In what has seemed to become my unofficial theme for VeganMoFo 2013, here is another post about something that happened last year!
My brother was stationed at Fort Hood mid-last year and so he, my sister-in-law, and their baby Josie moved to Killeen, Texas. My family decided to meet there for Christmas so they wouldn’t have to travel, and my mom found Weatherstone cabin bed and breakfast in the nearby town of Salado, which had the perfect amount of space for all six of us.
Flights into Killeen were super expensive, so I flew into Austin and rented a car instead. I was hoping we would be able to work in a day trip to Austin but knew with the baby it might be difficult, so I wanted to choose a restaurant for a late lunch after landing. It was really hard to choose one place from all the awesome-looking vegan food in Austin!
In the end I went with Wheatsville Coop, first because I had heard the tales of their popcorn tofu, and second because I wasn’t sure what would be available food-wise at the cabin or in Salado, so I wanted to pick up a few supplies.
The Buffalo Popcorn Hero was really tempting, but I stuck with the classic Popcorn Tofu Po’boy, which comes with cashew tamari and fresh veggies. I also picked up a kale and beet salad, mac and cheese from the hot bar, an oatmeal cream pie, and a Blue Sky Jamaican Ginger Ale.
The sandwich was good; the tofu was firm and chewy and made great little fried nuggets. The salad was really nice, a good mixture of sweet and tangy. The mac was saucy, warm, and cheesy. The oatmeal cream pie was a good simulation of the Little Debbie classic; the cookies were chewy and had a strong brown sugar flavor.
Full, happy, and tired, I made the drive to Salado, where I met my baby niece for the first time.
That night we hung around the cabin, ordering pizza delivery for dinner. I wasn’t very hungry after my big late lunch, so I just asked for a double side salad. What I didn’t realize is that apparently they put shredded cheese on side salads at a lot of places in the area. (This began a trend I saw throughout my few days there.) I just picked the cheese off as best I could.
We chose 9AM as our breakfast time, and being on west coast time and in vacation mode, I slept right up until then (as I did the next two mornings). Our host Kay had already been hard at work and had everything ready. My mom had let them know about my diet when booking the rooms and they had said they could accommodate me, but I still had no idea what to expect.
Fresh fruit on a pretty plate is always a good way to start.
While the rest of my family was served an egg casserole, I got my own little plate of veggie sausage patties and bread which had been toasted in margarine. Kay picks up the bread, which was delicious, from a local bakery. She also had coffee brewed and offered refills while we ate, in addition to seconds on anything. She had soy milk for me to use in my coffee, and the cabin was stocked with bottled water, soda, tea, and a few snacks.
We didn’t really have an agenda for the day, so I spent some time taking in the cute Texas decor. We also got a tour of the barn out back, which they rent out for events.
We eventually headed out and walked down Main Street, which is lined with antique shops and all sorts of cute little stores. We ended up at Adelea’s on Main for lunch, which Kay had recommended. I forgot to take a picture of my meal, but not because it wasn’t good!
They didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but I noticed that hummus was available as an appetizer special, and there was a veggie wrap that usually came with black beans and artichoke dip. I asked our waiter if they could sub hummus for the dip on the wrap and he seemed a little flummoxed by my request, but immediately offered to ask the chef and returned with a positive answer. Despite being a kind of random gathering of ingredients, the wrap was very tasty and nicely grilled, and it came with their freshly made kettle chips.
On the walk back to the cabin we came across Salado Creek Winery. I was not expecting to see a winery in this tiny town! My mom and I popped in for a tasting. Their wines definitely have personality; for example, the Cowpuncher Cabernet. I do not advocate punching cows though, and I don’t believe they do either :)
I first tried their “Vaquero” Shiraz/Tempranillo Blend, which I like so much that I bought a bottle to bring home. Shiraz is my favorite wine, and this was a lighter, tangier spin on it.
I also tried the Brown Chicken Brown Cow, a sweet shiraz flavored with chocolate. The winery’s website says “As far as we know the only ‘chocolate’ wine made in Texas!”. It was definitely good, but incredibly rich. A few ounces went a long way.
For dinner that night we headed to Johnny’s Steaks & BBQ, another local restaurant which had been recommended. It’s the type of joint that puts meat in all the side dishes, so I went for the ol’ side salad and french fries dinner. The point of being there was to spend time with family, so as long as I got some calories in my belly it was alright. Josie didn’t want to sit in the high chair, so we took turns holding her and walking around the restaurant, while she made friends with all the other guests.
After we got back I sampled the Red Rabbit Bakery donut holes I had bought at Wheatsville. They were a little dry, but to be fair it had probably been a few days since they were made at that point. I liked the flavor. My brother did not, but my brother is picky.
The next morning, breakfast for the family was french toast, and for me it was waffles piled high with fruit, and veggie sausage links. The waffles were also gluten free, as Kay was looking to expand her resources for special diets, and they were quite good.
That day we headed out to the Round Rock Premium Outlets for some shopping action. We took a break for lunch at the food court, which didn’t seem too promising. I did find Phil’s Philly Grill which had a veggie philly on the menu, so I asked for that without cheese plus a side salad. Again, the side salad came with unadvertised cheese which I had to pick off. I also snagged a few of my brother’s curly fries.
After more shopping and the drive back a few of us weren’t feeling so well, so we decided to stay in and take it easy that night. We were going to call for pizza again, when after searching around I randomly found that the burger place down the road was advertising a vegan veggie burger, actually using the word vegan! That was a surprise for such a small town. My mom and I headed to Old Fashioned Burgers and Ice-Cream and placed our order with the one lady working there, who promptly started working hard to make all the food. I think she may have buttered all the buns but I didn’t say anything since she was clearly busting it to get the food done.
The burger was pretty tasty, and we shared a big order of fries too.
The next morning we were greeted with a gigantic platter of fruit. I don’t know where Kay was buying the produce, but she managed to find good melons and berries in Texas in December.
The highlight of the fruit was the sugared bananas. She just rolled sliced bananas in cinnamon sugar, and the sugar takes on the moisture from the bananas and makes something like a glaze. Delicious.
My main dish was hash browns, veggie bacon, and biscuits made with margarine.
That day we ventured to my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Killeen to check it out, watch football, and for them to get a workout in. They’re very serious about weight training and power lifting – no breaks on vacation! For lunch we headed to Red Onion India Bistro, which I was very excited about, only to find that they were closed on Sundays. Sad Face. There was a McAlister’s Deli next door, a suitable second choice.
I went for the Spud Ole with veggie chili and jalapenos (no cheese). I used to go to McAlister’s a lot in Florida, so this was a fun trip down memory lane, as well as a filling meal.
That afternoon, Tate gave us a tour around Fort Hood. I had never been on a military base, so it was a really interesting experience. I didn’t realize that some bases are open to the public; Fort Hood has a visitor’s center and two museums. It’s a lot like a college campus, there are offices, barracks, sports fields and training grounds, as well as business like gas stations, restaurants, and the commissary.
This was the last vehicle out of Iraq after the US withdrew. Very cool to see.
I’m not sure if you can tell the scale of this helicopter, but it is massive. Its job is to pick up and move other vehicles and equipment.
For dinner, we went to Texas Roadhouse. I had a side salad with a dressing off of the “light” menu, a baked sweet potato, and a vegetable skewer. Not bad for a vegan steakhouse meal.
The next morning I was up early, saying goodbye and driving back to the Austin airport. I’ll remember this trip as a lot of things: meeting my niece for the first time, spending time in a cute little Texas town, and eating a lot of potatoes. A lot.