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Tootsie Tomanetz – Texas Pitmaster Legend

Women Pitmasters

Texans know BBQ. Every home town has at least one go-to. It’s distinctive from town to town and smoker to smoker. It could be a brick and mortar restaurant, Sunday church chicken, or George’s smoker out back. BBQ as a genre itself has factions and layers. You think you’ve found the fiercest pit boss with the best method? Look, we could talk about smoke rings and dry rubs all day. I’m here to tell you there are Texas women mastering the craft.

In Texas, everyone thinks their daddy makes the best ribs. Well, let’s flip the switch on that this month. We talked to award winning and legacy carrying women pitmasters. They took the bull by the horns and so should you. Don’t leave the BBQ up to the men this year, I’m giving you a recipe for Father’s Day. And if the home pit is not for you, don’t worry. These pitbosses and their grit might inspire you in another way. They are Texas women after all.

Tootsie Tomanetz

Snow’s BBQ, Lexington

516 Main St, Lexington, TX 78947


“Go big or go home!”  To borrow the adage from my sis-in-law, Pam, this was my inspiration action plan to create the best Father’s day BBQ for the Dad’s in my family.

My journey began with a trip to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas and a personal visit with Pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz.  A two-times nominated James Beard Award Semi-finalist, Tootsie has become renowned as the strong octogenarian in charge of turning out notable brisket, sausage, chicken, and pork at Snow’s.  If you are a Chef’s Table follower, you may have caught her featured in the first episode of 2020.

I am honored to say I know Tootsie personally as she and I attend the Hannes Family Reunion every year in Giddings, Texas where she resides.  Her late husband is one of my Hannes cousins. Always humble, claiming to “just be from the country”, she never hesitates to give credit to God for her path in life and many accolades.

Tootsie began her BBQ career accidentally when she was called in to help a short handed issue by Giddings, Texas City Meat Market owner and close friend Hershel Doyle.  So, she joined her husband “White” Tomanetz who also worked there and ten years later she was still there, helping at the pit, in the slaughter room, and the fresh meat store.

Expanding to the meat market in Lexington, Texas, Tootsie and her husband White, ran that location for several years.  One day, Kerry Bexley came into the store and asked if Tootsie would join him at a new BBQ restaurant slated to open March 1st 2003. Open only on Saturdays from 8 AM until they run out of meat, the hours were originally to coincide with a weekly Saturday livestock auction down the street.

A two-times nominated James Beard Award Semi-finalist, Tootsie has become renowned as the strong octogenarian in charge of turning out notable brisket, sausage, chicken, and pork at Snow’s.  If you are a Chef’s Table follower, you may have caught her featured in the first episode of 2020.

Tootsie specifically hit top billing by being inducted into the 2018 Barbecue Hall of Fame.  When referring to this award and being a James Beard Semi-finalist, she says, “I didn’t even know what those awards were until I received them”.  She maintains that the best part of her profession is “the feeling I get when I see people sit down to eat our BBQ and take that first bite and its just a glow that comes out on their face and expression of how wonderful it tastes and how good it is,”

So you ask, what’s the secret to her BBQ?  Tootsie shares, “We treat ours with TLC.” “That is just something that we have been careful to maintain with all the growth that has come with recognition.”

“I only use salt and pepper”.  On chicken, spare ribs, and pork I use a mop which consists of water, onions, butter, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and vinegar”  She is quick to add that at the old church picnics they use lemons instead of vinegar.  “I love that, but I just stick to using vinegar.”

So, now you know.

Feel free to take these “mop” ingredients and create your own special sauce.  The sky’s the limit, and who knows – you may invent your own named sauce!

Happy Birthday Texas

Our annual celebration of Texas Independence Day features Texas food and wine, Texas products, and stories of Texas history. At the 2023 party, we asked a few guests to share stories of strong Texas women in their history. Watch the video below for a glimpse of inspiration. We featured wonderful Texas businesses and had some local sponsors to boost the culinary experience. Happy Birthday Texas…Sip, Shop, Munch!

We really celebrate all year at Texicureans. Subscribe to our youtube channel here.


