Granny’s Girl

Today is my Granny’s 93rd Birthday.


The changes that have occurred in the world in her lifetime are truly amazing.  I’ve spent the last few days going through old pictures and one of my favorite is of Granny when she was maybe 2 in the bathtub.  The thing is that the bathtub was actually a washtub that was outside and filled with water (and undoubtedly the water was shared between her and at the very least her older sister).

It does cause one to give pause and think about how the world has changed since 1920, where with my phone I can take pictures at her birthday picnic at the park and post them instantly to the interwebs via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.   And for a bit of entertainment, I can hand her my phone and show her a video of her great-granddaughters acting silly the night before.

Granny has seen the introduction of so many things that we take for granted today: cars, microwaves, cell phones.  But the one thing I don’t take for granted (or try my best not to) is my Granny.  It was her amazing food and patience in teaching me how to cook & bake that turned me into a foodie.  Her hugs still are the best.  And probably her greatest gift was her ability to make all of her 6 grandchildren feel like they were her favorite.  I think, though, at this point Granny it’s okay to admit it’s me!!  🙂

Happy Birthday to THE most amazing person that I know, my Granny.


Happy Birthday Granny


Fair’s in August

When I was little and would proclaim that something was not fair, Momma would always respond with “the Fair is in August.”  If I would make my proclamation in August, she’d quip “Well, sometimes life just sucks.”

As I mentioned, the official kick-off to the Fair is the parade.  But then what?  THEN you go out to the Fairgrounds and be entertained!

Gillespie County Fairgrounds

Gillespie County Fairgrounds

There’s something for everyone.  Go get up close and personal with livestock.  That’s right: pigs, goats, steers (aka cattle), sheep.  DON’T just walk up and pet them.  It’s not a petting zoo.  But you can walk around and look at them.  Sit in the grandstands and watch the show (they’re all competing to be the best).  Okay, so maybe you’re not familiar with how to show pigs or steers, but I’m sure you’re well-versed in the Westminster Dog Show.  Same concept different animals.

Since I grew up showing steers, lambs, and pigs, I’m happy to steer (ha ha ha pun intended!) clear and head to the horse races.  I’m not a big gambler, but the horses are rather majestic to watch.



If you want something fun, go watch the pig races.  Encourage someone you know to be a cheerleader and hope that their pig comes in first.  The prize is…well, hys-snoot-ical!

This Little Piggy Is Running for Oreos

This Little Piggy Is Running for Oreos

My Brother, The Ham

My Brother, The Ham

If horseracing and stock shows aren’t your thing, there’s always the carnival.   I personally don’t ride anymore.  Too many trips on the Tilt-A-Whirl when I was younger, but getting some cotton candy and watching my nieces laugh so hard they’re doubled over and can’t breathe is priceless!

Don’t forget to stop by the Main Hall, where everyone’s hard work is on display.  There are categories for everything: growing fruits & veggies, baking (the pie category is my favorite), canning (mmmm…sauerkraut and pickled okra), and even sewing, stitching, crocheting and knitting.  You can find it all here!

Prize Winning Corn

Prize Winning Corn

Of course, there’s food!  Since Fredericksburg has a very German heritage, the Fair food reflects that and trust me when I say that you could probably get sauerkraut on ANYTHING.  Even your funnel cake, but I really wouldn’t recommend that.  What do I get?  Glad you asked.  It’s called The Oma & Opa.  It’s polish sausage (made here in Fredericksburg by Opa’s) on a buttered roll, slathered in sauerkraut with mustard on top.  YUMMMMMMM-O!

The Oma & Opa

The Oma & Opa

Finally, don’t leave after the sun goes down–there’s still dancing.  Or, for me, drinking beer and talking with everyone.  A full day of fun and adventure.  Big or small.  City or country.  Either way, if you let go, you’ll have a blast!

Hi From The Porch

In case you haven’t guessed (or if you don’t actually know me), I’m at home.  Which means family time, lots of food and beer, and best of all:  sitting on the porch.

hi from the porch

hi from the porch

It is the complete opposite of my life in NYC, where even in Central Park it’s still busy.  My mom has the best wooden porch swing.  Really, it’s more of a mammoth rocking chair built for two or three or just me sprawled out with my coffee watching the sunrise…or my beer watching the sunset because the swing is in the perfect place to do both.  Great for thinking, even better for entertaining.  A reminder of where I’m from and a promise that I can always come home.



