Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q

With Memorial Day weekend around the corner, my mind is on barbecue. And you can't talk about Texas BBQ without mentioning Rudy's. It's a classic.

Rudy's locations are multi-functional, consisting of both a bbq stand and pump station! The original location, founded in Leon Springs, Texas, was a gas station, garage, and grocery store - hence the "country store" aspect. 

Granted, after it was first introduced in 1989, the barbecue has since taken over both the grocery and gas services. And once you have it, you'll understand why. Rudy's serves up all the basics: red-rimmed smoked brisket, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, and house jalapeƱo sausage.

And plenty of sauce on the side:

With an abundance of oak trees in Texas, Rudy's is unique in using oak wood for their pits as opposed to hickory or mesquite.

When you first arrive inside, it's time to queue in line, but don't worry, there's plenty of entertainment.  First there's the Cutter Cam where you can watch the butchers hack away at all the meats, making you feel even more hungry.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ode to the YETI Cooler

With Spring in full swing and Summer fast approaching, the propane tank on our grill has already had to go for a fill up (and that doesn't take into account the use of our charcoal kettle). 'Tis bar-b-que season, and you can't beat the heat without an ice-cold drink in hand. And where do we all turn for that? Our trusty cooler, of course.

 YETI makes quality, made-to-last coolers that really get the job done. Drinks stay cold and even the ice won't melt. Recently we received this YETI Hopper:

Easy to carry, yet promising to keep cold for days, my husband is eager for the summer and making good use out of it with a trip to the Salt Lick.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lavender Mosquito Spray

April showers bring May... bugs!

Summer is soon upon us and we all know what that means - mosquitos... But not to fear my friends, here is one of my favorite bug repellents. Brought to you by Lavande Farms, specializing in Lavender fields, the spray not only smells lovely, but it actually works.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Philosophy's Birthday Cake

For my husband's birthday I kept nagging him about what kind of cake he wanted. He, unlike me, does not have a sweet tooth, so finally one day he said, "Just make me that cake that's on your soap in the shower. The recipe actually sounds pretty good."

Of course, I shot him back a dubious look. Cake recipe from the shower? On soap, no less. What was he talking about? Was my dashier husband loosing his marbles already?

Well, turns out, once again for not the first time and what won't be the last time, my husband was more observant than me. While I hastily lathered clean each day with a soap that I thought was meant to smell like birthday cake, here he had noticed the product itself was only half the story. On the label was a recipe - kitchen lovers rejoice!

So, make the cake I did and it turns out that Philosophy not only provides lovely bath products, but fabulous recipes, too! Next up, Cinnamon buns....

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup cooking oil
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup of water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter flavoring

Combine flour and salt. Beat margarine, butter and oil for 30 sec. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add one egg at a time; beat for 1 minute after each. Combine milk, water and flavorings. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Cool 15 mins. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Green Jacket

It’s that time of year again: “A tradition unlike any other,” The Masters.

From Pimento Cheese sandwiches to the classic Caddie jumpsuits, there are many traditions at The Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA.

Most notably of the traditions may be the 1st place grand prize, a Green Jacket awarded to the tournament winner. It's a classic three-button blazer not unlike the one men in my family have worn for generations to Sunday service and brunches. However, this one is the uniquely iconic Masters Green; well, the shade is called Pantone 342 to be exact.

Since 1967 Hamilton Tailoring Company of Ohio has produced the famously recognizable green blazer. But, the fabric is produced from a mill in Georgia, of course. In 1990 the head of Hamilton Tailoring bought a roll of 500 yards of fabric, enough to make 200 jackets. A smart investment if you ask me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fish out of Water

I got this cute oil and vinegar glass container at an adorable French boutique in Middleburg, VA.

Every time I use it, it just makes me smile.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Texas Bluebonnets

Spring comes early in the south. We've spotted our first Bluebonnets:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Where to find Classic, Old-School Austinites

Waterloo was founded in 1839 as the seventh, but final, capital of Texas. Shortly thereafter, Waterloo was renamed to Austin, as Stephen F. Austin is to Texas what George Washington is to the United States.

