Wordfree Wednesday Heads to Zilker Park

Loving this new side of Ais4Austin, with the daily themes! And today is the first edition of Wordfree Wednesday. And so, without further ado, I bring you Austin’s Zilker Park!

autumn leaf in treeReedstreesDSC02264

DSC02299

Is that a….

DSC02300Wheels of timeDSC02279DSC02305

Advertisements

Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese on Taste of Austin Tuesday

Welcome to my first post for Taste of Austin Tuesday!

It’s February, and I’m learning that means spring is just about to happen here in Central Texas. I’m thinking gardens and picking out seed packets and eventually (hopefully!) harvesting the fruits of my labors.

And that has to include tomatoes, right? And there are bound to be at least a few green ones that need to be picked before the-blast-furnace-that-is-summer here lets loose its wrath, right?

So fried green tomatoes are a natural.

Basic fried tomatoes aren’t hard to make. But I wanted a recipe that was a little special, with a twist on the standard dinner fare version. And I found it on We Are Founding Farmers, a blog that celebrates the family farmer for all they give us, from the food to the wise stewardship of the land.

I tweaked the original recipe a tiny bit, like substituting finely pressed fresh garlic for the garlic powder in the original (never could stand the taste of the powdered stuff!). You might prefer the original, but we loved this version!

It also gave me a chance to mention one of my favorite goat dairies here in Austin (because everyone has a favorite goat dairy, right?)

Founding Farmers Fried GreenTomatoes with Goat Cheese

Makes about 8 slices: 

  • 3 green tomatoes, cored and sliced 3/8” thick
  • 1/2 cup panko and peanut bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup dry tempura mix
  • 1/2 cup prepared tempura batter (you will have some left over)
  • 1 teaspoon pressed or very finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Founding Farmers Green Goddess Dressing (you have to go to one of their D.C. area restaurants to get this, so if you’re in Austin, use a local Green Goddess dressing instead. )
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, softened*
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions:   

  • Combine cornmeal and panko in a food processor or blender and blend until fine. Set aside.
  • Prepare tempura batter according to box directions, reserving the 1/2 of dry mix in a separate bowl
  • Mix the garlic and onion into the tempura batter
  • Add 1½” of vegetable frying oil to a large skillet and heat until very hot (preferably 350ºF)
  • Season the tomato slices on both sides with coriander, pepper and salt
  • Bread tomatoes in the following order:  dry tempura mix, prepared tempura batter with onion and garlic, cornmeal/panko mix.
  • Place each breaded tomato slice very carefully into the hot oil (using a splatter screen will reduce the oil splatter).
  • Fry until golden brown on one side.
  • Flip and fry until the other side is golden brown.
  • Remove from oil to a paper bag or to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Portion the green goddess dressing and soft goat cheese into small bowls or ramekins.
  • Arrange tomato slices on a plate and serve with dips.
  • Enjoy!

*The best source for amazing, fresh, delicious goat cheese around Austin is Swede Farm Dairies. Owners Tim and LeeAnn, and their hardworking kids produce some of the best goat cheese and goat milk I have ever had (you gotta try the chocolate milk!!)  The farm isn’t in Austin, but lucky for us, they bring it to local farmers markets every week. Check out their Facebook page, find them at your local farmer’s market (tell them Lindsay from A is For Austin sent you!) and watch for a full post about them soon!

Make a Difference Monday and Austin’s Cats’ Angels

Cats Angels Image2I heard about Danielle from one of her friends. “She rescues cats”, she said. “Not just gives them a home. She really rescues them.” I wanted to know more, so I she connected me with Danielle, who is the group’s founder and current President.

“I always cared about animals”, she said. “But I was horrified when I found homeless, starving cats and kittens in my own neighborhood.”  That led her to start feeding the desperate strays she came across. And the kittens were spayed, so the next spring, there were almost none. Someone from the county called her the “Cats’ Angel” and the name stuck.

Cats Angels Image3

That was 10 years ago, and Danielle is still saving the lives of Austin’s most vulnerable feline residents. In the years since the group’s unplanned start, Cats’ Angels has become  a 501C-3 organization, and has expanded to include other foster families.

According to Danielle, the group doesn’t have a central location. All of their rescues are placed in foster homes where the often starved, injured or abused cats can get the TLC they need. Once the cats are well, up-to-date on vaccines and litter-trained, they are ready for forever families.

Cats’ Angles also doesn’t have a fancy website. Just a page on PetFinders. There you can see the cats available for adoption, read about some of her more memorable rescues, and find out more about the organization.

After talking with Danielle, I suspect their simple online presence is more about meeting priorities than making a choice to not have a regular site.  She’d rather be helping these lost animals heal and find a home than working online.

Cats Angels Image 1

Adoptions are handled via an application process, although Danielle assured me it wasn’t complex. She just wants to find a home where these cats who have often been saved from the streets won’t end up there again.

You can request an application by email.  Or you can pick up an application at one of their adoption events at PetCo on Great Hills. Contact Danielle at the adoption e-mail address to find out when the next event is scheduled.

Getting the current Cats’ Angels’ charges adopted is the group’s number one priority. “We can’t accept any more cats now. We are full up, and can only provide for a certain number of cats at a time,” said the group’s founder. “We need to get these cats into homes before we can take even a single cat more.”

If adoptions aren’t on the table right now, consider making a donation to help care for the cats waiting for their own family. Foster families are always needed, especially this time of year. Volunteers are also needed to play with the cats and kittens to help them socialize.

If time is an issue, but you still want to help. consider donating something from their modest but critical wish list.

  • Cat food (Purina cat chow, Wellness or Blue Buffalo, canned and dry)
  •  Clumping unscented cat litter
  • Gently used or new cat beds
  • Cat carriers, cat crates or cages (for showing the cats at adoption)
  • Cat toys

Changes coming to A is for Austin

Rusty Texas star and metal Texas StarsHi all…

When we started this blog, we were hoping to keep up a steady stream of posts about area eateries, festivals, music and outdoor fun. But as it turns out, that’s harder than we thought. Neither our waistlines nor our wallets can handle eating out several times a week. And some of the exciting festivals and events haven’t quite worked with school schedules and homework.  The result has been too much time between too few posts.

But we still want to keep the concept alive. So I’m making some changes to the content by expanding the scope.  So here’s the scoop on the new face of A is for Austin.

Mondays will be “Make a Difference” Monday, an idea I started but hadn’t really gotten off the ground. That’s where you’ll find profiles of people and organizations making a difference for Austin area people and pets.

Tuesdays will be “Taste of Austin Tuesdays”, with recipes and cooking tips for a vegetarian take on Austin cooking, interviews with Austin area chefs, and information on upcoming Austin foodie events.

Wednesday will be “Wordfree Wednesday”, where I can post images of a wonderful place around Austin.

Thursdays will be the day for reviews of local restaurants, events and festivals.  Making that one day a week will make it much easier to keep content fresh (and our calorie intake under control!)

Fridays will be “Find it in Austin Friday”. That will give me the chance to share some of the amazing shops and vendors I’ve stumbled upon around the area.

Sundays will be open for whatever else I want to share. It might be another event, a date night idea, or a restaurant I just have to talk about.

One other element will be changing. While I love taking the photos for my collages, sometime the venue just isn’t right for snapping a dozen shots.  So future posts might have one picture, a collage, or a few photos. I will let the setting decide.

I look forward to writing this blog for a long time to come, and hope that these changes will make it more useful for you. See you on Sunday for the new beginning!