Awesome Austin

Where do I begin? We only spent 2 days and 3 nights in Austin, but boy did we pack in a lot of fun and it will take at least 3 postings to do it justice (just a hint of what's coming...a funky, famous chicken place in Round Top, TX; Madalene Hill's gardens at Festival Hill, a trip to see Mexican bats on Segways, some great food, an afternoon watching chicken sh#et bingo, just for starters). And gardens all along the trail.
Josh's niece and husband, Suzy and Chad, and their delightful 6 month old son, Liam, very generously offered to come and give us a weekend on our own. What sweet people and I am so grateful for their kindness. (Of course, letting Liam and Great Grandma Barbara get acquainted, was great, too!. They bonded immediately).

It's always a pleasure to see other people's gardens and one of our first stops was at our long time friend, Lucinda Hutson's garden. Austin's famous purple house, Lucinda's home, has been on my list of places to visit for years. I know the house from her books, from numerous articles in Southern Living and many more, but I had not actually seen the house myself. We've known each other for years but this was the first time to visit Lucinda at home. What a sweetheart she is!

Lucinda is, without a doubt, the most colorful, fun-loving person I know. From her house (inside and out) to her garden, her views on food and writing, this is one fun lady. Look at the pic, below. This is the back steps of her house. (Click on the picture to see the embellished cat door). Does your back door look that good? Ours certainly doesn't.

Lucinda is a landscape designer and has a perfect eye for decorating the outdoors, and in. Even the very flowers in her garden are seemingly beyond reality. Check out this one in her front yard (sorry, I don't remember what it is).

And this vine, below, which I wish I could grow here. Notice the top of the house is purple, the wall behind the vine, is yellow. Do you have the courage to use color that way? I wish I did.

Or this, a great Mexican bathtub set in her mermaid garden. When Southern Living came to do the photo shoot of her garden, they bashfully covered parts of the mermaid with a leaf. Above the grotto with the mermaid tub is another mermaid and lots of plants. It's a small garden and it would seem crowded were it not for Lucinda's eye for design. Instead of crowded, it unfolds like small rooms, each with fascinating features that invite you to keep moving forward to see more, and more beyond that. (I've had dreams like that, when sleeping on my Creative Dreams Dream Pillow).

Lucinda's garden rooms showcase a wide variety of plants, from cactus to vines, bloomers and lots of herbs. Herbs are everywhere and Lucinda and I share a love of herbs and food. She's known for her innovative cookbooks which you can see on her website.

That's Lucinda and Josh on her back patio, her very rustic-elegant writing office to the left where she creates her books, and a garden shed to the right. What a delightful visit we had and no photos can do Lucinda's garden justice. . More of Austin to come. But today, after weeks of dry, hot weather and dragging garden hoses around - we got rain!

Here's a recipe from Lucinda's Herb Garden Cookbook for Frijoles Negros en Olla (black beans in case you don't speak Spanish). A dish of lack beans is one of my favorite meals, over brown rice, topped with fresh salsa, diced avocados and a dash of hot sauce. Last year I grew black beans, aka frijoles negros, in the garden to see what they looked like in bloom.

1 pound dried black beans
Water or broth to cover to about 2 inches over the beans
3 T. olive oil or bacon fat
1 whole onion, quartered and studded with 2 whole cloves
4-6 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1-2 whole dried chile peppers (ancho or pasilla)
Salt to taste
1 tsp. crumbled, dried Mexican oregano
3 sprigs fresh epazote - (epazote is known as "pig weed" in the Midwest), or substitute. Mexican mint marigold leaves

Wash beans well to remove dirt and any stones. Cover with cold water or broth, and remove any beans that float. Add oil, onion, garlic cumin and bay leaf and bring to a boil; immediately reduce heat and cover. Add chiles and cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours. If necessary, add more water to prevent beans from bursting. When almost tender, add salt, oregano and epazote. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes. When beans are tender the liquid should just barely cover them.

More gardens, more food to come!


lemonverbenalady said...

Two of my favorite herbal authors in the same location! Would have loved to be a fly on the fence!

Randy and Jamie said...

I envy the way people can be so bold with color! Beautiful garden, I don't know how she's kept it so lush in Texas. Right now ours is burt to a crisp. I doesn't usually look this bad until the end of August. -- Randy

Anonymous said...

I love color! Thanks so much for sharing Lucinda's small garden. It is always helpful to see what others do in small spaces, even if the climates are so different from Austin to Boston.-chrisq

Jim Long said...

We've been hot and dry here in the Ozarks, too, but it was lush and green in Austin. It's amazing what Lucinda can grow, although she bemoans the fact she has to move her Allspice and Bay rum plants indoors in winter (we do here, too, but of course....we're a zone colder. People said, "really, you're going to TEXAS in August???" But it was a great choice, because it was wonderfully green. Not cool - it was stinkin' hot, but it was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for celebrating my wild purple house and gardens in your wonderful, colorful, and informative blog..it was an honor to have you here! And thank you for mentioning The Herb Garden Cookbook. I am hard at work on my tequila book, so watch out! Soon I will send a recipe!

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