Friday, September 30, 2011

Cooking with Cauliflower

I have a cold so you're not going to get much out of me for a few days. In the meantime, Whole Foods has a lovely lineup of recipes for cauliflower on its blog.

A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower is a hearty vegetable that rarely gets the spotlight. Packed with vitamin C and delicious raw or cooked, it’s time to give this versatile veggie a nod and explore the many ways in which cauliflower can be enjoyed.

My favorite way to cook it is steamed with a sizzling brown butter sauce, touch of lemon juice, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Delicious and very healthy.

Be There: Austin Bakes for Bastrop Locations

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="310" caption="Photo from Austin Bakes for Bastrop"]Cookies by Claudettes Creations at Whole Foods Lamar. Available while they last.[/caption]

Here's where to find Austin Bakes for Bastrop around town, tomorrow, October 1. Seven locations are:
Central Austin: Foreign & Domestic
306 E. 53rd Street, 78751

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be set up in the restaurant parking lot.

Central Austin: The Flying Saucer at The Triangle
815 W. 47th Street, 78751

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be at the Triangle Park. Special thanks to The Flying Saucer’s 4th annual Outdoor Beer Festival for sharing their park space!

Downtown Austin: Whole Foods Market Lamar
525 North Lamar Boulevard, 78703

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be on the northwest side of the storefront, in the outdoor dining area.

Northwest Austin: Whole Foods Market Gateway
9607 Research Boulevard, #300, 78759

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be outside the storefront.

Round Rock: Old Settler’s Park
3300 E. Palm Valley Boulevard, 78665

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be in the city parking lot near the Dell Diamond.

South Congress: Hotel San Jose
1511 South Congress Ave., 78704

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be on the grassy area at the entrance of the Hotel parking lot along South Congress Avenue.

Sunset Valley: Community Renaissance Market
6800 Westgate Boulevard, 78745

Austin Bakes for Bastrop will be immediately inside the market entrance, alongside booths for the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Metaphysical Faire.

All seven bake sale locations will be open from 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, October 1st. Proceeds from sales at all locations will go to the Austin Community Foundation Central Texas Wildfire Fund.

We’ll also be accepting donations online at our FirstGiving page before, during and after the sale. If you’d like to volunteer or bake for the bake sale, please send us an email to get involved.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Safe Food: I Wish I Knew


I am on the same page as Marion Nestle of Food Politics when it comes to food safety. Today she asks "since when have cantaloupes become WMD?" No joke.
Are you as puzzled about the latest cantaloupe outbreak as I am?  This time it’s Listeria again (see previous post on this particular pathogen).

According to the CDC, 72 people have been infected with the strains ofListeria associated with the outbreak in 18 states.  Most appalling,  13 people have died.

Her answer to the issue is to have a single agency:
How about a food safety system where everyone makes sure—and tests—that Listeria don’t get on cantaloupe in the first place.

Single food agency anyone?

I wish I knew the solution. Here's one: what about making the food agencies already in place work?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If Not You, Whom? If Not Now, When?

Melody and David Burk, Montesino Farm
Photo by Alberto Martínez for the Austin American-Statesman.

Addie Broyles, Austin Relish, tips her hat to the new pioneers of sustainable agriculture where farmers are helping new farmers find their way:

It’s an unimaginable risk to start up a farm in Central Texas right now. We are a year into one of the worst droughts in our history, land prices (especially within an hour’s drive of Austin, where the majority of customers are) are sky high, wells are drying up, and on top of it all, the economy is in the tank, so consumers are seriously pinching their pennies.

But these hopeful farmers, like John Chandler at Tierra Madre Farms, who sells cut flowers and eggs at the SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley, are taking on the task because they feel it’s the right thing to do, and if they don’t do it, who will?

Getting to know the people who grow, produce, craft and sell fresh, natural, organic, sustainable food at Central Texas farmer's markets was one of the sparks of Austin Fresh. It strikes me as a challenging way to make a living. Now, since I've interviewed a few of them, I've learned that it's also immensely satisfying. Still, starting a sustainable farm operation in today's financial and drought-plagued climate elevates the risk to a whole nother level.

