Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Lightsey Farms at the Market Means Summer Goodness! May 25, 2013

Someone mentioned to me last week that Mary Lightsey was back at the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown.  Just the mention of Lightsey Farms, filled my head with visions of plums, green ones, like I’ve seen nowhere else, peaches, blackberries, figs, cream peas, okra – all in their seasonal succession.

Mary was at the Triangle Farmers market this week, and I was happy to see her kind face, and stock up on peaches, having been forwarned of a sketchy peach season due to our late Central Texas freezes.  Her’s were gorgeous, as were the blackberries and green plums on her tables.

Lightsey Farms is located in Mexia Texas, NE of Waco and approximately 145 miles from Austin.   The Lightsey family has grown produce on their property for around 65 years.  They use sustainable practices for everything but the peaches, which are conventionally grown.  (as are most.)  To bring their produce to the Austin Farmer’s Markets, Mary gets up at 2:00 in the  morning, to load up and make the two and a half hour drive to Austin.  Next time you are at the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown or at the Triangle, pick up some delicious Lightsey Farm produce, and introduce yourself to Mary.  She is a sweetheart.

Green Plums

Green Plums

Beautiful Peaches

Beautiful Peaches



Lightsey Farms

Lightsey Farms


Dai Due – Choose Food With Care November 14, 2012

As part of the Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance “Meet me at the Market” campaign to help raise awareness for the Sustainable Food Center, and their Capital Campaign, I offered to profile one of my favorite vendors at the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square – Dai Due.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that in 2010, I challenged myself to eat only food grown in my garden, or sourced from local farms and farmer’s markets, for a year, in an effort to avoid eating the products of industrialized agriculture.  I still eat that way today, and Dai Due is an important part of my way of life.  And, If I ever have a question about a source of food, the practices of a farm or any local food related question, I ask Jesse.

“Dai due regni di natura, piglia il cibo con misura” ~ “From the two  kingdoms of nature, choose food with care.”  From their website, their name espouses their philosophy.  Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield, the team behind Dai Due, continue to inspire me every day.

Dai Due brings their Butcher Shop offerings to the SFC Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and also prepares hot food to order.  Butcher shop items always include a variety of fresh sausages, link and bulk, bacon, frequently hot dogs, burgers made from proteins sourced locally, and raised humanely.

There are also charcuterie items, pates and terrines.  This week chicken liver mousse is on the menu.  In colder weather, they offer quarts of chile and sometimes gumbo.  Many items are only available seasonally, such as Chorizo Verde available during the brief window where  peppers (hot season) and cilantro (cool season) are in season together.  The Wild Boar Chorizo is a staple at my house.  There is always a variety of pickled items and mustards, and when he has homemade Worschestershire sauce, I always get a couple bottles of that.

Yellow Mustard and Grapefruit Worcestershire

I’ll be picking up some fresh leaf lard this week, in anticipation of tamale making season.  This week, I  also ordered a Thanksgiving special, the Porchetta made with Black Hill Ranch hog. I’ve had this fabulous specialty roast before, and was happy to see it return to the menu.   Other items this week include Traditional Mincemeat, which they start preparing in May, as the figs and mulberries become available.  Fruits continue to be added as they come into season, culminating in a jar of mincemeat which will make one pie.  Other seasonal offerings are Pickled Beets, Giardiniera, Escabeche.  One of my favorite items, Roasting Hens from Dewberry Hills, this week, laced with Lemon and Sage Butter.   If you  sign up for their email, the menu comes out on Tuesday, and you can place your order to be picked up at their kitchen on Friday, at the SFC Farmer’s Market,  or at the Mueller Market on Sunday.

The weekly menu and item descriptions name the source of everything, and everything is organic and sourced in or near Austin.  You may notice of the photos above “Harvested by Hunting.”  There is no mystery to any of the food from Dai Due, and very important to me, no hormones or antibiotics in any of the meat they source.  I know exactly what is NOT in my food: fillers, chemicals, preservatives, or anything else I don’t want to eat.  Often herbs in their offerings are sourced from their own garden.

Hot food at the market this time of year, often features the much coveted Biscuit and Gravy, with Country Style Breakfast Sausage.  I am a fan of the Chilaquiles, and whatever breakfast taco is offered; this week will be Red Chile Brisket Taco with Green Onions and Cilantro.

Last Saturday’s Hot Food Menu

In addition to to the markets, Dai Due also offers hunting weekends, fishing workshops, and a Supper Club, that sells out within minutes of being announced.  I’ve nearly wrecked my car trying to pull off of Mopac to reserve a dinner once the schedule is out.  Jesse also held a class on canning tomatoes, that launched my canning obsession and totally removed any fears I had.

Dai Due By-catch Dinner

And if that isn’t enough, Jesse has a new book, with his friend and amazing food photographer, Jody Horton: “Afield, A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish”, which has received great reviews.  It is a beautiful book, and everything in it looks delicious.


In support of the book Jesse is teaching a free sausage making class at Callahan’s this Saturday, 11/1/12 from 3-5:00, and a cooking class at Central Market this Sunday, at noon.  He will be cooking wild game from the book and a book is included in the ticket price.  Tickets are still available from Central Market here:

This post in written in part to support the Capital Campaign of the Sustainable Food Center, to build a permanent home from which to provide its services.  The non-profit SFC helps break down the barriers to healty, nutritiouss food, and supports family farms.  The Grow, Share, Prepare program teaches the community about local food, growing food and holds cooking classes, in addition to running their four farmer’s markets; The Republic Square Park and Sunset Valley on Saturday, Triangle Park on Wednesday and East on Tuesday.  There farmer’s markets provide a valuable and affordable space for farmers and food artisans to get their food to the public.  They need a facility to continue their good works from, and need funds to build it.  If you’d like to donate to support the SFC, you can do so here:

See my other posts about Dai Due here:

And by others:

Book Review:


Get your Edible Austin Raffle Tickets – Great Prizes! December 2, 2010

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 Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week benefitting Urban Roots, kicks off this Saturday, beginning at the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square and the East Austin Urban Farm bike tour.  At every event for the next week, including the Farmer’s Markets downtown and at the Triangle, there will be opportunities to purchase raffle tickets.  I bought 5 yesterday.  The prizes are as follows:

Grand Prize – Value $1000 – Central Market private hands-on cooking class for 8 taught by Chef Christina Lee, winner of the 2010 Chefs Under Fire Competition.  Create a 5 course meal complete with wine pairings.

First Prize – Value $685 – A 2011 Urban Roots CSA Share.  17 weeks of fresh, organic produce grown by local Austin youth.  Winner must commit to picking up their produce from the Saturday or Wednesday SFC Farmer’s Market or from Urban Roots farm.

Second Prize – Value $500 – A weekend stay in San Antonio at the new boutique Hotel Havana.  One of the newest hotels to open along the San Antonio Riverwalk.  Stay includes breakfast.

Third Prize-Value $150-A give certificate for a free month of Greenlings “local box” delivered to your home.

Fourth Prize – Value $65 – An Earthbox from Austin Urban Gardens.  Perfect for balconies and patios, the Earthbox is maintenance free and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden.

Tickets are 1 for $5.00 or 5 for $20.  Great prizes for a great cause.


No Grocery Store, Day 254 – Birthday! September 12, 2010

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Day 254 of my No Grocery Store Challenge fell on my birthday.  So, it started with a trip to the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown.  I had not had a chance to visit with Rhonda and Brian, of Springfield Farms in a couple of weeks, and missed them, so I went early to hang out with them.   They are the nicest folks and they have beautiful produce and really nice dried spices.  After visiting and shopping, I headed over to the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market to have lunch with friends.  I have had my eye on the newish burger trailer, Max Parfait for several weeks, and promised the proprietor, Zargun, that I’d be trying a burger soon.  Yesterday was the day.

Max Parfait

We sat outside in the chairs next to the trailer.

Max Parfait Burgers

These burgers and fries have gotten lots of attention in the foodie world, and now I know why.  Because they are perfect!

Perfect Burger and Fries

Homemade bun, high quality meat, perfectly seasoned and cooked, and hot crispy fries.  I also had a Topo Chico.

Max Parfait is located at the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and the HOPE Farmer’s Market on Sundays.  He is expanding to additional locations soon.  I would like to suggest my driveway.

After some shopping and errands, I headed over to the home of friends, where we ate football food, and watched the UT game.  7 layer dip and chips, and Dai Due Queso Flameado with tortillas from Blanco Valley Farms from  the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market.

Blanco Valley Farms

Blanco Valley Farms is the vendor I’ve been getting the addictive tortillas and tortilla chips from.  Now I know why the chips are so good, they are cooked in Coconut oil!  They also have dips, but the chips are amazing and the corn tortillas are the best I’ve ever had.


No Grocery Store, Day 243 – Big Green Egg August 31, 2010

I have been struggling with the Big Green Egg lately.  When I first got it, I was making too hot of a fire, (and setting myself on fire far too often).  Then, I got distracted by the smoker, and didn’t use the Egg for several months.  Now, it has been a while, since I’ve been able to get it really hot.  So, I watched a YouTube video, which indicated I probably should clean out the ashes in the Egg.   So I did, and there were lots.

