road trip!
burnet bluebonnet festival, 2013

As soon as bluebonnets begin to pop their lovely deep periwinkle heads up from the Texas Hill Country country roadside, we've been naturally notified:

Spring has sprung in the Hill Country!

We have former first lady, Texas' own bell of the wildflower ball, and perhaps its most influential environmentalist to date, Lady Bird Johnson, to thank for that. Though her efforts were often derided in her day as 'cosmetic', Mrs. Johnson was instrumental in the passing of The $320 million Highway Beautification Bill of 1965, and brought public awareness to the forefront for environmental causes, as well garnering support for the National Parks system. The Johnson City ranch she shared with former President Johnson is one of those parks, now. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in South Austin, is also a testament to her environmental commitment.

“Every living person and thing responds to beauty. We all thirst for it. We receive strength and renewal by seeing stirring and satisfying sites.”

For thirty years, The Burnet Bluebonnet Festival has been celebrating the legacy of Lady Bird. This year's festival takes place April 12th-14th, and all are welcome!


Of course, not everyone celebrates the emergence of Spring on foot, in dirty sneakers and lily-white ankles, although you're certainly welcomed to do so. Cowboy boots and bedazzled flip flops are the standard.  They'll take you as you come, though, even in your city-slickin' finery. The wildflowers won't mind a bit.

(almost) wordless wednesday
henry david thoreau

"this world is but a canvas to our imagination."

henry david thoreau

chatawa, mississippi
march 2013

tips for tuesday
in the garden: april

The subtle signs of the season are springing up around the Texas Hill Country. Chilly mornings warm to sunny afternoons.  Tender green-leafed branches provide the perfect stage for birdsong. Winter's thaw yields a riotous profusion of color soon-- the bluebonnets are already dotting roadsides, to be accompanied by wildflowers of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples so vivid they seem to have been handpainted.  

It promises to be another glorious Texas spring. 

In the Garden: April 

Below, find information about gardening in Zone 8.  To find the USDA zone in which you garden, visit, and adjust planting dates accordingly.  

Fertilize: Tomatoes and peppers should be fed with a liquid fertilizer. Feed crape myrtle beneath the branch spread with 1/3 cup complete fertilizer per sq. yd. After second mowing, fertilize lawn with 3-1-2 ratio product; aerate first, if needed. Fertilize all houseplants with complete fertilizer.

Mulch trees, shrubs, vegetable garden and flower beds (after soil has warmed) with 2-4 inches of mulch. Pine needles and oak leaves make a good mulch for acid-loving plants. Spread coffee grounds around azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

Water: Water as needed.

Transplant: Divide and transplant late summer-and fall-flowering bulbs. Container-grown plants (almost any kind) can go into the ground now. Plant summer annuals to get their root systems established before the extreme heat arrives.

Lawn Care: Plant grass sod or plugs. Water daily for one or two weeks to establish. Begin regular lawn care. Mow every 5-7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Keep St. Augustine grass at 2-1/2 to 3 inches.

©from maggie's farm

Things To Plant In April

Flower Plants: Ageratum, ajuga, joseph's coat, balsam, wax begonia, blue daze, blue cardinal flower, boltonia, scarlet bouvardia, calico plant, chocolate plant, cigar plant, cockscomb, coleus, columbine, coneflower, copper plant, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, shasta daisy, feverfew, geranium, gomphrena, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, jacobinia, lantana, marigold, nierembergia, penta, periwinkle, persian shield, plumbago ,phlox, portulaca, purslane, rudbeckia, salvia, sedum, stokes aster, sunflower, wishbone flower, yarrow, zinnia.

©from maggie's farm
Flower Seeds: Ageratum, balsam, castor bean, celosia, cleome, cockscomb, coleus, coral vine, cosmos, cypress vine, dahlia, coneflower, feverfew, four-o'clock, globe amaranth, gourd, impatiens, linaria, nasturtium, marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, petunia, pinks, portulaca, scabiosa, sunflower, sweet pea, tithonia, torensia, vinca, zinnia.

Bulbs: Achimenes, acidanthera, allium, alstroemeria, amarcrinum, amaryllis, ground orchid, caladium, calla, canna, crinum, dahlia, daylily, dietes, ginger, gladiolus, gloriosa daisy, host, spider lily, hyposix, liriope, monkey grass, rain lily, society garlic, tigridia. 

