Fried Chicken Recipe by Michael Graves


The fabulous Gus’s Fried Chicken has opened on Washington Avenue. Here is my “take” on their recipe. It takes advantage of a long marinade to tenderize the chicken and a higher of amount of corn starch for extra crispness. I hope you like it.

 24 hour marinade. Begin the day before you plan to fry the chicken
(Increase these quantities, depending on how much chicken you plan to make)
1 lb (one) boneless skinless chicken breast  or thigh meat, cut into three pieces, or, double recipe ingredients for the weight of your chicken, for example, if you are using a 3-5 lb chicken cut into pieces

  • 1 cup corn starch
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water (note: 1 ½ cups is too much. I actually ended up with 1 ¼ cup water and poured off a little water in the morning that had gathered on top of the marinade)

Marinate for 24 hours.

Fry at 325-350 F. Use a neutral vegetable or corn oil. I do not recommend canola oil as it smells like frying fish and adds an unpleasant fish taste to fried foods.

Note, when the exterior crust looks perfect, the interior may still be uncooked. It is the curse of the larger chickens that they sell now in the grocery stores (which is why my original instructions are for a boneless skinless chicken breast). Try your best to buy a 2.5-3 lb chicken.

If it isn't spicy enough, "salt" with Tony Chachere creole seasoning. Next time you make it, increase the amount of cayenne, and/or, add chopped whole serrano chiles or habanero chiles to the marinade.

I still finish the chicken in the oven to assure that it is cooked throughout.

Temptation may be to make a thicker batter. But I think that for the crispiest crust, a thinner batter is the way to go. Just enough so that it clings.

I used to remove my chicken pieces from the marinade batter with tongs. But I found that this scraped away some of the batter. Now, I just spear the pieces with a fork and drop them into the hot oil.

You can test the quality of your batter by pouring some into the hot oil and frying it up crisp. Taste it and adjust seasonings. If it is too spongy tasting instead of crisp tasting, it may have been too thick and will need to be thinned slightly. 

- Jay Francis, VP Membership

The Buzz About The July General Meeting by Michael Graves

Late Breaking Update: Eek! Due to a miscommunication tonight's general meeting has moved from Hogg Middle School to A 2nd Cup Coffee on 11th street. Sorry for the late notice!

The July General Meeting of the Woodland Heights Civic Association will take place Tuesday, July 10th at 7pm in the cafeteria at Hogg Middle School, 1100 Merrill. 

The agenda includes:

  • David Welch with the Community & Regional Planning Division of the City of Houston Planning & Development Department presenting about the Special Minimum Lot Size and Building ordinances, including information about how the program works, the application and renewal process, and answering questions. 
  • All Things Bees in Texas - by Shelley Rice, a WH resident who is a member of Houston Beekeepers Association.

Of course, the WHCA board members will provide updates on their various areas of activity. It's also your chance to pose questions to the civic association board. We hope to see you there! 

LITH 2018: Save The Dates! by Michael Graves

LITH Generic Bulb Banner.png

Lighter in the Heights

Neighborhood Garage Sales
Saturday, September 29, 2018
7 am - 1 pm

Light up the Night Holiday Bash

Benefiting Lights in the Heights
1111 Studewood
Saturday, November 3, 2018
7 pm - 11 pm

Friday Night Lights

Neighborhood Gathering
Norhill Esplanade
Friday, December 7, 2018
6 pm - 9 pm

Lights in the Heights

Saturday, December 8, 2018
Byrne and Euclid Streets
6 pm - 9 pm

Presented by the Woodland Heights Civic Association.
Details to follow by email and at
For more info contact
Hope to see you at all four events!

Fourth of July Parade Cancelled! by Michael Graves


Morning All,

I have been up watching  the radar and the forecasts for about an hour.  Although the thunderstorms have been pushed back a little, the thunderstorm probability for the Woodland Heights is still very high... 79% by 9 AM, 94% by 10 AM and 98% by 11 AM.  Given these numbers and risking err on the conservative side, I have decided to cancel the Fourth of July Parade.  The last thing I want to do is put the folks in our neighborhood in any kind of danger.