Not in the mood for breakfast, despite having a 2 second breakfast prepared and at my disposal.  Business lunch at Cover 3, and I had the Allendale Salad which rocked.  That place makes seriously good food, especially for a sports bar.  Not sports barlike food at all.

I had been thawing a Smith and Smith Farm’s chicken, with the intention of cooking it on the Big Green Egg, hence the cleanout.

Smith and Smith Farms Chicken

What I love about these chickens is that they are amazingly fresh, really plump, and have no frozen innerd package to deal with.  One major difference in these farm fresh chickens is that they aren’t yellow, like grocery store chickens, and their skins aren’t hardened by hanging in a factory.  The taste is phenomenal and I’ll never buy a factory chicken again.  These chickens eat better quality of food, are handled better, and are waaay more fresh, that those in the grocery store from who knows where that have been sitting for who knows how long.

So, I also had some Dai Due Green Tomato BBQ sauce, I’d been dying to try.

Dai Due Local BBQ Sauce

I tasted it in a spoon, and it was sweeter than I wanted my chicken to be, so I  grilled the chicken for a bit, then brushed on the sauce, hoping the sugars would cook off and leave the flavor behind.

Grilling the chicken, and basting early

With such a hot fire, the sugars burned a bit, but I like that, so I didn’t discourage it.  The end result, was very tender, and flavorful, but not sweet chicken.

Dai Due BBQ local Chicken

Lessons learned: The Big Green Egg functions best when it isn’t full of ashes.  Local chickens are amazing.  Jessie from Dai Due, knows how to make some incredible BBQ sauce.


No Grocery Store, Day 234 August 22, 2010

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Today was an odd day.  I had planned to spend the day shopping (with no tax) with my sweet mother.   The only other plan for the day was roasting a local chicken for dinner and making stock with the carcass.  So, for breakfast, I worked in the garden with my coffee, local milk and a couple of slices of my dear friend’s home cured bacon.  Then I picked my mom up, and she was neither in the mood for our planned shopping spree, or physically capable of such madness.  So, we went to her favorite place for lunch, Gueros, and I had a salad.  The Guero’s salad to be exact.  Then I dropped her off and came home, deflated that my brilliant mom/daughter planned failed.

But, I had thawed a Smith and Smith chicken that I bought from the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago.  I rubbed it down with Adobo spice and salt and Cayenne pepper spice and roasted it in the oven.  I ate it with Lowell Farms rice and some roasted onions and peppers from the farmer’s market.

Then, I cleaned the meat off the chicken and stored it, then placed the carcass in a pot of water, with thyme and bay from the garden, a garden onion, and simmered it for three hours.  The house was warm and intoxicating with the smell of the stock.  The older I get, the more of a Fall and Winter person I become.  My freezer is now full of the makings for dishes that take all day, and fill the house with warmth and wonderful smells.

Using the whole chicken, making stock

I would have liked to cook it down for another 2 hours, but bedtime beckoned.  I placed a handled collander, lined with paper towels, on top of a large bowl, and poured the whole lot into it, thus straining out the fat, bones, onions, herbs and other solids.  The result was an amazingly fragrant bowl of broth.

Homemade Chicken Broth

I now have a freezer full of homemade broth, from the same chicken who made my dinner, and probably several more meals this week.  It makes me feel slightly more honorable, that I used this whole chicken, rather than discarding the bones and skin.  And I’m also so much more ready for Fall and Winter cooking now, that I have this flavorful broth in my freezer for homemade soups, stews and whatever else I can think of.

Ready for soup season

I am clearly turning into a cool weather girl, after growing up on the Texas Coast.


No Grocery Store, Day 232 and 233

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Friday, I had a Bat Creek Farm apple for breakfast then met a group of Yelpers, led my my sweet friend Michelle for a celebratory lunch at La Boite.  I had never been and had been wanting to go since it opened.  The shipping container is way beyond cool.  I see their locally sourced sandwich menu every day on Twitter, and everyone swoons for their macaroons.  I had a roast beef and roasted red pepper sandwich which was great, but skipped the sweets.

For dinner, the folks and I went to Corazon and I had a salad and redfish.  For dessert, when I got home I picked a watermelon and had a slice.

Day 233, was a busy day.  I had a Thunderheart bison taco from Taco Deli at the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown, and picked up a tub of the crack Dona green sauce as well.  I’m still trying to eat my way through my freezer, so I just bought coffee at that market, then headed to Barton Creek for milk and Vital Farms Eggs.  I’m trying new milk, from Texas Daily Harvest.  So far, its great.  I got some more of those amazing Tortilla chips and corn tortillas from the vendor I still don’t know the name of.  Best chips ever, and I’m a die hard El Milagro fan.  So no lunch, but I did have some of those chips with Larry’s Smoked Tomato Salsa from Boggy Creek Farm for an afternoon snack.  After running around all day, I stayed in for dinner.  I was inspired by watching Anthony Bourdain’s show on Rome, to make pasta carbonara.  I used some of the bacon made by a friend, some Texas Pasta Co. pasta, Vital Farms eggs, and Brazos Valley Parmesan.  It was not very good.  Perhaps I’ll look at a recipe and see what I did wrong.


No Grocery Store, Days 224 – 227 August 16, 2010

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Yikes, I’ve gotten way behind in my updates.  It has been a crazy few days, but lets see if I can remember what I ate.

Day 224, no breakfast.  I took mom out for lunch at Takoba, and we each had the pork carnitas tacos.   I had leftover bacon for dinner, because I wasn’t really hungry after a big lunch.

Day 225, I met some friends for an impromptu lunch at Cafe Josie.  I had the salmon salad, because that’s what I do.  So good.  Dinner with the parental units at Flemings, I had the petite filet and asparagus.

Day 226, I met a friend at the Downtown Farmer’s market, and I had a bison taco and a migas taco from Taco Deli at the market.  I didn’t have lunch, because I was not hungry.   Oddly, for dinner I had a breakfast taco at home, with my new found tortillas from the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market.   Corn and flour, and tortilla chips as well.  Score!

Day 227, yesterday was a food blogger potluck baby shower at my house.  There was food everywhere, as well as the fabulous new Bola Pizza, mobile wood fired pizza oven.  I had a few slices of pizza throughout the day, as well as untold bites of numerous things, then we ordered in Mexican food for dinner.


No Grocery Store, Days 213 and 214 August 3, 2010

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Breakfast Scramble

Day 213, I broke out my new induction cooktop and made a breakfast scramble with garden onions, peppers, tomatoes, Smith and Smith Farm Eggs, Dai Due Chorizo, and topped it all with some Full Quiver Chedder.  It was a hearty breakfast and lunch, and fueled me for working in the garden for hours.

For dinner, I had leftover short ribs and rice from Saturday.

Day 214, for breakfast I had a gala apple from the SFC Farmer’s Market.  I believe it was from Bat Creek Farms, in Bertram.  For lunch, mom and I went to 34th Street Cafe and I had a hacked salad with shrimp.  For dinner, I had breakfast tacos: Smith and Smith Farms eggs, garden peppers and tomatoes, Full Quiver Cheddar on 2 blue corn tortillas from the vendor at the  SFC Farmer’s Market downtown who sells organically made tamales.  I can’t remember the vendor’s name, but they were good!


No Grocery Store, Day 207 July 27, 2010

Compared to the extravaganza of eating out last week, this week is comfortingly calm, if not downright boring.  I walked at Town Lake yesterday, leaving not enough time for breakfast, although I was hungry.  Lunch on the go, was a lemon cucumber from the garden, with salt and pepper.  Afternoon snack at a friend’s house, tortilla chips and salsa with a Tecate.  Someone asked me in the last week, “where do you get your chips, like Fritos and Lays?”  Uhmm, I don’t eat those anymore, unless I’m at someone’s house, and even then, I avoid them.  For the most part, with the exception of bread and cheese, everything I eat at home is in the form it grew in.   I guess sausage and bacon and some of Dai Due and Kocurek’s prepared food isn’t, but everything they use to create their sausage and prepared food  is from a local farm.  The point is, I guess, nothing I eat has artificial crap in it to make it shelf stable, because it will never be on a shelf.  No guar gum, no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils.  And nothing that I eat has elaborate packaging.  If I buy a steak from Richardson’s, there is no sytrofoam tray underneath, it is simply shrink wrapped and handed to me from an ice chest.  Don’t get me wrong, the Tortilla Chips and Salsa were a treat, and I’m reserving the right to head to East Austin to El Milagro and get some of theirs which contain only corn, oil and salt, because they aren’t a grocery store, I just haven’t felt compelled to do so just yet.  I also have not had a Soda, a Diet Soda, or any artificial canned drink in these almost 7 months.  I drink Nile Valley Hibiscus Tea from the Farmer’s Market, water, and if I’m feeling like a treat, I have a Topo Chico which I have leftover from a party.  I got that at Spec’s.  I drink beer and wine as well, just no soda.

I got home late, so dinner was re-heated leftover, bison burger patty, with a garden tomato, and lemon cucumber salad with Wateroak Feta.  I’m getting tired of these cucumbers, have jars picking at a friends house, and more on the ground ready to pick.