Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Kitchen Chick -- Cool classes in Galveston

I spent a chunk of last week in Galvestoneveryone's favorite Texas island, researching a Christmas shopping article.  

My family will laugh at the 'shopping' part since I'm the least shopperly of three sisters.  So I was happy to find unique and fun gifts to feature; "unique and fun" being words I've never used in conjunction with shopping.

Chef Mary Bass, teaching me how to pipe icing at The Kitchen Chick in Galveston.

Just a short walk from my hotel in the historic Strand district was The Kitchen Chick, a boutique cooking store, where I joined a wine-fueled cooking class in making cupcakes. 

Outside of the fact that everything tastes better after a couple of glasses of wine, the cupcakes were delicious and we took home recipes to go with our memories.  

The spicy gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting might even make me break our rule of no-sweets-in-the-house. 

In case you'd like to try them yourself, here's the recipe: Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Cupcakes.  Use your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, remembering to have the ingredients at room temperature and whip until light and fluffy.

Then "Take Whisks in Life" (a motto I adopted from The Kitchen Chick) and plan your own unique and fun trip to Galveston.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good Eats in a Cool Town -- Fredericksburg, TX

In downtown Fredericksburg, Der Lindenbaum was a favorite of Lady Bird Johnson, whose letter to the owner hangs on the wall.

Fredericksburg is the kind of small town that feels like home, but better. To start with, the town is located at the foot of perhaps Texas' best wine trail, the Fredericksburg Wine Road 290.  

Then there's an historic downtown that appeals to the eye with limestone buildings of Texas-German stone architecture, still well kept and home to unique shops, businesses and entertainment venues.  

And visitors find a lot to do--monthly art walks including more than a dozen galleriesfestivals almost every monthwildflower drives in spring, peach stands in summer, grape crush in fall, holiday lights in winter and year-round hiking at area parks.  

But the first question anyone who's planning a jaunt asks is, "Where should I go to eat?" because this village of around 10,000 souls boasts more good food than many towns ten times the size.

Our friend Jack recently asked the question so I'm sharing a few favorites:

Der Lindenbaum--heartfelt, old-school German food served in a century-old stone building. Known for their schnitzels, hand-cut from heritage pork grown on a farm near Austin. Moderately priced. 312 E. Main St., Fredericksburg, 830-997-9126, www.derlindenbaum.com

Fredericksburg Herb Farm--The stone restaurant is surrounded by flower, herb and vegetable gardens accented with sculpture. Inside, the chef focuses on fresh local foods, creative preparation and beautiful presentation, including house-made focaccia bread with airy texture and buttery crunchy crust. Moderate to expensive. 405 Whitney St., Fredericksburg, 830-997-8615 FredericksburgHerbFarm.com 

The Cabernet Grill's menu could be described as "Texas with a twist," delicious favorites dressed for a night out, such as Pecan-crusted crab cakes and Grilled Texas quail, jalapeno-rubbed and bacon-stuffed.  Plus a great Texas wine list. Moderate to expensive.  2805 S State Hwy. 16, Fredericksburg, 830-990-5734,www.cottonginlodging.com 

August E's serves up a combination of fine dining and art, “Nouveau Texas Cuisine,” a delicious amalgam of fresh ingredients and creative preparation, served in an atmosphere reminiscent of an art gallery. Expensive. 203 E. San Antonio St., Fredericksburg, 830-997-1585, www.august-es.com.  Photo Credit: Cynthia Lively

And for dessert, the Fredericksburg Pie Co. may make the best pie in Texas. Fillings such as soul-soothing coconut cream or chunky tart peaches or buttery toasted pecans nestle in tender, flaky and flavorful crusts. Inexpensive.  108 E. Austin St., Fredericksburg, 830-990-6992, FredericksburgTexasShopping.com

If you go, I want to know..."Where did you eat?"

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The "True Women" house in Seguin

OK, I confess.  I've been vegging at night instead of blogging.  But you knew that, by the number of posts I wrote in September --0.  Not that I haven't done things to share...here's a short list: renovating, traveling, giving programs, writing articles and exploring. 

So before another day goes by, I'll share one of my latest adventures, a Spaces lifestyle article about a home built in 1887 by Euphemia Texas Ashby King, a woman who came to this region when it belonged to the Comanche; before Texas was a country, let alone a state.  

