green chef ’s jacket, Kogan can joke now about the steep learning curve for preparing 2,000 meals a day, seven days a week, at the camp. “I had no idea what I was doing,” he recalls. “My friend gave me an overview and said, ‘Good luck!’” While in a hurry getting ready for a parents-weekend cookout, Kogan called the bakery and ordered “500 ham, 500 hot” for an anticipated total of 1,000 hamburger and hot dog buns—only to find piles of boxes totaling 500 dozen of each at the doorstep the next morning. “You make big mistakes, you only make them once,” he says. Garlic bread and salads with lots of croutons were featured on the camp menu that summer. He has returned to run the camp kitchen for four summers. Back in Austin, Kogan was offered a job at H-E-B Kosher Store and
Delicatessen and then became director of operations and food services for Hillel shortly after the new building opened on San Antonio Street, near the UT campus, in 2006. A year and a half later, he went to work for Lowell Michelson’s Dallas-based Simcha Kosher Catering with hopes of developing a fulltime kosher operation in Austin. “Lowell was an unbelievable mentor in terms of the business,” says Kogan. “I went to the Sundance Film Festival and catered with him there. I went to San Francisco and Dallas… big stuff, huge stuff. I really learned how to be a caterer. Off-site catering is a science and an art unlike any other.” However, they concluded that Austin didn’t have the steady demand for kosher weddings and bar mitzvahs that are the heart of a kosher catering company. “He offered me a job in Dallas, but I love Austin and I’m never leaving,” Kogan says. He found common ground here by providing a kosher component to Ecstatic Cuisine, which he describes as “a multifaceted catering company with a very strong basis in sustainability and green. We do basically every kind of food there is, including kosher.” And Kogan has made an art out of thinking on his feet. Take the aforementioned Parmesan cheese emergency. The panic happened when a shipment needed for an upcoming event didn’t arrive. Kogan was planning a Parmesan crisp appetizer topped with caramelized onions, Asian pears and a balsamic reduction. So, like any good captain steering a culinary ship, Kogan simply rushed out and purchased all of the kosher Parmesan he could find in Austin. Kosher crisis averted. or more information about Ecstatic Cuisine, visit ecstaticcuisine.com F or contact email@example.com. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
the Total Catch Clockwise from top: blue runner, bigeye, bluefish, rosebud seabass, knobbed bream. Courtesy of P.J. Stoops, Louisiana Foods.
b y Ke l ly Ya n d e l l
am a fishing kid. Or rather, I am a 40-year-old version of a fishing kid. My mother and father were both raised fishing, and they raised my brother and me to fish, as well. I knew how to pull out a backlash on a casting reel before I turned seven. I knew as a mere toddler that at 6:30 a.m., a Texas lake is prettier than almost any spot on earth. But my decent 26
vocabulary of freshwater game fishâ€”the various bass, crappie, catfish and bream to name a fewâ€”belies my landlocked ignorance. I have traveled to the Gulf to take my own children to the beach, but never ventured to think about what was swimming in the water other than people and jellyfish. As a cook, I have rarely given a thought to where my saltwater fish comes from
Photography by Kelly Yandell
The real lesson of bycatch is that we have a backyard overflowing with obtainable, ample, healthful and beautiful food about which those outside the commercial and recreational fishing industries know virtually nothing. prior to gazing at it through the glass, lined up in neat little boneless, mostly skinless rows. A recent trip to the Gulf Coast changed my outlook completely. In February, I attended my first Foodways Texas event in Galveston. Foodways Texas is a celebratory, academic, nonprofit organization with a goal of documenting the historical food cultures of Texas. It also hosts symposia that allow Texas food communities to discuss current topics of interest. At the Galveston gathering, the discussion that really caught my attention was the one on trashfish and bycatch led by fishmonger P.J. Stoops of Louisiana Foods, Chef Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston and Chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club in Austin. Trashfish and bycatch are highly ironic monikers that relate to how a species of edible fish has been treated commercially. It is an assessment of economy, not gastronomy. When commercial fishing boats enter the Gulf, they each have a goal, or a “target” species. They are looking for a haul of snapper or shrimp or whatever species they are able to most successfully market. As the lines and nets are brought in, numerous other species of fish are pulled in with the target species. This is bycatch. With no readily available market for these varieties, they are considered trash and thrown back. Sadly, many are already dead or significantly injured at this point. Trashfish doesn’t sound very appetizing, but certain experts, like Stoops, Caswell and Griffiths, are convinced that this is the new wave of ethical and sustainable seafood consumption. The only requirement is that we consumers have to learn a bit and look past the marquee fish of which we have been so enamored for the past two decades. Among them—the swordfish, the legendary bluefin tuna and the true red snapper—swim hordes of little-known and altogether ignored species that are plentiful, delicious and basically wasted. These are fish that are highly valued in foreign markets, and some are considered true delicacies. Technology and improved methods have made it easier, relative to 100 years ago, to harvest massive quantities of not only shrimp, but the highly sought after apex predator species. These are the species at the top of the food chain. The over-harvesting of these large fish with long reproduction cycles is fraught with risk to each of these species. Where fishermen once boasted of reeling in 2000-pound
swordfish, they now routinely catch 200-pounders. The old ones are increasingly gone, and the young fish cannot develop into adulthood before being caught. These converging issues make the acceptance of —and education about—alternative species in the Gulf all the more important. It is easy, upon first glimpse of this issue to immediately point a finger at commercial fishermen for these phenomena. But, ever since we heard about dolphin getting caught in tuna nets, great strides have been made in creating fishing technology that minimizes bycatch. Fishermen bring to dock what they think they can sell. We, the consumers, are the ones who create the demand. If we demand big slabs of boneless fish and are willing to pay dearly for it, we will be sold just that. If we gravitate to the exact same “popular” fish each time we order at a restaurant, that is what we will be served. However, EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
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As stories abound about food safety and the unknowable provenance of some of the fish that comes to market, the idea of getting our fish from our own local waters becomes all the more attractive. if we ask our fishmonger or chefs to educate us about other types of smaller, less-known fare, perhaps we too can take part in a new way of looking at Gulf seafood. Expanding our palates and celebrating the Gulf will take the pressure off of the arguably overharvested fisheries and help open a viable market for the species we now refer to as only bycatch and trashfish. An exciting Saturday market in Houston aims to change the way we look at Gulf seafood. Louisiana Foods is a large Houston-based seafood distributor. Its founder, Jim Gossen, is a true advocate of Gulf Coast seafood and the health of its fisheries. He gave P.J. Stoops and Billy Tellez the green light to start the Total Catch Market. For years, Stoops had been trying to convince boat captains that they would not be “wasting ice” by keeping the bycatch. Time spent working in kitchens in France and Thailand had given him a window on the exceptionally diverse palates in other countries. He took his curiosity about the Gulf and his culinary awareness and started trying to source and market new and interesting fish to chefs. The result, several years since he began in earnest, has been the vibrant, new Saturday market at Louisiana Foods. Using social media such as Twitter and the Total Catch Market website, Stoops puts out the word to his customers. He produces a weekly list of the bycatch being brought in for the Saturday markets, and he is on hand to educate his customers about filleting and deboning the fish, if needed, and cooking ideas. The given names of these fish are colloquial delights: sheepshead, barrelfish, spinycheek scorpion fish, tilefish, pink porgy, triggerfish. The diversity of the offerings is a dream for any adventurous cook, but the real lesson of bycatch is that we have a backyard overflowing with obtainable, ample, healthful and beautiful food about which those outside the commercial and recreational fishing industries know virtually nothing. Ironically, several of these fish are only considered “trash” in our specific part of the Gulf. In the eastern Gulf, triggerfish, tilefish and pink porgy are targeted, and the pink porgy has even been overfished in the south Atlantic fisheries. Houstonians of various cultural backgrounds are excited that they now have access to fish that they haven’t been able to source since they lived in their native countries. “In the Mediterranean, the spinycheek scorpion fish is considered a requirement for bouillabaisse,” says Stoops. “Here, you normally can’t get it.” Several customers have asked to be immediately alerted any time the scorpion fish is available. And, while the aptly named Total Catch Market does not re-
strict its market to only the Gulf fish and bycatch, Stoops has been excited to see that every Saturday the local fish is what sold first. At the Foodways symposium, Chef Tim Byres of Smoke, a Dallas restaurant devoted to sustainability, teamed up with Louisiana Foods to create a meal from a bycatch species for attendees. As the fog rolled over a cool Galveston evening, Byres stood over a bed of glowing orange coals and prepared an elegant meal of grilled black drum. It was a substantial, meaty and satisfying fish. He served it with a traditional boiled shrimp and a decidedly nontraditional ash salsa made from chilies charred on the coals. What P.J. Stoops knows, and what Tim Byres showed us that evening, is that chefs and local fish shops will be the vanguard of widespread acceptability of bycatch and trashfish. When a respected chef introduces us to a new type of fish and shows us that it can be prepared well, we then turn around and try to achieve those results in our own homes. There is no better regional example of chef-driven food acceptance than Paul Prudhomme and the popularity he brought to the redfish. Gossen recently asked Prudhomme why he chose the redfish. Prudhomme related to him that it was good, and it was available. Prior to Prudhomme starting a veritable craze over blackened redfish, it was not used much commercially. The irony of the notion of bycatch is that once we see the value in these fish and help create a viable market for them, they become a valuable target species. Now, because of incredible response from diners, the redfish has game-fish status and is protected. However, the total-catch concept is more attractive because it focuses on the emergence of a whole array of species and not just one. As “total catch” implies, we need not restrict our palates to achieve this, but merely expand them. That is a winning proposition for anyone who loves seafood. This new way of looking at Gulf seafood is blossoming in the Austin area, too. Chef Ned Elliott of Foreign & Domestic changed his menu to read simply “Third Coast fish” to describe the fish of the day so that he could serve what is available each week. “We want to support the fisherman of the Gulf, particularly with the drought and the oil spill, and it’s fun to see some new things like queen snapper and speckled trout come in,” says Elliott. “It’s interesting for us and a good selling point that when it is bycatch we know where it came from. There is a backstory for us.” Not surprisingly, Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar features regular bycatch specials as part of their extensive seafood offerings. And these less well-known fish are also showing up on the menus of Wink, Vespaio, Olivia, La Condesa and Péché, and as part of the seafood dinners hosted by Dai Due Supper Club. In November, Slow Food Austin and Foodways Texas presented a bycatch dinner and will offer more in 2012. As stories abound about food safety and the unknowable provenance of some of the fish that comes to market, the idea of getting our fish from our own local waters becomes all the more attractive. It is also a matter of jobs, economy, safety and good old-fashioned local eating. This move to utilize these excellent Gulf resources is locavorism in the name of an exceptional product. We will always have our favorite non-locally sourced fish, but it is time that we celebrate what we already have. As a cook, I am excited and challenged, and I will never look into the fish case at my local market the same way again.
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What’s in a Name?
Photography of Foodways Texas Symposium–Gulf Coast Gathering by Marshall Wright
B y K r i st i W i l l i s
rdering oysters on the half shell can feel like a whirlwind tour around coastal retreats—Malpeques from Prince Edward Island, Blue Points from Connecticut or Wellfleets from Massachusetts. Yet, on many menus, oysters from the Gulf of Mexico are listed simply as Gulf oysters with no unique moniker, known as an “appellation,” describing their point of origin. That hasn’t always been the case. In a Galveston Daily News article from 1902, the writer extols the delights of oysters from Ladies Pass, Pepper Grove and Deer Island. But by the 1970s, Texas oysters had lost their appellations. The homogenization started when Chesapeake Bay—overharvested and infested with oyster-killing parasites—stopped producing enough oysters to meet demand. East Coast suppliers scooped up the Gulf oysters—intentionally dropping their appellations so that consumers would assume they were local. Little by little, the names slipped away until oysters harvested from Texas to Florida were known only by their generic label. In an effort to revive the appellations, Foodways Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Texas food culture, hosted a panel and tasting in February 2011 to highlight the differences in oysters from around the Gulf. The buffet featured 12 different varieties from a swath stretching from East Bay, Florida, to Aransas Pass, Texas. “There are distinct differences,” notes panel participant Levi Goode of Houston’s Goode Company Seafood, “even between the five differ-
ent reefs in Galveston Bay, depending on water flow and how close the oysters are to freshwater runoff.” Goode was inspired to host a similar tasting at his restaurant and feature the oysters throughout the season. “Lots of our customers are fishermen and like being able to ask for the oysters by name…understanding geographically where they’re from.” Oysters require both freshwater and saltwater to survive, and the balance of the two determines the size and flavor of the oyster. Within the same bay, oysters from one reef may be meatier than those from a reef just a few feet away, while another reef across the pass might yield mollusks with a saltier flavor. The point of harvest conveys to the customer much more than mere geography. Several disasters affecting different parts of the Gulf reinforced the need for the industry to regionalize the names of the oysters. The BP oil spill that caused serious damage to the Louisiana coast scared consumers away from seafood in other parts of the Gulf as well, even though there was no damage to the Texas reefs or waters. Branding Texas seafood separately became imperative to the survival of the industry. Oystermen can also charge more for the appellation oysters because they require more labor. Jim Gossen of Louisiana Foods, a seafood supplier based in Houston, explains, “It’s the difference between taking a shovel and loading up oysters and handpicking them. In a typical sack of oysters, you may get two to three great oysters that are shaped well and have plenty of meat in them. But, it can’t be just about the money; it has to be about the quality. I want the oysters to have that wow factor.” EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
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Published by Shearer Publishing Fredericksburg, TX
This collection of over 500 recipes from favorite Texas cookbooks characterizes Texas cooking from down-home comfort foods to dishes of urban inspiration. Available at your favorite bookseller .
Photography of Louisiana Seafood oyster (left) and Goode Company Seafood oysters by Jenna Noel
Gossen adds that the generic Gulf oyster still has its place at the table. “The appellation oysters aren’t for an oyster bar like Acme in New Orleans, where they are cranking out the oysters, but better suited for a place where they can present them and that has the clientele that will pay for the extra work that goes into it.” Trace, tucked inside Austin’s W hotel, featured Texas oysters on its menu during the 2010 season. “In our constant pursuit to locate and utilize the best and most unique ingredients our region has to offer, we are very proud to be serving the Gulf appellation oysters,” says Chef Paul Hargrove. “When they were in season last year in our opening, we showcased them, and this year we plan to do the same. When the Gulf oysters are available, that’s all we use.” Unfortunately, the drought is another disaster that has wreaked havoc on the oyster reefs. As of November 2011, Texas Parks and Wildlife shut down the oyster beds in the Texas Gulf Coat waters because of red tide—an algal bloom that’s exacerbated by the high salinity of the waters due to drought. Without rain, the red tide
could put an end to this oyster season before it even gets started. Buddy Treybig of Arnold’s Seafood Oyster House in Matagorda warned, “It looks bleak, but we’re still getting our boats ready and hoping to have a good season. Who knows—not working the beds in October could mean they’ll be in better shape when the season starts. If we get rain, it wouldn’t be too late to have a good season.” With a little rain and a bit of curiosity from diners, Texas oysters, touting their proud appellations, could take a more prominent place at the table this season. For updates on the status of the Gulf oyster beds, call 800-685-0361.
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Culinary “Zauber” that goes far beyond Bier und Brats.
If you come to Fredericksburg anticipating authentic German cuisine, we will not disappoint. But further exploration will reveal restaurateurs that offer decidedly more diverse menus. Escolar and lobster. Seared duck breast with ginger/orange glaze. Tender steaks. And very naughty desserts. All complemented by award-winning cabs, zins, chards, rieslings and merlots from our numerous vineyards and wineries. Incidentally, “Zauber” is the German word for “magic”. Guten Appetit. H V i s i t F re d e r i c k s b u r g T X . c o m
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Bad Dog Bar Craft co-owners Jason Stevens and Lara Nixon, holding company namesake Penelope, with Kyroshiro (left) and Isabelle in attendance.
