One of the delightful treats we picked up from the Valentina’s location on Saturday morning was this churro Chex mix from Kristina Wolter, my food stylist friend behind girlgonegritsfoodstyling.com. She shared the recipe she used to make this sweet snack.
Churro Chex Mix
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups Rice Chex cereal
4 1/2 cups Corn Chex cereal
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heat oven 350. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a pot, add the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 1 minute and then add baking soda and set aside.
Put the Chex in a large bowl, and pour the hot caramel over the cereal and mix until all cereal is coated. Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cereal. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for another 5 min. Let cool before breaking up. Store in an airtight container.
The Austin chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier has always offered scholarships for local culinary students, but this year, the organization of women in the food industry is offering stipends for culinary professionals who are already in the industry and who want to seek educational development, such as take the Certified Cheese Professional Exam or attend TEXSOM, the annual Texas wine conference.
This is the second year that the group, which was founded in 2003, has expanded the scholarship offering to include stipends and examination fees. Applications are open to Central Texas women who are pursuing full-time culinary coursework in a culinary arts or food- or wine-related professional development. You can find the application at ldeiaustin.org. The deadline to apply is Aug. 31.
“For years we’ve been helping students finish their studies and pursue their dreams in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries. We’re excited to continue doing that, as well as recognize and assist those professionals already in the industry seeking to further their education with our Beyond The Classroom stipends“ said Kendall Antonelli, scholarship committee chairperson.
According to the website, “LDEI is an international organization of women leaders who create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, beverage and hospitality professions.”
Scholarship applicants must have completed at least 20 credit hours, have a G.P.A. of 35 or higher, and be enrolled currently in a local certificate or associate’s degree program in culinary arts, baking and pastry, or hospitality and restaurant management. Scholarships are awarded based on academic accomplishments, references, financial need, goals, aspirations, initiative, and culinary-related experience. Scholarship funds may be used for tuition or program fees only. Checks will be issued directly to institutions. Funds may not be applied to living expenses.
Not every cook loves to spend hours in Bed Bath and Beyond picking out pots and pans.
An Austin-based company is taking a millennial-minded, direct-to-consumer approach to selling the tools you need to make dinner.
By selling online only, Made In founders Jake Kalick and Chip Malt knew that they could appeal to customers who were already buying eyeglasses, razors and underwear through the internet.
But why pots and pans?
The easy answer is that Kalick grew up in the cookware industry. His grandparents started Harbour, a Boston-based commercial foodservice company, in the 1920s. He and Malt have known each other since they were 5 years old and growing up in Boston, but they stayed in touch as they started their careers.
Kalick worked in food, first in restaurants and then for his family’s business. Malt was working for a direct-to-consumer apparel company and had millennials’ buying habits on his mind.
“Have you ever thought about kitchen tools?” he asked Kalick one day a few years ago.
That was the start of what became Made In. Over two years, the friends-turned-business-partners dug into the supply chain to find U.S. manufacturers to produce the sauce and saute pans they wanted to sell. Kalick knew the markups that were built into the price of familiar brands, such as All-Clad, so he knew they could increase the quality — and keep manufacturing in the U.S. — by selling to customers directly. Pots and pans might be heavy, but they are relatively easy to ship.
But before they started designing the product line, the company surveyed 100 cooks about what they knew and didn’t know about pots and pans. “Nobody had brand affinity and everyone was waiting until they were married” to buy them, Kalick says. Customers didn’t want the handles to get hot and they didn’t like the current handles on the market, so they engineered slightly slimmer handles that don’t get so hot.
The founders say it was an easy decision to base their company in Austin. They looked at Los Angeles and Miami, but Kalick says the thriving start-up and food communities in Austin — “the Brooklyn of America,” he says — was just the right fit. They moved here in early 2017 and, by September, they were shipping pots and pans across the country.
Having spent so much time in the cookware industry, Kalick puts an emphasis on transparency around what the pans are made of and where the materials come from. “Transparency is a big thing for direct to consumer in general, which is why we explain why we source 430 stainless steel from Kentucky or 304 (stainless steel) from Pennsylvania that has nickel that helps resist corrosion.”
Kalick might have the background in cookware, but Malt says he considers himself the target demographic: He cooks three times a week and doesn’t shy away from calling himself a “foodie.” He still eats at restaurants but also entertains at home.