Her family still lives in that home, the fifth and sixth generations among furniture, keepsakes and family history accumulated over more than a century. As her great, great grandson Wayne Windle told me, “It's quite comforting and reassuring to live here. When you think about what my ancestors survived while they lived here, my problems seem trivial.” 

Here's the home's story: If walls could talk.

Want to know more?  Check out the book True Women by Janice Woods Windle, or cruise Netflix for the TV mini-series of the same name, starring Angelina Jolie.

I'm off to Galveston tomorrow but I won't be away from Hill Country Mysteries so long this time. Promise.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The downtown Dallas you haven't seen

When the San Antonio Express-News travel editor asked if I'd do a "what's new" article on downtown Dallas, I wanted to say no. I don't love large, high-traffic cities.  But I value my relationship with the editor; and the assignment was low-hanging fruit...

The first great experience was staying in The Joule, a luxe hotel with a fabulous spa and a contemporary art collection. 

Eye, a 30 foot tall sculpture by Tony Tassett on The Joule's lawn. 

The Perot Museum of Science and Nature had TWO exhibit halls filled with dinosaurs, one a special exhibit and the other permanent, plus 10 other permanent exhibit halls. 

The museum was so much fun I didn't mind sharing it with 2,000 field-tripping school-children.

And of course I ate and drank, ending with the best dinner in Dallas, a five-course chef's tasting dinner and wine-pairing at FT33 in the design district.  

Chef Matt McAllister and his team work so fast you can't see their hands moving. Matt's dishes have unique flavor combinations of local ingredients, some of which he grows or forages.  His menus change "all the time" because "I get bored doing the same thing".  A good reason for a diner to go again.

In case you're thinking you might like a head-start on a downtown Dallas weekend of your own, my whole story is here: The downtown Dallas you haven't seen. Let me know how your visit goes. 

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Just across town...by way of New Mexico

I'm not saying our move across town was an ordeal. It just felt like one. 

In hindsight, things might have been easier if I hadn't spent a week in southern New Mexico in the middle of packing time. 

But I don't regret the untimely travel.  I discovered treasure in the tiny town of Truth or Consequences, NM where volcanic hot springs issue sweet-smelling water so thick you couldn't drown if you wanted to.  

Soaking in hot springs overlooking the Rio Grande in Truth or Consequences, NM.

Along the road from T or C to Silver City.

A delightfully slow mountain road away, I came to quirky Silver City, a community known for art, food, nature and fun. Also home of The Virginators, anonymous artists creating Virgins of Guadalupe, rewards hidden in the homes and businesses of the meritorious.

Virgin of Guadalupe in an eggshell, discovered in the refrigerator (where else would you keep an egg?) at Bear Mountain Lodge.

Did I mention more than 40 public murals, created through a collaboration of paid professional artists, school-kids and the community?

Plus creative dining?

Dishes at The Curious Kumquat are like lessons in old-master paintings--each layer creates a new dimension.

I can't wait to write about southern New Mexico and to go back.

Now that my computer works I'll also get back to sharing Hill Country mysteries and beyond.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hummingbird Haven -- Spring Migration 2014

Female black-chinned hummingbird

The last six weeks might have been the hummingbirdiest migration ever at our country home. We're moving closer to town in mid-May so I wanted to share the sweetness of this time with you before we go.

A minute of flying miracles waits for your click. 

P.S. We'll start a new smaller bird refuge across town. And the new owners here plan to feed the hummingbirds and take care of the plants. Good for everyone.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gardens around Texas

Dallas Botanical Garden spring blooms, courtesy of Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden.

Nothing feels as good after a colder-than-usual winter than visiting a garden in bloom.  Multiply that by double digits and you have an article I wrote for the San Antonio Express-News last month, "Gardens around Texas" about 14 unique Texas gardens, a compass-tour of beauty around the state.

From north Texas where Dallas, Fort Worth and Weatherford have botanical gardens with brilliant azaleas and camelias, as well as other specialities.

To Tyler, where thousands of roses bloom in April.  

At Houston's Bayou Bend and Rienzi, gardens with historic designs surround museum homes.

Mexican buckeye butterfly on butterfly bush.

In the Rio Grande Valley town of Mission, hundreds of species of butterflies have been sighted at the National Butterfly Center

Photo by my friend,amazing photographer Jay Blackburn.