Lara Nixon’s BitterS B y V e r o n i c a M e e w e s • p h o t o g r ap h y b y D u s t i n M e y e r
s handcrafted pickles and housecured meats continue to grace the pages of menus across town, and waiters wax at length about where local greens were sourced, more and more local bartenders are also arming themselves with an artisanal arsenal: aromatic bitters made either in-house or by small-batch producers. Drinks are becoming as garden-to -glass as food is farm-to-table, and it’s only natural that bitters would eventually glide into the limelight. They are, after all, the salt and pepper of the bar world and older than the cocktail itself. “Bitters are probably the oldest medicine,” says Lara Nixon, formerly one half of Austin’s Tipsy Tech spirit-education program, and Austin’s newest bitters queen. Her company, Bad Dog Bar Craft, just launched Texas’s first line of locally produced, organic bitters. Originally ingested for their many purported health benefits, bitters are tinctures made from extracting roots, barks, herbs, spices, fruit peels, flowers and seeds into (typically) an alcohol base. To help counter the strong medicinal taste, imbibers eventually began to dilute and sweeten the tinctures, thus creating the cocktail. Today, aromatic bitters are used to add depth to drinks as well as to cut sweetness and to balance contrasting cocktail components. “They mirror exactly what spices do in food,” Nixon says. After Prohibition was repealed, all but a couple of commercial bitters companies disappeared. But today, as the cocktail renaissance continues to thrive and grow, mixologists are researching, rediscovering and recreating old bitters recipes, as well as inventing their own. Nixon’s botanical lab is a modern-day apothecary: vessels and jars of all shapes and sizes are tucked into different drawers; bags of fragrant shrubbery are labeled with exotic names like damiana and pau d’arco bark; funnels and scales stand at the ready. Experimentation and patience are essential to the creation process. “It’s hard to taste a bitters and deconstruct it,” she explains. “They’re a very complex and married flavor. Some bitters have as few as five or six ingredients; some have thirty.” But it’s not just flavor Nixon looks for when perfecting a bitters
formula. She’s also watchful for mouthfeel, bitterness, astringency—a plethora of subtleties. And since different botanicals extract at different rates, extraction alone is a trial-and-error process. “I’m really lucky that I’ve been cooking for so long,” says Nixon. “It helps me to understand how flavors go together.” Once a desirable combination is found, she begins experimenting with dilution as well as the tincture’s reaction when added to various spirits. Bad Dog Bar Craft’s flagship bitters showcase inherently Texan essences, like the root-beer-reminiscent Texas Sarsaparilla Drying Bitters and the barbecueinspired Fire and Damnation Bitters. Nixon has about 10 other flavors in the works, with a Texas grapefruit coming soon and a mesquite blend on the horizon. She’s busy producing other handmade bar products, too, like artisanal syrups, fortified wines and vermouths, liqueurs and Victorian-inspired ornamental barware. The cameo-like canine profile that serves as the logo is an homage to Lara’s very own bad dog, Penelope. “I wanted to have products that were really kind of fun, that sort of showed my personality a little bit,” explains Nixon. She plans on touring the country with Bad Dog Bar Craft and encouraging dogs and their owners to attend events, where they can pose in costume for Victorian-inspired portraits together. “We’re not taking ourselves very seriously, to be honest. In the spirits industry, there are a lot of people who take themselves quite seriously and I think that really takes the fun out of it. When it’s no longer fun, then it’s time to get out of the business.” Nixon is excited to inspire both consumer interaction and community involvement. “We have a very tight-knit, cooperative bar community, and we all help one another out,” she says. “This community really lends itself to helping people be successful as entrepreneurs, or in their own endeavors, and there’s something really special about Austin in that way.” or more information about Lara Nixon and Bad Dog Bar Craft F products, visit baddogbarcraft.com.
Edible imbibables DIY TRADITIONAL ORANGE BITTERS Courtesy of Lara Nixon 4 c. vodka ¼ lb. dried orange peel, preferably from bitter oranges ½ t. fennel seeds ½ t. coriander seeds 1 cardamom pod, cracked open ½ t. gentian root
Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store at room temperature for 7 days, then strain and use. Suggested uses:
DIY MULLED WINTER BITTERS Courtesy of Lara Nixon 1 c. Rittenhouse bonded* rye whiskey 1 c. Laird’s apple brandy 100 proof (not applejack) 3 3-in. cinnamon sticks 15 cloves 20 cracked allspice berries
1½ T. coriander seeds 1 cracked nutmeg 5 cardamom pods 1 t. gentian root Zest from ½ a medium orange 2 oz. of grade B maple syrup
In a wide-mouth mason jar, combine the rye and apple brandy. In a heavy skillet, toast all of the dry spices, except the gentian, until fragrant. Add the toasted dry spices, gentian and orange peel to the liquor jar and screw on the cap. Let the mixture macerate for 9 to 10 days at room temperature, shaking once each day. Afterward, strain all of the solids out of the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and discard the solids. Add the maple syrup to the strained bitters and shake. Allow to sit 1 more day before using. Suggested use:
2 oz. gin 1 oz. dry vermouth 2–4 dashes of Traditional Orange Bitters Lemon or orange peel, to garnish
Combine ingredients in a pint glass, add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon (or orange) peel.
VESUVIUS Courtesy of Lara Nixon 1¾ oz. Oronoco Brazilian white rum ½ oz. rich honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part hot water) ½ oz. lime juice 1 dash (more if you like it really spicy) Bad Dog Bar Craft Fire and Damnation bitters ¹/8 t. Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal Lime and mint, to garnish
Combine all ingredients except the mezcal in a shaker. Chill a cocktail glass, then swirl the mezcal in the glass. Shake and strain the rest of the drink into the glass and garnish with a lime wheel and mint leaf.
CLASSIC MANHATTAN 2 oz. rye whisky 1 oz. sweet vermouth 2–4 dashes Mulled Winter Bitters Maraschino cherry, to garnish
Combine ingredients in a pint glass, add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry. If you can’t get a genuine maraschino cherry, please skip the cherry. *Note: “Bonded” or “bottled in bond” spirits are those that have been aged and bottled according to United States government regulations. They must be the product of one distillation season and one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under government supervision for a minimum of four years and bottled at 100 proof. 36
THE FORD HYBRID COCKTAIL Courtesy of Lara Nixon 1 oz. Old Tom Gin 1 oz. blanc vermouth, mid-sweet such as Dolin Blanc 3 dashes orange bitters (I prefer Regan’s) 3 dashes Bad Dog Bar Craft Sarsaparilla Dry bitters Maraschino cherry, to garnish
Combine all ingredients with ice in a pint glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo marschino cherry. If you can’t get a genuine maraschino cherry, please skip the cherry.
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T I TO ’S H A N D MA D E V O D KA HANDCRAFTED IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, BY TITO BEVERIDGE No matter how you mix it, my handmade vodka beats those giant “imports” every day.
Wine Enthusiast ratings
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 100 POINTS
TITO’S HANDMADE VODKA ®
89 Grey Goose 84 FRANCE Belvedere 84 POLAND Absolut 84 SWEDEN Ketel One
Handcrafted to be savored responsibly.
spiced pear tito’s with Honeyed Rosé Spritz
Created by JUSTIN ELLIOT Volstead Lounge
Spiced Pear Tito’s:
• ½ Tahitian vanilla bean • fill remainder with Tito’s In large glass jar place: • one ripening Bartlett pear In a ½-cup mason jar place: and one ripening Bosc pear per liter of Tito’s • 4 tbsp dried orange peel In a 2-cup mason jar • 1 pinch gentian place: • 1 pinch wormwood • 2 tbsp juniper • fill remainder with Tito’s • 1 tsp grains of paradise Let all steep for a week, • 4 tsp inner regularly agitating. Strain cardamom seed all through cheesecloth. • 4 tbsp green Blend infusions to taste. cardamom pods We used 7L Tito’s for the • 5 dried hibiscus flowers pear infusion, about ¾ of the spiced infusion, and • 4 cinnamon sticks all of the bitter orange infusion. Photo ©2011, Elizabeth Bellanti
Slowly simmer 1 ¹⁄8 lbs Texas wildflower honey into 1L Tuscan Rosé until dissolved.
build the cocktail:
• 1oz Spiced Pear Tito’s • 1oz Honeyed Rosé Blend Spiced Pear Tito’s and Honeyed Rosé over ice, top with soda water, and garnish with a lemon peel.
Fifth Generation, Inc., Austin, Texas. 40% alcohol by volume. ©2011 Tito’s Handmade Vodka. TitosEdibleAd1011.indd 1
11/1/11 3:17 PM
A Mess of Greens B y E l i z a b et h E n g e l h a r d t
oward the end of a project I was working on about my home region—the mountains of Appalachia—I stumbled across repeated references to something in the 1890s called the “Beaten Biscuit Crusade.” That turned out to be an effort to get local women to stop making their staple bread, corn bread, for their families and start making a specific (and complicated) biscuit recipe. I was intrigued because I, like many of us, grew up eating both biscuits and corn bread, and associating them equally with a kind of comforting home cooking. But at the turn of the century, the choice between the two breads was one that revealed a lot about race, gender, class, modernity, ideas of sanitation and hygiene and place. A Mess of Greens really took off from there—with each of its chapters exploring a dif-
ferent food practice in the Southern food story, from moonshine, tomato clubs and mill food to farmers markets and cookbooks. Near the end of researching the girls’ tomato-club movement, I stumbled across something very personal in the archives, something no one in my family remembered: a photograph of my great-grandmother in Quebec, North Carolina, on the steps of her general store, surrounded by the canning club she was leading. I now have a copy of that photograph on my desk to remind me that food is both social and personal, and that talking about it helps us understand ourselves as well as the societies in which we live. The excerpt that follows is taken from Chapter Three, “Canning Tomatoes.”
Canning Tomatoes: Growing “Better and More Perfect Women” An excerpt from A Mess of Greens by Elizabeth Engelhardt, Copyright © 2011 by the University of Georgia Press.
Tomato Club. Tomato Club. See how we can. See how we can. Give us tomatoes and a good sharp knife— This is the place to get a good wife. Did ever you see such girls in your life— As the Tomato Club? In 1909, Marie Samuella Cromer sat in the audience at a teachers’ meeting in South Carolina. A rural schoolteacher in the western South Carolina town of Aiken, Cromer heard a speech about Dr. Seaman A. Knapp’s boys’ corn clubs that were transforming southern crop yields. According to her own retelling, Cromer raised her hand to ask, “But what are we doing for the farm girls?” She was not the first audience member across the South to ask such a question; but what made Cromer different was what she did next. She headed back home and, by 1910, had organized a girls’ tomato club so that “girls will not learn simply how to grow better and more perfect tomatoes, but how to grow better and more perfect women.” Before long, more than five hundred thousand girls across the nation were in tomato clubs, 38
mostly in the South; they wrote songs (like the one above), designed labels, adopted mottoes, created uniforms, won scholarships, traveled to conferences, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars in total profits. Although short in duration, the tomato club movement was long on potential; the South really had never before seen “such girls in your life—as the Tomato Club.” … Because the original organizers left such good records, tomato clubs give us the rare opportunity to listen to girls’ own voices. Cromer’s scrapbook quoted her prizewinners; Susie Powell’s Mississippi archive included handwritten reports from local club presidents. Most vividly, nestled in the collections of the North Carolina Division of Archives were dozens of brightly painted, beribboned, and bound tomato club reports. Sent to “Mrs. McKimmon” from rural girls all across North Carolina, the earliest ones dating from the 1911–1912 season, each report documented the experiences of a ten- to twenty-year-old girl and her one-tenth acre of tomato plants. Some were poetic, like the one that began “I once was a little seed and I was in an envelope and some
one carried me to Maggie Ray” and the one from Katie Poovey that read “Plant a little seed / Very small indeed. / Put it in the ground / In a little mound. / And wait to see what / It will be.” Others were practical; some used nineteenth-century scrapbook techniques of cutting and pasting bright images into a whole, and others employed striking watercolors to illustrate the story within. One even existed in two versions: the first with a story of boys seeing Ethel Baggett’s bare ankles after a mishap with a kettle of hot water and the second with that story excised in favor of a more formal recitation of her final canned results, evidence of the gap between what girls found funny and what teachers found appropriate. It was a rare intervention, however; for the most part the reports give an unedited glimpse into early twentieth-century farm girls’ cultures. Sallie Jones’s Favorite Mechanical Canner While today the prospect of lessons in canning could seem quintessentially domestic rather than public or career oriented, girls’ reports showed that in the early 1900s, tomato clubs represented the newest modern and public science and technology. That promise led to one report cover featuring a looming gray machine. Carefully detailed model numbers, brand name, and coloring gave the equipment weight on the page. Sallie Jones of Alamance County in North Carolina’s Piedmont—“Club No. 3, Member No. 7,” as she called herself—illustrated her tomato booklet with neither her crop nor her finished cans, but instead with a rendering of her club’s mechanical canner. With its sealed metal casing and impressive venting smokestack, the Standard Cannery she pictured emphasized the soldering, high temperatures, and chemistry mastered by tomato club girls. Jones lingered on the technology of the tomato canning—and her role as the scientist or engineer in charge. She precisely detailed the process, from lining up tomatoes in scalding trays to dropping “the tomatoes in the boiling water” and allowing them to “remain for one minute after which we put them in cold water to make them firm.” She reported the exact time to leave them in the canner after sealing (twenty-two minutes) and recommended turning the cans “up side down for twenty-four hours to prevent them from bulging.” Jones even imparted lessons on affixing labels, suggested recipes (with precise measurements), and calculated her personal yield: “Considering the drought this summer, my 1/10 acre of tomatoes has done remarkably well; the yield being 780
the total number of pounds 2340. There were five dozen tomatoes used at home, and ten dozen and a half sent to market.” Around 1910, corn clubs, poultry clubs, pig clubs, and sewing or general homemaking clubs began occasionally opening their membership to girls. But tomato clubs were the ones that really took off in terms of membership, success, and enthusiasm of participants, supporters, and reporters. Some of the successes should be attributed to the tomato itself. Tomatoes grew well in the soil and climate of the South, where the agricultural work was focused. In the Carolinas, relatively few acres were planted in tomatoes when the clubs began. As a result, Cromer and McKimmon argued (and convincingly documented) that more profit could be made from systematically canning tomatoes than from other crops currently being grown. Mississippi, on the other hand, was already growing a surplus of tomatoes, but farmers there did not have the habit of canning so fruit lay rotting in the fields. Powell and her supporters could argue that tomato clubs reaped profit by turning those losses into easy gains. Further, tomatoes were acidic enough to be forgiving items to can; even under less than ideal circumstances (such as outside with wood fires and makeshift tables), tomato canning produced less spoilage than, for instance, sugary fruits or fresh meats. Tomatoes held up well for canning, and the end product tasted quite good, which meant that people were willing to purchase canned tomatoes. Finally, tomatoes were easy garden plants for young girls to handle. They did not require heavy machinery to plant or harvest (unlike, say, grains); therefore tomatoes did not necessarily challenge people’s ideas about appropriate gender roles on the farm. Ironically, by seeming so perfectly suited to girls, the tomato cleared plenty of space for radical challenges to gender, race, class, and science on the farm through girls’ club work. … Perhaps the lessons in technology and chemistry that canning in tin involved explain why southern girls were so enthusiastic about the tomato clubs’ domestic lessons…. Learning to can in a tomato club really was a challenging and new lesson in the machinery and markets of the public world. Sallie Jones’s Standard Cannery continues to bear witness to the knowledge of chemistry and technology the tomato clubs allowed her to gather. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Chef John Besh is famous for using farmfresh ingredients to create signature Louisiana dishes. His latest cookbook, My Family Table, celebrates home-cooking. Signed copies available at BookPeople while supplies last.
