Delicious Detours: Giving Thanks at New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ

My dad came to visit from Louisiana a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Sort of an early holiday visit, since John and I had decided to take a vacation with the kids during Thanksgiving week. This time, my dad wanted to get out of the house and “see the sights.” When he told me this, my mind started clicking in about a dozen different directions. A lot of strategic planning is involved in showing my dad “the sights.” I figure it has to be something not too far from the house, something that is quintessential Texas, and, preferably for both of us, someplace where good eats are fairly close at hand. Why not Huntsville?

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Brisket is My Kryptonite


A question that is music to my ears: Would you like lean, fatty or burnt ends?

It’s not by choice that I love smoked brisket. Apparently I was born this way. Or maybe all that meaty smoke just overwhelmed my taste buds when I arrived here from Louisiana years ago.

Some of my favorite blog reading is focused around my obsession with brisket and Central Texas barbecue. These barbecue bloggers know their stuff, and they’re a great place to get advice about the best places to eat and why. Their blog names give you an idea of what their posts are like: Don O’s Texas BBQ, Texas BBQ Posse and, my favorite blog name ever, Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ. These are the true believers, the aficionados who were chewing the fat (literally) before the recent national fame of Franklin Barbecue in Austin made Central Texas smoked meats trendy to ponder. For years, these guys have put in the miles, taken the detailed photographs, broken down their experiences into spreadsheets and charts. Some of them write for a living, some of them are just dedicated, regular dudes. They all seem to spend the bulk of their spare time criss-crossing the state on their own time and dime, searching out the best Texas ‘cue.

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Farewell to Strack Farms: Restaurant was Klein, TX Landmark


Strack Farms Restaurant passed into memory last month, a Klein, Texas cafe and barbecue joint which came into being three generations ago when the family began selling barbecue sandwiches out of its country store adjacent to the Strack vegetable farm.

The restaurant served for many years as one of the dwindling connections to the history of the Klein community. It was a popular eating spot for longtime residents, local firefighters, sheriff’s officers, civic clubs and school groups. It was a venue for many anniversaries, wedding showers and reunions. The Houston Chronicle reported that in its last days, the place was packed with loyal patrons as news of the impending closure spread–like family gathering around an old grandfather for one last goodbye.

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A Texas Smokehouse Fourth of July

The north shore of Lake Travis, not far from Austin, Texas, is a great place to spend a summer holiday. And getting there from Houston is half the fun. The trip along Highway 290 West takes you through the ruggedly scenic, rural hill country of central Texas. Best of all, this part of the state is legendary for its smoked meats and sausage.

Starting in the mid 1800s, Germans and Czechs made their way to Texas, bringing with them their traditions for sausage-making and smoking meats. With no refrigeration to preserve fresh meats, general stores and meat markets smoked their leftovers or made them into sausage to sell to customers. Farm and ranch hands would buy sundry items along with their lunch, which was served on butcher paper–no sauce, no utensils. You might need to use your pocket knife to cut your meat and sausage into smaller portions. You might eat it on a piece of sliced bread or with a few crackers that accompanied your purchase.

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Our group made a Fourth of July lunch stop in Elgin, the official sausage capital of Texas, where we ate at Meyer’s. Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse is the offspring of Meyer’s Sausage Company, whose inception dates back to the 1930’s when Rudolph Meyer began selling homemade sausage out of his grocery store in Elgin.

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