In the Texas Monthly Recommends series, Texas Monthly writers, editors, photographers, and producers offer up their favorite recent culture discoveries from the great state of Texas.

The 2016 revelation that The Baby-Sitters Club author Ann M. Martin is queer sparked excitement and countless blog posts across the internet, including a 2019 story whose headline posed a question: “Could the Baby-Sitters Club Have Been More Gay?” The answer: yes. Netflix’s new adaptation, released July 3, features multiple LGBT characters, continuing to spread the books’ message of acceptance.

One of the show’s most poignant episodes is its fourth, “Mary Anne Saves the Day,” which documents Mary Anne’s first encounter with a transgender girl, Bailey—played by Texan Kai Shappley. (Shappley was recently featured in the Emmy-winning documentary Trans in America: Texas Strong, and was a central figure in the fight for transgender students’ bathroom access in Pearland.) The ’90s novels, which lived in many a sixth-grader’s backpacks, have transitioned seamlessly into the twenty-first century. Mary Anne and Dawn are no longer white, Claudia is an avid Etsy customer, and Kristy’s knack for ranting about women’s rights often lands her in trouble. If you were a fan of the book series back in the day, Netflix’s adaptation is a must-watch.

Ivanka Perez, editorial intern

Re-creating the Ranger Cookie

The ranger cookie—identifiable by its mix of coconut, rolled oats, and corn flakes—is so old that its history is hard to nail down. A 2009 article from the Harvard University student newspaper claims that the cookie’s full name is either the Texas Ranger Cookie or the Lone Star Ranger Cookie, and that its origins are Texan. Another writer speculated that the name might’ve come from General Mills, which sponsored The Lone Ranger from the forties to the sixties, cashing in on the success of that TV show. Either way, this cookie is likely a favorite of anyone who’s stopped at Hruska’s on the drive between Houston and Austin. Since road trips are scarce nowadays, why not bake your own version of the classic cookie with a recipe that dates back nearly a century?

Emma Jane Hopper, editorial intern

H-E-B’s Drive-through Barbecue

The reopening of H-E-B’s South Congress location in Austin is exciting for a number of reasons. It’s the IKEA of food: look too quickly, and you might mistake it for a sports stadium. The 130,000-square-foot grocery-cum-flower shop, pharmacy, and bakery (and tortilleria) is fully retrofitted for pandemic shopping with curbside service. But, more importantly, now you won’t even have to walk inside to get a brisket plate. Neither is the H-E-B-brand barbecue anything to turn your nose up at, as it’s smoked on Texas oak for as many as 14 hours. Texas Monthly‘s Daniel Vaughn lauded the store’s True Texas BBQ as the best statewide barbecue chain. In other H-E-B news, the grocery plans to add a new food hall to its Mueller location—featuring a full bar, a chicken joint from Top Chef star Tiffany Derry, and yes, plenty of barbecue.

Isaac Engelberg, editorial intern