STF Holiday Wish List

After zig-zagging across the state to gobble turkey with the family, December is now upon us with thoughts of South Texas sugar plums dancing in our heads. This holiday wish list could go on forever (kayak red fish trip, champagne quail hunt at a plush South Texas lodge, an Asprey & Gerrard shotgun – though $100k might be a bit steep…), but I have managed to whittle the list down to these juicy nuggets:

1. CIA cooking class gift card for the Mexican Cuisine Boot Camp in the foodie’s heavenly city of San Antonio, TX.  The focus here is on corn and its use in everyday foods, including small bites for cocktail parties.

2. Rattlesnake Olive Oil from Texas Olive Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX.
This extra virgin Arbequina variety olive oil is infused with chipotle and dressed up with festive cracked red pepper. Their Figalicious balsamic vinegar looks tempting, too (stocking stuffer, anyone?).

3. Creole Garlic
This little bulb grows well in South Texas and is also called Ajo Rojo. It’s a bit spicier than your supermarket variety, but it seems to be sold out everywhere.  Like the “Tickle Me Elmo” of the garlic world.

4. Broken Arrow Ranch Exotic package.
A game-lovers gourmet goody basket filled with tasty meats such as South Texas Antelope Filets, Wild Boar Smoked Sausage and ground Venison. Perfect for winter stews, meat pies or grilling on the beach (’cause we can do that in South Texas).

5. Mesquite Bean Syrup
Handmade in Texas with mesquite beans. Lovely, clean, honey-lemon flavor comes straight from the bean itself, no additives or flavorings. This syrup compliments any Texas style breakfast or I use mine to sweeten mesquite pecan shortbread.

6. Pecan Meal from Cuero Pecan House
Also called pecan flour, this can be used as a substitute for many flours in baking and cooking. Hoping to try this in a pie crust, my banana bread recipe…crumble toppings…aforementioned shortbread…

7. Wild Apricot Tree from Amber’s Edibles
This gorgeous tree is a delicious and hardy relative of the Kei Apple and makes a fantastic juice.  It is seaside and salt tolerant and very easy to grow and care for. With my deadly green thumb, I hope it’s exceptionally easy to care for (i.e. immortal).

8. Membership to Foodways Texas
Foodways Texas is a spanking new grassroots organization with a simple mission: to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the Lone Star State.   Tastings, workshops, lectures, documentary films, and other foodie events are being planned for 2011. What a great way to support Texas’ unique foodstuffs!

All for now, please let me know if you have any other South Texas gift ideas! Would love to hear them…

Happy Holidays!  x KBJ

p.s. If you are salivating over the Asprey & Gerrard SG, take a peek here.




Dia de Los Muertos

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!

Olive Harvest & Gold Crush

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.

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)

* 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

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.

South Texas Food Seminar

Fun in South Texas!

Yay!  The wonderful folks at the Rockport Center for the Arts have included South Texas Food on their fall calendar (Saturday, November 13 from 130pm-330pm). Come on down to Rockport and join us for a fantastic afternoon full of fun, friends and food!

Join native Texan and Rockport resident, Karey B. Johnson, for a demonstration of South Texas cooking. Chef and writer at SouthTexasFood.com, Karey is an enthusiast of the region’s bounty and will be sharing local recipes using authentic South Texas produce.

The class includes a two-hour demonstration with historical tales, holiday recipes and tasty tastings! Recipes include Chorizo Stuffed Quail Eggs; Oyster Stuffing; Pequin Chile Hot Sauce; Buttered Sweet Bread Toast with Mustang Grape Jelly; Mesquite Pecan Shortbread; Spiced Hot Chocolate; and samples from the Braman Winery out of Refugio, Texas.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.; November 13. 2-Hour Seminar. Seating is Limited. Please call to register today! (361) 729-5519. $45 for members, $56 for non-members. (limit of 25 students).

Would love to see you there!

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.

Cotton and Peanuts

Cotton Weighing :: South Texas

From AgriLife News:

COASTAL BEND: Hot, dry weather continued with highs close to 100 degrees. In the southern part of the region, cotton bolls were opening, and producers defoliated earlier planted fields. Some cotton was being harvested with good yields reported. There was some severe boll rot where fields remained wet. The corn harvest wound down with good yields reported. Some sorghum with sprouted heads was left in the field. Rice yields were below expectations because of rain during pollination and bacterial panicle blight. Sesame began to mature. Hay harvesters worked full-tilt as it became dry enough to cut and bale. Some producers reported record hay yields. Though heat stress has been rough on livestock, body condition scores were kept high due to abundant forages.

SOUTH: The region had extremely hot temperatures with a few spotty showers. Topsoil-moisture levels in fields and pastures dropped rapidly as did stock-tank water levels. Soil moisture ranged from adequate in the eastern, western and southern parts of the region, to short in the northern part of the region. Ranchers were providing modest amounts of supplemental feed. Cattle body condition scores remained good. In the northern part of the region, cotton bolls were open, corn and sorghum were being harvested, and peanuts were pegging. In the eastern part of the region, the harvest of small grains was wrapping up, the cotton harvest began, and the corn and sunflower harvests were ongoing. In the western parts of the region, corn and sorghum had to be heavily irrigated. Pecans and cotton crops also needed irrigation. In the southern part of the region, the sorghum harvest was winding down, while the corn and cotton crop harvests were very active. Producers were also harvesting hay. Some flooding remained along parts of the Rio Grande River.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures were in the mid-to-upper 90s with from 0.5 inch to 3 inches of rain. Soil moisture was short to adequate. Corn was in good condition and continued to mature. Cotton was in good condition, with most fields having reached cut-out, the growth stage prior to boll fill. Growers were monitoring mites in some cotton fields. Irrigation was ongoing. Grain sorghum was in good condition, ranging from mature to boot stage. Peanuts were in good condition with some signs of pod rot. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition, and livestock were in good to excellent condition.

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