Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

Austin is becoming known for a lot more than just barbecue and Tex-Mex these days, but what were people in this city feasting on 125 years ago? The first cookbook published in Austin is helping to answer that question. 

The cookbook was compiled in 1891 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which still exists. Mike Miller, director of the Austin History Center, dug it out of the archives and researched some of the people behind it for his new book, Austin’s First Cookbook: Our Home Recipes, Remedies and Rules of Thumb

"Cookbooks at that time, they weren't the recipes of everyday food," Miller says. "Most of the women who did that knew the recipes, and they were passed down orally from mother to daughter."

"These [recipes] are for special occasions," he says. Listen to our interview with Miller and read on to see some of the recipes. 

True Tex-Mex Cuisine’s Long Adios

Apr 11, 2015
Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

This article originally appeared on Texas Monthly. Read the full story here.

Is Tex-Mex a fading cuisine? It sure seems that way in Houston, where I find it’s getting harder and harder to find the authentic stuff.

First, we’d better define what true Tex-Mex is. According to a non-scientific survey… no vegetables – except for maybe a few shreds of iceberg lettuce on the tacos or a single wilted leaf of it under the scoop of side-dish guacamole, thus rendering the dish a “guacamole salad.”

When everything seems to be the same 4 or 5 ingredients rearranged.

Fall in Texas is synonymous with the sweet taste of pecans, be it in pies, cookies, or by themselves. And although it may be early in the season, pecan sellers have already begun to set up stands along Central Texas roads.

This year’s early winter freezes, in addition to the ongoing drought, will undoubtedly have some effect on the season’s production rates. But because Texas is large and areas that grow pecans experienced varied weather, the Texas Pecan Growers Association says buyers should expect prices to be about the same this year as last year.

“The crop is not really low. When the crop is really low, the prices usually go much higher, but because there is a decent crop in Texas, they shouldn’t go too high," TPGA Associate Director of Sales and Marketing Blair Krebs said.

Whole Foods has come under fire for launching a pilot program to sell rabbit meat in some of its stores. The Austin-based company says it's spent four years developing humane rabbit farming practices in response to consumer demand.

But regardless, some animal rights activists are hopping mad. petition asking Whole Foods to suspend its sale of bunny meat has garnered more than 13,000 signatures. A group calling itself the House Rabbit Society staged demonstrations at 44 Whole Foods Markets across the country. And PETA has announced it's joining the movement

Wake up, make yourself some coffee … and eat an energy bar made out of crickets?

One Austin company is betting that you'll change your habits, just as long as you don't mind eating bugs. John Tucker is the owner of Hopper Foods, which makes a protein-rich, gluten-free energy bar made out of cricket flour.

Anytime people talk about Texas and food, the usual suspects come up. (Brisket anyone?) Texas Standard is taking the road less traveled, in search of some uniquely Texas provisions worth discovering.

Bryan Black is our guide. Each month he shares something new from the pantries of the Texas Department of Agriculture with the Standard. This month: Crazy Water, bottled in the town of Mineral Wells, where the water is renowned for its rich, naturally-occurring mineral deposits.

You know how frustrating it is when you can't catch your waiter's eye? He may be thinking the same thing about you.

Diners distracted by their phones have become a real pain in the restaurant business, interfering with the flow of transactions and generally slowing things down.

"I would say probably 7 out of 10 people play with their phones throughout their meals," says Catherine Roberts, general manager of Hogs and Rocks, a ham and oyster bar in San Francisco's Mission District. "People are definitely on their phones excessively. It does gum things up."

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

"It really bothered me," she says. "The 47 million people on food stamps — and that's a big chunk of the population — don't have the same choices everyone else does."

A tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury, Vt., includes a stop at the "Flavor Graveyard," where ice cream combinations that didn't make the cut are put to rest under the shade of big trees.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

People stand in line for up to five hours to eat at Franklin Barbecue. The Austin restaurant, run by Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacey, has earned national praise for serving slow-smoked Central Texas barbecue within the Austin city limits. 

Franklin Barbecue has been closed for the past couple of weeks for an expansion that includes a new smokehouse. It is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, July 8. Aaron Franklin swung by the KUT studios to talk about it. You can read the interview below or listen to it here. 

The Food and Drug Administration official who recently suggested that the wooden boards used to age cheese for centuries may be unsafe probably did not expect to start a cheese storm. But she did.

In a letter to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, FDA dairy safety chief Monica Metz wrote:

Laura Taylor

More low-income Texas children have access to free and reduced price lunch over the summer than they did in 2012, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), based in Washington D.C.

FRAC says Texas added 297 "summer meal sites" across the state in 2013. Those are places at schools or non-profit organizations where children whose families make less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level can get reduced-price meals through the federal Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program. Children from families earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level get free meals.

In the last five years the number of olive trees in Texas has increased rapidly, but even with tremendous growth several farmers say it’s not enough to call it the next oil boom.

How hard can it be for school cafeterias to swap white bread for whole-grain tortillas, cut sodium, and nudge kids to put more fruit and vegetables on their trays?

Tougher than you might imagine, according to some schools.

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Customers lined up today for their last taste of tacos from Tamale House #3 on Airport Boulevard. Owner Robert "Bobby" Vasquez died last week, and the restaurant announced on Facebook it would close the location after 36 years. Tamale House East on East 6th St. will remain open.

"Everybody misses the place," said Connie Salazar, the long-time companion of Vasquez. "I'm going to miss him too."

Baton Creole food truck owner Lynzy Moran has been cited twice by the City of Austin for trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Once it was for collecting grease to be recycled into biodiesel. Another time it was for trying to compost food waste. Now she drives the hot oil she uses to clean her fryers from her East Sixth Street location to a commissary for disposal.

"I'm literally having to travel with hot oil in my car every night, which is also very dangerous and pretty scary," Moran says. "[I've] definitely burned myself a few times."

Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

Last month Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made a much-debated statement while answering questions on Reddit: He said Taco Cabana makes some of his favorite breakfast tacos.

Mando Rayo, a self-described “taco journalist” in a city that takes its breakfast tacos very seriously, decided to press the issue. On Tuesday, Rayo picked up breakfast tacos from one of his favorite Austin taco spots, Veracruz All Natural, and hand-delivered them to Mayor Leffingwell’s office. 

Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

KUT News

These days restaurants are spending obscene amounts of money on limes. Think about what that means for Mexican food alone: limes are used in practically everything, from margaritas to ceviche to guacamole.

Last week, the rising price of limes became personal for this reporter.

I stopped by La Moreliana, a small eatery in southeast Austin that serves up authentic tacos. The food was great – but the tacos were missing the citrusy, acidic bite only lime juice can add.