Friday, May 6, 2016

BBQ for Lunch – Galax Virginia

As we continued our drive along US Hwy. 58 in SW Virginia, lunch time approached…but I had a plan!


Since the best BBQ we’ve been able to find near where we live in East Tennessee is the mobile smoker that sets up in front of the Food City locations in our area, we’re always on the prowl seeking quality BBQ when were on the road…

This is Galax Smokehouse in Galax Virginia.  This restaurant is located in a nice looking building in the center of town. 



The interior of Galax Smokehouse is expansive, clean and decorated with photos and a collection of kitsch, especially in the pig format!  There is a full bar at the back of the restaurant and it was fairly busy given the fact that it was after 2 PM by the time we arrived.


I ordered the Boneless Rib Tips. ($13.50) This half-pound plus of meat was accompanied by a hunk of bread, some decent coleslaw, some very nice baked beans and 2 small but tasty hush puppies.

The rib tips were plentiful and they were better than average.  Our only issue was with the too runny (for us) vinegar based BBQ sauce.  We like sauce that adheres better to the meat and which provides more ‘heat’.  It’s just our personal preference.

Notes:

·       Galax has a population of around 7,000.  The Appalachian Trail goes right down the middle of Main Street. (Now I can say that I’ve ‘hiked’ part of the Trail) The New River Trail State Park, a 57 mile long multi-use trail also goes right through town.  Galax is also the home of the annual “Old Fiddlers Convention”, a major annual event that started back in 1935!


Laurie ordered the Half Slab of Ribs. ($15.50) Her meal came with that hunk of bread, a couple of hush puppies and some corn nuggets.  For her sides she ordered the house fried potatoes (homemade potato chips) and green beans.
 
The ribs were nice and meaty and she had to ‘work’ the meat off the bones.  That’s our preference!  She really liked the potato chips, those corn nuggets and even the green beans!… It was too much food for her, so I ‘had’ to help her with the ribs and potato chips.  She even let me have one of those corn nuggets and the bread!  They can best be described as corn and cream sauce fried in batter… Yum!

Galax Smokehouse is well worth the stop if you’re anywhere in the vicinity.  This isn’t the best BBQ ever but it is better than average and its far better than what we can find in the Knoxville area.  Galax Virginia is only 10 miles west of I-77.  Address: 101 North Main Street.  Phone: 276-236-1000.  Website: www.thegalaxsmokehouse.com.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a big lunch!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rolling Along the Road in SW Virginia

As we approached our 37th wedding anniversary, we decided that we would ‘gift’ ourselves with a 3 day exploration of southwestern Virginia.  Most of our recent forays into that portion of the state had been right along I-81 to its interchange with I-77.  From there it was the super slab all the way to the Cleveland area where our son and his family used to live…

So I planned a route off the beaten path in Virginia wandering 2-lane highways for the most part, eventually arriving in Roanoke where we spent a couple of nights.


We jumped off of I-81 at Abingdon Virginia and took US Hwy. 58 east toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I wouldn’t recommend parts of this highway to anyone driving or pulling a big recreational vehicle… It winds and twists through the mountains in several areas.

The Green Cove Railroad Station serves as a U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center and trailhead for the Virginia Creeper Trail.  The Green Cove Station is the only original remaining depot building along the Virginia Creeper Trail.  The depot has also served as a post office, general store, and freight office.  Green Cove Station was built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1914.   This rail line became known as the Virginia Creeper because of the train’s slow speed as they went up and over the mountains.


This photograph engraved in stone sits near the front of the Green Cove Station.  It is copied from an original photo by O. Winston Links who is famous for capturing the end of the ‘golden age’ of the railroads in the USA.

