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By Robin Chotzinoff
Photography by Bill Albrecht
Like any self-respecting rancher, grassfed beef producer Pati Jacobs wakes early and stays busy.
“I get up at five, listen to NPR for an hour and start in,” she says. “I do the website stuff, go over mail orders, call restaurants…. Wink is interested in our beef, and the Culinary Academy of Austin is coming tomorrow to watch us process a calf. I handle whatever comes up.”
By Susan M. Cashin
Photography by Carole Topalian
In 1973, county extension agents in the state of Washington found themselves drowning in a sea of questions and cries for help from urban dwellers wanting to learn how to garden. To satisfy this demand, the state developed a curriculum and training program for a volunteer force called the “master gardeners.” Little did the agents know that their program would quickly take root in most land-grant colleges across the United States, as well as in several Canadian provinces.
By David Alan
If, according to singer Paul Simon, there are 50 ways to leave your lover, then perhaps there are just as many ways to awaken your beloved morning paramour. I’m talking about coffee, of course. There are many things to consider. What kind of brewing method is best? What to brew—a blend or a single origin? Whole bean or freshly ground? Arabica or Robusta? Light or dark roast? Does it really matter if it’s locally roasted coffee? And what do fair trade and direct trade really mean?
By Kristi Willis
Photography by Dustin Meyer
Belly up to the bar at your favorite Austin pub and you’re likely to find a bevy of taps from Texas breweries—Real Ale, (512), Saint Arnold, Independence, Live Oak—and the list keeps growing. The craft-brewing industry is exploding, representing 97 percent of the more than 1,800 breweries in the U.S. as of August 2011, according to the Brewers Association.
By Allison Reyna
Over the past two decades, the consumption of products derived from soybeans has increased dramatically in the United States. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, sales of soy food products increased from $1 billion in 1996 to over $5.2 billion in 2011. Before the early ’90s, it was difficult to find any soy products in the American grocery store, but today, our grocery stores are brimming with soy milk, soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy burgers, soy nuts and soy ice cream.
By Terry Thompson-Anderson
Photography by Sandy Wilson
Mason County, Texas is becoming known as an excellent region for growing Mediterranean grape varietals. The combination of Hickory Sands soil and moderate weather has proven exceptional for creating wines with a particularly distinctive Lone Star terroir. Currently, there are seven grape-growers in Mason County who provide fruit to many of the state’s well-known wineries like Fall Creek Vineyards, Becker Vineyards and Torre di Pietra Winery, as well as to Sandstone Cellars Winery, an up-and-coming winery garnering some second and third looks.
Story and Photography by Lucinda Hutson
Whenever I visit my hometown of El Paso, my mother inevitably manages to invite too many last-minute guests for the cocktail hour. This is usually more a joy than a problem, but on a recent trip, Mom assumed I'd be able to magically conjure up tasty tidbits for our guests even though her fridge was practically empty. I improvised with what was on hand: some hard-boiled eggs, the remaining bit of my brother's scrumptious chunky blue-cheese dressing, some crunchy veggies and a few slices of bacon.
By Dick Pierce
Dear Gardening Folks, Thinking-about-its and Wannabes,
It’s June in Central Texas and our long, hot summer is here. Gardens and gardeners are stressed over the hot temperatures ahead. What to do?
If you’re one of the lucky or smart ones that planted in mid-January through March, you’ve probably had a good harvest. April through June has been one of the best spring gardening seasons in years. Congratulations! Now it’s time to finish up the harvest and put your beds to bed under a cooling, moist blanket of compost mulch for the long, hot summer. Several of your veggies—most notably tomatoes—will go semi-dormant in the hot weather, but if you cut them back, mulch them well and water them occasionally, they’ll wake up in September and use their extensive root system to zoom back to life for a second crop.
If you missed the glorious spring season, or you simply don’t wish to take a summer siesta, there’s still some work you can do.
