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There are only six days until the official start of summer, but here in Texas, we have been living with the summer heat for a while. There’s no better time than now to get outside and enjoy one of our Texas lakes, rivers, streams and pools. Once the sun goes down and the temperatures drop just a bit, we have a chance to cool off. Perhaps you do so by making a visit to one of our many Texas vineyards for a glass of wine, or perhaps you want some lemonade and cotton candy are for a summer evening refreshment. If the latter is the case, Hopkins, Montgomery, Dallas, Harris and Lamar counties are all kicking off their county fairs in the next month — so mark your calendars. Our state parks are also open and full of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. There are also plenty of pickyour-own farms that offer fun for the whole family. If you’re looking for other ideas, check out our Texas Events calendar at gotexan.org. We have some great articles for you in this issue, including another GO TEXAN success story about a Cedar Park family who makes delicious

barbecue sauce. 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce is an award-winning barbecue sauce that’ll put a smile on your face. Read about why they donate a portion of their proceeds to help fund Smile Train, the leading children’s charity for cleft lip and palate surgery. If you’ve been looking for more style advice from this e-zine, you’ll appreciate our story on Texas Carpet Baggers this month. They make high-quality fashion accessories like wallets, purses and bags in Bulverde, Texas. We also talked to the folks at Sogo Industries; they sold out of all their plastic kitchenware at our GO TEXAN booth at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo a couple months back. I recently visited their factory in Houston and was very impressed with their Texas operation. As always, we’re happy to show off the wide diversity of our GO TEXAN members and promote the best of Texas. We hope you’ll enjoy this issue. Be sure to share it with your friends, and remember, Texas Agriculture Matters!



2BQ’D BBQ SAUCE: PUTTING THE GOOD IN GOURMET THE AUSTIN AREA HAS BECOME A MECCA FOR FOOD FANATICS AND CULINARY EXPERIENCES, AND OUT OF THIS RESTAURANTDENSE AREA COMES A BARBECUE SAUCE THAT INCLUDES ALL THE TASTE BARBECUE LOVERS CRAVE WITH LOTS OF NATURAL INGREDIENTS TO BOOT. The owners of this small company called 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce wanted to create something different. “I wanted to look at the bottle and be able to pronounce and understand the ingredients I was eating,” said co-owner Kim McGrath. “We also wanted something that was fresh, versatile and layered with flavor.” In a food climate that is obsessed with staying healthy, being an innovator is quite impressive. It was a simple desire to eat healthy that

got owners Sean and Kim McGrath to invent such a barbecue sauce. “I am a food label reader and always on the lookout for the healthiest foods I can bring home for my family,” Kim said. “Our ingredients are important for that reason. We wanted a healthy BBQ sauce that’s not full of corn syrup and sugar, so we set out on making a batch from scratch and that was how 2BQ’d was formed. We use our own recipes, so we can control all ingredients that are placed in our sauce.” 5

Yet, when it comes to BBQ sauce, most folks aren’t looking for healthier alternative. Customers just want something that tastes great. 2BQ’d is rising to the challenge and standing out, because their sauce is both delicious and healthy. While taste may be king in the BBQ world, Kim is the queen in the McGrath household; and when the queen wants healthy food on her table, she gets it. “The biggest challenge facing our company is changing how people view barbecue sauce and knowing that a healthier, tastier alternative is in the marketplace,” McGrath said. “There are many barbecue sauces in the industry, so our mission is educating people on the importance of healthier food choices for themselves and their families.” Creating that perfect complement for the many flavors and items on a diverse barbecue menu is not an easy task, but one that 2BQ’d is more than up for. One taste and people will see that they’ve achieved that goal.

Kim said. “We developed a sauce that is layered in flavor, which enhances the spices and rubs that are used in barbecue meats. Our sauce is unique, because it actually has a light texture that complements and enhances the flavor of the meat and does not just coat it. We believe that you should be able to taste and enjoy the meats you spent time grilling.” The McGraths are proud to be in the barbecue business, but they’re even more proud to be Texans. They couldn’t be happier than to be right here, right now. “I love running a food business in Texas, because the state has become a mecca for food fanatics and culinary experiences,” she said. “Having created a ‘gourmet’ type of barbecue sauce in a state that has amazing food is such a blessing. I support the GO TEXAN program, because I have met and get to network with a wonderful staff and other entrepreneurs who share my same passion for the food industry. GO TEXAN offers many programs and events that can help grow your business.”

