Created Tuesday, 21 September 2010 22:12


Real Estate Center Online News
September 21, 2010
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Material herein is published according to the fair-use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws related to non-profit, educational institutions. Items attributed to sources other than the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University should not be reprinted without permission of the original source.

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – The “real economy” – economic activity that is not stimulated by tax credits – appears to be “turning the corner toward recovery,” Dr. Mark Dotzour said yesterday while speaking at the Texas Society of CPAs Financial Institutions conference in Dallas.

Dotzour, the Real Estate Center’s chief economist, said corporate profits and new orders for manufacturing have clearly rebounded.

He also said commercial real estate markets will not clear until two issues involving the U.S. banking system are resolved. First, when will the banks recognize the losses on the real estate loans in their portfolios and begin to sell the troubled assets to new buyers? And, will the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency tone down its strict limits on commercial real estate lending for commercial banks?

“As of today, there doesn’t appear to be an encouraging answer to either question,” Dotzour said.

When asked about this week’s headlines proclaiming that the recession ended in 2009, he said he thinks such headlines are premature.

“The health of the residential and commercial real estate industries depends not on gross domestic product (GDP), but on job growth,” he said. “When the economy (i.e. GDP) grows by, say, 3 percent, but productivity also grows by 3 percent, it just means that currently employed workers produced 3 percent more things. Job growth is the essential engine of growth in this country. Until we start producing jobs, it’s premature to say we are out of the recession.”

Dotzour will speak later this week at the IMN Distressed Commercial Real Estate Forum in New York City. The audience will include 300 investors from all over the world who have raised funds to purchase real estate in the United States.


Purple Garlic Restaurant

Created Sunday, 19 September 2010 13:51

The Purple Garlic Rides Again

Once upon a time when I was still a corporate admin/office manager drudge, I worked for an enterprise which had a small office in Carousel Court, at the intersection of Nacogdoches and North New Braunfels. The best thing about this office – after the regular paycheck, of course – was proximity to the Purple Garlic, home of the absolutely best thin-crust pizza in all of San Antonio. Made from scratch, with carefully designed toppings, the Purple Garlic went way beyond the usual: one of their signature dishes was a white pizza, topped with a béchamel sauce and sea-food. My own favorite – as the enterprise for which I worked was one of those which did not encourage one to linger over lunch – was their artichoke heart salad, or ‘art-heart.’ I had this so frequently, that eventually the staff just dished up a portion in a take-away container and rang it up on the cash register as soon as I came in the door.

Towards the end of my time at that job, the Purple Garlic relocated to Austin Highway – and later I heard that they had closed. Alas, this often happens, but we were absolutely overjoyed a couple of weeks ago to discover that no – they had opened again, on Austin Highway at Rittiman, next to a Pizza Hut – which I think must be some ironic comment. They’re back – they’re still purple, and the pizza and sandwiches are as good as ever.

And if you can’t pay the Purple Garlic a visit – then here is a recipe for home made pizza, which if it isn’t as good as theirs, is still a thousand times better than that of the place next door.





This is adapted from a recipe for deep-dish Chicago pizza, originally published in Cuisine at Home Issue #53 (p.8)

  • Combine and let sit until foamy
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 pkg or 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 T olive oil
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (We use King Arthur bread flour)
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 t kosher salt

Add the yeast mixture and knead on low speed for 10 minutes, or until smooth. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to cover with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down, roll into a ball again, return to bowl, cover and let rise again for another hour.

This makes enough dough for two 16-inch thin-crust pizzas or 2 9-10 inch deep-crust pizzas made in an iron skillet. Roll out the dough, and pre-bake for about 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven, on the bottom shelf.

When the baked crust is lightly brown, take it out of the oven, and cover with an insulating layer of tissue-paper thin slices of mozzarella cheese, or deli ham to keep the crust from getting soggy Then, spread out about a 1/2 to 1 cup of good bottled marinara sauce over the top of each pizza- not too much, it will overflow, or make the crust soggy. Top with all the various toppings that you favor: thin-sliced onions, mushrooms, cooked crumbled sausage, pepperoni, etc – not too much, as it will have to cook through, in a hot oven in a very short time. Top with shredded mozzarella, and sprinkles of whatever extra herbs you may like. Bake again, in the 450 degree oven until cheese is just lightly melted.


Books, Burgers, and Bun’n’Barrel

Created Sunday, 19 September 2010 13:19

Books, Burgers, and Bun’n’Barrel

For a household wherein the last time we packed out from an overseas assignment and the movers had a pool going on how many cartons of books they would finish up with – the count eventually topped out at 65 – we have an unseemly greed for more. We do not disdain any opportunity to explore second-hand bookstores, rummage sales, Half Price Books, the massive yearly PTA book sale at the Blossom Athletic Center, and the regular sales at our local San Antonio Library branch. The management there very kindly puts out a banner at the well-trafficked corner of Judson and Nacogdoches, and I have scored some lovely book bargains there in the past, notably when it came to Texiana.

