Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Leftovers - Continued

And what to do with half a sheet tray of short ribs when the chef is at work the next day?  Well I found the perfect blog to answer that question, Last Night's Dinner.  As we speak the meat is simmering with tomatoes for a nice ragu, and I may even try my hand at homemade pappardelle.  Or I'll just boil some spaghetti.  Wait, did someone comment about risotto?  Yum.

Monday Leftovers - Short Ribs

By Chef Jim Severson (aka Honey).  Topped with Sevy's Bitchin' BBQ Sauce, available bottled at the restaurant ($6.95) or make it yourself from the recipe in my favorite cook book:  Sevy's Grill, A Collection of Our Favorite Recipes.

1/2 c. onions, small dice
1/4 c. poblano pepper, small dice
2 TBL. garlic, minced
2 TBL. olive oil
1 TBL. salt
1 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 TBL. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayonne pepper
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce
1 qt. ketchup
1 1/2 c. water
In sauce pot, heat oil and saute onion, poblano and garlic until soft.  Add chili powder, salt, and cayenne to "bloom" the flavors.  Add sugar, vinegar, worcestershire and water.  Mix well then add ketchup.  Bring to boil, then lower to simmer for 45 minutes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Have A Happy And Safe Memorial Day

From  A Heap o'Livin', by Edgar A. Guest (1916):

Less hate and greed
Is what we need
And more of service true;
More men to love
The flag above
And keep it first in view.

Less boast and brag
About the flag,
More faith in what it means;
More heads erect,
More self-respect,
Less talk of war machines.

The time to fight
To keep it bright
Is not along the way,
Nor 'cross the foam,
But here at home
Whithin ourselves - to-day.

'Tis we must love
That flag above
With all our might and main;
For from our hands,
Not distant lands,
Shall come dishonor's stain.

If that flag be
Dishonored, we
Have done it, not the foe;
If it shall fall
We first of all
Shall be to strike a blow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's All Good Tonight

It's summer!  At least for the college kids - high school has three more (half) days next week.  I'm getting back in the swing of having a pack of boys underfoot, Operation "Jacked and Tanned" has been a poolside endeavor during the week (when they're not working).  And tonight, for a return engagement, North Dallas' own brilliant band the Subterranean Aviators will be returning to All Good Cafe.

See you there!  Until then, you can watch my favorite performance, here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Takeout: Why. Even. Bother. ?.

Subtitled:  Lucky For Someone I Don't Review Restaurants.

Just Deserts For Dessert

Wonderful news that Hillcrest's Brian Adam Smith was named DISD Teacher of the Year!  I've had the privilege of seeing this man in action over the past 5 years, and he can really cook when it comes to inspiring kids.   From coaching softball, to playing three instruments in the school musical, to teaching music, to directing the bands, to raising his own three kids as a single parent - this man has already made a lasting impact in so many lives, including my own.  He inspires me to be appreciative of those who work hard every day to help kids lead better lives.

How To Cook Disenfranchisement

There seems to be many, many recipes as evidenced by news this morning that a state judge has turned over Denton County's vote to become wet, held last May and approved by a majority of voters.  A similar thing happened a few years ago in Dallas (but before we got to vote on it) when a state judge threw out a (certified) Dallas petition seeking a modified wet change in a JP district.  And with the new petition to become modified wet, I've been advising, "Don't hold your breath", even while record numbers have signed to change the current laws in the City of Dallas.

Because it really doesn't matter what the voters want in this issue.  If you look at the Denton case, the lawsuit to overturn the vote was funded by the City of Frisco.  And if you look at the Dallas petition from two years ago, our county commissioners refused to hold the vote or fight the state judge's ruling.  And not one city council person has come out to state that they think changing Dallas to modified wet would be good for Dallas - in fact at the Zoo event last week one emphatically was against it.   Go ahead, poll them, I bet you'll find the majority either don't want change or are completely apathetic to the issue.

So you end up with a bunch of citizens who repeatedly sign a petition to allow a vote to change a law.  Each time it's shot down by the political bodies who (for a variety of reasons) find ways to not change the law.  So I guess my question is, if the majority of people want change, but are blocked from voting on it (or their vote is thrown out) over and over again, who is really the disenfranchised?

