Ever Wanted to Go Vegetarian? Now's the Time as Beef, Pork Prices Soar

Photo by Cgoodwin
Santa Gertrudis beef cows graze on King Ranch in Texas
Thanks to a drought across much of the major cattle-ranching states and a deadly pig virus, we may soon be doing what those pesky Chick-fil-A cows are always encouraging on the billboards: "Eat mor chikin." Or veggies. Or tofu.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that beef prices are the highest they've been since 1987, and pork prices are up 13 percent from last year, just in time for the start of grilling season nationwide.

David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University, tells NPR that the reason behind higher-than-average increases in beef costs is in large part drought, particularly in Texas, the nation's largest producer of beef cattle. Drought leads to fewer feed crops, which leads to fewer cows. Coupled with an increase in demand for American beef in China, we're looking at a small supply and big prices.

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This Week In Food Blogs: Uni Revolution and Pink Tacos

Categories: Leftovers

Thumbnail image for Uni.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Uni is about so much more than sushi.
Hank On Food: Hank attended the Goose Island Preview at Hay Merchant recently and taste-tested a few beers from the brewery. He enjoyed the Sofie, which he says tastes of citrus (even though it is a Belgian-style Saison), as well as the Rasselbock, a dark wheat ale with hints of malt and plum. His favorite was the Bourbon County Stout with Intelligentsia Coffee -- he gave it an A+++.

Food & Wine: Chelsea Morse of Food & Wine explains that more and more chefs and restaurants around the country are using uni in many of their dishes, such as at Provisions in Houston, where you can enjoy the roasted garlic and guanciale pizza topped with raw sea urchin. Could uni be the new bacon?

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Five New (& Easy!) Sides For Your Easter Meal

Photo by jules
Sweet potatoes and fresh herbs make this dish a winner.
Whether it be a lavish brunch or a potluck dinner, we love a good Easter Sunday meal. Unfortunately, the same deadbeat dishes seem to make an appearance year after year. This time around, we're giving the usual suspects (think scalloped potatoes and buttered peas) a bit of a makeover.

Here are five ways to turn those tired sides into something special:

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Make A Classic Southern Dessert: Hummingbird Cake

Photos by Molly Dunn
It's a classic Southern dessert, and it's downright divine.
If you're from the American South, then there's a 99 percent chance you have heard of Hummingbird Cake. To me, Hummingbird Cake is like a cross between Pineapple Upside Down Cake and banana bread. When you add the sliced bananas and pineapple chunks to the batter, its texture is much thicker than an ordinary vanilla cake, more like that of banana bread, and when baked, it is caramelized and sticky like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

But, why is it called Hummingbird Cake? Do hummingbirds eat bananas? Pineapples? Pecans? Cream cheese frosting? The only thing I have seen hummingbirds eat is the red sugar water my mom puts in their feeder.

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Breakfasting at Einstein Bros.

Categories: On the Menu

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Coupon enticement

Breakfast is the meal I am least likely to eat out. (Brunch, a different story). I'm not usually in the mood to consume a lot of food early in the morning, especially if I am going to go running, which is my usual matutinal practice.

Last week I happened to finish my workout a bit earlier than usual and found myself still within the window of time to order some breakfast fare. I wanted something savory, quick, and probably involving a bagel.

Now, this last preference should have led me directly to The Hot Bagel Shop , but en route I passed by Einstein Bros. and thought, why not? Then, I remembered I had a coupon for $1 off any breakfast sandwich and that sealed the deal.

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2014 International Festival Celebrates Australia...But Hold the Vegemite, Please

Image courtesy International Festival
This year's poster was designed by local artist Carlos Hernandez. You can buy one online!
I'm excited about this year's International Festival highlighting Australia for two reasons: One, it gives me an excuse to post the music video for Men At Work's brilliant 1980 song "Land Down Under" (see the next page), and two, I honestly don't know much about Australian food.

Being that the festival is hosted here in Houston, a number of local chefs will be coming out to showcase their cuisine, but there will also be Australian chefs and vendors introducing Texas to the wonders of food from Down Under.

Hot on the heels of Houston's Second Annual BBQ Festival, the International Festival is hosting a "Texas vs. Barbie Cook-Off" competition on May 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hermann Square Park featuring local chefs and restaurants. The festival will also have a concession area with food from more than 40 restaurants, some of whom will be trying their hand at Australian cuisine.

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H-E-B Debuts Pretzel Croissant

Categories: Grocery Guide

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
What would a Parisian think about this?

Well, at least they didn't give it some lame-ass portmanteau. H-E-B's newest food creation, the "pretzel croissant" is pretty much what the name implies. Though I will say that when I first saw the sign advertising their new product I envisioned a croissant in a pretzel shape, rather than vice-versa.

This is not the first time the chain has played around with either the soft pretzel or croissant. This past year, the grocery store began to offer pretzel rolls and buns semi-regularly, as well as whole-wheat croissants and glazed croissants (in the donut case).

And, unless you've been hibernating, I don't need to tell you about the cronut, the ultimate croissant hybrid, which some hypothesize exemplifies a cultural trend toward "combo" baked goods as an efficient way to satisfy multiple flavor cravings simultaneously.

I don't know if that's true, but I do know these caramelized croissant French toast sticks look delicious. Also, this this croissant stuffing will be on my 2014 Thanksgiving table.

Shrewd H-E-B capitalizes on the curiosity of baked-good devotees and does not enable you to purchase individual pretzel croissants, only packages of four (for $3). I did ask the bakery manager on site if I could buy just one (hoping he would offer to split up the package) and he apologized and declined my request. "I'm sorry, I don't have a SKU number for just one," he said smiling. Um, make one up?, I thought.

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Texas Hill Country Cuisine Defined and Made Doable

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
One of the best things about this cookbook is the abundance of vibrant photos.
New Mexican cuisine is a thing. It evokes thoughts of Hatch green chiles and blue corn. California cooking is on the healthy side, with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. The Midwest is known for its meat and potatoes, the Gulf Coast its seafood.

But when I saw the new cookbook entitled Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill, I was initially confused. I've lived in the Hill Country, and there never seemed to be a definable sort of cuisine there, except maybe barbecue, as Lockhart, Luling and Driftwood (home of The Salt Lick) all fall more or less within the boundaries of the Hill Country.

The introduction to the cookbook addressed my quandary immediately.

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Menchie's Frozen Yogurt Debuts New Samoa-Inspired Flavor

Categories: Sweets

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Bermudes
Frozen Samoa goodness

When I first watched The Addams Family ,at age 10, I immediately found a new hero in Wednesday Addams for the way she cleverly turned the tables on a persnickety Girl Scout.
I then proceeded to steal this joke and repeat it to people when I was trying to sell cookies as a Girl Scout. (Almost no one laughed.)

Girl Scout cookies may not be made from real Girl Scouts, and in fact contain a host of far scarier ingredients, but damn they taste good. I'm a fan of the old classics: Trefoils, Tagalongs, Thin Mints, and, of course, Samoas. I swear as a small child a single Samoa cookie could satisfy me; now, I could eat the whole box in no time flat and still be game for more.

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Top 10 Easter Candies for Your Basket

Categories: Sweets, Top 10

Photo by Asti21
Those better not be hollow.
The grocery stores are PACKED with Easter candies, and there's a lot to choose from. You don't want to make a poor decision when buying some of the worst candies, like Easter candy corn. Seriously? That's disgusting.

Kaitlin Steinberg created her list of the worst Easter candies, and I have made my list of the best Easter candies. Make the most scrumptious and tasty Easter basket you possibly can this year by loading it with these items. Your kids (and you) will thank you.

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