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Charlotte Yoder’s Checkbook Charlotte Yoder took a different benefit from her tomato club experiences and documented it in her report. She tied her cover with a fuchsia ribbon and drew a large tomato on it with colored pencils. Yoder was only twelve years old when she became a tomato club girl, and she wrote like a girl whose thoughts moved faster than her pen: run-on sentences, underlined words, and sporadic punctuation. She was consistent, though, in her overall message: tomatoes equaled money—a new concept for this farm girl outside Hickory in the western North Carolina foothills. Money, in fact, was the subject of her opening sentence: “I joined the tomato club because I had never had any money except what my mother gave me and I did not feel like that was mine.” She continued on the same note: “When the tomato club agent came to our schoolhouse and told us about club girls making money I wanted to join.” Tomatoes were an attractive option for Yoder, because she was limited in what she could do to raise money: “I have lots of work to do at home helping mama and I have an invalid brother that I wait on most of the time.” Her report detailed her crop, the weather, and her battles with bugs. Nonetheless, that first year she produced “88 cans of tomatoes for sale.” From the beginning, the women pioneering the tomato clubs wanted girls to realize a profit from their work. Although some of their harvest was destined for home use, which technically freed up family money that would otherwise have been spent over winter in local stores for processed food, most of their harvest was marketed and sold by the girls so they would end the season with cash in hand. To do this successfully, girls had to learn entrepreneurship, to price their goods, to research their markets, and to emphasize branding and standardizing their products. The explicit goal of getting money into girls’ hands may have been the most provocative aim of the first tomato clubs.… A fellow audience member at the South Carolina meeting during which Cromer developed the tomato club idea argued that girls should not make practical money but should use their leisure time in dainty pursuits. She proposed that girls’ work be safely leisurely and gender appropriate. Cromer disagreed and “put aside as unfitting the suggestion of another of the teachers that she organize a ‘chrysanthemum club,’ realizing that what was needed was something which would be of vital usefulness.” In other words, growing flowers was not going to accomplish the economic transformation the tomato club organizers had in mind. Knapp himself suggested that the ultimate reason for choosing the one-tenth acre requirement for the girls was that planting a 40-by-100-foot plot that was too large for any one family to use forced the girls to market their product—it explicitly moved beyond home and domestic space and consumption and into public, economic production. … For southern girls, economic resources from tomatoes came directly from southern soil and their local communities. Because joining the tomato club did not mean trading self-sufficiency (or the belief in it) for cash, tomato clubs were radically different from the other economic options available to them: going to work in a nearby factory or a culturally distant urban workforce. Tomatoes generated value within individuals, and by extension, their communities, counties, and states.… Tomatoes were food items that lent part of their value to the very girls who produced them, enabling the girls and their families to celebrate rather than worry over the girls’ work and leisure.
CRUSHED SAN MARZANOS WITH BASIL* Courtesy of Stephanie McClenny of confituras Makes 4 to 5 pints Savor summer tomatoes all year long with this versatile preserved tomato. Use in winter stews, chilis and quick pasta dishes. 5 lb. ripe San Marzano tomatoes (preferably organic) 5 t. kosher salt 5 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice Several large, fresh basil leaves, cleaned and dried gently Special equipment: water-bath canner and 5 jars with lids and bands
Using a sharp knife, cut an “x” shape in the skin at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch them in simmering water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then remove and place in an ice bath until cool enough to handle. Peel and core the tomatoes. In a colander over a bowl, crush them by hand—retaining the juices to fill your jars or use in cocktails. Prepare the canner and sterilize jars, lids and bands. Simmer the tomatoes in a large, wide pot for about 5 minutes, until hot. Put 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into each jar, then ladle in the hot tomatoes, leaving half an inch of headspace. Remove the air bubbles and add reserved tomato juice as necessary to adjust for space. Tuck a basil leaf or two into each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars, apply the lids and rings and tighten fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes (start timing once the water has come to a boil). *If you’re new to canning please consult USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning, nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
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HEIRLOOM TOMATO JAM Courtesy of Stephanie McClenny of confituras Makes 4 to 5 half-pints This beautifully hued preserve is perfect with a farmhouse Cheddar, atop eggs or with roasted meats. 8–10 whole cloves 5–6 whole allspice 2 sticks good-quality cinnamon, broken up a bit 5 lb. heirloom tomatoes 2 c. light brown sugar 1 T. aged balsamic vinegar 3 T. lemon or lime juice Special equipment: water-bath canner and 5 jars with lids and bands
Prepare the canner and sterilize jars, lids and bands. Place the spices in a tea infuser or a small piece of cheesecloth secured with butcher twine. Place the spices in a pot along with the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for 60 to 75 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and jam-like (it will thicken a bit more as it cools, so don’t overdo it). Ladle into the sterilized jars, tighten fingertip tight and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (start timing after the water begins to boil). Join us at BookPeople on Friday, January 20, at 7 p.m. for an evening with author Elizabeth Engelhardt, along with Carol Ann Sayle from Boggy Creek Farm and Stephanie McClenny of Confituras. Curated by Edible Austin with tastings and beer.
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Craft Beer Crusaders b y K r i s t i W i l l i s • p h o t o g r ap h y b y D u s t i n M e y e r
elly up to the bar at your favorite Austin pub and you’re likely to find a bevy of taps from Texas breweries—Real Ale, (512), Saint Arnold, Independence, Live Oak—and the list keeps growing. The craft-brewing industry is exploding, representing 97 percent of the more than 1,800 breweries in the U.S. as of August 2011, according to the Brewers Association. Even with that phenomenal growth, the craft-beer industry is still a small drop in the bucket when compared to other beer sales. “In 2010, craft beer made up less than five percent of the total U.S. beer market, and that includes all the beer made by the large craft brewers like Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium,” explains Michael Graham of Austin Beerworks. “Spoetzl [maker of Shiner beers] is by far the biggest craft brewery in Texas, yet their beer accounts for just over one percent of the total beer sold in Texas, and they’re more than ten times larger than Real Ale or Saint Arnold, who are in turn over ten times larger than everyone else.” To grow their market share, the Texas craft brewers work together to convert beer drinkers to craft label enthusiasts. “We view it as our mission to work together to change people’s palates,” says Mark McDavid of Ranger Creek in San Antonio. Frank Mancuso of Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, one of Texas’s oldest craft breweries, notes that for years “craft beer was a tough sell to get in anywhere. It’s always been us against them; them meaning the big guys: Bud, Miller and Coors of the world. We’re all on the same side against the yellow, fizzy, mass-marketed stuff.” “If we can get people drinking craft beer, then they are going to keep drinking craft beer,” says Tony Drewry of Rahr & Sons Brewing Company. “Each brewery can have a handful of people that are loyal to their brand because they love it so much, but there are so many different craft beers to try that the more you can get them drinking craft beer, the more likely they will be to try your stuff, too.” Participating in the Great American Beer Festival held in Denver, the industry’s largest tasting and competition, is one of the ways the brewers promote Texas craft beer. Even though only local producers Spoetzl and Saint Arnold currently ship beer outside the state, participating on the national stage brings major benefits to all of the breweries. “It’s an industry event and a competition allowing all of the beers that we make to be judged against their peers in the craft-brew industry,” says Mancuso. “There is definitely some clout to be had if you win at the Great American Beer Festival. Since the majority of brewers aren’t dis42
tributing outside of their own state, it’s not a marketing thing as much as it is industry recognition.” The Texas craft brewers worked together to have a strong showing at this year’s festival. Tim Schwartz, director of brewing operations at Real Ale and president of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, explains that while each brewery registered on its own, the brewers coordinated to rent a refrigerated truck to transport the beer to Denver to ensure that everyone’s product arrived in good condition. The guild also stepped in to showcase the brewers who didn’t get registered. “The competition filled up so fast this year that they closed registration early and some Texas brewers didn’t get in,” Schwartz explains. “The Texas Craft Brewers Guild agreed to do a booth featuring Texas beers. Any members who didn’t get into the festival got first dibs on serving their beer in the booth.” During the festival, breweries interact with a national audience of hard-core beer enthusiasts. Ben Sabel and Jud Mulherin of Circle Brewing were delighted to have feedback from aficionados from around the country. “It’s good—in a community like this where people are from all over—to make connections,” Sabel says, “because someone from Minnesota might come here, like the beer and remember Texas craft beer as being really good. They go home and tell people, and it’s definitely good to spread out and spread the word about your brand.” Real Ale also uses the festival as a way to expose its employees to the larger craft-brew community. The brewery pays the way for two winners of its Employee of the Year award to attend the festival. “It’s helpful for our employees to understand that they are part of something bigger and to network with others from around the country,” says Schwartz. For Twisted X Brewing, participating in the Great American Beer Festival was about carving out a space in their niche market. “Since what we are doing is fairly unique, we wanted to put our name out there and own the Tex-Mex beer angle on the marketing side,” says owner Shane Bordeau. “If, by chance, we happen to win a medal, that definitely helps us as we build up to phase two of our brewery.” Of course, bringing home the gold is the main goal of the competition. “Winning medals is a lot of fun,” says Schwartz of Real Ale’s win in 2010, “and it’s really hard. There are hundreds of entries in each category. The competition is fair and there are so many high-quality beers that, if you can make it to the second round, then you should be proud. And if you win, then you are brewing great beer.” In 2011, Texas breweries brought home four medals from the com-
Amos Lowe, Uncle Billyâ€™s Brew & Que
Michael Graham, Austin Beerworks
Frank Mancuso, Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Benjamin Sabel, Circle Brewing Company
Jim Sampson, Twisted X Brewing Company
Tim Schwartz, Real Ale Brewing Company
“If we can get people drinking craft beer, then they are going to keep drinking craft beer...[and]the more likely they will be to try your stuff, too.” —Tony Drewry, Rahr & Sons petition: Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que at Lake Travis for their Bottle Rocket Lager, Austin Beerworks for their Peacemaker, North by Northwest for their Barton Kriek and Humperdink’s Restaurant & Brewery in Dallas for their Uberbrau. “[Winning a medal] reinforces our belief that we’re making great beer and motivates us to keep doing it,” says Michael Graham of Austin Beerworks. “We have no intention of that being the only medal we ever win.” For these brewers, making more great beer available is what it’s about, and helping each other by lending equipment, sharing grain shipments or giving advice to a start-up brewer makes it easier to achieve that goal. Josh Hare of Hops and Grain in Austin was shocked by how many people offered help as he was getting started. “We are all challenging each other to make better beer. The worst thing you can do is to pretend that you know everything when it is so easy to ask for help.” “The more we can stick together as the small guys to have a voice— at the beer level, sales level, political level,” notes Drewry, “the more we have a say in things, and it’s starting to really make a difference.” Cheers to that!
Meet your local craft brewers! LOCAL BREW FEST Saturday, December 10, 1 pm Black Star Co-op Tent and food sponsored by Wheatsville Food Co-op 44
Texas Craft Breweries and Brew Pubs * Indicates brew pub
Austin and Central Texas (512) Brewing Company Austin Beerworks The Barber Shop (Dripping Springs)* Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery* Circle Brewing Company The Dodging Duck Brewhaus (Boerne)* Double Horn Brewing Company (Marble Falls)* The Draught House Pub & Brewery* Faust Brewing Company (New Braunfels)* Flix Brewhouse (Round Rock)* Fredericksburg Brewing Company (Fredericksburg)* Hops and Grain Independence Brewing Company Jester King Craft Brewery Live Oak Brewing Company Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery* Middleton Brewing (Wimberley) * North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery* Pecan Street Brewing (Johnson City)* Real Ale Brewing Company (Blanco) Root Cellar Cafe and Brewery (San Marcos)* Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner) Thirsty Planet Brewing Company Twisted X Brewing Company (Cedar Park) Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que* Wimberley Brewing Company (Wimberley)*
Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Deep Ellum Brewing Company Franconia Brewing Company (McKinney)
Humperdink’s Restaurant & Brewery (Arlington and Dallas)* Rahr & Sons Brewing Company (Fort Worth) Two Rows Classic Grill (Allen)* Uncle Buck’s Brewery & Steakhouse (Grapevine)* Zio Carlo Magnolia Brew Pub (Fort Worth)*
Houston Metropolitan Area Karbach Brewing Company No Label Brewing Company (Katy) Saint Arnold Brewing Company Southern Star Brewing Company (Conroe)
San Antonio Blue Star Brewing Company* Freetail Brewing Company* Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling
Other Locations Big Texan Steak Ranch (Amarillo)* Cypress Street Station (Abilene)* Eola School Restaurant & Brewery (Eola)* Jaxon’s Restaurants & Brewing Company (El Paso)* New Republic Brewing (College Station) Padre Island Brewing Company (South Padre Island)* Port Aransas Brewing Company (Port Aransas)* The Republic (College Station)* Triple J Chophouse & Brew Company (Lubbock)* Wicked Beaver Brewing (Wolfforth)
BEER IS OUR PASSION. Try one of our beers in and around Austin.
sign up for our newsletter at www.thirstyplanet.net or give us a ring (512) 579-0679 tours & tasting hours Sat. 11am & 1:30pm Thirsty Planet Brewing Company 11160 Circle Drive, Austin, TX 78736
South Llano Farm pecan orchards
San Saba Pecans
Treasure ALong the Banks b y T e r ry T h o m ps o n - A n d e r s o n • P h o t o g r ap h y b y S a n d y W i l s o n
long the pastoral banks of Texas’s rivers, early explorers found many kinds of treasure. Some found silver while others stumbled upon bountiful groves of nut-laden riches that blanketed those fertile bottomlands. The earliest reports of exploration in the Central Texas region came from Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca—a Spanish explorer who, in 1542, reported his adventures in the New World to the king of Spain, including his being held captive by Indians. Cabeza de Vaca noted that he was able to escape when his captors gathered for a
period of two months at the “River of Nuts”—thought to have been the Guadalupe River, somewhere between present-day Seguin and Gonzales—to harvest and eat pecans from the huge native trees that grew along the riverbank. Coronado and many other explorers who followed also came upon the pecans as they searched for the reputed silver mines that the lieutenant general of the province of Texas, Bernardo de Miranda y Flores, reported to the capital at Mexico City in 1756. With his report, Miranda included a sample of silver ore the size of an igua-
Harvesting pecans at Great San Saba River Pecan orchards
In 1919, the 36th Texas legislature officially declared the pecan the state tree, and in 1921, the major families in the pecan business established the Texas Pecan Growers Association—the state’s oldest agricultural organization—in San Saba. na from the region of present-day San Saba. The mines were never found again, but the pecan trees still remain, hundreds of years later. Anglo-Americans began settling the region in 1839, and the town of San Saba was established in the upper reaches of the Hill Country, at a location bordered on the north and east by the Colorado River and bisected by the San Saba River. The early settlers also discovered the pecan trees, but never considered them as a possible source of revenue or sustenance, as did the Native Americans who counted the pecan as one of the most important food items naturally available. To the contrary, the trees were often considered a hindrance to farming the rich land or grazing cattle, and subsequently untold thousands were cut down. Even when settlers began to appreciate the rich taste of the nut and its many uses in cooking, they would simply lop off whole branches to facilitate harvesting. They discovered that the wood was good for making furniture and as flooring material, and even more trees were felled. But cattle drives, cattle ranching, mohair production and cotton cultivation continued to be the chief sources of revenue for San Saba County well after the Civil War. The fate of the pecan changed dramatically in 1875 with the arrival of Englishman Edmond E. Risien, who had come to America in search of the perfect pecan. He was actually on his way to California, but was so impressed by the numbers of huge native pecan trees along the streams and rivers in San Saba County that he decided to stay. A cabinet maker by trade, Risien became an ambassador for the pecan.
