Last Friday, my husband and I were invited to a private screening of the Wild Texas Film Tour at the Crowley Theatre in Marfa. Our hosts, who are also sponsors of the film tour, James and Tammy King of King Land and Water in Fort Davis, know how to host an event for a packed house.
The Wild Texas Film Tour is a series of short films featuring different aspects of Texas wildlife, conservation efforts and adventures from across our great state. Between each film, folks that were featured in the segment are on-hand for questions and answers.
Many of my neighbors were also at the Marfa showing, and we all enjoyed adult beverages and appetizers before the program began. Saarin Keck of Marfa Pizza Foundation catered the event with plenty of colorful fruit, various cheeses and vegetable trays, as well as meatballs (made with local grass-fed beef!) and sausage served with sliced focaccia bread. Since I’m always keeping my eye open for food ideas when we’re out and about, the spread we enjoyed would be perfect for any holiday party you’re hosting.
Big Bend Brewing Company donated an assortment of their beer, including Tejas Negra and Tejas Clara, Hefeweizen, Tejas Lager and my favorite, La Frontera IPA. Firestone-Robertson Whiskey from Fort Worth donated their blended Texas Whiskey. I’m not a whiskey-drinker, but I heard nothing but rave reviews from the whiskey sippers. Red and white wine were flowing, too.
The film featured some of the most beautiful wildlife photography I’ve seen outside of National Geographic. I think what made it even more special was that much of it was centered around far West Texas, with many familiar faces on the big screen and in the crowd. The Miller Ranch in Valentine opened the film, this segment starring one of our Jeff Davis County Commissioners, Albert Miller. For the show, I was sitting next to my friend, his sister-in-law Carolyn Miller. The Miller Ranch is spectacular and I feel privileged to say I’ve been there.
Sul Ross and the Borderlands Research Institute were also major parts of the film, with segments about the Pronghorn Antelope reintroduction to our region, and the “big cats” of the Trans-Pecos. I learned that the Pronghorn are the fastest land mammals in North America, and they can travel 50-60 miles per hour. Those subdued critters we see, calmly eating grass on the sides of the highway, are the fastest runners around. We also learned that big cats that were tracked in the Davis Mountains never killed livestock but ate lots of javelina, wild hogs, mule deer, and skunks. I’m just paraphrasing, of course.
This tour began in September and will run through about mid-November, and will have been shown to crowds at theatres and event centers in San Antonio, College Station, Corpus Christi, Austin, San Angelo, Amarillo, Midland, Marfa, Alpine, El Paso, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. Hosted by filmmaker and conservationist Ben Masters, Wild Texas is sponsored by YETI, Epic Provisions, Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, Stewards of the Wild, The Borderlands Research Institute and King Land & Water.
According to their website, www.wildfilmtour.com, depending on the success of the 2017 Wild Texas Film Tour, it could expand through Texas and beyond.
Italian Meatballs to Feed a Crowd
5 pounds ground beef (70/30 or 80/20 meat/fat mix – some fat is needed so you don’t want an overly lean beef mix)
2 cups dry, unflavored bread crumbs
1 bunch of fresh parsley chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or cheese mix (like Romano, Parmesan and Asiago)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon each: minced garlic, basil, salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 quart homemade tomato or marinara sauce, or your favorite jarred sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix very well by hand.
Form into balls about the size of a golf ball. With your hands, smooth them as evenly as possible. This will make 60-80 meatballs.
Place meatballs on rack of a broiler pan, evenly spaced and not touching.
Bake 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until well browned and fully cooked.
Place meatballs in a crockpot, large dish or roaster pan. Cover with sauce and heat before serving.
You can freeze and reheat meatballs as needed. Reheat them in your favorite sauce before serving!