Hat's off to ya!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Be There: Austin Bakes for Bastrop

Austin Bakes for Bastrop, October 1

Remember to be there on October 1 when Austin Bakes for Bastrop rolls out cookies, cakes, pie and pastry to raise dough for survivors of the Bastrop wildfires.

Baked goods will be sold at seven locations around Greater Austin. Check the website for locations.

Food Dialogues: Was It Good For You?

In the aftermath of "Food Dialogues" convened by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a new trade alliance made up of some of Big Ag's heaviest hitters including Monsanto, DuPont and the National Cattleman's Beef Association, Civil Eats discusses why the mission and membership of this industry association matters.
Take a look at the policy priorities of USFRA members and you’ll see exactly that: Most of its affiliates are hard at work, lobbying on Capitol Hill to weaken the very regulations that the consumers the USFRA itself surveyed say they care most about: Pesticides and antibiotics, for instance, as well as artificial hormones in animal production, and air and water pollution.

As one of its current policy priorities, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a USFRA board member and the marketing organization and trade association for the beef industry, is fighting for the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act. If passed, the Act would limit the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, as many in the environmental community have pointed out, the EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide pollution is key to addressing global warming in the absence of strong climate policy. This USFRA member attack on climate legislation shouldn’t be surprising considering the Alliance is working with Frank Luntz, the political strategist who has helped foster climate change skepticism. In a strategy memo leaked to the media in the early 2000s, for instance, Luntz advised Congressional Republicans that the best tactic to undermine public support for climate legislation is to cast doubt on the “scientific certainty” surrounding the issue.

It should come as no surprise that the "dialogues" in the event hosted simultaneously in Washington D.C., New York City, U.C. Davis, and Fair Oaks, Indiana were staged and one way.

How can that be good for those of us who want real food?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Be There: Rally for Real Food in Austin

Rally for Real Food, Sunday, October 2

Thanks Kristi Willis, Austin Farm to Table, for the shout out about Rally for Real Food sponsored by a coalition of national and local groups including Sustainable Food Center, Greenling, Wheatsville Co-op, Bard Farms, Farm and Ranch Alliance and many others to raise awareness of the potential dangers of Genetically Modified Food:

At the recent Farm and Food Leadership Conference hosted by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Howard Vlieger, President of Verity Farms, showed photos of the negative effects that genetically modified crops had on the health and welfare of livestock - swollen and unhealthy organs that you would never willingly eat if you saw them before processing.

This Sunday, October 2nd, you can learn more about the effect of GMOs on our food supply and the movement to label GMO food and drink products so that consumers can make an informed decision about what they are purchasing. You can also try free samples from food companies using non-GMO products.

Sunday, October 2nd 2011

12pm - 3pm

South Steps - Texas State Capitol

Ask questions, ask for labeling and eat real food!

See you there!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And the winner is….. The Gardener’s Feast!!!

The Gardener's Feast won the 2011 Capital of Texas Award for a small business on the category of Foodservice Food and Beverage Award given by the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

This is no doubt our most important recognition we have get so far and is pushing us to look up for higher goals. This opportunity not only encourage us to continue working hard but also inspire us for never stop dreaming no matter what, and invite you all to do the same. We (you know is four of us: Mariana, Andrea, Valentina and Me) want to thank you each one of you (if you are reading we know you care for us) for your support whatever it is. Be sure we are the happier we can be and I think at the end that is the final purpose. Receive a great hug from us and make this success be yours as well. Thank you.

Bravo, Adrian. Tamales for everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Austin Chefs to Compete in Top Chef Season 9

29 Texas chefs hope to be cast in the 16 contenders who will be seen on Season 9 of the popular TV show

Top Chef fans from Austin will have two more reasons to watch Season 9 which kicks off November 2 on Bravo Network.  Two of our very own top chefs are competing. Addie Broyles reports:
Even though everyone in town suspected that Uchiko chef Paul Qui was going to be a contestant on the upcoming season of “Top Chef: Texas,” I hadn’t heard 24 Diner chef Andrew Curren’s name in the mix until today, when Bravo officially announced the contestants for season nine.