Yes, my need for reference books on aspects of Texas history is practically bottomless, mostly because I never know when I might have to look up some relevant factoid, because I need it now this very minute for the current chapter of the current book I am scribbling and to drive two blocks to the Semmes branch, or to order it from the central stacks is just too inconvenient because I need it NOW. On the whole, it’s just faster and easier to reach up and get the reference I need from a book on the shelf within arm’s reach – so, yes. More books.

We got in line about 9:30 last Saturday morning – and if that sounds as if it were too early – there were already a goodly assortment of people gathered in front of the library, a few of whom had sent their significant others around the corner for breakfast tacos. There weren’t any professional book purchasers this time; the experts who have very specific requirements, and usually plastic crates on luggage carriers, and make a tidy living skimming off the cream of the books and re-selling them on the internet. The doors opened at 10:00 sharp, everyone crammed into the little room to the left of the main doors where the books were laid out – eh, a thin collection, this time, only a few volumes of Texiana, and nothing much to speak of in the way of cookbooks. My daughter found more to her interest – Wine for Dummies, a book of jokes and one of directions to knit afghans, among some others.

We took our harvesting home, and went to check out an estate sale in Alamo Heights, but nothing really took our attention at it, so finished up for lunch at one of the Austin Highway’s landmark eateries – the Bun ‘n’ Barrel. A friend who has lived a long time in San Antonio remembers when the Bun ‘n’ Barrel had car-hops on roller-skates; it was then a classic 1950s’ burger joint and teen hang-out. The car-hops are long gone, but the burgers and BBQ are not. The BBQ pit is out back, and they have expanded into catering, and will also do custom cooking . . . just bring in your beast – venison, a wild boar or whatever, thawed if previously frozen, please, and allow twenty-four hours for maximum succulence.

We didn’t want to wait that long – just a burger and a brisket sandwich, please – and my daughter indulged herself with an order of mozzarella sticks, which were delish. The burgers and brisket – good, not as good as Sams’ on Broadway, or Easy Pickins in Harper, but still quite good, much better than your average fast food franchise place. Over the next few months, we plan to eat our way along the Austin Highway, so stay tuned.

Search San Antonio Homes Online



Abilene Book & Music Festival – September 20 – 25, 2010

Created Saturday, 11 September 2010 17:10

West Texas Book & Music Festival

Abilene, Texas September 20 – 25, 2010

By Julia Hayden (In person at festival Sept 25.)

The West Texas Book and Music Festival is coming up in September, an excellent excuse to party hearty, eat hearty and check out the local literary scene in beautiful downtown Abilene. It’s sponsored by the Friends of the Abilene Library and the Abilene Reporter News, and focuses almost equally on local Texas authors, and excellent music and food. Most of the events will be either at the main library, or in the Abilene Civic Center – that’s where I’ll be on Saturday, September 25th; in the Hall of Texas Authors, behind a table – or strictly speaking – half a table, with a pile of copies of my books on it.

My daughter and I have plans to dress up our half-table, with some antique-frontierish looking props, and if my assorted free-lance jobs and royalty checks have been substantial, I may even splurge and order some personalized literary M&Ms. It’s all about the marketing, you know.

I went last year, practically my first go-round at one of these book-festivally things, which you have to do, not so much to sell a whopping pile o’books, but to meet up with other writers, and spend some time away from the computer. That’s the downside of this writing thing, you know – spending very little time interfacing with those of your own species in the real world. (I spend heaps of time interfacing with my own species when I’m writing – it’s just that many of those involved are . . . umm, people I have made up.)

And there is one very agreeable additional benefit to going to Abilene – from San Antonio, it makes a wonderful cross-country road trip, especially if you hop off the IH10 at Junction, and take the 83 north. It’s a lovely drive through lovely country, a two-lane road which leads through fascinating and historic little towns like Menard, Paint Rock and Ballinger. Just when you get bored of the country, there’s an interesting place to stop, check out this and that, get something to eat and contemplate what it would have been like to have lived out there when these little towns were first established in the late 1800s. There was a time, just barely within living memory, when most Americans lived in towns like this, or on farms and ranches near them.

At this point, the Cookbook Gala at the Abilene Country Club is sold out, but the Boots & Books Luncheon still is up for grabs.

Julia Hayden, who writes professionally as Celia Hayes, spent twenty years as a military broadcaster in the Air Force before retiring. She contributes to a variety of online magazines and websites, and is also on the board of the Independent Authors Guild, a non-profit association of writers published by small or regional boutique publishers. She is the author of four novels set on the 19th century American frontier. Julia currently lives in San Antonio with her daughter and an assortment of dogs and cats, Her literary website is at