<span style="font-size: 13px">Downtown Austin is home to many new structures, many of them modern. In the midst of the building boom sits Lamberts, which is located in a historic two-story brick building with lofty ceilings and an open kitchen. On a Wednesday afternoon, there were no open tables during lunchtime, so we made our way to the concrete bar.</span> Detractors generally chalk up Lamberts as "fancy barbecue" and insist that it does not belong in the discussion of great Texas 'cue. The descriptions on their menu do little to dissuade the first-time visitor. Rather than brisket, ribs, and sausage, you can instead choose from "Brown Sugar & Coffee Rubbed Natural Brisket," "Maple & Coriander Crusted Natural Pork Ribs," and "Homemade Jalapeno Hot Link." Fortunately the bartender understood when I simply asked for brisket, pork ribs (they do offer beef ribs), and sausage. A thin line of fat hugged the bottom of each beautiful thick slice of brisket. The black crust held a deep smokiness that permeated the meat and the fat. I initially peeled some fat off before my first bite, which I rescued later after realizing just how good each previous bite was. The only negative I could find was a slight toughness to the meat which could just be chalked up to a consequence of the thick slices. The sweet rub on the ribs was incredible. It wasn't cloying, but it married well with the smoke flavor. Each rib had a deep red color with well-rendered fat and excellent flavor throughout. The rib meat was also less than velvety in texture, but not uncomfortably tough. The jalapeno sausage is house made and features a bold pepper flavor, a fine grind, and great snap. Each bite of link also had a great smoke flavor. Three sauces are offered in mild, hot, and mustard, but save it for your bread . . . this meat needs no adornment. The owner has a sense of humor as evidenced by the menu, which pokes fun at this joint's supposed reputation by adding the question "Fancy Barbecue?" at the bottom of each page. As far as this BBQ Snob is concerned, if it's good tender meat that is caringly smoked over oak wood, then superfluous descriptions and cloth napkins are no reason to keep you from enjoying some paticularly scrumptious 'cue. <i>(This review originally appeared on Full Custom Gospel BBQ.)</i>

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 idea how to can. Anything. But hey! I loved pickles! I turned to my mother, who’d been making dill pickles for years. One Saturday, we spent hours in the kitchen, chopped and filled and sanitized and uttered not the word “botulism.” And then, as we pulled the jars from their hot water bath one by one, we waited for that sometimes elusive pop, alerting us that another jar had been sealed. With one good canning session under my belt, I took things into my own kitchen. Picture a small galley-style apartment kitchen. Then picture a 15-quart canning pot, a five-quart dutch oven, an eight-quart stock pot, about 20 Mason jars, a five-pound bag of sugar, and about twelve pounds of fresh figs from my mother’s backyard tree. (That was the day my boyfriend almost left me. Happy to say we’re now engaged, despite my continued canning-in-small-kitchen escapades and pleas for backyard chickens.) I got to work early in the morning, and by mid-afternoon had quite a few pints of homemade fig preserves. Even if you’re a complete novice to canning, this is a very easy recipe to follow. The trick to safe and successful canning is simple: do your reading and follow the directions. Very. Carefully. (For beginners, I recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.) And then, after you’ve read the directions (a few times, for good measure), proceed with a little confidence and soon you’ll be that friend who gives away jars of homemade jam. And everyone will love you.* Simple Homemade Fig Preserves 15 cups pureed figs (about 11 pounds) 5 1/2 cups sugar 1/2 cup lemon juice Prepare the figs: rinse and trim the stems. Puree in batches with a food processor. Transfer to a large, heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) and add sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced and gelling stage is reached. (To test for the gelling stage, try the frozen plate method: place a small plate in the freezer before you begin. To test the jam, place a small spoonful on the plate and tilt the plate. Swipe your finger through the jam and count to five. If the line reconnects before you count to five, the jam needs more time. If it does not reconnect after five seconds, you’re good to go. ) Once gelling stage is reached, add lemon juice and cook one more minute. Carefully spoon jam into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims clean and process for 15 minutes in boiling water. Don’t have 11 or 12 pounds of figs? Reduce the recipe! You can preserve as little as three pounds, or mix it with another fruit—try peaches or apricots—to beef up the recipe. *Actual results may vary.