East Austin Urban Farm Tour

I had a wonderful time wandering the streets of the east side last weekend and enjoying all that four of our urban farms have to offer. We toured Springdale Farm, Boggy Creek Farm, Rain Lily Farm, and HausBar Farm. It was a lovely spring day in Austin, and thankfully the rain clouds that hovered over stayed intact for the afternoon. 

Boggy Creek Farmimage

Gin Cocktail from Treaty Oak Distillery


Lovely Beet and Cheese bite from the soon-to-be-opening Olamaie


Some of the animals at HausBar Farm




If you get an opportunity to check out the tour next year, I highly recommend it.



Beyond Picket Fences Turns 5!

Tumblr just informed me that my blog is 5 years old today! Kinda crazy to think that I’ve been doing this blogging thing (albeit sporadically) for the past 5 years. In that time it has evolved from a random post, reblog, or rant here and there, to primarily a food blog where I get to show the world my creative side. Through this blog I have made some amazing relationships and joined a great organization, The Austin Food Blogger Alliance

I’m so happy to have this outlet where I can share my passions and am excited for the continued evolution. To my followers and anyone who visited Beyond Picket Fences at any point, Thank You. I’m glad to have shared this with you. 

To celebrate, here is some never-before-seen images of food porn I’ve taken over the past few years. Enjoy!

Fireside hot chocolate with marshmallows

Spicy Italian Seafood Stew

Cheese and charcuterie board with one of the best cheeses on the planet, La Tur.

Perfectly grilled asparagus and fennel

Fresh butter and goat cheese and Pure Luck Farm

Fried Rice at Elizabeth Street Cafe

Chocolatey awesome dessert at Odd Duck

A bowl of cherries, just because.



Eid-e Shomah Mobarak! Happy New Year!

Today is the vernal equinox which marks that beginning of spring and the start of the Persian New Year. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year!

Above is my haft-seen. Haft-seen stands for 7 S’s which symbolize various good fortunes in the new year. 

The seven S’s I have above are:

Sabzeh (wheat grass) - symbolizing rebirth
Serkeh (vinegar) - symbolizing age and patience
Sib (apples) - symbolizing beauty and health
Sir (garlic) - symbolizing medicine
Somagh (sumac) - symbolizing the color of sunrise
Senjed (dried lotus fruit) - symbolizing love
Sonbol (hyacinth) - symbolizing the coming of spring

I also have an extra seen (S), samanu, which is a sweet wheat pudding that symbolizes affluence.

Other items on the table are:
Mirror: symbolizing the sky and a reflection on the previous year
Tokhmeh Morgh (egg): symbolizing fertility
Shirini (sweets): symbolizes spreading the sweetness
Ajil - mixed nuts
A book of poetry or prayer. I have both the Shahnameh (Book of Kings by Ferdowsi) and the Quran to make my grandmother happy.

Norooz Pirooz!


The Shahnameh

Shirini from Dream Bakery



Love, alas, is a fickle emotion, so you must cherish it for the fleeting moment in which it graces you.



AFBA City Guide 2014 - Titaya’s


Titaya’s is back and better than ever! After more than a year of eager anticipation, Titaya’s has reopened with a more modern interior and expanded menu. Prepare for a long wait, even if you arrive early. Austinites love Titaya’s, and those of us who were die-hard fans before the remodel happily waited up to two hours for some of the best Thai food in the city. I expected some hiccups, as they just reopened, and the only issue we had was that our main course was slow out of the kitchen. Appetizers and desserts were timely, though. Our waitress was wonderful and kept us informed along the way. We never had empty water glasses and she was friendly and helpful with the menu. 

A few things to keep in mind when you go:

  • Be patient and don’t expect to have a “quick bite” here
  • Go for it all; get an appetizer (or two), try several types of entrees, dessert is a must!
  • Listen to your server, they know their stuff
  • Beer and wine is available and they have a decent list. Corkage is $15/bottle for BYOB
  • Try something different, you’ll likely be surprised

I’m so glad I went into the new Titaya’s with an open mind and a very empty stomach. I had such a great experience, was happily stuffed, and I can’t wait to go back soon!

