Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

It’s Sweet Corn Season, Make Esquites! May 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 4:28 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I only eat fruits and vegetables from my garden or local farms, so everything I eat is in season.  One of the beautiful things about eating seasonally, is the anticipation for things I haven’t had since their last season.  I can think of few things as delicious as freshly harvested Sweet Corn.  When I saw that Boggy Creek Farm was to have sweet corn at their market, I went early to the farmstand to snag some.  They hadn’t harvested any when I got there early, so Carol Ann took me to the fields to harvest some with her.  The ultimate test of when the corn is ready, is to taste it, raw, right in the field. It was tender and delicious and I came home with several ears.

I already had something in mind for it, Mexican Street Corn Salad.  When I searched for a recipe I settled on one from Serious Eats.  I had never heard of Esquites before, but it looked like exactly what I wanted, and I had jalapeños and cilantro from the garden to use.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/esquites-mexican-street-corn-salad-recipe.html

I cut off the worm end of the corn,  removed the husks and picked off the silks.

IMG_1044

I would have loved to grill the corn to get it a bit charred, but alas it was raining.  I scraped it off the cob, and cooked it in a hot pan until slightly charred.

IMG_1046

The recipe called for more charring, but the starches had begun to stick to the pan, so I pulled it out,  and added salt and pepper.

IMG_1048

I doubled the jalapeños, because I had fresh garden peppers to use and wanted more heat.

IMG_1047

I mixed in some scallions, lime juice, mayonnaise, cilantro and then pulled out the cheese.  The recipe called for Cotija or Feta.  Alas, I had gotten Queso Fresco instead of Cotija.  The sharpness of Cotija was exactly what this needed, but I made do with the milder Queso Fresco, because that was what I had.  I finished it off with some Springdale Farm Smoked Pepper Mix, which is good on everything.

The result was still delicious, but the proper cheese would have made it outstanding.  This salad even better the second day, because the heat from the pepper had settled in.  Sweet corn will be around for another few weeks at the farmstands and farmer’s markets.  I highly recommend this recipe, and can’t wait to try it again with the correct cheese.

IMG_1051

 

Update-My Favorite Spring Events, 2015 March 5, 2015

It most certainly feels like Spring may never get here, but surely things will start to warm up soon.  I’m cheering myself up by looking forward to some of my favorite Springtime Events.  This list certainly in not all inclusive, and doesn’t include some of the obvious large annual events – these are just a few more affordable events I enjoy.  The update is to add Live Fire, the details of which were just released.

March 7, 2015  Sunshine Community Garden Spring Plant Sale This event is held the first Saturday of each March, and is my favorite plant sale for vegetable transplants.  The greenhouses will be filled with everything you need for your Spring Garden, including more tomato and pepper varieties that you can even fathom.  Peruse their online inventory and make your own list to take with you, or you might be overwhelmed.  Go early, wait in line, and be prepared for the crush of humanity that will ensue when they open the gates.  It’s part of the fun, I promise.

March 28, 2015  Fais Do Do, Gumbo Cookoff at Rain Lily Farm  This annual event sponsored by Farmhouse Delivery, is held at Rain Lily Farm on Shady Lane.  Your $35.00 ticket will get you unlimited gumbo tastings, complimentary beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.  Proceeds benefit Creek People.  This is a really fun time, on one of our lovely East Austin Urban Farms.

March 29, 2015  Edible Austin’s Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair  This is a fun event for the whole family, held at the historic French Legation Museum and grounds.  There will be lots of food vendors, and lots of educational opportunities as well.  Kiddos typically pet baby goats, learn about backyard chickens, learn gardening from volunteers, and leave the event with their own little box garden.

April 4, 2015 Funky Chicken Coop Tour  This-self guided tour of some of Austin’s most interesting and innovative chicken coops.  Homeowner’s show off their coops and share their experiences keeping backyard chickens.  Drawings and giveaways will be available at the launch site, Buck Moore Feed Store.

April 9, 2015 Austin Food and Wine Alliance’s Live Fire This event is a meat lovers paradise each year.  The lineup of chefs has just been released and it looks amazing!  Many of your favorites local chefs and some from restaurants in other cities, will cook over live fire, and for $70 a ticket (early bird price), you will get to sample them all.  The event is held at the Salt Lick Pavillion, and will also feature live music, mines, cocktails, and craft beer.  Proceeds go toward the Alliance’s culinary grant program.

