Monday, October 8, 2012

I have decided to take a break from blogging for the time being to concentrate on family and enjoying life on the other side of the lens. I plan to keep my recipes and blog up for friends and family. 

If you are on a gluten and dairy free diet, I recommend this website and cookbook. They have both been a great resource and help to us especially during the holidays.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gulf Shrimp Aguachile & Change in the Air!

I'm happy to announce that there will be some changes happening with The Seasonal Plate over the next few months. First of all, I'm taking a food photography course in Seattle this summer which will give me an opportunity to play with my food and my camera! I hope to use these new skills to take better photos that will highlight the wonderful produce growing around here...well, when it isn't 103 degrees anyway. 

The biggest change will happen in September when The Seasonal Plate becomes Austin In Season. I will be highlighting seasonal produce, local farms, activities and events around Austin and The Hill Country with a focus on family and seasonal living

But, for now, clear your calendar this Friday night and try this Gulf Shrimp Aquachile recipe!


 Mexican food is by far my favorite type of food. Much of it is naturally gluten and dairy free and this dish has to be one of the easiest ones we've made in a while. Peppers, cucumbers and okra are one of the only things growing in this heat and this recipe utilizes both peppers and cucumbers and comes together so quickly that you'll be celebrating Friday with a margarita in no time. 

We couldn't believe the amazing flavor of the aguachile when we put this dish together and found ourselves raiding the kitchen for anything that we could add to the remaining sauce to soak it up! Avocados worked quite well and so did tortilla chips. 

 Serve it up with some sliced avocados, chips (We love El Milagro or Way Better Snacks) and salsa, a quick cucumber salad, or maybe some elote

***If you have kids at home, leave the peppers out when blending the ingredients and pull a little out for them and then add the peppers for the rest. Our little guy loved this recipe. 

Gulf Shrimp Aquachile
Adapted from Dos Caminos Mexican Street Food by Ivy Stark with Joanna Pruess

1 lb. Gulf shrimp, peeled and de-veined then poached or steamed 
2 cups fresh squeezed lime juice (we used what we had on had which was a combination of freshly squeezed orange juice, lime juice and Meyer lemon juice)
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 cayenne pepper with seeds if you like some heat or 4 serrano chiles, seeded (ours came from my parents' garden)
1 chicken or vegetable bouillion cube
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (our garden)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 (500 mg) vitamin C tablet (helps to make the aquachile green)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced for garnish
mint and cilantro leaves for garnish
3-4 radishes, julienned for garnish
1 small cucumber, julienned for garnish (Johnson's Backyard Garden)

1. Steam shrimp for 1-2 minutes or until pink in a sauce pot with a steamer basket. Make sure water does not touch the steamer basket. Steaming the shrimp makes them nice and plump and great with this dish. 

2. In a blender, add the citrus juice, cucumbers, peppers, mint and cilantro leaves, vitamin C tablet and boullion cube. Blend on high and strain into a bowl. 

3. To plate, stack the shrimp in the middle of a low bowl and add garnish to the top of the shrimp tower. With a spoon, measuring cup or gravy boat, pour the aguachile around the shrimp tower as if to make a moat. Serve immediately. 

Now try not to drink the remaining aquachile. You know you want to. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gringa Tinga

Gringa Tinga
Adapted from Chicken Tinga Recipe from Tacos by Mark Miller

"Tinga" means "messy or unruly" in Spanish. At times my cooking feels this way, but it usually results in a recipe coming out better than expected. We use what we have on hand and take advantage of the season's offerings. 

I took a local spin on this recipe and was so glad that I gave it a try. I love the smoky and sweet flavors and it makes use of all of the great mid-summer produce that can be found at the farmers' markets right now. 

We had the opportunity to visit Dewberry Hills Farm this past week. Jane and Terry Levan's chicken farm is located in the rolling hills near Lexington, Texas. As we pulled up the drive, The Levans' dogs greeted us much to our son Clay's enjoyment. Clay quickly became friends with their dogs who apparently flock to their home from around the neighborhood as if they are called to the place where animals are respected and cared for. It is also home to two horses and a mischievous mule.