©from maggie's farm
Vegetables: Early—Mid Month: Pepper, Radish, Squash, Tomato
All Month: Amaranth, Bean, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Muskmelon, Okra, Peanuts, Pumpkin, Southern Pea, Sweet Potato, Tomatillo, Watermelon

©from maggie's farm
Herbs: Anise, star anise, basil, bay, borage, bouncing bet, caraway, catnip, chives, comfrey, costmary, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, scented geranium, germander, horehound, horseradish, lamb's ear, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, mexican mint marigold, monarda, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, santolina, summer savory, winter savory, sesame, sorrel, southernwood, tansy, tarragon, thyme, common wormwood, roman wormwood, yarrow.

Fruit: Container grown fruit and nut trees, Vines, Bushes

©from maggie's farm

Happy Gardening, friends!
In the Garden information courtesy of the Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity, published by the Travis County Master Gardener Association, copyright 2000-2002, through Central Texas Gardener

meatless monday
springing into fitness

April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.
-- Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe 

Y'all, Spring is upon us!

This year, Spring Cleaning begins not inside my home (which has sorely needed it since Spring, last, but seems to be holding up, bravely) but, rather, with me.

Perhaps it's being surrounded by an abundance of natural life, which relies on the four seasons, rather than a paper calendar, to direct it's life-cycle. Maybe the introspection of a closing year, the shorter days, the sunlight lacking, all combine to make me feel one with the dormant winner, not ready to birth changes that the new year seems to bring forth for others. Possibly, it's linked to the annual retreat in March, just completed, when, along with sharing precious time with precious friends, we take time to examine our lives--considering, and reconsidering, contemplating what might stay, and what might go.

Whatever the reason, resolutions, for me, come about not in January, but as the earth awakens. The days are a bit longer. Nature's abloom. It's time for Spring Cleaning.

Let's get personal.  

This precious Spring is the last of my 40's.  Some would consider that a time for letting go.  It feels as if I've something to get started.  Both a letting go, and a getting started.

And just for the sake of staying committed, I'm sharing it here, with you.  I'm going to get started taking better care of this temple I've been assigned.  I'm going to let go of dreading the idea.

I'm Springing Into Fitness, and I'm inviting you along.

In fact, I'm going to do something quite bold for me. I'm going to go as far as to keep a running tally of my progress.  Pounds lost. Inches whittled. Distance gained. Progress made.

And I'm going to do all the 'fessing up on these Meatless Monday features, through the middle of December, when the deed will be done-- I'll have turned fifty.

!!! (insert shark-infested waters theme music)

I welcome you all to do the same, if you'd like. (Not if you'd like to turn 50. You have no choice in that matter. You either have, or you will, so no laughing at me!) Help a sister out, and meet me here next Monday to hold my feet to the fire.

It's gonna take a village, y'all.

Seriously. Fifty is right up the road. It's huge and looming and daring me.  I'm planning to meet it with courage and purpose. I'm planning on fit being the new fifty.

It's a Fabulous Fifty, I'm planning.

The Plan of Action


“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln.

Tools are important.  Good tools make good work.Technology is the newest, shiniest fitness tool, and there are scads of (free!) fitness and health management tools available online, as well as apps to carry with you via smartphone.  I'll be sharing all kinds of tools I find, and welcome you to do the same, in the comments below.  We're all in this together!

Tools will help support our focus on three keys to fitness:

  • Get Moving: Keeping the Pep in Your Step
  • Habits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
  • Fueling the Machine:  Eating Well for Health and Wellness
This week, we begin to...

Get Moving:  Keeping the Pep in Your Step

While working around the farm can be quite physical, there is a lot of sedentary work for a writer, the second part of this life.  The dogs and I enjoy the occasional hike,  but this week, we're going to ADD at least 30 minutes of cumulative, sustained activity to our day, 6 days a week.  We'll gradually increase that time to an hour of additional exercise.  Be sure to start slowly, building your exercise program over a few weeks, to give your body, and mind, time to adjust.  Useful links and tools include

Habits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Studies show that people who use food diaries tend to lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who don’t.  We begin with the basics, simply recording the time and amount of everything we eat or drink.  Additionally, you may find it helpful to record your emotions, thoughts, felonious temptations, whatever you find affects your diet.  We're going to keep it simple for now.  Find templates, apps, and suggestions from