For a while, Austin was a quiet capital, better known as a college town with the University of Texas founded in 1883 and St. Edward's University in 1885. The city was founded with around 500 residents, half of whom fled the city when the government recessed or school was not in session. But once the capital boomed, it boomed! The secret was out - Austin was cool.

In the early 1900s the city's population was around 22,000 residents versus a 656,000 population as of 2000. Nowadays, statistics state that over 100 people move to Austin each and every day. And that trend does not seem to be slowing down or changing any time soon.

But what about those that were here before the boom? The oldies-but-goodies. The "founders" if you will. Well, I’m lucky enough to have married into an “old” Austin family. Most, if not all, of my husband’s family and friends went to the same elementary school together, rooted for one of the only high schools in the city (go Maroons!), and matriculated to the University of Texas, or "UT".  For years they’d go to the same Austin stalwarts, not just to eat, but also to gather, see other friends and family, and dine on what was (and for some joints still is) quintessential classic Austin grub.

When you refer to "the old Austin" many places and nostalgic thoughts can pop into one's mind.  Over the years whenever we've visited a classic Austin restaurant I’ve always listened, knowing that someone at the table had a unique personal memory or story to be told. Below are some of the stories, quotes and places where you're likely to stumble upon old, classic Austin and Austinites:

“For years people have come in on Sundays and stayed for several hours eating and drinking.  You’d see big families that essentially made the restaurant into their own personal dining room, just like home. Matt would greet you upon entering, as he did at the original location on Caesar Chavez. It’s perfect.” - a nostalgic 65-year-old Austinite

"You kids would run around and play while we would sit and eat. It was a mess, but it was like home, we knew everyone at every table so someone was always watching out for one another's kids." - a mom speaking to her 35-year-old son

"To order it right, you always say 'gimme a large bob'" - on the famous Bob Armstrong dip

2613 South Lamar Blvd
Sunday-Thursday* 11am - 10pm
Friday and Saturday 11am - 11pm
*Closed on Tuesdays

Monday, February 23, 2015

Where to eat Queso in Austin

Texas is known mostly for two types of food: Bar-b-que and Tex-Mex. With BBQ you get your ribs, sausage, and brisket. With Tex-Mex you get your tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and chips with salsa, or more popularly, chips and queso!

But queso isn't just queso anymore. Especially in Austin, where many places have taken what used to be a cheese dip and turned it into a bowl of many wonders, adding peppers, meat, and most notably guacamole. Austin has become well known for it's queso and here are some of the best places to get your queso fix:

2613 South Lamar, Austin, TX

You don't get more classic Austin than Matt's Famous El Rancho, and you don't get more classic queso than the Bob Armstrong Dip. Authentic Tex-Mex 101, the Bob dip starts with a cheese base, followed by a scoop of seasoned ground beef, and a dollop of guacamole. As the bumper sticker says, "Gimme a Large Bob!"

Best accompanied by: 
a Margarita, of course! Frozen or on the rocks, either one does the trick.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Homemade Gumbo, NOLA style

A father is set to meet his daughter's boyfriend for the first time. She is from Texas, he is from Louisiana, New Orleans no less. As so many courtships are these days, a neighboring state is the closest you can get to the boy next door. But I digress...

The father knows exactly what he wants to ask the native New Orleanian. He wants to hear how the boy makes a dark roux (pronounced "rue"). The father knows there are different theories, old and new with the newer ones involving - gosh forbid - microwaves, but he is looking for the secret that has stood the test of time, having been passed onto him by his own southern nomadic ancestors. The trick is to burn it.

He could have tested him even more by asking him to name the Trinity (Onion, Celery, Bell Pepper, all together but in no specific order).

What you'll need...
2 Andouille sausage
1 Rotisserie Chicken
1/2 lb shrimp, de-shelled, de-veined, but tails on!
2 qts chicken stock
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stock of celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of frozen okra, thawed
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon of Salt
White rice

What to do...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Old-fashioned Cream Soda

A cold drink that can be so warming. 

Sometimes a good old-fashioned cream soda just hits the spot.