Toast of the Town, Cookbook Collections and Texas LGBT Business Climate

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Roberta Wright and Mary Ellen Harrigan at Toast of the Town.
Roberta Wright and Mary Ellen Harrigan at Toast of the Town.

Mary Ellen Harrigan and Roberta Wright at Toast of the Town.

HEALTH: Who could ask for anything more? Scenery, food, wine. Three Texas authors. A good cause. My first Toast of the Town party this season — the events benefit the Neal Kocurek Scholarships given by the St. David’s Foundation — took place at the Fall Creek Vineyards colony in Driftwood. Ed and Susan Auler were Hill Country Wine pioneers 40 years ago in Tow and had been scouting for a second location. Scott Roberts of Salt Lick Barbecue told them about a place across the road on FM 1826 that was built as a residence, but looks a lot like a winery. They snapped it up and added the first of several vineyards above scenic Onion Creek. They opened the guest house and some other bedrooms as a tiny inn. On a blissful evening, guests gathered for chat and dinner and then a free-for-all talk from a trio of friends: Bill Wittliff, Lawrence Wright and Stephen Harrigan. They chatted about their collaborative efforts, the differences they’d discovered in a variety of literary genres, and the writing process in general. All three were funny, informative and entertaining.

FOOD 1: Revealing the 124-year-old secrets of Austin’s first cookbook. Taken from a story by Addie Broyles in the Statesman: “Before Austin had its famous moontowers, we had a cookbook. The moonlight towers were installed throughout the city in the mid-1890s and continue to illuminate the night sky. But in 1891, a group of women pulled together 300 recipes to publish Austin’s first cookbook. It was small and blue with a cloth cover, filled with “receipts” for dishes such as sweet pickle peaches, beef loaf, chicken pie and cream biscuits, not to mention six recipes for Charlotte Russe, a molded custard that Mrs. Alice Littlefield, one of the wealthiest women in Austin, enjoyed so much that she submitted three variations. Flipping through the History Center’s copy, which is not advisable considering its fragile state, you’ll find that “Our Home Cookbook” was compiled by Mrs. I. V. Davis and Mrs. Paul F. Thornton for the benefit of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church.”

FOOD 2: Houston collector’s cookbooks reflect Texas communities. Taken from a story by Addie Broyles in the Statesman: “Few people know as much about the history of Texas cookbooks as Elizabeth White. About 25 years ago, the Houstonian started picking up cookbooks at garage sales and then on eBay. Having spent her career as a librarian at Houston Academy of Medicine’s medical library, White knew the value of preserving historical documents. As a cook, she appreciated cookbooks as a source of that kind of information. “You get to see what people thought they should be putting on their tables,” she says. The first cookbook in Texas was “Texas Cook Book; a thorough treatise on the art of cookery,” a compilation from the Ladies of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston in 1883.”

BUSINESS: Leaders say Texas must be gay friendly. Taken from a story by Claudia Grisales in the Statesman: “Saying that Texas would be hurt by business environment that’s not welcoming to gay, bisexual and transgender people, more than 100 Texas companies and business alliances said they have joined in an effort supporting equal rights for those communities. The initiative — named Texas Competes — includes among its members Dell Inc., Whole Foods Market and Southwest Airlines. It also includes American Airlines, Austin ad agency GSD&M, HomeAway, Alamo Drafthouse, SXSW Interactive, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Association of Business.” ttp://

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