Amber Byfield

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Articles by Amber Byfield

Seasonal Texas Sides for Turkey Day

Nov 17, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Next week, we celebrate my absolute favorite food day of the year. The turkey’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve always been a bigger fan of that particular bird the day after Thanksgiving, served between thick slices of white bread slathered with a healthy dose of mayonnaise…

Sweet and Spicy and Everything Nicey: Is it Beans and Cornbread Season Yet?

Sep 14, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Inspired by the beginning of fall (or, at the very least, football season), and the ever-so-slightly cooler air that seems to be hinting that the end of summer is nigh, I turned on the oven for the first time in months this week. For good measure, I brought out my cast iron skillet and my pressure cooker to make a meal that reminds me of Saturdays growing up. It's a meal that's full of family tradition, and one that I like to add my own little spin to: jalapeños. My grandmother made a pot of beans almost every Saturday for as long as the family can remember; the tradition continues even though she's not at the helm of the kitchen. Pinto beans, cooked in the pressure cooker, seasoned so simply with a little bit of salt pork and served with a side of sweet cornbread. Pretty standard, right? Except here's where I divulge a family secret, one that may have you raising your eyebrows, but trust me when I say that you have to try this. All of us—my parents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, the neighbors who stopped by, and eventually our spouses—top the bowl of beans with spoonfuls of dill relish. My husband tried it one Saturday. After the first bite, he had concocted a plan to cook beans and cornbread for his family so they could try it too. Now all our fridges are stocked with a jar of dill relish, in the event that we have pinto beans for dinner. When it comes to the accompanying cornbread, I like it to be both sweet and spicy—so here's how I'd recommend making it to go with that simple pot of beans this weekend. Sweet Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread 2 cups stone-ground cornmeal 1/2 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons vinegar (or 2 cups buttermilk) 1 egg 2 tablespoons honey 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional) 3 tablespoons butter, lard, or vegetable oil

Beaucoups Basil (And That’s About All!)

Jul 11, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Here’s the thing. Not only is it summer in Texas, but it’s the hottest, driest summer we’ve seen in, well. . . Maybe ever. My husband and I had such grandiose plans for this summer. We’ve lived in our house for about one year now, and we were bound…

Get Yourself Into a Jam

May 24, 2011 By Amber Byfield

For years now, I’ve been trying to grow my own strawberries. And year after year, it’s a disappointing “harvest” of one or two small bites of tart berries. In fact, this year, my niece and I ogled two berries on the vine. I told her she could have one,…

Meat and Greet

Apr 25, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Years ago, I was under the impression that every Texan knew what a salt lick was, loved the smell of hay in an old barn, and knew better than to request chocolate pie for dessert, lest one be handed a cow patty from the fields. But a dear friend…

Eat (All) Your Spring Greens

Apr 11, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Yesterday evening, while my husband and I were out admiring our highly productive (read: are you tired of lettuce yet?) raised vegetable gardens in the backyard, the neighbor called us over to ask us a very important question. “Say,” he started, beer in hand, “Would y’all mind it if my…

Root Beer: Not Just for Floats Anymore

Feb 14, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Forget chocolate-covered strawberries, dozens of roses, and the fondu pot. No, all you need to woo your Valentine today is this recipe. Sure, it’s a little labor-intensive, but trust me. It’s worth the time, the effort, and all the pre-baking finger-licking you can handle. And here’s a plus: if…

What’s Cooking When It’s Cold Out?

Jan 31, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Rumor has it that temperatures are going to drop rather drastically tomorrow. While most of us Texans enjoyed a spring-like Sunday, now we’re going to have to face the bleak fact that we are, indeed, still in the middle of winter. Who knew? A native Texan, I’m a fan…

Holy Kohlrabi!

Jan 17, 2011 By Amber Byfield

Call me unadventurous, but I’d have to be three Shiners in before I’d consider trying a calf fry. Same goes for liver and onions, or caviar, or sweetbreads. I guess I wouldn’t make a very good reality show contestant. But this week, staring me down in the kitchen…

Texas Beer Bread (A Last-Minute Gift Idea)

Dec 20, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Bake a loaf of bread? Before Christmas? Yes, my friends, it’s possible. Even in this busier-than-busy week, while you’re running around doing all that Christmas shopping you should have done a few weeks ago (I’m in that boat too), wrapping gifts (and trying to keep the dog from opening…

‘Tis the Pecan-Pickin’ Season

Dec 6, 2010 By Amber Byfield

It’s just a few days into December, but the holiday spirit has gotten a little out of hand is in full swing at our house. My husband started playing the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack two weeks into November. We went to Elgin and chopped down a tree even before…

Surprise, It’s Bread Pudding!

