Classes & Events | It's coming! Ms. Maggie P.'s Afternoon Tea


Working on a little dream, over here.....

Ms. Maggie P (that's me!) has been pining for tea. A formal tea, that is. With all of the fancy teapots and china cups and tiny cakes and biscuits and tea sandwiches and more. Once a month. Every month.

With a carefully selected playlist, a menu of sweets and savories, hats, if you'd like, and your favorite Spring dress, or your well-worn jeans and boho finery, or your grandfather's pocket watch, or your 3-piece searsucker suit....it's like a French salon meets British hotel lobby all at once in funky South Austin. 

SATURDAY, APRIL 28
3-4:30 PM
TICKETS, HERE
Let's get fancy!

Treat yourself to a sweetly civilized and tasty afternoon.

In this special Saturday class, learn by demonstration, sampling, and example, to host the perfect Afternoon Tea. 

Enjoy sweet and savory nibbles like biscuits, jams, tea sandwiches, petite tartines and more, and learn the dos and don'ts of a perfectly prepared pot of tea. 

Naturally, we'll explore the proper etiquette of the afternoon tea, as well. In fact if you've yearned to some day pull out those white cotton gloves tucked in the back of a drawer, or hoped to find a reason for wearing your mother's pillbox hat or your father's pocket watch, this is the perfect opportunity! 

We'll even get a little crafty, pulling out our favorite scrapbooking supplies to create pretty little tea cards designed to keep up with your favorite blends, as well as creating a "frequent drinker" record. Attend 5 monthly teas, and the 6th is on me!

Hoping to teach a young lady or lad some manners? Perhaps consider a special Saturday date for two. 

Not a tea drinker? No worries. We'll have a French Press with coffee, and pristine citrus and herb-infused ice water as well. Fancy a more adult beverage? It's BYOB so bring along your drink of choice!

While tickets must be purchased for each guest, all ages are welcome. Guests under 18 accompanied by adult, please. 


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Headed to the Farmers' Market this weekend? Here's your buying guide for In Season | April


To get the most bang for your buck at the farmers' market, familiarize yourself with what is in season, and you'll be certain you're getting the freshest from the field.

You'll find the guide here, as well as linked to on the right side bar of the desktop version of the blog. There is an updated monthly guide posted every month, in fact.

Find all the fruits, vegetables, and proteins available at markets throughout North America in the month of April and more. Stymied by kohlrabi? Not sure the best method to cook cod? Need some inspiration for cooking eggs? Click on the link for EVERY ITEM-- I've updated the guide to provide a little nudge towards healthy, wholesome, simple meals you'll enjoy any and every night of the week.


If you're in the Austin area, stop by the Texas Farmers Market at Lakeline on Saturday, 10-12 noon, and at Mueller Lake on Sunday, 11-1pm where I'll celebrate Earth Day with marketgoers and share how to turn oft-discarded scraps into glorious stocks, while saving nutrients, dollars, and our Mother Earth.

I'd love to see you there!

Hey, y'all. I made something new | Maggie Perkins | April 2018

A sneak snippet of this month's inaugural issue, be sure to check out the full issue here,  
and sign up to keep it coming to your inbox, here
So.......I did something.

I'm so excited to share with you a project a long-time coming. A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.

Monthly, and occasionally more often. Maybe. We'll see. But for certain, whenever they go out, they'll contain information about classes, events, occasional free promotions and discount codes for classes, favorite recipes, monthly gardening guides, and more.


Let's dish about delicious, y'all!

Thank you for your encouragement and support over the years of this blog, and for following my real-life food adventures in the form of exploring, teaching, and writing, as well. It is all a lot of hard work, a mix of sweat, salt and laughter, and a big dream come true, and none of it could have gone anywhere without you.

Check out the link to this month's newsletter, and be sure to sign up so you won't miss a thing From Maggie's Farm!

Thirsty Thursday | Leftover wine?

Leftover wine lingering in your fridge? Some $4 bottle collecting dust in the pantry? 

Or maybe a red leftover from a party, but you like whites, or a white brought as a host gift but you like reds?

Seems like some great ways to get rid of them. And a super excuse for a party! Waste not, want not you know. 

Cheers!



Farmers Market Favorite | Oyster & Mushroom Spring Stew | Market Chef Maggie Perkins

Well the lion was back this weekend in Austin, Texas.