Fueling the Machine: Eating Well for Health and Wellness

Becoming aware of how the foods we consume, by using the tools, above, either promote or inhibit our fitness goals will be ongoing, helping us to develop control over our choices.  This week, we'll concentrate on determining our personal body mass indices, basal metabolic rate, setting weight loss and/or fitness goals, and determining caloric consumption and activity levels necessary to achieve these goals.  Some tools that are helpful include

So, really.  I'd love to have you join me.  Researchers contend that it’s easier to stick with a weight loss plan when you have support, can share tips on diet and exercise and have an exercise buddy. I need a buddy!  Or two, or a few, or more! Wherever you are on the path to wellness-- whether beginner, fully engaged in your passionate pursuit, or an absolute swami of health, we could all use your encouragement, your experience, your motivation, your pratfalls, your victories, your example, and your will.  

Where are you along your path to wellness?

Celebrating St.Patrick's Day
Spinach Artichoke Souffle

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter our Spice Collection Giveaway.  See more details, below.
And without further ado.....


As promised, we give yesterday's potatoes a glorious second chance, and a quick one, at that!

spinach artichoke souffle
garnished with cheese and bacon

To the leftover filling from yesterday's potatoes, whip in two whole eggs (by processor).  Spoon into individual ramekins, top with cheese of your choosing, and a scatter of crisped bacon, and bake, in a 400 degree oven, until browned on top.  (If cheese is browning faster than the souffle is cooking, cover with foil, and continue baking until warmed through.) 


May neighbours respect you,
trouble neglect you,
the angels protect you,
and heaven accept you!

Hey friends! Today is the last day to enter our Spice Collection Giveaway, sponsored by Cooking Planit.  Hop on over and read up about how to throw your hat into the ring to win this collection, valued at over $100, right here.

(almost) wordless wednesday
lilly's, lockhart

On our recent barbecue pilgrimage on The Outskirts of Town, a contingent of our blogging buddies met us in Lockhart, the home of Black's, Smitty's, and Kreuz Market.  They'd already visited one spot on the list, and we were headed their direction after visiting four BBQ joints on the north end of our jaunt.

Upon our arrival, as our group furiously flipped away on phones checking-in, checking-out, and checking-all around, I got the word.  Mary and Mad Betty, along with their plus ones, found ice cold beer at a joint down the street called Lilly's.  I trust these folks.  I was on my way.

Now, we foodies--certain of us have a nose for certain things. For some, it's fancy.  For some it's exotic.  For me and mine, well, we are blessed, it seems, with the innate ability to sniff our the cool, when it comes to food, and, well, liquor. And if  this cool comes in the form of crusty, delightful, wacky, hip, or otherwise notorious, well, all the better.

My friends 'done good' with Lily's, and this short stop set the stage for what promises to be a longer, let's see what kind of characters this place draws visit, and soon.  Looks just like the type of place a drunken Hemingway might have called home away from, um, the elements.  It's perfect.

Meet me at Lilly's?  Lone Stars are on me.

tips for tuesday
a spring clean for the spice cabinet

Speaking of spicing things up a bit.....

How's that spice cabinet looking?

Did I hear you groan?

Well, let's work on that.

In my own kitchen, the spice cabinet gets the heaviest traffic of any area, hands-down.  Whether it's an elaborate curry, or a simple bowl of soup, I'm reaching for some kind of something from that magical chest of flavor.

It's got to be mean, clean, lean--you get it.  Efficient.

A few tips to get you on your way to a magical chest of your own--

  • Clean off a big old flat surface, and gather every spice you have.
  • Cull through your jars, envelopes, cans, and packets, and discard out of date, out of flavor, out of oomph.  If you're hoping to give your dish a happy nudge, shouldn't you use spices that will do just that? Crumbly, brittle, faded, scent-less--they all go in the rubbish bin, please.  (Rubbish bin?  Perhaps I need to lay off the Downton Abbey for a while?)

Tip:  If your spice is a little less punchy than when originally purchased, you may save the bits by tossing into a spice blend of your own making, or, if whole, toasting in a dry skillet to release the remaining oils.

  • Found 3 bottles of coriander?  Now is the time to do a little experimenting.  Try your hand at spice blends.  Be sure to jot down what you've combined in case it turns out to be FABULOUS.  Label and date.
  • Consider using uniform bottles, tins, or packets to store spices, labeled and dated, and, if you're as persnickety as I am, either stored alphabetically, or in culinary groups; say all curry ingredients together, all creole favorites together, all curing spices together, etc...