Good luck to both of Paul and Andrew. With a starting roster of 29 chefs vying for a spot in the final 16 contestants who get to jump through the judges' flaming hoops to win the title of "Top Chef," they're gunna need it.

Ladies and gentlemen, sharpen your knives!

USDA, FDA Get An F on Livestock Antibiotics

If you think government agencies responsible for food safety are effective, think again.  Tom Laskawy of Grist reports.
In December, the FDA revealed for the first time that every year 29 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to animals -- often through the dangerous technique of administering low-dose, growth-promoting hormones to livestock via their feed. In total, that figure represents 80% of all antibiotics used in the US. As Grist has covered extensively, there is broad scientific consensus that this practice creates antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that threaten both animals and humans.

Despite pressure from public health experts and food and farm advocates, the FDA and USDA's progress on addressing this problem has been agonizingly slow. In the latest development, the federal government's main watchdog group, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a new report [PDF] documenting the many shortfalls of the USDA and FDA's approach.

Although the report clearly states, "[t]he use of antibiotics in animals poses a potential human health risk," the two agencies have not put adequate systems in place to either track or assess the risks of antibiotics overuse. The few systems that do exist are problematic and lack teeth.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Must-See Movies on Factory Farming

There's an old saw, "if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything." Never has this been more true than when Big Industry underwrites campaigns to shape public perception of its questionable practices.

The use of bucolic scenery and iconic images to sell the message that everything on your factory-food filled plate is safe and healthy is hardly new.

Indeed, a host of advertising iconics were born in the mid 20th century in order to create warm fuzzies in potential consumers.

Milk came from "contented cows." White bread was Holsum. Tony the Tiger vouched for sugar-frosted cereal:  "They're greaaat." And frozen vegetables came from "the valley of the Jolly Green Giant - HO HO HO."

How could these foods not be both good and good for you?

But alongside a growing industry of cute, friendly, memorable advertising icons churned out by the Leo Burnett advertising agency, a brutish reality also burgeoned.

Farms that raised animals for slaughter became factories with deplorable conditions and inhumane practices. Conventionally-grown vegetables and fruit is loaded with pesticide. Chemical concoctions are being advertised as the latest and greatest new "healthy" foods."

Simply, agri-business has been selling false and misleading nutrition information  to the unsuspecting public with convincing TV, radio, magazine and newspaper ads and brilliantly designed marketing campaigns for a very long time. Often, if not always, with the tacit and implicit approval of the USDA.

Make. It. Stop!

Here are three must-see movies to begin your education. Food, Inc.The Future of Food and Farmageddon, a documentary about the unseen war on American Family Farms.


Monday, September 19, 2011

NPR Reports: Agriculture Seeks to Restore its Image

NPR reports on the the effort of Big Ag to reshape public  discourse on its questionable practices:
Farmers and the groups that represent them are wincing from a steady stream of bad publicity. So big agriculture companies — and some smaller operators — are trying to get together in defense to present a united farm front.

But lest ye think these are small, family-owned, environmentally friendly farmers, have a look at paid advertising by one of its biggest participants - Monsanto.

Hear the broadcast on All Things Considered.

Food Day - October 24

Lest we forget, the first-ever Food Day is fast approaching on October 24.  A veritable "who's who" of Austin organizations that support fresh, natural, organic, local and sustainable food is working with the Food Day people to plan and host an exciting schedule of local food events. More details on these soon! In the meantime, visit for to whet your appetite and for more information on how you can get involved.



USFRA Protests Too Much

Although the news about $30 million underwriting its campaign was originally published - and not corrected - in Financial Times, US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has responded to our post about this to refute the information.

According to Hugh Whaley of USFRA, the group does not have a $30 million budget.  About one-third of that is much more accurate. Between 70% and 75% of those funds come from U.S. farmers and ranchers who are engaged in all forms of agricultural, natural, conventional.  USFRA is not opposed to any form of agricultural production methods.  