“My favorite barbecue items are moist Some businesses talk about brisket, turkey and potato salad,” networking, but the McGraths live it 6



out. They quickly took advantage of opportunities that the GO TEXAN program made available to them, like meeting with grocery retail buyers, as well as selling and sampling products at the State Fair of Texas. It was at events like these where Kim and her husband, Sean, didn’t wait for introductions but quickly made friends with the fellow food vendors and businesses around them. They were able to meet and impress a co-packer that has now taken their recipes and preparation out of the kitchen and into the commercial retail big world.

therapy and a lot of love, Mei-Li is a happy, healthy 7-year old child. She’s also the inspiration for Kim and Sean to donate a portion of the sales of 2BQ’d to Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that corrects cleft lips and palates in children all over the world. Through the corrective surgeries, these children get a chance for a normal life without serious setbacks in growth and development.

“Sean and I have been honored and humbled by our journey with our daughter, and we wanted to help other parents who do not have the resources to help for their children,” Kim said. They truly embody the energy, smarts “Smile Train is a wonderful way to and opportunistic, entrepreneurial give back to those families and their spirit in what they do, and they also beautiful children all over the world.” believe in paying it forward beyond just the business world. So, each purchase of 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce not only puts a smile on the “We have a philosophy that with barbecue lover’s face after enjoying success comes a responsibility to give its healthy and delicious taste, but it back to others,” Kim said. “In our also has a tangible effect on repairing pursuit to do that, we chose Smile children’s smiles around the world. Train because of our daughter Mei-Li.” You can find 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce in Five years ago, Kim and Sean adopted all the Whole Foods, Central Market their daughter Mei-Li from China. and Market Street stores in Texas. For At the time, Mei-Li had a cleft lip and more information, visit their website. palate. After several surgeries, speech 9



at the Cuero Pecan House, it is by far the favorite of the owners and customers alike.

While the pecan pie is just one item of many available year-round

“When creating our signature pecan pie at the Cuero Pecan House, we went through several trials in an attempt to create a unique pecan pie that you could only find at the Cuero Pecan House

any folks have mentioned that our pecan pie is so amazing that they haven’t made one of their own since discovering it,” co-owner Annette Rath said. “It’s simply delicious and eliminates the hassle and the mess.”


in Cuero, Texas,” Rath said. “We want to encourage families to spend more time together, and by offering them homemade goods, it allows them to spend less time in the kitchen and more time being with the ones they love. Being a part of that is the reason we do what we do.”

with J.F. Elder. He spent each busy pecan season — November through mid-January — in Cuero brokering and cracking pecans for the general public. He would then close the doors of the seasonal business until the next pecan season.

The Raths purchased a propane Love is a common theme for business in 1986 and soon Annette and Erwin Rath, coexpanded their enterprises to owners of the Cuero Pecan include the Cooking Depot, House. Aside from an unwavering which accommodates anything love for each other, this couple and everything a person could shares a love for food and their want in the kitchen. They also community of Cuero. began hosting weekly cooking classes instructed by professional One of the most common chefs from around the world. An landmarks of Cuero is the pecan opportunity came to get into the tree. The Guadalupe River that pecan business, so they purchased winds its way along the eastern the Cuero Pecan House in 2003 side of town is lined with plenty and launched the website. of these tall, leafy trees. It’s such a pecan-rich community that some Sharing a strong business sense say almost every yard in this and a talent for gourmet cooking small Texas town boasts at least and adventure with Erwin, one pecan tree in it. Annette began to hatch some “nutty” ideas. The operation was The formation of the Cuero Pecan expanded to include candied House goes back to the 1960s pecans, specialty gourmet food 12


items, casseroles, cookies, pies, cakes and candies — all made from original recipes. They also carry pecan oil, which does well when making a light salad dressing or cooking due to its neutral flavor and high smoke point.


Their innovation in the kitchen and their diverse array of products and services allow the Raths to stay in business year-round. Customers flock to the store often to purchase their favorite items and to see what new items have hit the shelves since their last visit.

