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GO LOCAL. GO TEXAN. TEXAS FOOD, WINE, RESTAURANTS, RECIPES, GARDENING, STYLE & MORE FEBRUARY 2017 EDITION

RIO GRANDE VALLEY SUGAR GROWERS: SHOWING THE WORLD HOW SWEET TEXAS IS TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE O COMMISSIONER SID MILLER


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WELCOME TO THE FEBRUARY 2017 EDITION OF THE GO LOCAL. GO TEXAN. E-ZINE. We have some fun articles to share with you this month, and they’re all about several exciting GO TEXAN members. Since many of you are still enjoying Valentine’s Day treats, we are going to take time to visit with the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers — they certainly help “sweeten” the Texas agriculture industry.

In Texas, tradition and family businesses often go hand-inhand. That certainly is true for GO TEXAN member, Best Maid Products. They make some great pickles, relish, jalapenos and dressing products. The company was founded right before the start of the Great Depression, and they’re keeping the tradition and quality alive today.

We are also very proud of the Texas craft brewing movement, and this month, we are highlighting the oldest craft brewery in Texas — Saint Arnold Brewing Company from Houston.

I hope you enjoy this issue. Be sure to share it with your friends, and remember: Texas Agriculture Matters!

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RGV SUGAR GROWERS: SHOWING THE WORLD HOW SWEET TEXAS IS SUGAR CANE HAS BEEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY’S AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION FOR MORE THAN 200 YEARS. THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY SUGAR GROWERS COOPERATIVE HAS A SWEET HISTORY, ALONG WITH SUGAR CANE PRODUCTION UPS AND DOWNS.

At one point after the Great Depression, the very last sugar mill in the Rio Grande Valley closed down. Fast-forward almost 40 years to the mid-1960s, when several agricultural leaders in South Texas, along with the 4

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Weslaco and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), launched a feasibility study to find out if sugar cane production could be profitable again in South Texas.


In 1970, 100 South Texas farmers came together to form the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers (RGVSG), a privately-owned cooperative. Then they built a new multi-million dollar mill and started growing sugar cane

again. Today, RGVSG members produce more than 1.5 million tons of sugar cane per year on 40,000 acres in a three-county area.

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According to the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers (RGVSG) President and CEO, Sean Brashear, stimulating the local economy is his motivation to buy locally and just one reason he enjoys being part of the GO TEXAN program. “The best part of Texas is that we have a diverse industry,” Brashear said, “Not just the lay of the land, but we have a lot to offer to the world and we should always keep self-sustainability in mind, too.” RGVSG believes hiring local residents to work for them is a real benefit. According to their website, the national sweetener industry creates $21.1 billion in economic activity. In Texas alone, more than 8,000 jobs rely on a strong domestic sweetener industry. RGVSG typically contributes more than 10 percent of the total gross revenues the Rio Grande Valley generates from agriculture each year.

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Brashear mentioned RGVSG has had a slow but steady comeback from the drought a few years ago. However, with the recent rainfall and steady price of sugar, things are looking up! “In the future, we hope to bring more varieties, provide more research and testing on various sugar varieties, and expand disease control to increase the farmers’ ability to fight pests and other diseases that threaten crops,” Brashear said. Want to learn more about the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers? Check out their website and be sure to visit their facility from October to March.

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KLEIN BROS: STREAMLINING THE FAMILY BUSINESS Jeffrey Klein is the proud owner of a family business that goes back to 1922 when his grandfather, Alec Klein, opened up Klein Bros. Fine Foods and Dry Goods in Tomball. In 1956, his father, Robert Klein, took over the store, building it into one of the largest independent grocery stores in the Houston area. Jeffrey went to Texas A&M University and earned his master’s degree in business management in 1992, then returned to work full-time in the family’s store. The grocery store did well for itself in Tomball for the next several years, and Jeffrey saw an opportunity for expansion. “About 2008, I noticed that we were doing quite well with homegrown vegetables in our produce department in summer,” Klein said. “We had done that for many years — getting peaches from Stonewall and Fredericksburg and squash and tomatoes from folks we knew here. In going to their farmers markets, I noticed a lot of them sold home-

