Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Our Anniversary Dinner!

Back in April, we celebrated 39 years since we had our first date…and it was a blind date…as well as our 38th wedding anniversary.  Laurie hadn’t wanted to go out with me as I was an ‘old man’, 10 years her senior.  Her friend and my administrative assistant promised that she would stop bugging her if she just went out with me this one time… Laurie agreed and the rest is history!

So how did we celebrate this momentous occasion?  We usually just go out for a semi-fancy upscale dinner.  This time we added a movie to the mix, watching “Ghost in the Shell” starring Scarlett Johansson.  The movie was OK as we both like strong kick-butt female characters.

So I asked Laurie just where she’d like to go for our anniversary dinner.  What special place did she choose?

Yup!  She chose the Steak ‘n Shake in Knoxville’s Turkey Creek shopping area.  She’s from the St. Louis Missouri area and she grew up on Steak ‘n Shake hamburgers…and she loves them!  I even gave her a chance to change her mind at the last minute but she’d made up her mind.

The interior decor of Steak ‘n Shake Restaurants is very consistent.  They are what are commonly termed ‘fast casual’ restaurants.  There are servers and orders are taken from menus at your table.

Steak ‘n Shake Restaurants were founded in 1934 in Normal Illinois.  Today they are a division of Biglari Holdings, Inc. which is based in San Antonio Texas.  Steak ‘n Shake now has 550 + locations in 28 states.  Biglari Holdings also operates/franchises Western Sizzlin Restaurants (75 locations in 17 states), Maxim (Magazine and related businesses) and First Guard Insurance Company, which provides commercial truck insurance.

Laurie went for it big time, starting out with a side salad.  She said that it was pretty good too… I couldn’t find a price for it on-line and I paid cash for dinner and I didn’t get a detailed receipt.

Next she went for the Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger™, her standard favorite burger at Steak ‘n Shake. (Ala carte $3.68) She dropped the onions and asked for extra pickles…and as you can see, her request was fulfilled.

Well what the heck!  It was our anniversary dinner and Laurie had to have something to drink with dinner.  She ordered a very satisfying Root Beer Float… (Price isn’t listed on-line)

Don’t forget that this was my anniversary dinner too!  I went all in but I skipped a fancy drink to go with my dinner…settling for water with lemon.  My first course consisted of a Spicy Chicken Sandwich with French fries. ($3.99) I had my bottle of Tabasco with me and I kicked the chicken sandwich up another notch.  I shared the fries with my bride.  This was a good ‘start’ for my special dinner… 

For my second course, I ordered my own ala carte Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger™.  My appetite was finally sated! 

This was a good experience all around.  My better half got exactly what she wanted to eat for our anniversary dinner.  Happy wife = Happy life!  In addition, my wallet was happy too.  This special dinner probably cost just about what our pizza cost on our first date back in the suburbs of St. Louis!

The Steak ‘n Shake in Knoxville’s Turkey Creek shopping area is located at 310 Wild Geese Road at Parkside Drive.  Phone: 865-675-2551.  Steak ‘n Shake’s website can be found at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing our anniversary dinner with us!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 29, 2017

In Memoriam – Our Parents

Memorial Day, 2017: Laurie’s and my parents…who better to honor and give thanks to!  They brought us into the world, nurtured us and set the stage for who we are today.  The stars aligned for our parents to meet and fall in love.  In turn their love arranged our stars so that we would eventually meet and become the couple that we are today!

David’s mom, Elizabeth Selma Weed, daughter of Nathan B. Weed and Estelle J. Sibbald (Weed) was born in Liberty New York on January 3, 1916.  For most of her life, she lived in and around Jackson Michigan.  Elizabeth (Beth) had 2 brothers, Nathan and John and a younger sister Jeane.   This formal color photo was taken about the time David’s mom graduated from high school.

Elizabeth went on to nursing school but other than a short stint as a personal caregiver, she never really worked in the profession.  Later she worked as a secretary and then as a social worker for the state of Michigan. 

Laurie’s mom, Doris Glenda McCormick, daughter of Otto McCormick and Rose Hetzel (McCormick) was born in Bancroft Wisconsin on March 4, 1911.  She lived in Wisconsin until she went to nursing school in St. Louis Missouri.  She is one of 5 siblings, the others being Harland, Lois, Alton and Marion.  This photo was taken ca. 1934 for Laurie’s dad to have while Doris was away in nursing school. 