- Harry McMahon, President, WHCA

Fourth of July Parade 2018 Status by Michael Graves

Given the impending inclement weather on the morning of the Fourth of July, we thought it important to notify the neighborhood on what will occur if there is inclement weather. Unfortunately, in the event of inclement weather, the parade is canceled. We will make the final go or no-go decision early in the morning of the Fourth and post that decision well before the scheduled start of the parade at 9 AM.

- Harry McMahon, President, WHCA

NTMP Poll Results by Michael Graves

This just in today....

Dear NTC Members,

Thank you all for your input and assistance in this project. It has been a long journey, but we are near the end.

Below is a summary of the comments that we received from the public meeting in April.


After reviewing the comments, our director has decided that the City will either accept the test speed cushions as they currently are in the neighborhood or remove them entirely.  To help make this final decision, we will be sending out a survey to the 52 residents who indicated ‘support with modification’. The survey will inform them that we do not intend to make any modification and they will be given the option to either support or oppose the test cushions as installed. Then the project will be closed out. If desirable, residents can submit a new NTMP application in 3 years.


Khang Nguyen, P.E., PTOE | Assistant Director
City of Houston | Houston Public Works | Transportation & Drainage Operations
611 Walker Street, 5th Floor | Houston, TX 77002 | 832-395-3008

Annual 4th of July Celebration by Michael Graves

WHCA Banner July 4.jpg

This 4th of July, join us and your neighbors at the Norhill Esplanade from 9am to 12 noon. Kids are encouraged to bring their decorated ride for the holiday parade! The fun will include the parade, snow cones, games and a bouncy house.

A family neighborhood event open to all, this 4th of July event is sponsored by the Woodland Heights Civic Association.

YARD-OF-THE-MONTH: 1102 Euclid by Michael Graves

There is a lot to love about the yards horseshoeing our Norhill Esplanade: a jasmine arch, rose garden, two plank swings, flower-lined walkways, a Little Free Library, and little pops of color in yard chairs, yard art, and embedded in paths. 

But the anchor to all that you find here is at 1102 Euclid. Artist Elena Cusi-Wortham moved here in 1992, building her unique home that is also her workshop and an expressive space for her craft, social passions, and gathering place. Her banca jardin is a lively community bench that draws children in to discover a handmade mosaic of nature's influences, which plays out all around the tile pieces.

Throughout her L-shaped yard you will find plantings that are both practical and simply pretty: persimmon, fig, tangerine, and a bay leaf bush are useful. For shade and flowers: magnolia and ash trees, orchid tree, African daisies, Mexican olive, palo verde, and bottlebrush. A raised bed forms an inversion of the arc in the bench, and has been a vegetable patch in the past, now home to milkweed, lantana, chives and more.

Elena's yard is a place of rich discovery for our neighborhood, but she has also shared her talents all over Houston, including four elementary school Spark Park and a Cotswold Project on Prairie St. downtown. She is currently working with the Community House on Avenue F and 72nd where she helps neighborhood children create their own tile mosaics, and discover art in nature.

Have you renewed your membership for the 2018 Constable Patrol Program? by Michael Graves


Effective July 9th, 2018 those that have not renewed their membership will be asked to relinquish their sign in order to ensure we are able to provide paying members a sign with a current sticker.

Summertime is upon us and active members of the program can rest assured while away on  vacation that our local Constable is checking on your home. This is just one of many benefits of the Constable Patrol Program.

This is your last chance to renew before your outdated sign is collected! If you’re not yet a member and would like to join, there is still time!

Subscribe today!

Contact Cody McGregor, WHCA VP-Security

Recipe-of-the-Month: Fifteen-Second Carrot Cake by Michael Graves

 My friend Elyssa’s photo of the recipe after she made it. Used with permission. - Jay.

My friend Elyssa’s photo of the recipe after she made it. Used with permission. - Jay.

In the 1980’s, I found a quick and easy (and terrific) food processor recipe for a carrot cake baked in a standard bread loaf pan. I lost the recipe. It was only years later (thanks Ebay) that I tracked down the out-of-print magazine and recovered the recipe. It is my default carrot cake recipe these days and I know you will enjoy it.