Nov 22, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Leave it to me to write something cryptic on the office party Thanksgiving potluck sign-up sheet. Under the desserts column, I just wrote “butternut squash surprise.” One skeptical colleague wrote “dessert??” underneath my claim. “Yep!” I replied, with confidence. Except I had no idea what to whip up. Another…

Cheesin’ It Up

Nov 8, 2010 By Amber Byfield

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only have three foodstuffs to take with me, they would be dark chocolate, red wine, and (most importantly) cheese. So when it comes to lackluster meals, my go-to fix is simply to add one of those three. The pan’s too…

The Perfect Fall Soup (I Mean It)

Oct 25, 2010 By Amber Byfield

My husband (I can officially call him that now) gives me a hard time about the way I outwardly express my joy when eating something delicious. “It’s like you’re on a poorly-scripted cooking show, and every time you take a bite you have to come up with something amazing to…


Oct 11, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Like any good harbinger of changing seasons, the arrival of butternut squash at the farmers market signals that it’s time to start doing something different in the kitchen. Crank up the heat, folks, let’s get some casseroles on the table. Butternut squash has, in the last year, quickly trumped…

After These Marriages, We’ll Be Right Back

Sep 15, 2010 By Amber Byfield

To those of you who were anxiously awaiting on a new seasonal recipe on Monday, I do apologize. My kitchen has been getting the short end of the stir stick in the last couple of weeks; its most dubious task of late has been keeping the can opener in plain…

Squeaky Cheese

Aug 30, 2010 By Amber Byfield

We all have those little things that get to us. Nails on a chalkboard, a dentist’s drill—you know the sound that makes it feel as if someone is forcing, oh, somewhere along the lines of 241 small daggers into your temples and twisting them to and fro, just for…

It’s a Potluck?

Aug 16, 2010 By Amber Byfield

A few weeks ago, an invitation arrived in the mail to a family reunion for my fiance’s side of the family. The invitation was promptly misplaced, only to be dug up again mere moments before we needed to leave for said reunion. I mean, that happens to the best of…

Backyard Grillers, Lend Me Your Ears!

Aug 2, 2010 By Amber Byfield

About a month ago, my grandma gave my fiancè and I a grill as a house- warming present. Given my fiancè’s love of fire and mine of cooking, this was the perfect gift for the two of us. And though we have yet to have her over for a…

Swallowed by Superfluous Summer Squash?

Jul 19, 2010 By Amber Byfield

This time of year, when my mother calls me and says, “Honey, I have veggies for you, whenever you’re ready to come pick them up!”, it never just means she has a couple of cukes and maybe one zuke and a handful of figs. Ohhhh no, it means so…

When Life Hands You Watermelons…

Jun 21, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Today marks the official start of summer! We Texans understand, though, that Mother Nature likes to give us a nice hot summer preview (complete with humidity!), which is why today I present to you . . . A juicy, sweet, sumptuous, refreshing, hallmark of the season: the watermelon.

Impress Friends With Fig Preserves

Jun 7, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Last summer, I hopped on what can only be described as the canning bandwagon. Home canning and preserving seemed to take the world by storm—at least that’s what all the blogs were saying. I had to join in the fun. Only one thing was stopping me: I had no…

Get Your Goat Cheese

May 24, 2010 By Amber Byfield

This weekend, after a long bicycle ride, I found myself perusing the cheese counter at our local specialty foods store. I took my time browsing through what the case had to offer, picking up plastic-wrapped parcels of perfection in every hue and hardness, as if the cheese counter were…

Eat Your Vegetables.

Apr 26, 2010 By Amber Byfield

I must have been a strange child. As I divulged to you earlier, in my early years, I did not like honey. Or rice. I would push rice around my plate to convince my parents that I’d eaten it all. Years later, both parents told me they were never…

When Backyard Hens Aren’t an Option

Apr 12, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Spring (thank goodness it’s finally sprung) generally brings change. For me this means that after many years of apartment-dwelling, my fiancé and I are moving to a house, complete with a backyard, in a city that allows for—hold on to your hats, folks—backyard chickens. Oh yeah, we’re talking Martha…

Abuzz About Local Honey

Mar 29, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Call me crazy, but growing up, I was not a fan of honey. It always tasted saccharin-sweet and it was… Just. Too. Gooey. I know, a little kid worried about gooey stuff. Weird. Anyway, the only thing I liked honey on were my mom’s famous peanut butter and honey…

Kale: Not Just for Health Food Junkies

Mar 15, 2010 By Amber Byfield

Kale is one of those ingredients that doesn’t get a lot of face time, likely due to its equation with super-health-food. Is it dark green? Yep. Widely available at health stores? Yessiree. Does it appear in superfood smoothies? Uh-huh. Well, I’m here to say one thing today: Give kale…

Our Hero

Jul 31, 2004 By Amber Byfield

My grandmother sat down to tell me a story she hadn't told in years. It turned out to be the greatest tale I've ever heard.