processed canned goods. I thought we could round out our homegrown area in the store if we expanded it into home-style canned goods and also into pecans — with an emphasis on Texas products.” He pitched the idea to his dad who told him to take it and run with it. Jeffrey’s wife, Traci, who also has a bachelor’s degree in management, helped him develop the new product brand. On the product labels, you’ll see the Klein Bros. brand with a 1931 Model A pickup truck — inspired by his father’s truck that was wellknown around the streets of Tomball. Shortly after expanding into this new line of home-style canned goods, they were faced with another change. Tomball was growing and a large H-E-B, Walmart and Randalls all opened up less than a mile away from their store. “Dad was 75 at this time,” Klein said, “and it felt like it was time for him to retire. We also knew we’d either need to build a new store or do a 9


large remodel to remain competitive. what they’re searching for.” About the same time, we got an offer Their business savvy and hard work from the Veteran’s Administration to has paid off, evidenced by the long buy our building.” list of retailers carrying Klein Bros.’ That perfect timing and the fact that products. the new line of wholesale and retail “I think it’s rewarding anytime I get products were doing so well made it a a call or a text from a friend that simple decision to close the storefront said, ‘I just bought your product and focus solely on the products. and enjoyed it,’” Klein said. “When “It’s a challenge introducing a new someone is 100 miles from home product into the marketplace,” Klein and they say, ‘There is Klein’s,’ they said. “The advantage I had was are showing their Texas pride. I have growing up in the grocery business, a photo of a U.S. Army Lieutenant which allowed me to speak the same from Tomball with an Afghani police language as the grocers, so I know officer holding Klein Bros. trail mix.” 10


It’s no surprise that the GO TEXAN Texas triple berry and all the pecan program was a perfect fit for Klein products — those are coming out of Bros. Texas.” “As a native Texan, someone who is proud to be a Texan, proud to be an Aggie, the GO TEXAN stamp perfectly lined up with what we do,” Klein said. “With Texas produce, that’s one thing we offer that makes our product a superior one. We don’t bring it in from across the country. You’re getting that fresh from the garden flavor. We don’t grow everything, like the pistachios, for example, but the pickles, okra, peach jam, blackberry jam, jalapeno jelly,

When asked to pick his favorite product from the bunch, it all comes back to family for Klein. “The garlic dill pickle is my favorite,” Klein said. “It reminds me of eating the garlic dill pickles my grandmother would make. We’re using simple old-fashioned recipes. That’s how we get that taste you can’t mass produce.” For more information on Klein Bros., visit their website. 11


CHORIZO DE SAN MANUEL: EDINBURG’S PLACE TO GO

IN EDINBURG, TEXAS, ON ANY GIVEN WEEKDAY, IF YOU’RE EVER IN THE MOOD FOR SOME FRESH AND DELICIOUS CHORIZO (BE IT PORK, BEEF OR CHICKEN), CHORIZO DE SAN MANUEL IS JUST THE PLACE TO GO!

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uis Flores III, a Chorizo de San Manuel executive, said that the inspiration for starting Chorizo De San Manuel was to create the freshest-tasting and most natural chorizo possible. “Having a product that is Texas-made and being able to employ and help our community is a major benefit that we get to enjoy as a business owner in Texas,” Flores said. “The thing that I really appreciate the most is producing a 100 percent natural product for our customers.” According to Flores, there are no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or additives in any of Chorizo de San Manuel’s products. He said that means customers are receiving the absolute best chorizo when they buy from Chorizo de San Manuel.

give our consumers more creative ways to cook with our products,” Flores said. “We believe it helps with our sales, because once people see the dish pictured and various recipes posted, the next time they are at the grocery store, our products will definitely be on their list.” Chorizo de San Manuel is one of many GO TEXAN certified businesses that benefits from the exposure and marketing opportunities that the GO TEXAN program has to offer. “We were attracted to the GO TEXAN program, because it helps promote businesses in Texas,” Flores said. “It also promotes Texas businesses on a national and international level, too, which is great.” Flores said that Chorizo de San Manuel is excited for the many things to come and hopes to create new products and expand their distribution across the country.

