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Food Matters: Hot sauce festival brings a welcome heat; Bringing the fall harvest to the table

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Bringing the fall harvest to the table

Now that school is under way, it's a good time to re-evaluate routines, including what we put on the dinner table. Meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike are almost always looking for ways to boost vegetable consumption, which is where a slew of recently published vegan and vegetarian cookbooks can come in handy.

Blogger Sarah Matheny's first book, "Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love" (Harlequin, $21.95), is the most approachable of these books because most dishes contain ingredients you probably already buy, with the exception of a number of meat alternatives such as vegetarian sausage and seitan. The author has two young children, so many of the recipes are developed specifically to be appealing to young palates. Among the recipes are ones for lentil meatballs, butternut squash fries and teriyaki tofu.

If you're making a radical change to your diet or your family's diet, check out "The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately" by Colleen Patrick-Gourdreau (Ballantine Books, $22), which is about as close as you'll get to having a personal consultant to answer questions about everything from how to read labels to which familiar dishes are the easiest to start the transition to an animal-free diet. Patrick-Gourdreau also addresses the emotional hurdles that accompany such a big change, which is rare in books on the subject.

When she's not acting as executive chef for Vegetarian Times magazine, Ann Gentry runs Real Food Daily, a hip vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. Her new book, "Vegan Family Meals" (Andrews McMeel, $25), isn't quite as comprehensive as the 30-Day Vegan challenge, but it includes how-to boxes on knife skills, nutritional information and assembly. The recipes, such as kale salad with sweet mustard tempeh and saffron-orange tahini dressing, are attractive and indicative of Gentry's chef background.

Chewy Energy Bars

With no stabilizers or corn syrup, these bars are much healthier than store-bought breakfast bars, and you can use any combination of dried fruits and nuts, such as dried apples, sliced almonds or butterscotch chips.

2 Tbsp. whole flaxseeds (or approximately 3 Tbsp. ground)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a mortar and pestle, grind flaxseeds and combine with water. Set aside. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in raisins and chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup and nut butter and mix until smooth. Combine nut butter mixture with flaxseed-water mixture.

Add wet mixture to dry and stir well. The mixture will seem dry, but keep stirring until fully integrated. Press the mixture into an 8-inch-square pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow pan to cool slightly, then cut into bars and transfer to a cooling rack.

- `Peas and Thank You' by Sarah Matheny (Harlequin, $21.95)

Hot sauce festival brings a welcome heat

If you can't beat this summer's record-breaking heat, you might as well join it. On Sunday, the 21st annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival will draw close to 15,000 salsa fans who just can't get enough pepper on their palates. The event is free, but you need to bring three healthy, nonperishable food items that will be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. (Don't worry if you forget. They'll accept a cash donation, too. Last year, they raised almost $17,000 and collected more than 23,500 pounds of food.) The mouth-searing fun starts at 11 a.m. and runs until 5:30 p.m. at Waterloo Park, with chef demos, hot sauce samples and music from Bright Light Social Hour, Foot Patrol and others in between. austinchronicle.com/Market/HotSauce.

Food briefs

• Bill Elsey of Duchman Family Wines in Driftwood was named Texas' Best Sommelier at the annual TexSom conference in Las Colinas last week. Elsey, who is the winery's director of sales, beat out 20 competitors in a three-part exam that involved service, theory and a blind taste test. Nathan Prater from Spec's Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods and David Keck from the Prestige Division of Glazer's Distributing came in second and third.

• After putting out a call last year looking for restaurants in need of an overhaul, the "Kitchen Nightmares" production team, including fiery host Gordon Ramsay, will be in Austin at the end of the month to help turn around El Greco, the Greek restaurant at 3016 Guadalupe St. If you're interested in snagging a seat during production, send an email to austindining@gmail.com.

• Man Up Texas BBQ, the Austin-based barbecue blog that was among the winners of this year's Statesman Texas Social Media Awards, is hosting its second annual Gettin' Sauced barbecue sauce contest from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Independence Brewery, 3913 Todd Lane . The event is free, but you can buy a $10 tasting wristband that will get you samples from more than a dozen Texas barbecue joints. gettinsauced.com.

• Small food businesses are cropping up all over right now, and Dana McCoy, who runs the local food broker company Yum Runnerz, is hosting a crash course in UPC requirements, permitting and retail strategy at 6 p.m. Monday at Hot Mama's Cafe, 2401 E. Sixth St. Admission is $25; email Dana at foodiemccoy@gmail.com for more.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Wheat's, a barbecue trailer serving lunch at 6701 Burnet Road. Cousins and co-owners Adam Lineham and Joe Rowland have created a menu of Texas barbecue with a Mexican twist. "It's what I deem true Texas cuisine," says Rowland, who is making traditional Texas dry-rubbed, smoked barbecue and serving it with tortas, charro beans, roasted corn and poblano cole slaw and potato salad with serrano, cilantro and bacon. 809-1149. No website yet; search "Wheat's Austin" on Facebook.

• Open: Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, the fourth Austin-area location of the Kansas-based chain, at 4625 W. William Cannon Drive. 358-0080, freddysfrozencustard.com.

• Open: P. Terry's Burger Stand, the fifth location of the Austin burger chain, at S. 3311 RM 620 in Lakeway, across the street from Lakeway High School. 263-9433, pterrys.com.

• Open: YaYa Cafe & Shaved Ice, a Vietnamese restaurant at 3706 Guadalupe St. No website yet; find them on Facebook.

• Opening this week: Dock and Roll Diner, a trailer just west of Loop 360 on Bee Cave Road. Co-owner Lee Krassner says he was inspired by the lobster roll, a Northeastern summer staple, to create a line of six gourmet rolls, including the lobster roll and the Infidel Castro, "our take on the Cuban sandwich." Sides include homemade tater tots and grilled corn. 6416 Bee Cave Road. 657-8415, dockandrolldiner.com.

• Reopened: Sam's BBQ, the East Austin standby at 2000 E. 12th St. that closed last month following a sting operation in which, according to the Austin Police Department, the owners of three restaurants bought stolen meat. Sam's owner Brian Mays says he was able to get his health permit back after meeting with officials because the kind of meat involved in the sting isn't what's sold on his menu, but he is still required to show up at a court date in September to deal with the criminal charges.

• Closed: Somnio's Cafe, the all-local restaurant on South First Street. The owners announced on Facebook that the restaurant would not be renewing its lease at the end of the month. "We don't have any immediate plans of reopening, and would need some investors for anything near term."

• Closed: Suzi's China Grill in Rollingwood.

• Coming soon: Bacon, a bacon-themed restaurant with a menu by Tyler Johnson (formerly of Along Came a Slider trailer) in the former Screaming Goat location at 10th Street and North Lamar Boulevard.

• Coming soon: Sputnik, a burger and hot dog restaurant in the former Good Knight building at 1300 E. Sixth St.