Not Just Another Food Blog

Hi! My name is April Leman, and thanks for stopping by this blog.   I also want you to meet my creative partner, Carole Fergusson. Since Carole and I launched this project, we’ve received some amazing feedback, but we also want to clarify our mission and better describe the direction we want our platform to take.

 

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Waco: Equal Parts Wasteland and Wonderland

Waco is a town full of transients–we attract amazing talent due in large part to Baylor University, but this town also serves as a launching point for entrepreneurs, artists, and craftspeople who wander their way deep into the heart of Texas–eyes gleaming with optimism. So those of us who’ve made Waco a permanent home get to meet these incredibly gifted folks as they pass through, and sometimes we even convince them to take off their coats and stay awhile.

These interesting people pop up so frequently, that with surprising regularity I’ll be sitting at the Wine Shoppe or another local haunt, and out of nowhere will find myself in the midst of a powerful, authentic conversation with an acquaintance about things that matter.  We talk about religion, race, equality, gender issues, politics, and all the other taboo things not typically brought up in polite conversation.

Motivated by Nostalgia 

How did we get here? Why do I feel so deprived of community that I am compelled to reach out to total strangers or mere acquaintances?  I’m not sure why, but the world feels different now than when I was a kid.  There is no such thing as riding bikes around the neighborhood all summer, meeting new kids and playmates along the way.  No more lying in the way back of Grandpa’s station wagon on the way to the lake–no car seats or even a seat belt, just giggles.  Today we live in fear like I’ve never known before, and this fear drives us to stay isolated.  We don’t reach out to one another and we don’t trust each other.

 

 

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Sobremesa as a Philosophy

So this is our “why” behind this blog.  We believe we’re not alone in our longing for deeper, more profound interactions with our fellow humans, and it seems we experience these feelings of connection organically when we’re surrounded by good food and wine. When Carole introduced me to the word “sobremesa,” the idea took shape in our minds.  If we can do a better job of bringing people together around a table, maybe this world could look a little brighter. Maybe we can all feel more hopeful.

Where we’re headed

Through this blog, we will elevate these incredibly gifted people who have, at least for a time, dedicated part of their life to this  wonderful wasteland of a town.  We want to help others connect with community and give our followers a glimpse of how that can happen in your own home, wherever you live.  We will occasionally showcase some of our favorite places outside of Waco, just for some good old-fashioned inspiration, but for the most part we will be cooking with and loving on the folks who identify with the adage, “Waco feels like home.”

Stay tuned. I think you’ll like where this is headed…

(Photo Credit: Laura Lee Blackburn)

Green with Tomato Envy

I’m friends with people who like to grow things.  Enter exhibit A: check out these big, green beauties grown by Carole Fergusson.

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Using a beautiful, locally grown ingredient as your source for inspiration plays a large role in our Sobremesa philosophy.  With the right TLC, you can transform something as humble as a green tomato into delicious magic.

Carole battered these babies in a panko/flour mixture, then fried them in the cast iron with some hot olive oil until golden brown.

Since we’re currently crushing on crostini served any way imaginable, Carole toasted some yummy french bread in the cast iron as well, threw in some prosciutto and let it crisp up (because fancy bacon, duh!), then stacked the tomatoes on top.

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Sprinkle with some Parmesan and a few ribbons of basil, and you’re done! Oh wait. There’s wine. I almost forgot the wine! (amateur mistake).

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The label on this bottle is hard to read, but this wine is SO FUN to say! It’s pronounced Her-lube-er-loo. Whenever I say it I usually add additional “lube-er-loos” for dramatic emphasis.  It’s juicy and fruity and it’s the perfect side-kick to these fried green goddesses.

 

When it gets hot, go Tapas!

We’re deep in the heart of Texas and someone’s already turned the summer heat up to 11, but we didn’t let this deter us from having some fun in the kitchen! I love collaborative cooking and a tapas themed meal provides a great way to go “potluck” without ending up knee-deep in casseroles no one likes and potato salad 5-ways.

No idea what I mean by tapas? Click here. We’re talking mostly small, sharable plates with a Spanish flair.

Most of these dishes are incredibly simple to prepare, can be made ahead all by you, or you can let your guests get creative and bring something to share.  With tapas there aren’t really any hard and fast rules, so cooking this way feels liberating. Olé!

We started our evening with some munchies–spanish paprika roasted almonds and pesto hummus, featuring basil grown in my mama’s organic garden.

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We paired this course with a beautiful rosé from Austria, imported by Waco’s very own David Mayfield Selections.

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Next up, we continued onto to this amazingly simple roasted beet and goat cheese crostini.  My advice: let the crostini be your canvas and top it with anything and everything. Click here for inspiration.

Attachment-1 (2).jpegTo keep things light, we put  together a salad of cantaloup, prosciutto, and mint.  This is magic in your mouth.  The sweetness in the melon perfectly balances the fatty saltiness of the dry cured ham and the ribbons of mint bring a freshness to balance out the bite.

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For our next course, we went with something simple to make that often intimidates people: ceviche.  We used mahi mahi, but any meaty white fish will do (or shrimp!).  Just marinate the raw fish in citrus for at least 4 hours and then add some lovely hot peppers cilantro and whatever else sounds fresh and good.  We served ours on an avocado tower.

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At about this time we cracked open a bottle of Bobal, which is a lesser-known Spanish grape, to accompany the next course.

IMG_9066 (1).JPGNow, for the show stopper.  If you want to impress the pants off of people without spending much money or working all that hard, marinate a flank steak overnight and then grill for about 1 minute on each side–just enough to give it a good sear and the middle will be a nice mid-rare. Then, throw a bunch of parsley, cilantro, a bit of garlic, lime juice and olive oil into a food processor and voilà! You have a beautiful chimchurri to decorate the top of your steak. And it tastes amazing.

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You can end your meal with dessert, or you can make a frozen wine cocktail and call it a day. We realized it was national rosé day (whatever that means) so we made frosé because if bon appétite can do it, so can we!

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Please like and share this post! Follow us on instagram and DM us if you want any deets on how we pulled the meal together.