Facebook plays a big role in Chorizo de San Manuel’s business and helps spread their message of natural ingredients. Flores said that utilizing social media allows the company to reach more people in an efficient way. Can’t make it to Edinburg? No worries! You can also buy their products online. Visit “We have found that Facebook is a useful Chorizo de San Manuel online for recipes, way to advertise our products, as well as products and more. 13


SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY: THE OLDEST CRAFT BREWERY IN TEXAS

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Brock Wagner, owner of Saint Arnold Brewing Company, said that he is not the first in his family to be interested in creating a business out of people’s love for all things alcohol.

Wagner said that he began home brewing in college when his resident advisor introduced him to it. Seven years after graduating, he decided to quit his job and turn his at-home hobby into a business.

“I am the first generation to brew beer,” Wagner said. “However, my cousin has a winery in Napa Valley and my great-great-great and great-great grandfathers ran Wagner’s Beer Hall in San Francisco, which is now called the Saloon and is the oldest bar in San Francisco.”

“I had no professional experience but visited as many breweries as I could — and there weren’t that many back then,” Wagner said. “I spent a lot of time talking to brewers, suppliers and equipment manufacturers and tried to learn everything I could about this industry.”


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When Wagner began his brewing business, it was pretty tough. He recalls that there was not really a market for craft beer in Texas, but he considered it his job to create one. It wasn’t until 2003 that Wagner felt like Saint Arnold Brewing Company was an established business. His advice for others wanting to follow in his footsteps: work hard and brew great beer. Wagner said that buying locally is so important to craft beer customers and that the GO TEXAN label automatically allows consumers to identify his brand as 100 percent Texan.

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“Being able to lay claim to being Texas’ oldest craft brewery is something I’m very proud of,” Wagner said. “However, I’m most proud of the team of people that work together and make our company so special.” Want to know more about Saint Arnold Brewing Company? Click here.


The craft brewing team at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. 17


BEST MAID IN TEXAS: WHAT A DILL-IGHTFUL STORY In 1926, Mildred Dalton began making pies and pastries to sell at her husband Jessie’s grocery store. Mildred used a great deal of egg whites to create her delicious meringue pies, but she grew tired of wasting all the egg yolks. It was then that she began to make and sell mayonnaise. Soon after, Mildred began adding a pickled relish to her mayonnaise to make a delightful sandwich spread. In order to keep up with demand for their sandwich spread, Mildred and Jessie began to grow their own cucumbers. With all of the extra cucumbers, the natural progression for the Daltons was to begin pickling, and the rest, as they say, is history!

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Emily Christy, marketing director for Best Maid Products, said that the Daltons chose the name Best Maid for their company, because everyone loved the original products so much. “Customers began calling Mildred’s products the best made products they’d ever tasted, hence the name,” Christy said. “However, the spelling of maid as opposed to made remains a mystery.” Best Maid Products was founded right before the Great Depression. Interestingly enough, the Daltons products sold so well that they were practically sold out before they even hit the shelves. From there, with four generations of


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“We are really proud of our Texas heritage, and we wanted to make sure that other Texas loyalists know exactly what they are getting when they open a jar of Best Maid Pickles.” family ownership, Best Maid Products has been able to expand to a statewide brand with more than 140 individual products for sale. One of most rewarding aspects of having a job at Best Maid Products has been the working environment, according to Christy. “Everyone from the CEO to the people who work on the line truly enjoys their job, which makes this a really fun place to work,” Christy said. “Another one of the most rewarding things has to be the look on peoples’ faces when they try one of our products. We are extremely fortunate to have such a rich company history and culture that we hope continues for at least another 90 years!” Christy explained that being a Texas-based company means Lone Star pride runs deep in the culture at Best Maid and made it only natural for the company

to partner with the GO TEXAN program. “We have a great network of local Texas farmers who have helped us grow our cucumbers for years,” Christy said. “We are really proud of our Texas heritage, and we wanted to make sure that other Texas loyalists know exactly what they are getting when they open a jar of Best Maid Pickles.” Best Maid Products is not slowing down. In fact, the company plans on continuing to spread their unique taste of Texas for years to come. “We are constantly working on new ideas and flavors,” Christy said. “Who knows what DILLightful flavor we will come up with next?” Check out Best Maid’s website to find new recipes, products and happenings.

