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Holiday Showcase Comes to Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market


Radishes are in season.

The Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market is having a Holiday Showcase this Sunday to present a host of gift ideas that you can pick or pre-order.

The market, held in the parking lot of the Quarry Market, 255 E. Basse Road, is also changing its hours this Sunday, the same day we set our clocks back an hour. From now through the summer, the Sunday market will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Quarry market is certainly feeding a need within the community. Within five months, it has grown from a dozen booths to 30 every week.

The market structure requires vendors to be local and grow, raise or make their products within a 200-mile radius while not being mass producers.

Among the vendors that show up on a regular basis are those with ready-to-eat products such as organic lemonade, granola, locally roasted coffee, hummus and other spreads, heat-and-eat meals, aguas frescas, paletas, gourmet and everyday baked goods, gluten-free baked goods and tamales. There’s even a natural dog food vendor with loyal fans.

Meat lovers can take home grass-fed beef, wild boar, pastured chicken, lamb and pork as well as farm-fresh eggs from happy chickens.

Shoppers stroll to live music and stop to pick up tips at the occasional cooking demonstration or seminar. It’s a vibrant, yet mellow, Sunday morning ritual for many.

Specialty items available through the holidays include:

9-1 Farm

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage—green and purple
  • Onions—several varieties including red, crystal white and yellow onions
  • Carrots—several varieties including little finger and atomic red
  • Cauliflower
  • Greens—two kinds of spinach, collard greens, two kinds of mustard greens and turnip greens
  • Radishes
  • Cilantro
  • Turnips—purple and white

Bakery Lorraine

  • 9-inch pies—pecan (with Jack Daniels No. 7 whiskey and a touch of molasses), Dutch apple (4 varieties of apples) and oven-roasted pumpkin
  • 10-inch pumpkin cheesecake (made with gingersnap crust and oven-roasted pumpkins)

Bistro Bakery

  • Roasted and stuffed turkey with all the trimmings (gravy, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce) for parties of 10, 20 or 30
  • Assorted pastries
  • Pecan, pumpkin and apple pie
  • Grapefruit-pistachio tart
  • Marvelous chocolate meringue pie

Cowgirl Granola

  • Thanksgiving and Christmas blends
  • Jars of merlot-marjoram mustard, chardonnay-tarragon mustard and homemade mayonnaise
  • Organic Blue Cornmeal Pancake and Waffle Mix (gluten-free)

Engel Farms

  • Sweet fall broccoli
  • Greens such as Swiss chard
  • Beets, carrots and turnips
  • Butternut squash
  • Sugar pie pumpkins
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Radishes Lettuce mix
  • Pears
  • Cauliflower

Fresh broccoli is bursting with flavor.

Engel’s

  • Pumpkin-apple curried soup
  • Cornbread and sausage stuffing

Good Gluten-Free Foods—all gluten-free holiday offerings

  • Herb stuffing
  • Roasted turkey gravy
  • Green bean casserole
  • Dinner rolls
  • Pecan pie (no corn syrup)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • German apple pie
  • Pie crusts
  • Turkey-shaped glazed pumpkin pound cakes

Green Hills Poultry

  • Full selection of chickens, cut-up chickens as well as pieces and parts
  • Farm-fresh eggs

Humble House Foods

  • Gift set of four assorted gourmet spreads

Kocurek

  • Duck leg confit
  • Pâté de champagne

Katie’s Jar

  • Gift boxes full of dog bones or empanadas
  • Hand-braided fleece tug toy or bone
  • Gift certificates

Koch Ranches

  • Fall and Christmas wreaths (made with barbed wire or grapevine and a combination of antlers, leaves, ribbons, ornaments, etc., in fall and holiday decor)
  • Beribboned mistletoe
  • Oak firewood
  • Holiday gift sets featuring preserves, honey and jerky
  • Uncured fresh wild boar hams
  • Lily’s Chicken Ranch farm-fresh eggs

Ming’s Things

  • Southeast Asian spiced nuts

 My Father’s Farm

  • Salad mix in a clamshell container, along with assorted lettuces and Asian greens
  • Lettuces in a potted plant
  • Beet greens
  • Multi-colored radishes
  • Spring onions
  • Broccoli, broccoli raab and broccoli greens
  • Bok choy
  • Fresh cut basil and potted herb plants
  • Squash and okra
  • Greenhouse tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers

Sol y Luna

  • Gingerbread muffin
  • Cranberry-orange muffin
  • Cranberry-walnut-pumpkin bread
  • Cranberry-apple coffeecake

South Texas Heritage Pork

  • Holiday hams
  • Tamales using South Texas Heritage lard and pork

Try some just-picked carrots.

Springfield Farm

  • Skin care products using natural farm ingredients including salve with rosemary, lip balms with honey and a variety of goat milk soaps
  • Carrots
  • Spinach, kale, arugula and beet greens

The Gardener’s Feast

  • Vacuum-sealed six-packs of assorted tamales

The Lemonade Co.