Thank you to our sponsors:




Germans in Texas; Texans in Germany

Texas Trails: Diez y Seis de Septiembre & Texas: Celebrating Independence

Chiles en Nogada


Chiles en Nogada

Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 6


Base Ingredients

  • 8 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 pomegranate fruit
  • 1 small bunch of finely chopped parsley

Picadillo Ingredients (meat filling)

  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 red or white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 roma rip tomatoes, blended into a smooth puree
  • 1 clove garlic to blend with tomatoes
  • cups water to blend with tomatoes
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup cranberry raisins
  • ½ cup dry candied pineapple
  • ¼ cup fresh, finely chopped apple
  • ¼ cup chopped bleach almonds
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp know chicken bouillon seasoning
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Nogada Ingredients (Pecan cream sause)

  • cup pecans
  • cup water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, creme fraiche, or sour cream



  • In a large deep skillet, at medium heat, add oil and quickly sauté onion and garlic. Then add ground beef. Cook until done. Drain excess water after done.
  • Blend to puree ripe tomatoes with water end garlic clove until smooth, using a strainer when adding puree to meat.
  • When the meat and sauce start changing color to orange, add 1 cinnamon stick.
  • Continue adding the rest of ingredients, stirring slowly on low heat, letting picadillo cook until all juices are completely absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Let picadillo rest completely and cool before stuffing the chiles

Roasted Poblano Peppers:

  • If you have a gas stove, use tongs to roast the peppers directly over the fire while turning them around the flames. Once the skin starts blistering all around and still hot, wrap the chiles with paper towels and set them inside a large zip lock bag and seal. Let the chiles rest for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully peel charred skin of chiles in slow running water in your sink.
  • Make a small incision on the side of each Chile to take out the seeds and veins. Pat and dry chiles.
  • Stuff chiles carefully with the prepared picadillo and set on a platter.(Note: you may also roast chiles in a 425 F oventurning them over until the skin blisters)


  • Puree all pecans in a blender with 1 cup of water. Add water little b y little until very smooth. Add sugar and salt.
  • Add cream with a spoon until well mixed. Refrigerate.

Pomegranate (Seeds)

  • Carefully cut the top of the fruit, then slice the sides to take the thick skin off. An easy way to collect pomegranate seeds, is to submerge the fruit in cool water. The seeds will float and you can collect and drain.

Preparing to serve:

  • For an individual serving, set one stuffed poblano pepper in a dinner plate and generously pour creamy nut sauce over all. Add abundant pomegranate seeds and banish with parsley.
  • To make a casserole style you may arrange all the stuffed chiles in a deep platter, cover totally with creamy nut sauce and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with parsley.



Chiles en Nogada are generally served at room temperature, but some people like to eat them warm. So, before you serve them, you may only warm the stuffed chiles, but NOT the Nogada cream sauce. Add sauce after warming.

Adventure Ready

Texas is a plethora of adventures waiting to be explored. Rivers, lakes, hills, forests, and trails all await our discovery. Being physically ready to tackle a hike, navigate a river in a kayak or enjoy a day walking the beach, simply makes it more enjoyable.

Below  Jessi Oehler shares with you some key exercises that you can do in your own home for a few minutes a day thereby developing muscles ready to tackle a fun outing.

5 Rounds

10 – 15 squats to bench or chair

5 – 10 push ups to bench or chair

10 -20 Alternating Lunges

10 – 15 Knee Raises

View the video below for a demonstration

Meal Prepping

Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins


  • Chicken Breasts - Number dictated by # of Meals
  • Whole Pork Butt or Shoulder
  • Low Sodium Canned Black beans and corn
  • HEB prepared Pico
  • 2 - 3 Veggies of choice


  • Baked Chicken: Dice raw chicken breast, season with your favorite seasonings and place in oven on 375 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Crockpot Pulled Pork: Place pork butt or shoulder in crockpot with 1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook on high for about 4 hours
  • Pico: Combine low sodium canned black beans and corn with HEB prepared pico. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Roasted Veggies: Chop veggies of choice and place on a baking sheet. Season with your favorite herbs. Can toss with a little EVOO if desired. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 10 - 15 minutes.



RV Kitchen Essentials

Being prepared makes hitting the trail so much easier and faster.  Whether you are a tent camper or RV’er, having a list of basic items assures you’ll be ready to take off for adventure!

Megan Traeger shares her list of staples she keeps in her RV.  If you are a tent camper – you might keep a plastic box  stocked with essentials.

Happy Exploring!