The last train that stopped here, an excursion train, was back in 1977.  In that year flooding severely damaged the line and it was never repaired. Today, the Virginia Creeper Trail is a 35-mile multi-purpose ‘rail trail’ that stretches from Abingdon to Whitetop Virginia…through National Forest and crossing numerous restored trestles as well as the Appalachian Trail.  There was a large group of bicyclists at the depot, (which wasn’t open), when we stopped by.
To learn more about the Virginia Creeper ‘rail trail’ just go to http://www.vacreepertrail.com/.





One sight of note as we drove along the flanks of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area was the large number of Christmas tree farms!  It was unexpected, that’s for sure.  When I checked on the Internet, I was amazed at the number of members listed on the roster of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association.  Check it out at http://www.virginiachristmastrees.org/farmlisting/.


One rarely sees a split rail fence like this in this day and age… They are sometimes also referred to as a zigzag fence, worm fence or snake fence.  These fences are very simple in their construction, and can be assembled with few tools even on hard or rocky ground.  They also can be built without using any nails or other hardware.  This hardware was often scarce and expensive in frontier areas.  They were particularly popular in very rocky areas where post hole digging is almost impossible.



The scenery along US Hwy. 58 is just beautiful!  As I mentioned above, the highway passes through the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.  The highest point in this national recreation area and in the state of Virginia is, appropriately enough, Mt. Rogers at 5,729 feet. 

The Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area is 1 of only 18 in the USA.  It covers almost 200,000 acres, contains 4 federally designated Wilderness Areas, has 11 camp sites, (4 of which are set up as horse camps), and over 500 miles of hiking trails.  For those of us who aren’t into hiking, there is also the Mt. Rogers Scenic Byway.  This federally protected area has over 1,000,000 visitors each year.    


We love waterfalls, even modest man-made versions.  This peaceful low rise dam is on a tributary of the New River near Independence Virginia.


The Grayson County Courthouse is located in Independence Virginia.  This ‘new’ courthouse was built in 1908 to replace an 1850 building.  To say that this structure is eclectic would be an understatement.  Note the Flemish gable flanked by turrets.

In 1979 the county opened a new courthouse.  This 1908 building now serves as an area art and cultural center.  It is operated by the Historic 1908 Courthouse Foundation, and houses the Grayson Crossroads Museum, Baldwin Auditorium, Treasury Gift Shop, and some business offices as well.


The population of Independence was only 947 at the 2010 census.  The town is home to a major town celebration on July 4 every year, which is held in front of the courthouse.  It features bluegrass and old-time music and dance, food, crafts and a wild pony sale.  The courthouse is also the location of the Mountain Foliage Festival.  That fall festival features a parade, crafts, arts and music, as well as a race in which contestants use outhouses…i.e., “The Grand Privy Race”.

That’s about it for now… Just click on the photos if you’d like to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a drive through the mountains!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, May 2, 2016

A Nice Lunch in downtown Loudon Tennessee

Recently we’d tried one restaurant in downtown Loudon Tennessee and we’d been greatly disappointed.  On this occasion Laurie and I decided to try the other dining option in the center of town…


This is Annabell’s Emporium.  They sell antiques and gifts but the building also houses Annabell’s Café.  It’s been there for quite a while now but we’d never got around to trying it out.  I sort of expected a ladies ‘tea room’ kind of place with matching food…


The décor is sort of a cross between the tea room look and that of a small town local café.  Tables are available all the way across the front of the store itself and they had a fair amount of business while we were there…even a couple of young guys having lunch.


Laurie ordered the “Cranky Yankee”. ($7.69) This creation included sweet ham, roasted turkey, provolone cheese, thin sliced apple and cranberry sauce.  All panini’s (hot sandwiches) come with a few potato chips and a side dish.  Laurie ordered the Pesto Pasta Salad.  She loved her lunch!  She told me that she would definitely order this panini again…


I went for the “PEYTON”, another panini, this one made up with roast beef, sweet ham, smoked turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese and raspberry mustard. ($7.89) I asked for the fruit cup as my side…mainly because I’m not into the other 2 choices…the pasta salad or the potato salad. 