I'm a fair-minded person. So I tripped over to the group's website to see what may have been missed in the initial read. The FAQs are a laundry-list of defensive positions that aim to disarm any possible skepticism.

Dear Hugh, when you tell me you are not "a cover for agri-business," not "promoting big business interests," not "one big advertising campaign to make Big Ag look good" and not inviting "individuals or organizations that don’t believe in the right and need for all forms of today’s agriculture to exist, or our affiliates’ right to exist," I have to believe you protest too much.

Remember the 1975 movie, 'Jaws', when Roy Sheider gets a good look at the size of the shark that is circling the small fishing boat he is on?

Too bad about the $30 million; you're gonna need a bigger budget.


Appetizing Spread of Bruschetta

I haven't been trying new recipes lately; just cooking the dishes we love with fresh, natural, local, organic produce. But that doesn't stop me from looking and appreciating an appetizing idea from the LA Times Test Kitchen.

Photo courtesy of LA Times

Food editor Russ Parsons, the California Cook of the LA Times, offers a new spread on bruschetta:
When I was cooking a dinner party for a good friend recently, she suggested we try an idea she had seen in a magazine, something the authors called a "bruschetta bar" — setting out toast, olive oil, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil and letting guests construct their own bruschetta. I liked the idea — there's nothing that enlivens a dinner like forcing your guests to help prepare their own food.

That assortment didn't seem particularly generous, so I added a couple more toppings — grilled figs, prosciutto and fresh ricotta — just for a touch of abbondanza. It was a lot of fun, but afterward it struck me that even that expanded selection really was just a start. Particularly at this time of year, when the markets are overflowing with the best of the summer vegetables — tomatoes, eggplant, peppers — the possibilities for bruschetta toppings are almost limitless.

Have a look. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fresh, Natural, Organic: Can We Talk?

How today's food talk gets co-opted in the interest of profit is getting very clear to me.

Ever since the USDA took over the role of setting and sticking to standards for organic, "certified organic" has about lost all meaning.

For example, in 2002, shortly after USDA announced its labeling policy, controversy stormed over an accredited USDA-certifier allowed Georgia chicken producer, Fieldale Chickens, which was allowed to label its products "organic" while only having to use ten percent organic feed instead of 100 percent required by the NOP under USDA’s guidelines. Fieldale spent tens of thousands of dollars to hire a prime time Washington lobbyist to help change organic standards at USDA. And with the help of the Georgia delegation in Congress, they were successful.

"Organic eggs" conjures up the vision of contented hens pecking away at fresh grass, insects and worms. Instead, undercover investigations revealed that industry-certified "organic farms" house hundreds of thousands of chickens that literally sit on top of each other in crowded cages. While chickens are supposed to spend time outdoors in order for eggs to be labeled as "organic," Cornucopia Institute found that industrial-scale producers often cheat the system. "Many of these operators are gaming the system by providing minute enclosed porches, with roofs and concrete or wood flooring, and calling these structures 'the outdoors.'

Now comes the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a newly formed alliance currently representing more than 50 of the top farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners.

According to its press release, the alliance "is committed to working together to continuously improve how we raise food that provides healthy choices for people everywhere. We are an industry that has always looked at how to do things better, including how we listen to and answer Americans’ questions."

Press release? Uh oh. Food Politics blows the whistle.
What is this all about?

I am grateful to Nancy Huehnergarth of the New York State Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Alliance for her explanation, “Let the Big Ag reframing begin.”  She points out that this is a professional marketing campaign Zocal√≥ Group (Ketchum Public Relations) and that...

any alliance that starts out with a $30 million budget means business and will be a force to be reckoned with. The USFRA’s goal, obviously, is to begin to reframe the debate about food production and agriculture in this country — a debate that up until now has been dominated by food and agricultural reformers.