But selling cookware to millennials is quite different than selling clothing. “In the apparel world, our primary problem was to have people trade away from brands they already love. In this space, it’s a completely different challenge. You go to a 23-year-old and say ‘All-Clad,’ they give you a blank stare.”
Millennials might not be buying homes as fast as generations before them, but they are investing in the stuff in their homes, Malt says, and they are always looking for an excuse to get together. When the founders both lived in New York City after college, they hosted monthly dinner parties for their friends. Food was how they kept their friendship going as they both worked for other companies.
“One of our big missions is bringing back the dinner party,” says Kalick. “We want to encourage people to host get-togethers. Some of the most fun nights are going to a dinner party to eat and drink with someone who does it right.”
That’s when the pots and pans come in. Although experienced cooks like Malt and Kalick can differentiate between high-end and low-end cookware, many beginning cooks can’t. But having good gear “helps you look like you know what you’re doing,” Kalick says.
Twenty- and thirty-something cooks aren’t the only shoppers who need new pots and pans, of course. Even if the prices might seem high to first-time buyers ($79 for a 10-inch non-stick frying pan, $155 for an 8-quart stock pot), Baby Boomers who already have some high-end gear in their kitchen see value in Made In’s induction-capable product line, Malt says.
Within the general categories of stock pot, saute pans, saucier, sauce pan and frying pan, the company sells about 30 different products in various colors, sizes and finishes, and the majority of sales come from the kits that bundle several pans together.
One question they often get is about the safety of non-stick pans. Malt says the fear of nonstick coating is outdated. Decades ago, American consumers heard a lot about a Teflon as a possible carcinogen, but the specific chemical that was of concern — PFOA — is no longer used in Teflon, he says.
However, the concern over Teflon helped the industry find better ways to create a nonstick surface that doesn’t chip or scratch as easily. Made In works with a company in Pennsylvania, which applies three coats of an FDA-approved PTFE, which creates a durable nonstick surface that won’t easily scratch or chip.
Because Malt and Kalick are making Instagram-worthy cooking gear for an Instagram-loving generation, the pans come in several colors on the outside, and on the nonstick pans, you can choose between blue and graphite. They’ll eventually sell chef’s knives and other kitchen gear, but for now, look out for a specialty cookware line this fall featuring designs from Austin-based illustrator Will Bryant.
All Made In pots and pans come with a recipe on the bottom. It might seem like an odd place to put a recipe that you would need to reference while you’re cooking, but Malt says it becomes a talking point for cooks.
“I can’t remember when I looked at the bottom of the pan and had any feeling at all,” Malt says. “It sparks conversation. We just wanted to do something different. We didn’t start this business to do things the way people have always done it.”
Larry Butler, one of the pioneering farmers behind Boggy Creek Farm and a well-known figure in the local food community, died Thursday of liver cancer. He was 70.
In the early 1990s, the former TV repairman and his wife, Carol Ann Sayle, started one of the country’s first urban farms, located on a historic East Austin property along Boggy Creek, and for more than two decades, they ran a farmstand that continues to have a dedicated customer base of families, neighborhood residents and the city’s top chefs.
Sayle and Butler met on a sidewalk in Oak Hill in 1973. She was moving her art studio into a row of businesses where he had a TV repair shop. With three children from previous marriages, they married in 1976 and blended their families easily with the former spouses, Sayle says. “Larry would go hunting with Wayne,” her ex-husband, who died last year, she says. “They coached Little League together.”
In the 1980s, they wanted to embark on a new career of growing food. Butler had grown up in Gause, where Sayle says he rode a horse named Palm to and from elementary school, so that’s where they looked for land to get started. They found 45 acres to start an organic farm, and a few years later, the couple bought the East Austin property and continued to farm at both locations.
They first started selling their produce in 1991, from a card table set up in front of Wiggy’s on West Sixth Street. Later that year, they had a bumper crop of tomatoes, which they sold to Whole Foods, a relationship that lasted until the drought of 2011. After two years of selling produce in front of the liquor store, the Boggy Creek farmers started selling at the Sustainable Food Center’s first farmers market at the corner of East Seventh and Robert Martinez Jr. streets. By the late 1990s, Butler was a fixture at the Westlake Farmers Market on Westbank Drive across from the high school, Sayle says. He moved with the market when it went to Sunset Valley, but then they decided to focus all their sales efforts on the East Austin farmstand.