Sounds like a good reason for a party, a disenfranchised Tea/Coffee/Martini Party.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Edible Bike Plan

A few years ago the city installed sidewalks along Churchill Way and Preston Road, going south to Forest Lane.  Our neighborhood is full of pedestrians on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, previously neighbors would squeeze between overgrown shrubbery and 50 mile-per-hour traffic to attend Sabbath services.   Now I see sidewalks are being installed on Preston south of Forest, which is great, because that is exactly what my bike plan for Dallas would include.  It would also include more people going out and buying a bike and riding it to the corner supermarkets, for conservation, for economy, and for fun - but to do that, they must feel safe.

I do.  Once sidewalks were installed that went all the way to Preston-Forest I bought myself a bike.  It's customized with fenders (don't like that rain-thong look when I hit a puddle) and a removable basket on the front.  I wear a helmet, granted it's a skateboarding helmet, but my baseball cap fits better underneath.  If my kids happen to see me riding, they inevitably begin the chant for Almira Gulch as she went to collect Toto, that's OK, part of the enjoyment is my middle-aged defiance of my children.

The front basket happens to exactly fit one recyclable grocery sack which can be enough food for several meals.  I split trips between Tom Thumb (no bike rack, but their patio is wrought iron) and Whole Foods (they have a nice bike rack), bringing in the basket because when it's full, you're done shopping.  Gone is the half gallon of milk, better is the quart purchased more frequently, a half dozen eggs lasts our family 2 weeks, so do we really need more?

That's not to say I've completely given up driving to the store, it's difficult to get diet Dr. Pepper in any significant quantity in the basket.  But it has become a replacement to the "just running out for a few things" trips to the corner markets.  It's a great cardio workout and doesn't take much more time than firing up the car and fighting traffic and parking.   It's a completely edible plan, try it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coming Soon To Our Local Markets?

I just came across the on-line newsletter for Specialty Foods Magazine.  They're the ones who hold the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City (June 27-29th).  New things they've seen in the May edition include: red kiwi, umami paste in a tube, inhallible chocolate, guarana fruit from Brazil, and Whole Foods is getting into the pub business.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Savanna Smiles at the Dallas Zoo

Last night was the Patron/Preview party of the new Savanna exhibit - 11 acres put to very good use.  A cheetah interacted with the toddlers, through the glass, all the kids thought "Kitty" was playing, all the parents looked up to see how tall the enclosure was.  The elephants have an amazing setting, three waterfalls and so much land.  And the giraffes can give you a kiss as you walk by!

I met some people for the first time and saw some old friends.  Mayor Leppert was there (met him), Sheffie Kadane (sorry if I offended when I asked if you were on the Council), Linda Koop (Hillcrest HS grad).  David Holben brought his kids, they help every year at the Zoo-To-Do fundraiser.  And I will forever think of the three cheetahs as Ellen Winspear's big cats, here kitty, kitty.

Here's the pictures!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Texas "Not-An-Income-Tax" Income Tax

When is an income tax not an income tax?  Apparently when you decide to give it a different name, like "Franchise Tax".  Because it is written in our state's constitution that we cannot have an "income tax", we instead have a tax that defies logical calculation and is punitive for businesses that have high costs of rent, sales, or administrative costs.  But make no mistake about it, this is a tax that is income based.

Yes, it's that time of year when our CPA sends us our annual Texas Franchise Tax return and I rant about how the law was rewritten.  But I figure if nobody complains, how does anyone know there's a problem?

But, you might think, the tax rate is only like 1 percent, what is the big deal?  (Actually for retaillers like restaurants, groceries, yogurt stores, the rate is only one-half a percent.)   Because that rate applies to a company's gross margin (sales less production costs), and does not allow a company to also deduct other important operation costs.

Let's take a restaurant as an example, restaurants need space; space for people to sit, space for people to drink, space for people to sit on a patio.  Space is good, it generates rent for the owners and property taxes for the community.   Space costs money - but this expenditure for space is Franchise taxable, yes it is.

Or let's look at other taxes.  Like those property taxes on the space, which we pay with our rent.  Property taxes are good, they go back to the city, the county and the schools.  Taxable.  Or the Gross Receipts tax we pay (14%) on all alcoholic beverage sales.  Gross Receipts taxes go to the city and state, and help pay for important things like police.  But while GR taxes are assessed and paid to the Comptroller of the State of Texas, insultingly, we must also pay Franchise tax on these taxes.  Yes, we are taxed on taxes because they are not a deductible expense.