If March can be said to come 'in like a lion and out like a lamb', then April got a surprise re-visit.

Friday night was quite humid, and when I finally hit the hay sometime after midnight, it was still in the mid-70s, 60+% humidity, with an impressive light show in the northern sky but no real (promised) rain. Much lower temps had been promised. I had my doubts.

Shame on me! Because despite my distrust, the weatherman was redeemed, storms did arrive, I slept through most of the theatrics, and awoke to temps in the 40s. Upon reaching the farmers market in Cedar Park, I was met with a morning so blustery that outdoor cooking was, well, fruitless. It was cold, getting colder, windy, getting windier, rainy and getting rainier. The chef's demo was cancelled.

Sunday proved to be, while chillier than usual, clear, and at least a little warmer than the day before. I headed out to Mueller Lake and summoned Spring with herbs and shellfish, while accommodating a little late last taste of winter with a soul and tummy-warming stew.


The flavors are bright and crisp like spring-- the waters still cool enough to promise fresh, briny oysters and slightly cool nights still kissing greens and sweet onions to promise bright, but not bitter, herbal hints. Earthy mushrooms, each variety lending it's own unique note to a symphony-- yield layers of taste. Garnishing bowls with Cajun-spiced pecans added another texture, and a hint of peppery salt that enhanced but did not overpower the bowl. It was a big hit.

While it tastes as if the flavors have unfolded gradually in an all-day simmer, you can actually pull this together pretty quickly. Grab the ingredients, below, pick up a freshly-baked baguette and good quality unsalted butter, and maybe add a lightly dressed salad, and we'll have dinner in less than an hour.

If you like a glass of wine with your meal, I'd go with a Chardonnay or white Burgundy. If you're a fiend for bubbly, Champagne is always a safe choice as far as I'm concerned. Always.



Oyster & Mushroom Spring Stew
Serves 6

Ingredients

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 bunch spring onions with green tops, sliced
1 cup assorted mushrooms, caps and tender stems, sliced & divided
1 quart chicken stock, low sodium
1 pint oysters with liquor, divided & reserved
4 sprigs thyme
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, separated

1 pint whole milk
salt, cayenne & black pepper to taste
Cajun-spiced pecans, optional garnish

In a medium pot over medium high heat, melt unsalted butter. Stir in flour, 1/4 cup at a time, incorporating with butter fully before adding the next 1/4 cup. Stir constantly until it reaches a nutty fragrance and a tan color. Reduce heat and stir in onions and mushroom stems. Stir frequently, cooking until white onions are transparent and greens, limp.


Return heat to medium high. Add stock 1 cup at a time, stirring thoroughly to combine with roux. Bring to a boil to facilitate thickening. Add the liquor of oysters, only, thyme, and half of parsley. Bring all to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat for 5 minutes.


Remove thyme stems. With an immersion blender. puree soup. (Alternatively, use a blender or food processor, in batches, adding back to a clean pot cupfuls at a time.) Return to a low burner, add sliced mushroom caps, season with salt, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. (Alternatively, Creole seasoning can be used as a substitute or in conjunction with salt and peppers.) When soup reaches a full, rolling simmer, add oysters and milk. Cook about 3-5 minutes, or until warmed through, oysters are opaque and edges are curled. Correct seasonings again. Remove from heat.

Garnish with remaining parsley and spiced pecan pieces.

Texas Farmers Market vendors and farmers that provided food free of charge for this chef demonstration, upon request, include K&S Seafood (oysters), Hi-Fi Mycology (mushrooms), Yegua Creek Farms (Cajun-spiced pecans), and JBG Organic (onion, thyme, parsley).

Looking for another healthy version of Oyster Bisque?


For additional information about this gluten-free, low(er) fat, low(er) calorie favorite with all of the richness of its decadent parent, including local Texas Farmers’ Market vendor and farmer sources, see this link.


Farmers Market Favorite | Lemon Ginger Black Drum with Leeks & Green Garlic | Market Chef Maggie Perkins



One of the greatest benefits of shopping at a local farmers market is the opportunity to develop relationships with the vendors, farmers, producers, and foragers of the food you eat. 

Such has been my experience getting to know, and trust, fishmonger Scott Treaster of K&S Seafood.

Seafood is a vast, and sometimes overwhelming, member of my personal food chain, and probably this teacher's pet. There is no more favored meal for me than a delicious dish made with a fresh, full-flavored and wholesome serving of fish. I depend upon Scott to let me know what the freshest, best selection of the week is with which to create a recipe. He never disappoints and knows more about seafood than I could ever hope. 