In 1876, just two years after arriving in San Saba, he travelled to the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, taking a small exhibit of Texas pecans with him. He was eager to experiment with the nut and sought perfect pecans for his passion. He offered a prize of five dollars for the most perfect pecan brought to his cabinet shop. Many samples were brought, but one in particular stood out from all other contenders. Although only medium in size, it had a very thin shell and the quality of the kernel was excellent. When Risien asked the man who brought this pecan to show him the tree from which it was harvested, he was taken to the man’s property at the confluence of the Colorado and San Saba rivers. There, outlined against the sky, stood a once-magnificent tree with but one branch remaining. The man told Risien that he had to cut off the other branches to get the nuts, and that the branch left was the one he stood on to cut the others off. Risien subsequently bought the piece of property, a parcel of some 320 acres, for $1,000. He named the variety of pecan from this tree the San Saba. In the annals of Texas pecan history, the onebranched tree, still standing on land owned now by his great-great grandchildren who founded the Millican Pecan Company, is known as the Mother Pecan. From nuts gathered from this one tree, Risien planted over 400 more, and then further experimented with nuts from those trees—developing even better varieties. One variety in particular that Risien developed, the Western Schley, has become the most planted variety of pecan worldwide today. In 1888 Risien established the West Texas Pecan Nursery in San Saba—the first in EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Of course, like other agricultural endeavors, growing pecans is a risky business. There are constant threats of insects, crows, wild creatures—mainly raccoons—hailstorms, lightning and drought. This year began with torrential SAN SABA TEXAS PECAN PIE No doubt about it, pecan pie is a Texas institution. Try this recipe for your holiday menus.
For the crust: 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1-in. cubes 1 c. all-purpose flour ½ t. sugar ¼ t. salt 3–4 T. ice water For the filling: 3 eggs, well beaten ½ c. sugar ½ c. firmly packed light brown sugar 1 c. agave nectar 2 T. Patrón XO Cafe (tequila-coffee liqueur) ¼ c. melted unsalted butter 1 T. vanilla extract 1¹/³ c. chopped San Saba pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°. Make the pastry first by combining the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to break up the butter into pea-size bits. With the processor running, add the water until a cohesive dough forms. Do not let the dough form a ball. Turn out onto a work surface and gather the loose dough together. Knead by hand a couple of times—just long enough to make a smooth dough (it will still have lumps of unblended butter). Pat the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Spray a 9-inch glass pie dish with an oil mister and set aside. Roll the dough out to a ⅛- to ¼-inch thick round and transfer it to the prepared pie dish. Flute the edges of the pastry as desired and place in the freezer while you make the filling. Make the filling by combining all the ingredients except the pecans. Whisk to blend well, then for about 3 minutes longer, until mixture is very smooth and frothy with no lumps. Scatter the pecans in the bottom of the prepared pastry. Pour the filling over the pecans and bake in the preheated oven for about 65 minutes to 75 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is almost set. The filling should jiggle in the center ever so slightly and there will be slight cracking on the top of the pie when it’s perfectly done. Do not bake until the filling is completely firm. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature. Do not refrigerate pecan pie as it will spoil the smooth, gooey texture.
record-breaking drought. Pecan trees are tough, though.
Makes 1 9-inch pie
hailstorms that were followed by
Texas to specialize in pecan stock. He worked tirelessly to encourage landowners to recognize the value of pecans as a marketable crop, and is credited with establishing a worldwide appetite for pecans. By the time he was 87 years old, Risien had thousands of his pecan trees growing all over the world, in England, France, Madagascar, Palestine, Australia, South America, Mexico and in all of the states in America where western varieties of pecans thrive. Because of his efforts, San Saba became known as the “Pecan Capital of the World.” In 1919, the 36th Texas legislature officially declared the pecan the state tree, and in 1921, the major families in the pecan business established the Texas Pecan Growers Association—the state’s oldest agricultural organization—in San Saba. Those early San Saba growers are given credit for taking the initiative in the organization of this great cooperative association, which continues to market Texas pecan crops to the best advantage of growers from across the state. The ’60s and ’70s saw the increased cultivation of improved pecan varieties, the use of irrigation and the development of mechanical harvesting equipment. The pecan industry began to flourish. There are more than a dozen large commercial pecan growers in San Saba County; many are still family owned, with orchards and retail operations scattered around the central part of the state. Some have developed into multistate operations. The San Saba Pecan Company has branches in New Mexico and Georgia through which they purchase pecans from other regions of the country. Their San Saba shelling facility has the capability to shell more than 50 million pounds of pecans per year. In addition to the large growers, there are many small growers, often as small as one pecan tree growing in the yard. Pecans are an alternate-bearing crop, which means that every other year produces a bumper crop. In a bumper-crop year, a single tree can produce 1,000 pounds of pecans. R. D. “Buddy” Adams of San Saba Pecan estimates that the average San Saba County pecan production is somewhere in the range of 6 to 8 million pounds. “But it’s hard to say, really,” he notes, “because there are so many small growers and home growers who only sell what they don’t use themselves or share with family and friends. I think the figure could be as high as twelve million pounds, espe-
cially if we still harvested the pecans that fall in the sloughs and on the riverbanks like we used to. I remember back in the ’70s and ’80s, we used to put tarps and even parachute canopies on the ground to catch the pecans from the native trees in those areas. But nobody messes with those pecans anymore.” Today the large growers use mechanical shakers to shake the nuts off the trees. Mechanical sweepers follow, sweeping up the pecans. Dotted around San Saba are dozens of retail pecan stores, where you can find everything from shelled and unshelled pecans, pecan coffee, mouth-watering pecan candies and just about any sort of paraphernalia related to pecans. In October, area growers and county leaders established the well-attended San Saba River Pecan Jam, a multifaceted festival celebrating the pecan. Of course, like other agricultural endeavors, growing pecans is a risky business. There are constant threats of insects, crows, wild creatures—mainly raccoons—hailstorms, lightning and drought. This year began with torrential hailstorms that were followed by record-breaking drought. Pecan trees are tough, though. They put down taproots to remarkable depths to find water. In river-bottom orchards, the trees the greatest distance from the river have been known to send roots horizontally to the bottom of the riverbeds. But the 2011 drought took a heavy toll. Irrigation wells are drying up, and water tables are dropping below the level of the trees’ roots. “We gave up on a crop early this year,” cites Martha Newkirk, co-owner with her husband, Larry, of The Great San Saba River Pecan Company. “Now we’re just trying to keep our trees alive. We can stand a year with no harvest, but not a year with no trees.”
Broken Arrow Ranch An artisanal purveyor of high quality, free-range venison, antelope and wild boar meat from truly wild animals.
Enjoy meat as Mother Nature makes it! • Free-ranging animals humanely field-harvested on local ranches • Extremely low in fat; hormone- and antibiotics-free • The finest, most natural game meat available • Acclaimed nationally, available locally • Order online or visit our store in Ingram 3296 Junction Hwy., Ingram, TX 78025
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& Do Nothing.
SUGARED A short History of Sugar in Texas b y MM PA C K • F o o d P h o t o g r ap h y b y K n o x y
Ain’t no more cane on the Brazos It’s all been ground down to molasses.
—traditional Texas prison work song recorded by Lead Belly and many others
he holiday season is upon us and—love it or hate it—sugar is a major component in seasonal culinary celebrations from Halloween through New Year’s Day. Regardless of what you think about sugar and its place in the modern diet, the fact remains that it’s played an enormous role in culinary, economic and political history. Foodscience writer Harold McGee wrote, “This single plant species…had a remarkably wide-ranging influence on Western history.” Specifically in Texas, sugarcane has been a significant presence for a very long time.
New Guinea to Texas: Sugar’s Long, Strange Trip Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is a giant grass that is filled with sweet pulp, whose wild ancestor probably originated 8,000 years ago in New Guinea. It slowly migrated into Southeast Asia and northern India where Sanskrit medical texts first described processed sugar crystals around 500 BC. Via the 8th-century Arab conquest, sugarcane moved from Persia to Spain with the agricultural revolution that introduced new crops and irrigation into Europe. First considered valuable medicine, sugar later evolved into a spice—as rare and expensive as pepper, saffron and cinnamon—and was long associated with power and privilege. Sugarcane arrived in the Western Hemisphere on Columbus’s second voyage, in 1493. Son-in-law to a Madeira sugar planter, he transported cuttings from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). It flourished in the tropical Caribbean—quickly becoming the region’s primary crop. By 1520, it was also growing in Mexico. In fact, Cortés built the first North American sugar mill in 1535 near Mexico City. By 1600, sugar production was the world’s most lucrative business. The West Indian “sugar islands” brought immense wealth to Europe, and sugar evolved from costly condiment to major commodity. But it was a harsh and labor-intensive industry, and its economic dependence on slavery can’t be overstated. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the sugar-and-slave trade routes constituted a trian50
gular cycle: ships carried European goods to West Africa to be bartered for slaves destined to work in New World sugarcane fields and sugar mills. When the ships arrived in the Caribbean from Africa, slaves were exchanged for sugar cargoes that were transported back across the Atlantic to avid European markets. Jesuit missionaries introduced cane cuttings to Louisiana from the Caribbean in 1751. However, sugar was already present in Texas. It had migrated north from Central Mexico to Monterrey, and then to the outlying mission settlement of San Antonio. When the Spanish crown brought 55 colonists from the Canary Islands to San Antonio in 1731, it’s a safe bet they knew how to grow cane and process it into sugar and molasses.
Sugar Industry in Texas Although sugarcane was planted on a small scale early in Texas’s development, it wasn’t produced commercially until the 1840s. As the population exploded with Anglo settlers from the United States and Europe, sugarcane growing was part of the resulting agricultural development, especially along the semitropical Gulf Coast region that included Brazoria, Fort Bend, Wharton and Matagorda Counties—known as the Texas Sugar Bowl. Commercially growing and processing sugar weren’t options for small farmers; sugar production required significant investment in land and slave labor, a steam-powered roller mill to grind cane, a sugarhouse for boiling extracted juice and a way to transport raw sugar to distant refineries and markets. The first sugar refinery in Texas was built in 1879, near Houston, on a plantation that had been growing and milling sugarcane since 1843. This evolved into the Imperial Sugar Company, one of the oldest businesses in the state. In the early 20th century, Imperial built a company town called Sugar Land that provided housing, medical care, schools, retail stores and a bank for refinery workers. In 1902, Imperial was already refining raw sugar supplied from outside the state, and by the 1950s, it imported raw sugar from Brazil,
Australia, Africa, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Today, former Imperial sugarcane fields are placid subdivisions, and Sugar Land is a bedroom community for Houston. But the company remains a major force in the world’s sugar trade as one of the largest refined-sugar companies in the U.S. After the Civil War, the abolition of slavery forced growers to find different sources of labor for the arduous, hot, smoky and dangerous sugarcane harvesting. In Louisiana, most sugar plantations converted to wage labor, but Texas devised a convict-lease system, whereby prisoners were leased as laborers to private contractors. In 1882, 12 of the 18 Texas sugar plantations used a third of the state’s prisoners (approximately 800 laborers) in their sugarcane fields. After the convict-lease system ended in 1914, state-run prison farms grew sugarcane along with cotton, corn, vegetables and feed crops. In the 1920s, the convergence of plant disease, the Great Depression and fluctuating sugar markets led to a dramatic reduction of sugarcane planting in Texas. Although Imperial Sugar continued to refine raw sugar from elsewhere, commercial growing in the state virtually disappeared for 50 years. That changed when a consortium of South Texas agriculturalists working with the Texas and U.S. Departments of Agriculture determined it was feasible to grow sugarcane commercially in the Rio Grande Valley. Their first crops were harvested in 1973, and today 1.5 million tons are grown on 40,000 acres. In 2001, a new development for sugar in Texas occurred when Imperial partnered with the U.K.’s Edward Billington & Son to create Wholesome Sweeteners, an organic-sugar company. Headquartered in Sugar Land, Wholesome acquires organically grown, Fair Trade Certified sugar from farm cooperatives in Costa Rica, Malawi, Mexico and Paraguay. In a different direction, another recent development is the research conducted at Texas A&M University by biologist Erik Mirkov. He’s developing strains of sugarcane that thrive in colder, drier climates. With his varieties, the edible sugarcane juice is extracted and the residual fibrous material is used as fuel. Significantly, Mirkov’s sugarcane produces both enzymes used in food processing and proteins used to treat human diseases like cancer. The prison work song, “Ain’t No More Cane” is a sad historic commentary about backbreaking work and hard times, but in the future, perhaps sugarcane will flourish again across the state—with less human cost and more human benefit.
DARK and SPICY GINGERBREAD This moist gingerbread is adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. This version uses Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup and is delicious all by itself or dressed up with poached pears or apples, whipped cream or lemon curd. Steen's Pure Cane Syrup was first produced by a cane grower in Abbeville, Louisiana in 1910. Steen's is the only U.S. cane syrup still manufactured today and is recognized by Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste as an endangered regional food product. Serves 6–8 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan ¼ t. baking soda 2 t. baking powder 1 t. ground ginger 1 t. ground cinnamon ½ t. allspice ½ t. salt 1 c. water ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter 1½ c. Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup (or molasses, if you prefer an even darker gingerbread) 2 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8-inch square or round baking pan. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Blend in the spices and salt with a wire whisk. In a small pan, bring the water to a boil then add the butter. When the butter is melted, whisk the water mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk in the syrup, and then the eggs. Whisk until thoroughly blended and smooth, then pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer plunged into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack and remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Pralines in Texas You Say PRAH-leen, I Say PRAY-leen
SOUTHERN BISCUIT MUFFINS Courtesy of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen Cookbook Makes 1 dozen muffins 2½ c. all-purpose flour ¼ c. sugar 1½ T. baking powder ¼ t. salt
10 T. (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 1 c. cold milk
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix well, breaking up any lumps. Work the butter in by hand until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, making sure no lumps are left. Gradually stir in the milk, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overbeat. Spoon the batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350° until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. The finished muffins should have a thick crust with a cakelike center.