Tip:  Shelf life varies for herbs and spices. According to 

  • Herbs-- 1-3 years; 
  • Ground spices-- 1-2 years; 
  • Whole spices 2-3 years; 
  • Extracts 4 years, except for vanilla which lasts forever; 
  • Seasoning blends 1-2 years. 

  • Store spices away from heat, light, and moisture. While that popular spice rack might be cute, it's not always the best place to store spices, especially if it's posted on the wall close to the stove.  Perhaps those neat magnetic-bottomed tins lined up on the side of the fridge will make a handy, and safe place for storage.  Or a close drawer, which has become a favored spot in my kitchen.  Try out a few schemes for storage and see which works best for you.
  • Consider purchasing small quantities of spices to take up less space, and maintain freshness.  Bulk availability has become more widespread, and you can find whole spices, which can be ground by hand with a mortar and pestle, or with a dedicated spice (or coffee) grinder, for even greater concentration, and conservation, of flavor.
And remember to enter the Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!  You'll have scads of opportunities to win a comprehensive spice collection valued at over $100.  Read the details, here.

Update: We have a WINNER for the Spice Collection Giveaway, $100 Value
Sponsored by Cooking Planit & Notes From Maggie's Farm

Congratulations to Sonya Sanderson!  You are the winner of this Cooking Planit-sponsored Spice Giveaway!  Please send an email through the link on the right with your shipping information, and we will forward to Cooking Planit for their order processing.

Thank you to all who entered, and keep an eye out for another spice giveaway, soon!  We're all kinds of spicy 'round here!

Are your days filled with the same-old, same-old? Is life just a little dull?

Need help spicing things up a bit?

Look no further, friends.  We're happy to announce that we are  partnering with Cooking Planit, the geniuses behind a meal planning and preparation app that will help you get dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), flawlessly, on the table 7 days a week, to offer our readers an exciting opportunity.

If, indeed, variety is the spice of life, then truly, spice is the variety of the cook.  And this 26-spice collection promises to give a little umph to the ordinary, a little sizzle to your dish.

Of course, if you're a little impatient, you can purchase the same collection right here. But, hey! With a visit to each of the interesting and informative blogs, below, you'll have an additional chance to win at each site. 

How to Enter: 
1. LIKE US on Facebook. 
2. Share this Post on Facebook, tagging From Maggie's Farm, please.
3. CONNECT with @frommaggiesfarm on Twitter.
4. Tweet this Post, please.
5. COMMENT, below, letting us know you've done so, and be entered for each action.

Our giveaway closes on Sunday, March 17th, so make a beeline and enter. And then enter all of the contests from blogs of note, below, for 49 other chances to win.   

Our winner will be announced on Monday, March 18th, and spices will ship that very day, so get on board the Spice Express and get cooking with Cooking Planit

(Contest open to residents in the contiguous US.)

Read more, from Cooking Planit, below.



Starting today, March 6th, 2 bloggers will start a 7-day spice giveaway (winners in continental US only) with winners announced on the 8th day. Each day after that, for 25 days total, two more giveaways will start. Check out the 50 foodies in the matrix below, and join their contests for additional chances to win! PIN THIS CONTEST AND SHARE THE SPICE.
Don’t want to wait, win now and buy your own custom spice set from Spices Inc.
*Note: The dates below are start dates, some bloggers may not get their contests started until the evening on that date, so please be patient. We promise, all links are real, all parties are enthusiastic and willing participants. And it’s a proven fact, that your chances of winning go up exponentially each time you enter an additional contest. Thank you.