David’s dad, Ronald Allen Myers, son of Frank J. Myers and Mary Ethel Cerrow (Myers) was born in Jackson Michigan on April 2, 1911.  For most of his life, except when he was in the Army, he lived in and around Jackson Michigan.  Ronald (Ron) had one brother, Clifford.  This photo was taken after he graduated from High School.   

Laurie’s dad, Robert Templeton, son of John L. Templeton and Lena Smith (Templeton) was born in Gillespie Illinois on October 28, 1913.  He lived in Gillespie until he married Laurie’s mom Doris.  He served in the US Army and was stationed in Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri.  This photo was taken just before he reported for duty.

Coincidentally, John L. Templeton and Lena Smith Templeton emigrated from Scotland and David’s stepfather also came from Scotland.  Both men were coal miners…John in Scotland and Illinois and Hugh in Nova Scotia.  We’ve recently learned that their home towns in Scotland were no more than 30 miles apart.

This ca. 1946 photo of David’s mom was taken in front of her parent’s house at 124 East Prospect Avenue in Jackson Michigan.  By this time she was a war widow and she was living with David at her parent’s home.  Beth went on to remarry in 1947.  Her second husband’s name was Hugh Thomson.  He’d migrated to the USA from Scotland and Nova Scotia Canada.  In 1948, David’s brother Robert Thomson was born…

Beth was an artist who worked in many mediums…water color, oil paints, clay, weaving…and in many styles too.  Thanks to her, the walls of our house and David II’s family’s home out in Omaha Nebraska are covered in quality art ranging from primitive to impressionist works.  Following a downward spiral health wise, we moved David’s mom from Concord Michigan to a care facility near our previous home in Mt. Prospect Illinois.  She passed away on January 9, 1995 at the age of 79.     

Like the photo of Laurie’s dad in uniform, this photo of Laurie's mom was taken at the back of the Templeton’s family home in Gillespie Illinois.  The dog in the photo was named Tiger.  At this point, Doris and Bob were engaged but were yet to be married.

An interesting fact is that Bob’s younger brother John, ended up marrying Doris’ middle sister Lois…creating a plethora of double cousins!  Doris and Lois’ younger sister Marion lamented at the time that there weren’t any more Templeton boys left to marry!

Another coincidence… Both Laurie’s mom and David’s mom became registered nurses, both attending nursing school while engaged to their future husbands and separated from them at the same time.  We have many letters written during the time they spent apart.

Laurie’s mom passed away at the age of 92 on August 21, 2003.  She is dearly missed by all who knew her…

David’s dad Ron joined the army in 1942 after the United States entered World War II.  He wasn’t shipped overseas until early in 1945 but Sgt. Ronald Allen Myers was killed in action in Czechoslovakia on May 6, 1945…just a couple of days before the war in Europe came to an end.  Ron was with the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division of the US Army.  David wasn’t quite 3 years old at the time.

After high school, Ron had attended Michigan State University and earned a degree in Conservation.  He and Beth met while Ron was working as a ‘soda jerk’ in a drug store in Jackson Michigan…earning money to pay for college.  Just prior to the war, Ron was working for what is now Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources as a conservation officer.

Laurie’s dad started out working in an automotive garage early in his life.  At some point after he married Doris and they moved to St. Louis, Bob found his calling in sales.  He was very successful selling forklifts to large corporations.   At various times over the years he worked for Yale, Clark and Monroe.
Bob was very active in the community, serving as a deacon at Maplewood Methodist Church, as a board member at the Brentwood Missouri YMCA, as a Mason and as a member of the Maplewood Lions Club.

Sadly, Bob died from a massive heart attack at the age of 55 on September 20, 1969.  Laurie was only 17 years old at the time.  Her sister Bonnie was only 16.  Both girls were still living at home and in school…  

It’s a bit sad, but we only have 2 photos of Beth and Ron together…and both of them are with David in front of Beth’s parent’s house.  There aren’t any wedding photos although we have documentation that they were married by a Catholic priest.  All of the other photos that we have were taken by Ron or Beth taking photos of each other…

We have a number of letters from Ronald to Elizabeth and they are sweet and loving… One word that is consistent in their communications is “swell”, a word that is rarely used these days.  Things were tough for the couple both before and after they were married, that’s for sure.  It was still during the depression with jobs and money being very special commodities.  In one letter, Ron apologized for not leaving Beth with a $1.00 so she’d have a bit of spending money.  David was born on July 21, 1942 in Carson City Michigan while Ron was working for Michigan’s Conservation Department.

David here… I regret having no memory of my father.  I know that my life would have been much different had he survived the war but I’m thankful that he and my mother were very much in love and that they brought me into this world.  Hopefully, they are reunited in a better place. 