The farm is 10 acres in size and at first glance seems to be a chicken campground with various chicken tents set up on the grounds with mister systems and fans to make sure the chickens stay cool during the hot summer months. The chickens have their share of water, bugs and native grass before moving to the next location on the farm.

Jane inspects every chicken before it leaves the farm to make sure it is up to her high standards. Chefs from around Austin and the surrounding area are clamouring to get on her waiting list. Her chickens seem to be very popular and for good reason.  She believes it is the terrior that gives them their distinct flavor.

She told us that sometimes a fox, owl or bobcat will take one of the chickens, but she understands and feels the land is shared with all of the animals. Just take a moment to read their philosophy and you'll understand their commitment to the animals, land and their rural community.

 At the end of our visit, Jane generously sent us home with a pastured hormone-free chicken. (You can pick up Dewberry Hills Farm chicken at restaurants around town, Wheatsville and Sunset Valley Farmers' Market.) We paired ours with fried okra that we bought from a friendly couple selling watermelons, cantaloupe and okra on the side of the road that had been picked in McDade, Texas. Their truck was piled high with straw that cradled the huge striped watermelons. We were eager to try the orange variety. 

We roasted the chicken that evening and used the leftovers to make this recipe. You could also marinate fresh chicken and cook it prior to sauteing the peppers and onions.

Gringa Tinga
1 poblano, deseeded & sliced 
1 red bell pepper, deseeded & sliced (Johnson's Backyard Garden)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped (5 Mile Farms)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
3 smoked tomatoes (5 Mile Farms), chopped (or rehydrate the ones from Boggy Creek Farm)
1/2 cup fig balsamic vinegar (Texas Olive Ranch)
8-10 fresh oregano leaves (our garden), chopped
2-3 TBSP local honey or brown sugar (We love Goodflow or Round Rock honey)
leftover roasted Dewberry Hills Farm chicken, shredded (whole chickens available at Wheatsville)
salt & pepper
grapeseed or olive oil (Texas Olive Ranch)

1. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil into the pan. Add the poblano and red bell pepper and onion and saute until tender. 

2. Add the garlic, chipotle peppers (with a little of the adobo), chicken, smoked tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, oregano and honey or brown sugar and stir until most of the liquid has cooked out (or about 5 minutes). Serve warm.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chill Out with a Few Healthy Summer Recipes

I'm a sucker for a good magazine, especially one that has seasonal recipes! This month's Delicious Living has several seasonal popsicle recipes as well as a way to take advantage of the zucchini and fresh corn you've picked up at the farmers' market. 

At home we're making honeydew, cucumber and mint juice, slicing up watermelon, making criolla and trying out some of the tea and popsicle recipes from this month's Delicious Living magazine and mainly just trying to enjoy the slow days of summer. 

Delicious Living is available at People's Pharmacy and Natural Grocer around Austin or check out their website that has all of the recipes listed below. 

Healthy Frozen Pops **Try the strawberry pop with dairy free cream recipe and use watermelon or cantaloupe instead!

Vegetarian Grilling Recipes

Berry Tart Recipes

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sunshine & Tomatoes

We've been savoring summer by sampling the many flavors of Mom & Pop's Popsicles (available at Wheatsville and People's Pharmacy), dipping our toes in the Frio River, swimming at Deep Eddy and eating simple summer meals. Anything to stay cool.

I can't say I've spent as much time laboring in the kitchen lately, but who needs to when there is such amazing summer produce at the farmers' market and farms around Austin right now. Summer produce is so easy to put together with little to no prep or cooking time.

I'm a lazy summer gardener and have been depending on the hard work of local farmers to fill our plates. Don't forget them in this sometimes unbearable heat and visit a local farmers' market or look for local produce at your grocery store!

If you have a little more free time this summer, make a day or weekend trip to Fredericksburg to pick up some peaches or blackberries. It is worth the trip. Our favorite orchard stands happens to be Vogel Orchards and Marburger Orchards, but you should decide for yourself.

Did you know that there are several peach varieties? Look for freestone peaches in late summer with varieties such as Loring, Dixiland, Ruston Red, Redskin, O'Henry and Flameprince.

