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Visit our local producers page by clicking on the tab at the top of this page to see a full listing of folks producing food in the Llano Region.  If you see that we have forgotten someone, please leave a comment.

You may have noticed that we have not posted a new Local Llano blog recently.  After 59 stories, OC’s Local Llano Blog will be going into a hibernation until Spring.  The blog began as an experiment to spread the word about the amazing local food resources in our region with stories and photographs, and we believe it has succeeded!  It has been great fun and we appreciate our many contributors, the wonderful feedback from those who left comments, and those who attended our Local Llano Mixers over the summer.  Though we won’t be adding anything new for some months, Local Llano Blog will continue to be available as an archive of stories and listing of area Farmer’s Markets–and you can always see new photos and blurbs on Local Llano’s Facebook page.

In addition, Ogallala Commons – the nonprofit responsible for Local Llano – has just been notified that we have been awarded a grant to help fund a Local Llano book project from Farm Aid.  We will keep you all updated on our progress!  Thanks for your support!

By Julie Hodges

Years ago I worked in an office near downtown Lubbock. Occasionally, I would treat myself to an empanada or a breakfast burrito from The Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant on my way to work.  An empanada, for those of you wondering, is a stuffed pastry filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits.  My favorite empanada filling is pumpkin.  Last week I had an opportunity to visit with Martha and Luis Jimenez to learn more about the bakery and restaurant.

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Lucio Jimenez came from Mexico, where he had worked in a bakery and restaurant.  Upon arriving in Lubbock, he worked for a few years at a local bakery and then in 1969 he opened his own.  Besides traditional American baked goods like pies, cookies, and donuts, Lucio also prepared a variety of Mexican pastries, including traditional holiday sweet breads. All the recipes used were Lucio Jimenez originals, perfected by years of practice. Today his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren run the family business.

Luis Jimenez is a jovial man with boundless energy and a heart-warming smile. He was his father’s apprentice and now head’s up the Jimenez Bakery.  “Everything is made from scratch,” Luis said, adding a list of the establishment’s most popular items, “brownies, empanadas, sweet breads, and donuts.”

During the holidays, the bakery cooks up a few special items:

Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 2): Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead)

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin, Pecan , Apple, Cheery and Sweet Potato Pies

Christmas: Cookies, small breads, and pies

Kings Day: (Jan 6) Roscas de Reyes – traditional pastry commemorating the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men.

The Jimenez Bakery is the only establishment in town preserving the tradition of making special Mexican pastries during the holidays.  Martha Jimenez told me that schools from across the region place orders at the bakery during Mexican holidays and some come for tours.  “We are preserving the heritage, colors and customs at the bakery and sharing it with the next generation,” Martha said.

The bakery also takes orders for wedding cakes, Quinceanera cakes, birthday and anniversary cakes.

Just across from the bakery is the restaurant side of the business.  During breakfast and lunch folks on break from jury duty and those employed downtown pile in for enchiladas, rancheros, migas and other breakfast and Mexican fare.

The Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant is located at 1217 Crickets Avenue in Lubbock. Bakery hours are 6:30am to 6pm.  Restaurant hours are 7am  to 3pm.

By Nellie Hill

Peanut butter, salted peanuts, peanut brittle, peanut flour and chocolate-coated peanuts.  These are just a few of the common products we might think of made from peanuts. What about salad oil? Laundry soap? Mayonnaise? Or even Chili sauce? These other common household staples are also made with peanuts.

The importance of peanuts on the Llano is made evident through the history of the Texas Peanut Producers Board.  It is the state of Texas’ oldest agricultural commodity board. This board has been aiding producers in growing a tasty, nutritional, and profitable peanut crop each year since 1969.  The board also educates the public on the many values of adding peanuts to a healthy diet.

Texas peanut producers harvest approximately 160,000 acres and 400 million pounds of peanuts each year. The industry is worth about $1 billion to the state’s economy.  The Texas Peanut Producers Board is right in the thick of peanut country, headquartered in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas, specifically, west Texas is a great place to grow peanuts because of the sandy soil.  This is conductive to the needs of healthy peanut plants.  Many producers grow several varieties, depends on contracts year to year and producer preference. Producers must take into account the weather, land, seed costs, and many other variables to decide on each year’s crop. This past harvest year, producers predominately grew the runner peanut variety, follow by the Virginia variety.   Peanuts are planted in April or May and harvested late October to early November, before the first frost.
Once harvested, many Texas peanuts are shipped off to manufacturing companies out of the state.  According to the Texas Peanut Producers Board, this is due to the high quality of Texas grown peanuts.

To learn more about Texas peanuts, the Texas Peanut Producers Board website.

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By Jim Steiert

Sandhill cranes, geese, and pheasants all provide delicious table fare for Llano dwellers when properly and patiently prepared. Slow and easy does it in preparation of tasty gamebird dishes.

With fall days come high-flying harbingers of the season. Spiraling sandhill cranes trumpet their September/October arrival.

Combines flush cackling winged rainbows that are ring-necked pheasants from corn and sorghum fields.

