Sunset Valley farmers market closed due to weather

The vendors at the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market Sunset Valley will merge with the SFC market downtown today because of the inclement weather.

The downtown market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with vendors from both locations, according to market manager Suzanne Santos.

The other Saturday markets appear to be open and operating as usual.

Adán Medrano to teach Texas Mexican cuisine at Central Market on Monday

Truly-Texas-Mexican_coverLast Texas Independence Day, I told you about K.R. Wood, a singing chuckwagon cook who helps tell the story of the Texas Revolution through food and song.

This year, Adán Medrano wants to tell a different story.

The author of “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes” will be talking about the origins of Tex Mex and the evolution of the indigenous cuisines of Northern Mexico and South Texas at a cooking class at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd. He’ll also demonstrate how to make four dishes from his cookbook: Cactus and Shrimp Gorditas,Chile Ancho Meatballs, Salsa Ranchera, and Enchiladas de Queso with Ancho and Pasilla Chiles.

You can buy tickets ($50) to the class at

Austin360 Taste Test: How does soybean spread compare to peanut butter?

WOWButter is a new soybean spread that its makers claim tastes “just like peanut butter.”

Well, does it?

Ahora Si reporter (and mom of two) Anjanette Gautier and I tried this new product, which is available at Wal-Mart, for this week’s Austin360 Taste Test. We filmed this video last week, ahead of what could be a landmark study that suggests that feeding children peanuts at a young age can actually reduce their chances of developing an allergies.

You can check out all the videos in this series at

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a gluten-free twist

Ahead of her appearance at this weekend’s Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest, here’s a recipe from Kristine Kidd’s newest book, “Gluten-Free Baking” (Weldon Owen, $24.98) for pecan thumbprint cookies.

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies from “Gluten-Free Baking” by Kristine Kidd. Photo by Annabelle Breakey.
Pecan Thumbprint Cookies from “Gluten-Free Baking” by Kristine Kidd. Photo by Annabelle Breakey.

The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the convention center downtown. Find out more at

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
For the filling:
1/4 cup sugar mixed with 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Raspberry or blackberry preserves, or your favorite jam

In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of the pecans and the sugar until the pecans are finely ground. Add the rice flour, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt and pulse to mix well. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse until mixture resembles a fine meal. Add the remaining 1/2 cup pecans and pulse once to mix in. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough starts to form a ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

With dampened hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. With your fingertip, make a well about 1/4-inch deep in the center of each ball. Fill the well with cinnamon sugar, or jam, or fill half the cookies with cinnamon sugar and half the cookies with jam. Refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.

Bake the cookies until they start to color and the bottom edges are light brown, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then gently transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

—From “Gluten-Free Baking” by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen, $24.98)

Digging deeper into salted/unsalted butter debate

buttersticksLast week’s query about salted versus unsalted butter inspired many of you to write in with your own thoughts, and it was fun hearing how you each developed your preference for one over the other.

Sam Stephens pointed out that unsalted is a must for people on a low-sodium diet that has helped him feel great, despite a terminal illness that he’s been living with for many years. He said that he’s been amazed at how well he can eat on a low-sodium diet, especially now that his palate has adjusted to using unsalted butter and zero salt at the table. “This low-sodium diet has turned my life around in the last year,” he wrote.

Gaye Kriegel said it’s too much trouble to keep both in the house, so she defaults to salted butter and decreases the amount of salt if a recipe calls for unsalted, and Briana Miriani said that she’s had to resort to unsalted when making meat or pasta dishes and didn’t like the taste of the results.

Lou Scaruffi, a fellow salted butter user who keeps a stick out on the counter so it’s soft enough to spread, brought up a point about preservation: “I’ve heard the origin of salted butter was to act as a preservative. Hearkening back to the days of the ice box, I think most people at the time kept their butter in a covered dish on the kitchen counter.”

Gail Fitzwoller, a cook and “big baker,” says she uses salted butter for everything, but several people, many who were born or lived abroad, including Ruth Deitch and Argentina native Hadassah Schloss, said salted butter was either a luxury or an anomaly.

Wendy Gordon, who grew up in a house that was practically salt-free, wondered why a sweet treat would need salt, especially when Americans eat so much salt as it is. Salt is a flavor enhancer, so it brings out nuances of flavors in everything from caramel to chocolate that your taste buds wouldn’t be able to detect otherwise.

