Moontowers and Frozen Margaritas

Maybe you’re thinking now would be a good time to read about Christmas cookies. I’ll get to that another day. However, a nice frozen margarita is a year-round necessity. Consider this post a public service announcement.

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AUSTIN, TEXAS. I wanted to know what a moontower looked like. First born wanted to taste a freshly-made gourmet doughnut from Gourdough’s. Those two objectives melded nicely under a blue Texas sky in early November.

A moontower in Austin and one of the birds that pelts
Gourdough’s Airstream trailer with acorns.

Austin is well-known for its live music scene, food trucks, and that little side gig of being the seat of Texas government. But if you delve a little deeper in the guide books, you’ll learn that it’s also famous for moonlight towers that first lit up the 1880s landscape. Seventeen towers remain of the city’s original 31. My husband, First born, and I were breaking up a long drive with an overnight stay. Having no idea what we were looking for, we’d already had one false sighting of a moontower, peering at an unsightly iron edifice on the grounds of the state capitol and wondering aloud if that could possibly be one. (No, and I hope no Austenites overheard our speculations.) Finally, First born Googled for images, and we were astonished. As it turns out, a moontower looks like so much welded rebar. It was … uninspiring, at least in daylight, I thought. The next morning we drove around the city in search of a good breakfast place while keeping eyes peeled for moontowers, now that we knew what they looked like. None materialized. But when the Gourdough’s ( Airstream trailer that my daughter wanted to find turned out to be parked under a moontower that I wanted to see, it became a mash-up of travel bucket lists. The moontower looked other worldly in a War of the Worlds kind of way. And the most alien-sounding birds wheeled and squawked in the sky overhead, bouncing acorns off the aluminum shell of the donut trailer and causing unsuspecting customers to flinch. IMG_0210 I could show you pictures of the doughnuts that we ordered (Sara’s Joy and Dirty Berry), but the images don’t do justice to their deliciousness. Google them. Even smarter: drive to Austin, find the Airstream trailer under a moontower, and order one for yourself. While in Texas, Husband and I tried to sample as much Tex-Mex cuisine as possible, accompanied by frozen margaritas. (First born was our hostage at meals and tolerated the fare until staging a revolt around day three.) I tasted a gamut of margarita diversity that included ancho chile powder in the salted rim of one glass (yes!) and another glass layered with prickly cactus pear puree (no!), along with fine examples of the basic version. Luckily, I already have a favorite frozen margarita recipe that’s easy to make at home. It’s from Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsche, ©1993 by Emeril Lagasse. Here it is, slightly adapted: Tin-Can Margaritas A few hours ahead: slice fresh limes into wedges and place in a single layer on a small cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Pop into the freezer and let freeze for several hours, until solid. Store in a freezer bag to use as icy drink accents. Into the container of a heavy-duty blender, combine: 1 can frozen limeade 1 limeade can not quite filled with chilled tequila 1 limeade can almost half-full of chilled Triple Sec Add enough ice to fill container of blender to top. Cover and blend until smooth. Wet the rim of a glass with a fresh lime slice. Roll rim in salt (accented with ancho chile powder? Your choice!) Drop in a couple of frozen lime slices to keep drinks cold and citrusy. I like a rim that’s salted on only half; gives me a choice on every sip! If these proportions of tequila and triple sec are too strong for your taste, adjust by reducing the amounts of alcohol, or dilute by removing some of the mixture, adding more ice to the blender and blending again.

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