Or waiters.  It's tough to have a full-service restaurant without waiters.  They deliver the food.  And their best buddies, the bussers help too, hopefully to make the guest's experience ever-so-much nicer.  And having these people employed, earning wages so they can feed, clothe and house their families is a good thing, right?  We were very pleased that in 2009 we did not have to lay off one single person even though guests were spending significantly less and corporate catering dropped.  But, those wages (along with federal and state wage-based taxes) are taxable for the Franchise Tax calculation.

But hey, you might say, isn't it only for companies that make over $1 million buckaroos?  Well yes, but that is based on total sales, not on what you end up with on the bottom line.   So lets say I have a "company" that writes downloadable software (think apps), I operate out of my home with no employees (no state employment taxes paid either), pay no rent (or property taxes) and because there are some specific uses for my software, I sell $999,999 worth.  All mine, zero Franchise taxes.

Compare that to a restaurant, with higher overhead and labor costs $2 million in sales would typically only generate about $120-$150,000 on the bottom line, but their taxes would be about $6,000 - $7,000 depending on their production costs.   Well gollee, you might say, even after taxes that's a pretty nice chunk of change, whatcha' complaining about?   But let's say your restaurant cost $1.5 million to build and start up, this is the money that's used to pay back the investors or the bank loan.  And both want and expect payback, they are not in the lending-money-to-lose-money business - or else they stop lending to those types of businesses completely.

There was a drop in income from 2008 to 2009 in our industry while many costs went up (minimum wage increases, employment tax increases, liability insurance increases, property tax increases), most of us saw minimal drops in franchise taxes.  Or another way to look at it, our Texas "Not-An-Income-Tax" Franchise Tax came to a whopping  24% of our net income for 2009* compared to a more manageable 7% in 2008 .  So much for being a non-income tax state, if you ask me.

So what, you say, that's just part of the cost of having a restaurant in Texas.  Well, yes you are right.  And ultimately this tax burden is paid by the guests, driving up costs to eat out.  But here's the side that damages our economy because of how this has been written.  Businesses like restaurants (or other industries with high costs like renting space, employing people and paying taxes) are being disincentivized by the state to grow because the returns have been significantly lowered.  It means that businesses that don't rent space, or pay property taxes, or other taxes, or employ fellow Texans are incentivized to grow. 

Now which do you think is better for our fair state?

*  Net income before adjustments for federal income taxes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rainy Weekend Reading

Landing in our mailbox just in time for the rain, the spring edition of Gastronomica.  There's an article about the growing contemporary influence on Belgian cuisine (our General Manager at Sevy's, Stefaan Vandemoortele, is Belgian); a biography of Tillie Lewis, pioneer of tomato canning in 1940's California;  a delicious looking young chef named Alexander Feldman of Alba in Boulder, Colorado; and (in kind of a continuation of last month's article, Why Are There No Great Women Chef's? by Charlotte Druckman), Mastering the Art of Feminist Mentorship, a look at the movie Julie & Julia in the light of "one woman finding herself through the professional achievements of another."

If you don't have a subscription to this quarterly, issues are usually for sale at Barnes and Noble.

A Taste of North Texas History

Could what we now call just Pecan Pie originally be from Fort Worth?   Mrs. Vesta Harrison claims to have made up the recipe for "Texas Pecan Pie", in Like Wine and Cheese....Older is Better, published by the City of Dallas for the Public Library (1974).   Sue Murch, historian, recorded many ladies in area nursing homes asking about how and what they learned to cook while growing up.  She put to print a portion of their interviews and combined them with recipes from each to give readers a flavor of what it was like to cook back in the early1900's.

