Texasliving Magazine

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Issue: October 2019 | Written by: Tania Taylor Griffis


As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. That includes the legends and hauntings with which the state is filled, thanks to a long past peppered with tales that range from sweet-natured to downright scary. Every corner of the state is filled with stories of ghosts who are not quite ready to bid their final farewells. If you are feeling extra brave this Halloween, venture to one of these haunted spots across Texas.

To read the complete article, visit: txliving.com/haunted-texas-five-scary-spotsto-visit-if-you-dare or your October 2019 issue in print.



The Barfield Hotel, which opened late last summer, is raising the bar in Amarillo by offering West Texas luxury in a newly renovated historic hotel. Going above and beyond, The Barfield houses a Tuscan-inspired steakhouse and a groovy basement speakeasy that holds many secrets and serves exceptional prohibition-style cocktails.


Marion Koogler McNay is widely considered one of the most influential cultivators and collectors of modern art in the San Antonio metropolitan area and across Texas. When she passed away in 1950, McNay left in trust the majority of her estate, including her home, her expansive property, and more than 700 treasured works of art to establish San Antonio’s first modern art museum.


Architect and designer, Eddie Maestri, AIA, pulls inspiration from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as modern trends to create a warm, cohesive space that stuns in this custombuilt home located in Dallas.


Dinner at the Whitehorse Steakhouse is not just a meal but an enchanting experience and evening that promises a lifetime of memories. Discover all that this unique steakhouse has to offer as well as the Oak Meadow Ranch, which is home to the restaurant.

17 21 42 53 FEATURES SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 17
34 63 TRAILS & TALES 12 Texasliving ProTips 13 Crops of Fun at Texas Corn Mazes 15 Giving Thanks for the Perfect Patch: The Pumpkin Capital of the U.S.A. Stems from Texas Traditions 24 Texas-Sized Hobbies That are Worth the Investment 26 Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut 28 Gone, But Never Forgotten at H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum 30 City Guide of: Shiner, TX 32 Texas True Crime 34 Experience the Diamond R Ranch TEXAS INTERIORS 36 Everything and the Kitchen Sink 38 The Power of the Ten-Minute Pick Up 40 Late Blooming Beauties 51 Time-Saving Laundry Hacks TABLESIDE 55 Autumn Twists on Classic Appetizers 57 Chicken Fried Steak: A Plate-Sized Texas Tradition Part Two 59 Fall-Infused Mimosas 61 All Buttered Up 63 Fall Comfort with Traditional Boeuf Bourguignon 40


It’s fall, y’all! That phrase sometimes makes me cringe but I can finally be excited because fall is actually upon us! It is still HOT and will be for a few more months before we can pull out our sweaters, but thinking of all the fall activities is really invigorating! I cannot decide if I am more excited for fall treats, activities, or decorations.

When I was younger, I wanted to go to a different pumpkin patch every weekend and I couldn’t wait to carve our pumpkins. I’m from up north though, so our pumpkins would last much longer after carving them. I loved to get caramel apples, cider mill donuts, and drink many glasses of apple cider.

Fall in the South looks a little different. We enjoy going to our local Farm Patch store to pick out pumpkins, and they even have a small fall-themed play area behind their store. We make a huge batch of fall snack mix which doubles as a decoration on our kitchen counter. I haven’t been brave enough to carve pumpkins with our crew yet (too many little fingers), but we enjoy painting them. I know that these are memories my children will cherish when they are older.

Sometimes I get caught up on the things I feel like we are missing out on from my childhood, but the important thing to realize is that we are making our own memories and creating our own traditions.

TEXAS IS FAMOUS FOR Alamo, NASA, Buddy Holly, Dallas TV list a few. great associated campfires, the Texas state rich in a unique a “larger than life” Texasliving, take great pride in showcasing the of Texas. trust the unique identity that Texas

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A trip to the museum is always educational . . . it can also be a lot of fun! Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next museum visit.

Before you go, check out the museum’s website or social media pages for visiting hours, admission fees, and any posted museum closure dates (especially on holidays). Find out whether they offer guided tours that you need to sign up for in advance, or if they have self-guided tour options available. Some are free and downloadable! You may also discover special activities or events happening while you’re there.

Bring a jacket or sweater in case you need it . . . museums are often kept cold in order to protect the art and artifacts on display. Pick up a map or exhibit guide on your way in to get your bearings and plan your route through the museum (it helps to know where the restrooms are, too). Watch for signs that display the museum’s rules about taking photos in the galleries. Want another fun way to document your visit? Bring a journal and write down your observations and questions—or use it to sketch the artworks you like most. Let yourself focus on details rather than rushing to see everything on display.

Before you leave, take the time to stop by the gift shop! Museums often carry unique items that you won’t find in other places. They can be great lifetime souvenirs or special gifts to bring back home.

Back to School Strategy


Going back to school can be a stressful time for parents. With new classes, teachers, and lots of new homework, getting back into the swing of the new school year can be difficult. Here are some tips to help your family transition smoothly.

1. Clean out backpack and desk from all paperwork at the end of each week.

2. Set up an appropriate homework space in a quiet room with lots of natural light. Remember to buy extra supplies for your children to keep at home. Pencils, markers, and crayons can all be organized by child so that everyone knows exactly where their supplies are when it is time for homework.

3. Create a family calendar including your children’s schedules, after-school activities, and other appointments and hang it up where everyone in the family can see it.

4. Prepare a snack bin to easily grab and go, and be sure to include lots of healthy snacks.

South Texas Maize at Graff 7A Ranch 911 US-90 HONDO, TX 78861 Lonestar Family Farm 4199 US-67 STEPHENVILLE, TX 76401 Rocky Creek Maze 784 CO RD 251 MOULTON, TX 77975 At’l Do Farms 6323 FM 1294 LUBBOCK, TX 79415 Rockin’ K Farms 5385 CO RD 52 ROBSTOWN, TX 78380 Jenschke Orchards 8301 EAST US HWY 290 FREDERICKSBURG, TX 78624 Dewberry Farm 7705 FM 362 BROOKSHIRE, TX 77423 P-6 Farms 9963 POOLES RD MONTGOMERY, TX 77356 CROPS of FUN at TEXAS CORN MAZES When temperatures start to drop, many couples, families, and friends are eager to get out and enjoy all the seasonal activities. These famous Texas corn mazes offer hours of fun while enjoying the great outdoors and cooler weather. WRITTEN BY: LUCY ANN PARKER SEPT / OCT 2022 | 13

Giving Thanks

Perfect Patch: for the

The History of Floydada’s Pumpkin Pride

Almost 70 years ago, a man by the name of B.A. “Uncle Slim” Robertson started growing pumpkins at the request of his wife, Grace. Little did he know, this small experiment would become a smashing success!

Tim Assiter, the owner of Assiter Punkin Ranch, learned the trade from Robertson and his father. “Mr. Robertson took my dad in,” Assiter said. “We started growing pumpkins in the ‘50s, and as kids, we were expected to get out there and help harvest pumpkins. It is difficult to raise a pumpkin unless you know the correct system.”

Assiter now produces over 70 varieties of this fall fruit, giving a lot of credit to the land as well as to the grace of God. “The good Lord has given us good soil and good ground,” Assiter said. “He has given us irrigation water and some rain, and he has blessed us to where through trial and error, we have become as proficient as you can get at it. We learn something new every year.”

Halloween is upon us, and everyone knows this spooktacular holiday is incomplete without the perfect jack-o-lantern. Thankfully, for the folks living in this great state, the pumpkin capital of the United States is located in West Texas! Just a little over 300 miles to the

This faith, as well as a lot of ingenuity and hard work, has made them so incredibly successful. He also noted that even though we present our pumpkins in the colder weather months, in order to grow this crop, dry, warm, and sunny conditions are required. That is exactly what West Texas provides to farmers like Assiter.

Most impressively, though, he stresses that it takes a village to make this enterprise operate smoothly. Why? Every single pumpkin that comes from his ranch is hand-harvested. This is because, unlike the farms that produce pumpkins for consumption purposes, he strives to provide the public with display-worthy pristine

Thus, the crops are planted in May, and then beginning in September, their crews work tirelessly to carefully pick every one of their unique types of winter squash. This all occurs over a short window of about seven to eight weeks. It is a true labor of love, and their dedication is what ensures that your autumn decor is overflowing with warm colors, diversity, and grandeur. of the U.S.A.

The Pumpkin Capital
Stems From Texas Traditions
SEPT / OCT 2022 | 15

“Uncle Slim” Robertson

Family Traditions Grow Strong at Punkin Days

Floydada is proud of the amazing impact that their county’s signature crop has made on the Texas economy. That is why each year, as the pumpkin harvest comes to a close, the folks in Floydada choose to commemorate the occasion with an event that you will want to carve out time for this season! Kalli Martin, president of the Floydada Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, described the Punkin Days Festival as a fun-filled family event that is guaranteed to get you in the fall spirit.

“It all started in 1987,” Martin said. “It was more of a local event for several years. It was just to celebrate the end of our pumpkin harvest. It is the second Saturday in October every year. Last year was our biggest year. We approximated about 18,000 people. We have about 3,000 people population-wise.” In other words, this city has not just cultivated a thriving agricultural niche for the state. They have also grown an autumn tradition beloved by both their community members and visitors from far and wide.

silly games all found in the downtown square.

You also have the chance to visit with the growers on their farms, and you can even snag some gourd-geous decor! “The pumpkins come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes,” Martin said. “Some of them have warts, some of them are prettier than others, [and] some of them are not very pretty, but people love them.” Assiter noted that their selection spans from “a mini pumpkin that fits in the palm of your hand [to] a pumpkin that will get up to 250 pounds called a prize winner.”

A visit to this wonderful patch of pumpkin paradise will help you to find the spirit of the season and fall in love with this distinct symbol of prosperity and abundance. Assiter closed his comments by stating, "it is a great place to come and visit over the second Saturday in October. It is a great time to get out with your family and your children and to get back in touch with your roots and Mother Earth. She is a wonderful provider.”