TARTE À LA BOUILLE (CREAM CUSTARD PIE) Courtesy of Louisiana Sugar, by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service Makes 2 pies Sweet Dough Pie Shells: ½ c. sugar ¼ c. butter 1 egg, beaten 2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour 2 t. baking powder ½ t. salt ½ c. milk
Cream the sugar and butter together. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Roll out the dough and place it into 2 pie plates, reserving a small amount of dough. Cut the reserved dough into strips to place over the pies. Filling: 1¼ c. sugar 6 T. flour 4 eggs, beaten
5 c. milk 4 t. vanilla 1 recipe Sweet Dough Pie Shells
Mix the sugar and flour together, then add the eggs. Bring the milk to a boil. Add a small amount of hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring well. Add the egg mixture to the milk in the pan and cook until thickened. Add the vanilla and cool slightly. Pour into the prepared pie shells and cover the custard with the reserved dough strips. Bake at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes. 52
ecan pralines (PRAHleens) are a beloved element of the Frenchbased Creole cuisine of New Orleans. Less wellknown outside of Texas are the very similar caramelized pecan candies known as pralines (PRAY-leens). What brought this confecSan Antonio candy vendor, 1875 tion to these two distinct culinary cultures, and do they share common roots? The answer is yes, they do share a common origin. Sweetmeats made from nuts and sugar are among the oldest confections in the world. Their presence parallels sugarcane’s migration from Persia into Spain and Sicily via the 8th-century Arab conquest, which also introduced almonds into Mediterranean Europe. Almond-and-caramelized-sugar candies were called by different names in different parts of Europe; in France, they became known as praslines after the Duke of Plessis-Praslin. Along with sugarcane, French immigrants brought the praline tradition to Louisiana, and Spanish settlers introduced it into Mexico. There were no almonds in the New World, but tasty wild pecans grew abundantly. Therefore, creative Spanish cooks in Mexico City and Creole cooks in New Orleans adapted—both made traditional caramelized sugar candies with pecans instead of almonds. As Mexican settlers moved into Texas, they brought sugarcane north with them and they found Texas riverbanks lined with native pecan trees. From the 1830s, landowners cultivated commercial pecan orchards, and poor people—white, black and Hispanic—supplemented their incomes by gathering wild pecans. Making pecan candy and selling it on the street became a cottage industry for the poor in Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. Since native pecans were free for the picking, the only investment required was a pot, a source of heat and some sugar. (Early pralines were made simply from pecans and caramelized sugar. Not until the late 19th century did recipes get fancier with additions such as the milk, buttermilk, butter, vanilla, salt, vinegar and baking soda that we see today.) In Mexico and South Texas, the typical sugar choice was inexpensive piloncillo, cones of dark, unrefined sugar. Although undoubtedly present earlier, street vendors of pecan candy were well documented by the 1870s, both in New Orleans and in Texas. Early recipes show that the pralines sold in New Orleans by Creole pralinieres share the same ingredients and the same preparation as the dulces de nueces sold on the streets of San Antonio. Sometime during the mid-20th century, Mexican pecan candies migrated onto the menus of Mexican restaurants in Texas. At around the same time, Anglo enthusiasts for Tex-Mex cuisine starting calling them “pralines” (that’s PRAY-leens), and the name stuck. Not surprising, since the Mexican candies and their Creole cousins in New Orleans originated from the same medieval source and are made from the same ingredients using the same process.
Serious about cooking? Get serious about your kitchen.
MOHR C a b i n e t r y
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U S T I N
CRISPY PECAN PRALINES (PRAY-LEENS) Courtesy of Tamara Mayfield, Dai Due Makes about 20 pralines 1½ c. Texas pecans, sorted and broken into large pieces 1½ c. organic sugar (evaporated cane juice) 6 T. butter ¾ c. brown sugar ½ c. whole milk ½ t. kosher salt 2 t. Mexican vanilla extract
w w w . n o r m a n m o h r . c o m n o r m a n m o h r c a b i n e t r y @ g m a i l . c o m
Preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the pecans on a cookie sheet until golden brown and toasted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Line a flat baking sheet or a clean table with parchment paper. Place all ingredients except the vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook, carefully swirling the pan to help sugar dissolve, until the temperature registers 234° on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and pecans then stir firmly but carefully until the mixture is no longer shiny. Drop onto the prepared baking sheet by spoonfuls. Cool. Pralines are ready to eat when firm. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
AUNTIE’S PRALINES (PRAH-LEENS) Courtesy of Sharon Richardson, Christen’s Gourmet Pralines Makes about a dozen pralines 1 c. evaporated milk 2 c. sugar 4 T. butter
2 t. vanilla extract ½ c. chopped large pecans
Cover a wood table or baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Add the evaporated milk to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Warming the milk makes it easier for the sugar to dissolve. After about 5 minutes add the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken and turn a beautiful caramel color.
GARDEN • DESIGN • BUILD D AV I S G A R D E N D E S I G N . C OM
Drop a tiny ball of the mixture into a cup of ice-cold water. If a ball forms in the water, then the candy is ready. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until well blended, then add the chopped pecans. Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto the prepared foil. Cool the candy for about 30 minutes, or longer if it is raining or humid. Enjoy. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Edible Destinations: Marfa
Bounty in the desert
riving into extreme West Texas is a bit like traveling through time—both forward and backward. Run-down gas stations and spinning dust devils suck passersby into a bygone world, while whooshing wind turbines and twinkling mystery lights speak to a futuristic lunar landscape. This is a piece of Lone Star geography with an identity unto itself. It keeps visitors guessing with surprises at every turn—especially the turn into Marfa. With just under 2,000 inhabitants, Marfa could easily mirror any of the multitudes of small towns nearby. Instead, it lives an anomalous existence as a minimalist art hub, a cinema-buff hotspot and a retreat for the creative types of all feather that fill the town with culture, education and restaurants of surprising quality. Upon arrival, travelers may be tempted to search for a seemingly apropos barbecue joint, but don’t be surprised when locals suggest the Pizza Foundation, instead. Located in a defunct gas station, this eatery is no-frills, but in the best way. Order by the slice or fill a one-size-fitsall pie with toppings like locally grown tomatoes and fresh-snipped herbs, then grab a cold one from the fridge and kick back on the patio while the pros whip up the ultimate in New York-style pizzas. They don’t import the water from Brooklyn, and they don’t have a fancy wood-burning Italian oven, but somehow they pull off a thin crust that both supports its ingredients and maintains a satisfying chew. It’s okay to be skeptical about the UFOs rumored to hover in the area, but go ahead and believe that good pizza exists in the desert. And while you’re at it, extend the belief that Southern comfort fare and Indian street food might make good bedfellows because the Miniature Rooster proves that’s true as well. Helmed by Rocky Barnette and Uday Huja—both alums of The Inn at Little Washing-
ton—Marfa’s new kid on the block is winning hearts and appetites with small plates such as roasted acorn squash with lime and Hawaiian black sea salt, and yeast-leavened Belgian waffles. Try the chole puri for a hearty mélange of tamarind-chickpea curry, potatoes and whole-wheat fry bread, or stay down-home with the namesake lowcountry miniature rooster: a whole roasted game hen accessorized with asparagus vinaigrette and gravy. If sophistication is the goal of the evening, slip into the subdued dining room of Cochineal to sample an ever-changing menu of American cuisine with distinct French influences. Watch chefs bustle between the open kitchen and the garden outside, turning freshly picked produce into dishes that are refined but never pretentious. Begin with a dish of handmade spaghetti tossed with roasted garlic and garden basil, then sample the roasted chicken with freshly made mole—or go classic with the oven-roasted barramundi with white wine and butter. No matter your choice, be sure to request a wine pairing from the list of over 250 bottles from around the world. Fresh-picked produce from J Farms in Alpine and small-batch goat cheeses from Marfa Maid saddle up to craft beers, imported cheeses and other gourmet goodies at The Get Go, the tiny but carefully appointed shop—possibly the most surprising independent grocery store in Texas, and a must for the snack-addicted, the health-conscious and the food-obsessed. Load your knapsack with Topo Chico Agua Mineral, black-bean chips and local hummus from Food Shark before heading out to the refreshing waters of Balmorhea; or piece together an impromptu picnic of French cheeses, smoked oysters and chilled wine to be enjoyed at Austinite Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico, the selfproclaimed vintage trailer-yurt-and-teepee hotel and campground
From left: El Cosmico, photo by Eric Ryan Anderson; The Get Go with owner Maiya Keck, photo by Alex Marks
b y A n d r ea Bea r ce
While the landscape may be desolate, the food scene in Marfa is a burgeoning oasis of creativity, originality
Top: Miniature Rooster specials, photo by Kelly Green; Pizza Foundation pizza; photo by Alex Marks
and local inspiration.
thatâ€™s part creative lab, part greenhouse and part amphitheater. While the landscape may be desolate, the food scene in Marfa is a burgeoning oasis of creativity, originality and local inspiration. Farmers coax edibles from sandy soil, artisans seemingly churn out products from thin air and chefs transform the goods into bountiful feasts for locals and travelers alike. Here, resourcefulness is not just a virtue, but a culinary challenge thatâ€™s met and happily accepted.
Notables in Marfa Cochineal 107 W. San Antonio St. 432-729-3300 cochinealmarfa.com
Historically Unique Serving Breakfast & Lunch Heritage Museum Gourmet Baking Store Special Events
The Get Go 208 S. Dean St. thegetgomarfa.com
El Cosmico 802 S. Highland Ave. 432-729-1950 elcosmico.com Miniature Rooster 1300 W. San Antonio St. 432-729-3030 miniaturerooster.com Pizza Foundation 100 E. San Antonio St. 432-729-3377 pizzafoundation.com
205 E. Guenther Street, San Antonio, TX 78204
800-235-8186 WINTER 2011
La Casita de buen sabor Red Lentil Sweet Potato Soup with Winter Herbs and Greens
Photography by Lucinda Hutson
B y l u c i n d a h u ts o n
he ominous cushion of dirty haze that hovered above us during the scorching summer is but a memory; the glorious change in light and renewed sparkle of the fall sun are just behind us. Old Man Winter is at the door; he looks like he could use some soup. Though I waited longer than usual to plant my fall garden, I trusted the rains would come. Herbs that would quickly bolt in late spring and summer flourish throughout winter and early spring: cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, chervil and arugula. And perennial anchor plants like rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, bay and savory—having withstood the summer inferno and warm fall—are ready for another kind of heat: the simmering soup pot! A generous handful of these fresh herbs fill the kitchen with welcoming aromatic wafts while flavoring soups and stews on the stove. It’s also time to harvest our edible winter greens: collards and kale, spinach and Swiss chard, especially Bright Lights chard with its vibrant rainbow-colored stems. I particularly love the texture and flavor of Lacinato kale (as do Tuscans) in soups. It’s sometimes called dinosaur kale because of the rough texture of its dark-green leaves. Wilt a chiffonade of greens (try a combination of them) in soups and stews at the end of cooking to retain their color and nutrients, or briefly sauté chopped greens (add stems first) in olive oil with some 56
onion and garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Top bowls of soup or stew with the slightly crunchy greens right before serving. What could be more satisfying on a chilly winter night than a hearty bowl of herb-scented red-lentil soup crowned with a colorful medley of roasted sweet potatoes, onions, red bell peppers and tasty garden greens? You’ll find a few more steps and a lot more spice in this hearty, crowd-pleasing dish. But like many of my recipes, it’s quite versatile and lends itself to creative variations. If you like a creamier soup, puree it with an immersion blender or potato masher—adding the roasted veggies on top for texture. Make sure to warm the soup bowls in the oven before filling them. And offer guests small bowls of condiments, like shredded Parmesan, crushed dried red chili, slices of spicy grilled sausage, chopped green onions, lemon wedges, toasted pumpkin seeds, crunchy seasoned kale chips, garlicky crostini or croutons. Break rustic loaves of bread from the farmers market at the table to savor with locally made cheeses or homemade garlic-herb butter, and consider a simple salad of tender, leafy arugula and mesclun greens with sprigs of fresh lemon thyme in a sherry-shallot vinaigrette as a tasty accompaniment. Don’t forget a bottle or two of red wine. Life is good in this splendid season!
The Leaning Pear Cafe` & Eatery RED LENTIL AND ROASTED SWEET POTATO SOUP Makes 6–8 hearty portions For the roasted veggies: 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into large bite-size cubes 1 large white onion, cut into wedges 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges 1 red bell pepper, cut into large bite-size chunks 4 Fresno peppers, optional Salt and pepper Dusting of cinnamon and cayenne Olive oil to lightly coat For the soup: 1 T. olive oil 2 T. butter 1 large white onion, chopped 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 fresh bay leaves 1½ t. dried thyme (3 to 4 times more if using fresh) 1½ t. dried marjoram (3 to 4 times more if using fresh) Freshly ground spice mixture (see note) 2 t. sweet paprika 2 c. red lentils, rinsed in a sieve 8 c. rich turkey, chicken or veggie stock Juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 large bunch garden greens like kale, Swiss chard, spinach or collards Pinch of nutmeg
Serving the Texas Hill Country Fresh &
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Prepare the roasted veggies. Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the vegetables with the other ingredients, then place in a single layer in a large roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, until al dente— about 30 minutes. Remove half the veggies and set them aside, but continue to roast the remaining ones for another 20 minutes or so for added color and flavor. Set aside. Prepare the soup. Heat the oil and butter in a large soup pot and cook the onions for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, herbs, freshly ground spices and paprika. Add the lentils and toss with the onion mixture along with the reserved al dente roasted veggies. Add the stock and bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest and the greens and cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg and serve in bowls topped with the remaining reserved roasted veggies. Pass extra condiments at the table.
MONTESINO RANCH & ORGANIC FARM WIMBERLEY, TEXAS
Curried Version: Follow the lentil recipe with the following additions: Use vegetable oil in place of the olive oil and butter. Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger as you sauté the onion. On a griddle, briefly toast 1½ tablespoons each of cumin and coriander seeds, then let cool. Grind in an electric spice grinder along with 3 dried red chiles de árbol, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns and 3 whole cloves. Use 1 can of light coconut milk for some of the stock—added towards the end of cooking. Use Thai basil, cilantro and Asian greens. For condiments use spicy peanuts, lime wedges or Thai Pesto from Austin Pesto Company, made with coconut flakes and Thai flavors instead of cheese.
Pick up sites: Austin Fredericksburg Wimberley
Use fresh pumpkin, yams or butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes. Add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices. Soup thickens overnight; add more stock as needed.
Note: For the spice mixture, grind 3 dried red chiles de árbol or small cayenne peppers, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, ¼ teaspoon whole allspice, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds and a few whole cloves.
Houses of Green
Photography by Kelly West
b y J e r em y Wa lt h e r
Building a hoophouse from scratch at Urban Roots Farm, facilitated by David Pitre of Tecolote Farm.
common frustration for gardeners is lack of control. The books say it won’t happen, but we do get late-April freezes in Central Texas. We also get 13 inches of rain in one weekend, followed by months of nothing: a combination that garden pests and disease vectors live for. Hail, wind, squirrels, La Niña—nature puts on a plunder parade every year that’s especially painful for new gardeners. After the first season or two, students of backyard gardening take one of three routes to defend against the unpredictable arsenal of nature: quit, learn to enjoy the seasonal spanking or fight back. But how does one go about fighting nature? One option is to consider packing the heat of a backyard greenhouse. Could that change everything? “Well, it doesn’t exactly change everything,” admits horticulturist Matt Welch of Rain Harvest Gardens. “Man will never beat nature. But a backyard greenhouse can help a vegetable gardener stretch out the spring. It won’t guarantee success later in the season, but a warm greenhouse in January is a great place to get an early start on tricky warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers.” Welch, who has nearly two decades of experience growing plants in Texas—both as a professional nurseryman and a landscape con-
tractor and vegetable gardener—says that “anything that can’t take much heat or cold can benefit from the added controls a greenhouse can give in late winter.” “By far the simplest, sturdiest and easiest structure to build is the Quonset style or hoophouse,” says Welch. “For small Quonsets, PVC pipe is a cheap framing material. I usually use ¾-inch, schedule 40 PVC slipped over ½-inch rebar anchors that are pounded into the ground.” Matt Vest is the head grower for Native Texas Nursery, one of the largest native-plant nurseries in Austin. He makes his living via greenhouses and he even carried the concept home, where he built an enormous backyard greenhouse almost entirely out of salvaged materials. “I happened to find an old 12-foot by 20-foot greenhouse frame that somebody didn’t want anymore, and bought it for two hundred dollars,” he says. “I used six-mil plastic for the skin, which I got from work when they were done with it, about to throw it away; same for the ground cloth on the floor.” Doors on either end of the greenhouse and the overhead fluorescent lights were salvaged from a house before it was torn down, posts
from a former chain-link fence became legs for the tables inside, and 1-inch PVC pipe attached to repurposed lumber was used to build the top of the greenhouse. It might sound technical and intimidating, but Vest claims his carpentry skills are nonexistent and says that if he can do it, anyone can. Welch is also a fan of thriftiness. “Be stingy, and don’t worry about how it looks,” he says. “More often than not, it seems people who invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a fancy kit, or hire a company to build a permanent structure, end up with a steamy, hot box of regret.” For those lacking an immediate supply of used building materials, one of the best sources in town is the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in East Austin. “We always have lumber, PVC, overhead lighting, doors and windows, and will sometimes get rolls of plastic and large exhaust fans,” says ReStore’s Regene Anderson. “Most of our materials are salvaged from deconstruction projects, or donated by builders or homeowners, but we do also have some new materials at reduced prices, too.” Vest reminds gardeners of the importance of greenhouse placement, too. “Try to position the greenhouse so that the sun will get to the majority of the structure in the winter. And know beforehand where any shadows fall throughout the day and in the different seasons. Even a thin line of shadow will limit production in the winter.” “Drainage should also be a consideration,” he continues. “My backyard greenhouse slopes slightly to one side, so that it’s sometimes mucky on the low side. With the benefit of hindsight and observing how the greenhouses at work are all mounded slightly in the middle and plumb water away, I now know I should have given more forethought to drainage.” “One small, easy greenhouse to build is the cold frame,” says Welch. “They are usually squared structures placed on the ground that look sort of like a box with a sloped, hinged lid. The lid and walls of the cold frame can be built with polycarbonate sheets framed in lumber, or even with old windows. Cold frames can even be built partially underground, which not only requires less building materials, but also provides the added benefit of the earth’s heat.” Of course there’s always the option to purchase a pre-engineered greenhouse kit. “The kits we sell here are a snap to put together,” says Nancy Rock of The Natural Gardener. “In one weekend, even someone with very little construction experience and very few tools can build their own greenhouse with a professional do-it-yourself kit.” The kits available at most garden centers are not designed for long-term use, but the trade-offs are ease of assembly and relatively low cost—usually less than $200. “The kits we sell will usually last about two to three years in the Austin heat before the plastic needs to be replaced,” says Rock. “But there are kits out there that last a lot longer. Rion Greenhouses come with a seven-year warranty, and most people who buy them love them. They’re more expensive, but they’re great kits.”