The sandwich was very good and I’d order it again although I’d substitute Dijon mustard instead of the sweet raspberry version.  I am not into sweet with my meat…a personal preference.  


Annabell’s has a number of dessert items on the menu including cake, pie cheesecake, cookies and scones.  Our host brought us the tray and offered us each one after our lunch…a very nice touch indeed.  Laurie had one of the …. Cookies and I had a Russian tea cookie, as shown on the right with the powdered sugar.  Both cookies were very nice.


Of course, we couldn’t leave the scones untouched!  We love scones and we bought a couple of Annabell’s cranberry scones for breakfast the following day.  Laurie thought that they were more traditional than the ones that we normally buy and rated them as being very good.  To me they were good but I prefer a lighter and sweeter version…

We’ll be back for another lunch at Annabell’s Café!  In addition to panini’s, they serve cold sandwiches, salads, wraps, soup, a quiche of the day, combination offerings, daily specials and all sorts of coffee drinks for there or to go.   Annabell’s is open from 11 AM until 5 PM daily.  They are located at 304 Wharf Street in Loudon.  Phone: 865-657-9846.  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Annabells-Emporium-and-Cafe-133823313337139/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for lunch!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Promising New Market Plus a Laid Back Day…

Somehow we’d never heard of a local market named Basket Case despite the fact that they had been in operation in the old depot in Greenback Tennessee for a few months before they moved to a new location…


This is Basket Case’s new location at 6811 US Highway 411 South in Greenback Tennessee.  The problem with their old location, in addition to definitely being off the path well-traveled, was that they couldn’t prepare food for lunches or takeout.  The old train depot just wasn’t critter proof even if it was charming. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, we didn’t even know that Basket Case existed.  This market had just opened when we stopped by for our first visit.  In addition to an interesting selection of mostly locally sourced food products, they are planning weekly farmer’s markets, hot lunches, sandwiches, specially prepared foods to go, etc. 


This load of goodies was the result of our first visit to Basket Case.  The peppered bacon was very good, the Caramel Puffcorn is long gone, (Laurie really liked it!), the Peanut Butter Spread is a winner, the Red Hot spice mixture does indeed kick it up a notch…and Troyer’s ‘Trail’ or ring Bologna is a real treat.  We haven’t tried the butter yet nor have we gotten around to the frozen spicy sausage.

We are hoping the Basket Case is a success!  It would add real variety to the food scene here in the Loudon and Monroe County areas.  Phone: 865-229-2416.  Basket Case is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BasketCase37742/.

On another spring morning, I decided that it was time to go fishing my way… Big Daddy Dave’s fishing preference is defined as a no pressure, laid back, comfortable, low energy effort…





It would be hard to find a better setting for a relaxing day of fishing.  The skies were blue, it was warm but not hot, the trees were greening up and some were still in bloom.
 
Better yet, Bev and her husband and fellow blogger Big Dude, (http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/), have a great dock up a little cove on the lake that comes equipped with a cover, tables and lots of chairs.  There are even overhead fans to drive away the insects and provide a cool breeze when necessary.  I have been granted ‘fishing privileges’ on their dock so I just park my car, unload my gear, set up chairs on 3 or 4 spots on their big party dock and chill out… Sometimes I even catch fish!


I’m not even sure what types of fish these 4 were but I didn’t catch the usual bass or catfish.  The action wasn’t exactly fast paced on this particular day, but I did catch enough eatable size fish that I could have provided a meal for Laurie and me if I wanted to…or had to.  Of course, if that had been my goal I would have felt pressure to produce and then I would have had to clean and cook the fish… Just too much work… I released the fish back into the lake so I could catch them again on another day.  Then I went home I grilled a couple of steaks instead!

Retired and living the good life…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Leftovers for Breakfast

Of course, leftovers have to start with a previous meal, albeit from home or from a restaurant where too much food was served…or ordered!


