Veg-friendly Marshmallows

Has anyone seen a bag of vegan marshmallows? The kind that melts, that's good for end-of-summer s'mores, that might be used in a recent baking project I've been daydreaming about? Because I've checked — Sprouts, Central Market, Trader Joe's — and they are nowhere to be found. While I've been known to pretend I don't know what's in conventional marshmallows when sitting around a campfire, I'm lately looking for some more acceptable options. And the best-looking options seem to be mail-order or a 30-minute jaunt to Arlington's Whole Foods Market to get my hands on some Dandies.

Zucchini explosion

It's a first in our six years in Texas, and probably I shouldn't jinx it by bragging. But we have the most beautiful zucchini plants this year, producing like crazy and unmarred (so far) by the dreaded squash beetles that have ravaged our plants in previous seasons. It seems like dumb luck, as little in our methods has changed. So while it lasts I'm enjoying the grilled zucchini skewers, zucchini fries, zucchini bread, even an attempted zucchini burger.

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Spring Berries

I came away from a day trip to Granbury last weekend with a large box of small, sweet, juicy strawberries that made my usual grocery store variety seem like a tart, tough imitation. Fall Creek Farm's Cullen and Ashley Crisp grow Chandler and Sequoia strawberries, and offer pick-your-own each spring, with the wisdom "the smaller the sweeter" and "the redder the better." We have had a good time eating our way through this box, a gift from the Armchair Oenophile, along with some fantastic Viognier. This week, there has been a great strawberry tart (almond crust, cream cheese filling), but mostly just eating out of hand another fleeting pleasure of spring. 20130430-121601.jpg

Esperanza's

In spite of fact that my French- and Italian-schooled tongue cannot to save my life pronounce the word "rellenos," those cheese-stuffed, battered and fried chiles drowning in sauce and yet more cheese remains at the top of the list when it comes to Mexican specialties. But on a recent visit to Esperanza's, the hubs' order of veggie fajitas, with potatoes, fresh corn, chiles and onions with a side of guacamole was prettier, fresher and really just plain better. Lucky for me he loves to split plates and share. 20130408-212955.jpg

Better Banana Bread

A bit of weekend baking had me tinkering with an old family recipe for Banana Bread. Great (great) Aunt Tee might not recognize this, but I imagine she'd approve of losing the Crisco in favor of vegetable oil, replacing bleached white flour with healthier white-wheat (not too heavy here, I promise) and adding chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better. The youngest generation showed its approval by fighting over the last piece. 20130318-122010.jpg

Stir Crazy

Stir Crazy Baked Goods, a newish bakery here in Fort Worth, has a soft spot for vegans, offering an array of baked goods without butter or eggs. But it was their double chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, with no shortage of butter or eggs, that I recently enjoyed with friends at a joint birthday party. The hostess sent us home with leftovers, which were later split four ways as equally as possible, the kids eyeing the angle of the knife, trying to detect any unfair slip, before enjoying their portion. All-natural and decadent, when I don't do my own baking, I'll go back.

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Great grapefruit

It's Texas grapefruit season, that time of year when big bags of juicy citrus show up at Central Market, Walmart, and everywhere in between. My youngest was tearful on Sunday to be left behind as big brother went to a big-kid activity. She took comfort in getting the very last grapefruit in the house, with an organic sugar brûléed topping. See, being home isn't so bad. (And those creme brûlée torches are more useful than you thought.) 20130128-162123.jpg

Lee's Grilled Cheese

Fort Worth Food Park was hopping on a recent visit, and we had our first taste of Lee's Grilled Cheese. Generously buttered white bread filled with fresh basil leaves, tomatoes and mozzarella made for a delicious if decadent sandwich. The cantina has Rahr on tap too. And last night was the park's one-year anniversary celebration. Here's to many more. IMG_1909