Be sure to check our Farmstress Maggie's post, Consider the Peach, on how to choose the perfect peach, peach storing guidelines and great peach recipes. 

Have a peach (or tomato) tasting party and let your guests decide! Tomatoes are starting to fade so get them while you still can!

Here's a few ways to make the most of the summer abundance....and to add cooling foods to your body during the heat.  

Fennel & Cherry Tomato Tart from Russell James, Raw Food Chef

Watermelon, Mint and Honey Popsicles from Honey Dumplings

Tomatillo Gazpacho with Pickled Cactus from Creative Loafing

Pickled Farmstand-Tomatoes with Jalepeños

Water with Sliced Local Cucumbers (simple and refreshing!)

Pick up a local juicing box from JBG Organic for $25

Open-faced Goodseed Burger with Dai Due Pickles and Mustard, Sliced Local Tomatoes and serve with Dr. Blueberry Organic Blueberries (from North Texas and available at Central Market)

And a final note....would someone local please make some dandelion and chicory root coffee substitute? (I know Johnson's Backyard Garden is growing dandelion...hint. hint.) Dandy Blend is my afternoon treat that is so much like iced coffee without the caffeine and even easier to make. I buy mine from People's Pharmacy. To make put 2 TBSP of Dandy Blend in a mason jar with some cold water, ice and almond milk, honey simple syrup and shake the jar until combined. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lembas for Breakfast and Brunch

6701 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757

Tuesday-Friday: 7 am - 11 am
Saturday & Sunday: 8 am - 2 pm

***UPDATE 5/8/12 - The Lembas trailer was damaged and is out of commission for now. Please help support them by ordering online. They would be happy to deliver!
Delivery Menu:

Enjoying a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning by skipping out on doing the dishes and heading somewhere close for breakfast is something that is made more difficult when switching to a gluten and dairy-free diet. Thanks to Lembas, it is easier to get my guys out of bed on the weekends with the promise of coffee, green eggs and ham, homemade gluten-free bread and gluten-free chocolate scones. 
Although math has never been my strong suit, let me share a very important equation. Gluten-free chocolate scone = Happy Kid. Happy Kid = Mommy and Daddy get to drink coffee while it is still hot and enjoy a slow Saturday or Sunday morning catching up while our son runs his cars along the picnic table. 

I first heard about Lembas, the cute little chartreuse food trailer located on the Burnet Road Farmers' Market grounds, from a few fellow Austin Food BloggersATX Gluten Free and Austin Food CartsMany of the ingredients are sourced locally including eggs, coffee, honey, pork belly and pecans. 
All locally sourced ingredients are listed on their menu board. There are several baked goods to choose from and they will arrive at your table with about the most friendly service you could ask for. 
There is plenty of room to lounge with coffee in one hand and scone in the other at one of the shaded picnic tables. If you happen to go on Saturday morning, you can pick up your local produce and from the Burnet Road Farmers' Market from 9 am - 1 pm. 

On Saturdays and Sundays they stay open into the early afternoon so that you can enjoy your brunch whenever you'd like and did I mention that it is BYOB? 

If you really can't drag yourself out of bed, then host a brunch at your casa instead because Lembas delivers and even has party trays for your hungry crew. Or, maybe you want to treat mom to their Tea Time Treats with mini cookies, cupcakes and brownie bites on her special day. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lavender Loquat Jelly - Food & Community

People around Austin are feeling the love for loquats this spring. Those mysterious orange orbs decorating the trees all over Austin are actually edible! A mild winter allowed these winter blooming trees to bear spring fruits in abundance. People are curious about how to enjoy loquats and it seems that everyone is talking about them. At my son's school, recipes were shared over coffee. I sat and chatted with neighbors and farmers over possible jelly flavor combinations using fresh mint from the garden or which sweetener might work best. I read Edible Austin's list of 5 Things to Do with Loquats in their monthly newsletter...loquat cobbler cups or simple syrup, anyone? 

