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FROM THE FARMER'S PERSPECTIVE: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

05/12/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Fried Green Tomatoes. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Fried Green Tomatoes. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Happy Friday, farm friends! Brenton here. Maybe it’s the impending influx of summertime crops or just missing Alabama; regardless, my desire for Southern cuisine has been insatiable as of late. Growing up in Enterprise, AL, there was no shortage of rich Southern food... think: collard greens, corn pone, grits, country ham, fried chicken, biscuits, and red-eye gravy. My grandmother and matriarch of the family, Mama Nell, has always been the keeper of the best recipes. Thus, when I moved away from South Alabama and had a hankering for a taste of the Deep South, I would always give her a holler for recipes. Her breadth of cooking knowledge is unparalleled, and her cookbook collection does not disappoint (I got her a cookbook from 1870 England for Christmas to augment her already prodigious collection). My extensive collection is a shell in comparison as my love for recipes is a reflection of hers. All that rambling aside, nothing says home quite like fried green tomatoes, and I think Mama Nell would agree. I used to eat them like candy as a kid. This recipe is so simple, and the results never disappoint. It's ripe time to make these battered treats, as you’ll see green tomatoes in your CSA box this week!

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

I had the pleasure of hosting some of the farm crew at my house this week to enjoy some fried green tomatoes using the recipe below (with some minor alterations). Check it out!

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

**Recipe by Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby-Cakes.com**

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 fresh green tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
  • ⅛-1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional- go up to ¼ teaspoon if you like spicy foods)
  • Oil for frying
  • Freshly ground chili pequins (an alteration of the original recipe!)


INSTRUCTIONS

Liberally season green tomato slices with salt and pepper on both sides (and chili pequins!).

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Add flour and eggs to two separate small bowls.

Combine cornmeal, panko crumbs and paprika (and chili pequins!) into another small bowl and whisk together.

Begin by dipping each seasoned tomato slice into flour coating on both sides.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Next add floured tomato slice to eggs coating on both sides.

Lastly dip into cornmeal and crumb mixture and set aside finished slice on baking sheet.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Repeat dredging process, starting with flour, until all slices are coated.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Fry tomato slices on both sides until golden brown and drain on paper towels.

Serve warm. Enjoy!

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Yum! Photo by Scott David Gordon. Yum! Photo by Scott David Gordon.

A very happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! We are sending our best batch yet of zinnias yet for you at the markets this weekend!

Always wanted to know who cultivates and harvests your weekly veggies? Come on down to the ABGB on Thursday, May 18 from 6-8 PM for a Meet Your Farmer(s) Happy Hour! Grab a beer, a slice, and hunker down for some farm-tastic conversation with some down home Austin farm friends. 

Want to work at the farm? Check out our current job openings here.

WEEK 19 IN PHOTOS

05/12/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Zinnia harvest. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Zinnia harvest. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Green beans, okra, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes are about to make their seasonal debut! We've been busy with lots of massive structural remodels in preparation for these summertime crops. We will be building a large open air shed on our loading dock to turn into a packing station for tomatoes, as well as relocating two semis from our Hergotz location to Garfield to give us more cooler space for tomato season!

We are so grateful for all the volunteers who've been getting their hands dirty out on the farm as of late. They have been immensely integral in getting potatoes harvested and tomatoes weeded and trellised. We extend a HUGE thank you to them, we couldn't do it without you. Interested in volunteering? Email volunteer@jbgorganic.com!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommas out there!

**farm info from Becky Hume

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Black Spanish Radish. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Black Spanish Radish. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Okra field. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Okra field. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Armful of fennel. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Armful of fennel. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Farm meeting. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Farm meeting. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Transplants. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Transplant work. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Floral work. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Flower beauties. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Grape progress. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Grape progress. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Zinnias. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Zinnias. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Squash is here! Photo by Scott David Gordon. Squash is here! Photo by Scott David Gordon.

CSA crew workin' hard. Photo by Scott David Gordon. CSA crew workin' hard. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Green beans! Photo by Scott David Gordon. Green beans! Photo by Scott David Gordon.