Mrs. Harrison came to Fort Worth at the age of four and was a member of the North Fort Worth Baptist Church for 67 years, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt.  Besides, her recipe won her $500, which back in the day was a huge chunk of cash.  In her own words, this is her recount: 
"Yes, the $500 Pecan Pie...The Star Telegram used to bring a Mrs. Chitwood from Chicago to hold a cooking school in Fort Worth.  The second year she was there---now I was not quite eighteen---I dreamed one night of a pecan pie.  The next day over there I said, 'Mrs. Chitwood, have you ever made a pecan pie?'  and she said there wasn't any such thing!  Well, I told her I'd dreamed of one.  She just brushed me off, and so I thought, 'Well, by gollies, I don't know how, but I'm gonna mess up something making a pecan pie.'  So I just made a sorghum syrup pie and put a cup of pecans in it, and it was good.  I took a piece of pie over to Mrs. Chitwood the next day, and I said, 'I want you to know that after dreaming of a pecan pie, I went home and made one."  She told me it was delicious and asked me how I made it."

"After I gave her the recipe of what I did, she said, 'Well, let's put this down and I'm going to send it to Washington.  Do you mind?  We'll name it the Texas Pecan Pie.'  So she sent it to Washington and it was about 5 days, a telephone call come and following the telephone call a check for $500 to me for the pecan pie recipe."
Now there are certainly enough clues here to go back and determine what dates Velma would have been talking about.  According to the book, she moved to Fort Worth at age 4 and at the time of writing (1974) had lived there 75 years, which means she moved to Fort Worth in 1899, she would have been 18 in 1913.  According to some sources, there's no known written recipe for Pecan Pie before 1925.  I know my math's good, but the rest of the story would have to be verified before this could be recorded as fact.

For instance, who sent her the $500 from Washington?  Wouldn't there be some record of this - $500 is a very generous prize for that time, maybe there's more record of this?  Ida Chitwood was a person of note in Dallas' food history - in the 1930's she ran a cooking school, published cook books for area flour mills (under the name of Southern Laboratory Kitchens),  and performed cooking demonstrations at the Old Mill Inn down in Fair Park.  I can't find any information about her from Chicago, however, and her Centennial Cook Book (1936) does not include Ms. Harrison's Texas Pecan Pie recipe.

But by God I believe that good church-going lady.  I'm going to keep checking newspaper archives.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shhh....Free Guacamole

We stopped by our neighborhood Cantina Laredo the other night, while we waited for our take-out order we enjoyed a delicious margarita at the bar.  When we got home, enclosed in our bag was a flyer letting us know we can get a FREE fresh top shelf guacamole by texting "CL183" to "89686" .   They'll also notify us if there's any additional coupons or updates.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary Dr. H

He's been here 5 years now, so I think it's time to dust off that pie recipe I concocted in his honor.  Because if anyone has proven that he can chew on something a little crunchy, it's Dr. Michael Hinojosa of DISD.  I hope he sticks around long enough to enjoy a dessert course - can we now give him some credit for improving Dallas' recipe?

Food In The City

At today's Days Of Taste class at the Dallas Farmers Market, a nice lady from  the DFM spoke to the kids about all the farmers who sell in the sheds and where they come from in Texas.  Then she went around the room of sixty-six fifth graders from Travis TAG Elementary and asked them if they were growing anything to eat at their homes (question - is catnip a human food?).  I had to keep my arm by my side - this class was for the kids, but I did lean over and whisper to my fellow volunteer, "We have olives".

We have olives, and blackberries, and blueberries, peaches, figs, meyer lemons, limes, shallots, garlic, arugula, butter lettuce, tomatoes, cherry peppers, banana peppers, and (whew) that's just what's fruiting so far.  Chives, dill, three kinds of basil, sage, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, stevia.  Our pomegranite trees are about to bloom but so far nothing on the black raspberries nor on the persimmon or mandarin orange trees.  And I just planted the lemon cucumber yesterday.

Why am I turning our backyard into a mini-farming garden?  Besides people thinking it's just so cool that you have real lemons and limes growing right outside your kitchen, I listened to an interview of Rosalind Creasy on The Splendid Table a month ago and I think she explains it so much better than I ever could put into words.    It's after the discussions on pizza, bulghar, and the interview with Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer, maker of the "Dream" knife (which probably should be at the top of every gourmand's wish list).  All well worth listening to.

Taste of Dallas Fashion

Sixty-six terrific behaving 5th graders from Travis TAG Elementary today shopped and bought fruits and vegetables at the Dallas Farmers Market to make some awesome fresh salads.  