 Several of our neighbors were kind enough to let us lighten their trees in exchange for the promise of loquat jelly. I called my sister, a Master Gardener in California, to see if she had any ideas on loquat jelly making. She remembered that my stepmom used to make loquat jelly when we were young. When I called my stepmom to see if she had any recipes,  she laughed telling me that there were several jars of loquat jelly made with her mother's help at our childhood home. I was just too young to remember. It sounds a lot like a story I remember of making too many sugar cookies with her sister at Christmas one year...

When I told Clay that we could pick the loquats in the neighborhood, he was almost halfway out the door ready to harvest before I could finish my sentence. Harvesting is, after all, one of his favorite things to do in spring. He wanders our backyard garden each morning in search of anything ready to pick. Many times over the last few weeks he has come into the house beaming saying, "I love spring!". 

So, we headed over and filled up our berry picking box with tart, not-quite-ripe loquats and headed home to make our first batch of jelly. The taste of a loquat is almost that of a sour lemon when it isn't completely ripe, so when mixed with honey in a jam it has sort of a lemonade jelly sort of flavor. 

Clay with his kid-safe knife, helped to slice the loquats in half, remove the stems and seeds before simmering in the pot, a task he later told me was SO MUCH FUN! I just enjoyed making something special with him by my side and having him experience making something delicious out of a fruit that might have gone unnoticed.

I suggest spreading some loquat jelly on Elana's Gluten and Dairy-Free Biscuits. We made ours with honey instead of agave and you could use lavender or orange blossom honey as well. Or, try some loquat jelly into your favorite yogurt or dairy-free yogurt. The honey gives it a very spreadable texture. 

Lavender Loquat Jelly
Yields 6 Pint Jars of Jelly

One large bowl of rinsed loquats (you can use any extra juice for other recipes or drink over ice) - you will want 4 cups of loquat juice for this recipe ***Look for ripe golden orange loquats without bruising or damage if possible. If you prefer tart loquats, pick them when they are a yellowish-orange color. 

4 teaspoons Pomona's Pectina 100% pure citrus pectin (available at Wheatsville)

4 teaspoons calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin box. Mix 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar and store in fridge)

1/2 -1 cup of local honey depending on desired sweetness, we love Goodflow Wildflower Honey, Round Rock Honey or Imagine Lavender Honey or infuse with culinary lavender wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher's twine before you boil the juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


Begin by preparing your kitchen so that you can move seamlessly through the process. You can also start the loquats simmering and spend that time preparing everything else for the jelly making! You will want an uninterrupted 30 minutes of time once you start the jelly making. 

6 pint size mason jars or 12 half pint mason jars (make sure they are new lids or use the Tattler reusable lids available at Wheatsville

one large pot for sterilizing jars, rings and lids

one large pot for simmering halved loquats and water to make juice

one heavy bottomed pot for making jelly

jelly strainer for the juice set over a large bowl (as shown in photo)


small bowl for combining pectin & honey

jar lifting tongs for lifting hot jars out of pot

tongs for squeezing loquats in the jelly strainer

clean rubber gloves

one jelly roll sheet or cake pan for finished jelly jars to make them easy to move

non-slip cutting board and knife for halving loquats

bowl for seeds and stems

measuring cups and spoons

clean handtowels, one for wiping lids and rings for jars and the other for wiping the jar lids

skimming tool or bamboo skimmer/spider in case you have bubbles in your jars before sealing them

1. Wash your hands. Fill the large pot 3/4 full with water, then put the clean mason jars, lids and rings in the large pot. Make sure they are completely submerged in the water. Bring the water to a boil and make sure the water stays hot until you are ready to fill the jars with jelly. Prepare the calcium water needed for the Pomona's Pectin by combining 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder with 1/2 cup of filtered water in a small, clear jar. Follow the directions in the Pomona's Pectin box for storing the calcium water. Set aside. 

2. Begin by taking your bowl of loquats and cutting them in half lengthwise and removing the seeds and stems and any bruised portions. Collect the halved and seeded loquats in a bowl. Put the seeds and stems in another bowl to compost (or plant!). 