April 12, 2015 East Austin Urban Farm Tour  Also self guided, this is a tour of 4 of Austin’s Urban Farms, Boggy Creek Farm, Springdale Farm, Hausbar Farm, and Rain Lily Farm.  These four farms are all within walking distance of one another, and just a short 3 miles from Austin’s Capitol.  Each unique farm will host hourly tours by the farmers, and you will enjoy bites from some of Austin’s best restaurants, and sips from local beverage artisans and brewers.  While the final restaurant/artisan list has yet to be announced, the early word is very impressive, including Lenoir, Wink, Olamaie, Texas French Bread, Dolce Neve, Live Oak Brewery, Weather up, Austin Wine Merchant, Qui, Kome, Fixe, Fukumoto, Uchiko, Hops n Grain, Mescal, Paula’s, Banner Vodka, The Driskill, Swifts Attic, The Hightower, Anjore, Eden, Gardner, East Ciders, Liber & Co., Zhi Tea, Dai Due, Fresas, Odd Duck, Bola Pizza, Treaty Oak Distillery, Real Ale.  I’ll update this list once it is finalized. The tickets are $50.00 for adults, kids under 10 are free and proceeds benefit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

Ongoing:  Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities with Green Corn Project.  We will be installing gardens for our recipients through March.

Ongoing:  Antonelli’s Cheese Shop has events every week, including cheese and jam pairings, cheese and beverage pairings, and classes.

Ongoing:  Confituras has jam making classes throughout the year and they are really fun and informative.  It is about to be fruit season!

 

Stuffed Quail on the Fly December 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 9:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

Once or twice a year, I’ll order a case of semi-boneless quail from Texas Quail.  Quail is delicious, easy and quick to cook, organic, sustainable and all the things I want food to be.  It is so versatile- you can fry it, smoke it, grill it, stuff it, bake it, etc.  And, if it can arrive on my doorstep with just a couple mouse clicks – all the better.

A couple of days ago, I took a package of 4 quail out of my freezer to defrost.  I had been reading recipes, and had one sort of made up in my head.  I would make a delicious mushroom risotto, and stuff the quail with it and some local goat cheese, then bake it in the oven.  Fast forward to this evening, and I have a million things to do, the quail needs to be cooked, and I have no time to devote to it.  But, I also need it out of my fridge because I need the room and I need something for dinner.

So, I decided to wing it, as it were.  I put some Carolina Gold Rice on to cook, and chopped up a handful of Baby Bella Mushrooms from Kitchen’s Pride, which I got at the farmer’s market.  Into the pan with the mushrooms, I put a couple tablespoons of butter, some crushed garlic, and a generous helping of fresh thyme, the leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs.

Baby Bella Mushrooms

Baby Bella Mushrooms

Once the mushrooms were cooked down, I folded half of them into some Water Oak Chèvre, which I get at Boggy Creek Farm.

IMG_0506

 

Using my hands in the messiest way possible, I stuffed a couple tablespoons of the cheese, mushroom mixture into each quail.  I didn’t bother to tie their little legs together – rushing, rushing after all.   After a generous seasoning of sea salt and pepper, I popped them into the oven at 350.

Quail ready for the oven

Quail ready for the oven

The remaining buttery, garlicky mushrooms, went into the rice.  At that point, I realized that my quick plan had no vegetable component.  I had some fresh spinach in the fridge, so I chopped up a a handful and put it into the still hot rice and stirred it up, figuring that it would wilt a bit and take on some of the thyme and butter.

Spinach in the rice

Spinach in the rice

After about 40 minutes, I switched the oven to broil, to brown the quail a little.  They looked done, but a little lacking in color.  Once they browned up, I took them out, and served one for my dinner over the mushroom, spinach rice.  I garnish everything, because it makes me happy, so I snipped up some garden parsley for the whole plate.  It was a quick and easy dinner – not the elegant meal I had envisioned a couple days ago, but simple, tasty and I got a lot done while it was cooking!

Goat Cheese, Mushroom Stuffed Quail

Goat Cheese, Mushroom Stuffed Quail

When packaging the leftovers for later, I tossed in some chopped pecans, which I though would add some texture to the whole meal.  It will be a nice surprise when I reheat it!

 

Homemade Chorizo August 12, 2014

I like to make breakfast on Sundays, and had a craving for Chorizo, Potato and Egg breakfast tacos, so I decided to make my own.

I settled on this recipe, which looked like authentic Mexican chorizo.

A trip to Penzey’s Spice Shop  was necessary to purchase some of the spices I didn’t have.  It’s always best to use fresh spices.