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RECIPE: CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP WITH DUMPLINGS Here’s a nice, warm soup to make and serve on a cold, winter day (if the unpredictable Texas winter gives us any more cold weather this year). [Photo courtesy Saveur Magazine.]

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Soup Ingredients: 4 tbsp. Unsalted butter 1 tsp. Olive oil 2 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs To taste Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 Cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 Large yellow onion, finely chopped 4 Medium carrots, roughly chopped 4 Stalks of celery, roughly chopped 8 cups Chicken stock To taste Salt, pepper, Italian spice grinder, dried thyme ½ cup Jasmine rice or Doguet’s long grain rice

s like e p i c re ther ex an. org o d n Fi t got th is a

Dumplings Ingredients: 1 cup Flour 2 tsp. Baking powder ½ tsp. Kosher salt ½ cup Milk Soup Directions: 1. Heat butter and oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. 2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. 3. Working in batches, cook the chicken, flipping once, until browned (5–7 minutes). 4. Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside. 5. Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery to pan. 6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 7 minutes). 7. Return chicken and its juices to pan with other ingredients; bring to a boil. 8. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered until chicken is tender (8–10 minutes).

9. Add rice and cook until tender, or about 8 minutes more. 10. Transfer chicken to cutting board. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into large pieces and return to pan. 11. Bring soup to a simmer. Dumplings Directions: 1. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. 2. Stir in milk until a thick batter forms. 3. Using a 1-ounce scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop batter into simmering soup. 4. When dumplings are puffed and slightly firm, cover pan and continue to cook about 5 minutes more. 23


SPOT THE GO TEXAN MARK CHALLENGE Want a fun way to share the best of Texas with the world? It’s easy! GO TEXAN uses social media tools like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to post GO TEXAN events, share member news and increase awareness of the wide variety of products grown and made right here in the Lone Star State.

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Challenge: If you spot the GO TEXAN mark, let us know. Send us a picture of the mark on a product, sign or printed materials, and tell us where you saw it. Be sure to use the GO TEXAN hashtag (#GOTEXAN) when you post, so we can easily share your message, or send us an email.


UPCOMING TEXAS EVENTS Feb. 9-26: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, San Antonio Feb. 18: 2 Hip Chicks Road Show, Abilene Feb. 19-26: Charro Days Fiesta, Brownsville Feb. 23-26: Whooping Crane Festival, Port Aransas March 4-5: Texas Independence Day Celebration, Washington March 7-26: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston March 8-19: Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo, Mercedes March 11: Texas Ranger Day, Burton March 11-25: Rodeo Austin, Austin March 31 - April 2: Cattle Raisers Convention, San Antonio View more Texas events here. 25


About GO TEXAN

Launched in 1999 by the Texas Department of Agriculture, GO TEXAN, with its signature mark in the shape of Texas, celebrates, promotes and supports the business savvy and plainspoken grit Texas agriculture is known for throughout the world. Whether it’s grown, sewn or served up on a plate, nearly 27 million Texans shop, travel and dine out in support of Texas businesses, agriculture and communities, looking for the GO TEXAN mark to light the way. To learn more about the GO TEXAN program, call (877) 99-GOTEX or visit the GO TEXAN website. Tell others about GO TEXAN! One great and easy way is to forward them this publication. All your friends have to do to is click here to subscribe, and they’ll start receiving the Go Local. GO TEXAN. free monthly e-zine.

About the Texas Department of Agriculture

TDA’s mission is to partner with all Texans to make Texas the nation’s leader in agriculture, fortify our economy, empower rural communities, promote healthy lifestyles, and cultivate winning strategies for rural, suburban and urban Texas through exceptional service and the common threads of agriculture in our daily lives. 26

Go Local. GO TEXAN. e-zine February 2017  

The latest news on Texas food, wine, restaurants, recipes, gardening, style and more.