The minds behind Resolution Gardens already had a great thing going. For the past three years, the nonprofit, led by Austin Green Art founder Randy Jewart, has been empowering people to grow their own food by installing raised beds in their yards and offering the support and maintenance necessary to keep their gardens growing. The idea was to encourage people to grow their own food, no matter how busy, ill-equipped or uninformed they felt. Now, 5 Mile Farms, Jewart’s latest brainchild, takes that concept even further by making it a neighborhood initiative.
By MM Pack
Photo courtesy of TAMU Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
For thousands of years, humankind has preserved foods. Via dehydration, heating, cooling, freezing, fermenting, smoking, pickling and preserving with salt or sugar, people around the world figured out how to make foods last from summer growing seasons through lean winters, from bountiful harvest years through years of drought, want and war. And along the way, we’ve come to appreciate the varieties and transformations of flavor, texture and aroma that food preservation creates.
By Lucinda Hutson
Photography by John Pozdro
This ain’t your mama’s cheese ball! Instead, sharp cheddar mingles with crushed cayenne, heady spices and freshly minced autumn herbs; tequila-spiked fruit chutney is the crowning touch. Fun and filling, savory cheese balls add delight to harvest feasts and holiday tables as appetizers or desserts. Serve them with wedges of crisp apples or pears, crackers or biscotti, or let guests slather slices of rustic bread for open-faced sandwiches, perhaps made heartier with roasted or grilled pork tenderloin or smoked turkey.
By Spike Gillespie
It’s early afternoon on a gorgeous autumn day as Municipal Judge Ronald Jones drives around Smithville checking on four community gardens. There’s one by the Smithville Food Pantry, another across the street from Brown Primary School and two behind the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church. Currently fallow, the plots will sprout and thicken soon enough, and be ready to receive those who’ve broken the law on Jones’s watch.
By Helen Cordes
Photography by Andy Sams
When Chuck Schmidt hollers for his young charges on a recent afternoon, the placid Angus and Herefords moo back and start ambling toward him in a languid procession. The line of contented cattle brings a satisfied smile to Chuck’s sunburned profile—each animal carries the lineage of cows that for over 50 years have grazed these same hills surrounding the 1888 Schmidt family home nestled on the Pedernales River.
By Veronica Meewes
Photography by Dustin Meyer
You might say that Argus Cidery founder Wes Mickel likes a challenge. The 27-year-old moved to Austin knowing the apple supply was so limited that nobody else had ever attempted to produce a hard cider here. Rather than discourage him, though, this news had the opposite effect. “I talked to three growers,” Mickel says, “and no one was making any wines out of their apples. That really excited me because I knew, with the climate, they were just going to be exploding with sugar. And they were.”
By Terry Thompson-Anderson, CCP
Art by Jan Heaton
Photography by Randy Allbritton
Often, when pondering the future, it’s of great benefit to examine the past. Viewed in terms of its past, Texas winemaking has a long and rich heritage from which to draw. The lands that now comprise the state of Texas are among the oldest wine-producing regions in the United States, but the newest to establish an industry of winemaking. In fact, wine grapes were planted in Texas more than a hundred years before they were planted in California.
By Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Jody Horton
Jane Levan always said she’d leave Austin when the last goat left Brodie Lane. That day came in 1999, when she realized that South Austin was no longer the semirural oasis she and her husband Terry had discovered in the mid-1980s. The couple bought a 20-acre piece of property in Lexington with plenty of room for their horses to roam, and embraced country life anew.
Story and Photography by Judy Barrett
One of the great things about autumn in Austin is that we get to experience the whole range of the seasons within about a 24-hour period. It’s winter when we rise and blazing summer by mid-afternoon, with a blink of spring and fall mixed in—making it challenging to know just how to dress or what to plan for outdoor activities. For the gardener, however, autumn is the perfect time for planting just about everything. Need to add trees to the landscape or plant some wonderful antique roses? This is the right time.
Does cooking fish intimidate you? It used to intimidate me too. But ever since I learned how it’s done in professional kitchens, I’m not afraid anymore.
Before I became a nutritionist, I was (and still am) a pastry chef and baker by trade, so cooking fish was very far from my area of expertise. To make matters worse, I grew up with my grandmother on a small farm in Normandy—far from any big city or the sea coast.