StartStopFlight 1Flight 2
13/6/133/12/13SophistisheField and Feast
23/7/133/13/13The Wicked NoodleThe Cooking Planit Blog
33/8/133/14/13The Aliso KitchenSlow Down & Savor
43/9/133/15/13Chicago Foodie SistersJessiker Bakes
53/10/133/16/13My Happily Ever After the EndThe Food Yenta
63/11/133/17/13Notes from Maggie’s FarmFood Fash
73/12/133/18/13My Kitchen AddictionsWhat Jew Wanna Eat
83/13/133/19/13Bite Sized BlogNicole’s Nickels
93/14/133/20/13A Busy Mom of TwoFood Squeeze
103/15/133/21/13Kasey’s KitchenKitchen Concoctions
113/16/133/22/13Daily Ups & PoundsLisa Cooking
123/17/133/23/13Ditch the BoxHuppie Mama
133/18/133/24/13Hungry HutchFood Fetish
143/19/133/25/13Cook the BlogThree Diets. One Dinner
153/20/133/26/13Sugarfoot EatsGear Live
163/21/133/27/13CopyKat RecipesThe Mouthy Housewives
173/22/133/28/13Burnt AppleThe Butterfly Mom
183/23/133/29/13The Mama ReportAncestral Chef
193/24/133/30/13A Food Centric LifeWe Like To Cook
203/25/133/31/13Dixie Chik CooksBaby Boomster
213/26/134/1/13Unorganized Mommy of 3Much Ado About Fooding
223/27/134/2/13Better with ButterThe Primlani Kitichen
233/28/134/3/13Mother Would KnowCalifornia Country Gal
243/29/134/4/13Yi ReservationNY Foodgasm
253/30/134/5/13ME RedoneCreative Culinary

Disclosure: As a Cooking Planit Influencer, I am in partnership with this company, and have been availed the opportunity to promote this giveaway, provided to my by Cooking Planit. Central spice images in photos, above, courtesy of Emily Wilson and Cooking Planit.

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2013
On the Outskirts of Town: Barbecue, East of Austin

Hi there! If you've found your way here looking for the skinny on Barbecue East of Austin, you're in luck! This guide has been updated!  Please stop by the newest incarnation, On the Outskirts of Town | Barbecue East of Austin 2016 #ATXBESTEATS City Guide for the latest on the greatest barbecue in the country, if we don't say so ourselves.

If you're itching to take a little road trip,
get out of the city for a bit,
maybe the traffic is getting you down,
If you're hungry for tradition,
from the pit, just skip the kitchen,
and meet me On the Outskirts of Town.

Friends, this central Texas barbecue might just inspire the poet in you, too. 'Cause even the worst of the 'cue, the very worst in a bad spot on a bad day, well it is pretty darned good.

And the best, well, it'll just make you sing.

Jeans and boots dress most the natives, as well as those hoping to look like one, but no one will give it a second thought if you decide on stretch pants. You will certainly not be the first.

We were joined one fine Saturday, east of Austin, by intrepid blogging buddies, Epicuriosities, MadBetty, Mary Makes Dinner (whose blog went vegetarian after this meat orgy. Coincidence?), and South Austin Foodie, (who made it to every stop that day, too), along with a few willing spouses. Their personal names have been redacted to protect the opinionated.  We set out to to revisit favorites, and stop in on a few new spots on what would be, for us, a trek that covered close to 300 round miles, 14 hours, 7 pits, 14 Girl Scouts selling cookies (who knew the BBQ spots were unofficial GS soliciting gold?) and more than several dozen pounds of some of the best BBQ in this world. A brutal undertaking.

All for the love of Barbecue. Central Texas Barbecue.

A few things to note:
  • You may never see a plate.  Many barbecue restaurants serve everything on paper-lined trays, and that's just fine by us.  The styrofoam plates don't make for great pictures, nor pleasant meat-cutting.
  • You'll be asked 'moist or lean'.  Moist brisket, is the fattiest. Naturally, it's most flavorful, too.  Lean brisket is the (slightly) healthier option.
  • In addition to the sides on the menu, you'll almost always find complimentary pickles, onions, and sliced bread.  That's just how it's done.  You'll learn to look for them
  • Sauce may be offered, but it's optional at some places, and blasphemy at others.  Don't make a big show of saucing everything down if you want to look like 'an insider'.
  • For heaven's sakes, don't wear a bib.  Wear a dirty shirt, instead.
  • And please, this is Texas.  Don't skip the brisket.

We sampled the trinity: brisket, ribs, and sausage, and the usual suspects; potato salad, cole slaw, and beans. Along the way, we had other cuts and sides, too, either because one of the above was not offered, was sold out, or an enthusiastic BBQ agent suggested we just had to try a slice of _________.


Naturally, there were mixed reviews and differing opinions at every stop. We'll be reviewing each establishment we visited individually, and in depth over the next few weekends, (and we'll be sure to drop back by and provide a link to each) but for this guide's purposes, we skim each location, and offer a few favorites.

Here's a little rundown of the great barbecue you'll find outside of Austin,

On the Outskirts of Town

Barbecue East of Austin...