  • Green Machine juice—celery, apples, alfalfa sprouts, parsley, mint leaves
  • Fresh pressed carrot, apple and grapefruit juice
  • Kidney cleanser—watermelon, cucumber, apple and cranberries

Wholesome Harvest Farm

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage—green and Napa
  • Cauliflower
  • Bok choy
  • Asparagus
  • Assorted lettuces including several red leaf varieties as well as frisee, romaine and red oak leaf
  • Greens—arugula, spinach, mustard and collards
  • Root vegetables—beets, carrots and rutabagas
  • Raw peanuts

For information, visit www.quarryfarmersmarket.com or call 210-722-5077.

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Spice Up Your Holidays with Tennessee Jam Cake


Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the batter for Tennessee Jam Cake.

Want to make a cake for Christmas ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about? Try this recipe for Tennessee Jam Cake, which earned my mother a blue ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair one year. It’s an old-fashioned favorite that was one extremely popular in the South but isn’t seen too much anymore.

It’s better if you make it at least a week in advance to let the flavors coalesce. Don’t frost it, however, until the day you cut into it.

I have made the cake twice now in recent years. Both times I played around with the recipe, using whatever leftover jams I had in the refrigerator, as long as it equaled 2 cups. This year’s mix included fig, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry.

I also use whatever dried fruit on hand, which included blueberries, apricots, cherries and cranberries. They all work together with the cinnamon and allspice to create a winter treat.

When you are making this cake, exercise a little patience. I don’t have two mixing bowls, so I had to stop and clean the one I had used for main batter in order to whip the egg whites. No problem. Also, folding those stiff egg whites into the batter requires a slow, steady hand. It still went together in under 15 minutes.

Tennessee Jam Cake

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup blackberry jam
1 cup strawberry preserves
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 eggs, separated
1 cup ground pecans
1 cup chopped dried figs, raisins or dates, or any desired combination of dried fruit

Caramel Frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rum
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pound powdered sugar

Tennessee Jam Cake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a tube pan.

Mix together flour, cinnamon, and allspice. Set aside.

Cream shortening for 1 minute before adding sugar. Add jam and preserves. Beat egg yolks and stir into sugar mixture. Mix buttermilk and baking soda and let sit for 1 minute. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately until well mixed. Stir in nuts and dried fruit. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let rest 10 minutes before turning onto cake rake. Immediately turn onto serving plate. Let cool before frosting.

To make frosting, bring margarine and brown sugar to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from stove. Add rum and stir well. Add evaporated milk and continue to stir. Add powdered sugar slowly until desired consistency is reached. Should icing get too hard or thick, add a few drops of hot water. Garnish with pecan halves, if desired.

Makes 1 cake.

From Annaliese Griffin

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Cherry-Cranberry Pie


Cherry-Cranberry Pie

Here is a great way to use fresh cranberries while they are available. Play around with the seasoning, using sweet spices like cinnamon and  ginger, if you prefer. Or vanilla instead of almond extract. Orange juice instead of lemon would work. You could use chopped pecans and vanilla in the seasoning. The choices are yours.

Cherry-Cranberry Pie

2 (9-inch) pie crusts, unbaked
2 cups sweet cherries, thawed if using frozen (or 3 cups if making a deep dish pie)
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca pearls
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out one pie crust and line the bottom of your pie plate.

In a large bowl, mix cherries, cranberries, brown sugar, tapioca, almond extract, lemon juice and salt together, making sure all of the brown sugar is broken down and incorporated.

Pour cherry-cranberry filling into bottom pie crust. Roll out top crust and cover if desired, cutting slits in the top so steam will release. Or cut strip about 1/2-inch wide and create a lattice on top, weaving over and under the other strips. Crimp the edges of the two crusts together. Brush with egg mixture. Sprinkle sugar on top (or sprinkle a 5:1 mixture of sugar to salt on top).

Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 25 more minutes or until the filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Makes 1 pie.

From John Griffin

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Griffin to Go: Listen to Those Cranberries When They Call


Cranberries are a'calling.

I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store when I heard the cranberries beckon me. They had dulcet voices in an alto range, you see, and sounded like some forlorn Greek chorus. Thanksgiving is over, but the tart joy of cranberries lives on, they seemed to say.

It’s not often that food calls me like that. OK, ice cream calls me all the time, but that’s another matter.

What would I do with those little beads? I could string them for the Christmas tree. But I already have strands of red beads made of wood that look like cranberries. I didn’t need the fruit on top of it.

Then it hit me: Cherry-Cranberry Pie.

My mom had mentioned last week that she made a cherry pie for Thanksgiving, and the mere thought of it had me drooling, though we had enjoyed a blueberry-blackberry pie and her pumpkin pie. But nothing has quite the hold of cherry pie, no matter the time of year. So, why not combine the two into a sweet-tart treat, I told myself.

But how should it be seasoned?