Pay close attention to what this group says to divert attention from what Nancy summarizes as the “deplorable conditions, unnecessary subsidies and unsafe/unhealthy practices that have, sadly, become mainstream in our food and agricultural system.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be There: Wildfire Survivors Benefit at Zilker Park

Concert Under the Starts Invitation

Texas Senator Kirk Watson collects non-perishable food items for survivors of the Central Texas wildfires at the 6th Annual Concert Under the Stars tonight at Zilker Park in Austin. Here's a preview of the Mavis Staples and the fabulous Staple Singers. I dare you to stand still when this girl gets her groove on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Summer Vacation in the South of France

Camargue cocos rouges haricots beans

La Tartine Gourmande, one of my favorite food bloggers writes about her summer vacation near the nature preserve of La Camargue south of the village of Arles on the Mediterrean Sea. She has successfully whet my appetite for a summer in the south of France.

Ancient Roman ruins. Art of Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso. Cafe au lait at shady sidewalk cafes. Leisurely strolls along boulevards ornamented with a thousand fountains. Long lunches. Afternoon naps. Late dinners.

I'd like to rent a cute, little house in a village with a daily market where I can walk to buy fresh, natural, organic, local fish and vegetables every day.

Tour. Shop. Cook. Eat. Speak French like a native, or at least a native of South Louisiana.  Explore the wilderness and the culture of Provence. No particular schedule. As the spirit moves me.

It's a lovely dream.

Austin Bakes for Bastrop

Thanks to Mary Makes Dinner for the head's up: the same good-hearted group that held a highly successful bake sale for Japan in the spring is baking for Bastrop wildfire survivors on October 1.
The bake sale will be modeled after Austin Bakes for Japan [which raised over $11,000] and it’s being organized by many of the same folks. We’ll be raising money for a charity TBA that’s providing humanitarian relief for victims of all the Central Texas Wildfires. Everyone is invited to help out and participate however they are able.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Round Up of Texas Wildfire Relief Efforts

Marymakesdinner offers a really thoughtful and helpful roundup of Texas wildfire relief and how to pitch in.
 Texas has been hit hard, and I know that a lot of us here are feeling a bit helpless at the moment.  I'd like to urge anyone reading my blog to please take a moment to think about how you can help.  The Red Cross of Central Texas is currently collecting donations to aid in relief, but many other organizations are also busy collecting items necessary to shelters and firefighters.  Things like canned food, bottled water, clothing and personal care items are in high demand.  The following list highlights some of the drives going on in our area.  Please take the time to make a donation, wether it be in money, food, or other items.  After looking at the lists, check around your home for things that you can donate, and drop them off at a collection point.  This small errand can make a huge difference when repeated by many.

Table Salt v Sea Salt: Potayto - Potahto?

Is "pure and natural" sea salt better than processed and additive-laden table salt?

In today's hotly contested marketing climate, words like "fresh, natural, organic, pure" are often used to describe food that is anything but. Industry and government agencies are loath, slow and lax setting and regulating consistent standards for both processing and labeling. So it's not surprising that some confusion exists around the merits of table salt and sea salt, particularly in terms of health. More, it's easy to fall into the trap that when it costs more - a lot more - it must be better. Um. Not necessarily. Writer, Claire Harrison, digs into the subject to sort fact from fancy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cargill Ground Turkey Recall - Still

It makes zero sense to me that Cargill Foods is still recalling ground turkey products sold at retail grocery stores nationwide including our own H-E-B. Didn't they learn anything earlier this year when they distributed tainted turkey ground meat products? Buy local!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Sunday, September 11, 2011 a ground turkey recall by a meat company in Arkansas.

Chubs of Fresh HEB Ground Turkey package
Image Credit:

As posted by FSIS on its official website that day, Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation is voluntarily recalling about 185,000 pounds of ground turkey products due to possible Salmonella contamination.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Filets de Sole Parisienne, Gratines

French Provencal Cooking - Time Life Cookbooks

Flashback! When I saw petrale sole at the market, I was inspired to reprise a recipe from a vintage cookbook circa 1968 - "The Cooking of Provincial France" one of the Time-Life "Foods of the World." (Yes, I am that old.)