CSA BOX CONTENTS WEEK OF MAY 8TH

05/10/17 — Scott

CSA Box Contents Week of May 8th CSA Box Contents Week of May 8th

Large Box
Bean, Green
Beet, Golden
Cabbage, Green
Carrot, Orange
Cucumber, Pickling
Greens, Kale, Curly
Herb, Basil
Herb, Fennel
Onion, White
Potato, Red
Radish, Daikon
Squash. Summer Medley
Turnip, Purple Top
Medium Box
Bean, Green
Cabbage, Green
Carrot, Orange
Cucumber, Pickling
Greens, Kale, Curly
Herb, Basil
Herb, Fennel
Onion, White
Potato, Red
Squash. Summer Medley
Small Box
Bean, Green
Carrot, Orange
Cucumber, Pickling
Greens, Kale, Curly
Herb, Basil
Herb, Fennel
Leek
Squash. Summer Medley
Individual Box
Bean, Green
Cabbage, Green
Cucumber, Pickling
Greens, Kale, Curly
Leek
Squash. Summer Medley

CAPRESE SALAD

05/10/17 — Heydon Hatcher

By Mackenzie Smith

Caprese salads are as good as the quality of the tomatoes you are using. During peak season, try foregoing balsamic vinegar to let the tomatoes shine. Torn basil leaves, flaky sea salt and fresh cracked pepper make for tri-color confetti worthy of a celebration.


  • The ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can find
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Basil leaves, torn
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
Photo by Mackenzie Smith. Photo by Mackenzie Smith.

Slice tomatoes perpendicular to the stem, as thick or as thin as you like. Layer alternating slices of mozzarella and tomato until you can’t anymore. Drizzle with olive oil and top with basil, salt and pepper.

FIRST FRIDAY STAFF PICKS - MAY '17

05/05/17 — Heydon Hatcher

The arrival of a new month means another marvelous edition of our First Friday Staff Picks! We think that our staff is the best in the business (okay, okay, we are a little biased), but the JBG family hails from all over the place and covers the gamut in talents and interests. We love sharing events, adventures, and side projects that inspire and excite our JBG-ers (food-related or not) with the community. Check out the staff-curated list of favorites below!

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Casey (Customer Service Extraordinare) - I had the best dinner at Sway the other night! The tom yum is da bomb even though the spice can knock you out if you’re not careful. My boyfriend and I also tried their jelly beer which is pretty much a super cold beer slushy. The beer is stored in salt water (27 degrees) in a cooler with a small motor that rocks it back and forth to keep it from freezing. Then when you open it, the change in temperature and pressure causes it to magically transform into a slush. It's pretty cooool.

I’m also really pumped, as I’m sure so many people are, for the new Fast and the Furious movie, The Fate of the Furious! This is their 8th one and they just keep getting better. I’m in the process of making a cross stitch tribute for my boyfriend who is actually the real fan of the movies in a non-ironic way. It’s a work in progress, but who doesn't love Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (RIP) in cross stitch form.

0C2A0512

Matt Pelkey (CSA Manager)The city paying for chicken coops? Yes, please.

Travis (Wholesale Manager) - I'm super excited for my annual pilgrimage to Marfa this month. Not to sound like every other hipster that has lived in Austin for 15 minutes, but Marfa is the perfect place to get outta the city, throw your phone away, and scrub your brain clean. You can find me at the Lost Horse Saloon.



Other than that, Ty Segall is playing at Stubb's on the 27th. He always puts on a solid show and tickets are surprisingly cheap, so get on that!

Becky (Farm Administrator)Farmgrass, May 12-13. Super chill festival benefiting farmers? I'm there!!! I went last year and it was absolutely lovely. My favorite part was falling on Friday night, being gently serenaded by fiddles in the campsite with the wind in the trees. High Plains Jamboree will be playing this year which features my absolute favorite local artist, Brennan Leigh. Her tunes are intelligent and witty, bringing a refreshing modern twist to classic country sounds. Plus their music is totally two-steppable!

Becky two-steppin'. Becky two-steppin'.