Around Thanksgiving come elongated skeins of barking Canada and snow geese join an array of ducks in playa country.

These winged wonders bring the promise of delicious fare to grace the tables of fortunate sportsmen.

Naysayers lambast the table-worthiness of ducks, geese, and even sandhill cranes and pheasants. Folks in the know rate sandhill crane “ribeye of the sky.”  Pheasant is a delicacy in many circles. And yes, ducks and geese can prove delicious. It’s all in the pre-cooking preparation, and in slow and easy cooking.

In my estimation, dark-meated ducks, geese, and cranes require thorough soaking in salt water to draw out blood that can give them an unpleasant flavor. I fillet breasts of any of these birds into moderately thick steaks and place in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for several hours, changing the water a couple of times. An overnight soak is ideal.

To prepare these dark-meated fillets, fire up the grill. While it’s heating, in a saucepan melt a half-pound of butter. Pour in a half-cup of catsup, one tablespoon of sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of Worcestershire, one teaspoon of salt, ground pepper to taste, and ½ teaspoon of Tobasco. Finely dice a small onion and  toss it in. Stir well, cover the saucepan and let the concoction simmer over gentle heat for five minutes.

Soaked and washed goose, crane, or duck steaks should be pounded well with a meat tenderizing hammer, then taken to the hot grill. Souse them with the sauce, and toss on the grate. Turn once.  Don’t let these delicacies overcook—a little pink in the middle is perfect. I’ve had guests think they were dining on fine steak. Fresh sauce can be served with the fare.

Roast ducks, geese, or pheasant in a simple manner. I skin these birds. After thorough washing, place in a roasting pan, Stuff the cavity with diced onion and a diced sharp apple. Pin strips of bacon across the breast with toothpicks. Add water in the bottom of the roasting pan, cover, and slide in a 300 degree oven—slow and easy cooking does it. The aroma will tell you when the bird is getting right—test for doneness with a fork. Remove from the oven, separate apple and onion from the bird, pour drippings in a sauce pan and thicken with a flour and milk solution poured through a strainer to make gravy, seasoning to taste. Goes down wonderfully with mashed potatoes, cranberry, and rolls.

For pheasant nuggets fillet all of the meat off the bones into bite-sized chunks. Avoid  leader-laden drumsticks. Wash pieces thoroughly.

Place flour in a plastic food bag, toss in dashes of pepper and assorted seasoning salts. Add pheasant pieces, zip the bag closed, and shake thoroughly so pheasant is well covered in seasoned flour.

Heat cooking oil in a frying pan. Scatter pheasant pieces in the hot cooking oil and let  fry—not too long, not too fast, or too hot. Turning fork “feel” and “taste testing” say when nuggets are ready. Take up pheasant pieces, pour off excess oil, leaving just enough in the pan along with cracklings to make gravy. Two tablespoons of flour for every cup of milk is about right—one tablespoon for thinner gravy. Brown the flour, shoving it around with a spatula, then pour in the milk and stir thoroughly and constantly until the elixir comes to a boil. Ladle over biscuits and mashed potatoes alongside your pheasant pieces.

Treats from Nature all.

By Cara Young

The crepes at Real Food Café taste amazing.  Not just because they are light and fluffy, or because they include the freshest, cleanest ingredients, but because of the amazing story of persistence that is behind these handcrafted creations.   “In a world where everything can be prepared from a package, people are missing out on real ingredients. That’s what we use and the customer can taste the difference,” says T. This is the whole idea behind Real Food Café. Andy likes to say “food is the only medicine”.  He feels it is the cheapest and most effective prevention of sickness and disease. They believe that being a part of the food system should develop a sense of humility within you, but instead the industry today shows very little respect for food.  And you can truly taste the difference at Real Food, where the food is clean, sustainable, and responsible. Real Food Café makes every effort to source as much of their ingredients locally. They craft amazing homemade salad dressings, crackers, desserts, and of course, crepes

The story of Real Food Café begins with a coffee cart in Northwest Texas Hospital. Owners T and Andy Price (seen above middle) served coffee and homemade biscotti and muffins.  Eventually, they turned that coffee cart into the Coffee Cartel at 34th and Coulter.  At their new location they were able to expand their desserts which left their customers wanting more, and eventually requesting lunch.  The response was great but with a high overhead and a poor location, they were forced to close.

They developed Real Food Catering, making desserts for BL Bistro, Zen 721, and Crush from a commercial kitchen in Cornerstone Church. The craze over their famous chocolate soufflé, lemon tart, and honey walnut bars (to name a few) gave them the freedom to cater more. They began serving a limited lunch menu out of the Kitchen Gallery. It was a difficult set up. The Kitchen Gallery’s lack of a kitchen meant that T and Andy were forced to turn their little café spot into a daily catering gig, hauling prepared food to the Kitchen Gallery from the church. When Kitchen Gallery closed its doors, Ken and Megan, the owners of Blue Sage Gallery, offered T and Andy a space in the gallery to do lunch. Here they were able to truly develop a menu for the first time.  They were still “daily catering” but it was a whole lot closer, and the public responded strongly. Real Food Café’s popularity grew more than ever before.   Eventually Blue Sage Gallery needed their space back and Real Food Café was once again without a space to operate.