Fresh fish. Eggs. Butter. Cream. White wine. Gruyere. How could it be bad? Well, my arteries shuddered a bit, but it was a nice change of pace. More, the classical French preparation gave us a chance to reminisce about dining experiences in the good old days when I first moved to Chicago and Stuart lived in New Orleans.

Dining out was all about rich, fat, heavy and showmanship - Steak TartareCaeser Salad were made at tableside. Escargots Bourgogne preceded a robust Chateaubriand for two. A feathery light lemon souffle and Courvoisier capped off the meal.

Thank God for the introduction of Nouvelle Cuisine in the 80's.

These days, I usually grill fish and prefer fresh, natural, organic, local, sustainable foods. This offers the joys of ease, simplicity and good health. But poaching fish avoids the fire hazard of an open grill and revisiting the special repasts we enjoyed long ago, far away, once upon a time was a fun way to spend Friday evening.

Here's my blast from the past!

Filets de Soles a la Parisienne, Gratines 
(Fillets of Sole with White Wine Sauce) 

The Fish

3/4 cups dry white wine
3 small sliced shallots
3 pounds gray, lemon or petrale sole fillets, skinned and cut into serving pieces all the same size
Freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow, flameproof baking-and-serving dish large enough to hold the fillets in one layer.

2. Sprinkle the shallots over the bottom of the dish. Lay the fillets over them, side by side, folding any  fillets in half that are thinner than 1/4 inch. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour wine and sufficient water to almost the top of the fish. Bring to a slow simmer on top of the stove.

4. Cover the dish with a sheet of buttered wax paper. Poach on the middle shelf of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the fish is just firm to touch.

5. Remove the baking dish from the oven. With a bulb baster, draw up all the liquid from the baking dish and strain into a 1-1/2 to 2-quart enameled or stainless-steel saucepan. Recover the fish with wax paper and set aside. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. Boil the poaching liquid over high heat until it has reduced to one cup.

Sauce Parisienne

4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
White pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces


1. In a 2 to 3 quart enameled or stainless-steel saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, lift the pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Return to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or two. Do not let this roux brown.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the reduced poaching liquid (the remaining court bouillon) and the milk, whisking constantly. Then return to hight heat and cook, stirring the sauce with a whisk. When it thickens and comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer slowly for 1 minute.

3. Mix the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of cream together in a small bowl; stir into it 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce. Add 2 more tablespoons of the hot sauce, then whisk the now-heated egg yolk-and-cream mixture back into the remaining sauce in the pan.

4. Over medium heat bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. The sauce should coat the whisk lightly; if it is too thick, thin it with more cream.

5. Draw up any juices that have accumulated around the fish. Spread sauce under the fillets, lifting them gently with a spatula. Mask the tops with the remaining sauce.

6. Top the fish with the remaining sauce, sprinkle on the gruyere cheese, dot with butter.

7. Bake in the top third of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce begins to bubble, then broil for 30 seconds to brown the top if desired. Serve at once.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Store Vegetables/Fruit Without Plastic

Washington's Green Grocer gives us a quick primer on storing fresh fruit and vegetables for maximum flavor with minimum packaging.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Confituras donates part of sales to Austin Pets Alive

Pet rescue groups have really galvanized to save pets abandoned and lost during the Central Texas Wildfires. To show her appreciation and contribute to their effort, Stephanie McClenney, owner of confituras is donating a percentage of this weekend's sales to Austin Pets Alive.

Confituras small batch, locally sourced jams, jellies and preserves are a special treat. This is most certainy a special cause. You can't go wrong doing the right thing.

Farmer's to Miss Saturday Market Downtown

SFC Farmer's Market - Downtown announces vendors affected by the wildfires searing Central Texas.
Swede Goat Dairy evacuated in the Field Store Fire nearer Houston-will miss Saturday; Countryside Farm in Cedar Park has Sebastien still holding down the farm with hundreds of animals surrounded by the fires--thinks he may make it Saturday; Winfield Farm in Rockne housing families displaced by fire--will miss Saturday.