Laurie’s parents met at a dance… Bob was there with Doris’ roommate and Doris was with Bob’s friend.  The following week, Bob went to the dorm at the nursing school and Doris told him that her roommate wasn’t there.  He told her that he came to see her and ask her out for a date.  The rest is history!

Their early years together during the depression were challenging.  Laurie has letters from them to each other as they were separated while he was desperately searching for work while she was in St. Louis either in nurses training or working as a nurse.  Their letters revealed that how much they wanted to be together, have their own apartment and start a family.  They wanted a girl first and they were going to name her Glenda Joy because she was so wanted.  Surprise!  Glenda Joy came first, followed by Robert Bruce, Karole Kay, Joanne Lee, Laurie Jean and Bonnie Arline. 

Laurie has many great family memories…picnics in parks in St. Louis and St. Charles Missouri with all her double cousins…family vacations in Plover Wisconsin to visit Doris’s sister and family…the cottage in Heafford Junction Wisconsin…and many camping trips all over the country.

With Laurie’s dad’s sudden death in 1969, the lives of the entire family were completely changed.  As it turned out, our family's lives and tragedies eventually led to Laurie’s and my paths coming together.  So we both miss our parents very much but thanks to them and their sacrifices, we have each other and our families…

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

Let’s all remember our loved ones who have passed…

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Italian Dining in Loudon Tennessee

There are about 4 choices for Italian food within an easy drive of our home.  One is in Madisonville Tennessee, another is in Vonore Tennessee and 2 others are in Loudon… On this occasion we choose one of the Loudon based restaurants.

We have dined at Vittorino’s Cucina previously.  There is much debate in our community as to which Loudon Italian restaurant is better…Vittorino’s or Classico.  Lately, although Classico offers a fine breakfast operating under the name of Mama’s Grits, we’re hearing more positives about Vittorino’s vs. Classico when it comes to Italian cuisine.

Vittorino’s is located at the end of a strip shopping center on TN Hwy. 72 not far from I-75.  This particular shopping center is anchored at the other end by a relatively new Food City grocery store.

We were early for dinner on this occasion which probably accounts for the empty tables.  The dining area is bright and cheerful.

At Vittorino’s they automatically start you out with these parmesan garlic bread sticks.  It looks like a sliced up pizza crust and it comes with a cup of marinara dipping sauce.  This ‘starter’ is better than average and it's a nice touch…

Laurie decided to order the Shrimp Alfredo. ($12.95) The food was plentiful and she thought that it was above average for our area.  Laurie enjoyed her dinner and said that she’d order it again.  We both had a side salad with our entrees, which was fresh and satisfying.

For my dinner, I ordered the Saltinboca Ala Roma…prosciutto, melted mozzarella cheese over spinach and spaghetti noodles with a tomato sauce. ($13.95) I thought that it was OK but it’s a matter of taste and I might have been better served with another entrée. 

We tend to agree that Vittorino’s Cucina is a little superior when being compared to Classico in the Loudon area.  We will return to try something else on the menu.  

Vittorino’s Cucina has 2 locations, one in Loudon and the other in Sweetwater Tennessee.  The Loudon location is at 2761 Hwy. 72.  Phone: 865-408-2422.   Vittorino’s is on Facebook at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chapman’s Restaurant – Seymour Tennessee

Some time ago, one of our home maintenance service providers told us that a restaurant that we had really liked had re-opened in Seymour under a different name.  The best news was that it was being operated by the same owner and chef that had it previously…

This is Chapman’s Restaurant…which is appropriately named after “Chapman Highway” (US Hwy. 441 South), the major road that runs by the front of this location.  At one point a couple of years ago or so, it was called “Willie’s Restaurant” and Willy Laboy was the proprietor.  We loved Willy’s but hated the fact that it was such a long drive from our home. 

The inside of Chapman’s has changed a bit since we’d visited it as its first iteration as Willy’s and one subsequent time under new management.  However, the log cabin interior look along the walls has stayed the same.

There are 2 dining areas.  This one was where we sat but the other side now features high backed booths and the salad bar along one wall is gone.  This was a weekday and we arrived for dinner at about 5:30 PM.  Chapman’s was packed!

Our friends Jodie and Morrie accompanied us on this exploratory but hopeful visit to Chapman’s… Would the food measure up to its previous standards?