What to order: Items we had that I can recommend are:
Appetizers - Sweet Corn and Taro Fritters (addicting!), and the Shrimp Leafy Rolls (add sriracha to the peanut sauce, you’ll be glad you did)
Entrees - Pad See Eiw and the Gang Masamum Gai. The Pad See Eiw has Chinese broccoli in it which is such an underrated vegetable. The Masamum curry is the best example of this curry I’ve ever had.
Desserts - We tried the two desserts available, Black Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk and Lychee, and Pandan Coconut Panna Cotta. Both were outstanding. The rice pudding is served warm, and the panna cotta comes with an amazing ginger tuile. 

Our neighbors at the next table ordered the Tom-Kha soup and it smelled heavenly! Our waitress recommended a few items for us try next time: Larb Sake and the Duck Noodle Soup. You better believe I’ll be ordering all of those on my next visit.

Titaya’s Thai Cuisine
5501 North Lamar Blvd., Ste C101
Austin, TX 78751

Hours Of Operation: Tuesday - Friday 11am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm; Saturday - Sunday 12:00pm - 3:30pm, 5:00pm - 10:00pm; Closed Mondays

Takes reservations: No
WiFi: No
Website: http://www.titayasthaicuisine.com/ 


Sweet Corn and Taro Fritters


Shrimp Leafy Rolls


Pad See Eiw


Gang Masamum Gai


Black Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk and Lychee 


Pandan Coconut Panna Cotta

AFBA City Guide 2014 - Summermoon Coffee Bar


Oh Summermoon coffee, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 1) Wood fire roasted coffee, 2) Moon Milk, 3) Moon Milk. Oh, and did I mention Moon Milk? Seriously, Summermoon has my favorite cup of coffee, hands down. The wood roasting brings flavors out in the beans I’ve never tasted. Their brewed coffee is rich and smooth; it’s almost creamy on its own. The espresso is bold and earthy with chocolate flavors. And then there is the beloved moon milk. Moon milk is their homemade all dairy add-in for your coffee or espresso. The moon milk is sweet, creamy, and addicting. It complements the wood fired brew perfectly. 

Beyond their delicious coffee and espresso drinks, Summermoon is a locally-owned family-run business. It makes me like them even more. They support other local businesses and sell a variety of baked goods, snacks, and healthy meals. The zucchini bread they sell is my favorite. Summermoon recently remodeled their interior so it’s very work friendly. Individual desks and comfy chairs make it a great place for solitary contemplation or an intimate conversation. Their outside deck is the perfect place to gather with friends for an intellectual debate over a perfect cup. 

What to order: 
My favorite drink is the Halfmoon Latte. It’s bold, creamy, but not too sweet. You also can’t go wrong with their brewed coffee. Just add moon milk to your taste. During the warmer months I recommend the Wintermoon. When I was last in they now have moon pops; moon milk frozen treats. How awesome is that?! 

Summermoon Coffee Bar
3115 1st St S, Suite 1B
Austin, TX 78704 

Hours Of Operation: Monday-Friday 6 AM - 12 AM, Saturday 8 AM - 10 PM, Sunday 8 AM - 8 PM

Takes reservations: No
WiFi: Yes
Website: http://www.woodfiredcoffee.com/ 


Clockwise: brewed coffee with moon milk; Halfmoon Latte; zucchini bread



Easy Strawberry Chocolate Pie

Here’s a quick, easy, and decadent treat you can make for you and your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. This Strawberry Chocolate Pie looks like you spent hours, when the actually work time on it is less than 20 minutes (1 hour total with chilling time). It’s a bit messy to eat, but that makes it all the better!

Easy Strawberry Chocolate Pie

1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup heavy cream
25-35 fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  • Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa onto a sheet of waxed paper. 
  • Whip the cream in a stand mixer with the wisk attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer. While whipping the cream, feed in the sugar-cocoa mixture. Whip to the consistency of shaving cream, about 4 minutes.
  • Pour the chocolate whipped cream into the pie crust and smooth the top of the cream evenly. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to let the whipped cream set.
  • Place the strawberries on top of the pie any way you’d like. I prefer to put the whole strawberries on with the ends up so it looks like a mountain range. 
  • Melt the two chocolates in separate bowls in the microwave. 30 seconds to 1 minute should melt the chocolate to a smooth consistency. Be sure not to microwave too long or the chocolate will burn.
  • Pour the chocolate into individual sandwich baggies and cut the corner tip of the bag off just so the chocolate can drip out in a thin line. Drizzle all over the strawberries to your heart’s content.
  • Place back in the fridge for at least 5 minutes to let the chocolate set. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!