Visitors never know what heap of of our famous casseroles for your deliciousness will come out of the family or for a friend in need.” kitchen. Each recipe is tried, tested The Cuero Pecan House and and sampled. their staff are very proud of their “Our customers have the final say special town and are involved as to whether an item will be on in helping make Cuero an our shelves for the long haul,” she even better place to live and said. “Some of our most popular visit. They often participate in items are Texas Fire Crackers, fundraisers by donating gift our Texas Pecan Brittle and JR’s items, cooking classes with a seasoning, which was created by private chef at the Cooking Erwin himself. He is the only one Depot, and by volunteering time who knows the secret recipe to at events benefitting the Boys and that one!” Girls Club of De Witt County, the Chisholm Trail Heritage In keeping with the idea of true Museum, the Cuero Chamber of Texas hospitality, there is a huge Commerce, Cuero Turkeyfest, focus on customer service at Cuero ISD, Meyersville ISD and the Cuero Pecan House. They Westhoff ISD, to name a few. listen to their customers and are continuously improving products “We are proud of the quality and services in order to meet product we offer at the Cuero their client’s needs and ensure Pecan House, our dedicated they are pleased with the products employees and of our special and services. They must be doing town, Cuero — the Turkey something right, since they Capital of the World,” she said. shipped more than 500 different If you’d like more information items throughout the United on their companies, visit their States during December 2016. website here. “We enjoy making items that coincide with different seasons and holidays,” she said. “It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift or grab one 15



Becky Feeley, owner of Texas Carpet Baggers, was a nurse in a previous life. This was also her father’s vocation, as well as her four sisters. Then she stopped nursing, got married and raised kids. At the age of 44, she decided to go back to work. After being a stay-at-home-mom for 20 years, she felt like no one was interested in hiring her, and she really didn’t want to go back to nursing. “The only other thing I knew how to do was sew,” Feeley said. “I started making totes and kind of did a remake of the oldfashioned carpet bags.” Her bags had to be functional, so she devised the following elements that had to be present for each bag:

1. A solid wood bottom, so everything in the bag wouldn’t sink to the bottom. 2. A light interior lining, so women could see what they were looking for. 3. Lots of interior pockets. 4. Big feet on the bottom of the bag to keep it off nasty floors. 5. Leather straps that do not slide off the shoulders (an industry secret). She started rolling out her purses in 2010 and quickly developed a following of customers who appreciate the functionality and quality in each bag — plus the fact that it was made in Texas. Things got even better when Feeley developed the Ms. Kitty — a handbag with an outside pocket for valuables like a handgun. If you’re looking for a concealed carry handbag, Ms. Kitty is your bag! 17




“I designed the Ms. Kitty in 2013 for my ladies who carry handguns,” Feeley said. “This latest product makes up 90 percent of our sales, and we sold approximately 600 bags last year.” The challenge Feeley faces with her company is convincing women that they should pay $300 to $400 for a handcrafted handbag by a very small, no-name designer. This lack of name recognition is changing little by little.

industry that prefer to cut costs with less expensive materials. In the end, it’s the satisfied customers who are helping her grow. Feeley offers customers a chance to design their own handbag in her design studio. Now women can come in, design their own handbag, shop from the current selection and even come back to watch the bags being made.

Plus, Feeley added a beer garden to the studio in 2015, which Feeley started Texas Carpet Baggers conveniently adds a place to keep in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at the boyfriends and husbands happy the end of her sailing trip with her while the girls design bags. The husband. She moved the homebrick and mortar shop is called based business to Colorado in 2011 “Bags and Brews.” but then moved it to Texas in 2013, where it really took off. By 2014, she More growth is on the horizon, needed manufacturing space, so as her future plans include the she moved the business to Bulverde, National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and where it is today. Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas and the 2018 Houston Livestock Texas Carpet Baggers now has more Show & Rodeo. than 27,800 Facebook followers and just recently had a great week of sales There’s a fun video that shows Feeley making a handbag, and trust — selling 105 bags in just five days! They specialize in embossed leathers, us, it’s worth watching. If you’d like more information or would like to giving them another advantage shop online, click here. over the “big guys” in the handbag 21




hen SOGO Industries began back in 2007, it was with the idea of high functionality, affordability and fun in mind. SOGO began importing and distributing plastics and housewares while testing the market to see what people favored. Today, SOGO Industries is available at many different grocery markets across the country. The word “plastic” is derived from the Greek word plastikos, meaning “capable of being shaped and molded.” To Namit Varma, the president of SOGO Industries, this serves as a reminder that SOGO Industries products serve many different consumer needs.