As was the practice under its original name, the waitress started us out with some garlic knots and marinara sauce.  We love these little garlic laden rolls!  I “had” to eat 2 of them because Jodie doesn’t really like much garlic in her food…

Each couple ordered a couple of appetizers to share… This was an order of Fried Calamari with marinara sauce. ($8.99) I’d eaten a couple of pieces before I took the photo.  The calamari was better than average and the price was right in comparison to other restaurants…

This appetizer was the big winner!!  This is an order of coconut shrimp. ($8.99) Count them…there are 12 big juicy coconut shrimp perfectly done and served with sweet chili sauce.  Amazing!  This appetizer was a hit with Laurie’s sisters too when we ate at Chapman’s in early May.

This is the Lobster Ravioli. ($12.99) Laurie ordered it as her main course.  She said that it was good but she couldn’t decide if it wasn’t as good as she remembered from before or if she’s just a bit burned out on this dish in general.

On our subsequent visit to Chapman’s, Laurie’s sister Bonnie also opted for the Lobster Ravioli.  She agreed with Laurie that it just wasn’t as good as it was when the restaurant was called Willie’s.  She missed the actual pieces of lobster vs. what she termed a mushy filling and she thought that the pasta itself was thicker or heavier… 

I went with my “Willy’s” all-time favorite.  This is the Shrimp Fra Diavlo. ($9.99) I forgot to order penne paste instead of fettuccini…as I’m less likely to ‘wear’ sauce from penne vs. fettuccini noodles. (However, I managed to avoid dripping on my shirt on this occasion)

I asked for my shrimp fra diavlo to be extra spicy…enough to make my bald pate sweat.  The chef delivered and my entrée was excellent!  FYI…Willy should know something about pasta and Italian food as he moved to East Tennessee from Queens NY.   I ordered it again when we took Laurie’s sisters here for dinner in early May and I wasn’t disappointed.  

Morrie ordered the Chopped Steak Dinner with 2 sides. ($8.99) He really liked the chopped steak.  For his sides he had a house salad and the sweet potato casserole.   

Jodie mistakenly ordered the Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara thinking that it was a tomato sauce rather than a tomato cream sauce. ($11.99) As it turned out, Jodie doesn’t like tomato cream sauce.  However, the waitress made Jodie very happy by offering to replace it with something that Jodie would prefer even though Jodie admittedly didn’t focus on this entrée’s description…

Jodie’s replacement entrée was this order of Chicken Parmesan. ($9.99) She really liked it and cleaned her plate!  It looked good to me too…  Note: Over the top customer service!!

When we dined at Chapman’s in early May with Laurie’s sisters, Karole chose the Shrimp Alfredo for her entrée. ($11.99)  The serving was so large that she couldn’t finish all the pasta…but she did wipe out the shrimp.  She liked her dinner a lot!

On our second visit, since Laurie knew that she didn’t care for the current version of Lobster Ravioli, she decided to order the Chicken Alfredo. ($10.99)  She did like it and she took home part of it for a subsequent dinner of leftovers.

One thing that had improved since Willy last operated a restaurant in this location was the desserts being offered.  While we skipped dessert with Laurie's sisters, we all indulged when we dined here with Jodie and Morrie.  A couple of local ladies bake pies and other desserts for Chapman’s customers.  This was the Chocolate Oreo Pie! ($3.49)

I don’t recall what this was called but it was a cheesecake with chocolate and it was reported to be very good indeed!

 I ordered a slice of Annette’s Coconut Pie. ($3.49) I haven’t had a slice of coconut pie that tasted this good in years!  Laurie loved it too!  Laurie and I would have ordered a couple slices of this pie to go when we visited Chapman's with her sisters, but they were sold out...

Willy is back!  Chapman’s is a great place to eat.  It’s very casual, service is efficient, (bending over backwards to please the customer is our case), the food is way above average especially for the price, you can’t beat the pasta dishes…especially here in East Tennessee…and the menu is huge!  We’ll be back soon.  Laurie is vowing to try the non-Italian side of the menu…

Chapman’s Restaurant is located at 10321 Chapman Highway (US Hwy 411 South) in Seymour Tennessee.  Phone: 865-577-1700.  Website:  Chapman’s is also on Facebook (complete with the menu) at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 22, 2017

Easter Brunch at The Chop House – Knoxville Tennessee

Once again, our friends Linda and Norm invited us to do something we just never do.  The last time it was dinner out on Valentine’s Day…something we just haven’t done because of the crowds, service issues, etc.  That experience did work out well, so when they asked us if we’d like to join them for Easter Brunch/early afternoon dinner, we readily agreed!

This is The Chop House on Kingston Pike (US Hwy 11) in west Knoxville.