So this posting about leftovers for breakfast started with a Fried Catfish Dinner at Z Fish House at 846 Mulberry Street in Loudon Tennessee.  The normal catfish dinner at Z Fish House includes 2 big filets along with French fries, coleslaw or beans with a big hush puppy on the side.  However, I talked her into adding another filet to the feast…in order to provide me with subsequent lunch or breakfast options.

It turned out that I didn’t really need to double up her order as Laurie couldn’t eat more than 1 filet.  I ended up with lots of leftovers!


So…I reheated the French fries and 1 filet in a frying pan with butter.  Then, once that everything was heated up, I placed the filet on top of the fries. 



Then of course, I topped the French fries and catfish filet with a couple of easy over eggs, adding Tabasco after I took the photo.  It was very good indeed!


This is what I did with the second leftover filet… I heated it in a frying pan in butter as before, but then I smothered it with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Much of the cheese crisped up in the fry pan and I scattered that crispy fried cheese over the melted cheese on top of the filet and then added the eggs and Tabasco.  This was an even better breakfast than the first one!  That crispy cheese added a flavor and texture level that made this breakfast pop!

My next leftover adaptation began with a Hawaiian food themed wine tasting party with some of our friends. 


I volunteered us to come up with a Hawaiian rice dish…something that we’d never made before.  It turned out very well and I was lucky to have some left over to enjoy later.  Here is the recipe that we used.

Hawaiian Rice
(Adapted from a recipe found at Cooks.com)
Serves about 12

Ingredients:

·       1 can of Spam (diced)
·       1 20 oz. can of diced pineapple (We drained the canned pineapple but if you wanted the dish to be sweeter, you could use some of the juice with the pineapple.  The original recipe called for crushed pineapple)
·       2 cups of long grain rice
·       4 cups of chicken stock
·       4 tbsp. of butter
·       1 medium onion (We used the equivalent in dried onion flakes)
·       2 cloves of garlic (We used the equivalent in pre-diced garlic from a jar)
·       A dash of salt
·       ½ tbsp. of crushed red pepper flakes (The recipe called for 1 tbsp. which would have made this dish too hot for some diners)
·       1 tbsp. of coarse ground black pepper
·       1 tsp. cumin
·       1 tsp. paprika
·       1 tsp. allspice
·       A small dash of cinnamon

Instructions:

·       Cook the rice in chicken stock with butter, salt, cumin, paprika, allspice and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed.
·       While the rice is simmering, brown the Spam, onions, garlic and pineapple in a large skillet with a lid on high heat.  Add the black pepper and the crushed red pepper flakes just before the mixture is done.
·       Combine the rice and Spam mixture.  Stir, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.
·       Serve warm…


So, for breakfast I heated the Hawaiian rice mixture with butter in a frying pan.  Then I added a little leftover bacon…after all, it was breakfast time!


Then I dumped a ‘little’ sharp cheddar cheese on top of the mixture and let it melt in… I added a bit of spice to kick up the heat as well.


This is what it all looked like after everything had melded together…


Then of course, I just had to drop a couple of easy over eggs on top!  Tabasco was added after the photo was taken.  With the runny yokes, this made a nice creamy textured and satisfying way to start my day here in East Tennessee!

FYI…At least 98% of all leftovers in our house do not go to waste…

That’s all for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a light breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, April 25, 2016

Chinese Food in Madisonville Tennessee

We love good Chinese food so when we heard a few positive comments from our friends about a Chinese restaurant in nearby Madisonville Tennessee, we decided to give it a try…


This is La Fortune Cuisine.  It’s located in a strip mall just off the east side of US Hwy. 411.  A big Wal-Mart is located just north of this strip center.





The interior of La Fortune was a bit more upscale than we expected for a small town Chinese restaurant.  It is spacious and comfortable, providing a relaxing atmosphere…


We started out with hot tea, the usual crisps and a bowl of hot and sour soup.  The soup was decent…lots of mushrooms…but it wasn’t as spicy hot as we prefer and it could have been a bit warmer.


