Archive | Food & Recipes

Eating in Austin

Mr. Wetzel and I found ourselves in the Austin, TX area last weekend, and we enjoyed tasting the local cuisine.  Here is a review of some of the places and tastes that we experienced.

Mr. Wetzel at Chuy's


This eatery is a 50’s diner in style and Mexican in cuisine.  The décor was colorful.  The service was polite, fun and fast, despite a very busy crowd.

The food was delicious.  Our tortilla chips were light, thin and tasted like they had been freshly made.  I especially loved the creamy jalapeno dip that was brought out with them.  The refried beans that came with the meal tasted fresher than any other restaurant refried bean that I have tried.  Mr. Wetzel had the crispy tacos, and I had Chuy’s Special enchiladas, special because they are blue corn tortillas laid flat like pancakes and layered with cheese, chicken and toppings.  We drank water.

  • Superb meal.
  • Personable and attentive service.
  • Lively and colorful atmosphere.
  • Highly recommended!

Tres Banditos from El Chico's


Outside of Austin, Mr. Wetzel and I searched google maps for a local restaurant with good ratings, and El Chico’s stood out from the crowd.  Once we arrived, I got the feeling that we had walked into a local restaurant chain.  The service was good and attentive, but seemed forced and rigid.  The atmosphere was festive, but calmer, and the crowd seemed more like a mix of regulars, families, and singles catching a drink after work…the same type of feeling that I get from a crowd at Red Lobster or The Olive Garden.

The food was good, but seemed more processed than the Chuy’s meal we had eaten the day before.  The refried beans and chips were tasty, but not as fresh.  Overall it was a good experience, but not a great one. If you have the option to try a local, unknown restaurant instead and feel a little adventurous, you won’t miss out on anything by skipping El Chico’s, other than a predictable experience.

  • Happy with the meal.
  • Good service; very professional.
  • Quaint and festive atmosphere.
  • Recommended…but not over Chuy’s.


Granted we were there during SXSW, but this place was packed!  The pizza joint is located in the heart of “Weird Austin,” on South Congress Avenue.  The staff was mostly energetic young girls around college age, and they all seemed a punkier version of Seattle’s independent coffee shop baristas.  The atmosphere was energetic and noisy, but warm and inviting; the décor was vibrant and moody.

Mr. Wetzel and I split toppings on a pizza: he had pepperoni (grilled chicken, his favorite, was not available) and I had mushrooms and black olives.  I ordered a pint of Live Oak Seasonal amber lager, from the tap, and Mr. Wetzel had a grape soda, free of high fructose corn syrup.  Our taste buds rejoiced.  The pizza was thin and tasty, not too greasy, and a little crispy.

  • Just thinking about the meal makes me wish I could go back.
  • Personable and attentive service.
  • Edgy atmosphere.
  • Highly recommended!

By ekwetzel

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Hello Cupcake

Hello Cupcake is a bakery that specializes in gourmet cupcakes.


Red Velvet cupcake with Cream Cheese frosting

1740 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA
(253) 383-7772‎

Hello Cupcake is a quaint and delicate shop tucked into the downtown Tacoma strip across from the History Museum and Union Station. The only thing this bakery makes is cupcakes, and they do so expertly. The buttercream frostings and springy cakes are baked fresh daily, and each dessert has its own signature design on it, the most notable of which is the red velvet cupcake with the chocolate design wedged into its frosting.

The excellent sweetness of the desserts are nearly surpassed by the cuteness of the shop itself: the shop girls wear frilly aprons, the cupcakes sit on elegant little platters, and the furniture is quaint enough to make to feel like you are standing in an over-sized dollhouse. We sat in the window booths, kibitzing over our crumbs and watching as the rain weeped over the pavement and Union Station’s tall dark windows. Inside Hello Cupcake, everything was sweet and cheerful, like a dream between a late night and early morning.


Vanilla with vanilla
Vanilla with chocolate
Chocolate with chocolate
Choclate with vanilla
Red Velvet
+ Seasonal varieties (contact store for details)


Single cupcake, $2.25
Dozen cupcakes, $25


Sunday to Monday, 11am to 6pm
Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm

Across from the History Museum, in downtown Tacoma

Quaint and Tasty, what more could one ask for?!

By ekwetzel

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Homemade Yogurt

Adapted from Michael Reeps’s recipe.  Michael has a lot of helpful pictures, facts and tips about the yogurt making process that I have not included here.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Half gallon of milk
  • 2-3 Tbs of plain yogurt (as a starter)
  • 1 8-10 Qt stock pot
  • 1 4-5 Qt pot with lid
  • 1 Metal or plastic spoon
  • 1 Dial thermometer with clip
  • 1 Heating pad


  1. Create a Water Jacket. Place larger pot in sink. Place smaller pot inside it. Fill larger pot until water line goes about half way up the side of smaller pot.
  2. Sterilize Equipment. Place your thermometer and spoon in the large pot of water. Place smaller pot upside down over larger pot. Heat water until boiling.
  3. Add Your Milk. Carefully pour your milk into the smaller pot. Clip your thermometer to the rim of the smaller pot.
  4. Heat to 185°F, stirring frequently.
  5. Cool to 110°F. Carefully place pot of milk in cold water bath. Stir occasionally.
  6. Pitch Your Yogurt. Pour your 2-3 Tbs of yogurt into your 110°F milk.
  7. Stir, Cover & Warm. Stir milk well to distribute yogurt you just pitched. Cover with lid. Set heating pad to medium and place on a cutting board. Place pot of pitched milk on top. Cover with a dish towel.
  8. Wait Seven Hours. *Michael recommends waiting 7 hours…I would wait 10 hours as I prefer thicker yogurt.
  9. Remove from heating pad and uncover yogurt. Use a spatula to see that milk has curdled. Stir vigorously to mix curds in with liquid.
  10. Pour into Containers. Chill Overnight.
  11. Be sure to reserve 2-3 Tbs of your yogurt for you next batch!

