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by Terry Thompson-Anderson
Photography by Sandy Wilson
Terroir is often described as a “sense of place”—be it geographical, climatic, topographical or cultural—that’s imbued into things that are grown or produced in a certain region. It’s always been the main focus of the wine industry in France, but that hasn’t always been the case for the Texas wine industry. “When we started planting grapes,” says Ed Auler who, along with his wife, Susan, founded Fall Creek Vineyards, one of Texas’ earliest modern wineries, “we didn’t have any established traditions to follow. We knew about the successful wine industry in California, and we planted what they did: chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Only, in Texas, the results were a hit-and-miss bag. Then, we began to assemble our own body of data, and to consider the issue of terroir.”
by Meredith Bethune
photography by Kate LeSueur
The most memorable bite from a recent trip to Vietnam was a single scallop, grilled in its shell and eaten at a low plastic table beside a street roaring with motorbikes. The vivid color and scent palette of red chili, chopped mint, salty peanuts and sour lime juice draped over the unbelievably fresh seafood created the perfect harmony to its tender sweetness. To me, this dish embodied the beguiling food of Vietnam that Pat Lee—owner of the local chain of PhoNatic restaurants—describes as simple but bold. So simple, in fact, that Vietnamese food is easy to cook in home kitchens, as long as there’s a basic understanding of the ingredients, preparation and cooking techniques.
The terms “sustainable” and “comfort food” don’t always go hand in hand, but for Andrew Page, general manager of the new Del Valle eatery the Bull and Boar, they’re the mission of the menu. “The most popular things are the meat loaf and chicken-fried steak, and these aren’t slabs of frozen steak. We cut the bottom round ourselves, pound the crud out of it, and then, strictly to order, hand-batter and fry it.”
Actually, Andrew’s brother, John, fries it. Their mother, Rose, waits on diners out front and their father, James, tends bar. A family affair indeed, even the Bull and Boar sausage consists of Berkshire pork raised on the Page’s Peach Creek Farm outside Bastrop.
By Andrew Smiley
A public health dietician, a Web development expert and a local food advocate walk into a bar…no punch line among them, but the trio is feeling a little punch-drunk from the previous six months of intense planning and strategizing. This evening is a celebratory event as the group’s shared vision—the new “Farm to Work” project—has just launched.
Months earlier, dietary specialist and project leader Lindsay Rodgers had begun developing a new worksite wellness program for employees of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Rodgers envisioned a practical, easy way for employees to have access to fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables while on the job, and the idea for Farm to Work was born.
When the project called for building connections between Central Texas farmers and consumers in the Austin area, the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) seemed the obvious choice. Eric Leversen of WebChronic Consulting LLC, a Web developer familiar with DSHS, also emerged as a willing partner to build the Farm to Work Internet commerce tool, with investment support from STEPS to a Healthier Austin, a citywide health promotion and support organization under Austin Health and Human Services. And Sonny Naegelin joined in as the supplier of produce for the program.
By Susan Leibrock
Photography by Emily Neiman
By Carol Ann Sayle
Yep, it’s summer. Without looking at a calendar, we know, as the season is dripping off our foreheads and running down the middles of our backs. These days, a washcloth is a handy thing to keep in the pants pocket. My father, Chief, sweating in our 1950s drought-stricken San Antonio yard, used to tie a handkerchief around his forehead to catch the salty drips before they burned his eyes. That’s a more hands-free solution, but then the wearer can’t rationalize sweat breaks.
Story and Photography By Toni Tipton-Martin
It’s 2:30 a.m. on Friday, January 14, 1995, and Edna Lewis can’t sleep. Although she’s exhausted and weak from radiation, she’s troubled by a conversation we’ve been having about African American cooking. She climbs out of bed, rips yellow paper from a legal pad then composes a three-page rant about African American food history.
Ten years later, after the woman some have called the “Julia Child of Southern cuisine,” lost her battle with cancer at the age of 89, that note has become a personal treasure to me.
By David Alan
Texans have a special relationship with Mexico and its native spirit, tequila. Like many songs tell us, across the border is where cares (and sometimes spouses) are left behind, and where a unique kind of magic awaits. A few sips of tequila and a little mariachi music is about all it takes to lift us out of our chairs to dance and shout strained gritos into the air; Old Mexico is a panacea to Texans, and tequila takes us there.
Growing Home host Marla Camp talks to award-winning food writer and journalist Ellen Sweets about her new book, Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins: a Memoir with Recipes. Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins is part memoir and part cookbook—a journey through a friendship that solidified around cooking and eating together, while carrying on wicked conversations and having rollicking good times.
Tooting your own horn is sometimes frowned upon—best left to the provinces of PR firms—but as we measure the success of our business in ways other than purely bottom-line economics, this is the time and place for it!
We have tallied the results from our 2011 Eat Drink Local Week fundraiser for local food nonprofits Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots, and we are properly impressed with ourselves. This event raised more money than in any of our previous four years—in a tough economic climate, with pocketbooks stretched and resources limited. Raising over $52,000 during a weeklong celebration of local food could only have happened with an outpouring of support from the community.
By Kjeld Petersen
Much of our conversation about local food is laden with jargon—sometimes confusing as we look to find a common language to describe it. Some of the words we use have specific, universally agreed-upon definitions—yet somehow get changed or used incorrectly or inappropriately. Some of the words have very subjective usages or interpretations that rely heavily on the context in which the words are used.
Zane and Anne Beckmann, owners of Woerner Feed & Garden Supply since 2006, are on a mission to offer their customers choices in how they feed their livestock and care for their crops and gardens. The company was first opened as a general store on Fredericksburg’s Main Street in 1928 by founder Elwood Woerner, but it was eventually moved to its present location on South Lincoln Street, where it now operates as a feed store. Over the years, two more generations of the Woerner family kept the business alive.
Zane had worked for the Woerners during his high-school years, and in 2001, he returned to Fredericksburg and was hired by Bruce Woerner to manage the store. Customers, including one who owned a large chicken operation, soon began asking for organic chicken feed. At the time, Zane was unfamiliar with the concept of organic anything. But as more people inquired, he began to research the issue. The research proved to be an eye-opening look into the world of biotechnology, where techniques have been developed over the last handful of years that alter the genetic makeup of animals, plants and bacteria.
By MM Pack
Photography by Andy Sams
Wearing one of her quirky signature aprons, Stephanie McClenny closely monitors the enormous pot of gently bubbling fruit in the corner of a busy commercial kitchen. This is, as McClenny refers to it, “the jam factory”—the sweet aromatic heart of Confituras, her award-winning preserves company.
Confituras is the Spanish version of the French confiture, a preserved food. (The common Latin root is conficere: to make, to complete.)
Summertime should be packed full of travels and adventures, even it they're only small staycations. We recommend venturing outside of Austin this July and exploring these events:
Taking place throughout July and August, you can sign up for a number of harvest experiences, dinners and tastings. The festival kicks off with a Moonlit Harvest on Friday, July 12 for $85 (includes grape picking and stomping activities, t-shirt and dinner). Saturday harvests occur every week until the weekend of August 3 with themed dinners happening every Friday and Saturday evening. The festival culminates with the Messina Hof Harvest & Music Festival in Fredericksbug on August 10.
Grape stomping at Messina Hof Harvest Festival
A concert series comes to downtown Brenham, making for a family friendly excursion out of town. Every Saturday throughout July, the city center will host a different band alongside a car show and food vendors. Make it a night by taking advantage of the city's special offers with lodging and restaurant partners! If you spend the night, don't leave on Sunday without visiting Home Sweet Farm Market for market goodies!
By Zack Northcutt
Photography by Jenna Noel
Creating basic condiments is an easy way to cater to your own taste and impart flavors in an often-overlooked area. Making them is easy, and once you get a knack for it, endless flavor profiles will be on hand to pair with any meal or snack. Here are some basic recipes and a few easy ways to modify them to make them your own.
See video on how to make your own Mayonnaise below!
by Cari Marshall
Photography by Shannon Kintner
This time of year, the skies over Central Texas should be aflutter with millions of monarch butterflies as they head north from Mexico to the cooler climes of Canada for the summer. This extraordinary migration, over approximately 3,000 miles, takes at least three generations of butterflies to complete—each laying millions of eggs along the way.
by Layne Victoria Lynch
Photography by Knoxy
While it takes some people years of kicking back frosty mugs of adequate, mass-produced beer to develop an appreciation for high-quality craft brew, Will Golden—cofounder and head brewer at Austin Beerworks—discovered his affection for malty, artisanal beverages at just twenty-one years old.
While an aspiring art history student, Golden took a European trip through Shepherd University with the hopes of learning more about art restoration. But shortly after indulging in a debauchery of Belgian-made beverages while there, he became inspired to shelve his artistic pursuits and begin a lasting love affair with all things hops and grain. “It sounds cliché,” Golden admits, “but I really didn’t know beer could taste that good. We drank in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic…and in Belgium, I tried this unbelievable Belgian strong golden ale. By the end of the trip, I knew my plans. I was going into brewing.”
by Laura McKissack
Photography by Ryan Donahue
It’s about to be peak tomato season, and I hope your garden will soon be bursting with tiny golden, green and red jewels. As in years past, since I’ll soon have more tomatoes than I know what to do with, I did some research for new recipes for this year’s bounty. Years ago, I had a martini at the now-shuttered-and-razed Highball in South Austin. The drink was made with vodka and house-made tomato water, and served with a basil leaf and a skewer of little mozzarella balls. It was as charming as it was delicious, and it reminded me of how my family sometimes eats fresh, ripe tomatoes: standing over the sink with the tomato in one hand and a shaker of salt in the other—too eager for that deliciously tangy juice to bother with cutlery or a plate. This adapted recipe celebrates the unbeatable flavor of the ripe tomato in that long-ago martini, with little interruption or fuss. Enjoy, along with several other options for using your abundance!
If you want to find a nice, small, cottage-like house with a chicken farmer who is seven years old inside it, then go to East 53rd Street, Austin, Texas, zip code 78751. There is that boy in his backyard, swinging from a tree or holding chickens. His name is Sam.
Why, you ask me, does this boy have chickens? Well, I’ll tell you.
By Susan M. Cashin
Photography by Susan M. Cashin
One Thanksgiving seven years ago, Fred and Yvonne Reinhardt of Houston decided to gather with their expatriate friends for a traditional South African meal. Having moved to Texas from Durban, they missed the foods of their mother country and knew their guests did too. In fact, the party was a runaway success, and has since become a regular event attracting more than 300 participants with ties to South Africa.