Then we ordered the Crab Rangoon as our appetizer. ($4.95) One of our friends who was their with a group, had cautioned us on this offering but we had already placed our order.  Our friend was right!  This was the strangest Crab Rangoon that we’ve ever had!  The wonton wrappers used to enclose the crab and cream cheese mixture were super thick and heavy…and they seemed to have sugar on them.?  Worse yet, if there was any crab in the filling, we must have missed it!  Not a winner…



Laurie chose the spicy Chicken in Szechuan Sauce for her dinner. ($8.95) It looked appetizing... The first problem was that despite the fact that she told our waitress that she wanted it extra spicy, there was absolutely no ‘heat’ in this dish.  Beyond that, the little bits of chicken seem ‘old’ or odd and didn’t taste right.  Needless to say, Laurie didn’t finish her meal…


I went with one of my standby choices for my entrée.  This was the Royal Chicken…white meat chicken battered and deep fried in a hot spicy sauce with broccoli. ($9.75) It was OK although it wasn’t spicy at all.  Once I procured some Chinese chili sauce, I was OK with my dinner.  It wasn’t my favorite version of this dish though, that’s for sure.

La Fortune Chinese Cuisine was a disappointment for us although the locals have supported it for a number of years.  The most positive comment I can offer is that you get a lot of food at a low cost.  

This restaurant is located near the Wal-Mart at 111 Kefauver Lane in Madisonville Tennessee.  Phone: 423-442-8899.  They are open Tuesdays through Sundays for lunch and dinner.  I couldn’t find a website for La Fortune Chinese Cuisine.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Friday, April 22, 2016

A Busy Spring Day in East Tennessee

Another spring day in East Tennessee… It turned out to be a busy one!  We started out by driving over to the AAA office in Maryville to stock up on maps and Tour Books so I could refine our trip plans for 2016…


After loading up with several bags of AAA items…including car trash bags…I decided to drive east on US Hwy. 321 and then take a back road south in the general direction of our house.  Well, I missed my turn and we ended up almost in the Smoky Mountains… I decided to jump on the Foothills Parkway as our alternate route home.  The views are always nice and there is usually very little traffic.


The Foothills Parkway is a National Parkway, only part of which is completed despite the fact that construction began back in 1960!  Funding for National Parkways has always been a problem and when coupled with environmental issues, progress on these projects has always been extremely slow.  The spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway took 5 decades to complete…


Despite cool temperatures for the day, the Smoky Mountains did indeed have that ‘smoky’ look.  The green in this valley helped enhance the photo.

The portion of the Foothills Parkway that we were on is called the Chilhowee Mountain Section.  Its 16.8 miles long.  The other portion of the Parkway that’s open is located in Cocke County Tennessee and its 5.7 miles long.  Despite the fact that a couple of major bridges have been completed on the ‘missing’ section of the Parkway, this 16.1 mile missing link still has a long way to go before it will open for visitors…   


As we drove along the Parkway, Laurie spotted this lone male turkey picking his way through the undergrowth just off the road… She has an eagle eye when it comes to spotting wildlife!

After driving the Parkway we stopped at our friends and fellow blogger, Big Dude (Larry) and Bev's house for some snacks, a lite lunch and adult libations... (http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/Then it was back home to reality. 




All play and no work makes me happiest but there comes a time when one has to face up to basic tasks that must be done!  One of our early spring chores was to clean up our garage and discard or recycle as much clutter as possible.  Laurie and I also cleaned up our storage room and sorted out about 150 paperback books for the local library’s spring book sale and fund raiser…



I just thought that I’d end this posting with a smile worthy photo!  This beautiful male red-bellied woodpecker just loves our feeder on the back deck!  He’s a daily visitor… The squirrels haven’t been too bad about raiding the feeder this year, although they do succeed once in a while.  The latest visitor has been a crow that somehow holds on while grabbing a bite from one of the suet cakes at the ends of the feeder.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave