It’s that time of year when people are scratching their heads trying to come up with gift ideas. Here are some options sure to warm the hearts and fill the bellies of any homesick Texan. And if you’re looking for more inspiration, check out my list from last year, which includes how to order Blue Bell ice cream, kolaches and Ro-Tel tomatoes among other delicious Texan treats.
Grapefruit: Everyone knows the juiciest, largest and sweetest ruby red grapefruit comes from the Rio Grande Valley. And while there are many farms that ship, South Tex Organics has a leg up on the competition by being the only grower to not use pesticides. Prices start at $22.00. South Tex Organics
Dr Pepper: Sure, Dr Pepper is widely available, but what you see in the stores is an imposter made with high-fructose corn syrup. Enter Dublin Dr Pepper, a Texas bottler that produces Dr Pepper from the original recipe made with pure Imperial cane sugar. One sip and you’ll never drink that other stuff again. Prices start at $10.00 a case, peanuts not included. Dublin Dr Pepper
Pancakes: It’s an age-old question in Austin, who has the best pancakes—Kerbey Lane or Magnolia? It’s a hard choice to make if you’re in Austin, but if you live outside the city, that question has been answered: Kerbey Lane now sells pancake mixes in a variety of flavors, including gingerbread and whole wheat apple. Prices start at $5.75. Kerbey Lane
Sausage: You haven’t had sausage until you’ve sunk your teeth into a juicy, spicy Elgin hot gut. My favorite hot-gut producer, Southside Market, brings the taste of the Hill Country into your home as it ships its delectable sausages both fresh and smoked. Prices start at $27.99 for five pounds of fresh sausage, $30.99 for five pounds of smoked. Southside Market
Turkey: A few years ago, some New York City alumni of my college had a gathering. We were all well behaved until the hostess produced a Greenberg’s smoked turkey. Then we all pounced on the bird, eating like fools until there was only a pile of bones. Greenberg—based in Tyler, Texas—is an odd company. They don’t have a toll-free number and they don’t take credit cards. But they sure do know how to smoke a turkey. Turkeys are $3.60 a pound, ranging in size from six to 15 pounds. Greenberg Turkey
Ranch Style Beans: Canned beans may not be something to get excited about, but if you grew up with the smoky, spicy flavor of Ranch Style Beans, you find it’s hard to eat other brands. Guaranteed appetite pleasin’! $1.25 a can or $26.00 for a case. Texmex.net
Corn tortillas: Finding decent corn tortillas outside of the Southwest can be a challenge, but when you have your own tortilla press and a bag of masa harina, whipping up a batch of tortillas is a snap. $17.99 for an iron tortilla press, $5.95 for a 4.4 pound bag of masa harina.
Cookbooks: No homesick Texan’s bookshelf is complete without Robb Walsh’s Texas trilogy—The Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook, The Tex-Mex Cookbook and The Texas Cowboy Cookbook. These excellent books are more than just a collection of recipes, they’re a beautiful history of both the state and the foods we love. Amazon
Charitable gifts: We lost some fine women in the past year, but if you want to give a gift in their name here are a couple of options: Keep Texas Beautiful is offering a lovely Christmas ornament in honor of Lady Bird Johnson. The ornament features a bouquet of wildflowers and proceeds from sales of the ornament will help fund projects of KTB affiliates who focus on litter prevention, waste reduction, and community beautification programs. It’s a perfect way to honor a woman who championed tirelessly for the environment. Back here in New York City, the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit founded by Bette Midler that converts vacant lots into community gardens, is raising funds to create the Ann Richards Memorial Garden. These public spaces created by the project—often found in lower-income neighborhoods—are a source of life and joy to the community. And I just know that Ann Richards, a part-time resident of New York City and an advocate for more green spaces, would approve. Keep Texas Beautiful, New York Restoration Project
Is there something else that should be on this list? Give a holler in the comments!