Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Ways to Celebrate 4th of July in Parks

Monday, July 3rd, 2017


This is Passport to Texas

Tomorrow is The Fourth of July. It’s when we observe the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress. Over the past 241 years, it’s also become a reason for family and friends to gather for food and fun.

Texas State Parks are open July Fourth and welcome you and yours for picnicking, hiking, cycling, geocaching, swimming, fishing, and just plain relaxing.

A couple of parks have July Fourth Festivities, including the Sauer Beckmann Living History farm in Johnson City in the Hill Country, where you will celebrate like early Texans. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens will have a huge fireworks display.

With fireworks in mind—park visitors are not allowed to bring them into the parks. Not even sparklers. They will be confiscated. Just a heads up. If you decide to camp overnight at a park, and you want to see fireworks, many of the communities around the parks have displays you can easily attend.

Or if the park is close to big cities like Dallas or Houston, you may be able to see their fireworks from the comfort of your campsite. Celebrate our nation’s independence and your state parks this July Fourth. Find park information at

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Fourth of July Festivities

Monday, June 26th, 2017
Getting settled for the Fourth of July festivities at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. Photo: Larry Hodge.

Getting settled for the Fourth of July festivities at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. Photo: Larry Hodge.

This is Passport to Texas

This July Fourth Weekend give yourself and your family a treat, and spend it at one of your state parks.

Pack a picnic and dine al fresco. Depending upon where you go, you’ll dine under the shade of ancient oaks or pines or maples. Bring your hiking shoes or mountain bikes and enjoy the extensive trail systems.

Fishing is free in parks with fishing opportunities. Cast a line and see if you can reel in something tasty to for dinner so you can skip the grocery store on the way home.

If you live in Central Texas, the LBJ State Park and Historic site’s Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm in Johnson City is the place to be on July Fourth. They plan to celebrate like early Texans. What does that mean? You have to go to find out.

For East Texas residents, one of the biggest fireworks display in your part of the state will light up the skies over the Texas Fresh Water Fisheries Center in Athens. Admission to the center is free after 4 p.m. And there’s free fishing until 8:30 p.m.

Whether you go to a park to celebrate your own way, or attend one of these events: bring your family, bring your friends, bring some snacks, but leave the fireworks and sparklers at home. Don’t worry, you’ll still have a blast.

That’s our show for today…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Combat Holiday Calories in State Parks

Monday, November 14th, 2016
Biking in Brazos Bend State Park

Biking in Brazos Bend burns off the pre and post holiday calories.

This is Passport to Texas

We’re standing at the threshold of the holiday season; once we cross over, we’ll encounter sweet and savory goodies with which to indulge our taste buds—both at home and at work. But we can balance out excess calorie consumption by visiting nearby state parks and engaging in outdoor activities before those treats touch our lips.

Yes. It’s really funny you say that. A lot of our parks, that’s a part of their activities and events that they’re putting on. The pre-Thanksgiving hikes and paddles and biking events…just to kind of get you ready for that whole holiday family and fun and food and all that.

Aaron Friar is with Texas State Parks. Except for rare occasions—like fire and flood—parks never close. So even after the biggest feeding frenzy of the season known as Thanksgiving, Texas State Parks stand ready to help all of us digest.

After you’ve had a good time with the family and ate your fill, and you’re wanting to get out there and be a little active afterwards, we have parks that are doing hikes and some really cool events to get you out there—to get you a little active—after those holiday feasts, you could say.

Don’t take Thanksgiving overindulgence lying down. Find a complete list of pre and post-Thanksgiving activities at state parks when you log onto the calendar & events section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

2016 Halloween Hijinks in State Parks

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
State Parks Halloween

Scary fun is in store during the Halloween season in Texas State Parks

This is Passport to Texas

Make plans to visit state parks this month for a wide range of Halloween activities for the whole family.

On Friday, October 21, Galveston Island SP hosts a Zombie Apocalypse Hike. Rangers weave in scary fun with real life survival skills during an hour-long hike.

On Saturday, October 22, South Llano River SP in the Hill Country, where owls, bats, snakes and spiders take center stage for two-hours of show and tell with these kinda creepy, but very beneficial, critters.

Also on Saturday, October 22, Estero Llano Grande SP in the Rio Grande Valley celebrates its 10th Annual Spooky Science Fest. This year’s theme is Jurassic Estero; complete with a dinosaur program for the kids, as well as hayrides, costume contests, food vendors, and more.

And on Thursday, October 27th, it’s Halloween at the Hatchery at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Local businesses and organizations will hand out candy, and the center will be decorated throughout with a Halloween theme.

Find details for these and other events in the calendar section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Learning to “Play the Game”

Friday, November 27th, 2015
South Texas Antelope dish

South Texas Antelope, chipotle risotto, grilled okra, espresso red wine reduction; photo courtesy Alcalde Grill, Gonzales, Texas

Scroll down to find a seasonal game recipe from Chef Austin Brown.

This is Passport to Texas

Hunters are beginning to fill their freezers with venison.

07—Most people will make stew out of it or they’ll grind up what’s left over and they’ll make sausage out of it.

Those traditional preparations are tasty, but Chef Austin Brown, owner of the Alcalde Grill in Gonzales challenges home cooks to get out of their comfort zones. And that means not using this common culinary crutch.

15— Get away from the Italian dressings and use brines. A heavily salted water with some sort of acid—maybe a little flavored vinegar in it—lemon juice, lime juices. Those things do the exact same thing as a marinade.

He says home cooks default to stews and sausages because those recipes mask the meat’s perceived gamy flavor. But Chef Brown says a properly cooked venison back strap or leg filet, for example, is sublime.

20— I would brine it in salt water and cut it into individual steaks; season it with just salt and pepper…a little bit of garlic and a little bit of butter, and grill it on the grill. Or sear it in a pan, cooking it to about medium rare and eating it that way. Some of the best deer that you can eat is just seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in a pan.

Find a recipe from Chef Austin Brown at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.


Sea Salt Quail, Chef Austin Brown

Sea Salt Quail, Chef Austin Brown

CRISPY SEA SALT QUAIL with Roasted Red pepper aioli

For the Aioli

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 cups of oil (use a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed)
  • 1 cup of ice water
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 smashed garlic clove

Over an open flame, roast the peppers until black on all sides. Place them in a Ziploc bag for about ten minutes to steam. Remove from back and peel off burn skin, and remove seeds.

In a blender combine egg yolks, peppers, 2 tablespoons of water and the garlic clove. Blend until smooth. slowly add the oil in a fine stream until a thin mayonnaise consistency is reached. More or less of the oil can be used. Once thickened, season with salt and pepper.

For the Quail

  • 20 quail legs skin on
  • 5 cups of flour
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Cilantro bunch( optional)
  • 1 quart of canola oil
  • Heavily season the flour with salt and pepper.

Wash quail to remove any leftover feathers. Pat dry with a paper towel and toss in flour to coat.

Over medium heat, heat about a 3/8 of an inch of canola oil in the bottom of a cast iron skillet.

Fry the legs turning only once to a golden brown. Be sure to not over crowd the pan, the name of the game is cooking these guys over really high heat so they are still juicy on the inside.

The hotter the oil, the crispier they turn out. Once finished place quail on a paper towel to soak up any remaining oil and season again with sea salt and cracked pepper

Serve with the red pepper aioli and garnish with cilantro.