With the proper selection, the success of a meal depends on just a few skills, and prime seasonings. It's almost foolproof. 

Unless, of course, the quality of your selection suffers by its purchase from a substandard, non-trusted source. The provenance perhaps unknown, as well as its possibly questionable journey from origin to your basket. That package of "Louisiana Crawfish"? Well turn it over and you'll find it's traveled from China. The U.S. imports fish and seafood from 136 countries and the top suppliers in 2014 were China with a 14.1% share, followed by Canada (13.7%), Indonesia (9.3%), Chile (8.4%) and Vietnam (7.9%).

This Black Drum? Well Scott brought this from the Gulf Coast, caught only days before I ate it. I mean I can even guess the highway it traversed on it's way to the Texas Farmers' Market at Lakeline. Because I know and trust Scott, my confidence in my selection is solid, and I feel secure in choosing a healthy and affordable meal that's quick and easy to prepare several times this week. 


I feel fortunate, in fact, to have mutually beneficial relationships with many of the vendors and growers at the market. I can always rely on pristine produce like the green garlic I used for this dish from Gray Gardens. The parsley, leeks, and broccoli raab I prepared from Johnson's Backyard Garden is certified organic. Byccombe Natural Solutions offers unique, healthy varieties of several vegetables like the carrots, above. The organic spicy mix I procured from Joe's Microgreens added both flavor and nutrition to the dish, and new vendor Hi-Fi Mycology offer unique and nutritiously beneficial mushrooms with new flavors and textures, and offer more trusted knowledge about mushrooms than I could ever collect.

Do yourself, and your diet, a big favor, and get to know the folks that provide the food that gives you sustenance. Those relationships will assure that the fuel your body uses is as clean and wholesome as promised. Food is life.
Would you like to learn more about Sustainable Seafood? Check out Fishwatch U.S. Seafood Facts


Another great reason to pick up fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood from Scott at K&S Seafood? With incredibly fresh selections like this weekend's Black Drum, simple preparations with only a few fresh ingredients actually showcases this fish better than any complicated, expensive meal could. Just ask the market shoppers of all ages who stopped by for a sample. It was a big hit with kids and adults, alike, and ushered in Spring flavors beautifully. I recommend serving it alongside your favorite spring greens, simply prepared, like the sauteed broccoli raab in season that I'll share later this week.

LEMON GINGER BLACK DRUM 
with Leeks & Green Garlic
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (see optional substitute, below)
1 bunch green garlic, whites & tender greens sliced thinly
1 bunch young leeks, whites sliced and washed well
1 large lemon, halved & seeded
1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2 boneless Black Drum fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring olive oil to a shimmering heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add green garlic and leeks to pan. Stirring frequently, cook until limp. Squeeze one half lemon juice into pan. Add grated ginger to leeks and garlic and sauté, stirring, for one minute. With a spatula, gently slide leeks and garlic to the margin of the pan and lay fish fillet, skin side down, on cleared center surface of pan. Raise heat to medium high, browning skin until slightly crisped. Squeeze remaining lemon half over fish flesh. Carefully turn fish, flesh side down, and cook about 3 minutes, or until opaque throughout. Fold leeks and garlic over the top of fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional slices of lemon and microgreens, if desired.



Optional substitute: Rendered Salt Pork is a tasty substitute for olive oil. Chop a slab of salt pork to yield about 1/4 cup. Over medium heat, brown salt pork until golden and crispy. Remove from pan, and adding oil if/as necessary to yield 1 tablespoon fat, continue with recipe, above.

Serving suggestion: Serve atop a bed of sautéed broccoli raab, seasoned with garlic, lemon & ginger. (Watch for the recipe this week on Notes from Maggie's Farm.)

If you're fortunate to live in our fair city, please stop by the markets! I'll be demonstrating how to utilize the Season's Best meat, seafood, vegetables and other products next on April 7, 2018 at the TFM Lakeline, and April 8, 2018 at TFM Mueller. Stop by the chef demo tent and let's get FRESH.

Disclosure required by law: I am employed by contract as market chef by the Texas Farmers' Markets. Most vendors provide products for sampling free of charge for chef demos. The selections, opinions, and endorsements for my own recipes are my own. 

