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The next time you pick up a pack of corn tortillas, take a second to appreciate the ease of buying such a delicious staple. Centuries of work went into that rather simple-looking product derived from the development and cultivation of corn around 9,000 years ago. Farmers from Mesoamerica (roughly the region that is now Central Mexico down to northern Costa Rica) spent eras selectively breeding wild grass for its large kernels until around 1,500 B.C., when the cluster of kernels began to resemble the large corncobs we know and love today. (We can also thank them for inventing the nixtamalization process that makes corn more nutritious and easier to grind.)
When I was a little girl in Southern California, I routinely turned up my nose at fresh fruit. Like many kids, I preferred the soft, unidentifiable, brightly colored fruit cubes that came so conveniently out of a can. (I know I wasn’t the only kid partial to that sweet, syrupy fruit from the ’70s, but the irony of walking to school through orange groves in the agricultural capital of the nation, paired with my chosen career as a fruit preserver, is not lost on me.)
As the last days of summer approach us, so do some sweltering temperatures. But fear not, these 10 frozen dessert recipes will help keep you cool and content until autumn arrives.
When dreaming up a remodel or new build, flooring may not be as sexy or Pinterest-worthy as say, wallpaper, paint colors, kitchens or bathrooms. However, nothing supports the life coursing through a home each day quite like our floors. We play with our children and/or pets on them, stand on them for hours cooking and walk the same traffic pattern from room to room. The floor really anchors the entire home, and now homeowners are more conscientious than ever about remodeling or building with flooring that reflects their values and concerns for the environment.
Red and rosé wines often steal the headlines in Texas, but there’s a growing number of Texas white wines winning praise and awards in competitions across the state and around the world. For example, Pedernales Cellars produces what is arguably the most lauded Texas white. Their viognier, a varietal common in the Rhône Valley of Southern France, has received gold and double-gold medals not only in the United States, but also in the Lyon International Competition, where the 2012 Viognier Reserve won a Grand Gold. “We want our viognier to be the full, unmoderated expression of the grape,” says Pedernales Cellars winemaker David Kuhlken. “This means big, ripe tropical fruit, honeysuckle and peach. We hang the fruit out to get maximum ripeness and look to accentuate those big notes in our style.”
With all of the pleasing outdoor activities that Austin has to offer, there’s still a tiny but mighty, and often dangerous, nuisance lurking just beyond the door. Mosquitoes are most active when the weather warms up—at least above 50°F—and they begin to really wreak havoc during their breeding periods (28 days after reaching adulthood).
As her career as a sommelier in the fine dining restaurants of Houston and Austin progressed, Rania Zayyat found that most of her peers — both sommeliers and winemakers — were men.
Grace Rivera sits behind a table stacked full of vegetable seeds and smiles brightly as a group of young children and their teachers approach.
“Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables!” one youngster shouts.
“Are you going to take them home?” Rivera asks, referring to seeds the kids have gathered.
“Nope! We are going to take them back there and plant them now,” another says, proudly pointing to their plot in the community garden behind Rivera.
This is a typical scene at Sustainable Food Center’s (SFC) Spread the Harvest biannual Resource Giveaway Day, an event that Rivera volunteers at regularly. Hosted at New Day Community Garden in East Austin, the Resource Giveaway Day provides school, community and low-income gardeners with free seeds, plants, compost and organic fertilizer to start their gardens each season.
A Houston native, Rivera came to Austin in 2005 and got involved with SFC by taking a free six-week class through its cooking and nutrition education program, The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®. Since then, she has taken 32 more cooking and gardening classes, volunteered at multiple events and participated in Farm to Work, SFC’s program that connects local farmers with employees at partner worksites. Now a trained facilitator at The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre, Rivera teaches the very cooking class she first participated in over a decade ago.
“My mom was a gardener,” she recounts. “It may be the real, secret reason I got involved [with SFC]. Every time I get out in the garden, I really reconnect with her. In the Hispanic culture, food is love! That memory of being out there with her and then bringing [the food] in and cooking it for my family, it’s precious. I just wish everybody had that experience.”