My favorites include one I've never visited, the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo, where six large tanks hold around 350 blooming water lilies in summer. It's on my 'must-do' list for this summer. 

And of course the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, where native flowers inspire everyone.

If you're looking for an amazing garden to visit, check out one of the 14 in the article--you'll be glad you did.

Gardens around Texas

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sarge and Mellow and the chance of a lifetime

Around thirty years ago I worked with a big tough-as-nails, sweet-inside guy named Larry. He was the kind of man who could do two tours on the ground in Viet Nam, come back with nightmares and live his way through and out of them.

Eight years ago he found a little gray tabby kitten who became his best friend, along with his wife Kim, his other best friend.

Sarge shadowed Larry. He sat on Larry's desk when he worked from home, watched Saints and LSU football games beside him on the couch and generally supervised his life.

About two years ago Larry called me to say he had cancer. Three weeks later he was gone.

Kim lived through the heartbreak.  Eventually she found a job and went about the motions of life.  

But Sarge was lonely. 

So Kim found Mellow, a rescue tabby, to keep Sarge company while she was at work. The cats took to each other, sleeping and playing together.  

Life was coming together for all of them until Kim began to get and stay sick.  Her doctor says she's developed a severe allergy to cats.  

She can't afford allergy shots and can't afford to stay sick.  The cats have to go, a second heartbreak as she loses their companionship and a living connection to Larry.

Mellow and Sarge need a new home.  Soon. They're easy-care, healthy indoor cats, six and eight years old respectively, neutered, with all their shots.  Sweet and companionable, the cats love people, petting and lap-time and will make whoever gives them a home happy every day.

Have you ever thought how nice it would be to have someone listen to every word you say, who's always happy to see you and shows it every time you touch him?  

Please let me know if you'd like this chance at cat-happiness.  kathleen.scott.tx AT gmail.com

If you can't take Sarge and Mellow, please share a link to this blog-post on your blog, Facebook, twitter, neighborhood bulletin board, local skywriter or anywhere else that might help these sweet tabbies find a home. 

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Romantic Galveston

A Galvestonian take on Mardi-Gras decoration.

I visit Galveston every chance I get.  Most folks go for the beaches--32 miles of them.  But I'm drawn as much by tangy island air and quirky character, not to mention Victorian architecture and a historic downtown. 

The town holds all the elements of romance, the subject of my recent San Antonio Express-News travel article, "Recipe for a Romantic Galveston Weekend."

Hotel Galvez, courtesy of the Galvez

From a grand-dame beachside hotel to delicious dining, an appealing arts district and casual entertainment, Galveston's charm succeeds in making us forget our daily lives and focus on each other.

And isn't that the key to romance? 

Pleasure Pier, courtesy of Galveston CVB

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hummingbird March Madness

'Our' overwintering Rufous hummingbirds have gone and the first Black-chinned migrants have arrived, males of course.

Bright Rufous(male)on a cold day, February 15, 2014.

Every time we host a green-backed Rufous I wonder if he/she is actually an Allen. The Cornell bird page shows them to be similar. 

You know you're a bird-nerd when you get into the distinguishing marks of a bird weighing less than a penny. 

Rufous? Allen? What do you think? Photo taken January 6, 2014.  

We know why the early birds brave frigid weather.  A man's got to do what a man's got to do and mating is the primary goal of male hummingbirds. The first guys back 'own' the best territory, an advantage when the girls get to town.  

The first spring migrants know their way around our place, bellying up to the bar. They've been here before.  Our porch feeders aren't visible from the air; a bird would have to know where to go to find them. 

Male Black-chinned March 17, 2014.

After 7 years of catering to hummingbirds I'm still amazed that such tiny beings know where to find food and shelter over hundreds of miles of terrain.  

Denny and I get lost on almost every trip we take.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spaces: Rustic and Elegant Mix near Wimberley

An 1820's Gettysburg barn, moved to Texas and renovated into the Hale's luxury lodge on Wolf Creek Ranch near Wimberley.

Bex Hale charmed millions during her turn on HGTV's Design Star program in 2012.  Today she and her husband David live on 10 acres at Wolf Creek Lodge outside of Wimberley. Her story is unique in the way they live and the way they afford their dream place--sometimes renting their two-house retreat to folks wanting an indulgent Hill Country weekend.

