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Archive for the ‘CITIES + TOWNS’ Category

TPWD measuring oysters - Rockport, TX

Down here in Rockport-Fulton, Oysterfest is upon us again, and this year may be the best yet. Check out this well-composed Houston Chronicle article by Greg Morago for details on the history of the Texas oyster and the support needed to keep the delicacy on our plates in the future.

Hurry up and get your Pepper Groves and Dollar Points while you can!

(Or how about a Matagoyster? hmmm…)


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Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is fast approaching, and it’s a traditional holiday down here in South Texas. According to Wikipedia, scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years – to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. Pronounced ‘Mikt-eyk-as-see-wahl’. In case anyone asks.

If you are in South Texas, head to Port Isabel for the celebration and enjoy a skull candy workshop, listen to poetry, learn altar making and watch the talented live entertainment. Or gather up your friends/family and throw your own! In search of ofrendas? Vosges has these yummy chocolate skulls ready to go…or try this yummy salted pumpkin caramel recipe from Amanda Hesser. Sure to bring em’ back to the living. Don’t forget the calaveras, pan de muerto and decorations!

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere!

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Texas Olive Ranch Harvest & Gold Crush

Open to Visitors Sept. 14-15


Texas Olive Ranch will be open for visitors to observe the largest olive harvest in Texas history on September 14-15, 2010 from 9 am to 2pm. The 2010 Gold Crush Texas Olive Harvest is expected to be the most abundant in Texas olive agriculture history. During visitors hours, mechanical harvesting and the complete process of pressing extra virgin olive oil will be open for view: harvester operation, weighing fruit bins, filling the mill hopper, and milling the new oil, or ‘Oliva Nueva,’ the Tex-ified version of the Italian “Olio Nuovo.” We will be sampling remarkably spicy, flavorful Oliva Nueva as it is produced. Hats and boots are recommended. Texas Olive Ranch is between Asherton, Texas and Carrizo Springs, Texas on CR 1557, about two hours southwest of San Antonio by car. Overnight visitors are encouraged to make reservations for accommodations early as space is limited.

On Tuesday, September 14, the USDA and Texas Olive Oil Council are sponsoring Olive Oil Field Day, a seminar to provide information about olive agriculture in Texas (agenda). Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, will be speaking at noon. After the seminar, there will be a soapmaking demonstration by Kathy White, KatNip Natural Bath & Body, Clear Lake. Orchard and presshouse tours will be ongoing during the day both days.

During the harvest event, PBS will be filming a documentary about the Texas olive industry. Texas Olive Trails follows the emergence of olive agriculture in the historically innovative agricultural Winter Garden region of the Middle Rio Grande in South Texas, along with the challenges of weather, water availability, rocks, varmints and more.

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Dove Pie.

White Winged Doves

Dove season has started in South Texas, so you know what that means: Lots of little birds stuffed and wrapped in jalapenos, bacon and cream cheese. Come December, if you are looking for something special to do with those dove breasts in your freezer, try this tasty warming recipe. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon with friends and bottles of Becker Vineyards 2008 Barbera.  Nummy…

Dove Pie with Madeira Sauce
(Adapted from Brian Turner)

Ingredients:
* 450 g puff pastry
* 8 dove breasts
* 25 g butter
* 55 g button mushrooms, finely diced
* 350 g pork sausage meat
* splash Worcestershire sauce
* splash tabasco
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk

For the sauce
* 75 g butter
* 2 shallots, finely chopped
* 60 ml madeira, Rich Old Bual
* 60 ml white wine
* 300 ml thickened beef stock
* 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Method
1. For the pie: preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface and cut into 2 pieces 12 x 30cm.
3. Heat the butter in a frying pan and quickly seal the dove breasts until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
5. Mix the sausage meat with the cooled mushrooms, then add the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce and season with salt and pepper.
6. Beat the egg with the egg yolk. Brush over the edges of one piece of dough.
7. Lay the sausage eat mixture down the centre of the dough. Lay the dove breasts on top.
8. Carefully fold the remaining piece of dough in half lengthwise and cut halfway through in 1cm spaces. Lay this on top of the filling and seal the edges well. Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash.
9. Put on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 375F and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest.
10. For the sauce: heat 25g butter in a medium pan and gently cook the shallots until soft.
11. Add the Madeira and cook steadily until reduced by half. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by two-thirds.
12. Add the stock to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is hot. Remove from the heat and beat in the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.
13. To serve: slice the pie at an angle and serve with the sauce.

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Wild Ed's Mustang Grapes

Came across this wonderful blog by Wild Ed which has useful hunting info and unique recipes. His formula for mustang grape jelly/jam/preserves seems a winner, as I prefer my preserves a bit tart.  For hardcore mustangensis fans, you can also make wine from the drought tolerant grape resulting in a nice dry red. You can also save the ripe skins of the grapes and dry them for the winter. On a cold and stormy night, simply pour boiling water over the dried grape skins, add some sugar or agave nectar and ta da! A delicious hot grape drink.

I bet a little Tito‘s in there would go nicely.

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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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