In July 2011, Jill Zimmer of Two Loons Warehouse, contacted T and Andy with an idea.  She wanted to open a store with Real Food Café in the same building.  This was it. It was the opportunity they had been waiting for and they knew it right away.  They jumped at the chance and in April 2012 they opened their current location at 3208 SW 6thStreet.

Now, if you are still reading, you may be thinking, “Why so much background?  Just tell me the food is good and I will try it out.”  This story is an important lesson in persistence and success. It’s the type of story that we don’t hear enough of these days.  Many of us work towards a goal until we are rejected and then move on to the next goal.  But the greatest success stories are often stories like T and Andy’s where they continue to do what they love even in less than ideal circumstances, and eventually it pays off.  They have worked hard to get where they are and they deserve every bit of success that they’ve earned because of it.  Lucky for us, the customer, you can taste it in every sweet and savory bite!

Check out Real Food Café’s Facebook page and make sure to “like” them to stay up on special events.  Also look for new menu items coming soon!

Real Food Cafe locally sources produce from the Garden at the High Plains Food Bank. During the month of October, come in and enjoy one of their many famous desserts, and $1 of your purchase will be donated to The Garden at the High Plains Food Bank.

Freanna Original Yoghurt

By Betty Williamson

Karla van der Ploeg and her parents, Andle and Sjierkje, are proud of Freanna Yoghurt and hope to share their family’s product with lots of consumers on the high plains.

When the van der Ploeg family came from Holland to the United States in 2003 to establish the Mid-Frisian Dairy in eastern New Mexico between Clovis and Texico, one of the first things they missed was having access to the kind of yoghurt they knew and loved.

Andle van der Ploeg remembers his wife, Sjierkje, saying that “it sure would be great if we could buy the kind of yoghurt we like here.”  They eventually realized the solution was “to make it ourselves.”

The van der Ploegs are the affable owners of one of the newest family businesses to take foot on the high plains:  Freanna Original Yoghurt.

Note the spelling.  That’s right. Yoghurt.  With an “h.”

“That’s how you know it’s real yoghurt,” Sjierkje says with a smile.

The van der Ploegs have a daughter and three sons, all living on or near the dairy.  Karla, a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University and licensed realtor, has turned her full attention to developing and marketing the Freanna yoghurt.  Bart manages the dairy; Jeroen is a certified welder who also manages the yoghurt plant; and Gerben is running the farm.  Jeroen’s fiancé, Tracy Tuttle, has also had a hand in the new business venture, and is credited for Freanna’s slogan: “A yoghurt like no other.”

Freanna Original Yoghurt is not the thick, sweetened yogurt that many American consumers might expect.  It is made only from whole, pasteurized milk (easy to find on a dairy that milks 1,600 cows) and the family’s secret (although FDA-approved!) mix of live and active cultures.

“Some cultures and the process used makes yoghurt taste sour,” Andle added, but said his family has spent the last couple of years refining Freanna’s smooth, mild flavor.

There are no preservatives, sweeteners or flavorings of any kind.

Karla said that most yogurts also contain thickening ingredients.  Because Freanna does not, the final product has a mild taste and smooth consistency.

An 8-ounce serving has only 121 calories, yet provides 21 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein and 23 percent of the recommended amount of calcium.  Freanna yoghurt is filled with active cultures and pro-biotics.

The gleaming stainless steel collection of tubes and state-of-the-art custom-engineered tanks that has already been used to make the first batches of Freanna yoghurt came to the high plains in parts from several different countries and was installed by a local business.

From pasteurization to the activation of the yoghurt cultures to the highly automated packaging, the process for making a batch of yoghurt takes about 12 hours.  Unopened and refrigerated, the yoghurt has a two-month lifespan.  After it’s been opened, the van der Ploegs encourage customers to finish a carton within three days.

The name Freanna is in honor of the family’s home province in Holland—Friesland—and also pays homage to Anna, or actually several generations of Annas, prize-winning cows from the van der Ploeg herds.

The company logo, a distinctive blue and green soft heart shape with a rocking red heart in the middle, can be seen anywhere the yoghurt is currently carried, including Paradise Market, Coffee Bistro, Makin’ It Natural and Gallery 15 in Clovis, the Do Drop Inn and Veggie Shack in Portales, the Old Country Store in Farwell, the La Montanita Co-op and Keller’s in Albuquerque, the La Montanita Co-op in Santa Fe, the Toucan Market in Las Cruces, and the Silver City Food Co-op.

Karla and her mother have given out lots of sample tastes of the yoghurt at events around eastern New Mexico and west Texas.

Sjierkje said a number of tasters commented that Freanna yoghurt “tastes more like homemade yoghurt.”

“People are amazed that plain yoghurt can taste this good without additives,” said Karla.

The purity and quality, ultimately, are what it’s all about.

The van der Ploeg family is counting on converting plenty of consumers to the tasty, healthful product they have eaten and loved for years.

If you’d like to learn more about Freanna yoghurt, visit www.freanna.com.

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