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By Kristi Willis
Illustration by Hillary Weber-Gale
One of the joys of traveling is discovering the tastes that are unique to a specific place. Whether it’s stumbling upon a bounty of crisp, sweet apples at a fall farmers market in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or being greeted by grilled Pacific oysters on the docks of San Juan Island, Washington, there is true pleasure in being able to savor the indigenous flavors of that place at that moment.
By Kristi Willis
Photography by Pauline Stevens
Early on Monday and Wednesday mornings, in the converted century-old schoolhouse at the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, three women cheerfully toil away in the kitchen making batch after batch of the delicate, yellow egg noodles that are a cornerstone of their food culture. The Wends are a Slavic sect from Lusatia, now part of eastern Germany, who immigrated to Central Texas in 1854 to escape persecution by the Prussians.
By Lucinda Hutson
It just didn’t seem like Christmas. For reasons unfathomable to my youngest sister and me, a dark cloud hung over our family and the mood was not merry. Always fearless behind the wheel, my sister “borrowed” grandma’s white Cadillac DeVille and we headed across the border from El Paso. Juárez was a much kinder place in 1970. We joined the revelry of the fiesta de Navidad, or Christmas party, at our housekeeper Hermila Contreras’s home (along with at least 40 members of her family, including lots of tots scurrying underfoot chased by a yapping Chihuahua).
By Kristi Willis
Photography courtesy of HISD, Bianca Bidiuc and Kate Adamick of Cook for America
The statistics are staggering and the word epidemic is bandied about frequently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 32 percent of high school students in Texas were overweight or obese in 2011. Obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Last December, the Austin Food and Wine Alliance (AFWA) awarded a total of $20,000 in grant funds to Argus Cidery, Tecolote Farm and the Connally High School culinary arts program to help them develop projects that give back to the community.
Over the last several months, the grantees have been honored guests at various AFWA culinary fund-raising events—connecting directly with the food and wine community as speakers or by serving handcrafted food and drinks to the crowds.
by Kate Payne
I’m a sucker for fall—the season signaling a renewed love of pies, an influx of cinnamon-laden treats, the much-anticipated farewell to summer’s endless heat and, of course, pumpkin-flavored everything.
By Jim Long
There’s exciting news for home gardeners who want to grow full-size, full-flavored heirloom tomatoes. In the past, a grower would either need plenty of space for the sometimes eight- to ten-foot-tall plants, or choose to grow dwarf tomato plants that take up little space, but produce miniature tomatoes with only modest flavor.
by Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Thomas Winslow
I love sleeping under the stars and waking to birdsong, but I’m not willing to give up my creature comforts. Our sleeping pads are soft, our camp chairs low-slung and comfy, our sheets high thread count—and I never head off into the wilderness without great food, good coffee, compelling books and a corkscrew.
by Meredith Bethune
Photography by Kate LeSueur
After igniting the grill on the back deck, Tito Beveridge rinses four chicken thighs with a garden hose. The torrent of water streams onto the grass below instead of contaminating his pristine kitchen inside. “I don’t really jack around. And I don’t really get a lot of stuff dirty,” explains the animated founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
Beveridge has just returned from the distillery where he goes every day when he’s in Austin. He tastes every batch and nothing is bottled or sold unless it meets his exacting standards. A former geophysicist and oilman from San Antonio, Beveridge started making vodka for a couple of simple, but compelling, reasons. “We drank a bunch of Wild Turkey when I was younger…and then tequila,” he recalls with a smile. “But then I discovered vodka was a lot easier on me. And the girls we hung out with, they always liked drinking vodka, too.”
By Jim Hightower with Susan DeMarco
This article is adapted from their new book, Swim Against The Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow (Wiley, 2008)
Right now, we’re in the midst of a dramatic revolt over something that touches each of our lives every day in the most basic way: dinner!
Organizing anti-nuke symposia in Amsterdam was, in many ways, rewarding for Ginger Webb. Yet she longed for a deeper, more personal connection to the ground under her feet.
“I wanted to run the spectrum,” Webb remembers, “to somehow simultaneously promote ecology, spirituality and physical health.”
Once back in the States, Webb moved closer to her desired path while attending the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in Arizona. It was a move to Austin, though, that finally solidified her dream. Here she founded Texas Medicinals, a company specializing in natural teas, tinctures and herbal remedies—handcrafted products that encompass and reflect her intense dedication to botany, health and the bigger global picture.
Yet Webb’s path continues on, and now she has company for the journey.
“I keep a bottle of olive oil on my table the way other people keep ketchup,” says Jack Peters of Bella Vista Ranch. In fact, he even drinks it straight, and claims that two ounces of the Mediterranean liquor of life work on the body like a dose of ibuprofen… if ibuprofen came with culinary kicks.
Having run the olive orchard as part of the Wimberley ranch for more than 10 years, Jack has a multitude of ways to justify his love for olive oil—including a blinding passion for homemade bruschetta. But, until recently, any olives he pressed had to be blended with other crops from Arizona and California. In true old-world fashion, it’s taken a decade for the 1,000 Bella Vista olive trees to mature enough to produce a 100 percent Texan oil.
“To my knowledge,” Jack says, “it hasn’t been done before.”
Could he pick his new creation out of a taste-test lineup? Absolutely.
Chef and cooking instructor Jam Sanitchat tends not to over-extol the virtues of her native Thai cuisine. “I’m from Thailand, so what else would I think?” she says. “But, really, this food has all the flavors in the world—creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, sour…all in one meal.”
Until recently, you could only have Jam’s version if you bought her prepared dishes at the Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market or hired her to teach a cooking class at her home or yours.
By MM Pack
Photography by Bill Albrecht
“I don’t like to be sitting, waiting for something to happen,” Iliana de la Vega says, expressing what, by anyone’s standards, would be an understatement. The former chef/owner of the internationally praised restaurant El Naranjo in Oaxaca, Mexico, de la Vega is a recent transplant to Austin. She commutes to the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) San Antonio campus, where she teaches, writes, develops curricula and conducts culinary research.
By Christian Martin
Photography by Toni Tipton Martin
According to my mom, I was clanging pots and pans and asking to cook since I was two years old. She says that I was glued to Alton Brown and Iron Chef the way my little brother was to SpongeBob SquarePants. I thought Brown was funny and knowledgeable, and I began to understand things like amuse bouche, mise en place, how to make three different meals at a time and the science and history behind them all.
By Carol Ann Sayle
Photography by Jen Reel
As the truism goes, “there is a season to all things. . . .” Weather, plants, animals and humans alike change as the year goes by—and as the years go by. It’s the summer season here and, no surprise, it’s hot out there. Since most of us on this farm are in the second half of our, ahem, personal “seasons,” we quit field work at noon, or by one at the latest. Veteran farm workers often exhibit something called “common sense” and aren’t out to prove they’re above a heatstroke.
Interview By Soll Sussman
Diana Kennedy’s latest book, Oaxaca al Gusto, is an intensive exploration of the fascinating southern Mexican state that she first visited more than 45 years ago. Subtitled An Infinite Gastronomy, the book, published this fall by the University of Texas Press, features about 300 recipes from Oaxaca’s varied regions.
By Amy Crowell
When it comes to caffeine, I prefer coffee for my fix. I’m addicted to everything about it, from the smell of fresh-ground beans and the taste, to the ritual of making it and the way it inspires me in the morning. I even enjoy a good, slow stroll down the bulk coffee aisle at the supermarket as part of the process. Unfortunately though, there’s nothing native or wild about growing, harvesting and processing coffee. When I want to turn toward a local, free and wild caffeine source, I turn to tea.
By Kristi Willis
Photography by Andy Sams
Sitting down for a family dinner is about more than food; it’s a precious ritual—a time to touch base, connect and share laughter and stories. Yet for many, eating in shifts or in front of the TV has become the norm, and those intimate moments for the family to engage are lost. Dinnertime is often when kids learn their family history and traditions, and where they build the trust that helps them make good choices when they’re away from their families.
By Kate Payne
Photography by Jo Ann Santangelo
I grew up in the Southwest, and as much as I thought I wasn’t a creature of my surroundings, having lived in the suburbs of Phoenix, I still find myself drawn to the more redeeming qualities of life in the desert. I treasure my early exposure to things wild—the idea of outlaws, a prodigious expanse of sky, eccentric desert flora, craggy mountain—all of which resemble each other in some way or another as storied, solitary, impervious and self-sufficient.