Sponsors rock.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May Wine and Food Dinner Featuring Selby Wines

We are honored to host winemaker (and former Texan) Susie Selby of Selby Winery at our May Wine and Food Dinner on Monday, May 24th. Featuring their delicious wines from the Russian River and Sonoma valleys paired with food especially created to compliment each vintage. Seating is limited for this event, reservations required (no OpenTable reservations, please). Sparkling reception at 6:30 followed by four courses beginning at 7:00, $59.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Contact Jimmy, Stefaan or Amy M. at (214) 265-7389 or via email at for your reservation. Hurry before it's sold out!

Pear, proscuitto and crispy brussel sprout skewer
Cristalino, Sparkling
Crab and fennel ravioli, "Five Lilies" Chardonnay cream, and marinated heirloom tomatoes
Selby Chardonnay, Russian River, 2008
Grilled rabbit sausage, whole grain mustard sauce, beet and onion salad
Selby "Old Vines" Zinfandel, Sonoma, 2007
Smoked beef short ribs, buttermilk whipped potatoes, baby artichokes and roasted red peppers
Selby Cabernet, Sonoma, 2006
Caramel, chocolate and macadamia nut tart
Selby Zinfandel Port, 2007

8201 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75230

From The Missouri Bureau

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Is Mascarpone Month

Paula Lambert is one of my favorite Dallas food people, while she's been friends to the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters, her passion remains the Dallas food scene and she spends many hours giving back to our community.   I'll admit, she's been a long time friend, I remember having dinner at her dining room table when I was 28 years old.  I'm not sure of her exact age then, but I think she was only like 28-and-a-half at the time.

And then there's her cheeses, which are superb enough on their own merits for anyone to want to love this genteel, gracious, Fort Worth native.  One of my favorite sold at her Mozzarella Company (down on Elm in Deep Ellum - store hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-3pm) is their Pecan Praline Mascarpone Torta.  I've stopped counting the number of parties I've attended and brought a plate of this cheese encircled by gingersnaps.   It's a sell out every time.

So when I opened our monthly statement from Paula Lambert's company and read her May newsletter (available via email, IJS), it was a reminder to stop by and purchase some more when I'm down at the Farmers Market on Wednesday.   And when I finish writing this, I plan to "Like" The Mozzarella Company on their facebook fan page.   According to Paula,
Mascarpone is not actually a cheese.  It is a clotted cream.  In Italy, Mascarpone and other fresh cheeses such as ricotta are known as laticini (little milk products) rather than cheeses.  Mascarpone is very rich.  It is classified as a triple creme meaning that its butterfat is higher than 72%.  It has a creamy, thick and velvety texture.  It has the taste of cooked cream with a very, very faint hint of tartness.

We make our Mascarpone by heating cream in a bain marie.  Once the temperature of the cream is about 200 [degrees] F we add an acid that causes the cream to curdle.  After a few moments, we carefully and delicately ladle the curds into a cloth to drain overnight in a very cool place.  The next morning we have Mascarpone.  In Italy Mascarpone is typically used in desserts such as Tiramisu.  It can also be sweetened with sugar or honey to serve with other desserts or added to savory sauces.  Alone it can be melted on pasta for the ultimate cream sauce.  And it is great on scones.
But besides the news of Mascarpone Month, there's all kinds of things going on with the Mozzarella Company this week.  Tomorrow night at 8 pm (and again at 11 pm) you can watch Chefs vs. City, All Star Dallas, where the teams compete at Mozzarella headquarters.   Then Thursday, Paula is the featured producer talking to kids about food down at Dallas Farmers Market for the Days of Taste program sponsored by the D/FW Chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.   Cheese is one of those things kids know generally from the hard white stuff on their frozen pizza or the melted goo mixed in their EasyMac.   Who would think that cheese can be sweet, and like a dessert?  I hope they get to taste a little of my personal favorite.

And Saturday, the 15th, the Mozzarella Company is participating in the Fort Worth Herb Festival from 9 am to 3 pm at the Botanical Gardens.  Darn, they are not having an Herb Salad Dressing Contest - because I have a "runner up" recipe if they were.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mothers Day

MOTHER By Edgar A. Guest, from A Heap O' Living (1916)

Never a sigh for the cares that she bore for me,
Never a thought of the joys that flew by;
Her one regret that she couldn't do more for me,
Thoughtless and selfish, her Master was I.