.....well that's where the richest legends are told. Family dust-ups have informed barbecue lore out there, but I'll not spoil the fun for you by giving you the skinny on the situation--perhaps you'll discover that in discussion with strangers-become-buddies-over-barbecue at the communal table you'll share. Or maybe the internet. Have fun.

Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor
206 W 2nd, Taylor, TX ph. 512.352.6206
M-F 11-6 + Sat 10-6 + Closed Sunday

Louie Mueller, the only spot on this list that sports a James Beard award among the soot-enrobed paraphernalia, has been, and continues to be tops on my list, from the very first time I happened into the sleepy town of Taylor and found myself hankering for the best local fare I could find.  Not a thing wrong with the sides, other than being completely out-shined by the meat, as is should be. Upon our most recent visit, Mueller's shared the 'best brisket of the day' distinction, and once they wrestled the bone from me, others agreed their beef rib to be the best we would have that day. Outside of our judging criteria, the baby back ribs deserve a great big honorable mention shout out of their own. Also a key component of our judging criteria-- friendly and enthusiastic service. (Note: Louie Mueller's suffered a pit fire, recently, but, happily, has reopened.  See what Texas Monthly has to say about Louie Mueller's.)

Snow's Barbecue, Lexington
516 Main St, Lexington, TX ph. 979.773.4640 (Sat.only)
Open Saturday, only, 8am, until sold out

You'll have to get there early if you plan to have what many declare the best brisket in the state, because the line begins before opening, and the doors close when it's all gone. Half of our contingent agreed with the 'best of' raves and reviews, the other half conceding that it was splitting hairs to call a winner. We loved the jalapeno sausage. All agreed that it was definitely worth the drive to join the hungry line of folks licking their chops. Great service that makes you feel you're part of a big family gathering of giddy carnivores.  (see what Texas Monthly, and Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, has to say about Snow's.)

City Meat Market, Giddings
101 W. Austin St. (Hwy 290), Giddings, TX ph. 979.542.2740
M-F 7:30-5:30 + Sat 7:30-4 + Closed Sunday

It was off of our beaten path, but that didn't stop us from trying.  A passenger jump-out from the lead car at the stoplight, found for her trouble that, close to noon that day, the only thing left was sausage, and some satisfied faces, blissful, beaming, even, still seated at the counter. We'll follow our own advice and get their early next time, but in the meantime, see what CNN's Eatocracy, and Texas Monthly have to say about City Meat Market.

Meyer's Barbecue, Elgin
188 Highway 290, Elgin, Texas ph. 512.281.5546
M-T 10-8 + F-Sat 10-9 + Sun 10-7

It's all about the sausage in Elgin, with two popular establishments duking it out for sausage supremacy.  We tried it all at Meyer's, and concluded its coarse ground, black pepper-flecked version Meyers produces as their 'best of plate'.  Don't miss the complimentary beans offered-- they go great with that sausage on the ubiquitous white sliced bread, onion, and pickle sandwich you'll see diners wrapping up at their seats.

Southside Barbecue, Elgin
Intersection of Hwy. 290 /Hwy. 95 North, Elgin, TX ph. 512. 281-4650
M-Th 8-8 + F-Sat 8-9 + Sun 9-8

Just after noon, the parking lot was packed, and the line to order and pay for barbecue snaked around the traffic controlling stanchions, and overflowed.  Southside Market boasted hundreds--the most diverse crowd we saw, all hunkered down and about the serious business of 'cue-guzzling.  Though the remaining meats we tried were fairly average among the day's offerings (and may I add average in this crowd is still way-above most barbecue offered off of this list of all-stars), the sausage did stand out, and the new version of sweet and sour vinegar-dressed cole slaw was our favorite of the day.  The sauce at Southside was also a stand-out-- a house version with unusual notes of cinnamon and clove was good, and their bold sauce, we found, outstanding.

Black's Barbecue, Lockhart
215 N. Main, Lockhart, TX ph 512.398.2712
M-Sun 10-8, until 8:30 Th-F

If you're in it for the sides, Black's offers the best selection on the trail.  They keep it hot and fresh and ready to be dished by hungry 'cue-ists', and include all the regulars, as well as macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad, green beans, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, Mexican rice, sweet creamed corn, sweet potatoes, apple, pecan, and blueberry pie, peach, blackberry, and cherry cobbler, and even more. Inching further down the line, you'll place your order for meat, and see it portioned before you on a wooden butcher block, worn and warped by the thousands of pounds of meat Black's produces.  Our rumbling tummies were quieted a bit after we learned our one (huge!) beef rib cost over $20, (and, per pound, in comparison, quite reasonably priced, but did I mention, HUGE?) and the moist brisket was the fattiest of the lot, but in all fairness, we did order moist. (see A Few Notes, above). That said, Black's has always taken the award for friendliest service of the three Lockhart locations reviewed, and this day was no exception.