Just Beet It!

Beets are one of my favorite veggies. I was the odd child who loved beets and asked for more. Growing up my mother would boil, peel, and serve as an extra side dish, probably to add some color to our plates. Canned beets were usually in the pantry too, for those nights when heating up canned food was all that was going to happen. Now that I have a more refined palate (read: pretentious), I get a little fancy with my beets. Here’s a recipe for my favorite beet salad:

Beet and Chevre Salad

2 medium raw beets
1/4 c balsamic vinegar, reduced
1 oz fresh chevre, crumbled
3-5 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste

  • Trim the stem and skinny root off the beets. Boil in salted water until fork tender. Approximately 15-20 minutes. Removed from water and let cool.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer and let reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Once the beets are cool, peel the skin off and slice into quarter inch rounds. You will likely dye your hands pink in this process, so gloves are recommended. 
  • Arrange the beets as you like on a plate and lightly salt to taste. Sprinkle the crumbled chevre and basil chiffonade on top. Lightly drizzle the reduced balsamic all over. Top with a dusting of black pepper.

And there you have it. A simple, delicious beet salad. This recipe is a classic, and my take is no exception to that. Enjoy!



My Oh Meyers!

The Meyer Lemon Fairy, (aka Kristina of Girl Gone Grits) bestowed a large box of delicious, bright yellow, juicy Meyer lemons upon me a few weeks ago and I have been in a lemon frenzy ever since. My Vitamin C intake has dramatically increased, which is good since cold and flu season hit me hard. I decided to make a few special lemony recipes, but mainly I substituted the Meyers for other acids I use regularly, with delicious results!

Meyers are less tart that your average lemon and, to me, have a more complex citrus flavor than standard lemons you find at the grocery store. They work really well in sweets, but I used them primarily in savory dishes over the past few weeks. I made a lot of things with the Meyers. I may have gone a little overboard, but I’m not complaining. Here is an abbreviated listed of what I made:

As you can see, I’ve had a tasty past few weeks. The lamb was the biggest hit. We made it for Christmas dinner and I’m sure it’s going to become our regular Christmas meal going forward. Melt in your mouth lamb with the sweet and sour of the pomegranate complemented by the brightness of the Meyer lemons. Yum! I used this great recipe from BBC Good Food. I adjusted it slightly and added the lemon zest as well as the juice to the recipe, which was a noticeable improvement.

The Meyers worked really well with the red snapper. So often lemon can take over the taste of fish, but in this case the flavors blended perfectly. I made the fish up very simply with olive oil, Meyer lemon slices, fresh fennel (bulb and fronds), and salt. I roasted it in a 375 degree oven covered at first and then finished it uncovered for the last few minutes to brown. Perfect, flakey, lemony fish!

The salad dressing is of my own creation. I whisked ¼ cup of Meyer lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, ½ cup of olive oil, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Mix in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. I used it to dress a simple salad of spinach, arugula, cremini mushrooms and fresh chevre.

I most recently made a lemon meringue pie. I couldn’t find my grandmother’s recipe and the only ingredients I remembered from hers were lemons and condensed milk, so I googled all of the lemon pie recipes that have condensed milk in them and found this great one from Paula Deen. I doubled the amount of zest she listed and I’m glad I did. So tart and sweet and refreshing! I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of that pie. One word of advice: let the pie set properly in the fridge before you do the meringue. If you don’t, the pie will be a bit runny. Still delicious, but not very pretty. It didn’t stop me from enjoying three slices of it, though.

I think the best part of my Meyer mania was figuring out how versatile this fruit is. I found myself squeezing a bit of lemon juice on just about everything or always zesting a lemon into every dish I made. This lemon risotto recipe from Nigella Lawson I just found is set to be the last hurrah of my Meyers. I’m down to my last couple of lemons and I think I’m about to go into withdrawal. They’ve become such a great addition to my kitchen.

Originally posted on Girl Gone Grits as part of the 12 Days of Meyers blog series. 



The Apple Tart is a success! #thanksgiving

The Apple Tart is a success! #thanksgiving