Oh, the long nights that she came at my call to me!
Oh, the soft touch of her hands on my brow!
Oh, the long years that she gave up her all to me!
Oh, how I yearn for her gentleness now!

Slave to her baby!  Yes, that was the way of her,
Counting her greatest of services small;
Words cannot tell what this old heart would say of her,
Mother--the sweetest and fairest of all.

Amy's Agrilicious Imaginarium Tour

Last July I posted about my delight in traveling Highway 281 from Dallas to San Antonio.  And today reading Unfair Park, I see that a writer from the New York Times agrees with my love of this stretch of edible Texas.  Then Nancy Nichols over on SideDish asked for readers' fantasy culinary destinations, to which I replied that this trip, for some, can be as good as anything you'd have to fly to taste.

I mean think about it, Texas is the second largest agricultural state in the US, growing more than 60 different commercial crops.  But how many of us get out and explore the areas in Texas that produce these delicacies?  We're known best for our beef, perhaps allowing memories of state-bred fruits and vegetables to dim, our taste buds pounded down by the mediocre flavours of genetically modified, off-season imports. 

And how about that Texas wine industry?  It takes no longer to drive from Dallas to a vineyard than it does from San Francisco to the Napa Valley.  But how often do we explore and appreciate this?  Did you know that Texas climate and soil are very similar to parts of Spain?  Our agricultural department is helping state olive producers develop orchards to create more quality Texas olives and olive oil based on their early success.

We've seen a strong desire lately for a closer relationship with what we consume, whether it's by having chickens in the backyard, advocating for community gardens, or shopping at farmers markets featuring actual farmers.  And I have to think, feel, hope that there are others besides just me that would find a tour of the bountiful cornucopia of Central Texas a fun trip to make.

So I've charted out a weekend getaway for just such an adventure, travel would be from Dallas to San Antonio (and back) via luxury bus, leaving on Friday morning and returning on Sunday evening.  It would need to be between May and July, since that's peach season, and I love stopping for fresh orchard peaches at McCall's (sorry did I mention that this is my fantasy?).  It's just fictional so far, unless by chance I get 30 or so emails stating "I'm in". 

Friday:   8am-9am - Load up and leave.  Coffee and croissants on the road:  Cleburne, Glen Rose, Hico, Hamilton, Lampasas.  First stop - Fall Creek Vineyards, Tow, Texas.  Picnic lunch, wine tasting.  Resume trip:  Llano, Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg.  Second stop - Fredericksburg Farmers Market.  Walk, stretch, buy.  Resume trip:  5-10 miles.  Third stop - Fredericksburg Winery.  Wine tasting, sample items from farmers market stop.  Resume trip:  Comfort, Boerne, San Antonio.  Check into hotel (my vote would be Hotel Contessa, it's all suites, right on the riverwalk, and an amazing roof top terrace/pool).  After spending the entire day together on the bus, perhaps dinner should be left to everyone to arrange on their own?  Or we cross the street and take over Casa Rio - I'm great with either.

Saturday:  Before the heat builds too much, another bus ride to just south of San Antonio to visit Sandy Oaks Olive Orchards, looking and tasting the 9 different varieties of olives they grow.  Back to San Antonio for a tour of the Center for Food of the Americas at the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio down the river at the former Pearl Brewery.  Maybe a little free time to explore?  Regroup for a bus ride for dinner at El Mirasol, a San Antonio favorite located in the north east neighborhoods.

Sunday:  8 am- 9am.  Load up and leave.   Heading north on 281, Spring Branch, Blanco.  First stop:  McCall Creek Farms for fresh peaches and vegetables.  Resume trip:  Henly, Dripping Springs.  Second stop:  Dripping Springs Vodka tour.  Drink, shop, enjoy (after all, you don't have to drive).  Resume trip:  Johnson City, Marble Falls, Burnet (stop somewhere along here for a quick lunch?).  OR, can snack and have something more substantial in Glen Rose at Rough Creek Lodge in the (later) afternoon?

Back in Big D by 6:30 pm.  In bed by 7:00 pm.