Smitty's Barbecue, Lockhart
208 S. Commerce, Lockhart, TX ph. 512.398.9344
M-F 7-6 + Sat 7-6:30 + Sunday 9-6:30

It was the end of the restaurant day for Smitty's, located in the same charming building off the square for the last 50 years, when we arrived, and the staff appeared to be close to frazzled by the throngs of diners that still filled every seat.  The line for meat was short, and orders were efficiently gathered and charged.  But there's a line for sides, as well, and that sucked the feel-good barbecue buzz right out of me.  Once I reached my mis amigos and the first-ordered meat, most were finished, and I was a little grumpy, just like the girl who served my sides. But hungry diners can be a demanding lot, and the end of the day for hard workers isn't any time to expect pleasantries, so get your grub and get on with it, please. In fact, skip the sides altogether if you're in a hurry, and just pull yourself up to that tray of perfectly smoked meat.  Smitty's lives up to its hype.

Kreuz Barbecue, Lockhart
619 N. Colorado, Lockhart, TX ph. 512.398.2361
M-Sat 10:30-8 Closed Sunday

If the only bad barbecue is no barbecue, well that's what we got at the ever-popular Kreuz (pronounced Kr-long I-ts)  A full two hours before closing, there was no brisket, no ribs, and no patience for whining about it.  You'll have beef shoulder, and you'll like it. And we did. Except it tasted like Mom's pot roast (which is fabulous, Mom!) but though it's appearance gave us hope, nothing like the crackling, crusted, pink smoke-ringed brisket for which we'd hoped. Four of our procession made it to Kreuz earlier in the day, where the no's they encountered were only the usual for Kreuz; no forks and no sauce, either, because they truly stand by their pit. Our friends agreed that none were needed, and declared Kreuz the best barbecue in Lockhart.  They also agreed that, brisket and ribs, or none, the service was, well, cranky.  But cranky service didn't deter the no-brisket, no-rib eating diners which filled the stadium-sized dining room, still, upon closing. (See what Texas Monthly has to say about Kreuz.)

City Market Barbecue, Luling (no website)
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX ph. 830.875.9019

People whose opinions I trust on matters such as these declare City Market in Luling to have the very best sausage of the bunch, but, sadly, we were not to make it in time to try it ourselves. (Another thing to note about Central Texas Barbecue: It's not for the night owls.)  That WILL BE RECTIFIED, but meantime, see what Texas Monthly, who voted City Market, Luling among the Top 50 Barbecue establishments in a state full of thousands, and, if you're interested in that sort of thing (I AM, I AM!), a little background from Rob Walsh, to help remember that Luling City Market in Houston is NOT City Market, Luling.

Whew!  That's a lot of barbecue. And that's only the half of it--

An entire barbecue world, just as delicious if a little less storied, lives separate and apart on the west side of Austin, too. We look forward to sharing the rest of the story on The Outskirts of Town: Barbecue West of Austin, coming soon.

One of those topics that stirs up strong passions as well as smoky fires, barbecue, that is, and aficionados will have their opinions--let me promise you that. We love hearing them! Even those that don't particularly agree with ours. Where's your favorite brisket to be found? Who makes your favorite side? Who offers the consistently best customer service? The consistently worst? What dirt do you have to dish with us??

Tell it, y'all!
Every smoky bit.

While not an exhaustive overview (but, yes, somewhat exhausting), we've covered all of our favorite Barbecue joints east of Austin.  If you're looking for Barbecue inside the city limits, please do not miss the thorough work that Lisa of Full and Content has put into her review of surely every BBQ spot in town.  She might agree that it was about the most gloriously exhausting barbecue pilgrimage we've undertaken, but we take our mission seriously, as do the other fifty plus bloggers who are a part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2013 City Guide.  Collected by former AFBA Publicity Chair and big-guns-blogger, Jodi Bart, the guide covers every food, drink, and dive worth noting in the fair city.  We hope you find it useful in planning your way around town. 
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