SOGO Industries was able to partake in the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo as a vendor this year. According to Varma, it was a heartwarming experience. “The customers we met were gracious and had such positive feedback,” Varma said. “Our customers truly appreciate the accessibility of our price point and our dedication to making fun, attractive, quality products that will last them for years.” SOGO Industries faces some major challenges in the plastic world. Varma explained that the market is always changing and growing. 23

“Staying current with growing trends and consumer needs is an exciting challenge,” Varma said. “We put a lot of effort into deciding on the next product we’re going to produce. We won’t waiver on our choice to source products locally and keep our manufacturing in the U.S., which means we have to be very careful about where we invest our money.” As a GO TEXAN member, 24

SOGO Industries feels the love from Texans everywhere and is so grateful to be part of an organization that highlights something that SOGO Industries takes such great pride in. “Being a part of GO TEXAN has brought so much awareness to our brand, and it makes sure our customers know our brand is made locally,” Varma said. “Many

Left to right: Julie Huang Yim, Major and Autumn Carter, Namit Varma, Sid Miller, Sumeet Varma and Tony Sharp.

of our customers don’t even realize their lunch box or crawfish tray is sourced locally here in Texas. They enjoy our products for their affordability, function and bright color schemes, but many of them don’t realize they are also supporting a local brand.” Commissioner Sid Miller’s visit earlier this year offered him a close-up view of their operation.

“It was great meeting with the fine folks that run SOGO Industries in Houston,” Miller said, “and when they showcased their product at the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, they completely sold out.” Interested in purchasing SOGO Industries products? Check out their website to see where you can buy local today!


TEXAS PEACHES: A SHORT PRIMIER Usually peaches are associated with the state of Georgia; however, in Texas, we have approximately one million peach trees. Yes, you read that right, one million! More impressively, only half of these trees are planted in commercial orchards of one acre or larger. The demand for locally-grown peaches is always strong, and the market is even stronger for this delightful fruit.

year. Another popular destination for Texas peaches is the Texas Hill Country. From Johnson City to Fredericksburg, you can find a great variety of peaches, and there’s nothing better than a fresh Texas peach.

There are many different ways to include peaches in your daily food regimen that can make any recipe absolute perfection. Whether it’s in Peaches are grown in many areas, a pie, cobbler, ice cream or just as and some towns even lay claim to they come fresh off the tree, you can their famous peaches. Weatherford enjoy fresh Texas peaches just about was declared the official “Peach anywhere in the Lone Star State. Capital of Texas” back in 1991. Peaches are so well-regarded Want some fun and fresh ways to in Park County that they are incorporate peaches into your diet? celebrated each year at the Parker Try this amazing GO TEXAN County Peach Festival. The festival recipe and find more like it at is Weatherford’s largest one-day gotexan.org. event and takes place on July 8 this 26


s like e p i c e her r an. org t o d ex Fin t g ot a s i th


2BQ’D RECIPE: ROASTED CORN POTATO Here’s a tasty potato salad from our friends at 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce that can be served warm or chilled. Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients: 2-2½ lbs. 2 ears To taste ½ bundle 1 To taste To taste ½ bottle To taste

Yukon Gold potatoes Corn, cut into kernels Light oil Green onions, trimmed and chopped Bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and diced Salt Pepper 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce Rosemary or thyme, finely chopped

Directions: 1. Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and keep simmering with the lid on the pot until the potatoes are cooked. 2. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over high heat, and add corn tossed in light oil to sear it. 3. Place corn in a large mixing bowl with the onion and pepper. Refrigerate.

4. Test each potato for tenderness. Remove the cooked potatoes and peel off the skins. 5. Once all potatoes are cooked and peeled, spread them on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 6. Add to the mixing bowl with other vegetables and toss with 2BQ’d BBQ Sauce. 7. Add herbs and additional seasonings to taste. Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy! 29

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.


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 June 15: 6th Annual Tomato Round-Up, Dripping Springs June 16: Stonewall Peach JAMboree and Rodeo, Stonewall June 17: Old Gruene Market Days, Gruene June 30 - July 1: Texas Cook ‘Em: High Steaks in Edinburg, Edinburg July 1: Independence Day Celebration, Henderson July 4: Fourth of July Fireworks and Symphony, Austin July 8: Parker County Peach Festival, Weatherford July 15: Mango Festival, Bayview July 23-29: Texas State 4-H Horse Show State Finals, Abilene July 27-30: Viva Big Bend, Alpine View more Texas events here. 31


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. 32

Profile for GO TEXAN

Go Local. GO TEXAN. e-zine June 2017 edition  

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

Go Local. GO TEXAN. e-zine June 2017 edition  

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

Profile for gotexan