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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.
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.
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 Lucinda Hutson
Photography by John Pozdro
I think I gained 15 pounds the summer I lived in the lovely seaside town of Hornbæk, about 30 miles north of Copenhagen, Denmark. I’d just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and was a governess for three young American boys whose parents had chosen the white sandy beaches of the Danish Riviera for their summer holiday.
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 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.
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 Lucinda Hutson
Mexican market and street-cart vendors use creativity and artistic displays to entice customers and draw attention to their fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, without piercing the skin of an unpeeled mango half, vendors will score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, turn the mango inside out and open it like a flower, or partially carve the peel from a whole cucumber to make it resemble leaves sprouting from an exotic blossom.
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 Louise Ducote
Photography by Sarah Bork Hamilton
Last summer I developed an intense craving for fresh figs. Each Saturday at the Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market I bought two or three pounds of the expensive little suckers, came straight home to our screened back porch and ate every last one myself (fortunately my children don’t care for them). This would be early afternoon, and I’d often hear our young next door neighbors gearing up for their day...
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.
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.
Growing up in Yoakum, near the family farm, Morgan Weber wanted little else but to escape to the big city. In 2000, with hardly a backward glance, he left for Baylor University to study music and, after graduating, moved to the bustling, tangled highways of Houston. Yet, here he is today, back on the family farm, happily hosing down his favorite sow, Lucy, who’s just given birth to eight tiny pink piglets.
By Bridget Weiss
June in Austin is a beautiful, though precarious, time of year—early enough to captivate us with al fresco music festivals and spring-fed pools, but verging on the season when we long for a summerhouse in Maine. But school’s out, the threat of drought is still weeks away, and the sunsets linger for hours. It’s precisely the time to cook outdoors in a gauzy sundress (though you might prefer khaki shorts) with a cool glass of something delicious in your hand.
Dear Permie Pro,
Q: I’m not planning to have a winter garden, but is there anything I should be doing now to prep my beds for spring?
A: A garden is a living thing, so allowing it (and you) some fallow recovery time is a great idea. Who doesn’t deserve a healthy, revitalizing breather every now and again? Early December is the perfect time for a 1–2 month garden sabbatical.
Give the ground one last good soaking, spread out some kitchen scraps if available, then apply a warm, insulating 4”–6” blanket of compost, leaf mulch, plain leaves or all three (in that order).
You may have quieted the garden as far as plants and weeds are concerned, but you’ve created a bustling, warm, moist environment for microbes to work contentedly on the soil—you’ve even left them a snack! An important permaculture principle is to “let the critters do the gardening.” In the spring, you’ll be rewarded with rich, loose soil. Simply rake away the mulch before planting.
By Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Jody Horton
At a dinner party five years ago, Lloyd Wendel and Isabelle Lauzière experienced an epiphany. Upon sitting down at the table, the couple was a little disheartened to discover that lamb was on the menu. “Isabelle’s never really liked lamb,” Wendel explains. “But she took one bite of this lamb and knew it was something different.” Indeed, it was. The lamb was from a breed called Dorper—a cross between European Dorset and African Persian—and it got the couple thinking.
By Cari Marshall
Photography by Jody Horton
When Yoed Anis was a fourth grader in Corvallis, Oregon, his teacher regaled the class with stories of her travels in Japan. Anis was immediately entranced. “She instilled a sense of awe about the country and its culture,” he says. “I’ve had a lifelong yearning to travel there and experience it for myself ever since.”
Fast-forward 14 years to 2006, and he did just that—falling even more in love with Japanese customs, culture and, especially, with the country’s national drink—sake.