Gimme a Z!

Texas.  Beer.  To me, the words go hand-in-hand.  Perhaps because I drink a lot of beer whenever I’m visiting The Great State of Texas (btw, wine lovers don’t get your panties in a bunch, Texas wine is also fabulous!).  As you are all aware (or should be or in case you’re not), Shiner Bock is one of my favorites beers.  But equally loved and my choice when I’m in Texas is ZiegenBock.



Why?  Because you can only get it in Texas (what?  If you read my bio, I warned you that at any given moment I would flaunt that I was a Texan.  Brace yourself because it only gets worse when I am in Texas!).  I will confess that my first ZiegenBock was offered in lieu of Shiner Bock, but I’m so glad it was.  It’s a bit darker and has slightly more body than Shiner Bock (and in case you’re wondering…yes, I am currently drinking them side-by-side so that I can accurately compare and relay it to you—you’re welcome!)

Here’s what ICS Brands (maker of ZiegenBock) has to say about my beloved:

Brewed In Texas, Made Only for Texans

Brewed in Houston, ZiegenBock is a beer of the South. Only available in Texas, this American-style amber lager, offers notes of roasted grains in the aroma and a sweet, smooth taste with a hop finish. The select imported hops and specialty malts create a taste worthy of a 2006 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal.

You might say it’s nostalgia and just excitement to be home, but no.  It’s just plain ol’ good drinking beer : )

Elbow, Elbow, Wrist, Wrist…

So here it is in August and I’ve decided to spend a bit of my free time at home and you can’t go home in August and NOT go to the Fair.  If you’ve never been to a small county fair, you should definitely put it on your bucket list.  I know, I know…it seems a bit hokey and backwards, but get over your big city self and immerse yourself and just enjoy.  I obviously enjoy fairs since this isn’t my first fair post (remember my Minnesota State Fair homage to food?!?), but of course my hometown fair is my favorite!  Part of it is seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time, but mostly because it’s fun.

The main kick-off to the Fair is the parade, which has a little bit of everything: marching bands, floats, horses, and even longhorns!  Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, without the floating balloons and a lot more, um, Texan.

Ride 'em Cowboy!

Ride ’em Cowboy!

For the parade, Main Street completely shuts down for 10 blocks and just a warning if you’re visiting or just passing through: EVERYTHING stops for the parade. Not just the traffic–even businesses close so that everyone can attend.  And nearly everyone does.  If you want a good seat what you need to do is find your spot the night before and claim it by parking your truck there.  And don’t wait too late the night before, as all the locals do this and will grab up the best spots.

The parade itself lasts about an hour to an hour and half….just a bit of advice if you’re searching for a county fair and parade to attend, go to Fredericksburg, Texas where there is no Open Container Law while walking on Main Street, so you can enjoy a nice refreshing adult beverage if you wish while sitting in the hot, hot Texas sun.  Don’t forget your sunscreen, as you can easily get a nasty sunburn in that short bit of time!

Then sit back and enjoy.  Wave to the floats or trucks or tractors or cowboys on horses & longhorns.  Smile and laugh like you were 4 again.  That, my friends, is one of the best ways to spend a morning! : )


Making a Grand Entrance!

Making a Grand Entrance!

Longhorn Hat Thief!

Longhorn Hat Thief!


As, you may recall (or know if you actually know me): I wrote about the virtues of the banana pudding at Magnolia. IMG_2482_2

Well, I stopped in today…to celebrate…well, insert something here:_____________________!!!

And what I discovered is that Magnolia now offers a “mini” size of the delicious crack filled pudding (of course, I’m kidding about the crack–it’s filled with bananas and vanilla wafers of course!).  This is great news to me…and anyone else who can gluttonously finish off a large if the situation calls for it.  It appears to be 1/2 a cup, indulgent but not gluttonous: THE perfect size.


Thanks Magnolia!!

Simply Perfect

It’s hard to say which I love more: Little Italy in the summertime–sitting outside, enjoying the bustling on the street and the busyness of the convergence of tourists OR Little Italy in the wintertime–enjoying a hearty pasta dish, watching the snow fall, and the quietness that takes over.