Penzy's Spices

Penzy’s Spices

I measured them all out and set them aside.  This looks like a lot of spices because it is – I made a 5 pound batch, while the recipe called for just over a pound.

I backed off of the clove and vinegar in this batch, because some flavors get to be too intense when multiplied.

IMG_0141High quality pork, and the right ratio of lean to fat are very important.  I went to Salt and Time, and told Brian the butcher there exactly what I had in mind.  He ground the pork in a 70% to 30% lean to fat ratio for me.  It is awesome to have a local butcher shop carrying high quality, hormone free, local proteins.

Good Quality Pork

Good Quality Pork

I simply dumped the spices and about half of the vinegar called for into the pork and mixed it well by hand.  While you want to get all of the spices incorporated, you don’t want to overwork the pork.

The most important thing you can do, when making chorizo and other sausages, is to taste it!  I made a small patty, and cooked it to test the flavor.  It was good, but I wanted more heat and smoke, so I added some of Springdale Farm’s smoked pepper mix, and some smoked onion powder that we made on the farm a while back.

Taste

Taste

I tasted it again, and it was exactly as I wanted it to be.

Chorizo, is best after 24 hours or so of resting to let the spices blend with the pork.  By Sunday morning I was ready to test it out.  Boggy Creek Farm potatoes, Springdale Farm Eggs, Homemade Chorizo, Homemade corn tortillas and some delicious (soon to be launched) salsa from Austin Josie Artisan Foods.  Happy dance!

Breakfast

Breakfast

 

Spring Means Fabulous Outside Events in Austin! (Revised) March 25, 2014

After a long, and very cold winter in Austin, I look forward to outdoor events in the Spring.  There are many, many events, and this list is not exhaustive by any means.  I do have my favorites, all of which involve amazing food, cocktails and  support good causes. My picks also boast some of my favorite outdoor venues in the City as well.

March 29, 2014 – This weekend, there are two events that I really enjoy, this Saturday March 29th, is Farmhouse Delivery’s Fais D0-Do, Gumbo Cookoff at Rain Lily Farm.  Stroll the gorgeous grounds at Rain Lily Farm, sampling Gumbo from the varied entrants, sipping on bloody marys, listening to Zydeco music.  There are raffle prizes, too. I’m in!  $10 a ticket.  Proceeds benefit Creek People.

March 30, 2014 – this Sunday, 2nd Annual Crawfish Boil at Lenoir, benefiting Austin Food for Life, a non-profit  organization that assists Austin area food workers with health care.  This event will take place in the garden behind Lenoir.  $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

April 13, 2014East Austin Urban Farm Tour – Spend a Sunday afternoon strolling amongst the crops, visiting the chickens, donkeys and goats on four urban farms mere blocks apart. At each farm, chefs will offer tastes of their art, using farm ingredients. Local mixologists, brewers, and wine merchants will share sips. In the fields, farmers will introduce their crops, share their experiences as farmers and answer gardening questions. It will be the perfect opportunity to get your gardening questions solved, with farm tours on the hour.  Proceeds benefit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

Your $50 ticket will tell you which farm to start at, to prevent a backlog at any of the farms. No charge for children 12 & under.
Boggy Creek Farm – 3414 Lyons Road Austin, TX 78702

Food: Wink Restaurant,  Cafe Jose, Dolce Neve, Lenoir, Bufalina.  Drinks: Austin Wine Merchant, Live Oak, Weather Up

Hausbar Farm – 3300 Govalle, Austin, TX 78702

Food: Qui, Bola Pizza, Kome, Anjore Deepa, Dai Due.   Drinks Dripping Springs Vodka, Wahaca Tequila

Rain Lily Farm – 914 Shady Ln, Austin, TX 78702

Food:  Olive and June, Fabi and Rosi, Fresa’s.  (will update with full list)

Springdale Farm – 755 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78702

Food:  Eden East/Hillside Farmacy, Driskill Grill, Peche, Olamaie, Confituras. Drinks  Vinyards of Florence, Hops N Grain, Peche

See my recap of the 2011 East Austin Urban Farm Tour here:

April 19, 2014Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour – Spend an afternoon on a self-guided tour of select Austin-area produce keepers to get inspiration for your own urban coop.  Proceeds benefit the Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc.

