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Food Matters: On the hunt for a good Pfeffernusse recipe; plus turkey classes ahead of Thanksgiving

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com
Want to learn how to prepare a better turkey for Thanksgiving? Cooking classes abound this time of year.

LOCAL FOOD

New Sunday market launches this weekend

The number of Sunday farmers’ markets just keeps growing. Today, the organizers of the Barton Creek Farmers Market at Barton Creek Square announced that they are adding a Sunday market at Highland Mall that will start this weekend. Many of the same vendors who sell meat, cheese, milk, locally grown produce, herbs, plants and artisan food products and crafts on Saturday mornings at the Southwest Austin market will also set up their booths from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays in the Highland Mall parking lot facing Airport Boulevard. This market is the fourth Sunday farmers’ market to open in the area in recent years. The others include HOPE at Fifth and Waller streets in East Austin, Lakeway Commons in Lakeway and the newly opened Mueller Farmers’ Market in the Browning Hangar off Airport Boulevard.

In other farmers’ market news, the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market Downtown will remain open during the Formula One weekend. The Saturday before Thanksgiving is typically the market’s second-highest day of sales, and market manager Suzanne Santos says that she hopes the market’s presence downtown will give “a ‘taste’ of Austin right in one of Austin’s historical squares.” The Formula One Fan Fest starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday one block from the market, but you can find additional information about getting to the market and what vendors will be there at sfcfarmersmarket.org.

THANKSGIVING

Turkey cooking classes

Want to learn how to cook a better turkey? Faraday’s Kitchen Store, 1501 RM 620 North, is hosting a class ($49) on deep frying turkeys at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and Silver Whisk Cooking School is hosting a take-and-bake class ($199) on Tuesday, in which participants prepare an entire Thanksgiving dinner that they can then take home and serve on Thursday.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Barbeque Mercantile, 5003 Burnet Road, is hosting a class on how to properly brine and smoke turkeys. The event is free, but email reservations at barbequemercantile@yahoo.com are required. (If you can’t make that class, the store is hosting a beginning barbecue class on Dec. 1 with Chris Marks of Three Little Pigs BBQ in Kansas City. The class, which costs $95, will cover how to smoke ribs and chicken. Call 371-3748 or email to reserve a spot.)

Looking for more Thanksgiving ideas and recipes? We’ll run next week’s food section on Monday to give cooks a chance to look over the recipes and stories before diving into the kitchen for the big day on Thursday.

TECHNOLOGY

Sites help users looking for a gluten-free dish or new chef

Two new websites of note this week.

The first is a resource for gluten-free eaters called G-Free in the City (gfreeinthecity.com). Austinite Jaime Sutton started the website as a blog, but as her own frustrations grew about not being able to find gluten-free menus in one spot, she started to develop the site into something that would allow users (and restaurants) to submit gluten-free items and menus so that fellow gluten-free eaters could search them easily by location or cuisine. Users can then rate the dishes and the “gluten-free friendliness” of the staff.

The second website is an expanded site out of Portland, Ore., that has entered the Austin market. PoachedJobs.com aims to make is easier for restaurant owners and people who work in the service industry to post and find jobs. The Austin site (austin.poachedjobs.com) lets users search by job type (e.g. hotel, bar, barista, management) and, on the hiring side, gives businesses tools to manage applicants and their resumes.

ASK ADDIE

I’m in hot pursuit of a good, old-fashioned Pfeffernusse recipe. My Oma died in 2001, at the ripe old age of 105. My mother followed in 2002 at the age of 80. Oma’s recipe ended up at my sister’s house in Maine, and we can’t find it now. Oma’s recipe was from the 19th century. They used ingredients such as ammonium carbonate, which I have obtained from a specialty bakery source online, and another ingredient that none of us can remember — potassium (fill-in-the-blank).

These ingredients made for a very hard cookie that survived shipping under adverse conditions, and they keep for many months in a sealed glass or tin container. (Plastic doesn’t work.) Common ingredients are sugar, honey, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardamom, nutmeg and other similar spices. Black pepper is usually not an ingredient; “peppernuts” is just the English translation for this tasty, spicy cookie.

I’m willing to become the “Julie and Julia” of Pfeffernusse if I can only get my hands on some home recipes. I’m sure there are hundreds of people in Central Texas whose ancestors hailed from Germany or Belgium, where these spice cookies were a standard treat during the Christmas holidays.

I’ve tried a lot of Mennonite recipes (Oma and Mom were Mennonite), but they were all bland and mushy. And the spices are similar to, but not the same as, Lebkuchen. (The latter has a distinctly different flavor.)

Do you have any ideas as to where I’d find an old-fashioned recipe for this favorite childhood treat?

Oh, and I have a special reason for wanting to get this done soon. My father is 91. He’ll be 92 in December. And these are his favorite cookies. He helped my mom roll out the dough and bake them when she was still alive, but he’s forgotten what was in them

— Sally Jo Hahn

I thought I’d throw this one out there to readers, many of whom are already digging out their favorite holiday recipes. If you have a good Pfeffernusse recipe, please email it to abroyles@statesman.com and I’ll forward along to Sally Jo Hahn. (If you’d like to mail a photocopy, send it to 305 S. Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704.) Let’s hope we can find a good recipe for Ms. Hahn’s father’s upcoming birthday.