I guess the real answer is that I just love Little Italy.  Sure, it’s a tourist trap.  But, then again, I will never consider myself a New Yorker–so I feel it perfectly acceptable to visit whenever and how often I like.

summertime in little Italy

summertime in little Italy

Especially when I have friends in town.  I think it’s THE thing to do if you come to NYC.  Well, aside from ride the Staten Island Ferry. The food is amazing.  Truly.  It doesn’t matter where you stop.  Be charmed by one of the old Italians begging to “come in, come in and eat!” and just try it out.

My favorite place to go is Da Gennaro for 2 reasons:

1. The olive oil and bread that they bring out to your table is by far the best that I’ve found.  ANY WHERE.  The olive oil is infused with spices and garlic and the bread is warm and crispy and everything that you imagine and want it to be.

olive oil & bread

olive oil & bread

2.  The spaghetti carbonara is real.  I know this seems like a bit of odd statement, but any of you who love carbonara and try to order it know that it’s a challenge.  As my BFF recently commented: you can totally taste when they don’t add the egg.  And she’s right.  There’s nothing worse that ordering and anticipating carbonara and getting something that tastes like “alfredo-lite”.  All together now:  eeeeuuuuuwww!

But not this carbonara: this one is rich and decadent–with just enough onion, proscuitto, and basil to make it, well, simply perfect.  I know it’s a big statement to make.  But I’m making it.  To me, it is simply the perfect carbonara.




Start Spreading the….Cheesecake!

Whew!  I’ve been a busy, busy bee!  I arrived back home from Florida just in time for the arrival of friends from Australia, whom I have not seen in over 10 years!

Because there is so much to do and see and eat here in New York City, whenever my friends visit I try to organize their days based on their interests: the typical tourist traps, venturing out to where only New Yorkers and lost tourists go, finding a different country to visit via lunch and dinner.  There are a plethora of options when New York City is the host.  But THE ONE THING everyone gets to experience (whether they want to or not) is Juniors cheesecake.

I mean, c’mon.  A.  Who doesn’t like cheesecake?  B.  Who hasn’t heard of New York Cheesecake? and C. Who doesn’t like cheesecake?!?  It was established in 1950 in Brooklyn, but was so popular it opened additional restaurants in Times Square and Grand Central Station.  That (GCS) is where April & I discovered this epicurean delight!

Juniors has a very extensive diner menu and the couple of times I’ve eaten there, it’s been good.  For example, I had a proper wedge salad the other day. Nice crisp iceberg lettuce, perfectly cooked bacon, freshly sliced tomatoes, and creamy crumbly blue cheese.  Normally, I am not one to like iceberg lettuce–I find it to be a bit bland and tasteless–but when used as a bed for bacon, blue cheese, and tomatoes, it works beautifully.  The other fabulous thing about a wedge salad is the presentation.  As my friend from Australia commented when it came out: “WOW! It really is a wedge of lettuce.  An actual wedge!”  What I like most about Junior’s wedge is that the goodies are on the side, so you actually get a bit more  and you don’t just get blue cheese dressing, you get blue cheese crumbles–YUM!

But I digress.  You’re not here for the wedge (although it’s got you thinking about one for lunch, doesn’t it?!?!?), you’re here for the cheesecake.  And if you’re eating at Junior’s, just make sure you save room.  Juniors has an extensive list of cheesecakes on the menu and they are all great.  The classic does not disappoint.  There is a reason it’s called the classic: it’s rich and creamy and everything you’ve ever wanted out of a cheesecake!  But if you like chocolate or love chocolate or are obsessed with chocolate, you have HAVE HAVE to get the Devil’s Food cheesecake.  It is pure decadence.


I know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I still feel the need to sum up these layers.  You start with a layer Devil’s food cake (aka dark chocolate cake), you add a layer of chocolate frosting, then a large layer of cheesecake, followed by another layer of frosting, a layer of cake, a layer of frosting, a layer of cake, and one final layer of frosting.  AND THEN, you frost the sides and cover it in chocolate chips.  8 amazing layers of creamy, chocolately divineness, melding together for the perfect bite that makes you want to stop time and just enjoy.

GO EAT JUNIORS CHEESECAKE!  and send me a chocolate smudged thank you! 🙂