Archive for June, 2010

Learned last night that a butter named “Falfurrias” is carried at the local store. Falfurrias is a town in South Texas.  A quick Google search reveals some of the butter’s history, at a creamery established in 1909 by Edward C. Lasater (1860-1930), a South Texas rancher, dairyman, and land developer.  As you can see by the packaging and readily available information,  it appears this butter is a proper South Texas gem.

It seemed too good to be true. And it was.

Turns out Falfurrias butter isn’t made in Falfurrias at all. It’s made in East Texas at the DFA Winnsboro plant and packaged/marketed/distributed through DFA.  Hard to tell when they sold out, but I estimate it has been at least 40 years based on the looks of the abandoned Falfurrias creamery, which now houses the local newspaper. It has also proven difficult to get information from the Falfurrias chamber of commerce or Keller or DFA (which owns Keller). DFA is huge. Headquarters? Kansas City, MO.

Falfurrias Creamery, now housing local newspaper publisher.

What really steams my pickle is the misleading advertising. The website says: “Family. Tradition. Falfurrias.  One of Texas’ best-loved and most familiar butter brands, Falfurrias Butter has been a Texas institution since 1909.”  Well…umm…not really. A substantial number of people are increasingly drawn to local products, hoping to support smaller producers and intentionally seeking out ones like Falfurrias butter.  Do the milk and ingredients for the butter come from Texas (better yet, South Texas) dairy cows? Is it still being made by the Lasater family? How would we know it’s manufactured in the same plant using the same ingredients as Borden‘s? We wouldn’t.

If Edward C. Lasater knew, he might be churning in his grave.

*I have no idea what that means but it feels fantastic to say.


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Came across this lil’ snippet of1914  propaganda written by Henry Maxwell Madison, an Agriculture Agent for Southern Pacific, enticing entrepreneurs to ranch/farm down in South Texas. The booklet produced by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce covers cost of meat production, concerns re feeding the cattle (pros and cons of farming in South Texas) and a 1914 Land and Live Stock chart of South Central Texas. At the back is a reference to WWI regarding a growing concern for food shortages overseas.

The quote at the end “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” is accurate, but has been corrupted in modern times to “the proof is in the pudding”(which makes no sense).

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Melissa Guerra, author and foodie

From Amazon:

The Wild Horse Desert is the once-disputed area in southern Texas, just above the Rio Grande, that was part of Mexico before the war of 1846; Melissa Guerra’s family has lived there for more than 16 generations, working the land and raising cattle. Much of the dishes Guerra grew up eating were Mexican (though there are some Tex-Mex recipes here as well), and while the term norteño is usually used to refer to northern Mexico, she notes that South Texas is considered part of norteño culture too.

Author of a previous cookbook, the companion volume to her PBS series The Texas Provincial Kitchen, Guerra also sells ingredients and equipment for Mexican cooking through an online store and catalog, and her authoritative text reflects both her culinary experience and her love of the region and its food. The recipes are generally simple, but the instructions are thoroughly detailed, and headnotes and boxes provide information on ingredients, traditions, and other topics; the many photographs, some color, add context as well.

Strongly recommended.

Check out her website for some gorgeous kitchenwares and these sweet Peruvian embroidered sneakers. Guerra also has a physical store in the Pearl Brewery based in San Antonio.

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Brownsville Farmers Market

From their website: The idea of starting a farmers’ market in Brownsville arose from the realization that the town was lacking a place where fresh produce, reasonably priced, could be easily accessible to all–a lack that takes on critical importance in South Texas, an area where obesity and diabetes soar above the national rates. From this awareness and the growing popularity of farmers’ markets in the United States, faculty from the School of Public Health and staff from the Department of State Health Services joined efforts to begin exploring the possibility of opening a farmers’ market in Brownsville .

The vision of the Brownsville Farmer’s Market is to promote policy and environmental changes that make healthy foods and active lifestyles an easy choice for all families in South Texas. Current initiatives include a farmers’ market, voucher programs, community gardens, and research and education.

Open Every Saturday Morning, 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon

Linear Park in Brownsville, Texas, in front of the Federal Courthouse (and across the street from the zoo) at E. 7th Street and Harrison.


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Amaranth Plant

Research what the native (South Texas) Indians ate way back when and amaranth keeps popping up. Wow what a weed. The leaves from the hardy (hardy may be an understatement, it will grow just about anywhere, under conditions that would kill any other food plant) Amaranth plant are not only an excellent source of calcium, iron and folic acid, but the seeds contain an important suite of amino acids, the building blocks for the synthesis of protein. The amino acid lysine is much more abundant in both amaranths and chenopods (any plant of the goosefoot family, which includes spinach, beets, and pigweed) than it is in the cereals (wheat, oats, and maize). About 3.5 oz of amaranth seeds provide 15% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, 76% of the iron, and over 25% of the folic acid recommended in diets today. The amount of fiber in amaranth grain is three times higher than wheat . In a nutshell, Amaranth has all the proteins and amino acids the human body requires for maintenance.

Did I also mention it is gluten free?

If you are a farmer, Amaranth puts nitrogen back into the soil naturally, eliminating the need for artificial nitrates which run off and pollute the water ways. A field can be kept in good shape by rotating amaranth with corn without adding any artificial fertilizer.

Amaranth Grains

How to cook it? Holly Hirshberg’s very useful blog, The Dinner Garden,  has a simple recipe for the leaves. Just a flash in the pan will do. For the grains try this recipe. This is a close up of the finished dish – the amaranth grains look almost caviar.

I need to buy some today. If you are after the species name for edible form, it is Amaranthus cruentus. It is also called Huautli or Alegria in Mexico.

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