3. In a large pot, add the loquats and enough water to cover them. Turn the pot on high heat until the water boils, then turn down to a simmer and let them simmer until the liquid reduces by about half. It could take an hour or so. You can also use a potato masher to get more of the juice out once they are soft, just push gently so that the hot juice doesn't burn you. 

4. Make sure your jelly strainer is placed securely on a bowl. Using your ladle, ladle a small amount of loquats and juice at a time into the jelly strainer and with your rubber gloves on, use your tongs to squeeze the liquid out of the strainer into the bowl below, careful to do this gently so that you do not burn yourself. Repeat until you have squeezed out all of the juice possible. You will need about 8 cups of the loquat and juice mixture from the pot to yield 4 cups of loquat juice.  Once you have measured out 4 cups of loquat juice, set the bowl aside.

5. With your rubber gloves on, use the jar lifter tongs to safely remove the jars, lids and rings from the boiling water, being sure to pour any water in the jars out before filling. Set your clean, sterilized jars and rings on a jelly roll pan or cake pan. Make sure everything is ready to go so that you are ready to ladle the jelly into the jars when the jelly is ready. 

6.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 -1 cup of honey (depending on desired sweetness and the sweetness of the loquats) with 4 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin and set aside.

7. Ladle 4 cups of loquat juice and 1/4 cup of lemon juice into the small heavy bottomed pot. (If you would like, infuse the culinary lavender bag at this point for 15 minutes and then remove). Add the honey and pectin mixture and stir rapidly as the mixture comes to a boil. Allow it to boil 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim off any bubbles or foam that appear at the top. 

8. Using the ladle, fill each jar leaving 1/4" headspace at the top of the jar. Wipe rims clean and screw on the two piece lids. Using the jar lifter tongs, carefully place jars in the boiling water for no longer than 10 minutes. After that point the pectin starts to break down. Make sure the jars are completely submerged in the water. 

9. The pectin starts to gel when it cools. Set on a counter for 2 hours then place in fridge for 24 hours before enjoying. You'll hear the "ping" of the jars sealing within about 10 minutes of taking them out of the water bath and the lids should be sucked down in the middle if they have a good seal. 

***Because this recipe uses honey instead of sugar, the Pomona's Pectin instructions dictate that it lasts up to one year unopened, although the flavor and color may start to decrease after 6 months. Enjoy within 3 weeks of opening and store in fridge. 

Check out some other great ways to use your loquats at Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crisco, Pickles & Sage - Food & Family - Part I

My paternal grandmother, who we affectionately called "Tutu", the Hawaiian name for grandmother (or "kuku wahine") after a trip to Hawaii, was a collector of cookbooks and recipes torn from the pages of Southern Living that can be found tucked into her many cookbooks. Some of her cookbooks grace our shelves alongside our own growing cookbook collection.  Her cookbooks have been passed down to me along with her favorite recipes for family favorites like Texas Sheet Cake, pecan and pumpkin pies nestled in Crisco-laden pie shells (a common ingredient in many of her baked goods), cornbread made in a cast iron skillet and a recipe for sweet & hot pickles that is now made for friends and family at Christmas. It is the sweet & hot pickle recipe that is asked for time and time again. Her pastry board sits on our kitchen counter and is often used as the backdrop for my photos of the meals we've prepared. 

These reminders of food and family keep me inspired in the kitchen and bring back warm childhood memories. I love to think about laughing with my cousins at the kids' table which happened to be within arms reach of the row of pies that my grandmother prepared at their Hill Country ranch. I can't pick a leaf of sage without thinking of my grandmother's stuffing at Thanksgiving. 

Food has always been a part of our family and you can find most of us in our kitchens a good part of the day. My sister and I have also found a love for gardening which means we might be found in our garden as well. Most of our gatherings growing up centered around what we would eat and how it was prepared. Our family members tend to be the ones hosting the parties and dinners rather than just attending them.

Although my maternal grandmother had stopped cooking very much by the time I was born, my mom told me that she was known for her brandied fruit, boiled beef tongue with cream sauce, green peas and diced carrots and peanut brittle that she would pour and let cool on a buttered white tile kitchen counter and whole wheat bread that my mom loved. I never had a chance to meet my grandfather, but I have heart stories about him making sauerkraut in a large, round ceramic jug in their family home utility room that according to my mom would "stink to high heaven". 