Habitat for Humanity ReStore 310 Comal St. 512-478-2165 • re-store.com Rion Greenhouses riongreenhouses.com
Home Grown Tastes Better!
2730 S. Congress Ave • gonursery.com
512.296.2211 • bjanegardens.com
The Natural Gardener 8648 Old Bee Caves Rd. 512-288-6113 naturalgardeneraustin.com
Behind the vines
Bending Branch Winery b y T e r ry T h o mps o n - A n d e r s o n
Photography of John Rivenburgh (left) and Bob Young by Phil Hammel
t a recent gathering at the Texas Pierce’s Disease Research and Extension Program facility in Fredericksburg, Dave Reilly, winemaker at Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, made a provocative statement: “The days of frivolous winemaking in Texas are done.” For this he received a hefty round of applause that should reverberate throughout the Texas wine industry. Texas winemakers are getting serious about the quality of the wines they produce and the way their wineries impact the environment. This is particularly evident at one of Texas’s newest wineries, Bending Branch Winery in Comfort. Owner and winemaker Bob Young, a retired physician, incorporated one of the tenets of the Hippocratic oath—“never do harm”—into his philosophy when he built the winery, and certainly into his style of winemaking. Bob was interested in wines throughout his career, so when his daughter, Alison, moved to San Antonio and married, Bob and his wife, Brenda, decided to move to the Hill Country and start a winery. From the beginning, the winery was a family operation. Bob, who completed his enology studies at University of California, Davis, is the winemaker. Alison owns Sustainable Perspectives Group in San Antonio, a consulting firm that advises clients on sustainable construction and practices for their businesses. She serves as the accountant for the winery. Bob adds that Alison is a stickler for keeping the winery on track with sustainability issues. Brenda did the interior decor of the tasting room and office facilities, and son-inlaw John Rivenburgh, who recently received his certificate in horticulture from Texas Tech University, serves as vice president of vineyard and winery operations. Jennifer Beckman, although not a family member, fills a very important position at the winery as a certified sommelier. She’s also the director of marketing and manages the tasting room. Bob and Brenda’s mission began with seeking sustainable methods in the construction of their facilities, the planting of their vineyards and the making of their wines. They weren’t interested in building a grand tasting room. In fact, the cozy tasting room was originally a small barn that was converted using recycled materials from the property. Likewise, the production facility, offices and barrel room, as well as both homes located on the grounds, were constructed from rock dug from the land and other recycled materials obtained from local sources. The tasting room’s bar was crafted from a large oak tree on the property that had succumbed to oak wilt. The family is striving to create a market name with their unique varietals and high-quality wines. They believe that these practices will bring about a change in the varietals grown and the winemaking practices in Texas and result in a raise of the bar for Texas wines. The key elements in Bob’s strategy are extensive research of and experimentation with the varietals he planted, growing techniques and production procedures. He selected varietals never before grown in Tex-
as because his research led him to grapes that matched a list of criteria he had established. He sought varietals that would thrive best in hot climates with no cool nights and poor soil, had late-spring bud break (and therefore, a later harvest date), were drought-resistant and retained nice levels of acid. Always the physician, Bob also sought grapes that were high in procyanidins, the most active of the polyphenols—compounds proven to lower the risk of both heart disease and cancer. The winery currently has 16 acres of vines under cultivation with a total of 20 acres in the master plan, and 2011 will mark the first totally organic crop to be harvested at Bending Branch. The vineyards are located at the highest elevation of the property, where the view is quite spectacular and would’ve been an obvious choice for building a home. But Bob chose to give the vines the benefit of the higher elevation. And he started with organic rootstock, which has resulted in stronger vines. Bob and John are experimenting with a few different growing methods—one being the French dry-farming methods using no irrigation. “You gotta be tough to grow grapes in the Hill Country,” John says. They’re conditioning the vines to be tough, also. For those vines that require watering, a drip-irrigation system utilizing collected runoff rain-
hen Gary and Kathy Gilstrap bought their land—on which they would plant their vineyard—in 1994, they brought a new perspective to the Texas wine industry. Both Gilstraps are pharmacists by trade, with well-established scientific backgrounds, so their methods and approach to the business of grape-growing and winemaking have often skirted tradition. And some of those methods have not only been heeded and applied by other winemakers following the Gilstraps’ example, but also have led to a new, more modern wave of traditions in the Texas industry. Before their foray into winemaking, the Gilstraps owned a drugstore/pharmacy and a software company—both of which they sold in order to become semiretired. Looking for a way to invest their money and maintain a fairly active lifestyle, they agreed that starting a new business would result in a better return, on both accounts, than other traditional investments. They loved wine and had been closely following the growth of the wine industry in Texas, so it seemed that a logical next step would be to start a winery. “So much for semiretirement,” Gary says, as both he and Kathy shake their heads. “Neither of us had Noteworthy Vintages ever worked as hard as we have on the winery. It’s been a labor of love …and continues to be.” 2009Gary Tannat, 1840: For aby new winery win Rassett, a gold medal Today, and EM, Kathy are joined their son toDale who and the Grand Star Award at the 2011 Lone Star International Wine manages the vineyard. Dale also operates their mobile bottling facility— Competition noteworthy indeed. This wine was producedline using a unique operationis(which they developed) involving a bottling fitfruit from the Bella Collina vineyards in Paso Robles, California. ted into a streamline trailer. The mobile unit travels to smaller wineries Bending Branch Texas Tannat fruitbottles from Reddy that don’t have their also ownproduced bottling afacilities, and, using for a fee, their Vineyards in the Texas High Plains, which sold out quickly. Historiwines on-site. Also part of the vineyard crew is Hilario Penalta-Moreno, cally,only the taught slow-ripening varietal wasworked the foundation a noble who not himselftannat English, but has at Texas for Hills from wine originating thehe’s Pyrenees of Bordeaux. Today, the beginning. Kathy in says becomefoothills one of south the family. tannat is grown in Lodi and 10 Paso Robles in California, is The Gilstraps planted the first acres of their vineyard inwhere 1995 it and producing high-quality New World wines. The 2009 EM has an inky produced their first wines in 1997, though their production facility and purple-red color intense fruit. Luscious of black cherry, tasting room were notand yetvery completed. Instead, they notes had the first vintage produced at the late at before Grapeunfolding Creek Vineyard. dark chocolate andNed colaSimes’s brightenfacilities the palate layers of Sinceanisette, that first pressing, Texas hasThe produced distinctive wines. mint leaf, cedar andHills violet. extended maceration period of Gary, a hands-on, blue-jeans kind seeds of guy, works vineyards, as 30 days involves leaving the skins, and pips in the juice after the well as in the production room. His scientific approach to grape growcompletion of alcoholic fermentation. The process soothes and softens ing gives him the advantage of being tannins able to found manipulate theand grapes. the otherwise-firm and often-harsh in tannat creFor example, he introduced usetexture of N-pHuric—a ates an elegant wine with athe silky on the palate.mixture of urea and sulfuric acid—as a stabilizer in his vineyard irrigation system. In doingPicpoul so, he was ablePicpoul to get blanc micronutrients into the vines andvarietal avoid Blanc: is an ancient southern French the usual buildup of limestone in the vineyard soil. from the Languedoc region, where it is produced as a delightful white When grapes on their wayasto“lip becoming wine, vin dethe pays,harvested or country wine.are Picpoul, known stinger” for its Garybright employs modern techniques to achieve a good acid balance by acidity, generates flavors of tropical fruits and is known as one usingoftannins to of round out the wines. wines are inthe thebouquet barrel, the gems the southern Rhône Once for its the ability to boost he uses micro-oxygenation—a process whereby a carefully calibrated of Rhône-style blends. It’s a white wine that red-wine drinkers like, amount of oxygen is injected into the wine—which results in a shorter and a great wine to pair with food as it’s the white equivalent of a fullbarrel-aging time, and reduces the chance of bacterial contamination bodied red. Bob first discovered picpoul at Tablas Creek Vineyard, a that can occur with extended barrel aging. Micro-oxygenation also ensmall winery in California. This first picpoul was produced from Tablas ables more control over the fermentation process—maintaining the Creek fruit and won the silver medal in the 2010 Lone Star Internaviability of the yeast and reducing the production of undesirable sultional Wine Competition and the bronze medal in the 2011 Finger fides. Wines that are barrel aged using this technique taste as though Lakes International Wine Competition. The first estate-produced and they’ve been barrel aged for twice as long as they actually have. bottled picpoul blanc will be released early in 2012. Fans of Bending Over the years, the Gilstraps, like most Texas winemakers, have exBranch’swith first picpoul are eagerly firsthad Texas perimented differentblanc varietals. Garyawaiting says thatthis if he it toversion. do all over again, he never would’ve planted pinot grigio. Although the Texas Branch Winery HillsBending pinot grigio is excellent—and one of the winery’s most popular 142 Linder Comfort wines—Gary saysBranch it’s theTr., grape that gives him the greatest number of 830-995-2948 • bendingbranchwinery.com headaches with its low yields and tendency not to thrive. As for the EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Photography by Phil Hammel
water is used. Canopy management is another area of experimentation. Knowing that petite sirah grapes are particularly sensitive to the sun, they chose to use head training—a system of canopy management that uses no trellising. Instead of being supported, the vines are left to grow on their own from the trunk—resulting in a bush-like plant. This method is only suited for vineyards in which the fruit is handpicked. Although the current prototypes for Bending Branch wines were mostly made using personally selected fruit from small California vineyards, the winery will produce wines using their estate-grown grapes, or those sourced from other Texas vineyards, in the future. Of the varietals planted at Bending Branch, 100 vines are bonarda, a grape widely grown in Argentina and known for its late bud break. Often compared to dolcetto, bonarda grapes occupy a mere 50 acres in the United States. John thought the vines had been killed in the severe winter of 2011 and had intended to pull them up when time permitted. He was shocked to see buds appearing on the dormant vines in May. “It was like finding the Holy Grail,” he says. “We’re looking forward to their late harvest and working with these grapes.” Other varietals that Bob believes will be great for Texas are tannat, a native of Southwestern France with the highest levels of procyanidins of any red wine; petite sirah; and souzão, a Portuguese varietal that grows very well in extreme heat. Bob and John planted 500 new vines of souzão in the record-breaking drought of 2011, and they’ve taken off—standing up to the stress beautifully. The first bottling of souzão (using California fruit) was released in October. Bob notes that malbec will also be a star for them. Picpoul, a white wine varietal grown in the Languedoc region of France, is their signature white. They’ve also planted Mourvèdre, vermentino and rousanne. The entire Bending Branch team is dedicated to producing Texas-terroir wines. For the production of Bending Branch wines, Bob is taking the practice of winemaking back to the roots—using many Old World techniques such as whole-berry fermentation, in which grapes are not crushed and only the stems are removed. As fermentation progresses, gentle punch downs are performed every few days as cap management. They’re also experimenting with a practice called saignée, meaning “bled.” It’s a French term used in reference to the maceration process in which the color from the skins is slowly bled away. In the process, 20 percent of the liquid is removed during the fermentation and used to produce a rosé wine. The remaining grapes, stems and skins are very concentrated in flavor and remain in the “juice” to produce a powerhouse red. Bob has also used extended macerations of up to 30 days on his tannat and petite sirah—creating wines that are more aromatic with smoother tannins and more complex layers of flavor than those that underwent shorter maceration. Extended maceration also helps to preserve a high level of procyanidins. Bending Branch is a hands-on winery, with attention to detail given at each step of the growing and winemaking process. Ninety percent of their testing is done in-house, in a state-of-the-art laboratory where a spectrometer stores instant readings on pH, acidity, sugar, malic acid and alcohol levels. And Bending Branch is the only winery in Texas with a walk-in cooler where grapes are stored as soon as they are picked— minimizing bruising and decomposition of the fruit before it can be crushed and transferred to fermenting tanks. “If you want to call yourself a boutique winery, then you can’t use mass-production methods,” says Jennifer, noting that younger winemakers are taking this initiative to bring beneficial changes to the industry. “Well, at least my name is Young!” Bob quips in response.