The O'Henry Pun Off on May 13th. SO GOOD! In my family puns are the highest form of humor. The O'Henry Pun Off is a competition where the best of the worst dad-humor has a place to shine. Grab a blanket and chill on the lawn of Brush Square downtown for an afternoon that is guaranteed to keep you simultaneously amazed at the skills of the punsters and rolling in laughter.

Brenton (Head Farmer) - Licha's Cantina - I love this place! Last night I had a fish dish with tuna. It was awesome!

Surprise surprise, I've got a new project on the docket! I'm going to re-purpose our milk coolers into smokers to smoke some veggies. Going to be awesome!

I've been reliving my childhood going to my son Jimmy's Northwest Little League Baseball games. Jimmy is a rockstar... he's already got six hits! A little known fact about me is I used to play baseball... mostly catcher.

Ada (Marketing and CSA Manager) - The impending tomato season has me giddy with excitement. I can't wait to pickle and preserve my way through the summer.

Recently went camping at Pace Bend for a friend's birthday. Love this place as a last-minute camping spot outside of Austin, where you can almost always snag a place to set-up tent, without worrying about it being full.





Lots of birds migrating through Texas right now, and I have happily added 10+ new species to my "Life List" this Spring... most recently, the Orchard Oriole which I spotted atop a dead tree at Pace Bend. About a year ago, I got the National Geographic bird app ($10 i think) on which you can track and list all of the birds you've seen, as well as see their range and hear their calls... the app has upped my birding fervor considerably. #birdnerd

Taylor (Barn Crew) - Trees. I really like trees. I've been really into trees lately, native Texas trees specifically. Andrew told me he's really into vintage Furbies these days. My staff pick is also Ryan. What are staff picks?

Tracy (Inventory Manager) - Went to the Austin Rodeo a few weeks ago, and had a blast. I'd love to volunteer here one year. Beautiful horses, and this amazing little girl who couldn't have been more than 6, she was one mutton busting. It was cool to learn that it's a non-profit, and that proceeds go to the kids that are participating. At the end, they had this really amazing display of horses, unsaddled, and unbridled. It was beautiful.

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Andrew (CSA Packing Crew) - My favorite band, All Them Witches, a blues-y psych group from Nashville, are returning to Austin and playing Antone's on 5/18. If you like riffs and good vibes through amplifiers, it's a must.

Missoula (Farm Dog 1) - Mike Mo's weekly brisket. That human can COOK!



Chucha (Farm Dog 2) - Chasing cars, what else? And belly rubs.

Roxy (Farm Dog 3) - Leftover Burritos. Hitchin' rides.

Roxy and Chuca catchin' a ride. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Roxy and Chuca catchin' a ride. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Heydon (Farm Blogger) - Two dear friends of mine simultaneously sent me a video of one of the most stunning and unique gardens I have ever seen. It sent me into a rabbit hole that unveiled a reservoir of inspiring videos of jaw-dropping gardens. One that almost had me in tears (I know, I know, I’m a total garden nerd) was an intimate look into Piet Oudolf and his wife’s garden. Known as an immensely influential Dutch garden designer, this peek into his garden seems like a walk through an ethereal wonderland with a close and dear uncle. Give it a peek, and then peruse the entire Nowness “Great Garden” series. It’s worth a moment of your day.

Also, the Simonite brothers killin' on their first collaboration for Whitney's new music video. The music is awesome, the S. brothers have such vision together, and West Texas forever. So stunning all around - check it here.



@simonites for @whitneyband

A post shared by SIMONITES (@simonites) on




Montana (Direct Seed Lead) - Tomatoes, tomatoes, beets, carrots, potatoes, greens, tomatoes, and future thoughts of Kerrville Folk Fest, Solstice Fest (w/ Built to Spill this year!), and the 4th of July Grateful Ball featuring the Travelin' McCourys and the Jeff Austin Band at Empire Control Room, and tomatoes round out my first Friday picks. Cucumbers rock, too. We should start harvesting those this week.

Farm, in general - To second Becky, we're all excited about Farmgrass Fest coming up on May 12-13th. Some of our favorite local musicians will be gracing the stage like High Plains Jamboree, Shiny Ribs, and Whiskey Shivers. Speaking of Whiskey Shivers - checkout this video that KUTX filmed of Whiskey Shivers in our back field a couple years ago. This was perhaps the coolest work-break our barn crew ever got.

