Sibby Barrett, founder and owner of Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm, located between Blanco and Dripping Springs, is cooking up a menu for the April 15 "Tuscan Dinner and a Movie" event sponsored by Friends of the Library.
This will be the fifth year Sibby has mentored a group of library volunteers in preparing food for the annual event which will be staged at the Old Blanco County Court House. Through the years, a variety of ethnic dinners from Italian to Greek to Southwestern have drawn large crowds assured of a unique culinary experience. Sibby is a member of the board of Friends of the Library, and she lends her talents to other non-profit entities.
Her hands-on, from-scratch gourmet cooking classes draw locals and visitors from San Antonio, Dallas and Austin areas to Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farms to participate in day-long or weekend workshops The compound includes five well-appointed cabins for overnight guests who can enjoy nature walks, spa facilities, hill country views and breakfast baskets delivered to their front porch.
With the recent addition of a new "Kitchen in the Grove" and dining room, Juniper Hills Farm can now provide special dinners and host parties and other celebrations as well as corporate retreats. A newsletter on the website lists events several months in advance and describes the varied assortment of cooking lessons to be offered each week. Special events are being planned for the week of the Lavender Festival, including a special reservation-only Lavender-themed dinner and a talk on the Court House on Sunday.
Much of the food prepared in Sibby’s classes comes from areas growers, including vegetables, flowers, goat cheese, wine, olives, pecans, peaches, and herbs.
Students from her cooking classes often accompany Sibby from farm to orchard to vineyard to gather what they will prepare for their evening meal.
In the large kitchen, Sibby leads the students step-by step in preparing recipes from the menu they have selected. Each one is provided a chef’s apron and put to work, learning techniques and tips as they fashion their findings into a delicious meal that is consumed on the patio at candle-lit tables built from oaks on the property.
Sibby’s plan was to build a weekend retreat when she bought and cleared part of her 54 acres of land in l997. Having founded and managed her very successful specialty bakery, Dallas Affairs Cake Co., for 15 years, she was ready for "something different." That turned out to be her Tuscan-style home and compound in the Hill Country. Her veteran staff of some 10 people continue to operate the bakery in Dallas, producing hundreds of special cakes for weddings and social events in that city.
Reservations and information about the one-day classes or over-night stays and photographs of the facilities can be seen online at http.// www.juniperhillsfarm.com.
Tickets for the " Tuscan Dinner and a Movie" event are available at the Blanco Library and the On the Square shop downtown. Admission is $15 per person. The dinner will be served at 6 p.m. at the Court House, and the movie will be screened at the Library at 8 p.m.