Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and
Newberry’s train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain
Just outside of Austin Texas in the west hill country is the famous spot that songwriters have sung about. This tiny hill hamlet began its humble beginning in 1849 as a Trading Post for both pioneer farmers and Comanche Indians alike. There was where a small community of German immigrants thought of setting up a community. With the unifying of the Engel and Luckenbach families began the dreams of some.
Today it is known for being a spot about thirty minutes southwest of Austin Texas that has monthly dances at their legendary Dance Hall. Where you can get a cold beer and listen to good ole music. Luckenbach hosts wedding, reception, birthday and corporate parties. And for some of us it is just a tourist attraction. When I first moved back to Texas I started looking at places I had never been to in the Hill Country. That is when I realized I had never been to Luckenbach. The Trading Post is now a bar and little store.
And so with my tall guy and the dog called Lizzie it was a day to head out there to get a feel of the lay of the land. From Austin you passed through famous Stonewall where President Lyndon B Johnson Ranch is onto a spot on the side of the road. In southeastern Gillespie County you see a sign for Luckenbach. If you are not familiar with it, as I was not, be sure to keep your eyes open because it quite literally is just a spot on the side of the road you can miss.
There on the side of the road is the Dance Hall, the U.S. Post Office, which, was once the Trading Post. Some tables under the trees and a huge parking that will be home to many vehicles as folks pour in to have a cold beer, dance and listen to good music. There is a small RV concern as well.
We wandered about, took some pictures and my tall guy drank a soothing cold Lone Star beer. Lizzie the dog being the active dog she is wanted to check it out until we came across a large black chicken who was defending its home territory. As good guests we recognized the need to back away and respect its humble home.
Looking around at the Live Oaks and the tombstones of the Luckenbach family at the far endI see the buildings. I can almost hear horses coming pulling wagons, the jingle of the reins as they move. Over on the porch I imagine seeing pioneers and Comanche Indians mixing together while everyone gets their supplies before heading out their separate ways. Truly where “everybody is somebody”.
Along the roadside as we leave San Antonio Texas the houses begin to dwindle away. Slowly we move from small town to small town. Readily it becomes apparent that this land that once inhabited a large group of Apache Native American peoples has changed into another life. You can almost feel their ancestors looking up from cooking or other work as we drive by. Off in the desert there on a hill can be imagined a few men watching over their land. Their family, and their way of life.
Back to the present I register oil rigs on the sides of the highway. Each mile brings more oil rigs, more oil industry until here in south central Texas is a whole new community. Small motels, RV parks and other amenities that the oil workers will be able to use. Here they will stay, some maybe separated from family for long periods to work to bring America oil.
As I looked at pumps moving slowly up and down my “big guy” jars me back to notice the small squadron of javelina ranging from 40 to 80 lbs. Thankfully we are happy to be in our vehicle as these poor sighted creatures that are also known as “musk hog” have a strong scent that helps them mark their territory upward to a few hundred acres.
Both the oils rigs and the javelina remind me that we are in a part of Texas that takes strong people and animals to endure.
After about an hour or so we move on to another pleasant experience. On to Choke Canyon State Park. While the water is low this time of year the “beware of alligators” sign reminds us that this land locked lake has many natural things to experience.
After wandering through the park my tall guy, the dog called Lizzie and I pull over to get a Google map set up to get us home. Just then we notice a lovely red and black bird we have never seen in Texas.
A Vermillion Flycatcher is sitting in the tree next to us, moving back and forth to show off its red under belly. And as my tall guy tried to get a photo shot this beautiful bird flew toward my open window as if to say, “here I am see how pretty I am”. What a fitting end to a perfect day trip.
We turn to head north toward San Antonio. Soon the skyline comes into few. A beautiful place to be sure. It is a reminder of the many faces of Texas.
Whether you are from Texas or a transplant doesn’t matter. Whether you are holed up in one of the larger cities like Fort Worth, Austin or San Antonio doesn’t matter either. Once you have gone down a country road the ghosts of yesteryear cry out to share their lives. Here are some places that have a story. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear what the people in here had to say?
This fall it seemed like pumpkin filled the air. This was my latest addition to the pumpkin season. Hope you enjoy them too. This is a nice muffin to have with cup of coffee or tea.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Yields approx. 2-dozen large or 3-dozen small muffins)
I froze two-dozen for later use.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup pecan chips*
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can pumpkin puree (15 0z.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
*I added the pecan chips, recipe did not call for it.
Preheat over to 350 deg. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a bowl: sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside
- In a large bowl (I used my Kitchenaid), beat eggs and sugar together. Mix in pumpkin puree and oil.
- Then mix into this the dry ingredients. Mix well and fold in chocolate chips with the pecan chips.
- Fill muffin tin about ¾ full for small muffins. Baked for 20-25 minutes. Or when you touch the top and they are springy.
- Remove from oven and cool.
(Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything, http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2014/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins.html)
Cooking has become a part of life. It is how I am sustained myself daily. Each time I cook I find that I can draw on past experience. No matter what recipe I find I always use it as guidelines. This one I found on social media and changed a few things.
One thing I would add is this is not a fast and easy recipe. If time is of the essence you may want to wait for another day. And my choices to change ingredient was because I found the recipe a tad too sweet for my “super taster” buds. Changes are indicated with a *. Enjoy!
3 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt, *used sea salt
2 Tbs poppy seeds
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup lemon juice, *about two lemons squeezed
*Added zest from one lemon
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add poppy seeds and lemon zest.
- In a separate: blend cream and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir.
- Line a 10-inch baking cake or pie pan with plastic wrap. Leave enough over hang to fold over top. Press scone dough into pan. Pat dough into an even layer, about ¾” thick. Fold wrap over dough to freeze until dough is firm, at least 3 hours, or up to 4 weeks. *Froze mine over night and use a 8” cake pan so they were thicker
- To bake scones: preheat over to 350 F.
- Spray baking pan and thaw dough about 10 to 15 min. Cut dough into10 equal pieces. *I used an 8” cake pan it was somewhat thicker and cut in 8 pieces
- Place pieces on pan about 2” apart. Bake until bottoms are golden and scones are cooked. About 35-40 min. *I inserted a toothpick to test for doneness because they were thicker
- To make glaze; stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice until very smooth. Spoon glaze of scones. Let glaze set for 10 min. before serving. *I made ½ the recipe and added the zest of one lemon
The dough filled this pan. It is very thick. If you are familiar with scones then you know that this is perfect.
If anyone has known more than five minutes they know I have a soft spot for dogs. It doesn’t take any time at all to get me talking about my current pup, Lizzie.
Another couple of animals I go “awww” for when I see them are meerkats and otters. If it isn’t otters splashing around or showing off their babes then I can’t help but smile when a social mob of meerkats are checking out their latest curiosity.
I have a soft spot for tacos. Yum, I take them anyway I can I find them. Breakfast tacos, lunch tacos. Homemade, Taco Bell or any local taco shack will work. I can eat those babies anytime.
And I have a soft spot for a good morning cuppa Joe. I take my black, thank you very much. I never was into sugary coffees. I save my sugary moments for other things like my soft spot for Rocky Road ice cream.
Without a soft spot for something life isn’t balanced. That’s me soft spot all over the place! Ha!