We really appreciate SFC's write-up of the current Texas Legislature and all the bills that affect our food system. As farmers, sometimes we find it difficult to make the time to learn about the bills that affect us most. Luckily, Austin has SFC to keep us up to date. To learn more, click here.

WEEK 18 IN PHOTOS

05/05/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Week 18 has been all about staking, caging, and prepping the quickly growing tomatoes. Not only are these summer sweeties headed to market soon, but squash is, too! Summer is almost in full swing, yeehaw! In case you didn't catch it, our bulk tomato pre-sale is underway until Tuesday, check it out here.

We are having a tomato volunteer day this Saturday if you are interested in getting outside and getting dirty (email volunteer@jbgorganic.com if you want to join the fun). Otherwise, see you at the markets!

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: BENTO PICNIC

05/05/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Before we get to our Partner Spotlight, we want to remind you about our Bulk Tomato Pre-Sale which ends on Tuesday! Pre-order 25 lbs. of our mouth-watering beef steak slicing tomatoes for a discounted $50, and we'll deliver them to a farmers' market of your choice during the peak of our tomato season. Projected delivery dates are between June 1-June 30. We will contact you to schedule your pickup day. Order here.

This week, we had the immense privilege of meeting with one of our lively, local partners, Leanne Valenti, owner of Bento Picnic. She passionately incorporates our farm-fresh seasonal produce into their Japanese homestyle cooking inspired bento boxes creatively and beautifully week after week. "Every meal is designed with five colors, five tastes, and five elements to deliver a full-sensory experience with every bite." Like so many of our partners in town, we are inspired by Bento Picnic and can get behind their ultimate mission, keeping Austin nourished and healthy. Meet Leanne!

Leanne. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Leanne. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

You've had a long history with JBG - tell us about that!

I moved to Austin in 2005, and was working at an after school program. I was always looking for ways for me and my kids to get involved with the community. I was looking through Craigslist for U-Pick type stuff specifically… picking peaches or something in the area. Brenton was just getting started with the 20 acres off Hergotz, and posted an ad about looking for volunteers on the weekend. He was still working full-time at the Department of Agriculture at the time. Interestingly, the entire reason I got into Japanese home-style cooking and bento is an interwoven story with volunteering at JBG because I went out there and volunteered with my good friend, Naoko, who is from rural Japan. We would both get veggie CSA boxes (mind you, I grew up in the suburbs of Houston in the '80s and '90s where macaroni and cheese counts as a vegetable), but I didn’t know what to do with them! Thankfully, really good cooking with veggies at the center of the plate was her upbringing and just part of her lifestyle. That is how I gained a huge appreciation and love of delicious, healthy Japanese homestyle cooking. I really wanted to make it accessible to people here. That’s how the concept of Bento Picnic got started... because of that relationship and my personal journey in figuring out what to do with the veggies.

What’s cool about bento cooking is whenever we would cook up a feast and eat it for dinner, instead of separating all the different dishes and packaging them in different containers, Naoko would package them as bentos instead. You would make a little lunch with a combination of all the different things as you were putting away your leftovers. It’s that meal prep that makes your week even easier.

When you were volunteering regularly for the farm, what are some good memories that you have?

My funniest story about Brenton is one time the volunteers were loading up the CSA boxes, and he had wandered into the packing shed. He had this bizarre look on his face, and was just standing there for a while maintaining this odd look. I asked him if he was okay, and he said, “I think that I have ants in my pants” and walked off. (Leanne starts laughing)

It’s been amazing to see the progress of the farm over ten years. Even seeing the changes over the course of a week (when I was volunteering regularly) and then now visiting for movie screenings, etc. when months have passed. It’s been incredible to see the pace at which the farm has grown and how Brenton's vision for the farm's future has been actualized.

Can you talk a bit about the principles governing bento boxes?