After getting involved with SFC and learning so much about organic food gardening and healthy cooking, Rivera has seen her blood sugar levels drop and overall health improve. “Now I use a lot less salt. I think about it when I add meat to something. I think about all the different ingredients.”
But it’s the connections she makes that inspire her to stay involved in this work. She volunteers because of the interactions she has with interesting and diverse people. She takes classes to continue her pursuit of lifelong learning and she teaches to pass her knowledge down to future generations. “I don’t have access to my mom anymore, but I can go and take a tamale class and relive all that and bring home some awesome-tasting tamales.”
When asked what she would like to share with others, Rivera had this to say: “If you didn’t have the experience [I had] growing up, make that experience for your kids. It’s highly important, I think, for kids to know where their food is coming from.”
For more information, visit sustainablefoodcenter.org
By Becca Montjoy, Sustainable Food Center
Greeting us at the door wearing a denim apron with a pocket for his thermometer, Robert E. Jones’ level of preparedness would put any Boy Scout to shame. He’s already got saffron threads steeping in cream and white wine on the stove; sourdough muffins baked (from a starter named “Seymour”) and standing by; homemade basil ice cream chilling in the freezer; lobster cooked this very morning from a crate he personally brought from Maine on the airplane two days before; and red snapper — flown in overnight from Galveston — already gutted, gilled, scaled and ready for the grill.
First let us define local. We’ve already been amazed at how many meanings that word can have. Within our 30-county area called Central Texas, local is the organic-vegetable-and-lemonade stand run by seven-year-old Alabel Chapin, her five-year-old brother Henry and their six-year-old friend Ford Martin.
(We happened upon them in Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood—see “1,000 Words,”) Local is the family ranch outside of Fredericksburg owned by Chuck and Teppi Schmidt, who raise pastured, grassfed beef using organic principles. Local is the soon-to-open Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress Avenue—independently owned by Brandon Hodge—featuring an old-fashioned soda fountain.
It may appear counter-intuitive, but lingering over a rare treat of a real egg cream soda counts as the art of slow food. Local is Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield’s Dai Due supper club where lucky diners are served an all locally sourced menu, family style, at Rain Lily, a gem of an urban farm in East Austin. Tamara met Jesse delivering Rain Lily’s vegetables to Vespaio where he used to work as a chef. Local is exactly about making that kind of connection.
All in One Bake Shop
Austin's retail supply source for baking supplies, products and accessories for home and professional bakers and decorators
8566 Research Blvd.
Bark ‘n Purr
Organic pet supplies
4604 Burnet Road
Boasting one of the largest selections of eco-friendly baby products
107 Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock
Breed & Co.
Hardware, plus the finest housewares, garden, and gourmet food you’ll find anywhere.
Central: 718 W. 29th St., 512-474-6679;
Westlake: 3663 Bee Cave Rd., 512-328-3960
Callahan's General Store
An Austin landmark for more than 30 years! We're not just a feed store, or western wear, hardware, tack, housewares, or gifts -- we're all of that and more!
501 Bastrop Hwy
512-385-3452 or 800-950-8602
Building affordable, well-made chicken coops for small backyard flocks
Climb On! Products
100% Pure skin care products
691 La Buena Vista Dr. Ste. B, Wimberley
Der Küchen Laden
Der Küchen Laden is all about inspiring the little chef in all of us. One step inside and you’ll see why people call it the candy store for kitchen geeks. Packed floor to ceiling with everything from cookie cutters to small appliances, and a veteran sales staff that feel more like friends than hired help.
258 East Main Street, Fredericksburg
Moving & shipping supplies and box recycle
EcoClean of Austin
Non-toxic dry cleaning and laundry.
2915 Guadalupe Street
Local source for building, home, kitchen, cleaning, baby, furniture, bedding, bath and body, clothing, and other products.
110 West Elizabeth Street
Faraday’s Kitchen Store
Your source for a full assortment of everyday kitchen and specialty gourmet items, from cutlery to bakeware, cookware to gadgets!
12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 540
Fleegal Farms Soap
A healthy, natural alternative of full range face & body skin care products
Gary Weeks & Co. Furnituremakers
We are artist craftsmen in Wimberley making dining chairs, tables, and rocking chairs from Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods.
