Cook Like the Homesick Texan

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I spent the last seven years living away from Texas – that’s right, got back as fast as I could – and there were times, especially in smallish Missoula, Montana, that the best restaurant in town with Texas food was certainly our kitchen. That wouldn’t have happened without Lisa Fain, a Dallas (born) and Houston (raised) native exiled to New York City who has run the Homesick Texan blog since September of 2005. “One of the most revered food blogs anywhere,” says TM contributor June Naylor. With Fain’s help, I never had to buy flour tortillas at the supermarket. And while it wasn’t quite the same without the Longhorns (or, more accurately this past season, the Horned Frogs), my wife turned the Homesick Texan’s steak fingers with jalapeno cream gravy into the perfect BCS game meal. Eat My Words asked Fain – a Texas Monthly reader since the age of 9 – a few questions in connection with our “Cook Like a Texan” package. What’s the first thing you want to eat when you come home? The first thing I eat when I return is always Tex-Mex. There’s a place by my Mom’s house in Houston that has the best enchiladas verdes, which are stuffed with carnitas and Monterey Jack, smothered in a tomatillo and poblano salsa and topped with avocado slices and sour cream. Chips and green sauce, flour tortiilas, refried beans and Mexican rice complete the meal. And what would your last meal be? My last meal would be the above, but I’d also like to add a chicken-fried steak served on the side with bowls of cream gravy, chili and queso, and a slice of <a href="my Grandma’s chocolate pie for dessert. Your personal favorite of the 10 dishes we featured in the magazine? My favorite on the list is chili, though chicken-fried steak is a close contender. When I was growing up in Texas, we ate both at least once a week. But I’d say that chili takes the edge because while you can find decent chicken-fried steaks in restaurants, I find chili is always better when it’s homemade. Plus, I enjoy arguing with people about why Texas chili is superior to all others. And when I serve my chili to non-Texan friends in New York, they tend to agree. Your “how the hell did we leave that out” dish? There were a few dishes that could have been on the list, such as pinto beans, refried beans, pecan pie, peach cobbler, flour tortillas and queso. Fain’s The Homesick Texan Cookbook will be published by Hyperion this fall. – Jason Cohen

<p>Jim Weatherly, a budding songwriter, was living in Los Angeles in the late sixties when he met Lee Majors, a budding actor. The two became friends, bonding over football, which they had both played in college. Weatherly also befriended Majors’s girlfriend, a former University of Texas student (and budding model) named Farrah Fawcett. One day in 1970, Weatherly called Majors and Fawcett answered the phone. Majors wasn’t home, she said, and she was packing her suitcase to take a “midnight plane to Houston” to visit her family. </p> <p>Weatherly was struck by the phrase—“It was an automatic song title,” he says—and as soon as he got off the phone, he picked up his guitar. He imagined his friends as the song’s protagonists: after struggling to make it in L.A., Fawcett was flying back home to Houston; Majors, preferring to live with her in her world than live without her in his, was following her. “Midnight Plane to Houston” took less than an hour to write, but Weatherly knew he had something. His friends liked it too, though they had no plans to flee L.A. </p> <p>Weatherly recorded and released the song on RCA Records. Soul singer Cissy Houston—Whitney’s mother—heard it and recorded her own version, with a few changes. “My people are originally from Georgia,” she said later, “and they didn’t take planes to Houston or anywhere else. They took trains.” Weatherly’s publisher sent Houston’s version to Gladys Knight & the Pips, who recorded the song in 1973. Knight, who at the time was in a troubled long-distance marriage, turned the song into a megahit. Decades later, in 2003, Weatherly rerecorded the song. Though he was tempted to do it as originally written, he gave in to history and sang the song as it had become: “Midnight Train to Georgia.”</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"></iframe></p>

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