UPDATE:  Over on SideDish was the recommendation of cheese and beer production - sounds delicious to me.  I think this trip would be over-the-top fun if a couple of Dallas chefs were to participate as well.  And gift bags, there has to be (environmentally friendly recyclable grocery) gift bags with important things like wine openers, crackers, fresh bread, bottled waters, magazines.

Happy Friday Hour - Or The OceanTini

Maybe this weekend, like me, you're looking for something perfect that goes with an opera based on a whale?  Or maybe you were one of the 100 diners at Sevy's Grill last week for the DMagazine SideDish Supper Club dinner where the premier of Ketel One's Oranj Vodka was sampled pre-dinner.  Or maybe you just want a really great summer martini for the back yard patio.  Here's the recipe.

1.25 oz. Oranj Ketel One Vodka
.25 oz. Gran Marnier
.25 oz. Creme de Cassis
1/2 oz. fresh orange juice
juice of 1 lime wedge

Shake.  Sip.   Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

College Food

Fat Sandwich?  KFC Double Down?  McGangBang?  Or my favorite, DOB's Toilet-Bombing Heart-Molester?   Must be almost time for summer break.

Kitchen Crappy? Me Too

Mine's not small, but the best of equipment usually ends up down at the restaurant.  Like my FryDaddy.  And a few vintage cast iron skillets.   But here's a book that can help me overcome my shortage of modern-day accoutrements for meal preparation.

  Last July I wrote about fellow UT-D grad and El Centro culinary school grad Jennifer Schaertl and her website .  Well, her book has been published, Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens (HCI Books, 18.95) and was reviewed in the Dallas Morning News last Sunday (5/2/10).  Overall?  They said it's definitely NOT crappy - very helpful to those home cooks with small, and ahem, understocked kitchens.

Congratulations Jennifer!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celebrating Wednesdays

I personally think it's a great idea to celebrate Wednesdays with a little happy hour stop, and at Sevy's we're celebrating a different cocktail each week of May.

Wednesday, May 5th - Cinco de Mayo kicks off $5.00 top shelf Don Julio Tequila Margaritas.
Wednesday, May 12th - Grand Marnier Grand Smash cocktails $5.00.
Wednesday, May 19th - Debut of Crown Royal "Black", $5.00 tastings.
Wednesday, May 26th - Belvedere vodka martini's, $5.00.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Welcoming Robin

Robin Plotkin has a blog?  Yes, she does - and it's delicious.  And it's going on TDCB's blog roll.

Her latest post is a shout out to Jamie Oliver to come on by and check out the food revolution we're helping kids in Dallas experience through Days of Taste.  She would know, she's been the director of the program for the last seven years.   Her blog discusses health, nutrition, diet (she a registered dietician), motherhood (got a little baby) and cooking and is entertaining to read.  Try it out!

Score Five For The Collection

Canton's Trade Days didn't yield much more than an old copy of Irma S. Rombauer's, A Cook Book for Girls and Boys ($2), so after driving back to Dallas I decided to make one more stop at a local antique store than can usually be relied upon for a few good old books.

Score!  Added to the collection, and from the history of Big D is the Motherhood Class Cook Book, from the classes conducted by Mrs. E. C. Poole, teacher at Tyler Street M. E. Church, South, published in 1923.  From 1940 is Let's Eat, Favorite Recipes of Members of Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts (compiled and edited by The Finance Committee).  Published around 1947 is Favorite Texas Recipes by Margaret Boone (compiled and published by Metzger Dairies) who for many years was a Home Economics teacher at Sunset High School.   And finally, With Or Without Beans, by Joe Cooper (published 1952) is an informal biography of chili wtih help from a few "Chilosophers".  More Texana lore than cook book, but mostly fun.

Both of the non-Dallas cook books involve Latin cuisine.  First, reprinted in 1945 is Mexican Cookbook, by Erna Fergusson (The University of New Mexico Press) which when originally published in 1934 educated many Yankees about the use of chiles in food.  Second is Libro de Cocina de Los Aliados, or the Allied Cook Book, a 1944 publication of the Allied Sewing Committee, Guatemala, C.A., all of the recipes are both in Spanish and in English.  And tucked within, a letter addressed to a Mrs. Spence and written on motel stationary from 77 Ranch Courts on Harry Hines Blvd, a very nice thank you note regarding the loan of the book to a fellow guest from Lima, Peru.