The key principle that we follow is using 5 colors, 5 tastes, and 5 elements in every meal. With that amount of variety, you get a lot of nutrition, flavor, and texture. The 5 colors are red, yellow, green, black, and white. Kubocha squash or spaghetti squash could be your yellow. Green is your bright spinaches, kale, arugula, and cucumbers. Reds can be tomatoes. White can be parsnips and egg whites. Black can be anything with a darker hue: eggplant or black fermented garlic, for example.

Making a bento composition. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Making a bento composition. Photo by Scott David Gordon

The 5 tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent/spicy. Sweet, sour, and salty are pretty self explanatory, but the bitter and pungent takes a little bit more exploration. Bitter is something that dries your tongue and balances sweetness - all your herbs. Some root veggies are going to have bitter edge to them, too, think radishes. They can be pungent AND bitter. All these things can be interpreted lightly and with a lot of liberty and grace. It’s just supposed to be a framework for the creative process of constructing a box and general recipe development. I’ve been able to create amazing meals based off of that structure, and expand my cooking creativity greatly, instead of just mindlessly following recipes. I think about adding colors, rounding out the composition, and expanding the tastes.

Finally, the 5 elements are water, fire, earth, metal, and tree which all relate to cooking methods. Water is steaming, poaching, or boiling; fire is something on the grill or to saute; metal is the oven; earth is fermented or pickled; and tree is raw.

BP 5 Elements Letter Size Color copy

People exert their creativity in different ways, whether it be painting, drawing, or music. For me, cooking is my creative outlet. Instead of just arriving at a blank page, when you have a framework to work within, things can move further faster. It’s been super empowering for me to come up with new variations. It has been very affirming to receive all the positive feedback… the people who eat the bento compositions and love vegetables all of a sudden. I attribute that newfound love to just paying attention to the flavor profiles during the different seasons of all the ingredients and rounding the meal out.

How can folks incorporate this into their home-cooking?

For example, if they are putting a salad together... how can you get all five colors into that salad? Even if you can’t get all five, how can you get at least three? From there, you are going to start to see how you can get more use out of all the things in your CSA box.

Composing the greens. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Composing the greens. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Another way to incorporate bento into home-cooking/meal planning is to not just packing away all the things that you have prepared in their own individual containers. Try packing them away together as composed, complete meals. Most people have really busy weeks, and if their meals are already set up, they are ready to go for the week ahead.

What attracted you to this type of cuisine?

It hits all the points… it’s healthy, delicious, and convenient. When I was volunteering at JBG, I was working full-time for Americorps (which felt like more than a regular full-time job), and completing my Masters. I was so busy, but I care about myself and my body and the people I cook for, so I needed something nourishing and energizing. Ideally, I spent one day cooking and then had all my meals lined up for the week. That’s the level of convenience that attracted me to the bento lifestyle. Using the 5 colors, tastes, and elements always ensures that it is satisfying and delicious, too.

Photo by Scott David Gordon. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

How does fresh produce fit into bento box principles?

You can’t check off a color if it’s food coloring. You have to use foods that naturally fit in the color framework. In order to fit the 5 colors, you have to bring in produce to do it. In order to do the 5 elements, you can’t just make all fried food. You have to incorporate things that are pickled, raw, sauteed, poached… you start to balance out healthier methods and healthier ingredients with the less healthy ones that just please your palate. I think that that’s the key, this method elicits so much balance.

Making onigiri. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Making onigiri. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Do you have any tips for CSA Members who are stumped with certain vegetables?

Find a friend who is Japanese, and get them to search for the vegetable IN Japanese. There are so many recipes out there, that even if you look for them in English, you won’t find them. There are a lot of Asian veggies that come off of the farm, too. Don’t search for recipes in English, get someone to search for them in any Asian language, and you are going to find so many different recipes that are not in your current culinary arsenal.

I ask Naoko, still, to help me search for certain ingredients. Especially when I’m tired of using it in a certain way and want something new. She is always using cookpad, a really centralized site where almost every home-cook in Japan will post very thorough recipes, pictures, and feedback of anything that they’ve cooked. There’s an English version of it, but it is nowhere near as dense and robust as the Japanese version. I wish I could learn Japanese, but it’s not in the cards.

What's the veggie that stumps you the most?