My recap of the 2010 Funky Chicken Coop Tour is here:

April 17, 2014Live Fire! – Austin Food and Wine Alliance 6:30 – 9:00
This year at the Salt Lick Pavilion, local and regional chefs will exhibit their culinary mastery over open flames. Stroll the beautiful grounds of the Salt Lick Pavilion, taste the chefs’ offerings, taste a variety of wines and enjoy being outside before summer moves us all back inside. $75.00

Chef lineup:

Rene Ortiz of Angry Bear, Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen (San Antonio), Brandon Fuller of Cafe Josie, Kendall Melton of Contigo, Jeff Martinez of El Chile Cafe y Cantina, Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s BBQ, Matt McAllister of FT33, (Dallas), Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants (San Antonio), Ronnie Killen of Killen’s BBQ (Pearland), Rick Lopez of La Condesa, Monica Glenn of qui, Ben Runkle, Bryan Butler and Josh Jones of Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria, Callie Speer of Swift’s Attic, Josh Watkins of The Carillon, Timothy Rattray of The Granary (San Antonio), Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick (Driftwood), Kristine Kittrell of Weather Up, Reece Lagunas of Whole Foods Market

More about this event from their website: http://austinfoodwinealliance.org/?page_id=610
To order tickets, go here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-fire-2014-tickets-10930275749
My recap of the 2011 Live Fire event here:

April 30, 2014Homegrown Revival Dinner at HOPE Outdoor Gallery.  “A very special dinner on the top level of one of Austin’s most popular landmarks – The HOPE Outdooor Gallery.  The night includes a 5-7 course locally sourced dining experience with music and pairs drinks along copy of  HOPE Outdoor Gallery; Lost &  Found Vol 1 art book & collection sticker pack.”  The dinner will be prepared by Chef Sonya Cote.   This should be a fabulous evening with amazing food, drinks and company. $150.00.  For tickets click here.

May 8, 2014 – Sustainable Food Center Farm to Plate: http://www.sustainablefoodcenter.org/donate/farm-to-plate $125.00

Sip and stroll format, with lots of local chefs, at the beautiful Barr Mansion.  Proceeds benefit the Sustainable Food Center and their many fabulous programs.

 

Austin’s Urban Farms Need Your Voice November 18, 2013

I’m hoping to return to my regular food blogging very soon, but today’s post is about food on a grander scale, and certainly way more important than what I’m growing, eating, canning or where I’m eating out.

The City of Austin has been in the process of updating the Urban Farm Code for nearly a year.  A small, very vocal  activist group  is waging war on the farms, in the name of commercialization of the East Austin neighborhood where they have quietly (and organically) farmed for years.   As far as we know, one neighbor had an issue with one farm, months ago, which started this whole process, and the complaint has long since been corrected and no longer exists.  The farms have many happy and supportive neighbors who love having green space, a place to gather, and local produce, dairy, and proteins from neareby ranches, available for purchase.

I recently heard allegation is that the farms have events that are too expensive for the neighbors to attend.  As the Vice President of Green Corn Project, a non-profit who holds it’s annual fundraiser at Boggy Creek Farm, for which we charge $35-$40 to attend, I’d like to report that this year we raised nearly $18,000, which will enable us to install and maintain organic food gardens for residents, schools and community centers  in East Austin, and other low income neighborhoods, as we’ve done now for 15 years.  The other farms host fundraisers for a variety of non-profits, including the Sustainable Food Center, Urban Roots, Food for Life, and have raised at least $100,000 in 2013 alone.  Much of this money goes to directly benefit these neighborhoods.

We have a website,  where you can read up on the issue, sign as a supporter, and stay up to date.  There is also a Facebook Page and invitation to come to City Council on Thursday, 11/21/13 at 3:30, and sign up to speak in support of the farms, or merely sign in showing your support.

If you’d like to read about the farms affected, they all have websites: Boggy Creek Farm, Springdale Farm, Hausbar Farm, and Rain Lily Farm.

With more and more news about GMO’s, Monsanto, Pink Slime,  recalls, exploding watermelons and all other scary news about our food supply, local, organic produce has never been more important – at least, to me.  (very enlightening  TedX Talk about our food supply here)

As a long time Tarrytown resident (since 1990) I would do anything to have an urban farm next to me.  The lot next to my house has been vacant for about a year, and soon to be a McMansion, I’m sure.  Plus, the soil in West Austin is inhospitable for growing food, which is opposite of the East Austin Blackland Prairie soil.   I’d rather live next to this.