Must pack in the kitchen of the airstream:

  • S’mores ingredients (if you want to skip out on extra packing, buy the Keebler’s fudge stripe cookies. Chocolate and graham crackers in one.)
  • Kreutz Pancake mix (with mixin’s like fruit or pecans or chocolate chips)
  • H‑E‑B trail Mix (everybody can grab their flavor of choice and they come in resealable bags!)
  • Pasta (probably the most versatile thing I carry. I can add red sauce or just olive oil, or I can add cheese and taco seasoning. I can cook a cup of it or cook the whole bag and save the rest for leftovers.)
  • Cereal (for those mornings that we need to quickly pack up. Our kids will typically pour cereal into a cup, and some milk and a spoon and take it to the truck for on the go breakfast.)
  • Hot sauce and Tortilla chips (no further explanation needed. We do love grabbing salsas or queso when we stop at different places to try their stuff.)
  • Tortillas (another versatile item. I can make breakfast tacos, or quesadillas with leftover chicken or beef from the night before. Or I can heat them up, add some butter and sugar and call it dessert.)
  • Bread (I don’t skimp on my bread so I always buy Dave’s Killer Bread. I have yet to NOT find it when traveling!)
  • Fritos and bean dip (this is a don’t ask don’t tell snack.)
  • PB/J (sometimes you make sandwiches for your kids. Sometimes you just make them for yourself. I’m also a huge fan of packing Justin’s peanut butter packets for hiking snacks. And jelly will be used at breakfast sometimes too)
  • Granola (we buy the Bear Naked cacao and Cashew butter bag. I can eat this for breakfast, snack, or dessert. I typically will toss it with some Greek yogurt.)
  • Dried fruits (hours in the car can lead to useless snacking. Might as well eat some dried mango or banana chips!)
  • Pita chips (clearly can be used with some hummus. But the other day I had tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar. I used the pita chips as my base for all of it and they were perfect bite sized bruschettas.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Coffee (we love that when we travel we can find some really great and unique roasters throughout the country.)
  • Milk (for cereal and kids)
  • Creamer (for coffee to deal with kids)
  • Eggs (I usually only pack half a dozen for space saving.)
  • Peppered Bacon from Granzins (sometimes I’ll make this to go with pancakes, or in breakfast tacos. One time I threw it in cabbages that we were taking to a potluck. Or I can smear some Nutella on it for dessert. Best bacon I’ve ever eaten!)
  • Butter
  • Sandwich condiments 
  • Lunch meat and cheeses
  • Fruits (we eat a ton of fruits so this is a revolving door. It’s especially fun to get local produce that is native to an area.)
  • Hummus
  • Bell peppers (slice them up to throw in a omelet. Slice them up to dip in hummus. Or slice them up to sauté for dinner.)
  • Sparkling waters
  • Pound of ground beef 
  • Shredded Cheese (another thing that can be added to a ton of things.)
  • Sausage (use it for breakfast, snacks, or dinner.)
  • Large Greek Yogurt (at home I hardly buy the big containers of yogurt but on the road we always have one in the fridge.

Quick and fun breakfast
Banana split breakfast
Cut banana in half, scoop in yogurt instead of ice cream
Top with fresh fruits and granola
Sometimes I’ll add some chocolate chips or sprinkles to the girls.

On the run lunch hack
I always buy paper food boats. That way if we are in a pinch, I can throw a sandwich and some goldfish and some fruit gummies in a tray and call it lunch for the kids. In the adults trays I may cut up some bell peppers and scoop in some hummus to take in the car. Easy clean up.

Dinner suggestion
When planning your dinners be mindful of how many dishes you are getting dirty. I like to simplify and try to stick to one pot meals if possible. I’ll load the ingredients into a paper bag to keep them all together in the fridge. This then becomes my trash bag as I cook.

After dinner space saver
If I know I’m making chicken or beef and may possibly have extras, I’ll cook all of it and then put the remainder of the cooked meat in single compartment meal prep containers (from H‑E‑B) to keep in the fridge. I can reheat the meat the next day and add it to lunch as a quesadilla or to top a salad.



RV Cookin’

Big Texas Hikin’

Spanish Mission Trail and Salmorejo Soup

Spanish Mission Trail and Soup

This next Texicureans adventure is full- out-fun. We biked the Spanish Mission Trail, stopped at a brewery, and topped it off learning how to make authentic Spanish soup from Maite Aguirre-Ortega. Our loyal readers may have noticed a trend in these articles. Texicureans’ mission is sharing the rich history of Texas by way of food. That’s why we are reporting back from unique to Texas locations and pairing them with cultural recipes. We hope to give you a glimpse of adventure and inspire you to join the journey.