What I eat and why
Illustration by Lucy Engelman
b y R o b i n C h o t z i n o ff
y 21-year-old daughter Constance has her own apartment. On the first morning of my visit, the roles reverse—I’m the one who wanders into the kitchen, opens the fridge and stands there vacantly, looking for something to eat. “Is there bread?” I ask. “Yes, but you wouldn’t like it.” My bread snobbery is well known. White, fluffy and flavorless, à la Wonder, is beneath me. Baguettes may be white and fluffy on the inside, but that’s different because … but I will not get into this. Whatever I say will be taken as criticism of Constance’s grasp of nutrition, her taste in food, her actual self. Forget bread. I’ll fry eggs. Constance’s grandfather considered eggs the perfect food. He made egg salad with hollandaise—eggs with egg sauce. When it came to frying, he didn’t skimp on butter. The stuff in Constance’s refrigerator isn’t exactly butter, but I will not mention it. I’ve cooked with plenty of non-butter. My mother, who avoided grease of any kind, fried food on virgin Teflon, which has no calories. I was always counting calories. A squirt of PAM, the WD-40 of cuisine, had very few. By the time Constance was born, I’d moved on to Smart Balance. My younger daughter, Augusta, who was learning to read at the time, called it “Blance.” Blance was supposed to be good for your heart—unlike fat, which was bad. I spent decades trying to be good with food, counting fat, calories and hours at the gym, journaling cluelessly about “emotional hunger” and eating huge amounts of … anything. I did this for 30 years, starting at 15— Constance’s exact age when I began to recover. As I got a grip, she lost hers. She left for college having learned all my worst food behaviors, along with some I could only guess at, because eating disorders are secretive. Binge eating disorder, in particular, is a big, fat secret. It affects more people than anorexia and bulimia combined, but it didn’t show
up in the DSM-V until two years ago. Whatever you want to call it, it seems to run in my family. Constance figured that out sooner than I did. Last winter, just after her 21st birthday, she entered intensive outpatient therapy. We talked daily, sometimes hourly. I was there for her. She was honest with me. Her binge-free days became months. Then she came home for the summer and real life set in. My vision of her recovery involved organic vegetable soup, meditation and helping the less fortunate. Instead, she slept a lot, went to therapy and ate most meals at chain restaurants, because they were safe, she said, and because my kitchen, with its “food rules” and intense flavors, was “triggering.” Looking around her kitchen now, I see grains in clear containers, cookies and chips resealed with tidy clips, a notebook with recipes— some of them mine—in page protectors, vegetables in the crisper, Halloween candy sitting in a decorative jar. Constance feels at home here, and I can see why. It’s homey. She takes the Blance out of my hand and offers me olive oil. The smell of eggs frying in olive oil reminds me of a noisy Greek woman I worked for 30 years ago. “You brek, you brek!” she’d yell, as she made my breakfast. “Then you work!” To this day, I prefer to start my day with a good jolt of protein. I derive no strength from cereal or cinnamon toast. You know what else brightens my mornings? Butter. I read recently that animal fat greases our neural synapses somehow, boosting memory and fending off depression. Whatever. I stopped paying attention to food experts years ago. Why, then, do I want Constance to listen to me? Here’s what’s important: Lemon Boy tomatoes in my garden, ripe figs on my neighbor’s tree. Stir risotto exactly as long as it takes you to drink one beer—I recommend Dale’s Pale Ale. With a sharp knife, a hot stove and James McMurtry blasting, you can make anything taste
good, even cabbage. Some food makes you feel alive. Some doesn’t. I eat my share of crap, but I notice the difference. Jews are commanded to take care of “the stranger in your midst.” One of my great joys is when that stranger shows up for dinner. Food is important. Food is what I have instead of an eating disorder. But that’s between me and me, and I’m in Constance’s kitchen now. I like it here. It’s small, but everything fits.
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WHEN WE COOK by Augusta Dexheimer When we cook, We do it in the best sort of way. We turn on all of the lights That track across the ceiling with orange and yellow rays Everywhere. And we put on music That is loud and vibrant. We take out all of the ingredients at once. Then we get in each other’s way and The dogs get in ours. And we eat out of each other’s dishes. And we actually, literally throw back our heads In raucous laughter. Our kitchen isn’t huge, But it’s the best room In the whole house. It’s bright and sunny, even at night. And when we’re finished in the kitchen, It’s usually dark enough for the candles. We set out the napkins that have been on The clothesline all day And are still with the sun. And when there’s time, We eat and talk and laugh Until the candles have Burned into little candle nubs. And when the bustling is done, And the food is had, And the dogs are falling asleep where they stand, My mom closes the linen curtains Above the dining room table And we disperse. It makes every night feel like home, The kind where everyone has time to cook together And let the candles disappear every night into a puddle of wax.
irteen-year-old Augusta Dexheimer is a student at the Ann Richards Th School for Young Women Leaders and is Robin Chotzinoff’s younger daughter.
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REAL FOOD COACHING
D TCH THE B X B X
• Pantry Purge • Grocery Store & Farmers Market tours • Cooking lessons • Meal planning
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Sustainable Food Center
Double Value By Ronda Rutledge
Executive Director of SFC
ustin may be ranked as one of the healthiest large cities in America, but this doesn't necessarily mean its families are the healthiest-especially Austin's low-income families. In 2008, the Federal Reserve System published The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S. It reported a two-year study of the effects of concentrated poverty. The study looked at neighborhoods all over the country with one unifying theme: poverty levels of at least 40 percent. East Austin is one of these neighborhoods. Another common characteristic pinpointed by the report is the lack of grocery stores and the abundance of convenience stores. Low food budgets cause low-income families to restrict their food purchases to items they can afford. All too often, this means forgoing fresh fruits and vegetables and purchasing less expensive, but energydense foods such as refined grains and foods high in sugar and fat. Ironically, poverty results in both hunger and obesity among vulnerable children. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 35 percent of Austin children in low-income families are obese; and in September 2010 the report Child Obesity by Neighborhood and Middle School— a Children’s Optimal Health Mapping Initiative—similarly found high concentrations of youth at high risk for obesity-related health issues in high-poverty areas of Austin. The results are far-reaching and devastating: inferior scholastic performance, lifelong poor eating habits, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. USDA studies indicate that there is strong interest among Austin’s lower-income populations in accessibility to affordable, healthful food. This is confirmed by Sustainable Food Center’s (SFC) experience. In the 2010 season, SFC Farmers’ Market saw a 62 percent increase in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) participation, and an 82 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) usage. The fifth recommendation in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States is to “improve availability of mechanisms for purchasing foods from farms.” To increase access to nutritious foods, as well as the food-purchasing power of low-income families in northeast Austin, SFC has been awarded grants from St. David’s Foundation and Wholesome Wave to expand one of our northeast farmers markets and to implement a Double Value Coupon incentive program. The project will be in conjunction with People’s Community Clinic and its distribution of “prescriptions” for local fresh fruit and vegetables. Families can use their WIC coupons to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the market (or other SFC markets around town), and double their purchasing power—increasing the volume of fresh, local fruits and vegetables in their diets. Wholesome Wave works nationwide to create these links, and SFC is proud to be their first Texas recipient. For more information on SFC, visit sustainablefoodcenter.org and for more information about Wholesome Wave, visit wholesomewave.org.
Fava Time b y ca r o l a n n say l e
Photography by Paul Sokal
have grown fava beans for eight years. Most fava seed offered in the U.S. is meant to grow leguminous cover crops to enrich the soil—three to five harvested beans each are the norm for these pods. But a few years ago, I discovered Bavicchi Italian seeds, and found favas that would yield pods containing seven to nine tasty beans each! Ignoring the agricultural truth that “one year will be the year of any given crop, and the next will be an off year,” I carelessly doubled the planting last November. The favas grew robustly—through light freezes, attacks by aphids (my intern Marissa had to spray them twice with horticultural oil, orange oil and seaweed water) and brisk winds. They bloomed profusely all through January. I was giddy with their beauty; Marissa thought they were trouble. At the start of February, a photographer from Dallas asked to do a photo shoot of farm activities that would be combined with photos of kitchen activity at Austin’s Wink Restaurant. Wink’s sous chef and forager Eric Polzer has made two trips to the farm each week over the last 14 years. How could we resist? Photographer Paul Sokal arrived on a Monday. It was a splendid, bucolic farm day—moderate temperatures, with a gentle breeze. He praised the beauty of the farm (we were not yet in horrible drought) and the weather. We knew, however, that a hard freeze with tremendous winds was on the horizon, so we were diligently harvesting fennel, kale, Romanesco cauliflower, salad mixes, et cetera, even though Monday was too early to harvest for a Wednesday market. Then we began covering the crops. Paul snapped away at the harvesting, the covering, the chickens, the crops—such lovely, ominous photos. The winds began Monday night, and by Tuesday, the cold was intense as we struggled to protect the crops. Obsessed with the favas, I had earlier rolled the bottom edges of lengths of row cover around metal T-posts and pinned them to the ground with big staples. On
Tuesday, I attached the top edges of the cover to the fence with clothespins— forming a lean-to on each side of the fence. This system held through previous freezes, but the gusting 40-mileper-hour wind was mocking it. Paul accompanied me down the rows—capturing the cover ballooning up, the aphid bodies on my jacket, the efforts to thaw my frozen fingers with warm breath. He had forgotten his gloves and lamented it. As night fell, the wind continued—ripping off the row cover and beating the plants to death. Then it snowed in an attempt to hide the horror. The next day was market day, held in the protected salad shed. Outside, it was 18 degrees and windy; inside, Marissa, dressed as an Eskimo, cashiered. We kept the walk-in cooler door open to add warmth to the room. Monday’s produce lay on every available surface. Chef Polzer, and the 39 other brave folks who’d ventured to the farm that day, bought it all—every last leaf. In his photo story, Paul captured the essence of the few days of hard winter on the farm—our urgency; our angst; our, dare I say it, suffering; but also the loyalty of our customers, and finally, the beauty of the meal at Wink despite its derivation from climatic carnage. Perhaps we could do it all again—in April this time?
SIMPLE FAVA BEANS Remove the beans from their pods and simmer in a pot with water to cover for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the beans from the hot water and allow to cool. The “skin” on the beans will shrivel up—at this point, you can eat the beans with the skin on or discard it. Toss the beans in olive oil, a bit of sea salt and finely minced garlic (if desired) and eat them with your fingers as you stare out the window at the bitter cold. (Lick your fingers afterward for greatest enjoyment.) For more info on Bavicchi Italian fava bean seeds, visit gourmetseed.com. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
Benjamin Baker b y MM Pa c k • P h o t o g r ap h y b y E r i c V o n L e h m d e n
hen chefs travel, they typically carry with them their recipes, their skills, their creativity and their knives. But when Chef Benjamin Baker relocated to Austin, he brought all these elements plus one more: sourdough starter from the gold-rush days of San Francisco. Baker is the executive chef at Travaasa Austin, a serene resort and spa on the western edge of Austin. With his small staff, he prepares three menus each day—baking his signature sourdough bread and rolls daily. “Is it spa food? Not really,” he says. “I make the most delicious food I can, using herbs and vegetables grown on-site and with as many locally sourced ingredients as I can get my hands on. For the guests, it’s all about choices—some of my dishes are super-healthy and some are a little decadent. We provide the nutritional and calorie information for everything we serve. And yeah, I do love my sourdough.” How did Baker and his San Francisco sourdough end up in the Texas Hill Country? The tale begins in California. “I’m a seventhgeneration San Franciscan,” he says. “My mom made bread at home, and I cooked for my younger siblings at an early age. I realized that’s what I wanted to do with my life. At seventeen, I started cooking in professional kitchens in San Jose. By the time I was nineteen, I was cooking at the Greenwood Pier Inn in Mendocino County. It was amazing to be working with fresh ingredients and edible flowers from the garden.” But Baker’s days in Mendocino County were numbered. “The chef I worked with, Andrew Waterhouse, had cooked in Hawaii and he encouraged me to go there,” Baker says. “He liked my work ethic and thought I’d be a success. So, what the heck, I was twenty years old…I went.” Baker spent the next 13 years cooking (and playing in rock bands) on Maui. “I cooked at the Paia Fish Market restaurant, where I developed an appreciation for the flavors of the ocean,” he says. He 66
honed his baking skills with Casey Logsdon—pastry chef for the first Roy’s restaurant in Honolulu—and became head baker and then executive chef at Longhi’s fine-dining establishment on Maui. In a significant turn, Baker befriended Scott Hessler, a renowned baker who’d retired to Maui and baked sourdough bread in a solar oven. Sourdough is bread made with wild yeast and bacteria that impart a slightly tangy, sour flavor. Sourdough starter is a small amount of fermented dough saved from a previous batch that contains the yeast and bacteria culture. As long as the starter culture is regularly fed flour and water, it remains a living organism and will last indefinitely. Sourdough was the principal bread made in Northern California during the gold rush and remains a big part of San Francisco food culture today. Hessler’s sourdough starter came from Larraburu Brothers Bakery—opened in San Francisco by two French Basque bakers in 1896. When the bakery closed in 1976, Hessler secured a piece of their venerable starter, reputed to be 167 years old. In the 1980s, Hessler used the starter at Scotty’s Sourdough Bakery in Honolulu, and later only for family baking on Maui. In 2006, Baker and his wife, Zina, a San Antonio native, moved to Texas for the birth of their daughter (also Zina). As a parting friendship gift, Hessler gave Baker a piece of his precious 19th-century starter. Baker says that one of his proudest moments was when he baked bread with the starter for his grandparents in San Francisco. “Eating that bread brought tears to their eyes,” he says. “They said it tasted like the bread they remembered.” “Baking is magic,” Baker says. And when you look at his softly bubbling vats of living sourdough starter, it’s easy to agree. Right now, Baker’s tangy loaves are available only to Travaasa guests, but— luckily for Austin—there are plans to open the restaurant to the public in early 2012.
Seasonal Plate by jody Horton
Noble Pig Chef Brandon Martinez presents Wild Boar Sausage with Shishito / Tomatillo Chutney and Romaine Sandwich: Broken Arrow Ranch boar sausage, Johnson's Backyard Garden vegetables and toasted Nobel Pig bread.
GreEn Corn Project
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f you have control of your own food, that’s real power,” says Margo Smith, as we visit in her garden. Smith had never tasted a homegrown tomato until Green Corn Project (GCP) helped her install her first vegetable garden earlier this year. She’s now a believer in growing her own. Smith says she’s always had trouble settling down, and after living in many houses across five states, she moved back to Austin with little money and no place to live. She found a house with reduced rent in exchange for repair work and home improvement. After reading Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, she thought a garden would be a great addition to her new home. She heard about GCP and registered for a garden. Smith says that as a result of her dedication to the new garden, especially through the most challenging summer ever recorded in Austin, her family now looks at her with new respect. She’s not only committed to the new project, but to sharing the bounty. From a modest four-by-twelve-foot bed, there were enough tomatoes this year for herself, her daughter, her brother and even a few to freeze. “I like to line a baking dish with freshly picked cherry tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, olive oil and Parmesan cheese and bake them for ten to fifteen minutes at 350 degrees until they start popping,” she says. Gardening has changed Smith’s perspective on other aspects of her life, too. She now not only pays attention to seasons knowing that “lettuce can’t be expected to be good in the summer or tomatoes in the winter,” she’s also branched out to boiling soap nuts to use for laundry soap so that she can use the water from her washing machine on her garden. “My family takes me more seriously now that they see me sticking to something,” says Smith, who also wants to take the workshop offered by GCP next spring to help other people learn to garden and take control of their food and life. Wherever she might live in the future, though, she says with great conviction, “gardening will be a permanent feature in my life.
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reen Corn Project enables Central Texans to grow organic G vegetables and herbs. For information, visit greencornproject.org.
’Tis the Wild Seasonings by Amy Crowell
inter is a good time to fill your pantry with wild spices. The smell of juniper-flavored meat slow roasting in the oven is a wonderful treat for holiday guests. Eating it is pretty amazing, too. After whipping up the spice mix for my brisket recipe, my five-yearold son remarked, “It smells like Christmas!” I think ground juniper berries smell like the Hill Country forest after a rain. Our options for wild Texas spices go way beyond juniper, though. We have a few native substitutes for bay, plenty of wild mint and watercress and several varieties of spicy mustards. Wild edibles such as the native chili pequin or farkleberry can be dried and used to flavor our foods year-round. Here are a few of my favorite wild seasonings: Juniper berries (Juniperus ashei and Juniperus virginiana): The trees we sometimes call cedars are actually junipers, and they give us more than allergies in the winter. Juniper berries are the well-known flavoring ingredient in gin and also impart an aromatic spiciness to meats and other dishes. They can be found and harvested throughout the year here in Central Texas, though I’ve had the most success collecting large quantities in the winter. Simply pluck the berries from the branches, dry roast them in a 250-degree oven until they shrivel a bit, turn black and become crumbly, then you may store them in an airtight container for months. When you’re ready to use them, grind them in a clean coffee or spice grinder.