There have been many food traditions over the years, like having chicken spaghetti, a recipe passed down from my maternal grandmother, on Christmas Eve or black eyed peas on New Year's Day. We all loved fried okra sprinkled with salt or a nice cold glass of sweet tea on a hot summer's day. Our Christmas table usually included my grandmother's more traditional Southern recipes alongside a few Tex-Mex favorites like tamales, guacamole and salsa. 

 After my grandparents passed, the holiday meals continued to be the same as my parents and my aunt, siblings and cousins followed the same recipes. Over time, however, our diets have changed, we've made healthier additions or changed recipes a bit to fit our own personal tastes. My sister continued the Tex-Mex tradition and created Mexi-mas, an annual party near Christmas where posole and a lucha libre piñata have been known make an appearance. 

To preserve some of these family recipes, I made a family cookbook several years ago to preserve our family recipes. After finding the Heritage Cookbook, Lulu Cookbook, Zazzle Cookbook Binders, Cookbook People, Heirloom Cookbook sites, it makes me want to compile a more comprehensive recipe book combining both sides of our family for our son, Clay. What a wonderful piece of history to pass down to your kids! 

When I was looking through the memoirs of my husband's grandfather, I found a little story that reminded me of the importance of recording the oral history of past generations.

"We had to save and live on what we had. There were no jobs for money. So we had to grow a garden, had cows for milk, chickens for eggs, or corn for meals. If we did not have syrup we would have honey. After I got old enough to take care of beehives, I had plenty of honey.
 We carried our lunch every day. Sometimes we did not have too much to build a lunch from. I would carry my lunch in a bucket. Back then we would have a syrup bucket. We had syrup in a one gallon can and after we would empty the can, we would use it to carry our lunch for school. I would put some butter in a small glass and add some syrup and biscuits with bacon and egg inside of the biscuit. That was my lunch."

Texas has a rich and complex food heritage and it is important that we preserve this tradition through oral history, community cookbooks and sharing of family recipes and teaching our children where their food comes from and the history behind it. 

At this year's Foodways Texas Symposium at The Blanton at UT, Texas Preserved was the theme and speakers at the Symposium ranged from farmers, shrimpers, photographers, environmentalists, restaurant and bar owners, history professors and food writers. The amount of food knowledge in the room was astounding and the love for Texas food culture and Southern cooking was shared. All of the speakers shared their version of how we should preserve and support the unique food culture in Texas.

As was pointed out by MM Pack, the local food movement is not new to Texas or to the Austin area. In the early 1910s, housewives formed canning community centers and canning clubs to preserve the harvest in rural and urban areas. Housewives used to ask their local grocer to stock specific butters or jams from local farms. 

The same is true today. We search out our favorite farmers to find the perfect sunny egg yolk or sweet strawberry. This renaissance of sorts in the local food movement is making canning cool again. I thought I might brush up on a few tips on canning and took notes while Stephanie McKlenny, of Confituras, led a canning demonstration at the Symposium and MM Pack led a discussion on native fruits. 

At my parents' house, the twisting vines that will soon be heavy with mustang grapes and then simmered and jarred for mustang grape jelly have inspired me to search out other Texas native fruits to make into jam and marmalade. I hope to search out recipes to preserve the local fruit harvest this spring and summer and will share my adventures along the way. 

At the symposium I also had a chance to chat briefly with Hoover Alexander who feels the same way about helping kids understand where their food comes from and the rich food heritage of Texas. He said it was part of the reason that Soular Food was born. As he explained it, he wanted to create not only a place that celebrates local food, but creates a meeting place for storytelling. A way to bring in the new generations and remind them of the value of knowing where their food comes from, the history of the food and the importance of sharing stories and experiences. He said something that caught my attention. He said is doesn't have to be all or nothing. It can be easy to get caught up in creating a perfect diet, but it really is about coming together over something that will nourish the body and soul. 