Black Spanish radish… it’s too pungent for me. I need to find a good way to tame that back.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to incorporate more local and seasonal vegetables into their cooking?

The best way is going to the farmers markets, just making a habit of seeing what’s out there, picking something up, and using that as your springboard. Grab some tomatoes and make a point to use them in your dinner. I always do a couple of Google searches around what vegetables I have and will build a meal around that. It’s the same thing that Tom Colicchio says in his book Think Like A Chef, the proteins are not the star. You can get meats pretty much all year round, it’s the vegetables that you can only get at certain times.

Making onigiri. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Making onigiri. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

How can folks look to bento boxes/Bento Picnic for inspiration?

Bentos are artwork for sure. You can get to all levels of effort with them. You can keep them simple, which is beautiful and uncluttered, or you can do the character style bentos, where people will make Pokemon type characters out of vegetables. It’s a thing that Japanese moms do to get their kids to enjoy veggies. It is smart, and gets kids excited to eat a variety of different things by making it look cool and pretty. Lots of people have cookie cutters in their kitchens, you can use those on vegetables, too, instead of just doing regular square or round cuts… and that just adds so much to the presentation right off the bat.

Do you have a favorite seasonal recipe that you wouldn't mind sharing with our readers?

Pepita Parsley Pesto

Yields about 1 pint
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 bunch parsley (~100 g)
  • 3/4 cup pepita seeds, toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup water
Hydrate sunflower seeds by covering with water and bringing to a boil. Strain. Layer ingredients in food processor, putting the parsley at the bottom. Add water gradually and puree to desired consistency, adding more as desired. Adjust salt & garlic to taste.

What’s your favorite thing about working with local farmers?

How fresh we can get something. It’s going to have so much more of a shelf life if we are packing up with local veggies. The same just can’t be said for things that come from a purveyor who is trucking things in from across the country or the world because they’ve already been on the shelf for a couple of weeks. Same thing goes for the flavor, the veggies are just that much more delicious… I’ve had folks get excited about carrots when they have always hated them, and I think it’s because they have probably never had fresh vegetables before!

I’ve been running the business for a couple years now, and in the first couple of months, I was catering a school field trip to Boggy Creek Farm. There were 7th grade boys that were raising their hands and standing up so that I would call on them… “How did you make these carrots!? These are so good!” Seeing kids react to the food is something that drives me and is super rewarding because kids don’t lie. If a kid is excited, you know you passed the test.

Leanne. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Leanne. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Do you have a favorite JBG vegetable?

Watermelon radish… I had never tasted them before Brenton started growing them. They're so mild and the color just pops.

Where can people learn more/taste one of these boxes?

We’re at 2600 Cesar Chavez, we have a little shaded picnic area where you can sit down and enjoy them, or grab a box to-go! We have a website where you can place orders in advance, and will be ready when you arrive… here. We also have a kiosk format, more of a grab-and-go, at Austin Bouldering Project. We stock it daily and have quite the variety of rice bowls, bentos, snacks, and sweets. A lot of folks will work and climb at ABP and work up an appetite, so it serves them very well; however, you don’t have to climb there to grab a bento box. You can just walk in and grab your bento to go! We have a menu at Irie Bean on S. Lamar if you are looking for something south. We also cater, and you can find us at the Lakeline Farmers Market on Saturdays or the Mueller Farmers Market on Sundays!

On Cesar Chavez. Photo by Scott David Gordon. On Cesar Chavez. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

If you were a vegetable what would you be and why?

Kubocha squash because it’s going to give you energy to make it all the way through the day. My days are 14-16 hour days… I have a steady flow of energy that I use on whatever I’m doing. Whenever I get into it, I have a really strong ability to focus. They are also sweet and tasty, but definitely carry you through the long-haul.

Bento goodness. Photo by Scott David Gordon. Bento goodness. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

A huge thanks to Leanne Valenti with Bento Picnic for making time for us! Grab one of her boxes at the farmers market or around town, you won't regret it! 'Til next time!

Want to meet your farmers? We have an upcoming Meet Your Farmer Happy Hour at ABGB on 5/18 from 6-8 PM! Come have a beer and a bite, we can't wait to meet you.
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