To find out more about this year’s event and the specific attractions they have in store for attendees, make sure to visit floydadachamber.org.

THE BARFIELD HOTEL Brings Luxury Hospitality and Dining to Amarillo Located in the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo is still soundly entrenched in the cattle culture, while simultaneously evolving along with the 21st century. It is a town rich in history, working western ranches, art deco, and Spanish Revival architecture, as well as gorgeous vistas of the southern plains that bleed into the arid desert. WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY A. SUTA | PHOTOS COURTESY OF: THE BARFIELD, AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION SEPT / OCT 2022 | 17

That being said, the emergence of a luxury boutique hotel was a long time coming and locals and visitors alike have welcomed The Barfield, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, with open arms. Located in the heart of Downtown Amarillo, not far from historic Route 66, the hotel opened in August of 2021 and offers guests a world-class destination for both business and leisure.

According to General Manager Patrick Dougherty, “Amarillo didn’t realize they needed a luxury hotel until somebody rolled the dice. It’s really a hospitality town, but there’s limited fullservice properties here.”

From the moment they opened, the business community and locals came in to greet them and explore the new hotel, which gives new life to a historic 1926 office space. “We immediately gained a lot of the market share because of the beauty and aesthetics of the building,” Dougherty said. “The guests have been blown away since the day we opened.”

The Barfield incorporates Amarillo’s cattle culture and background in the oil and gas industry by projecting a West Texas luxury vibe and motif with rich leathers, deep, dark tones, and refined furnishings. Even the scent of leather permeates the public spaces.

Interestingly, the hotel was built by a local icon, Melissa Dora Oliver-Eakle, who is also responsible for building the local library, opera house, theatre, and even public parks. You will find several nods to her throughout the hotel, including a small library in the lobby, where guests can borrow a book and read while they are waiting or relaxing.

“She couldn’t use her real name because the banks weren’t dealing with women at the time. She really brought culture to Amarillo in ’26 and we play on that. We have a tremendous number of strong women who work here in leadership roles,” Dougherty said.

From the moment you arrive, it is hard not to be impressed by the authenticity and uniqueness of this historic building and the effort they made to retain it, as well as the customer service. Someone will be waiting on the curb to greet you and valet your vehicle, if need be.

“The whole point of being a part of the Autograph Collection is to highlight the character of the building.” Dougherty said. “There’s a dichotomy here between the history, like the historically accurate wood and marble fixtures, and the modern design elements.”

The hotel features sixteen double rooms and 96 king rooms–standard, corner, and deluxe, including two 800-square-foot presidential suites that are located on the tenth floor, which looks exactly like it did in 1926, down to the faux doors. “You’ll see office doors that go nowhere, but they were once doors that led to offices,” Dougherty explained.

The bathrooms are larger than what you might expect and feature upgrades on lighting fixtures. Bubble bath aficionados will appreciate that some of the bathrooms even come with tubs, so do not forget your bath bombs or your favorite bath salts.

“Every piece of furniture was custom built for the guest rooms and there’s a lot of local art of cattle and grain silos, things of that nature,” Dougherty said. “The tile floor in the corridors is all original from 1926. There are some bruises, but we didn’t want to fix that. The colored wallpaper feels like denim, blue and textured, so you’re like ‘wow, I feel like a cowboy!’”

“Don’t forget,” Dougherty added, “Marriott has 150 million members. These people travel a lot and an Autograph Collection hotel carries a certain connotation. . . . We hear guests say, ‘wow, it’s one of our favorite hotels now.’”

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Wine & Dining

As you might expect, the ‘wow’ factor extends to the culinary offerings at the hotel, which includes the Toscana Italian Steakhouse, Bourbon Bar in the lobby, and the downstairs speakeasy called the Paramount Recreation Club (PRC).

Toscana has quickly become a popular addition to Amarillo’s culinary scene, serving up succulent steaks that would make any Panhandle rancher happy. The restaurant seamlessly marries Tuscan cuisine with tried-and-true Texas fare.

According to Executive Chef Joseph Guzman, “Tuscany is the area in Italy known for cattle, just like us.”

Guzman, who is a native Texan from a small town near Amarillo and a member of the Beef Loving Texans council, worked his way up in the industry from dishwasher to executive chef. He cut his teeth on fine dining establishments and country clubs in notable markets like Dallas and Chicago.

“There are a lot of awesome restaurants out there [in Chicago],” Guzman said. “I got to eat some great food and get ideas. I’m always trying to raise the bar.”

He moved back to Texas to open Toscana and showcase these ideas. The seasonal menu is a true delight, featuring dishes with housemade pasta, like tagliatelle and black gemelli served with tender braised beef, kale, tomatoes, bacon lardons, Romano cheese, smoked garlic butter, white wine, basil, and a poached egg. They also make lasagna to order with housemade lasagna sheets, homemade ricotta cheese, and marinara.

As for the steaks, you will not find any better! Guzman sources meat, such as Wagyu Akaushi, from local ranches. Steaks are cooked using a cast iron infrared sear, so the steaks are seared on both sides at 1500 degrees for a perfectly juicy, delicious steak. Guzman says his favorite is the ribeye, as the natural fat imparts tons of flavor.

One of Guzman's unique options is to add a gorgonzola crust to your steak. He also uses a special Alderwood smoked salt that he mixes with garlic butter so steaks taste like they were just cooked outside over an open flame. “It gives the steaks layers of flavor. That’s kind of my thing,” he said.

SEPT / OCT 2022 | 19

Dougherty concurred that everything coming out of Toscana, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, is fantastic. He and his wife adore the Skillet al Formaggio made with Italian sausage, fontina cheese, and garden herbs served with grilled baguettes. “I really enjoy it all,” he said, “If I had to choose, the pork chop is incredible. I probably get it every time I’m there.”

The PRC is open Wednesday through Saturday and serves up prohibition-style cocktails, such as the classic Old Fashioned. They offer live music on Wednesday nights, typically an acoustic guitarist playing country music, but the best part about PRC is the entrance. To get in, you have to push a button on an old Paramount Cigarettes machine. Not only that, there is a secret room within this secret room, called the Derringer Room, that can be accessed through a bookcase. Although it is often open to the public, it can be used for private parties as well.

“PRC features very high end, small batch bourbon, rye, and scotch," Dougherty said. “It was built with that in mind. Our bartenders are very talented, and they like to be creative with local ingredients to ensure the taste is above and beyond what you would normally experience elsewhere.”

The Barfield also comes with plenty of space for special events and private parties, including a private dining room, board room, and a ballroom. Whether you are celebrating a birthday or a wedding, The Barfield staff is always on their toes to make sure you have the best experience possible. Share that you are celebrating an anniversary and you may be met with a special treat!

Just make sure to toast The Barfield and Melissa Dora Oliver-Eakle while you are at it. Cheers!

20 | SEPT / OCT 2022

Marion Koogler McNay:


Though widely considered one of the most influential cultivators and collectors of modern art in the San Antonio metropolitan area and across Texas, Marion Koogler McNay was far from the Lone Star State when she began her journey.

Born Jessie Marion Koogler on February 7, 1883, in De Graff, Ohio, McNay was the only child of Dr. Marion and Clara Koogler. She was raised from a year old in El Dorado, Kansas, and while she experienced less freedom than her peers (her parents did not allow her to attend school dances or social activities), the restrictions under which she lived allowed McNay to develop her talent and passion for painting. She left home in 1900 to study fine art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and, in 1903, moved to Chicago to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. McNay found Chicago, a cultural melting pot with a thriving arts scene, both exciting and comfortable, and she spent nearly a decade exploring the Windy City and expanding her artistic horizons.

In 1912, McNay left Chicago to live with her parents again, this time in Marion, Ohio. She taught art for the Marion schools and was considered by the superintendent one of the district’s most qualified art teachers. While in Ohio, she met Don Denton McNay, a railway manager and sergeant in the United States Army. They married on December 9, 1917, and, shortly thereafter, he left for training and service in World War I, never to return. He passed away ten months later from Spanish influenza. McNay married—and divorced—four additional times throughout the remainder of her life, choosing to return to her first married name after each divorce. She never had children.

SEPT / OCT 2022 | 21

McNay finally made her way to the great state of Texas in 1926. She gained an inheritance from her parents, who came into significant wealth when oil was discovered on land they owned in Kansas. She used a portion of that inheritance to build a home in San Antonio’s Sunset Hills. The word “home,” however, does not do McNay’s project justice; the massive and ornate Spanish colonial revival on 23 acres took from 1927 until 1929 to complete. McNay worked closely with architects Atlee and Robert Ayres, helping design some of the mansion’s tiling, stenciled ceilings, antique wrought-iron lamps, chandeliers, and gardens.

Shortly after her home’s completion, McNay purchased her first painting: Delfina Flores by Diego Rivera. This piece—a modern depiction of Flores, an Otomi Native American, as a young child—proved to be only the beginning for McNay, who soon added to her art collection works of all kinds, from American watercolors and French impressionist paintings to art objects and sculptures. Contemporary art was particularly inspiring to her after she attended New York City’s Armory Show (the inaugural exhibition of modern art in the United States) in 1913. She was also drawn to American Southwest art and spent many summers taking in the flamboyant, dramatic, and colorful art scene and collecting pieces from artists in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. She was also fond of Pueblo Native American art and amassed quite the collection of their crafts and primitive Spanish colonial pieces. Her support for the tribe extended to the political arena: thanks in part to her efforts, a 1943 congressional bill was defeated that would have allowed for the exploration of Pueblo lands prior to the construction of a dam on the Rio Grande River, which she and others believed would have endangered Pueblos and their shrines.

McNay never tired of supporting the arts. She served as director of the San Antonio Art Institute and, in 1942, offered her home to the museum to prevent its closure. She also dedicated time and resources to the former Witte Museum School of Art, which operated out of an aviary on her property.

Though born Presbyterian, as an adult, McNay converted to Catholicism under the tutelage of Reverend Peter M. Baque. They developed a close relationship, and upon her death from pneumonia on April 13, 1950, McNay was buried next to Father Baque’s grave. She made a generous bequest to St. Anthony, a lay society of Catholic women. However, the majority of McNay’s estate, including her home, expansive property, and more than 700 treasured works of art, was left in trust to establish San Antonio’s first modern art museum.

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Guided by what McNay hoped and planned for her legacy, The McNay Art Museum opened in 1954 as a place for artists to belong and art enthusiasts to experience art in life-changing ways. McNay’s goal of creating a beautiful establishment that also felt comfortable and warm is woven throughout some of the museum’s more formal goals; these include “delivering outstanding, relevant, and balanced artistic and educational programs; advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion; and investing in people who bring McNay’s mission to life.”

“McNay was an artist and educator herself and always had a passion for art, artists, and her community,” explained Rachel Trevino, McNay’s former Head of Communications and Marketing. “Her plan for the gift of the original bequest of some 700 objects, along with her home and grounds, was the foundation for truly everything the museum would become.”

The McNay contains an impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century works by world-renowned artists, including Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as Medieval and Renaissance art, Native American pieces, and prints and drawings from the Southwest region of the United States. The museum is also home to the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; the Jeanne and Irving Mathews Collection of Art Glass; a sculpture gallery and garden; a lecture hall; and classrooms for educational programs. In 2008, 45,000 square feet in the form of the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions were added to allow for major exhibitions. From March 2022 through September 2022, a special exhibit, Marion Koogler McNay’s Legacy, showcased many different pieces from McNay’s original bequest and blankets from New Mexico, turquoise jewelry, pieces tied to her conversion to Catholicism, and photographs and furniture from McNay’s home.

McNay began as an artist, but over the years added teacher, collector, supporter, philanthropist, and visionary to her impressive resumé. She lived a full life, one that revolved around art and friends. Love for artists and their craft can still be felt today when one walks through the doors of her generous legacy, The McNay Art Museum.

Guided by what McNay hoped and planned for her legacy, The McNay Art Museum opened in 1954 as a place for artists to belong and art enthusiasts to experience art in life-changing ways.
SEPT / OCT 2022 | 23



What differentiates a pastime from a passionate pursuit? It all lies in the investment you make in the venture. Many hobbies can come with a hefty price tag, but that expense provides you the opportunity to build connections, discover unique interests, and even better define who you are as a person. Here are some of the top Texas-sized hobbies that are definitely worth exploring!


Texas has always embraced the cowboy way of life, making horseback riding a staple in the state. However, contrary to popular belief, this pursuit is not just exclusive to ranches, rodeos, and rustic trails. Non-Pro Reining Competitor Katie Ray has spent over two decades competing in Western riding competitions and notes that this is not just a hobby, but also a therapeutic lifestyle that has provided her with structure, an outlet for creativity, and a way to build amazing lifelong friendships.

“Riding horses has been so beneficial in my life. I love the relationship that a rider has with their horse. You really are a team. That's what keeps me coming back. It's just so much fun.” Best of all, while known for being a very expensive hobby, Ray wants folks to know that it can be quite affordable.

For those who invest more and get serious about riding, Texas is a mecca for equine activities so you do not have to go far to try your hand at becoming the next million-dollar rider.


“The sweeping look, the body, the style.” Nic Locascio has been collecting vintage Mustangs for over 20 years after falling in love with the fastback as a teenager. Since finding these American icons in pristine condition can be quite the feat, he noted that “part of the pleasure behind this pastime is getting your hands dirty.”

“There are guys in the Mustang club that would give their left arm just for a rust bucket to build,” Locascio said. “I told my wife that if I ever found one, I had already envisioned what I wanted.” Five years later, Locascio found his first fastback and says that it came out better than he ever imagined. Since that first restoration, he has gone on to corral 39 other Mustangs, with multiple award-winning cars in his current collection. This hobby, however, is not just about restoring vehicles, but also about sharing the final product of your hard work with others. Locascio stated that most importantly it is a hobby that can take you back in time. “I love to show my cars. It brings back memories for a lot of people. That's just a joy to me.”

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Anyone can run to the grocery store to purchase a good cut of meat, but there is something extremely rewarding about working for your meal and knowing that every part of the animal is being used. Megan Radke with Texas Parks and Wildlife expressed that hunting is an experience that allows you to disconnect from troubles and “forge a deeper connection with the natural world.”

Best of all, Texas is home to a wide array of big game, including nilgai antelope, mule and white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and even alligator! With the correct permits, licenses, and education, hunting can be a fantastic outlet for stress and a way to commune with family and friends.


Photography allows you to capture a moment in time. There is something so powerful about certain images that they can stick with us forever. However, while we all have a camera on our phones, in order to catch those truly spectacular shots, the right equipment is required. Jason Davis, owner of CreativeMagic Photography, noted that part of the magic behind this hobby is getting to see a person’s unique view of the world.

“Everyone has a different perspective and that’s what makes it exciting,” Davis said. “I love seeing how a similar image is captured differently.” After an initial investment, this creative pastime has little to no cost unless you decide you want to make money off of your work. Thus, whether you love nature, sports, or fashion, you can freeze your favorite moments in time with the click of a button!


“The barbecue community is probably the most passionate community you've ever seen when it comes to cooking,” explained Todd David, President of Cattleack Barbeque. He began barbequing for the fellowship, but over time he has managed to expand this backyard hobby into a profitable pastime.

“It's not just about great barbeque, but the whole experience. I love the innovation of always trying new things, trying to figure out how to make it better, and trying to create an even higher experience for my guests.” Creating truly delicious barbeque is an art form that requires a tremendous amount of time, patience, and hard work. Again, the cost comes with the equipment needed to start. But all of that pays off because it is a fantastic way to bring people together and explore new cooking techniques.


Every pet owner is familiar with the zoomies, or sudden bursts of energy. Why not harness that energy and engage your furry friend’s natural abilities while building their obedience and creating a truly inseparable bond? Jolynn Payne, Rocking Paw Dog Training Owner and Trainer (CPDT-KA, AASC) stressed that this highly competitive sport does come at a cost, but one that opens you up to new experiences and valuable relationships.

“I enjoy being able to travel and the relationship between me and my dogs that grows in these experiences,” Payne said. “I also love the friendships, the competitiveness, and the camaraderie of the sport.” She currently has six dogs that hold titles in an array of dog sports including agility, dock-diving, and scent work. However, Payne stated that many times “the sport chooses the owner,” so do not be afraid to experiment with other canine athletic activities to find the one best suited for your dog’s temperament and preferences.


“ There is really nothing better than the thrill you get from hitting a really good golf shot,” Gregory Fields said. Fields is a PGA Golf Professional who has been playing golf for over 35 years. When asked why it is such a popular pastime, he stated that there is always room for improvement. “It's a challenging game. If it was easy, then nobody would do it.”

To hit a shot in golf takes immense skill, focus, and precision. However, there is no skill set that is required to start! You just need some clubs and a solid pair of shoes. For those who want to experiment with the sport, Fields suggested renting or borrowing equipment and paying to play at a public course. He highly recommends The Rawls Course in Lubbock, but remarked that Troon Golf has many public courses across the state.




Hal and Lisa Berdoll founded Berdoll Pecan Farm in 1979, with an orchard containing 5,000 pecan trees on land that had belonged to Hal’s father. This location on the Colorado River bottom had been deemed excellent for pecan orchards, so when the larger property was partitioned for the siblings, Hal and his brothers each decided to try growing pecans.

Hal and Lisa sold their first crop of delicious nuts out of their garage, after placing a small sign that read, “Irrigated Paper Shell Pecans – 3 miles” on Highway 71 up the dirt road from their home. They were surprised both by how many people were willing to drive three miles for pecans and by how quickly their entire season’s yield disappeared. The following year, satisfied shoppers returned, bringing with them new shoppers and asking for more pecans and additional products. Hal and Lisa’s first trees matured and produced larger crops, but they also planted additional trees, began selling cinnamon sugar pecans that Lisa made in her kitchen, and started offering cracked, shelled, and halved pecans to meet customer demand. Soon enough, Hal and Lisa needed more space and a commercial kitchen, so they closed their (garage) door and opened their first official shop.

Throughout the next three decades the Berdolls expanded their farm to include 15,000 pecan trees on 340 acres, as well as a nursery and a 5,000-square-foot retail store called Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Co.

Sometimes you feel like eating a nut, that is.

When only the best nut will do, look no further than Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Co. in Cedar Creek.

Located ten miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, between Austin and Bastrop, Berdoll’s can be spotted from quite a distance thanks to its infamous signage: a giant beacon of (digital) light towering 100 feet in the air, guiding customers toward delicious pecan treats. The shop carries more than just nuts, though fresh, buttery, ready-to-eat pecans of all kinds—halves, pieces, cracked, in-shell, candied, sweet, and savory—are always available. Also available are honey-glazed pecans and pecan pies, Berdoll’s most popular items. Goodies like chocolate pecan clusters, sweet habanero pecan brittle, pecan rolls, and pralines are prepared fresh daily. The shop also sells snack mixes, caramel, fudge, salsas and dips, spice rubs, fruit spreads and jellies, honey, pickles, popcorn, jerky, oils, coffee, and even peaches during the summer months. For shoppers whose stomach is full to the brim, Berdoll’s offers apparel, bath and body products, and candles, as well as the highest quality nursery-grown, container pecan trees. For gifting, Berdoll’s creates customizable bags, tins, and platters of assorted goodies that are perfect for birthdays, holidays, favors, and corporate and fundraising events.

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Customers who pull in to Berdoll’s after regular business hours need not leave hungry; on the front porch sits a first-of-its-kind vending machine that dispenses entire pecan pies. In 2008, in response to the need for pecans and pies once the store had closed for the evening, the Berdolls came up with this creative and unique solution. Now customers can purchase freshly baked pies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days year . . . and they do. The machine is filled daily, and during November and December the machine is restocked multiple times a day— including in the middle of the night—to meet the demand.

No mention of Berdoll’s is complete without a nod to its mascot, Ms. Pearl . . . the world’s tallest squirrel. The legendary Ms. Pearl arrived at Berdoll’s in August of 2011 and has since become one of the most famous squirrels around. She is photographed between 30 and 100 times a day, has been on television and in print, and was once named one of the “10 Weirdest Things in Texas You Have to See to Believe” by Rare™. In June 2015, Ms. Pearl received a fresh coat of paint and new decking so visitors could more easily approach her fourteen-foot-tall frame for hugs and photos. It has been said (probably by Ms. Pearl), “Come for the squirrel. Stay for the pie.”

After 30 years in the pecan business, the Berdolls decided to retire in 2009. They sold their orchard and nursery to Pecan Grove Farms, which has done an excellent job managing and caring for the trees and producing quality pecans. Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Co., however, stayed in the family; this retail business is now owned and operated by Jennifer Berdoll Wammack and her husband, Jared. Though none of Hal and Lisa’s children saw themselves coming back to the business, Jennifer gave it a shot . . . and then could not walk away. “Dad was ready to sell and move on,” Jennifer explained. “But I could not do it. Not often do you see family businesses pass from generation to generation—I could not let this get out of our family.’”


Since taking the helm, Jennifer and Jared have continued to grow the business. Eight years ago, they built an expansive factory where they grade, weigh, and inspect every pecan and make their famous pies and candy. Then two years ago, they added an additional 2,000 square feet to the store, space that is used for packaging and shipping online and bulk orders. They purchase their pecans from Pecan Grove Farms, as well as from the orchards owned by Hal’s brothers.

Berdoll’s is open seven days a week, but Berdoll products can also be purchased at Buc-cee’s, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Breed & Company locations, and an assortment of gift shops, general stores, travel centers, and hotels throughout Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Cedar Creek. And do not forget that the shop vending machine—and a second vending machine at 3652 Bee Caves Road in West Lake Hills—will always be fully stocked.

Berdoll’s began as, and remains, a family-owned business, one that is committed to providing the highest quality pecans and pecan products, as well as exceptional service to its customers. The dedicated employees, who serve with smiles on their faces and a passion for the company’s mission, and the hard work of the Berdoll and Wammack families behind the scenes, keep old customers coming back and turn new customers into old customers by the end of their first visit. “In general, it’s difficult to get a customer in the door and even more difficult to keep them in the store,” Jennifer said. “At Berdoll’s, we work really hard to do both.”

“Not often do you see family businesses pass from generation to generation—I could not let this get out of our family.”
Pecan Candy & Gift Co. in Cedar Creek SEPT / OCT 2022 | 27

GONE but NeverForgotten

Veterans and their family members do not have to travel far to pay their respects to those who served in one of the United States’s most controversial wars. Outshining the “prison city” reputation of Huntsville, the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum provides a new reason to head to East Texas, with an 80 percent-scale replica of the iconic Washington, D.C. Vietnam Memorial Wall.

It has been a long journey, according to Kenneth Lee, H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum Board President, and Vietnam War veteran. It has been exactly two years; however, the museum and its 1,500 guests finally celebrated the wall’s unveiling earlier this year. “It was unbelievable; I didn’t think we were going to be able to complete it,” Lee said.

Once a memorial that traveled the nation, the wall originally made its way to Huntsville in 2009 before the museum had broken ground—drawing around 10,000 visitors in four nights. At the time, Lee never thought it would become a permanent fixture at the museum. However, as the wall was set for retirement in 2020, the museum was presented with an offer they could not refuse. Funded entirely by Walker County, the city of Huntsville, and generous donors, the wall is one of a few of its kind, serving as an awe-inspiring tribute to the more than 58,000 American soldiers who died in the line of duty.

Following his service in Vietnam as part of the first unit to make a beach landing since the Korean War and the first offensive battle in Vietnam, Lee frequently visited the wall in Washington, D.C. throughout his career with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, now that he is settled in Texas, having it so close to home is a comfort.

“I have probably 30 Marines on the wall. One of them was in my platoon and received the Medal of Honor because he was killed in Vietnam at the age of 19, so to see it every day really means a lot to me,” Lee said.

American involvement in the Vietnam War began in the 1950s as an attempt to aid South Vietnam in their defense against communist North Vietnam and thwart the spread of communism across the Asian continent. The U.S. involvement amassed approximately 2.7 million American men and women in its service through volunteer enlistment and the first implemented draft since World War II. However, high casualties among American soldiers and Vietnam civilians rendered poor public perception and the eventual exit of the United States from direct involvement in the Vietnam War in 1973.

The museum’s wall stands as an 80 percent replica of the original wall in Washington, D.C., and spans 370 feet in length, reaching its peak at eight feet and tapering down to four feet. Six additional information panels stand apart from the wall, depicting the war’s history and honoring those whose donations made the wall’s creation possible.

“Looking at 58,000 names on a wall is different from looking at a national cemetery full of headstones because basically you just see the headstones and not the individual names,” said Billy Joe Shotwell, H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum volunteer and Vietnam War veteran. “But on the wall, you see these names, and it makes it personal. Even if you’re just a stranger who happened to stop at the museum, looking at 58,000 names on the wall and seeing them from one end to the other is quite a moving experience.”

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Each day, Shotwell walks the length of the wall, taking in the 58,000-plus names, ten of whom he grew up with as schoolmates in Huntsville, and remembering the hundreds more whom he helped bring home to their families.

The war ended nearly 50 years ago, but to Vietnam veterans like Shotwell, it seems like it was only yesterday that they were just a bunch of kids traversing the jungles in a foreign land, thousands of miles from home. “While we were fighting the war, there was no vision that there would ever be a wall somewhere someday; that was just never thought of,” Shotwell said.

At 23 years old, Shotwell was the oldest in his company when he served in Vietnam in 1971 as a Huey helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.“When I first got to Vietnam, my main worry was what was going to be my reaction when I saw my first dead U.S. soldier,” he said. “I knew that day was going to roll around because everything moved by air, which meant that I moved lots of dead and wounded soldiers in my helicopter.”

He was the first step in bringing them home to their families. Realizing the connection he shared with hundreds of those names and their family members that he will never know, Shotwell eventually found comfort in the wall, returning each day as though visiting a friend.

“That’s what I see when I go to the wall: I can look back and see those guys that I hauled in,” Shotwell said; “They’re on the wall, and I did something good for them. It’s quite an honor to know that I did it.”

As one of the nation's most-visited memorial on the National Mall in Washington, the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall typically draws in over five million visitors each year since its completion in 1982. However, it is not an easy journey for everyone. As Shotwell put it, Vietnam veterans are only getting older, and the trip to Washington is simply not feasible for all.

“There are a huge number of people that will never get to Washington, D.C. to see that wall, but they can come to this one and have the same reaction. It’s a peaceful, calm setting here, so I would urge anybody that has any interest if they want to see the Vietnam Wall, this is the place that they ought to come,” Shotwell said.

His fear proved unfounded when he moved his first dead soldier and one that was badly wounded two months into his service and did not have a reaction, already acclimated to the horrors of the war. It was a 20-minute flight back to what they knew as an evacuation hospital where the wounded were carried in for treatment, and the deceased were offloaded onto the landing pad right beside his helicopter’s door.

“That day, I had just those two on board,” Shotwell said. “I looked at the one who had been killed, and I thought that I wanted to remember them that way. It would be in the course of a year that I must have carried scores and scores of dead and wounded, so I always made a point to take a mental note because, at this point, I knew before their families knew what had happened.”

Located midway between Dallas and Houston on the I-45 corridor, the wall draws in road trippers and curious passersby alike, though word has spread to attract visitors worldwide.

“It means so much to the veterans that couldn’t afford to go to Washington,” Lee said. “You can tell by the demeanor of the people what all it means to them. Some of the guys are standing out there for a long time, and the same with the families—especially the ones that lost a family member in Vietnam that probably have no idea what all the veterans went through.”

The H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is free and open to the public 24/7, with lighting provided for those looking to avoid the crowds on a more private late-night visit.

“Even if you’re just a stranger who happened to stop at the museum, looking at 58,000 names on the wall and seeing them from one end to the other is quite a moving experience.
SEPT / OCT 2022 | 29



Shiner Beer, a staple in most Texas refrigerators, has been brewed in the same brewery since 1909. Six million cases of Shiner beer ship annually across the nation and all of the beer is brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. The brewery is named after Shiner’s first official brewmaster, Kosmos Spoetzl. Hailing from Bavaria, Spoetzl brought his love of beer to the small town of Shiner, Texas. According to Shiner’s website, “After a long day’s toil in the fields, hardworking farmers around Shiner would often find a cold bottle of Shiner beer waiting on a fence post, left there by our own Kosmos Spoetzl. The farmers enjoyed some cold refreshments, and Shiner earned more loyal fans.”

Shiner merchandise can be purchased online or at the on-site gift shop. Tours of the brewery are offered seven days a week to accommodate even the busiest of schedules. Groups can be scheduled to tour together, and recent upgrades include interactive experiences and a new larger-than-life bar. Legend has it that guests get a free round at the end of the tour.


This rustic guesthouse, located in Shiner proper, offers guests a warm Texas welcome. The charming, 100-year-old farmhouse has two bedrooms available to rent, affectionately named Shiner Bock and Shiner Blonde, each with a queen bed and private bath. Each guest room has satellite television and Wi-Fi access, and a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot are always available to guests as they enjoy the charm of the country. The entire farmhouse is also able to be reserved in its entirety, which would include both bedrooms and bathrooms, the kitchen, and a cozy sitting room with a pull-out couch. A large porch offers guests benches to relax into the slower pace of life.



Maggie’s Diner is a one-of-a-kind eatery located in Shiner. Cooking up homestyle cuisine such as fried pickles, burgers, and fried catfish, the menu has something for everyone. One of their most frequently ordered items is called the “Smash Burger.” This burger is made of ground beef, with brisket ground into it as well, and topped with bacon and cheese. Another specialty burger from Maggie’s is called the “Firecracker.” This burger is personalized as the owner also owns a fireworks stand. This burger explodes with flavor with pepper jack cheese and jalapeño. Guests looking for lighter fare cannot go wrong with the chicken salad sandwich. Additionally, Maggie’s has a kid’s menu for the younger visitors.

Daily specials are updated on their Facebook page. Guests will be happy to know that they even deliver!


The very early years of this small town saw settlers in need of a Catholic parish. The original structure of the church was completed, blessed, and dedicated in May of 1891. Less than a year after completion, in February of 1892, a tornado blew through Shiner, and uprooted the structure, moving it eleven feet from its foundation. Through financial assistance of Catholic parishioners and non-Catholics alike, the renovation and rebuilding of the parish took place. As the years passed, and with varied leadership, it was determined by 1920 that a larger parish was necessitated. The cornerstone was laid in 1920, and was followed up with breathtaking beauty. Six stained glass pieces were imported from Munich, Germany, and beautiful, intricate painting in rich, bold colors was added to the interior ceiling. Enriching the holy beauty stands an oversized mural of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In 1983, Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This church is a beautiful must-see on a trip to Shiner, Texas. Mass continues to be held daily, along with Saturday morning reconciliation service.



Though many true-crime stories ring a bell, oftentimes, the details are forgotten. As a result, some may be surprised to hear some of the cases that happened right here in Texas. From the case that birthed the Amber Alert as we know it today to the spate of robberies carried out by an unsuspecting crossdressing woman known as Cowboy Bob, this article highlights some of the most interesting Texas crime cases.


The polite, soft-spoken bank robber was cheekily dubbed “Cowboy Bob” by the press for a robbery uniform consisting of a cowboy hat, sunglasses, and gloves. In fact, Cowboy Bob was Peggy Jo Tallas, a 46-year-old woman who was her mother’s live-in caretaker in the Dallas suburbs. Family described Tallas as a consummate rule-follower, the last person on earth to rob a bank. She robbed her first bank in 1991, and a slew of additional robberies followed. Finally, after about a year, her luck ran out, and she served a few years in prison. Upon her release, Tallas led an everyday life but eventually returned to her secret one until she was gunned down at the age of 60 following a robbery and subsequent police chase, only to find out she was brandishing a toy gun. To date, her unusual story has inspired a true-crime movie, a theatrical performance, and a short film.

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Carthage, Texas, an East Texas town known for its friendly nature, became the unlikely city where the murder of widow Marjorie Nugent took place. Bernie Tiede and Nugent became companions after Nugent's husband's death. Bernie eventually left his job to work full-time for Nugent as her business manager. Nugent amended her will, disinheriting her only child and leaving everything to Bernie. Their relationship took a sour turn and he confessed to her murder to police in August of 1997. The case is now well-known because of the movie Bernie, with Jack Black playing the offender, Bernie Tiede.


Now a life-saving tool used to find abducted children, the AMBER Alert System was created over 25 years ago in response to a tragic murder of a 9-year-old. In 1996, Amber Hagerman was riding her bicycle in an empty grocery store parking lot when she was abducted, killed, and found days later four miles away. Texas mom Diane Simone, who said she could not get Amber off her mind, developed the idea for an alert system for abducted children. Named the AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert, the plan was enacted the same year and operates to this day in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 33 countries. Though the alerts have saved the lives of about 1,085 children, Amber’s case remains unsolved 26 years later.


Joan Olive Robinson Hill, Houstonian socialite, died on March 19, 1969 after a brief illness from a mysterious infection. The autopsy report was not able to provide much more insight and it was at that point when Hill's adopted father, wealthy oil tycoon Davis Ashton "Ash" Robinson, accused Joan’s husband, John Hill, of poisoning her. The couple was headed for divorce after an affair on John’s part and a brief separation. John’s first trial ended in a mistrial and while waiting for the second trial, he was murdered during a home invasion. The saga became the subject of several books, as well as a movie made for television, starring Farrah Fawcett.


Texas astronaut, Lisa Nowak, drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando with a host of odd objects, including a trench coat, wig, pepper spray, rope, trash bags, wig, BB gun, knife, and the intention of confronting an old flame’s new partner. Nowak was arrested and charged with attempted murder and kidnapping. The case gained a lot of notoriety because Nowak wore space diapers in order to avoid stopping on the long drive.

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WRITTEN BY: ALLISON G. HENLEY If you have ever considered a guided hunt, whether as a corporate trip or an excursion with friends, look no further than the family-owned Diamond R Ranch. Located near Uvalde, Texas, the ranch family offers personable services, either by participating in the work themselves or entrusting it to friends who have the professional knowledge and experience to offer guests a hospitable and adventurous experience.

Since 1994, the Yates family has owned Diamond R Ranch, “where the Hill Country meets the Brush Country.” Owner Ray Yates is retired and manages, along with son Robert, the approximately 2,000-acre ranch, which provides him ample opportunity to engage in his hunting and fishing hobbies. The Yates family utilizes the land to offer guided hunts for animals including deer, dove, and exotic species. This family-owned operation maintains the philosophy that they are to be “good stewards of the land and the animals,” as stated by Ranch Manager, Robert Yates.

The mission of the ranch, as stated on their website, is “to secure a bright future for all wildlife by implementing quality game management through habitat control and regulated hunting.” There are specifications on the number of each type of wildlife guests are allowed to hunt, as determined by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The animals on the ranch are a combination of native and exotic animals. Dove and whitetail deer are a couple of the property’s native and most common animals. The exotic animals include fallow deer, native to Europe; axis deer and blackbuck antelope, native to India; scimitar oryx and waterbuck, native to Africa; and red deer from Europe and Russia.

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A typical hunt runs from Thursday through Sunday, though weekday hunts can be arranged. Three meals per day and lodging are provided on site, with hunts taking place in the mornings and evenings. The lodge has six bedrooms and three bathrooms to accommodate either corporate or private hunts. Hunting groups are kept small so that each hunter is able to be involved. For dove hunts, six people can be included per group. For big game, deer, and exotic animals, groups are even smaller (at most four people), so that each individual can gain their own insight and experience. These guided hunts are tailored to the needs and interests of each group. There is also a pond on the land where guests are able to fish, if interested, as well as a fire pit for guest use.

Holding fast to their commitment to provide customized experiences, hunters are welcome to be as involved as they care to be in the posthumous cleaning process. The Yateses also have a positive working relationship with a local reputable meat processor as well as a taxidermist. Arrangements can be made if either of these services are requested. Further, meat can then be packed with dry ice to be shipped. Additional fees apply for these extra services.

Yates made it clear that the ranch is not profit-driven, and interested solely in supporting itself and philanthropy, as well as providing research opportunities.

The ranch recently partnered with Texas A&M University's Cook Wildlife Lab, from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, on research to better understand and manage anthrax, a naturally occurring bacterial disease of livestock and wildlife that is transmissible to humans. This particular study was to determine methods and best practices in vaccinating wildlife against anthrax, which is native to the area. According to Yates, an anthrax outbreak occurs every four to ten years there. In June 2001, the ranch lost every white tail deer, with the exception of one or two, due to anthrax. Weather is a significant factor in the disease’s growth and spread, as it is a spore that lives beneath the soil. Anthrax can cause serious illness, and even death, to animals and humans, so the research conducted has immense value beyond the ranch itself.

Yates made it clear that the ranch is not profit-driven, and interested solely in supporting itself and philanthropy, as well as providing research opportunities.

Janice Yates, Ray Yates’s late wife, placed a high value on donating ranch proceeds to charities. Since her passing, the ranch has honored her legacy by continuing this tradition, donating hunts to charity and other conservation organizations. Past charitable organizations that the ranch has worked with are Still Creek Ranch, as well as the Blue Santa event where they donated a hunt valued at $10,000. Additionally, the ranch hosts youth hunts organized through Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

Diamond R Ranch also participates in TPWD’s Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP). This allows the ranch to operate under extended season lengths and provides specified harvest opportunities. As a participant in the Conservation Option, the ranch may also confer with a TPWD wildlife biologist “to receive customized, ranch-specific habitat and deer harvest recommendations and MLDP tag issuance for white-tailed deer and/or mule deer,” according to the TPWD website. This program requires reporting on specific deer data. Additionally, the ranch must implement certain habitat management practices annually to remain in the program.

It is evident that the Yates family has a rich working knowledge of the wildlife on their property. As native Texans, the family is committed to spreading values taught by the outdoors and providing guests a unique experience that suits their specific needs.

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A kitchen renovation, while exciting and refreshing, can be an involved process that often includes everything but the kitchen sink. Picking out the perfect cabinets, backsplash, and countertops are often top priority—but adding character to your kitchen with a new sink design might prove to be the icing on the cake. The kitchen sink is a workhorse. From general home cleaning to meal preparation, sinks should be able to handle the hard work while being visually pleasing as well. With so many kitchen styles and changing trends, how do you decide which direction to go? Here are some top considerations to make when choosing everything AND the kitchen sink.



Your home may have either of these existing styles so consider what you currently have and personally evaluate the pros and cons of that style. Drop-in, or top-mount sinks, are more traditional in design while undermount sinks achieve a more modern aesthetic and often have a higher resale value. Undermount sinks are easier to clean on a daily basis; however, drop-in sinks are easier to install if you are interested in doing the job yourself.


Double basin sinks seem to be the go-to and are often found in older homes. So if you decide to go with the single basin option, it might be one of the biggest changes you make when choosing a new sink. Ask yourself this question: while using your sink, do you enjoy the separation for washing and rinsing or would utilizing a single, larger area be more beneficial for soaking those larger pots and pans? When considering aesthetics, double basin sinks follow a traditional style while single basins are more modern.

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Apron sinks are on the rise and for good reason. This sink option offers more surface area and is often deeper than other sinks since the front is exposed and protrudes slightly from the cabinet area. If choosing this style, keep in mind you still have the option for single or double basin, as well as a variety of materials.


Workstation sinks are great for smaller kitchens that may not have as much counter space. These sinks often come with accessories like a cutting board, colander, and drying rack to make your time in front of the faucet more streamlined. Various sizes and even materials are available but generally workstation sinks are undermount in order to correctly use the accompanying accessories, so make sure this style fits in with your overall design.


The seamless design of an integrated sink is a countertop and sink in one beautiful package. These sinks are custom, luxurious, and are offered in a variety of materials like marble, quartz, stainless steel, and even more modern options like terrazzo and concrete. While beautiful and easy to clean, keep in mind that if damaged, repairs most likely will involve replacing the entire countertop area and sink.



Stainless steel may be one of the most popular and advantageous choices among sink materials. Stainless steel is timeless, cost effective, and most styles of sinks are offered in this material choice. Although easy to rinse and wipe down, it can be a challenge at times to keep those pesky water spots at bay—but nothing a little vinegar scrub cannot fix! Another option is copper, which is heavier and more durable than stainless. An interesting advantage to copper is that it is naturally antimicrobial, which is a great quality in the kitchen on any surface.


A bright-white, sparkling sink can be a beautiful focal point in the kitchen. Ceramic sinks, while sensitive to some abrasive cleaners, are simple to wipe down and keep clean with a general all-purpose cleaner. They stand the test of time when taken care of properly and are generally resistant to stains and scratches. Like stainless steel, ceramic comes in various shapes, sizes, and styles. A white ceramic sink can be a great contrast to colorful cabinets or countertops.


A more recent trend for sinks is composite stone. This cost effective, engineered material is not only heat resistant but it is nonporous as well, making it easy to clean and resistant to stains. This option offers the look of stone without the cost, which makes it a great alternative. Many options of styles and colors are available to coordinate with your countertops. Composite sinks are manufactured to have a consistent pattern and color that will not discolor or fade over time.


Cast iron sinks have been around for some time, and are classic yet versatile in style. The enamel coating helps prevent rust from being an issue but does allow for chips or scratches, so using a rubber mat would be beneficial. Being one of the heaviest materials used, it is highly durable but may require your cabinets to have some reinforcement to prevent damage. While ceramic and cast iron sinks may look similar, enameled cast iron sinks come in a variety of colors if you are looking to liven up your kitchen.

While some trends may be having their fifteen minutes, when it comes to decision making it is best to prioritize what works for your household in terms of cost, usage, and your own personal design aesthetic. The kitchen is the gathering place of your home, where meals are made and stories are told, so it should be a direct reflection of what is important to you.

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The Power of the TEN MINUTE PICK-UP

Have you ever had those days where you look around your house and every surface you lay eyes on is covered in stuff? Even as you take a deep breath, the overwhelmed feeling begins to grow, and then the paralysis sets in. Where does one even begin to clean up all of this stuff?

The best way to prevent this feeling of being overwhelmed is to keep up with the daily tasks.

Spending just ten minutes daily will keep the clutter at bay and help your mental health. Here are a few tips to make implementing this new routine more enjoyable.

The concept is to gather everyone in the house and start a ten-minute timer. Then, each individual works as quickly as possible for the timed ten minutes to put every item in its “home.” (This is based on the assumption that each item has a “home,” which is a bonus tip for home organizing.) To jazz up the ten minutes, you can play upbeat music for the duration.

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Sometimes, household chores feel overwhelming because our minds like to trick us into thinking that the task will be time-consuming. When this feeling comes up, you have to take the reins and remind your brain who is in charge. An effective way to do this is to begin a friendly competition with yourself, in order to change the overwhelmed energy into productive energy. For example, you have a basket full of laundry to fold. Dump that basket out onto the bed. Queue up your favorite song, and as soon as you press play—it is go time! Work as hard and fast as you can to finish that folding before the music stops. Playing music that you enjoy will put a positive spin on a chore that might feel like a drag.


This rather basic concept can go a long way. Whatever task needs to get done that you might be dreading becomes an avenue to get something that you want. If grocery shopping is not your jam, grab a favorite soda, magazine, or candy at the checkout. If sweeping up cat hair is not your idea of a good time—but you know how good it will look and you will feel when it is finished—allow yourself to sit down with your favorite television show to enjoy your swept floors. My personal favorite combines the second and third tips. When unloading the dishwasher feels insurmountable, I will start a single cup of coffee to brew. I have found that it takes me almost exactly the same amount of time to unload the dishwasher that it does to brew a cup of my favorite joe. Voila! The empty dishwasher is celebrated with a welcoming cup of coffee.


This can be especially helpful with households with multiple kids, especially those kids who might not seem to have much internal motivation. Divide into teams and set to work for a specified time. When time is up, the team that did the most work wins. Or, better yet, add prizes! If this is done multiple times per week, the rewards could be kept for the winners over multiple days or weeks. The competition factor can also be handy when kids need to clean their rooms. Whoever completes theirs first gets to choose the movie for movie night or the ice cream toppings.


Circling back to the idea of the ten-minute pick up is an idea that essentially suggests creating a list of types of things that tend to get left out often. This list will look different for each space in a household. For example, trash, dishes, toys, books, shoes, etc., might be in the living room of a family with kids. The way to best use categories like this is to organize them in the same order each time. This creates a “muscle memory” of sorts, and it seems that routines like this when done over time, become quicker to complete. An added benefit is that due to the pre-determination of categories, homedwellers can become more conscious of items frequently left out of place and attempt prevention on the front end. For example, say that junk mail is being left on multiple surfaces daily. If “mail” is a category to pick up, then considering a few problem-solving issues around mail would likely be helpful. One might be determining whether mail has a designated spot in the home where it goes. Another might be to decide to never lay junk mail down but walk directly to the trash can to sort mail, immediately discarding the trash.

These strategies can be accommodated for many different living situations and family make-ups. Hopefully, these ideas leave you feeling encouraged in maintaining the desired look of your home, mostly spent in small bursts of time and energy. As you implement these concepts, may you feel peaceful in your home environment while spending a manageable amount of time and energy in your efforts to remain there.

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A rainbow of colors peeking out of the hard cold soil is one of the first signs of the arrival of warmer temperatures. Like daffodils and sunny days, tulips and spring are synonymous, but bulbs are not just for early spring. There are several varieties of late bloomers that thrive in Texas soil. These no-fuss bulbs are simple to plant and forget. Then, they make themselves known in late summer and fall with a bevy of beautiful blooms.

“Not only are bulbs fun to grow, they are a great addition to any landscape because they help to add interest. They can help to break up the monotony of a garden and add a fun pop of color,” said Megan Proska, Director of Horticulture at the Dallas Arboretum.

A great example of a long-lasting bulb is the unique spider lily. “If you are wanting something with color, spider lilies do well in this area, and they will bloom from late summer into fall. You want to make sure you are not keeping it in a super wet area so the bulb doesn’t rot, and it will come back year after year,” Proska explained.

According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, bulbs have modified plant parts. The primary reason behind the modification is to ensure that food can be stored for the plant's survival in adverse weather conditions. Bulbs store energy that is different than other types of plants. In order to store energy, they need time to grow, Proska explained.

“At the arboretum for spring bulbs, there are not enough cold hours for the bulbs to grow year after year. So, we dig them up and compost them and replant with new bulbs. For

fall bulbs, you want to plant once the ground temperature is between 55 to 60 degrees.”

Bulbs need to be planted upright and the soil pressed firmly around them. The pointy end should be pointed up towards the sky when planting. After planting, it is essential to water thoroughly, according to information from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Planting depth and spacing are critical to the success of bulbs. A general rule of thumb for planting depth is two to three times the largest part of the bulb. Spacing will vary from one to two inches to several feet. When spacing bulbs, consider how much space each plant needs and how frequently it will be dug and divided. Some bulbs, like the tropical-looking canna, spread rapidly, so take care to read planting instructions.

After blooming, bulbs can either be left in the ground as a perennial to hopefully bloom the following season again or dug up and composted. It is essential if using the bulb as a perennial to deadhead the spent blooms. Leave the remaining stalk and leaves for several weeks so they can continue to photosynthesize and store energy for the next season.

“Bulbs are super easy! It just depends on where you are located how the bulbs will do. For example, a Narcissus bulb will perennialize and keep propagating itself. You can dig some out and give to your friends,” Proska explained.

Planting conditions are varied through the vastness of the Lone Star State, but the following bulbs are good bets for most areas.
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White Rain Lily

As the name suggests, rain lilies bloom after a nice, soaking rain. The plant's foliage resembles monkey grass. According to Texas Master Gardeners, the flowers are white star-shaped and can come in pink and yellow. They bloom into the autumn and stay evergreen through the winter. Depending on the growing zone in Texas, they should be perennial and do well in most conditions with rainfall as their only source of water. They work well as borders and in small flower beds.

Spider Lilies

This plant is very unique in its growth patterns and its spidery blooms. As referenced by the Texas Master Gardeners, each spring, the strap-shaped foliage appears, ripens, then dies down with the heat of summer. Then, in September, usually after a soaking rain, clusters of red, pink, white, or yellow flowers suddenly spring forth from the ground. These grow tall, up to two feet, and bloom with their aptly named spider-like flowers. They are very easily grown, especially in the eastern third of the state. The red variety is much more common than the others and is the easiest to grow. A word of caution— be careful not to overwater. These bulbs do best in areas without a sprinkler system.

Oxblood Lilies

Similar to spider lilies, a sign of the end to a hot summer, according to the Texas Master Gardeners, is the emergence of oxblood lilies. The flowers resemble small red amaryllises. The foliage is strap-like and emerges after flowering to flourish through the winter, and then it yellows and disappears by summer. These plants are not natives, but they appear to be since they often come back year after year.

Autumn Crocus

Not to be confused with their spring counterpart, the autumn crocus blooms in the fall even into November. According to Texas Master Gardeners, these beauties boast light purply pink blooms. They are best to plant in late August, and in just a few short weeks, the autumn crocus will begin blooming.

Canna Lilies

Canna is a favorite summer-blooming plant because of its long bloom time and because it thrives in hot weather, perfect for Texas summers. Cannas are easy to care for and bloom into the fall. A canna boasts a tropical vibe and is great around pools or water features. Numerous varieties and colors are available in multiple sizes. Foliage also comes in a multitude of colors, from bright green to dark purple and even striped.

No green thumb is required. Bulbs are uncomplicated and work well even for the novice gardener. Late-blooming bulbs in their many varieties are a great choice to freshen up beds and provide some eye-catching color into autumn.

White Rain Lily Spider Lily Oxblood Lily Autumn Crocus Canna Lily

Designing and building a house from the ground up is no easy feat. However, for architect and designer Eddie Maestri, AIA, it was an opportunity to showcase his team’s talents while also presenting his Dallas clients with their dream home.

The team started with a relatively blank slate as the previous home on the lot was demolished. However, the lot was zoned as part of an overlay district, so the Maestri Studio team had to work within the rules set out for site planning. “Most of our jobs are full service from the very beginning,” Maestri said. “We think more holistically about how to approach a design from the beginning and follow throughout.”

In this case, his fashion-forward clients were looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind space that also felt like a timeless home. “We opted to do things on the interior that were edgy but also had a bit of a throwback to make it more grounded and timeless,” Maestri said. The architect and designer accomplished this by pulling inspiration from 1960s and 1970s homes and current modern home trends. He also designed the home to feature the views from within the house, showcasing treetop views and plenty of natural light.

The result is nothing short of a stunning, cohesive home that feels both modern and warm. “Overall, it’s a very unique house,” Maestri said. “This definitely stands alone as being something different that we are proud of.”

A fluted plaster surround helps showcase the fireplace.
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INTERIOR DESIGNER: EDDIE MAESTRI, AIA MAESTRI Maestri designed the living room with floor-toceiling glass that would allow an abundance of natural light into the space while providing a view of the property’s beautiful live oak.
“Sheer drapery allows for the option of privacy but will still let light filter through,” Maestri said.

The gallery hall showcases the indoor-outdoor emphasis of the house via the rock garden that continues to the outside of the home behind a large floor-to-ceiling glass wall, which inundates the area with natural light.  “We wanted the stairs and gallery to feel like a connector between inside and outside,” Maestri said.

“We wanted all the lighting to have unique shapes and be different throughout the house while also offering hints of art deco throughout,” Maestri said.

Maestri and his team chose to feature a more casual dining area in this home that still felt upscale and specialized.

The kitchen layout was specifically designed to be functional as well as a beautiful focal point in the home. Elements such as reeded glass and steel door cabinets helped make the kitchen a showstopper.

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The brass on the backsplash is amplified by other features in the kitchen, such as the barstools and lighting.
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In the primary bedroom, a custom-designed vertical slat wall adds warmth in a nod to mid-century design.

An unexpected and fun pop of color helps warm up the guest space.

“It was really important for us to have a modern house that has warmth,” Maestri said. “Bringing in the walnut throughout makes it feel warm and cozy.”

Having an abundance of natural light in each room was a priority throughout the design process. In this guest bedroom, the corner windows let in light and provide a serene view of the trees outside.

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Custom fluting was added to the vanity area, as well as a chunky, solid-surface floating countertop for a modern look.

A simple shower tile accentuates the clear windows that let in an abundance of light and emphasize the beautiful treetop views.

In the primary bath, Maestri and the team wanted to create something special with the layout. Below, the patterned tile mimics a rug while also creating a cohesive pattern that draws the eye up the wall.

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The client chose both the furniture and the wallpaper featured in the children’s lounge. To highlight the wallpaper and make it stand out without overwhelming the space, the team at Maestri Studio added custom paneling around it.

The children’s lounge takes advantage of the treetop views and highlights other architectural features such as the ceiling beams, which continue to the home’s exterior.

Wallpaper sourced from Etsy provided the inspiration for the laundry room’s pale pink cabinets.
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For most people, laundry is usually the most tedious and dreaded of household chores. It always seems to be never-ending and can quickly pile up and become overwhelming. So take back your weekends with these simple, time-saving laundry hacks!

ONE LOAD PER DAY Rather than saving up all of your laundry to tackle over the weekend, try doing one load per day from start to finish. That means washing, drying, folding, and putting away! For most, it is usually the folding and putting away of laundry that seems to pile up and sit for days on end. Doing one load per day will make the process more manageable and will keep laundry from piling up over the weekend!

GET ORGANIZED Having a functional and organized laundry space can make doing your laundry feel less like a chore! Start by adding storage if that is something your area is lacking. If you have the wall space, add cabinetry or open shelving. Wire racks or bookcases are also excellent choices. Do not forget hanging racks or bars to air dry clothes!

Add some jars or canisters to store detergent, dryer balls, lost socks, and clothespins so they are always within easy reach but still look pretty while on display. Work in matching baskets with labels for a professionally organized look. Get things up off the ground by adding hooks or wall-mounted hanging systems.

SORT LOADS BY PERSON Rather than sorting laundry by color, sort your loads by person. Unless clothes are new or white, you really do not have to worry about color transfer. This will save you a lot of time since you will have fewer loads, and you will not need to separate and sort between people when things come out of the dryer.

CUT DOWN ON DRY TIME Toss in a dry, fluffy towel with your wet clothes to help reduce dry time. The towel will help absorb excess moisture and significantly cut down on the amount of time needed in the dryer.

TRY A FOLDING BOARD Hate folding? Speed up the process and create a uniform fold with a folding board. This is also a great way to get kids to help with the process. You can find folding boards online that are sized for kid's clothes, too!

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To truly grasp the beauty of Oak Meadow Ranch in Valley View, Texas, one must understand the journey. Just as Oak Meadow Ranch is not just a ranch, dinner at the Whitehorse Steakhouse is not just a meal, but rather an enchanting experience and evening that promises a lifetime of memories. It is a place that is both an entertaining adventure and a sanctuary for healing, built with love resulting from tragedy and grief. Owners Kristin and Eduardo Navarro and Allan and Dawn Watt strive to help guests slow down, share a meal, and remember times when life was less complicated.

In 2005, Kristin Navarro’s parents, Allan and Renay Watt, purchased the land that is now Oak Meadow Ranch and moved there in 2013.

The ranch became a refuge from fast-paced life, a place to share with friends and commune with nature. But a few years later, Renay tragically ended her life. The loss was a turning point for the family and the ranch.

“At that point I truly thought my dad would sell the ranch,” Kristin said. “But he came to us and was like, ‘I want to finish what Renay and I started.’” Without missing a beat, Kristin and her husband, Eduardo, left their jobs in law enforcement and moved halfway across the country to be with her dad.

Renay loved to cook and serve others. The ranch provided a place for large groups to come together in fellowship and enjoy a meal. Kristin, Eduardo, and Allan found solace in Oak Meadow Ranch after Renay's passing. According to Kristin, every time Allan would get overwhelmed with grief, he would start working with his hands, building out the ranch one piece at a time.

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In September 2016, family friends asked if they could get married on the ranch. The obvious answer was yes, but Allan wanted to provide an indoor space out of the Texas heat; this led to the Whitehorse Steakhouse.

Eduardo is Whitehorse Steakhouse’s head chef. He provides a rotating four-course menu that boasts an appetizer, salad, enormous cut of beef, and a decadent dessert with one of the courses flambéed tableside. He even adds cotton candy to one of the courses because who does not like cotton candy?

“We’ll do a little bit of direction. We’ll do some research,” Kristin said of designing the menu with Eduardo. “I’ll get on Instagram; we’ll play around and take some recipes, and then we’ll put a twist on them, redesign them, or use bits and pieces of different recipes and put them together.”

Before every dinner Kristin introduces and thanks each staff member by name. Guests meet Eduardo and his sous chef, Sharon Bonner, and Allan and his wife, Dawn, lead a prayer before food is served. “This whole concept is about taking you back to when you used to have dinner with your family,” Kristin explained.

And here, everyone is family—even those of the furry sort. Guests get an interactive experience with all the animals at Oak Meadow Ranch. The ranch experience is not complete without a hug from Sir Winston the sloth and kangaroo kisses from Sydney and Jack. From feeding Taco the donkey and cuddling Baby Yoda the fox to playing with the royal family of ringtail lemurs (King Julien, Queen Juliette, Princess Diana, Duchess Kate, and Lady Sophie), no one leaves the ranch without a smile.

“When I was seven years old, my dad brought home an African lion to me and my mother for Valentine’s,” Kristin said, and so began her passion for exotic animals. All the animals start out in Kristin’s home; from the kangaroos and lemurs to the African serval and caracal, Kristin raises them from babies, creating a wonderland of happy furry friends for guests to meet.

Guests’ interaction with animals is one of the most striking differences between Oak Meadow Ranch and others of its kind. No one is ever rushed during their time with the animals. It is not a snap-a-picture-and-move-on type of place. Kristin often asks if everyone has had enough time with her babies and will happily escort guests back outside for more play time. Once a lemur jumps on your head, you will be hooked forever.

Guests can hang out after dinner in front of the fire with the family, throw axes, dance on the outdoor dance floor, or play games. With accommodations including covered wagons, cabins, and interactive rooms, guests can extend their experience overnight and even enjoy a Sunday morning brunch.

Kristin is living her dream and literally opening her home to others so they can share the experience. Once through the gates of Oak Meadow Ranch, time slows down, guests feel like kids again, and for a few hours problems melt away.

Oak Meadow Ranch has a deep-rooted and rich history that the Navarros and the Watts plan to continue growing. They have new additions such as four rooms that overlook the new animal exhibit where guests can feed Puzzles the giraffe from a window in their room. The ranch recently introduced baby genets, and more animals will be added. There are now Sunday services, and plans for church retreats are in the works.

“It's funny because it was this dinky little ranch that really wasn’t much, and maybe to some people it’s not, but it was just built with love,” Kristin said. “That’s what this ranch resembles. It will all happen the way it’s supposed to be. I’m a strong believer [that] what you give out, you get in return.”

Guests at Oak Meadow Ranch will often hear Kristin’s beliefs, and experience them firsthand, but the most obvious is this:

“Through tragedy, beautiful things will come.”

“Through tragedy, beautiful things will come.”
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Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans

This is a twist on the traditional potato skin! Slice sweet potatoes so they are shaped like disks and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Bake at 400°F until they soften. Remove from the oven and add crumbled goat cheese and candied pecans. Place back in the oven for two minutes. If you are feeling adventurous, add pomegranate seeds or a cranberry drizzle.


on Classic Appetizers

Fall is a wonderful time for hosting. Of course there are the holidays, but there are also ample opportunities to host tailgates, watch parties, and back to school events. As we head into this new season, our palates change as we long for fall flavors and cozy comfort foods. If you are looking for something new this year, consider these fun autumn-inspired

Baked Brie with Dates, Smoked Walnuts, and Fig Jam

There are an endless amount of ways to top baked brie. The best rule of thumb is to include a dried fruit, a nut (or something to add a crunch), a jam or glaze, and some fresh herbs. Place an eight ounce round of brie in an oven safe dish and bake according to the packaging. Once it is done baking, top with dates, smoked walnuts, fig jam, and a sprinkle of thyme, if desired. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or crostinis.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts in a Maple-Bourbon Glaze

Nothing says appetizer like ‘bacon-wrapped’ and nothing says fall like 'maple-bourbon!’ To make this delight, wrap water chestnuts in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. Once they are done baking, coat the pieces in your favorite maple-bourbon sauce and return to the oven for 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced to a sticky glaze.

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The origin stories of this wonderful dish are varied. Several states claim ownership, including the Lone Star State. This famously Southern dish is thought to have been adapted from Wiener schnitzel, brought over by German and Austrian immigrants in the early 1900s.

Although similar, Wiener schnitzel is made with veal and breadcrumbs, while a classic chicken fried steak is typically prepared with tenderized cube steak that is dipped in a milk or egg wash, dredged through seasoned flour, and fried in a skillet. Of course, the best part is the cream gravy on top, often made with pan drippings, just like mama used to make.

In our July/August issue, we dished about three places to find famous chicken fried steak. Texas is known for so many delectable restaurants serving this fan-favorite, we had to split them into two issues!

This elevated fried chicken house, with two locations, offers “chef’d up” nostalgic classics, including an unforgettable chicken fried steak! They brine all their chicken for 24 hours and use a house-made provincial French herbs blend.

A family-owned business, the original location is situated in the original Black-eyed Pea restaurant, that was created by owner Marco Street’s father in 1975.

“I was born and raised in the restaurant business, so we have roots in Southern cooking and country classics,” Street said. “Chicken fried steak is kind of sacred to our family. My dad’s probably sold millions of them in his life, so we wanted to make sure it’s really good.”

Street’s chicken fried steak is made with super tenderized cubed round steak and battered using buttermilk and seasoned flour (using the French herbs blend), so it has a subtle herbaceousness. It is then topped with an “ocean” of jalapeño cream gravy, made with fresh and pickled jalapeños, which give it both a lovely tang and hint of heat. Side options include mashed potatoes, sautéed garlic green beans, collard greens, and a honey-buttered biscuit. Pure bliss!

Street’s Fine Chicken DALLAS
A Plate-Sized Texas Tradition Part Two Hearty, nostalgic, and quintessentially Texanlet us talk about chicken fried steak!
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Dog & Pony Grill BOERNE

This popular restaurant and bar opened about seven years ago and offers live music, a dog park, a basketball court, and an indoor and outdoor bar. Most folks stop in for their scratch-made Southern comfort food. This includes hamburgers, meatloaf, fried catfish, and of course, chicken fried steak.

Hand-breaded to order with a buttermilk egg wash and a Pioneer Flour Mill breading flour, Dog & Pony Grill’s classically delicious chicken fried steak made with a traditional cubed steak comes topped with a cream gravy or jalapeño gravy, also made with Pioneer Flour Mill flour.

“We like to keep it local, and Pioneer does a great job with the breading mixes and gravy,” Operating Partner Joey Boatright said. “Then we take it over the top with a few tweaks of our own.”

Boatright noted that their version is “not as big as your face,” but most guests can barely finish it!

Gage Hotel

When you are out in the middle of the desert in West Texas, you may not expect to find much in the way of good food. However, an oasis awaits you in the form of the legendary Gage Hotel, just an hour from Big Bend.

The Gage has been a gem of the Chihuahuan Desert since 1927 and is perhaps best known for their White Buffalo Bar and its prickly pear margaritas or the nearby Gage Gardens, which are a luxurious and verdant treat.

When it comes to dining, guests would be remiss not to take time out for a resplendent meal here. The restaurant’s focus is Southwestern or interior Mexican food made with high-quality, often Texas-sourced, ingredients.

The chicken fried steak has never come off the menu because it is beloved far and wide. Made with top round meat that is made to order, hand-battered and breaded, this version is indeed hearty. The Gage tops it with velvety jalapeño gravy, and it is served alongside sautéed vegetables. You will be grateful you stopped for one last great meal before heading into the wild.

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Fall-Infused MIMOSAS

Nothing beats sitting on your pumpkin-laden porch in the morning once the summer heat tapers off and the cooler fall air begins to set in. If you are looking to take it up a notch, swap that coffee for a mimosa with a delicious autumnal twist.

The general ratio when pouring mimosas is one third juice of your choice and two thirds prosecco or champagne, but feel free to adjust to your personal taste preferences. The beauty of fall flavors is that most of them can be mixed and matched, which means the flavor and garnish combinations are endless. So get creative and jump into all the yummy goodness of the harvest season with these mimosas!

Caramel drizzle, apple cider, prosecco/champagne


Apple slice and cinnamon sugar rim



Pear nectar and prosecco/ champagne

GARNISH Pear slice and ginger sugar rim



Orange juice and pumpkin beer



Pumpkin pie spiced sugar rim



Whole cloves, cinnamon, orange juice, prosecco/champagne


Pumpkin pie spiced sugar rim champagne

Ground clove and cinnamon sugar rim



Cranberry juice and prosecco/ champagne

GARNISH Cranberries, fresh rosemary sprig, and vanilla bean sugar rim

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Butter is the best friend of many foods. From steaks, poultry, and fish, to vegetables, pasta, and warm baked goods—butter makes everything better. But what makes butter better is adding delicious ingredients to complement your dish.

• Your choice of add-ins WRITTEN BY: BETSY NICOLES

The possibilities are endless and so much fun when considering the seasons and occasions. Fall is a wonderful time to incorporate warm spices, nuts, and dried herbs from your summer garden. Cinnamon maple butter is a great way to top off some fresh baked pumpkin bread. When summer comes along, a classic herb butter goes well with a steak right off the grill.

Here are a few of our favorites to try experimenting with.


• 1 stick of unsalted butter


• Once butter is softened, whip butter in a bowl with a hand or stand mixer. You could even achieve this with a simple fork.

• Once butter is whipped, blend in your choice of ingredients. Add modestly at first and adjust for personal preference.

• Transfer butter to a sheet of parchment paper, form into a log, and wrap well. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.


• Rosemary & Black

• Ginger & Garlic


• Cinnamon Brown Sugar

• Maple & Pecan

• Cranberry

• but te redALL up

• Pumpkin

Sundried Tomato & Horseradish
Raspberry Chipotle
& Honey
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with Traditional Boeuf Bourguignon COMFORT

Boeuf bourguignon is a classic French dish with a rich silky sauce, ideal to satisfy those fall comfort food cravings. Many assume that all French dishes are complex and hard to make. In truth, boeuf bourguignon is simply beef stew with humble beginnings. This braised beef dish originated as honest peasant fare and was often made with a variety of leftover meats. It has only been in the last 75 to 100 years that boeuf bourguignon has risen to high cuisine and is considered luxurious by most people’s standards.

Boeuf bourguignon calls for modest ingredients that are cooked slowly to deepen their flavor. The addition of a full-bodied red wine is where the magic happens. Wine fortifies the stew, releasing flavor molecules that amplify the other ingredients’ essence and aroma creating the coveted umami.

As Texans, we love our beef and this traditional dish is jam-packed with plenty of slow-cooked goodness. As the outside temperatures begin to cool, try our boeuf bourguignon, and not only will your house be filled with an amazing aroma, the table will be filled with delicious memories of time well spent together.

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Boeuf Bourguignon


• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 to 3 pounds of beef stew meat or beef chuck

• Salt and pepper to taste

• ½ cup flour

• 4 ounces bacon, cut into lardons

• 3 cups red wine

• 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

• 2 ribs celery, minced

• 1 large onion, diced

• 1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste

• 2 cloves garlic, pressed

• 2 bay leaves

• 1 bundle fresh thyme

• 3 cups beef stock


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a heavy stock-pot, heat olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper meat and toss to coat each piece in flour.

2. Brown the meat in the hot pot working in batches so as not to crowd the pan. As the meat browns, remove it from the pot and set it aside.

3. When all the beef is browned, cook the bacon in the same pot until it begins to crisp.

4. Add 1 cup of red wine and deglaze the pan.

5. Add vegetables, tomato paste, remaining wine, and aromatics to the pot. Cook over medium heat until the wine has reduced in half, about 8 minutes.

6. Add beef back to the pot. Add beef stock and bring to a boil.

7. Cover the pot with its lid and place it in the center of the oven. Cook for 2 to 3 hours.

8. Remove the dish from the oven. If the sauce is still thin, using a slotted spoon, lift all of the meat and vegetables out of the pot and cook the sauce over medium heat until it has reduced.

9. Remove herbs and add the beef and vegetables back into the pot and serve over golden lux potatoes.

Lorie Fangio is a teaching chef and founder of A Taste of Paris™ food and wine trips to France. For more great recipes and to learn more about Lorie, visit atasteofparis.net.

Golden lux potatoes make the perfect pairing. Find my recipe here!
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