We stopped by Hoover's Soular Food trailer and shared the rawBella platter, pork loin 'cue and some amazing sweet potato and pecan vegan ice cream from Thai Fresh for dessert. I loved sitting under the trees and colorful strings of lights just soaking up the sunshine with my family. It was a great way to spend a Saturday. 

In the next few weeks I'll be highlighting some of the information presented at the symposium along with some of the food movements and events that are happening around Central Austin right now as well as some personal stories about food and family. I hope you'll share some of your family food traditions as well. 

Please share your own family memories or Texas food history tidbits in the comments section below. 

Karen Morgan, of Blackbird Bakery in Austin, is producing a community cookbook to recreate gluten-free family favorites. If you are interested in submitting a family recipe that would be converted to a gluten-free one, contact Blackbird Bakery

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bring Spring to the Table (Alley Flowers Optional)

Wildflowers are lining backroads and highways and the pecans are starting to show their leaves. It is time for spring, although I'm not sure we ever got a glimpse of winter. The rains should make the wildflower show a good one this year and I can tell by email inbox that spring has truly arrived. Gardening events, preserving classes and outdoor potlucks are filling up our calendar quickly. If only there was more time in a day. 

I've been busy in the garden with the abundance that the rain and early spring has brought us and our table has been filled with veggies and fruit from our own garden and local farmers. It seems so easy these days to just start with a bed of lettuce and pop in a few things from the garden. 
Clay has been busy collecting flowers from our alley and his little garden to decorate the table. I'm amazed at the beauty of the simple blossoms on our apple tree and the bees that circle our meyer lemon tree, that is no doubt fooled into thinking we've moved to California. Usually our lemon tree produces lemons in November and December then drops its leaves to rest until spring when we see bright white blooms. This year, however, we were able to pick fresh lemons until February, have small lemons and new blossoms. I was even able to make a little Vanilla Meyer Lemon Syrup. 

Try this Vanilla Meyer Lemon Syrup Recipe from Cooking Light (replace sugar with local honey and add vanilla bean - omit whipped cream and use cashew creme or rice whip if you are dairy free). Or, try this recipe for Raw Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake or Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking's Meyer Limoncello
Our recent trip to Fredericksburg reminded us of how breathtaking the Hill Country can be during the spring. Row after row of little pink peach blossoms lining the fields eager to produce sweet peaches. Is there anything better than stopping at a roadside stand to pick up a box of warm peaches in the summer? 

Before the heat arrives along with the mosquitoes, get outside, visit your local farmers' market and attend one of the many great events happening around Austin. 

Slow Money Austin

Slow Money Potluck 

Slow Money Austin & 5 Mile Farms is having a potluck on Tuesday, March 27th from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. at 5213 Jim Hogg. Please bring your own dish and label local ingredients.

Slow Money Film Series
Thursday, April 12th
Forks Over Knives
Thursday, April 19th
Farmer John
Thursday, April 26th

Potluck at 6:00 p.m.
Film at 6:30

Location: UT Concho Community Garden
Back up rain-site location is Texas Hillel

Markley Farms U-Pick Strawberries

Be sure to visit Markley Farms to pick your own strawberries. Call first to find out availability. Our strawberries and my new raspberry bush and last year's blackberry bush are looking promising, so we hope to have some of our our berry harvest very soon!

Try one of these recipes with your harvest.  
Lemon Balm Infused Berries 
Strawberry and Raspberry Fool (first photo on my blog post)

Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking - Canning and Preserving Classes

I love her tips on great things to do with the last few weeks of citrus season!

March 25 Austin, TX: Hip Girl's Guide to Spring Preserves. 5-7:30pm, Central Market 
March 29 Austin, TX: Beets and Sweet Pickling Class with JBG Organics 6-8pm, Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
April 29 Wells Branch, TX: Fridge Pickling and Beginning Fermentation Workshop 1-3:30pm, Wells Branch Community Library
Register for classes at the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking Site

May 10, 2012

25 top chefs prepare a lovely, local meal at the beautiful and historic Barr Mansion. Benefits the Sustainable Food Center of Austin. 

Be sure to check the site bar on my blog for more upcoming events this spring and summer. If you know of one I've missed, please leave a comment below.