For more of my writings on food, check out my blog: Bye the way, if you aren’t currently a member of the WHCA, please feel free to contact me about how and why you should join.

Jay Francis
Woodland Heights’ Own Culinary Historian
and WHCA VP of Membership

Fifteen-Second Carrot Cake


  • 2 medium carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • Cream cheese frosting or rum sauce

Grease and flour an 8 ½ × 4 ½ × 2 ½ inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Shred the carrots or zucchini with the fine shredding disc of a food processor and remove (1 ½ tightly packed cups). Process the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla with the metal blade for 2 seconds. Do not over-process.

Evenly sprinkle the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon over the mixture; process until smooth about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the mixture with the pecans and add the shredded carrots and process until the pecans and carrots are evenly distributed, 4 seconds.

Turn into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

If using the cream cheese frosting, cover top and sides of the cake with it. Garnish with extra pecan halves making crosswise rows fairly close together so that each slice has a row of pecans.

If using the rum sauce, leave the cake unfrosted and pass the sauce with it, and, if you like, a bowl of whipped cream. Makes 1 carrot cake.

Cream cheese frosting

  • ½ stick unsalted butter cut into 4 equal pats
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar

Process together all the ingredients with the metal blade of a food processor until smooth.

Rum Sauce

  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ stick of butter
  • ¼ cup light rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan constantly stir over low heat until boiling the sugar, corn syrup, cream and butter, about 9 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum and vanilla. The sauce may be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Serve the sauce hot or cold. Makes about 2 cups.

Introducing WHCA Lemonade Stand Alerts! by Michael Graves


While summer is not officially upon us, school is out and the kids are looking for things to do. It's warm enough that we've already encountered a couple of lemonade stands. I confess that I'm drawn to a lemonade stand like a moth-to-a-flame. I'm always happy to part with a few dollars in return for lemony refreshment, and the hope that I've helped some young entrepreneur in-the-making. 

The trouble is that it's not easy to know when a new lemonade stand pops-up. They can be unpredictable. They can turn-up, run a while, then disappear quickly. Many folks don't even know that they were there. I'd like to help in this regard.

If you're planning a lemonade stand, let us know. Send an email to with the time and location. We'll quickly post it to the various WHCA channels, including our Facebook page, mailing list and Twitter account.

Hopefully we can drive traffic to all the neighborhood lemonade stands. That way the kids have a great time, and see good return on their effort.

As for the rest of watching those channels for your opportunity to help our bright, young business folks get a good start. Think of it as a kind of citrus-powered Y-Combinator.

- Michael Graves
WHCA VP-Communications

Critical Mass Ride will NOT be meeting at Stude Park as originally announced by Michael Graves


On June 8th it was announced that Critical Mass Houston would be relocating the meeting place for their major monthly bike ride to Stude Park. This was announced in a video posted to their Facebook page. We shared the video to the WHCA Facebook page to inform neighbors of this fact.

As you might expect, this announcement caused a great deal of discussion in various forums. There were numerous threads on Nextdoor, with many people sharing their past experience of the ride. The were many voices both for and against this change. Some legitimate concerns were raised by both the organizers and those concerned about the impact of the event on the neighborhood. 

All of that is preface as earlier today Hector Garcia, one of the organizers of CM, left the following comment on the WHCA Facebook page:

"UPDATE: Hello Woodland Heights. Wanted to update you all and let you know that Critical Mass WILL NOT be meeting at Studewood park. 

We had a great meeting this morning with HPD, a couple of key officials and council woman Karla Cisneros, who detailed a lot of logistical issues with using Studewood as a meeting location. We now have a couple of great alternative meeting spots for the once a month ride in the works and you can all breathe a little easier now.  :)

I do want to thank the few residents who stepped up to offer assistance and anyone else who showed patience and understanding. We'll see you the next time we pass through the heights. Again, you're all invited to come join the ride on the Last Friday of the Month. We'll post the new meeting spot as soon as we confirm." 

A big thank you to everyone who came together to help Critical Mass find a new meeting place that would meet their needs, while minimizing the impact on the neighborhood. 