Related Posts:

Making Yogurt Make Itself

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Raw Milk in Tacoma

One of Three Jersey Cows at Meadowwood Organics

UPDATE: 4/3/2014

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I can’t believe how often I meet people in real life who tell me they did a search for “raw milk in Tacoma” and stumbled across this post! The raw milk scene has changed since I first wrote this post, and I’d love to share with you my NEW INFORMATION.

First of all, the Tacoma Food Coop is now open for business. They have EXCELLENT dairy options, including several different raw milk options for both cow milk and goat milk. Next time I visit, I will take a ton of pictures and create a new post dedicated to the Tacoma Coop’s current dairy options. Our favorite milk they carry is Blackjack Valley Farm’s raw cow milk, based out of Port Orchard, WA, which goes for approximately $5/half-gallon or $8/gallon.

In addition, Marlene’s has much better dairy options right now for both cow and goat raw milk.

I will try to keep this post up-to-date, but for the latest updates on raw milk sources, be sure to check out the newest comments below! And feel free to ask me any questions you may have!!

Thank you!


Raw milk is milk that has been neither pasteurized nor homogenized.  Mr. Wetzel and I want to drink raw milk from a local dairy for several reasons.  We want milk from healthy cows that are well cared for.  We want to support the local economy.  We want fresh, tasty milk.  We want the health benefits of drinking milk in its purest form.

For more technical information on raw milk, or to find leads on a dairy in your area, check out: .

It is difficult to find a place to buy raw milk.  Most small farmers who offer it don’t advertise very broadly, if at all.  In order to find the farm where we now buy our milk, I asked around a lot until a lady who works at the CSA where we pick up our local veggies gave me the contact information for Meadowwood, LLC. This option works for us because it is only a 20 minute drive from where we meet for church on Sundays.  Here are the options for milk I have found in my explorations for alternative milk options in the Tacoma, WA area:


20228 SE 400th St.
Enumclaw, WA  98022

Milk is sold in reusable glass jars.  This is where Mr. Wetzel and I are now buying our milk.  They offer a cowshare program which brings down the cost of the milk.


17635 100th Ave SW
Vashon, WA 98070

Sea Breeze Farm has delicious milk.  The biggest problem for Tacoma residents?  They are on Vashon Island, a ferry ride away.  If you live in King county, you can buy from Sea Breeze Farm at a handful of farmers markets in the Seattle area.

Cows from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island

in Gig Harbor

Contact Chris Schlicht at (253) 884 7840

I have yet to visit this farm, but I earnestly want to.  ChristiPaul Farm’s greatest attraction for me is the fact that whenever you buy milk, you receive milk from only one cow.  Their milks are not mixed.  This is an overwhelmingly idealistic thought for me, taking real milk to another level.


2951 S. 38th St.
Tacoma, WA 98409

Marlene’s carries two raw milk options: cow milk from the Dungeness Valley Creamery and goat milk from the St. John Creamery, both in Washington.  While Marlene’s is the closest retail spot, the milk is noticeably less fresh and flavorful than the milks we have purchased directly from the farm.  Given the choice between Marlene’s raw milk and Golden Glen Creamery’s, I opt for the latter.


Available at Top Foods in Tacoma, or through Spud Seattle’s delivery system.

Milk from the Golden Glen Creamery is pasteurized, but it is not homogenized.  They make a variety of dairy products, including cheeses, butter and cream top milk.  We save our glass bottles from Golden Glen because they are easier to pour from than the glass jars our milk comes in from Meadowwood, LLC.

Photo courtesy of Golden Glen’s Facebook Page

Do you have a raw milk testimonial?  What resources for locating raw milk do you have to share?

By ekwetzel

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Making Yogurt Make Itself

The first time I experienced homemade yogurt was in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. It was around 1993, I was in middle school and my parents were in missionaries in the former Soviet Block country. We were in the Kotsakovi home, and my future sister-in-law’s mother pulled a bowl off the top of the fridge, removed the towel that covered it, and poured the lumpy white liquid into jars that went into the fridge. I remember eating long meals at the Kotsakovi house, filled with colorful conversation and dishes. Yogurt came out towards the end of the meal; we would add jam made from wild strawberries or blueberries to it as a dessert. The yogurt was tangy, fresh, and alive.

In America, a typical cup of yogurt pales in comparison. In our home, we have typically eaten Trader Joe’s Greek style yogurt or FAGE yogurt, and we use this thick yogurt also as sour cream. This week, I tried my hand as making my own yogurt at home, using FAGE as a starter & this recipe, courtesy of Michael Reeps. While Michael recommends waiting 7 hours, I waited 8.5 hours and the yogurt was still not thick enough for me. Next time I am going to try waiting 10 hours.

I tried blending a banana/vanilla yogurt for Mr. Wetzel, similar to the Banilla yogurt at Trader Joes that he likes. I blended a pint of yogurt with 2 bananas and a vanilla bean in my blender, after the yogurt had chilled in the fridge overnight. The yogurt came out watery and the flavor proportions were off; next time I will try to blend it before chilling in the fridge, and I will use 1 banana and vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean.

Recipe for Homemade Yogurt

By ekwetzel

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