Interviewing her for a Spaces column was a lesson in creativity. In her words, "My design rule is that there are no design rules."  In her homes, she mixes Art Deco and silver with old-world and rustic. Curves and shine lighten straight heavy lines.

A silvered antler chandelier hangs in the entry to the Lodge.

For more about Wolf Creek Lodge, Bex and her design tips-- and more photos--click this Express-News link to the story: Rustic and elegant mix in a place worth sharing.

Turquoise lighting sparkles in this combination guest room-baby's room.  See the mirrored table used for diapering baby Lulu?

Interested in renting?  Gardens, a swimming pool, dining pavilion and outdoor fireplace connect the two homes, which accommodate 13.  More info and reservations here: Hill Country Premier Lodging - Wolf Creek Ranch.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Honduras Food--good eats in Galveston

Galveston Island has 32 miles of beaches, blocks of hundred-year-old buildings, streets of unique shops and galleries and an overall quirky island charm. 

With so much to experience, few folks get far enough from the main drag to find the town's almost-secret spots where dining is an adventure in fresh, from-scratch and fabulous flavors.

So I'm sharing one of my favorites from a recent trip--a newly-opened back-street cafe called Honduras Food, serving (you guessed it) home-style Honduran specialties.

The setting is modest but Mama cooks and serves a menu of simple delicious dishes like these Tacos de Pollo Hondureῆos:

Crisp-fried taquitos of house-made corn tortillas wrapped around toothsome chicken (rich chicken taste plus subtle flavors of herbs, garlic and onions). Notice the fresh cabbage-slaw topping, light sprinkle of white cheese and side of house-pickled onions? When was the last time you saw that much love in a $6.99 lunch?

I can't even describe how good the soups were except to say you'll want to lick the bowl.

The next time you're down in Galveston, stop by Honduras Food and discover it for yourself.  

1110 - 23rd Street, Galveston, TX 77550
(409) 539-5020, Cash only

Open 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 
9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. 

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A motherless fawn

We first noticed her in September, a lone spotted fawn, no mama in sight. We might have seen her before, when she had a mama, but we wouldn't have noticed her among the pairs of does and fawns nibbling their ways through our yard.

She was two or three months old in September, small and young to survive without a family. Whitetail fawns nurse for 8-10 weeks. Had she been weaned before her mama died? How would she know about finding food? And where to hide from the coyotes that howl at night?  

Every morning as I looked out the kitchen window I wondered whether she'd be back or if the night before had been her last.

Perhaps she's the fawn born on our front lawn. She knows our place--the paths and bushes, where we scatter birdseed, the bird baths filled with water.

Her coat is full brown now.  She's still small, maybe will always be small; hardship takes a toll.  But she was born in a good year--it was an acorn-avalanche autumn, more food than all the neighborhood deer combined could eat.

The other morning  I saw her bedding in the buffalo grass near our house when the air was well below freezing.  I'm guessing she thought she was home.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Adult male Rufous hummingbird guarding 'his' feeder from adjacent dwarf barbados cherry bush 1/4/14. Evergreens for shelter are one reason the birds like our place.

We shivered through lows in the 20's earlier this week.  I know 25F was balmy compared to Chicago...but I don't live in Chicago. Average winter temps here are in the 50's and the day before the freeze was 65F.

Everybody has their own strategy for staying alive. Mine involves chocolate and wine. 

The birds fluff, eat and shelter. 'Our' overwintering Rufous hummingbirds stayed close to the feeders on front and back porches.

I think we're hosting three Rufous hummers this year, a bright-colored and assertive adult male, a patchy subadult male and a mostly green youngster or female.  Watching the birds at the front porch feeder near a kitchen window is my favorite entertainment.

Hope your cold days aren't hard as theirs.

Copyright 2009-2014 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Best Annual New Year's Resolution

On the subject of resolutions, I have good news. You can give up on that pesky 10 pounds. Forget organizing the papers that seem to multiply when you turn your back. Don't worry about being less stubborn or more kind. 

Choose a resolution at which you can be spectacularly successful, simply by movin' on down the road.  I know what I'm talking about here--because I've done it year in and year out:

I resolve to make NEW mistakes this year.

Copyright 2009-2014  Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.