New Free Library Near The Norhill Esplanade by Michael Graves

Norhill Free Library.jpg

Our neighborhood woodworker is at it again! Paul Carr designed, built, and donated this Little Free Library for our community to enjoy, and Norhill Esplanade-adjacent resident Norma Martinez welcomed it to her yard. While this is Paul's first library, his handiwork can also be found at the Woodland Park trolley, Field Elementary truck, Donovan Park train, and more. 

These boxes have been popping up around our community and serve as hubs for us to give and take books. More information can be found at Little Free Library. 

Many thanks to Paul for his talents and generosity and Norma for welcoming our new library. Share away!

Yard-of-the-Month: 2604 Morrison by Michael Graves

The first thing you'll notice is the lovingly restored Craftsman home of Karen Merriam and Thomas Bevilacqua, who has lived here for about 30 years. But take a closer look at the thoughtful landscaping and you'll see what makes it extra special. The yard has weathered flooding from storms so they've taken a survivalist approach, now thriving with variety: flowering with gardenias, drift roses, loropetalum, dianthus, vincas, day lilies, and liriope; oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and satsuma tree for flavor; crepe myrtles for shade; and Asian jasmine for ground cover. This tidy no-grass and low-fuss yard was arranged by local design architect Pam August, and installed a few years ago by Bella Terra's Humberto Bolanos. 

Honorable mentions received from neighbors this month go to 601 Woodland and 528 Bayland. Thanks for sending nominations! If you see a lovely yard you would like to nominate, please email the address to Thank you!

2018 Home Tour Sets Revenue Record by Michael Graves

The home tour committee would like to extend its effusive thanks to the sponsors, homeowners, volunteers, and party and tour goers who helped us set a new record with the 2018 tour – the neighborhood’s major fundraiser. The tour and preview party’s net revenue of $44,048 exceeded the goal by more than $10,000 and topped the 2016 tour proceeds by more than $12,000! Thanks to everyone who helped showcase our “hometown near downtown.”

Proceeds will support enforcement of deed restrictions, beautification, general operations. Further, up to 10 percent will be allocated to support the constable patrol. 

  • Total proceeds were $48,851. 
  • Home tour underwriting revenue - $16,090
  • Home tour ticket revenue - $23,301
  • Preview party underwriting revenue - $2,500
  • Preview party ticket & raffle revenue - $6,960

Thanks to the many generous in-kind donations from our wonderful neighborhood businesses, expenses were kept to approximately 10 percent of revenue at $4,802. 

Looking ahead: The committee will select 2020 home tour homes next spring/summer. If you’d like your historic home to be considered, please email While it may be a high bar, the committee would love your help in showing off our charming neighborhood to the rest of Houston and hopefully setting a new record next time. 

LCI Brings Woodland Heights Home to Life by Michael Graves

Lucas Craftsmanship (LCI) has been satisfying homeowners and businesses in Houston and the surrounding areas since 1994. The family-owned company has developed numerous lasting relationships with area suppliers as well as with repeat clients. In addition to its full time skilled craftsmen, LCI has been using the same fully qualified and insured subcontracting partners since its inception. Each member of LCI shares in the firm’s work ethic and integrity, guaranteeing you “exceptional quality” and outstanding results.

Billy Lucas started the company in 1994. Born and raised in the Northeast, he has been hands on in every facet of the building trade from a very early age. Mentored by his father, Billy learned the industry, but more importantly, he absorbed his father’s values, including his work ethic and commitment to reliability, “exceptional quality,” creativity and individualized service. 

Relocating to Texas in 1991, Billy was building his business in the Spring area when a local plumber hired him to build a porch for a home at Watson and Merrill. Billy immediately fell in love with the area. It featured the Craftsman-style homes that he had grown up around in northern New Jersey and knew he wanted to grow his business here. Upon completion of the porch project, Billy was awarded another project down the block. That referral led to another and another. 

“Our business has been built on personal referrals,” Billy says. “That is so gratifying, but it also spurs us to go the extra mile with each new client. We know this is your dream, your home, and we want to make it special.” 

Brother Dan Lucas joined LCI in 1998. Along with a degree in business, he brought expertise in in client management, and his ingenuity and insight added a new dimension to the team. Dan, a managing partner, governs the business side as well as overseeing daily operations. Mentored by his brother Billy, Dan also has become a craftsman too. 

