Last July, in the middle of the worst drought Texas had seen in a hundred years, Kathleen Mooney of Wimberley’s EIEIO’s Organic Farm was out amid her struggling crops. “I just sat down between some thirsty-looking eggplants and started crying,” she recalls. “I asked God to help me figure out some kind of revenue that would not be weather-related. It really sounds like a bad country-western song,” she says with a laugh, “but I had half-dead crops in the field and a young son to feed, a mortgage, blah, blah, twang.”
Suddenly, Mooney had an epiphany: make and sell mayonnaise from her chicken eggs—something that she had in abundance!
Mooney had already had success creating her first retail product six months earlier, using cilantro and pecans from the farm. She’d been selling the pecans at farmers markets in Wimberley and New Braunfels when customers started requesting them shelled. “At the time, there was cilantro growing everywhere—in between huge broccolis, in between rows—everywhere! I was selling that for two dollars a bundle at markets, but there was such a ridiculous amount that I just thought, Why not try makin’ pesto? Then all the shelling might be worth it.”
Earthy and lighter than pine nut-heavy pesto, EIEIO’s cilantro-pecan pesto became an immediate hit. “Vegan folks really like it, as do kids, on their pesto pizzas,” says Mooney. “The Pilates-gal crowd out here in Wimberley loves it as a dip with crudités and vino.” Mooney says customers are constantly telling her about their newest way to spread it: layered in lasagna or quesadillas, tossed with pasta and shrimp, drizzled in fish tacos or migas. Now, EIEIO’s new creamy garlic mayonnaise has joined the product line. Also a versatile product, it can double as an Alfredo sauce or be blended with the pesto to create a dip for sweet potato fries. “Some cool musicians out here say it makes damn near award-winning potato salad and deviled eggs. And a guy at Wheatsville likes to sauté vegetables with it and then pour it over brown rice.”
True to EIEIO’s organic, family-farm roots, their products are made from pure, fresh ingredients, so that what you see is what you get. “After I started selling the mayo along with the pesto at markets, I started ingredient-spying on new mayonnaises at specialty shops,” says Mooney. “They [all] had some kind of preservative, and no one seemed to be doing truly garlic mayo then, either.”
Future products Mooney would like to produce include cucumber and beet relishes, peach-ginger marmalades and nutmeg-pear preserves. She looks forward to compiling her collection of recipes into a cookbook someday—when she finds time between the field, her commercial kitchen and running the ever-growing CSA program at EIEIO’s. —Veronica Meewes
Find EIEIO’s garlic mayo and cilantro-pecan pesto at Brookshire Brothers and Hill Country Natural Foods in Wimberley, and at Wheatsville Food Co-op and Whole Foods Market in Austin. Or sample the goods and meet Kathleen in person at the farmers markets in Wimberley and Austin. For more information, visit EIEIO’s Organic Farm