We wish them the best and trust they will be able to resume normal operations soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ruffled Feathers

The surge of people in Austin raising backyard chickens was bound to cause friction between neighbors. But it took the intervention of the Austin Statesman for Heath and Human Services officials to respond to one woman's complaints.

And the winners are

Congratulations to New Braunfels Farm to Market #2 and Cedar Park Farms to Market #15 of America's Top 20 Large Farmer's Market by popular vote. This places those two markets in the Top Five most popular farmer's markets in Texas.

Now in its third year, American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest continues to grow in popularity. The first year the contest was held, almost 30,000 people voted for their favorite market to take top honors. This year, more than 80,000 participated in the voting.

Each winning market will receive a shipment of No Farms No Food® totebags, a feature article on, and other prizes from the partners and sponsors of the contest.

High five's all around!

Lisa Fain Cookbook Captures the Flavor of Texas

Seventh-generation Texan Lisa Fain, author of "The Homesick Texan Cookbook" Photo: Jan Cobb / HC

Lisa Fain, releases of her new cookbook named what else? The Homesick Texan. Interesting story in Houston Chronicle tells all, ya'll.

Cover: "The Homesick Texan Cookbook" by Lisa Fain Photo: Hyperion / HC

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sweet Relief for Central Texas Fire Survivors

I don't have to tell you how horrifying the wildfires have been since the day before Labor Day. And while calmer winds help matters, Bastrop is still burning. So I'm very pleased to announce that a Bake Sale for Survivors has been organized for this weekend. Read all about Sweet Relief.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, area bakers will be selling baked goods at the Community Renaissance Market, 6800 West Gate Blvd., to help raise money for victims of the Central Texas wildfires. Local bakeries Objects of Confection, SugarPOP Sweet Shop, Sugartooth Bakery, Cake Maker 3000, Lemongrass Creative Concepts and others are donating cupcakes, cake balls, vegan treats and more (plus coffee from Austin Java), and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. For more information or to find out more, check out the Sweet Relief for Central Texas Fire Victims page on Facebook.

Thanks to Addie Broyles for the head's up.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Something's Cooking in the Fresh Kitchen

This heat! Enough said. There's plenty going on in the kitchen nevertheless.

Spanish Style Shrimp With Garlic
Photo courtesy of NY Times

Spanish Style Shrimp with Garlic from the New York Times.

Very flavorful. I'd like a little more char on the outside of the shrimp. So they need to be very dry and the oil has to be very hot. I'll let you know how that turns out next time.

Lemon and lime granita
Lemon Lime Granita photo courtesy of Delicious Magazine

Lemon-Lime Granita 

Cool, refreshing, ridiculously easy, granita is one of the most popular Italian ices. Granita and brioche is breakfast in sun-drenched Sicily. It was a great way to use up lemons and limes before they dried out. But I can see all kinds of possibilities. For instance, add a splash of tequila. Slushy for adults.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August Sucked for Fresh

I've been off my fresh, natural, organic, local quest, cook and post game for a while. saltycrunchybitterfresh says why.
Okay, well that sucked. Summer 2011 can pretty much bite me.

I took a little blog break in August to spare you all my whining about the heat, so let's just get this out of the way in one big chunk and then we need never speak of it again. According to my local weather station, this year in Austin we:

  • set a record for the highest number of days with temperatures in the triple digits (76 so far, but the forecast calls for more over the next few days)

  • set a record for the most consecutive days at triple digits (27)

  • set a record for the highest number of days at 105 degrees or above (23! TWENTY-FRICKIN-THREE)

  • tied the record for the hottest day EVER recorded in Austin (112 degrees -- pretty sure we did this at least twice this year)(so far!)

  • had an average temperature (factoring in both high and low temps) this summer of 89.5 degrees, making this officially the hottest summer on record

  • had an average high temperature of 104.8 OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME degrees last month, making August 2011 not only the hottest August ever recorded here, but the hottest MONTH ever recorded, period