Boggy Creek farmers Larry Butler and Carol Sayle returned on November 24 from a speaking engagement at the Southern Agriculture Work Group Convention in Griffin, Georgia to find snow falling on their East Austin farm. Farmers, employees, and friends raced around in a tag-team, row-covering frenzy, determined to protect everybody's favorite winter salad greens from the Arctic blast. Things look good so far. Then the much-in-demand organic spokesfarmers appeared on Jim Hightower's national radio broadcast the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with Hightower's friend (and theirs), California restaurateur Alice Waters to discuss the importance of sustainable agriculture. It's a shame nobody in Austin carries the Hightower broadcast...

Speaking of agriculture, drop by Eastside Cafe before December 15 to check out the display of garden "artifacts" discovered by Head Gardener, David Kolosta. It appears that previous farming tenants and Eastside patrons encouraged to stroll in the garden have made some interesting deposits over the years: old (1903) and new coins, bridle parts, sheep shears, square nails, wallets and purses, jewelry and hubcaps. The baseball found in the corn had them wondering about the slugger who was at bat in March, 1995 -- the restaurant is a full seven blocks away from Disch-Falk Field. Also visit the garden store, Pitchforks & Tablespoons, where the shelves are fully stocked with great Christmas gift ideas, including assorted restaurant-quality kitchen gadgets and the flower presses used to produce their popular flower and herb "garden cards"...

If the kids have visions of gingerbread houses dancing in their heads rather than sugarplums, Randalls has just the solution. Sign the kids up at a neighborhood Randalls for a decorating extravaganza on December 7, 8, 14, or 15. (Check stores for times.) Children can decorate the houses with marshmallows, candy kisses, peppermints, vanilla wafers, royal icing, and other candy treats. While decorating, the children will hear a story about gingerbread houses and a photographer will be on hand to snap souvenir photos. Parents must purchase a pre-built gingerbread house, but there is no other cost to participate in the event. Only Randalls stores with bakeries are involved...

The greatly anticipated opening of the new Brio-Vista will be celebrated with a benefit for the Austin Children's Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7pm. Guests will enjoy drinks and sample the cuisine of chef Larry Perdido. The new eatery shares the same spectacular Hill Country view at 9400 Arboretum Blvd. as its sister restaurant, Z'Tejas. Brio-Vista formally opens for dinner on December 9 and, unlike the downtown Brio, will begin serving lunch and dinner on December 17...

The cook on your Christmas list who wants a signed copy of Threadgill's -- The Cookbook is in luck. Restaurateur/author/raconteur Eddie Wilson will be signing copies and dispensing bites of his famous Southern food at Borders Books on Sunday, Dec. 7, 3-5pm. Cooking instructor Marie-Claire Quittelier (328-5832) has a busy holiday schedule. She'll teach holiday cooking and decorating at the Inn Above Onion Creek near Kyle during the day on Dec. 7 and present a holiday fondue party at Der Kuchen Laden in Fredericksburg that same evening. Back in Austin, she teaches a class on a Provençal Christmas on Dec. 9 at
La Provence in The Village at Westlake, and a class on cooking with beer with recipes from her Celis beer repertoire on
Dec. 13 at her home.

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