More time at the farm meant that Butler could pursue another passion: food preservation. Butler loved to can, smoke, jar and otherwise preserve the food they grew, and he was known in particular for his smoke-dried tomatoes. He sometimes taught classes in the farmhouse kitchen, and in 2002, he appeared on a Food Network show that featured his jams and sauces.
Butler’s aging father lived on the property for a number of years, and to make him more comfortable before he died, Butler built a dogtrot-style house behind the farmhouse. A tireless extrovert, Butler loved to give tours, explaining the historical architecture of both the new and old homes, why the soil needed the kind of compost they used and what the government should or shouldn’t be doing about subsidies.
The couple meticulously researched the history of the farmhouse, which was built in 1841 and is as old as the French Legation. Butler loved to tell customers about the letter from Sam Houston that indicates he ate dinner in the house they lived in, located right next to the farmstand.
After the drought in 2011, customers’ habits started to change, Sayle says, especially as food delivery options increased. “He was worried about the future of the farm,” Sayle says. “We spent our last week reassuring him that everything was under control and that we loved him and that everybody’s OK.”
Butler’s son, Tom Butler, is now overseeing the Gause farm, and Sayle’s daughter, Tracy Geyer, is helping with operations at the urban farm.
Butler died Thursday at home. Sayle says they are planning a wake from 4 to 7 p.m. on July 15 at the farm, but until then, the farmstand will have regular hours, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. “The farm is a beast of its own and has to be fed. The farm goes on,” Sayle says. “It’s open right now.”
Paula Foore, co-owner of the nearby Springdale Farm, called Larry a “wonderful mentor.” “He was always so generous with his farming information and tips. A true legend. He will be sorely missed by our entire community.”
Eden East chef Sonya Cote, who has cooked frequently at Boggy Creek, said that the week before he died, Butler was giving tours at a fundraiser to replace the farmhouse’s windows. “We lost our patriarch,” she said. “Just last weekend, he got to tell us about everything he built. I was humbled by the experience.”
“(Carol Ann and Larry) have been the center of the plate, the heartbeat of the local food scene,” former Statesman food writer Kitty Crider said on Friday, just a few days after stopping by the farmstand to buy tomatoes. “Quiet celebrities, they opened their farm to tours, to fundraisers, to national chefs. On my kitchen counter sit four varieties of their tomatoes. I think I will go eat one — standing over the sink — in memory of Larry.”
Before the new library opened downtown, one of the most exciting proposed elements was the Cookbook Cafe, a cookbook-inspired eatery on the bottom floor.
The Central Library opened in October, but today, the cafe opens with a surprise: The books lining the shelves were the collection of Virginia B. Wood, the late food writer who was influential in Austin’s food community before her death earlier this year.
The Cookbook Cafe, which is run by the ELM Group, will features dishes pulled from the cookbooks in Wood’s collection, whose books line the shelves of the interior dining space, as well as in the personal collections of chefs Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren.
So what cookbooks will you find featured on the menu? “The Commander’s Palace Cookbook” by Ti Adelaide Martin & Jamie Shannon inspired the granola parfait, and Heidi Gibson’s “Grilled Cheese Kitchen” holds the recipe for the restaurant’s breakfast grilled cheese.
At a preview event over the weekend, we got to sample a rice pudding with strawberries and spiced hibiscus syrup from “Baking Chez Moi” by Dorie Greenspan. The restaurant will be serving coffee, matcha and tea, as well as beer, wine and spirits. The literary-inspired cocktails include The Adventures of Huckleberry Gin and Murder on the Orient Espresso.
The hours of the restaurant will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The Cookbook Cafe also runs a rooftop coffee cart in the library’s top floor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m.
You can park in the underground lot at the library, but there are also some street parking options. The library is located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Streets, between the Seaholm Development and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
He’s the guy with the Northwest Kiwanis club who runs their annual peach fundraiser. Twice a year, the civic group sells boxes of peaches — in July from East Texas and in September from Colorado — and they are reliably the very best peaches I eat all year.
The money goes to dozens of local groups that the Northwest Kiwanis supports, including Austin Child Guidance Center and Any Baby Can.
The peaches, which come from McPeak Orchard in Pittsburg, Texas, are only sold in 22-pound boxes, but they include instructions on how to freeze them so you can enjoy them for months to come. Each box costs $47, and you can order them online at nwaustinkiwanis.org/peaches for pick-up between 8:30 a.m. to noon on July 7 at Anderson High School.