Doug Hector told a great story that might help bring all this together. His German mom and American dad married after World War II, and some years later, she asked him to drive out of his way to buy unsalted butter. His dad couldn’t understand that there would be much of a difference, but he obliged anyway. Upon their return, she spread that unsalted butter on a slice of homemade rye bread and then, to his horror, dusted it with salt from the salt shaker.

“My father just about lost his mind!” Hector wrote. “My mother earnestly claimed that putting salt on unsalted butter generated a superior taste than just using salted butter.” Whether that was due to a scientific disparity between the water or fat content in one versus the other or simply a habit that re-enforced the cultural norms of her childhood home is up for debate, but in my mind, it proves that the difference matters because personal preference matters.

SFC Farmers’ Market East closed today, moving next week

57b8257cf66c198e0c6016db4074126b-c5eec31aa4fe3d8f6501ea53e50a9720Suzanne Santos, who manages the Sustainable Food Center farmers markets, emailed me this morning to say that the Tuesday market on East MLK Jr. Street won’t take place this week because of the cold weather.

She also noted that, starting next week, the market, which takes place on Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. year-round, will move one block south to 2921 E. 17th St., directly next to the SFC offices, due to construction on MLK.

Santos said they’ll have some special activities next week to mark the occasion.

A tour through Austin Lamb Jam via #Austin360Eats

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of judging the first Austin Lamb Jam, an event at the Barr Mansion hosted by the American Lamb Board to remind us just how much there is to love about lamb.

Sixteen restaurants, including The Bonneville, Peche, Proof & Pantry Jacoby’s, Buenos Aires Café and Salty Sow, competed with lamb dishes ranging from pho to tacos.

Jacoby’s meatball on chickpea polenta won best in show, and the team will travel to New York to compete in the finals later this year.
I’ll let the #Austin360Eats photos that y’all posted on Instagram tell the rest of the story…

<script src=”//”></script><noscript>[<a href=”//” target=”_blank”>View the story “Austin Lamb Jam” on Storify</a>]

Richard Linklater spoofs ‘Boyhood’ in new video for PETA

Spoofing his acclaimed movie “Boyhood” ahead of the Oscars on Sunday, Richard Linklater teamed up with PETA this week to release a short little video about the director’s choice to become (and stay) a vegetarian.

The concept is pretty cute: Pretend that he’s checking in with PETA every five years since 1985 to see how things are going in his animal-free eating.

The joke at the end about how he’s hardly aged is amusing, but this video is among PETA’s more benign tactics to get people to stop eating animal products. For a drive-by of their more offensive ones, check out this Business Insider list of 17 of their most shocking campaigns, and here’s how PETA defends the intentionally controversial approach.


WATCH: ‘Meat and potatoes’ sportswriter taste tests organic juices

Everybody is juicing, it seems.

Well, everybody except sports writer Brian Davis, who was gracious enough to help me try H-E-B’s new line of organic juices last week.

I found out about the juices through social media just a few weeks ago when local cookbook author Monica Holland (@monica_h30 on Instagram) posted a photo of an apple, lettuce and gherkin juice. Gherkin and lettuce juice? Too good to resist putting to the test. We also tried H-E-B’s apple and celery juice.

You can see the results of the taste test below and find the rest of the videos on our YouTube page.


Austin360Cooks: Slow Cooker Chicken from @kmarleydilworth

Slow cooker chicken doesn’t have the same crisp skin as one that is roasted in the oven, but that’s OK with Kay Marley-Dilworth.

Marley-Dilworth, who blogs at and Instagrams @kmarleydilworth (you might know her as @atxfoodnews on Twitter), usually posts about restaurant news, but it’s fun to watch what she’s making at home, too. Last week, she tried her first slow cooker chicken that she started in a Crock Pot before work. Before leaving for the office, she placed the raw, whole chicken rubbed with salt and pepper on top of a layer of carrots, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions and mushrooms and turned the slow cooker on “low.”

Ten hours later, the meat was falling off the bone and dinner (plus leftovers) for her family of three was ready. What are your favorite slow cooker meals? Do you have a favorite recipe for cooking a whole chicken? Tell us by using the #Austin360Cooks hashtag on your posts on social media or in the comments below.