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Celebration of Día de los Muertos in Xalitla, Guerrero (detail)
Acrylic painting on bark paper
By MM Pack
Photography by Carole Topalian
Paula Angerstein makes a mean cocktail, and she’s not afraid to share it. Considering she’s the creator/owner of Austin-based micro-distillery Paula’s Texas Spirits, that’s not much of a surprise. If you’ve enjoyed a mixed drink in an Austin bar, shopped in a Texas liquor store or attended a culinary event in the past few years, the odds are pretty good that you’ve encountered Paula’s spirits. Central Texans are accustomed to local produce, cheeses, artisan foods, beers and wines, but a newer idea is handcrafted, locally distilled spirits.
By Laura McKissack
Photography by Susan Kalergis
It’s a mild, sunny day as a farmer in Onga, a town in the Fukuoka prefecture of Japan, stands in front of a healthy-looking lemon tree and proudly holds out a large yellow fruit for the camera. There’s nothing particularly unusual about this scene, except that this farmer’s single lemon tree happens to bear 10 other kinds of fruit in addition to lemons. Manabu Fukushima has relied on his own skill—as well as the kindness of neighbors who’ve provided him with citrus saplings from their own trees—to create what some might call his very own Frankenfruit tree.
By Kristi Willis
Illustrations by Bambi Edlund
Shopping for seafood can be a dizzying experience as sustainability ratings change based on the location or manner in which a fish is caught. Pacific halibut is a good choice, but Atlantic halibut is bad because of overfishing, for example. And it’s okay to buy wild-caught salmon, but skip the farmed salmon because of water cross-pollution concerns. Keeping it all straight is difficult at best, but the outcome is critical.
By Valeria Morrow
It’s a beautiful spring afternoon and Mirela García is playing in the front yard with sons Javier and Eduardo before heading in to prepare a nutritious meal. It wasn’t so long ago, though, that Mirela faced a much different reality. As she struggled to make ends meet on a fixed income, the last thing on her mind was the family’s diet. Their routine included nutritionally-deficient, yet-calorie-dense fast and packaged foods and lethargic afternoons in front of the television.
Though Mirela worried about her husband’s diabetes and high blood pressure, Javier’s increasing weight and her own persistent lack of energy, she didn’t seek out Sustainable Food Center’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre™ (THK). Instead, it found her.
Signing up for an English language program at her sons’ school, Mirela had no idea that something extra came with the registration. She was thrilled and intrigued to learn that THK cooking and nutrition classes were included at no charge.
By Andrea Bearce
Photography by Aimee Wenske
During the past decade, Austin has proudly played host to a bevy of craft brewers, charcuterie mavens and artisanal goods producers of every stripe. But until recently, coffee connoisseurs made only the rare appearance. That’s all changing rapidly, though, as specialty coffee shops have begun to percolate up throughout the city—awakening the masses to the joys of crafted joe.
By Amanda Moon
There is a growing trend in this country to get back to the basics when it comes to both eating and landscaping. One way to combine both of these ideas is to incorporate edible plants into your existing landscape. Many of our food crops are not only satisfying to the palate, but to the eye as well; therefore, they are natural choices for the overall aesthetic of our yards.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate edible plants into the landscape is through the use of fruiting trees for color and shade.
In the eight years that Brad Stufflebeam has operated Home Sweet Farm in Brenham, he’s tried many different methods of irrigating and nourishing the 22 acres as organically and sustainably as possible. Some methods worked better than others, but he may have come across the perfect solution with a new powerhouse triumvirate in the form of an 1,800-gallon brew tank, an irrigation pump and a recipe for an all-natural fertilizer.
By Beth Goulart
Photography by Doug Gaidry III
Franklin Houser wasn’t much of a wine drinker during his four decades as a trial attorney in San Antonio. But now, as he tastes the products of his Dry Comal Creek winery, it’s obvious he’s acquired a taste for it. “That’s really a nice wine,” he says, bypassing the often fussy terms experts employ to describe wines—a habit that makes Houser somewhat unusual among winemakers. Also unusual is the Black Spanish grape he’s chosen to grow. It’s one of a trio of little-known grape varieties producing great wines at the hands of several pioneering Texas winemakers.