Cherry-Cranberry Pie

I decided simplest would be best and that I would take my cue from cherry pie, not a cranberry relish. Yes to almond extract and lemon juice. No to cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and even my favorite, ginger. I also went with the frozen sweet cherries at the market instead of the canned sour cherries because of the tartness of the cranberries. (If I were back in Louisville, I’m sure I’d use some of the sour cherries that my parents grow in their backyard and freeze until needed.)

I used the base common to many of the fruit pies I make: tapioca pearls for thickening, brown sugar, salt and a little butter in addition to the almond and lemon.

With a plan in mind, I was ready to go. I started playing a favorite CD, “Christmas with Maureen McGovern,” and started to work with no thoughts of deadlines or obligations, just the image of happy faces eating pie. Before I knew it, the stress of the day was gone, the strips of lattice had been woven on top and the pie was in the oven. And yes, it came out exactly as planned.

I hope the rest of all of our holiday baking goes by as dreamily.

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Walking in a Westin Wonderland


Children can play in the snow at the Westin La Cantera Dec. 13-24.

Forst is the Westin's 1,200-square-foot skating rink

Visitors to the Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway, during the holidays won’t have to look far for entertainment. Just outside the spacious resort, you can find an ice-skating rink, snow and snacks beneath a host of trees decked out in twinkling lights.

Crispy Creme Bread Pudding is one of the treats cooked up for the crowds.

All of it is part of the annual Hill Country Holidays that the resort hosts.

The following are some of the activities planned:

  • Frost — A 1,200-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink has been set up at the back of the resort. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the rink is available to all for $10 per 45-minute skating period. The cost includes skate rental.
  • Legendary Holidays — Bandera storyteller Makin’ Dust offers some holiday tales and leads the sing-alongs next to the fire pit. The event ends with a snowfall. This popular event runs 5-6 p.m. daily through Dec. 13-24.
  • Celebrando Navidad — Storybook readings in English and Spanish will be offered to children in the hotel’s Esparza Library at 3 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekends Dec. 1-31.  Snacks will be served.
  • “The Nutcracker” — Not the ballet but a family comedy performed by the Magik Theater. Shows will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 27 as well as Dec. 4, 11, and 18. Admission is $5 a person.

David Robinson greets Frosty the Snowman and Santa.

There will also be crafts in the North Pole area and at Santa’s Workshop, where kids can make a holiday toy with the elves. There’s also a box for the Marine Toys for Tots drive for anyone who wants to contribute.

All this can be had while enjoying a seasonal menu created by the resort’s staff under the direction of executive chef John W. Armstrong. The savory treats include a chicken pot pie, roasted turkey legs and a chorizo bisque in a bread bowl, while the sweets include crispy crème bread pudding, peppermint cookies with a chocolate dipping sauce, and churros as well as a dense, rich hot chocolate.

If you’re in the mood for something more adult, the bar has whipped up a series of holiday cocktails to make the season even brighter.

A portion of the proceeds from the skating and the show will benefit the Carver Academy, says Tony Cherone, general manager of the resort.

It’s a welcome Christmas present for David Robinson, former Spurs player and founder of the school. “This really is a joy for me,” he says. “Everyone knows this is my heart and soul.”

For more information, call 210-558-6500 or click here.

Photos by John Griffin and courtesy the Westin.

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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls a Sweet Breakfast Surprise


SweetPotCinRolls1If you’re looking for a special breakfast recipe to take you handily though Thanksgiving, Christmas or any holiday breakfast into the New Year, this one is not only good but gives you additional vitamin A. With all the sugar this is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation.  Serve fresh-squeezed orange juice, scrambled eggs, link sausages or fresh fruit along with these moist, fragrant rolls.

If you have wisely decided to break down that jack-o’-lantern, or just purchase a pie pumpkin to cook, substitute cooked, mashed pumpkin in this recipe —it will still taste great. Or, use the same amount canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling).

I am hardly a master baker, but here are a few tips I’ve picked throughout my years of trying to be, at least, a pretty good baker:

  • Remember to check the “best used by” date on the yeast. Fresh yeast yields best results.
  • Included are instructions in the recipe for making the dough in a food processor. That’s great if you want to do it that way. I have fun making a mess and working the dough with my hands. It might be sentiment, but I think the results taste better using the  by-hand method.
  • For the orange zest, use a microplane grater. Fast, easy, uncomplicated.
  • Use the biggest bowl you have for making bread or roll dough. It’s a luxury to have all that room to mess around in.
  • SweetPotCinRolls5If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use plain milk. I didn’t have milk OR buttermilk but I did have some 2 percent milk fat eggnog. That worked.
  • After cooking one big sweet potato and mashing it for the recipe, I had about a half cup of mashed sweet potato left. I saved it for Sunday morning buttermilk pancakes. I used a Pioneer Buttermilk Pancake mix from an l envelope, used eggnog in place of the water it called for, and just stirred in the mashed sweet potatoes. The pancakes were a hit at our house.
  • The original of this recipe didn’t call for raisins or currants. I didn’t have either, anyway. But, I did have dried cranberries so I used those.  Any of these will work if you want to include them.

Click below to link to recipe:

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

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