Farmers Market Favorite | Fresh Pork Sausage & Smothered Greens 2 Ways | Market Chef Maggie Perkins


We celebrated St Patrick's Day at the markets this weekend and found it so easy to do since everything is SO SPRING GREEN right now in farmers' stalls. Whether or not the weather gets the memo, Mother Nature has let us know with no lack of certainty that spring has sprung in the farms and fields of Central Texas.

If it's still a bit blustery in your neck of the woods, let us be encouragers down south, and see what promises to show up at your seasonal markets within weeks.

Below, find the farmers and vendors of the Texas Farmers' Markets produce and products, however if you're not lucky enough to live in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, no worries. Let this serve as a guideline to find producers in your area, or perhaps follow the links to find mail order options.

If you do live close, stop by the markets' chef demos next weekend, March 24 and 25, and let's dish about the best, most delicious way to prepare the seasonal ingredients you'll find gracing your market basket.

At the Lakeline market on Saturday, St. Patrick's Day informed my choices, and I was instantly inspired by a beautiful head of cabbage from Flintrock Hill Farm. I stopped by Smith & Smith Farms who were serving 2 lines of loyal customers 5 people deep, and eagerly accepted the fresh pork sausage with cabbage they suggested, just after I stopped to chat with the charming Gray Gardens' farmer, gathering the prettiest purple-bulbed scallions and fresh, sweet bagged spinach. I petted pups, smelled flowers, hugged farmers, admired eggs and jewelry and tried on natural lip gloss on the way back to the Sample the Market tent, where I borrowed Pogue Mahone's stone ground mustard and Round Rock Honey's bourbon reserve honey right off of the table. Just as I pondered how I'd season my bounty, the youngest Hill Country Salts salesman stopped by to issue an invitation. "Mom says come pick out a salt," an offer I'd never refuse! Chefs and cooks everywhere need to know about these spice and wine-infused salts, and I chose the Bavarian flavors of their Gerwurzsalz for the day's dish.

Morning was a'wasting so it was time to get down to business......


(Pork &) Cabbage on Cabbage
Serves 4

1 package Smith & Smith Farms fresh Pork & Cabbage sausage
2 tablespoons water, or beer if desired
1 bunch Gray Gardens scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon Pogue Mahone stone ground Dill Pickle mustard
1 tablespoon Round Rock Honey, Reserve Bourbon Barrel honey
2 tablespoons water, or beer if desired
1 head Flintrock Hill Farm cabbage, shredded
1 bag Gray Gardens fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Hill Country Salt Gerwurzsalz seasoning salt, to taste


In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausages, turning to brown on all sides. Add water as necessary to avoid sticking. Remove from skillet and reserve.

Add scallions to pan, sauteing until limp. Stir in mustard and honey, mixing well. Add cabbage and spinach, folding to coat with dressing. Add water, or beer if using. Cook down, covering greens are wilted below surface of the skillet. Steam until fully limp.

Nestle sausages into greens. Cover and steam until sausages have warmed. Serve.

The following market day at TFM Mueller, I adjusted the recipe to reflect the vendor product and farmer produce available on Sunday.


Fresh Pork Links & Smothered Collard Greens
Serves 4

The following market day at TFM Mueller, I adjusted the recipe to reflect the vendor product and farmer produce available on Sunday.

1 package Smith & Smith Farms fresh Pork & Cabbage sausage
2 tablespoons SoCo Ginger Beer, original
1 bunch Gray Gardens scallions, sliced
1 bunch Gray Gardens young garlic, greens minced (whites reserved for another use)
2 bunches JBG Organic young collard greens, sliced
1 bag Gray Gardens baby spinach
1/8 cup SoCo Ginger Beer, original
Hill Country Salt Midori Fi seasoning salt, to taste
Byccombe Farm arugula lettuce flowers, to garnish

In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausages, turning to brown on all sides. Add ginger beer as necessary to avoid sticking. Remove from skillet and reserve.

Add scallions and young garlic greens to pan. Saute in sausage drippings until limp. Add collard greens, spinach and ginger beer to pan. Stirring occasionally, allow greens to become tender and limp. Season to taste with seasoning salt. Return sausage and nestle into greens, reduce heat to low and cover. Heat until warmed through. Garnish with arugula flowers.