The Chop House is part of Connor Concepts, Inc.  Connor Concepts operates 12 Chop House locations in 4 states as well as 4 Connor’s Steakhouse locations in 3 states.  The first Chop House opened way back in 1992…25 years ago as of this year. 

The interior of The Chop House is large and roomy with the tables comfortably spaced so diners don’t feel crowded…

We took this photo a little late…as this appetizer had already been attacked before we remembered to take a photo.  These are Mozzarella Wedges with Marinara. ($8.00) Norm and Linda did enjoy them and it wasn’t for the first time either!

Laurie and went a different route for our appetizer.  This is Pizza Florentine. ($9.00) It has a crispy thin crust with creamed spinach, cheese, diced tomato, jalapeño and artichokes.  There is an option to add chicken for 2 more dollars.  Laurie and I really enjoyed it…excellent!

I don’t always include photos of side salads, but these 2 were better than average and deserve mentioning.  The top one is the House Salad which Linda enjoyed where as Laurie and I both had a side Caesar Salad.  Our salads were flavor packed…and we could actually taste anchovy…a rarity here in East Tennessee.

Norm ordered the 12 oz. Chop House Pork Chop. ($16.00) This thick, bone-in cut pork chop was sided with baked cinnamon apples and a jumbo sweet potato.  In retrospect, I should have ordered this luscious pork chop.  It was cooked perfectly, not overdone as is frequently the case with pork dishes in restaurants.

Linda went for the Filet of Beef Medallions. (6 oz. $23.00 or 9 oz. $27.00) She also went for a baked sweet potato.  Linda was very happy with her entrée!

Laurie and I both went for a 10 oz. ribeye cooked medium rare. ($21.00) She chose spinach as her side and also asked for béarnaise sauce on the side. ($4.00) A 14 oz. ribeye is also available on the menu for $25.00.

This was my ribeye steak.  It was a tad rarer than I like.  My side was something you don’t see on too many menus…sugar snap peas.  I love sugar snap peas!
Laurie and I agreed that the steaks were OK…a bit better than average for the money…but not great.  Like I said before, I should have ordered that big pork chop.  Service was competent and pleasant and our experience at The Chop House was far better than the one we had at its more expensive sister restaurant…Connor’s Steakhouse.

Hey Norm and Linda…Thanks for the invitation!!

The Chop House on the west side of Knoxville is located at 9700 Kingston Pike/US Hwy. 11.  Phone: 865-531-2467.  This Chophouse location is on the Internet at
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dinner at a Friend’s Home

We don’t always go out to restaurants to eat… Sometimes we invite friends and neighbors over to our house for a meal and sometimes those friends and neighbors return the favor.  It always makes for a relaxing evening!

Recently, our friends George and Lynn invited us to come over to their house for dinner.  George didn’t want us to bring anything for the meal as he had it all planned out…

They live on the lake and the view from their enclosed porch is pretty darn nice don’t you think?!  We love springtime in east Tennessee!

The table was set and the soup and wine were in place when Laurie took this photo. 

George loves to cook and create dishes that are both flavorful and a bit unusual for the average dining experience.  Our soup on this occasion was borscht served cold with a dollop of sour cream.

Borscht is a soup popular in several Eastern European cuisines.  The variety most commonly associated with the name in English is of Ukrainian origin and includes beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which gives the soup that distinctive red color.  There are hundreds of variations of borscht and not all of them are red.  See

I’m not a beet fan but I actually thought that this soup was pretty good.  Laurie loves beets and she thought that this borscht was fabulous!

Our protein for dinner was also something that most people don’t cook at home…or at least don’t cook at home very often.  These are duck breasts…

The USA only produced 24,500,000 ducks in 2011...or 50,000 metric tons of meat.  This compared to France with 234,000 metric tons and China with 3,193,000 metric tons!  The average American only eats a third of a pound of duck each year... Did I mention that Laurie loves duck!

George fried the seasoned duck breasts bringing them up to medium rare to medium before plating them with the sides…

George’s efforts resulted in a lovely plate of food consisting of duck breast with plum sauce, whipped potatoes and asparagus with béarnaise sauce.  It was a very fine meal!

Of course, George also prepared a special dessert for us!  It looks fancy but it’s fairly simple…meringue, ice cream, almond slivers and cherries.  It was very tasty indeed.

There is nothing like a couple of glasses of wine and a fine meal with good friends!  George really delivered for his guests…and he even let Lynn assist a little.  Thanks George and Lynn!

Just click on any of the photo to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave