Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 378 – BLT and Fajitas! January 14, 2011

Ok, I know I was said I was tired of typing “No Grocery Store Challenge, Day ___” , but in reality, I kind of miss it.  So, I’ll insert one every now and then when I get excited about a new find or meal.  Today was both.

For breakfast, fresh squeezed tangerine juice from the farmer’s market.  This will dwindle soon, as their season is nearing its end.  I’m contemplating ordering grapefruits and oranges from C&S Groves, but haven’t done so yet.  For lunch, I knew I wanted a BLT, but wanted to make it healthier than it could have otherwise been.  I had Barrie’s bread from Antonelli‘s Cheese Shop, an abundance of cheese as well, and some already cooked Kocurek Family Czech Bacon, local farm tomatoes and my garden lettuce.  In my cheese box, was some Pondhopper and it smelled like the perfect party with the bacon.

The result was the Pondhopper BLT.

Pondhopper Cheese

I cut off a smaller end of the Ciabatta than I wanted, but intended to load up on veggies.  I slathered on some Texas Olive Ranch olive oil, and toasted it in the oven.  The resulting sandwich was Kocurek Bacon, Pondhopper Cheese from Antonelli’s, a Milagro Farm’s tomato and my home grown lettuce. on toasted Barrie’s bread.  I can’t think of anything better.

BLT with add ons

If you salt and pepper the tomato and lettuce, it really makes a difference, as does toasting the bread.  Just sayin’.

So after too many errands to deal with this afternoon,  I finally stopped by the house around 3:00 to put some dried black beans in to simmer.  The beans were a gift from my oft mentioned friend Kristi, from one of her farmer’s market visits outside of Austin.

I dumped them into a pot of water, threw in some garden herbs, and the biggest smoked hock thing I’d ever seen, which was from Salt and Time.

smoked hock

I also threw in salt, pepper, chopped jalapenos, a bit of chopped green onion, and some chopped tomatoes.  Then, I left the house for 3 hours and they were almost perfect when I got back.

I then went out again for more chores, then turned them off and decanted them in to tupperware for later.

I met a friend at Bar Congress for a glass of wine, then home for dinner.  We also shared fried green tomatoes, an appetizer.

Then, I had thawed some Richardson’s Farms Fajita meat.

Richardson Farms Skirt Steak

It looked like a single package, but once out, if was a lot of meat, thinly sliced and tenderized.

Richardson Farms Skirt Steak

I seasoned it with salt, pepper, cumin and some red cayenne seasoning seared until it was medium rare.  I heated up a little of the black beans.

Black Bens (from farmer's market not here))

I built two beef fajitas with black beans, Full Quiver Cheddar and of course, a drizzle of Taco Deli dona, on two flour Tortillas from El Milagro on 6th Street.   Garnish is garden cilantro (from under its freeze protection). Voila! Fajita dinner!

Taco Dinner

And there are leftovers of everything!


No Grocery Store, Day 311-Uchiko Wine Dinner November 9, 2010

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On Sunday, day 311, I woke up way too early, still suffering from a self-diagnosed pinched sciatic nerve.   Yikes, this thing is painful.  I have way too much to do to be down with a bad back, and how cliche that seems.  I made some garden migas for brunch, with Vital Farms eggs, garden peppers, farmer’s market tomatoes and onions, and garden cilantro.  I mixed in exactly 2 crack tortilla chips from the Barton Creek Farmer’s market, and topped the whole plate with Crack dona sauce from Taco Deli.  I skipped lunch to save room for the Uchiko Wine Dinner that my dear friend Michelle invited me to.

Uchiko called this dinner the Sunday Wine Project.  It was amazing.  It took place in the back private room, and knowing that I might not be able to sit the whole time and might need to walk around, I sat at the end of the table.  I was surprised when the server opened up the wall, to reveal the kitchen and Paul Qui, our chef for the evening.  It was dramatic and fun.  The menu looked to be very light and I was glad for that – little did I know of the surprises to come.

First Course – wild salmon roe, charred yuzu meringue

Second – coho salmon, wild huckleberries, meyer lemon, thyme

Third – black trumpet mushrooms, dungeness crab, uni.  Chef Paul, having already said that he uses these dinners to experiment on dishes, told us this was his take on pasta.  I didn’t buy it, until I tasted these black mushrooms, sliced to resemble pasta, and with similar texture, and amazing flavor.  Win.

Fourth – dungeness crab, thai chili, sunchokes.  This dish was hard to eat, because the crab was still in the shell and no cracking devices were provided, but it was delicious.  We all wanted to drink the thai chili sauce, or have something to sop up every bit of its deliciousness.  The sunchokes were sliced thinly and fried like potato chips.  So good.

First off menu surprise – Toasted rice sorbet with shaved truffles.  A delicious palate cleanser.

Second off menu surprise – A whole grilled sockeye salmon with pickled vegetables.  This was de-boned at the table and was delicious.

Fifth – Sauteed hedgehog mushrooms, Oregon truffle puree.  Another delicious mushroom dish, and we were hard pressed to eat all of the truffle puree with chop sticks, but we tried.

After this dish, Chef Paul broke out some hoagie rolls and I got scared.  After all of this, he was going to make sandwiches?  That’s crazy!  But no, he took an ever slight break to make food for his staff.  I thought that was awesome.

Sixth – foie gras, licorice, cashew, balsamic with candied almonds and candied garlic.  I was stuffed by this point, but hey it’s foie.  There wash hardly a trace of the licorce, for which I was glad.  It was wonderful.

Seventh – Pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling sorbets – I was full, and these were tasty, thoughtful and a bit sweet.  I am a huge fan of the corn sorbet, so after tasting each of these, I called it a night.  A night like no other.

This was so much more than dinner, it was an interactive experience with the chef, and it was fabulous.  I would highly recommend it.  Thank you Michelle for a wonderful evening!



No Grocery Store, Days 276 and 277 October 5, 2010

Day 276 was Sunday, my favorite day for breakfast.  So, I sauteed some garden onions, and scrambled 2 Vital Farms eggs into the onions then loaded them down with garlic chives and tarragon from my garden and finished them off with some grated Full Quiver Cheese, and a dollop of Dona Sauce from Taco Deli.  Not hungry for lunch, and having done paperwork all day, I was kidnapped by friends who thought I sounded a bit down.  They swooped me up and took me to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, the site of all things happy, filled with love and amazing cheese.  I bought a bottle of wine and some Salt and Time Genoa Salami and we went and had ourselves a little outdoor picnic of yummy cheeses, wine and Barrie’s great bread.  We sampled some olive oils and called it dinner.  Perfect.

Day 277, after a chilly walk around Lady Bird Lake, I managed to eat 2 boiled eggs for breakfast.  I was still full and skipped lunch.  I had defrosted a Richardson Farms 7 Roast over the weekend.   Ever since my lunch at Whip- In last month, I’ve been craving Indian Food.  I didn’t know anything about this cut of roast, but I figured low and slow was called for, so I rubbed it down with Garam Masala spice, and Cayenne Pepper, seared it and put it in the slow cooker on high with several cups of water, garlic and garden onions.  After an hour, I turned it down to low and let it cook for about 5 hours, until the meat fell off the bone.  (The bones were my clue that this was a tougher cut of meat.) The house smelled wonderful, with those aromatic Indian spices.  I ate it with some Lowell Farms Jasmine rice, having no other vegetables in the house.   I took some pictures to share, but beef roast is a hard thing to photograph, so I’ll spare you.   Some of my photos remind me too much of James Lileks’ Gallery of Regrettable Food.  (

I really need to explore Indian cooking more, because I find the smells and flavors absolutely intoxicating!


No Grocery Store, Day 245 September 3, 2010

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For breakfast, I had 1 slice of Kocurek bacon, and a scrambled egg, doused with Taco Deli dona sauce from the farmer’s market. Nothing beats starting off the day with mind numbing heat, no?
For lunch, I made egg salad with local eggs, and house made pickles.
I was invited to attend an event at The Belmont, to introduce their new chef who has changed up the menu to use more locally sourced food. There were drinks (mine was cucumber something) and passed around appetizers, which were all good. I have always enjoyed The Belmont- the decor feels like Frank Sinatra might be in the next room. The swanky decor, the palm trees and the big band music. I’m looking forward to having a locally sourced meal there soon. We were sitting outside enjoying the lightening show to the West and watching it move closer. It began to rain and we stayed outside as everyone else went in to take cover. We decided to leave when it really started coming down, and found ourselves driving in a gully washer, so we ducked into Cafe Josie to ride out the weather. It was wonderful sitting in the side of the restaurant with a metal roof and listening to the rain. We split the special, grilled tuna and the meatloaf.


No Grocery Store, Days 235 and 236 August 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 9:02 pm
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So, the hottest two days of the year, and it is hard to find anything I want to eat, much less to cook.  But, I’m trying to be good.  Day 235, Monday after a 3 mile walk, I had 2 boiled Vital Farms eggs.  Salmonella free and I’m happy as can be that I don’t have to check to see where my eggs came from.  And now with the meat recall, it is even more comforting to have confidence in my food sources.  I wasn’t really hungry for lunch, so I snacked on some Full Quiver Cheddar in the afternoon.  I’d been thinking about my chicken stock all day, so I pulled a jar from the freezer, chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, leftover roasted chicken, grated cheddar, and a couple of those crack tortilla chips from the farmer’s market, and had tortilla soup for dinner.  And it was delish.  There is no reason for me to hoard chicken broth, since chickens are available year round, and I can make it any time.  But, the hoarding mentality never leaves me, and my freezers, both of them, remain full of wonderful food I’ve made to store until winter comes.  Heaven knows, at any time in Austin, Texas, we might get a blizzard and be snowed in for weeks.  When that happens, I’m prepared, and the good eats are here.  Perhaps I’m part squirrel.

Day 236, I had a slice of my friends home prepared bacon, and a scrambled egg.  I took mom to lunch, and we ended up at Central Market Cafe.  I think with all the Hatch Green Chile hooplah, I was drawn to Central Market, as this is my favorite time of the year.  Normally, I’d stock up on already roasted, and peeled, hot Hatch chiles, to have them in the freezer all year long.  The Hatch season is so short.   I did glance longingly into the grocery store and saw lots of Hatch signs.  A dear friend had surgery today, and she was on my mind, and we eat at Central Market Cafe and both order the grilled salmon salad.  And I pick off my wasabi peas, and she makes fun of me.  Because that’s how Cecilia and I roll.  So I ordered the grilled salmon salad, picked off my wasabi peas, and thought of her and sent good thoughts her way.  Later in the day, I went to visit her at the hospital, and she was doing well. I stayed too late to plan an elaborate dinner, and I had Hatch Chiles on my mind.  I had some Anaheim Chiles at home,  so I pulled a couple out and roasted them on the stove top.

Roasting Anaheims on the Stove

Once roasted, I tucked them in a plastic bag to steam, to loosen the skins.

Steaming the Chiles

As they steamed, I chopped the rest of the roasted chicken from Sunday, half of a tomato, and grated some cheese.    Then I peeled, seeded and chopped the chiles.

I scrambled 2 eggs with the chopped tomatoes and poured them into the pan.

Just eggs and tomatoes

As the eggs firmed up, I added the chicken, then the chiles, then topped it with some grated cheddar.  For some added heat and creaminess, I spooned a dollop of Taco Deli Crack Dona in the middle, and had a healthy, quick, no fuss meal, in less than 30 minutes.

Roasted Green Chile, Chicken Frittata

Slow Food, fast.