Hausbar crops

Hausbar crops

Springdale Flowers

Springdale Flowers

Broccoli at Boggy Creek Farm

Broccoli at Boggy Creek Farm

Rain Lily Farm

If you’d like to read the proposed changes to the existing Urban Farm Code,  they are here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxzylTILPsr2M1NVMHVYNUZ0TzQ/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1

Please ask the City Council to vote to approve the Urban Farm Code updates, as passed by the Planning Commission, at their meeting this Thursday, 11/21/13.

 

Fall Festival Time is Here! September 25, 2013

Its finally Fall, and that means lot of amazing outdoor festivals in Austin, starting this weekend.

This weekend is for beer lovers!  The Texas Craft Brewer’s Festival on September 28, 2013 from 2:00-8:00 p.m.  This festival will be at Fiesta gardens, and will feature over 130 Craft Beers on Tap, food from Lucky J’s, Salt & Time, Boomerang, Uncle Billy’s and Fire & Soul.  Live music will be provided by Lost Pines, Devil’s Hollow and Boxcar Preachers.  General Admission tickets are $21.79.

Urban Roots Seed to Harvest Kick Off Event, October 1, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:30 at Malverde.  This amazing organization is a “youth development organization that uses sustainable agriculture to transform the lives of young people and increase access to healthy food in Austin.”  Urban Roots is a non-profit and does remarkable work, which you will be able to see in person as you meet and mingle with the youth and Board of Directors.  Appetizers and Drinks provided by La Condesa. $25.00

Texas Book Festival October 26, 27, 2013 at the Texas Capitol.  This renowned book festival will feature  over 225 authors from around the world.  This is a free event.

Green Corn Project Fall Festival October 27, 2013, from Noon – 4:00.  Tickets are $35.00 in advance, $40:00 at the door, and sales cease at 3:00.  This one is near and dear to my heart, and has been my favorite food festival of the year, for many years.  I liked the organization and the festival so much I joined the Board of Directors in December of 2012.  If you are not familiar with Green Corn Project, we are a non-profit, volunteer staffed organization whose goal to to “Feed Austin one Garden at a Time.”  Our primary focus is to provide Central Texans in need, by installing organic vegetable gardens at homes, schools, and community centers, teaching self reliance and promoting community.   We also help maintain the gardens we install, while teaching the recipient gardeners the skills to continue gardening going forward, with hands on training, gardening workshops, and seed starting and transplanting workshops.

The Fall Festival is our main source of funds for the year.   We will gather on Sunday the 27th, on the gorgeous and tranquil grounds of Austin’s oldest organic farm, Boggy Creek Farm, at 3414 Lyons Road, and sip and stroll under the trees, tasting the offerings of Austin’s best chefs and culinary talents.  There will be beer, wine and cocktails, live music on the front porch of the historic farmstead, cooking demonstrations on the back porch, and a silent auction.  Participants are Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, Asti Trattoria, Barlata, Bola Pizza, Cafe Josie, Confituras, Dai Due, Epicerie, Farmhouse Delivery, FINO, Foreign & Domestic, Hillside Farmacy, Lenoir, Lick Ice Creams, Mulberry, Olivia, Olive & June, Pate Letelier, Peche, Richard’s Rainwater, Sesa Tea, Sticky Toffee Pudding CompanyTeo Gelato, Texas Coffee Traders, Texas French Bread, Thai Fresh, Wink, Zhi Tea, Paula’s Texas Spirits, Dripping Springs Vodka, Black Star Co-op and St. Arnolds Brewing.   Get your tickets early online and please come say “howdy” to me when you get there!

For a previous post about the Fall Festival with lots of farm and food photos, go here:

https://austinurbangardens.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/no-grocery-store-day-297-green-corn-project/

La Dolce Vita  This is a sip and stroll event, October 24, 2013 from 6:00 – 9:00 put on by The Contemporary Austin, benefiting its art education programs.  Held at Laguna Gloria art museum on Lake Austin, it is a gorgeous setting, with lots of restaurants and wine on site for tastings.   Tickets are pricier, at $150 General Admission and $200 with Cocktail Lounge privileges.  If you are into supporting the arts, this event may be well worth the ticket price.  No onsite parking, but there is a shuttle available from TXDot Lot, 3500 Jackson Avenue.

Austin Food and Wine Alliance, Wine and Swine November 10, 2013  This annual pork centric event will feature lots of chef prepared pork and lots of great wine in a wonderful outdoor setting.  More info on this one to come as information is available.  (The AFWA has generously donated two tickets to this event to the aforementioned Green Corn Project Fall Festival Silent Auction.)