Biking the Spanish Missions

I live for exercising outdoors and I’m a student of Texas history. Combine the two and I’m hooked. I bike this trail every year in the beautiful Spring air; it’s the best time to go in my opinion. From the moment you hit the trail, you immediately leave the noise of the city and enter a quiet, almost rural scene.

The San Antonio Missions are a National Park Service site, and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. The trail is wide along the San Antonio River with small elevations and markers to guide riders. My perfect day is to head south on the Riverwalk Trail to visit three of the missions: Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, and Mission San Juan (about a 16-mile round trip).

Each Mission has its own distinct beauty and stories. Remarkably, all four of the mission sites still contain active catholic parishes! If you hit it right, Mission San Jose, the Queen of the Missions has ranger led walks at 10 am and 11 am. Ranger-led talks at Mission San José are offered at 2:15 pm and 3:15 pm. These talks last for 15-30 minutes and can give you a great overview of the park.

Typically, I tour the missions on the way down the trail and opt for a straight return trip back up to the King William Area and Blue Star Arts Complex to return the bikes.  A welcome site is the Blue Star Brewing Company Restaurant.  With outside seating you can still enjoy the spring air while dining.  A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Tip: Rent your bike

The first time we took our own bikes, but ended up with flat tires, so now I park right in front of Blue Star Bicycling Company and rent one of their well-maintained bikes for a day.  They have a choice of several styles, including e-bikes and cruisers.  They will fit you for the bike appropriate for your size and provide a basket for snacks or picnic items. There is a 5-pound limit for safety purposes – I learned this and had to leave a few items behind.  Be sure and bring water – a holder for water bottles is on each bike as well. I recommend arriving by 10:00 AM or so to rent your bike.  This will assure bikes are available for your party.  It will also give you plenty of time to tour the missions – which I never tire of exploring. 

While the historic beauty of the missions is breathtaking, the taste of an authentic Spanish recipe prepared at home is transformative. Food is family. Family is culture. Culture is history. So, come along with us into the kitchen where we learn how to make Salmorejo.

Salmorejo Soup

In the kitchen with Maite Aguirre-Ortega from Alsasua, Spain, we learned how to make her favorite warm day soup – a chilled tomato soup called Salmorejo. Requiring only ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and bread – this recipe is a snap to make in a blender.  If you use the optional toppings of diced hard-boiled egg and serrano ham, you have a meal. The full recipe and video tutorial can be found on www.texicureans.com.

Maite shared she has yet to visit the Missions that her homeland established so many years ago but plans to go soon with her new bike! She now lives in Austin with her native Austinite husband, Ryan. Not surprisingly, they say a Texas version of Salmorejo would be to add brisket as a topping. Sounds great to us! Que Aproveche! (Let’s eat!)


Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Soup
Servings 4


  • 8 red, ripe tomatoes (2.5 lbs)
  • 7 oz stale bread
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • diced Derrano ham or other cured ham


  • Dice tomatoes.
  • Pull the bread apart into pieces.
  • Place the tomatoes in a blender and blend until completely pureed.
  • Pour the blended tomatoes into a colander using a steel spoon to clean the blend from the tomato seeds.
  • Put the bread in the blender and pour the clean tomato blend on top of it. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours (this is the hard part)
  • Serve the Salmorejo with hard-boiled egg and cured Spanish ham, or prosciutto. Note to Texans: Chopped brisket works great!



  • Notes from Maite:
  • Tomatoes: The key to a good Salmorejo is to use fresh and very juicy tomatoes. We like using vine tomatoes but you can also use pear tomatoes.
  • Olive Oil: The recipe calls for a good amount of olive oil and so its important to use a god quality product. The olive oil can really change the flavor of your Salmorejo, so we encourage you to find your favorite one. Buying EVOO is a good rule of thumb. For our recipe we used Dominos Oil from South of Spain. We bought it online from a shop called The Olives Market in Buda, TX.
  • Garlic: Even if we love it in Spain, garlic is not for everyone. Feel free to start your recipe garlic free if you prefer. Don’t allow this small ingredient stop you from tasting one of the best cold soups that exists: If you like garlic - between one to two cloves gives you that perfect garlic punch that we adore in our palates.
  • Bread: the reason behind Salmorejo’s thick texture. For our recipe we used French Bread from HEB, stale bread or any bread with a dense crumb ratio will work. And remember, if you want a thiner soup just put less bread but if you want a ticker one, go wild. Just know that it’ll make your blender work double!