Leaving Texas

Finally after a long hot summer in Austin, I am back up north in Michigan. Oh, how good it is to be home! I arrive here with a slight tug on my heart from my life I have left after twenty some years in Texas. It is time to move on to new adventures but it is with more than a little regret that I face this change. For a place I never expected to live and then never planned to stay, Texas has shaped my life in a myriad of ways. I came to Dallas a small town mother of a baby and left Austin a city woman and mother of two grown daughters.

Food provides an enduring connection to Texas, perhaps more so than most areas of the country. As with so much in Texas, the food is big and bold. We love our distinct Texas barbecue with that luscious brisket, the smokier and fatter the better. Our Tex-Mex can be had outside the borders but it is never the same without that Texas accent from the cook or server or the locally grown ingredients. College girls’s biggest regret about the move is that she won’t be able to come home to Texas for her barbecue or Tex-Mex. Needless to say we ate at Micklethwaite in Austin several times when she was home in August. If you want lasting memories, it should only be of the best! And breakfast tacos, oh my! The thought of breakfast tacos not being available at almost every corner is almost too much to bear! To cope, I will be a regular reader of The Homesick Texan blog. Fortunately, I saw Lisa Fain last year at the Texas Book Festival in Austin and bought both of her cookbooks. Little did I know I would soon be joining her as a homesick Texan-at least in terms of the food!

This fall, I am excited to see the abundance of crops still available at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City. Last Saturday, I picked up my CSA share from 9 Bean Rows-heaven in a paper bag! This week the share included yellow and black string beans, beet and carrots with greens, salad mix, onions, kale and a huge daikon radish. In addition to a dozen eggs, I also got a loaf of wheat bread made with locally grown and milled wheat. I roasted the beets and cooked the greens in farro cooked risotto style. Some of the carrots and onions are going in with the short ribs, purchased at the farmers market, that I am cooking on this cool and rainy fall day. I love a toasted slice of the bread topped with a fried or poached egg for breakfast. These vegetables and bread and eggs have all been produced with such care that I enjoy the simplest preparations to really let the individual ingredients really shine.

Last weekend, tomatillos and peppers were plentiful. I am hoping to find them again this weekend. If they are as abundant, I am planning on making and canning a tomatillo sauce. The Central Market and H-E-B grocery stores in Texas carried a green chile base sauce that I liked to use to make a green chile chicken stew. This sauce was a delicious shortcut for a quick healthy dinner. Hopefully, I can replicate that sauce-and make improvements including using less salt. This dish was a family favorite so I would love to be able to make it using local produce that I have preserved. Even when I have moved to our new permanent home, I will still have my local Michigan produce available.

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