When I first moved to Chicago, I created my gmail account under “Whitney in Chicago” because it was just felt like such a change for a Texan like me moving up to the cold Midwest. It was only logical that I would name my blog the same thing. Although I will forever remain a Texan at heart (Texas Pride is indoctrinated early on in elementary education-Yellow Rose anyone?), I have enjoyed making Chicago my new home. However, this means that I must make my own Tex-Mex favorites at home (and fill suitcases to the weight maximum with good salsa). Tortilla Soup might not be strictly “Tex-Mex” per se, but it was always one of my favorite things to order at Pappasitos when I wanted a light lunch and I can’t remember the last time that I had a satisfying bowl. Continue reading
Well I am finally back. Both physically and mentally. As you probably know, I took a 10 day (very) much-needed post-Bar trip to Texas. I attended one of my favorite sorority sister’s wedding; drove over 1000 miles between DFW, Austin, Houston and various places in between; ate my body weight in salsa, queso, tortilla chips, tacos, BBQ and Blue Bell Ice Cream; continued the 100 year celebration by trying every imaginable incarnation of Shiner; in sum, I basically decompressed from the Stress of the past 3 years and specifically the past 2 months. It was just what I needed. But even as I was enjoying sleeping in to 8:30 AM [yes, 8:30 is now sleeping in for me; I am officially OLD] I was somewhat anxious to get back home to Chicago. I have missed 10 days of the farmer’s markets and I don’t know which fruit slowly slipped out of season or if Nichol’s has started to fill their yellow tubs which every type of little tomato imaginable. Needless to say, I am ready to get back into my summer routine. Thankfully this half will be without the added bonus of 28 pounds of blue BarBri books but rather a large stack of library books (including New Moon, Garlic and Sapphire, The Girl She Used to Be and much more). Continue reading
Texas Travel Edition
[We are having a great time. Texas is good for the soul.}
As you may or may not know, even through I write a blog called “Whitney in Chicago”, I am really a Texan through and through (except for my politics). One of the biggest adjustments to Chicago actually wasn’t the long, harsh winter, but the lack of true “Tex-Mex.” Sure you can get plenty of decent mexican and salsa all across Chicago, but really good Tex-Mex can only be found at the source, Texas. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Anyways, anytime that I do go back to Texas for any length of time, I always pack light so that I can bring back lots of Texas things (if only I could figure out how to get some Blue Bell Homestyle Vanilla back), most importantly…SALSA. Continue reading
Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Mexican, Recipe
Tagged Chicken, Dinner, Enchiladas, Main Dish, Mexican, Recipe, Salsa, Texas
Within a few days of booking my flight home to TX, my March Gourmet had an article about Central Texas kolaches in Good Living: Road Food. I always knew about The Village Bakery in West, Texas (yes, the town of West not the directional region) because it was on the 1-35 route between Ft. Worth and Waco that I traveled many times sophomore year. But I had forgotten that the Czechs had settled in areas with the Germans in Central Texas, including La Grange where we were staying the night before heading south to Shiner. After mentioning to my friends that I was going to have to try out a bunch of Kolaches, I realized that Kolaches aren’t a commonly known thing in the Northeast (CT, PA) Georgia or Missouri. Who knew?
We first tried out the goods at Weikel’s Store and Bakery on the 71 bypass but we had heard from a local that theses were just not the best in town.
I tried a cheese, poppy-seed and cheery. The dough was just like I remembered a kolache tasting and I did enjoy the cheese. However, the poppy-seed was just a little odd in my opinion.
The next morning, we hit up the “better” bakery on the square surrounding the courthouse. Lukas was the real deal.
We decided to stock up on a bunch of their famous pigs in the blanket, which I currently have in the freezer for a rainy day. We also bought some homemade Krenek’s Bohemian Noodles which I will have to find a worthy soup to toss them in. But of course, we had to try the kolaches.
These were fantastic. They had a greater filling to dough ratio which made for a more satisfying treat. You could also tell that they used real fruit because they weren’t overly sweet and were more complex.
My favorite was the cheese. It was almost a cottage cheese with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Fantastic.
Dear Gourmet, this is where you should go for kolaches in La Grange.
My Mom enjoyed the apricot. If you ever find yourself wanting to spend a day exploring La Grange and the other small towns in central TX, make sure to hit up Lukas Bakery for breakfast. You won’t regret it.
When I was deciding between moving to Chicago to attend Kent and moving back to Houston to go to U of H Law, one item on my “con list” for Chicago was the lack of Shiner in the state of Illinois. Thankfully, during my 1L year this was no longer a problem. I was on the Halsted bus and saw an advertisement on the side of a building that said “Hi Chicago” using the H-I from the Shiner label and I freaked out: Shiner had arrived in Illinois. Needless to say, that it was clear that my move to Chicago was right, because Shiner followed me.
When I decided to take advantage of the cheaper flights and come home to hang out with my mom in TX, we planned to take a day trip (that turned into an over night trip) to Shiner. We ended up spending the night in La Grange, enjoying Kolaches, good BBQ, and painted churches (go to my Flickr page for more pics and I’m sure I will discuss the amazingness that is good Kolaches). But the highlight of the trip was definitely going to the Shiner Brewery. Shiner is celebrating its 100th year, so it really was a perfect time to go.
Shiner, Texas is a small town, just a little south of 1-10 about half way between Houston and San Antonio. This area of TX was settled by German and Czech Immigrants.
The brewery employs 60 people (from 2000 total population) and brews enough beer to reach 41 states (including IL YAY!) and now Mexico. I can’t remember exactly how many (so don’t quote me) but I think they brew 750K bottles EVERY DAY. If you could see how small the brewery seemed, it really is amazing. Since it was Spring Break our tour was on the large size so the tour guide was a bit overwhelmed. The best part of the tour of course was the FREE BEER.
We got to sample the Commemorator Centennial Ale Brew as well as Shiner Blonde and Shiner Hefeweizen.
I really enjoyed the Hefeweizen. After the tour, we listened to our tour guide’s tips and went to their little grocery store so that we could buy a “Family Reunion Pack” so that we could try the Kosmos Reserve.
The Kosmos Reserve is an “aromatic dry hopped lager that is specially brewed to celebrate the man who started it all.” Kosmos Spoetzl was the original brewmaster of Shiner and the Brewery still carries the Spoetzl name.
This beer was very tasty. I wish that I could some how get a bunch back to Chicago, but alas, I will have to settle for enjoying the 4 in the box in The Woodlands. I very much enjoyed our short little road trip to Shiner and I encourage any body to make the drive, and enjoy a day in the little towns near the TX Hill Country.
I am packing up for a few days at home in Texas. I am looking forward to warmer weather, Tex-Mex, BBQ, Shiner Bock and exploring some small towns. I am sure I will be posting about my fun through out the week.
I just wanted to share my happiness of the TCU victory over Boise State last night. It was an INTENSE game but I was so glad that we won in the end!
I have also been enjoying lots of the amazing holiday style Shiner called “Shiner Cheer”. I actually found it at a bar in Chicago before I was home. If you live in a state that distributes Shiner, look for it. They describe it as “an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying.” You can really taste the peach strong at first but then it mellows out to a rich beer.
I hope that you are enjoying friends and family where ever you are. I am heading back to Chicago tomorrow but I have enjoyed hanging out with my Mom in Texas. I have packed 8 jars of salsa and I am bringing back 60 flour tortillas to stick in the freezer. I forgot how much Tex-Mex is really something that you can only get in Texas!