Not just for St. Patrick's Day, my healthy eating goal is to keep it green every day of the week. While some greens like kale and chard are available year-round in most temperate climates, be certain to take advantage of the cooler temps of Spring, before it gets too blazing hot (!), to eat collard greens, mustard greens, cabbages and lettuces while they are crisp and sweet and their herbal-ly best. As soon as temps start climbing, you'll find field grown greens become bitter, and bolt, going to seed to start the cycle a'new.


To learn more about the vegetables in season and the best way to prepare them, check out my monthly guide, The Seasonal Plate | March, and come on out to the Texas Farmers' Markets next weekend, March 24 & 25, for a taste of the best the month has to offer.

Classes & Events | Hands On Workshop : Learn to Make Empanadas | Maggie Perkins with Kitchen Underground


Perfect for a breakfast on the fly, a brown bag lunch, parties, picnics... the delicious possibilities are endless! I love to make batches of empanadas and freeze them-- ready to surprise a neighbor or thank the handyman, or perhaps even impress a suitor? I mean if you need to do that sort of thing, of course.

Food is love. Preparing home baked treats to show your affection and appreciation to others creates cherished gifts, warming tummies and hearts, alike.

Feeding yourself with wholesome homemade meals that are more than a slapdash sandwich or bag of chips offers the kind of self care that nurtures yourself. It's important to feed your body and soul, too!

Learn to make the popular baked and/or fried Latin American hand-held savory pies using 2 well-seasoned fillings, and a traditional chimichurri dipping sauce. Enjoy snacking in class, and take home your remaining handiwork to bake, fry, or freeze for later.

Most importantly, connect with your community and fellow food lovers, and leave with both the food, the friendships, and the sweet memories you've made. We're going to have a great time, friends!

Mar. 8 | 6:30-8:30 BYOB
Grab your spot at kitchenunderground.com

Class will be held at a private kitchen in the Bouldin Creek area of South Austin. Address will be provided 24 hours prior to class. No refunds are given, but you may transfer your spot with notice.


The Seasonal Plate | March 2018

NEW: This seasonal eating guide for the month of March has been updated to include new links to information and recipes for each vegetable, fruit, nut, meat, poultry, and seafood listed. Need a little inspiration for that farmers' market haul? Just follow each link!


Eating in season saves money, provides optimal nutrition, and supports local farmers. In North America, find many of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, poultry, and seafood, below, in season, and in markets, for the month of March.

Vegetables
Fruit and Nuts
avocado + cherimoya + citrus fruits (grapefruitkumquatlemonlimeorangecitronpomelo) + guava + strawberries 

Meat & Poultry
chicken + duck + eggs + beef (end of season) +   

Seafood
black drum + blue crab + clams + cod + crawfish + dungeness crab + flounder + halibut + oysters + prawns + redfish + red snapper + rockfish + salmon + scallop + shrimp + sole + squid

Primarily year-round species include ahi tuna + cod + catfish + flounder + grouper + mahi mahi rainbow trout + sole + (atlantic) salmon + swordfish



And a couple of great links, with maps, charts, and interactive resources, to keep yourself, and those you love, eating well:

In the Garden | March 2018

This month's In the Garden graphics are in honor of my late mother, Margaret Ann, or Peggy as she was called, who loved quilts, and window boxes, and blooming bulbs. She admired pretty as much as she was pretty. I miss her all year long, but I hear her voice strongest right around her birthday, March 6. If she's watching, she'll be happy to see that I'm planning my flower boxes. This year, I'm planting jonquils in a public garden in her memory. 

Find, below, an addendum to the annual monthly In the Garden | March gardening guide. The annual guide outlines all of the gardening to-do's, maintenance, tasks and more for most USDA gardening zones for the month of March, in general. You'll definitely want to check it out to keep your yard and garden going, and growing strong.

Here, you'll find weather forecasts, full moon schedule, and best planting practices for Zone 1 weather (Texas, Oklahoma, some surrounding areas in west Louisiana and east New Mexico), primarily, and March 2018, specifically.



IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TIME IN TEXAS, MY FRIENDS!

Photo: Texas Highways
Be sure to get out on the backroads and get to know the beauty of this state anew starting in March. Find the best places for the lushest, most riotous displays of color according to Texas Highways magazine; Everything You Need to Know About Texas Wildflower Season.


Check out the state's most commonly found wildflowers courtesy of Texas Highways, Wildflowers of Texas. 


And learn more about Texas wildflowers and ecosystems with a stop and a stroll at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 
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