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Written by Texas Highways

Texas Book Festival Poster 2018

This week, the Texas Book Festival announced the first round of guest authors for its 2018 event. The 15 writers combine for a diverse lineup that will draw in every type of reader, from young adult fiction addicts to nonfiction obsessives, and pave the way for dialogues on tough issues, from race to addiction to natural disasters.

Sotol in a glass

Ingredients:
2 oz. Desert Door Original Sotol
.3/4 oz. fresh
grapefruit juice
.1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
.1/4 oz. agave nectar
Splash of grapefruit soda

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except soda into shaker.
Add ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds, then fine strain in a rocks glass with fresh ice, and top with soda. 
Garnish with a grapefruit wheel. 

Illustration of a grape

Yield: one dozen muffins:

MUFFINS
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Add egg; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla. Fold in blueberries. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

STREUSEL
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine

In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly, then sprinkle mixture over muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned; test with toothpick.

A pier on the coast in Rockport

Along the Texas coast, telltale signs of past storms endure in the occasional skeletal remains of piers jutting into the Gulf and bays.

Kids running on the beach on St. Jo

When Hurricane Harvey struck last summer, it made landfall on San José Island, a coastal retreat where U.S. presidents have come to fish and fundraise, and everything but a broad and empty beach is owned by a family of billionaires.

 Mattress Mack illustration

Jim McIngvale moved to Houston in 1981 with $5,000 and a dream to build a furniture empire. Within a few years, the founder of Gallery Furniture had become a local household name as “Mattress Mack,” the pitchman featured in the retailer’s zany low-budget commercials.

Chet Garner on the beach on North Padre Island

Few know that the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world is just beyond Corpus Christi. And while its southern counterpart may get more attention, North Padre Island provides the perfect mix of fun and middle-of-nowhere abandon. I followed the sun in search of a little bit of both.

Coastal Comeback

We’ve been tested time and again, from despotism to depressions, oil busts to dust bowls—and now by Hurricane Harvey. But as in past trials, Texans have found a way to turn obstacles into opportunity and seize the chance for renewal. Consider Lee Roy Hoskins, owner of Port Aransas’ venerable Tarpon Inn, who labored for months to rebuild after the hurricane. “We had a lot of things we needed to work on anyway,” Hoskins says with a smile.

Illustration of destinations along the Texas Coast

The Texas Gulf Coast, where the North American continent descends into the Gulf of Mexico’s salty waters, harbors a steamy mix of marshes, bays, beaches, and ocean. Over the years, scientific institutions and conservation groups gravitated to this rich environment to establish laboratories, preserves, rescues, and aquariums dedicated to studying and protecting its diversity of life. We know most travelers escape to the coast to while away time on the beach, but we also know that such experiences take on greater meaning with a little educational insight. Here we’ve put together a science-by-the-sea road trip—a syllabus for discovering the most scintillating of salty facts.

ROCKPORT RISING

Checking into The Inn at Fulton Harbor near Rockport, a cheerful blond woman has brought a basket of cookies to share with the other guests. She turns to me and my husband, who are in line behind her, and offers some to us. Cut in the shape of Texas, each cookie is iced in bright blue and artfully emblazoned with white letters that spell “Rockport Strong.”

The Show must go on

Harvey struck when Houston’s world-class arts scene was gearing up for a new season, devastating venues and upending plans. But creativity and courage go hand in hand: “This city came together in a way I’ve never seen,” says Eileen J. Morris, artistic director of the Ensemble Theatre.

AN IMMOVABLE FEAST

Ask Houstonians what they love about their city, and they’re bound to bring up its first-rate dining scene. Houston’s culinary offerings have been strong for a while but never more so than in recent years, with high-profile restaurants capturing attention on a national stage and the number of eateries in the Houston metro area swelling to a record of more than 12,000 featuring cuisines from about 75 countries.

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