Wax myrtles (Myrica cerifera) and Redbays (Persea borbonia): These bushy, small evergreen trees offer fabulous native substitutes for bay leaves and can be used fresh or dried to flavor soups, stews, beans or roasts. Though they are more commonly found east and south of Austin, wax myrtle and redbay often can be found in our native landscapes, too. Simply pluck the leaves or snip a stem or two and allow the leaves to airdry in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Once the leaves are dried, they can be stored in an airtight container for several months. Chili pequins (Capsicum annuum): One of the most popular uses of chili pequins is to spice up vinegar. My grandpa always had a glass jar full of chili-pequin-infused vinegar sitting on his table that he would sprinkle on whatever he was eating—salads, rice, steaks or anything that needed a little kick. Chili pequins can also be dried and stored. When you’re ready to use them, crumble them into chili flakes or grind them into powder to make one of the hottest native spices imaginable. Redbud pods (Cercis canadensis): The young pods on a redbud tree can be eaten fresh or dried for use as a tart spice. I’ve crumbled the dried pods on top of rice and potatoes—it’s like black pepper, but it adds a unique tangy flavor instead. Spicebushes (Lindera benzoin): Also known as wild allspice, the spicebush is one of our wild treasures here in Central Texas that’s becoming rare and endangered due to development. We should do everything
we can to preserve and protect this amazing tree. Its leaves, bark, small branches and berries can be dried and stored for later use. Once ground, the spicebush is a fabulous allspice substitute. Spicewood, just outside of Austin, was named in honor of this fragrant plant. When drying wild spices, be sure they’re completely crispy-dry before storing them in airtight containers. Also try to store them whole to retain most of their intense flavors.
JUNIPER-SPICED BRISKET Serves 6–8 The rub in this recipe can be used on a variety of meats, including pork, venison, beef and chicken. Once combined, the spice mix can be stored for several weeks in an airtight container. For the spice rub: 2 T. dried juniper berries 1 T. black peppercorns 2 T. dried chili pequins 1 T. fennel seeds 3 T. coarse salt 1 T. dried sage 1 T. garlic powder 1 T. sugar For the brisket: 3 lb. boneless beef brisket 1 T. olive oil 3 c. beef stock
To make the rub, add the juniper berries, peppercorns, chili pequins and fennel seeds to a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind together. Mix with the remaining spice rub ingredients. Preheat the oven to 300°. Generously rub the brisket on all sides with the spice rub. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy baking dish on medium heat until hot. Add the brisket and lightly brown on both sides. Remove the meat and pour off the drippings. Return the brisket to the pan and add the beef stock. Cover tightly and cook for 3 to 4 hours. To serve, cut against the grain and cover with a brisket glaze, if desired. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
T i ps y T e x a n
Winter cocktails B y Dav i d A l a n • P h o t o g r ap h y b y J e n n a N o e l
n The Physiology of Taste, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin writes, “To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.” Such a notion would seem to be self-evident, but I often find that hosts, whether amateur or professional, seem to miss this basic element of hospitality. Though the home entertainer’s livelihood isn’t dependent on expert handling of guests, it is nonetheless wise to think of BrillatSavarin’s words when planning your holiday get-together. Regardless of your entertaining prowess the rest of the year, this is the one time of year to go big, to take into consideration every element of your guests’ experience. Consider making it a disposable-serving-ware-free holiday; try to avoid a BYOB event unless you just can’t afford to entertain otherwise; and
perhaps splurge and hire someone to make drinks, help serve food or clear plates and glassware. Most importantly for the Tipsy Texan, have no small quantity of drinks at the ready. I have long been an advocate of punches and batches when entertaining medium-to-large groups in the home. This allows you to actually spend time mingling with your guests instead of spending the entire party behind the counter making drinks. Offering a couple of cocktails in punch bowls (or pitchers) allows your guests to have a drink whenever they want, and to meter their own alcohol intake. When serving spirited beverages, the hospitable host always has chilled water easily accessible, and keeps an eye on guests who may be getting too festive. Let them know that they are welcome to stay, or see them off safely in a cab.
SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY PUNCH 1 liter bourbon 18 oz. Texas grapefruit juice 8 oz. Aperol 12 oz. Fresh squeezed Lemon juice 3 oz. simple syrup 1.5 c. water 6 dashes orange bitters Ice block or ice ring (Fill an old Jell-O mold or plastic food-storage container with water and freeze. The bigger the block, the longer it will chill your punch without overly diluting it.)
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and chill.
ABSINTHE EGGNOG This recipe makes one cocktail, which I recommend trying first before committing to a full batch—the flavor profile of absinthe is not for everybody. 1½ oz. Tenneyson Absinthe Royale (use clear Swiss-style absinthe rather than the green French style) 1½ oz. heavy cream ¾ oz. simple syrup ½ t. vanilla extract 1 egg
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake for a moment without ice (alternately, use a handheld milk frother to emulsify the ingredients). Add ice and shake vigorously to chill. For a larger batch, multiply all ingredients except the simple syrup and vanilla. After whipping the other ingredients in a mixing bowl, add simple syrup and vanilla to taste.
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LAKE AUSTIN FISH SHACK PUNCH Philadelphia Fish House Punch is one of the oldest cocktails in the proverbial book. It dates to colonial times, and was the official drink of a sporting and social club outside of Philadelphia known as the State in Schuylkill. Short on a couple of ingredients, I improvised and found the resulting punch to be more enjoyable than the original. Given its improvised nature, I have named it for those old, understated shacks that used to line Lake Austin, and which are still occasionally visible through the McMansions. ¾ c. granulated sugar 6–8 lemons (enough to yield 1 c. of fresh lemon juice) 8 oz. aged rum 4 oz. Cognac
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3 oz. applejack or Calvados 1 oz. pear liqueur 3 c. water Ice block
First, prepare what is known as an oleo-saccharum (sugared oil) by placing the sugar in a mixing bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outermost layer of the lemon rind (zest) from the lemons in strips. Do this over the sugar to capture as much of the essential oils as possible as they are released from the peel. Using a muddler or wooden kitchen spoon, gently grind the sugar and zest, allowing the abrasion of the sugar to remove more essential oil from the lemon zest. Once abundantly fragrant, allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. Combine half of the lemon juice with the oleo-saccharum and stir to create a syrup. Strain out the peels. In a punch bowl, combine spirits, oleo-saccharum and half of the water. Taste and add more water or lemon juice as needed to achieve a pleasing balance. Chill, and keep cold with the ice block.
151 OLD-FASHIONED In the latter days of the 20th century, the old-fashioned came to be known as a whiskey cocktail sweetened with muddled fruit and bitters. In an earlier time “old fashioned” referred to a type of preparation that resembled the earliest combination of ingredients to be called a cocktail. Here, I’ve taken very stout rum and prepared it in the way of an “old fashioned” cocktail: diluted with a little water, slightly sweetened and flavored with bitters and citrus zest. No muddling required.
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½ t. granulated sugar ½ oz. filtered water 1½ oz. Lemon Hart 151 Rum (no substitution here; you can find at Austin Wine Merchant or call around) Dash The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters (or Angostura bitters) Dash Regan’s Orange Bitters (or another orange bitters) Strip of orange zest Strip of lemon zest
Place the sugar in the bottom of a mixing glass, add the water and stir until dissolved (more water is used here than usual due to the high proof of the spirit). Add the rum and bitters and stir to chill. Remove the orange and lemon zest and twist over a double old-fashioned glass to express the oils. Drop the zests into the glass and pour in the chilled cocktail. Garnish with several large ice cubes. Meet your local distillers! DRINK LOCAL NIGHT Thursday, December 8, 6:30 pm AT&T Executive Conference Center Grand Ballroom featuring the Official Drink of Austin Contest
TALES FROM A SUPPER CLUB b y Ma d y K ay e • P h o t o g r ap h y b y A i m e e W e n sk e
Gourmet dinner group members (left to right) Mady Kaye, Jack Howell, Monica Michell, Jaxon Smith, Becky Hopkins (front) and Susan Conway.
he table is splendidly dressed: fine clothes, bone china, sterling flatware, sparkling glassware and an imposing vase of resplendent flowers—ready for the 12 diners to fill the room with stories, laughter and delectable food. Welcome to our gourmet dinner group! We’ve been meeting for 28 years now. Some of us have been friends since college—like the two with the same last name, now married to other people, but still part of this harmonious group. In the beginning, the emphasis was on socializing, but over the years, we’ve become more serious about the cooking part—highlighting inventive dishes and local produce. We take great pride in our culinary endeavors, stopping just a hair short of competitiveness. We gather every other month, with each couple playing host once a year—they get to decide the theme and prepare the entrée. When we attend a dinner, we don’t actually know what’s on the menu. We only know what category we’ve chosen: appetizer, salad, vegetable, dessert or miscellaneous (bread, soup, whatever works). We usually have a general idea of the entrée ahead of time, though. We also bring what we wish to imbibe. (We’ve noticed that as our ages go up, our consumption goes down. How times change.) On this particular evening, the menu is as varied as our members. An appetizer of fried green tomatoes with prosciutto, garlic aioli and arugula sprouts from our resident real-estate experts; an entrée of crispyduck salad with blackberries, raspberries, oranges and arugula from our hosts. (The crispy part is the skin, which has been removed from the duck, degreased and crumbled up to serve over the salad.) These hosts are famous for their multiple and frenzied trips to the grocery store in the midst of food preparation, so we gently razz them: “How many trips to the store this time?” “Only two!” they chorus. A new record low. For the salad course, it’s couscous with apricots, dried cherries, pine
nuts and ginger. Another couple, our resident massage therapists, brings two kinds of homemade bread with both garlic butter and fresh-herb butter. A vegetable of hot-and-sour bok choy rounds out the meal, and is followed by the finale of chocolate and pecan pie with whipped cream. Often we wish for large, strong attendants with stretchers to whisk us home, but they never seem to show. Over the years we’ve interpreted “gourmet” however we wish, like the Anti-Gourmet Dinner, probably 20 years ago. We aimed low: Vienna sausage out of a can, green Jell-O mold with miniature marshmallows and canned fruit, Frito pie and hot dogs. I found it wonderfully offensive and ate dinner at home afterward. Happily, the group was satisfied with a one-shot venture, and we returned to our usual gourmet fare. Of course, it’s not always just about the food. Every holiday season we have a gift exchange that includes new or recycled gifts—serious ones or gags. One member is still pining for the blue beach towel she lost to another member some 15 years ago, and the tacky stove-burner covers (decorated with little snowmen) were recycled for years. But it’s the traditional family fruitcake offering that takes the most ribbing. After experiencing multiple years of one member stealthily sneaking in this gift entry—often cleverly disguised to avoid detection—we decided that it was the same bedraggled loaf of fruitcake recycled from one year to the next. We chided our fruitcake-foisting member heartily for her deception, but the laugh was on us. Every year, she draws the most advantageous number in the gift exchange, meaning she gets the final choice out of all the gifts. Choosing the best number year after year is a statistical impossibility, so the moral of the story must be: never dis the fruitcake. It’s bad karma. And even if you wouldn’t consider eating it, there’s always the next gourmet meal to anticipate. EDIBLEAUSTIN.COM
departme nt o f organ i c YOUTH
Capital Area Foodbank
Urban Roots RAP
By John Turner
Director of Marketing for CAFB
b y Da n i e l G o me z
As a youth, my biggest goal was to be the change to start small and impact the world one day I know it may sound insane but I’m out to say that I can So I chose farming and agriculture as my experiment So I chose the program of Urban Roots I was taught how to farm and live healthy and produce foods For that I have a heart to start volunteering, to be the change starting in my community See the importance of food is really valuable and the value of food at times we take for granted Although it may seem like we have enough, but what happens to our brothers and sisters in other areas, that are less fortunate than us? So how about it? It’s time to make a change We have nothing to lose; in fact we have much to gain So lets be thankful and appreciate Don’t just sit there as life is passing you by
Photography by Wylie Maercklein
It’s time to make a change and stand up for what is right
Danny Gomez with Darriyan Kent (right) and Raynesha Matthews
Meet Danny, Darriyan and Raynesh and other Urban Roots youth at events during Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week, December 3–10. More at edibleaustin.com.
read a recent report that Austin now has the third-worst traffic congestion in the country. For many of us battling through crowded streets and seemingly endless freeway delays, that news doesn’t come as a surprise. The population of Travis County alone has grown 26 percent in the past 10 years, and as Austin continues to populate many “top 10 places to live” lists, the city’s—and the region’s—dynamic growth seems sure to continue. There is a mounting, hidden human cost to this growth, especially for those in the lower economic brackets. Coupled with the population growth are dramatic increases in the numbers of Central Texans living in poverty and struggling daily with hunger. Almost one in five live below the poverty line, and appallingly, one in four children are at risk of hunger—increases that mean the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is now trying to meet a need and serve a population far greater than our current facility was planned to handle. We have the 77thlargest food bank in the country, but Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos is now the country’s 35th-largest metropolitan statistical area (a geographic region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area). Last year, CAFB distributed 25 million pounds of food—50 percent more than just three years ago—and we’ve reached the operational capacity of our building. Expansion on CAFB’s current site proved to be so difficult and expensive that the CAFB board voted to move to a new home. After an exhaustive search and evaluation of existing warehouse space, CAFB decided to build a new facility. The new warehouse will be located at the MetCenter, located near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and will be double the size of CAFB’s current 60,000foot facility. Plans are in the works to break ground in the spring of 2012 and relocate the operations 15 to 18 months later. The new building will have many innovative features that will not only allow us to increase the amount of food and services provided, but also significantly change the composition of the food distributed. The cooler and freezer space will be five times what we have now, enabling us to handle more nutritious fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat, as well as take much larger quantities of protein that can be flash frozen and stored. We also plan to include a large commercial kitchen that will allow us to prepare and cook meals—something we’re not able to do now. A large teaching garden will extend our ability to educate children about nutrition and the importance of fresh produce and a good diet. CAFB needs to grow so that we can continue to provide emergency hunger relief food and services where they’re needed the most, while implementing long-term programs to end hunger. We hope you’ll join us on our journey. Hunger is unacceptable, and standing still in this fast-growing world is not an option. or more information on CAFB’s Central Texas Food Rescue program F and how to attend the screening of Dive! visit austinfoodbank.org.
& The EmilyAnn Theatre & GardensÂ ~ Trail of Lights
Back of the House
Congress by Marshall Wright
Previous Page: Breast of duck with quince puree, toasted faro and cardamom-orange molasses from the Congress Ă la carte menu. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Executive Chef David Bull puts the final touches on a dish before it goes out to the table; Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Meeker frothing the white lobster bisque; seasoning the duck breast before going onto the grill; servers, Andre Hall and John Tofflemire, running food to the dining room.
Above, clockwise from top left: Potato and chive gnocchi get a toss in a hot pan; seared scallops awaiting the plate; Tete de Cochon with toasted barley and whiskey-bacon marmalade makes its way onto a bed of corn puree; looking sharp; total focus as a Congress server, Roberto Carlos Ainslie, prepares to deliver food.
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Sum No. 18
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EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights emilyann.org
n by seaso
No. 17 Spring 2011
Austin ® Celebrating Central Texas food culture, season by season
JAPAN’S GIFT Exploring the ethos of Japanese cuisine
? e for ecue Barb nding in lin sta anklin
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Kin g Ch oc Be yon ola te d the • Gr Bu dg ow Fo et: Sc rth an ho ol d Co Lu nc Mem nq ue ber he s • of Edib r le Com Cra ft mun ities Ba ris tas
Member of Edi bl e Communi t i es
No. 16 Wint
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(left) Lauren Fensterstock, Mound, 2010 (detail), Paper, charcoal, and Plexiglass, Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Gallery, Lenox, Massachusetts. Image by Aaron T Stephan; (right) Steve Wiman, Tree line, 2010, Mixed media, 14 x 71 ½ x 4 ¾, Courtesy of the artist and d berman gallery, Wimberley, Texas.
art de terroir
Two Takes on One Space: Lauren Fensterstock and Steve Wiman On view at Laguna Gloria
December 15, 2011 – February 19, 2012
Laguna Gloria 3809 West 35th St. 512.458.8191 www.amoa.org
The Jones Center 700 Congress Avenue 512.453.5312 www.arthousetexas.org