By Erin Flynn
Photography by Bill Albrecht
There’s no mistaking when “Earthquake Katie” of Tecolote Farms is rockin’ the downtown farmers market. After 15 years of feeding Austinites, Katie Kraemer is greeted like family by customers. The vivacious brunette leans over mounds of glossy red peppers, fragrant basil and delicate melons, giving and receiving enthusiastic hugs and kisses. Everyone smiles—even the customers standing four deep. Judging from the love and abundance, you’d never guess that the farm she and her husband, David Pitre, run—one of Austin’s leading organic farms—almost closed due to lack of water.
Story and Photography By Jam Sanitchat
Thai cuisine is a cohesion of clean, distinct flavors—sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter—derived from different herbs, spices and vegetables. No-fuss preparation is a hallmark of many Thai dishes, yet finding the right ingredients locally can present a challenge. As recently as a few years ago, the most commonly used Thai ingredients were found only in specialty markets, if at all, and freshness was an issue. But as Thai cuisine continues to grow in popularity, Thai spices, vegetables and herbs have begun to carve a noticeable niche in many of Austin’s farmers markets and nurseries.
Story and Photography By Lucinda Hutson
The ominous cushion of dirty haze that hovered above us during the scorching summer is but a memory; the glorious change in light and renewed sparkle of the fall sun are just behind us. Old Man Winter is at the door; he looks like he could use some soup. Though I waited longer than usual to plant my fall garden, I trusted the rains would come. Herbs that would quickly bolt in late spring and summer flourish throughout winter and early spring: cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, chervil and arugula.
By Lisa Jones
—A plate of puff pastry scrolls, each of which does not contain a sausage: The Day No Pigs (In Blankets) Would Die.
—A bottle of double chocolate stout in flight over a nest of Cadbury Creme Eggs: One Brew over the Cocoa’s Nest.
—A blender full of a mint beverage, and a single glass: The Last of the Mojitos.
Combining food and great works of literature with a shocking lack of shame, the Fifth Annual Edible Book Festival was sponsored by students of the University of Texas School of Information and the Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record.
By Sam Armstrong
Photography by Aimee Olson
While more and more consumers, chefs and restaurateurs cotton to the importance of local foods, Le Cordon Bleu programs at Texas Culinary Academy (TCA) have been incorporating this concept into the classroom for years. As a result, the once-modest student garden outside TCA’s bistro has unfurled to now cover the entire length of the school’s campus—continuously overflowing with herbs, seasonal vegetables and flowers ready to be put to good use.
Out on the edge of Wimberley, Gary Weeks & Company has perfected the winning formula for turning out stunning, handcrafted furniture. But transforming cherrywood, walnut, maple, mahogany and mesquite into works of art and ergonomic ecstasy isn’t the only formula magic happening around here. Weeks has discovered a clever and beneficial way to repurpose the mountain of sawdust and wood shavings his business produces each week by blending it with another, less expected, by-product.
The first time Bill Nadalini tried kombucha, it was anything but love at first sip. “My older kung fu brother had me drink a bottle,” he remembers. “I was not a vinegar guy and I didn’t like it at all.” He committed to finishing it, though, because he’d heard such good things about the beverage. “It took me about a day to get through the one bottle.”
By Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Whitney Arostegui
You’ve no doubt heard the sage advice handed down from cook to cook that you should never cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. As someone who likes to sip while I stir, I couldn’t agree more. The same can also be said about the many other liquids we use for culinary purposes—their quality, too, should be given attention. Think rich and creamy local milk, spicy and complex handcrafted root beer, bright and hoppy German-style pilsner beer, puckery handmade citrus liqueur, fresh summer-melon juice, sun-brewed peach tea and locally distilled small-batch whiskey.
By Ellen Zimmermann
Photography by Carole Topalian
Now is the time to dig up root herbs to make your medicines for our cool season. The most powerful and most popular herb in our area is echinacea, and the easiest species to grow locally is Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is a Native Texas perennial herb found throughout North America. To plant, scatter fresh seeds in the fall, then lightly step on them, and water them in.
Story and Photography by Skip Connett
"A Farmer's Diary Part 1: Bitter Harvest" can be found by clicking here
Editor’s note: After befriending Joe, a farm manager for two Central Texas organic farms, Skip and his wife, Erin, offer to support him while he seeks treatment for cancer. Joe’s intoxicating charm and over 40 years of farming experience initially win them over, yet broken promises, bizarre tales and numerous contradictions begin to mount and swirl around this Steinbeckian drifter with dirt on his hands and a peculiar cell phone ringtone.