“While I enjoy the business side, I get real satisfaction by being part of the construction process itself,” Dan says. “I love getting my hands dirty, so to speak, and directly helping our clients realize their visions for their homes.”

In 2005, third brother Steven Lucas joined the family business as project manager. With a degree in communications, Steven manages the fine details of select projects, assuring daily operations run smoothly. 

“Each project is different; each project is special; each project is someone’s dream,” Steven says. “That’s what makes my job so rewarding.” 

The Lucas brothers care about their clients’ satisfaction, and pride themselves on living up to their father’s example as honest, hands-on men of integrity who use their knowledge and experience in the building trade to deliver “exceptional quality.” 

“We were extremely happy with Lucas Craftsmanship and our major home renovation,” says satisfied couple Jennifer Schneider and Chris Pratt about their LCI experience. “For years before rebuilding our house, we watched rebuilds and new homes in the neighborhood, and LCI’s work always stood out. We felt that LCI – Billy, Danny, Steven and the entire staff – did an outstanding, and thorough job throughout the entire process of our rebuild. The communication was open and often, the quality of work was top notch, and when issues arose they were dealt with fairly and timely. We appreciate their attention to detail, delivery, and follow through on the entire project. We are very pleased with the final product, and very happy in the new house”

With this commitment to customer service and quality construction, LCI has restored life to several hundreds of homes in the Heights area in the past two decades.   

Giving back to the community is an integral part of the LCI mission. Among various other charitable events and contributions, LCI has sponsored the Woodlands Heights and Houston Heights home tours in recent years, showcasing their work in more than 15 homes.

At LCI, all carpentry is done in house due to a commitment to old-world craftsmanship and high-end custom woodwork. Custom renovations, outdoor kitchens, new construction and even light commercial work, LCI is dedicated to taking what you envision and actualizing it – turning your dream into reality.

Celebrating Ms Helen's 79th Birthday by Michael Graves

Ms Helen has been an HISD crossing guard for the past 17 years. It happens that May 17th was her 79th birthday. Alan Krathaus & Fiona McGettigan were amongst the neighbors that staged a birthday celebration marking the occasion. 

The celebration included lights, decor, and music, along with juice, snacks and fresh coffee for those who passed by her normal location on the southwest corner of Bayland and Beauchamp.

I encountered the festivities while out walking Julio & Gwen. By then many of the kids had proceeded to school, so the crowd had thinned. Ms Helen was genuinely touched the by the expression of caring by the neighbors.

What's Wrong With This Picture? by Michael Graves

The other day I was walking my dogs down the street. It was morning. It was a Thursday so the trash bins were out for collection. Along our path we noticed a bag of yard trimmings with a bright green tag. I'd never seen this tag before so I looked to see what it said. 

 What a bright green tag!

What a bright green tag!

"The City of Houston is no longer accepting petroleum-based (plastic) bags for curbside collection of yard trimmings. These lawn items must be placed in City-Approved Compostable Bags. In addition, materials such as paper, plastic and other trash may not be placed in the compostable bags with yard trimmings. Small twigs and branches do not have to be bagged as long as they are in bundles less than 4 feet in length, less than 18 inches in diameter, weigh less than 50 pounds, and must be tied up with string." 

For more information, please call 3-1-1 or visit
City of Houston Code of Ordinances Chapter 39 -76

There you have it. The bag was tagged, but not collected, because it was not one of the approved, green, compostable bags. You know the sort...the ones that seem to start to decompose as soon as they get a little damp.

The NTMP Comment Period Ends Soon! by Michael Graves


Just a friendly reminder that the deadline for submission of comments about the traffic calming measures is fast approaching. Comments must be submitted by Monday, May 14th.  

Every household in the neighborhood received a mailing that includes a comment form. They seek the opinion of each household using a simple poll:

  • Support the devices
  • Support with modifications
  • Do NOT support the devices

Comments may also include suggestions for where traffic cushions might be added or removed to further refine the approach. Comments can be submitted by post mail or online at the following web page.

Only one comment per household is allowed. Questions about the program can be directed to