Two middle school culinary students made a taco last week that tens of thousands of their fellow AISD students will be eating next year.
Janett Macias-Lopez and Cierra Salazar of Bedichek Middle School students were part of a Diced & Sliced cooking competition, a collaboration between the district’s Nutrition and Food Services and Career and Technology Education departments. At Austin Community College’s Eastview campus on Friday, six teams from local middle schools, including the Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy, competed for a really cool prize: Your taco on the menu at AISD schools next year.
As a judge, I got to try all of the competing tacos alongside fellow judges AISD Career and Technology Education Director Tammy Caesar, KXAN Anchor/Reporter Erin Cargile, Superintendent Paul Cruz, Chef de Cusine at L’Oca D’Oro Matt Lester and “Tacos of Texas” co-author Jarod Neece.
Bailey Middle School’s team made a breakfast taco, Gus Garcia’s team created a bacon and ranch taco (a ‘la Jack in the Box, they said during their presentation) and Lamar Middle School made a Brazilian-inspired steak taco.
These were good tacos, but they didn’t make the top three. Dobie Middle School students created a pork carnitas taco with cabbage slaw and an excellent salsa verde that earned second place at the competition, and Kealing Middle School’s team took third place with its chicken fajita taco, featuring a walnut guacamole.
But it was the “Loaded Taco,” made with chorizo and ground beef browned with carrots and potatoes and then topped with fresh cilantro, avocado and a little sour cream, that won over the judges. Macias-Lopez and Cierra Salazar might have had the smallest team, but if the chatter on the judging panel is any indication, their taco will be a huge hit with students next year.
At the Taste of Mexico event earlier this month, I tried a handful of new local food products that you’ll hopefully be seeing on store shelves soon.
Serving a delicious trio of aguas frescas was Alegria, which makes the refreshing drink in hibiscus, cucumber-mint and melon. The drink is currently sold at some neighborhood corner markets, like the Rosedale Market, but with less sugar and more flavor than other aguas frescas on the market right now, you’ll see this product more widely available this summer.
The same is true of Pancho Bigotes Salsas, a creamy salsa company out of San Antonio, with makes a spicy, rich salsa verde with serrano, garlic and cilantro. The company also makes a “chimi hot” version with fresh chiles de arbol and no cilantro, but they are both welcome additions to chips, tacos, scrambled eggs and sandwiches. (I bought a jar at the event it was so good.) Most creamy salsas you can buy in grocery stores now are on the sweet side, but this one isn’t, thanks to the vinegar, spices and egg. With any luck you’ll find this good-on-everything sauce in supermarkets soon, but for now, you’ll have to buy them online.
I discovered Sweet Tsopelik on the rooftop of Mexi-Arte’s popular annual party. This local Mexican candy company uses traditional ingredients, such as peanuts, coconut and amaranth, to makes treats like alegrias, a crispy snack made with amaranth, agave nectar, pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins and lime juice. The company, which sells at the HOPE Farmers market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, also produces tamarindos, palanquetas and mazapanes.
El Norteño Foods makes a line of beef jerky that’s worth checking out, especially if you like the popular Mexican-style jerky called cecina or are looking for a spicy jerky that’s low in sugar. The jerky comes in several flavors, including mango habanero, and they all include a little packet of hot sauce. The meat sticks, which come in lime and habanero flavors, don’t have the hot sauce, but they well-spiced on their own. Find these at convenience stores throughout Central Texas and some H-E-Bs.
There are more than 700 acres of peaches growing in Gillespie County, and for decades, peaches were the primary tourism draw. But in the past 15 years, U.S. 290 has become known for its wineries and vineyards, which bring year-round tourism. The peaches, however, remain a beloved Central Texas treat from mid- to late-May through July.
Cling peaches, the peaches whose flesh sticks to the pit, ripen first, followed by the freestones, which ripe in June and July. There are several pick-your-own options, but many of the peach stands carry blackberries and a variety of fresh produce for sale.
You can find a listening of Texas peach stands and growers, including hours of operation at TexasPeaches.com.
Most of the treats will have an element of gray “to signify the gray cloud that can descend over a beautiful world when someone is struggling with mental health issues. Bright colors inside the dessert represent the hope that always continues,” according to a release.
These events are “designed to educate, entertain, and encourage the community to change the mental health conversation,” says Karen Ranus, NAMI Austin Executive Director.