112 W. Spoke Hill Dr., Wimberley
800-986-3187 / 512-847-3187
The Herb Bar
An extensive array of natural health and bodycare products
200 W. Mary
House + Earth
Austin's locally owned and operated green building material store
1214 W. 6th St., Suite 100
Locally owned eco conscious cleaning company
Olive: Green Goods for Modern Dogs
Dedicated to bringing you the largest variety of healthful and environmentally conscious dog products on the Internet
toll free: 877-654-8355
Organic Carpet Care
All-natural, high performance carpet cleaning
The Purple Fig Cleaning Company
Natural and non-toxic cleaning services and products
Texas Green Clean
Natural and non-toxic cleaning services
Texas Natural Supply
Natural Herbal Bath and Body products made with high quality herbal ingredients & botanicals
4506 Weletka Dr. Suite 200
TreeHouse Home Improvement
Helping build smarter homes and homeowners
Wildflower Linens & Home
Home decor, textiles, linens and gifts dedicated to eco-awareness
908 North Lamar
350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 to sustain life as we know it on the planet. It’s the number that could define our future.
When you consider that we’re already at 385 parts per million, according to data presented by scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco last December, now is the time to start paying attention and 350 is the number not to beat.
When author (The End of Nature, Deep Economy), educator and grassroots organizer Bill McKibben visited town this March, Austin Green Art founder Randy Jewart hosted a roundtable discussion with Bill and a roomful of Austin’s sustainability crowd. McKibbon, who also founded Step It Up 2007, which organized hundreds of rallies in support of curbs on carbon emissions, explained his latest project—the 350 Campaign (350.org), an international undertaking aimed at further raising awareness about global warming. Bottom line, we all need to do our part or we’re all gonna die, as in global death.
By Bridget Weiss
Photography by Carole Topalian
When I was four, my older brother and sister won a free trip through the Sears toy department in the Hancock Center. They had 15 minutes to fill two large baskets with anything they wanted. Observing this unfathomable privilege ruined me for years, and it all but destroyed the work ethic my parents had tried so hard to instill. As a result, I became the kind of adult who waits for checks in the mail from kindly strangers, who hopes to win a lottery for which I forgot to buy a ticket, who stands ready to move into a house left to me by a deceased, previously undiscovered, relative.
Think about it
Edible Austin is all about food. But is also (and just as importantly) about supporting the building of a deep local economy using local food as the driver. Think about it:
• When you hand the Starbucks clerk a $5 bill, say good-bye. It’s on its way to Seattle. When you hand a locally owned coffee shop your money, a much higher portion of that re-circulates in the Austin economy.
• When you choose the big brands, you are enriching corporations and their shareholders. When you select local products—especially at locally owned food stores like Farm to Market and Thom’s Market, as well as at Whole Foods Market, H-E-B and elsewhere—you are creating local jobs.
• When you purchase directly from the farmers market or farm stand, you are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and chemically addicted industrial agricultural corporations…and you are building community as you meet and establish ongoing relationships with those local vendors.
• When you dine at one of our many independent restaurants—especially those who source local food—you are supporting the entire local food and supply chain. When you dine at chain restaurants, you are likely sending your dollars to some remote location for food and supplies that have traveled back and forth across the globe.
TAKE THE EDIBLE CHALLENGE: For the next week, use cash for all your food and restaurant purchases. Don't use a discount card. As you hand over your hard-earned money, think about: WHO are you handing it to? WHERE is it going? HOW MUCH of it will stay in Austin, re-circulating and building a vibrant, deep local economy?
Just Call it Food...
I’d like to address our current national language of food. Since when do basic words such as “food,” “cheese,” “meat” and “produce” need to be modified with words such as “good,” “natural,” “healthy,” “organic” and “whole,” in order to assure us that they are the “real” deal? Without these modifiers, we’re left to wonder if our food is fractured, unhealthy or unnatural.
Passport to Local!
There’s no denying it. There are times when we just love to pack up and go. We travel for work, we travel for adventure and sometimes we travel just to get away from it all.