Friday, March 24, 2023

A Mishmash or Hodgepodge

Basically, this is a mixed up continuation or narrative about our recent visit from Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill.  You may think that so much shopping seems unusual for such a visit.  However, the fact is that Laurie doesn’t like to shop with yours truly as I never want to buy much and, like many men, I’m not much into ‘browsing’.  When Bonnie and Laurie are together, shopping is “in”, whether the guys tag along or not. 


On this occasion our little group started out at the J.C. Penney store in Knoxville/Farragut Tennessee’s Turkey Creek shopping center.  As you can see, the store wasn’t overloaded with customers but it was fairly well stocked in most departments.  Bill and I did do a little shopping/browsing and Bill actually bought a pair of blue jeans.  As for myself, I just couldn’t get into it…

On the other hand, with Bonnie’s help Laurie replenished part of her wardrobe buying a decent variety of tops and pants.  As a direct result of these purchases, a significant amount of ladies clothing was donated to the local charitable resale shops.

James Cash Penney was born in 1875 in Hamilton Missouri, the 7th of 12 children. The untimely death of his father made it necessary for Penney to start clerking in a store to support the family.  After moving west for his health, he opened the first J.C. Penney store in 1902 in Kemmerer Wyoming.  It is the company’s “mother store” and it’s still open for business.  The company grew to 2,053 stores in 1973 but by 2020 the company had to declare bankruptcy.  It has since been purchased by an investment group and now operates 667 stores.  James Cash Penney died at the age of 95 in 1971…still the company’s honorary chairman and still going to his office every day…

Our next stop was Bed, Bath and Beyond… This 52 year old retail operation hasn’t fared as well as J.C. Penney.  The company began the year by warning investors that it might not survive the years.  Company shares plunged almost 30% and the outlook is bleak at best.

We wandered through the store… I should have taken photos but having personally lived through a couple of retail failures in my career, taking photos was just too depressing.  From a store that was wall to wall with merchandise before Covid-19, the store was almost barren, with whole sections having little to display or sell.  

…and another one bites the dust!

From there we wandered over to World Market just to make ourselves feel better.  The ladies unsuccessfully shopped for a replacement carpet for our living area…and in the end, the four of us did what we always do when browsing through this store.  The specialty food section is just too tempting.  We bought a lot of unnecessary food and treats to take home with us!

World Market used to be called Cost Plus Stores…related to Pier One Imports…and World Market stores were purchased by Bed, Bath and Beyond in 2012.  These stores apparently escaped the fate of the parent company by being purchased by an investment firm in 2021.  The store was well stocked and busy…

Moving on to food…home cooking.

We had never had delicata squash but we’d picked up one for Laurie and me before Bonnie and Bill arrived…and then got a second one so we could have a plentiful side dish for the four of us.  The squash were split in half, the seeds removed, then sliced as shown…and placed on a baking sheet.  They were drizzled with olive oil plus salt and pepper and popped in the oven.

The delicata squash accompanied these beef flank steak pinwheels that we’d purchased at Fresh Market.  The pinwheels were stuffed or wrapped around provolone cheese and spinach…and they were very tasty indeed!  I had leftovers too…a wondrous result from too much food being served.

On another day Bill and I sat and watched in wonder as the sisters spent well over an hour trying to decide how to change the theme of our hearth and mantle…from winter to spring.  It is a bit lighter and greener than it was previously and the ladies felt good about it, so I guess that the effort expended was worth it.

Mishmash…remember the theme of this post.  I decided to just throw in a photo of one of our favorite breakfast entrees.  It was a cold morning after Bonnie and Bill had departed and it was perfect for a big bowl of oatmeal.  We don’t use the ‘instant’ version but it doesn’t take long.  When served we laden our bowls with butter, dried cranberries (or other fruit), Splenda brown sugar plus half and half milk.  Satisfying comfort food!

I had published a photo of our Quince bush during the first week of March…but now it is at or just past its full glory!  The flowering quince bush is a native of Southeast Asia.  The wonder of these deciduous spiny shrubs is that they bloom before almost everything else in the late winter or early spring.  In a recent mild winter, our bush once bloomed in January...

We love our redbud trees.  The eastern redbud is a large shrub or small tree that is native to Eastern North America, ranging from southern Michigan and south to central Mexico.  They are the state tree of Oklahoma and redbuds are everywhere around East Tennessee. 

Do you hate carpenter bees and the damage they can do to your home?  Me too, so I was somewhat disturbed to learn that redbud flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry and carpenter bees.  Short-tongued bees can’t reach the nectary’s…

I’d just posted a photo of our local female Flicker…the largest member of the woodpecker family that regularly visits our bird feeding station.  Laurie just captured a good photo of her mate…handsome fellow that he is!  Northern flickers are native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba and the Cayman Islands.  They are one of the few woodpeckers that actually migrate.

Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground and they also sometimes catch insects in flight.  Although they eat fruits, nuts, seeds and berries, (mostly in the winter), their primary food is insects.  Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet!  They will actually break into underground ant colonies to get at the larvae.

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Seafood for Dinner +

…continuing with our visit from Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill.  They both love seafood and they decided that Bonefish would be a great dinner destination.  The previous evening, we’d stayed home and had a hearty beef stew that Laurie and I had put together...


Bonefish was their restaurant of choice.  Laurie and I frequently dine here for her birthday or other celebrations…such as an anniversary.  This particular location in Knoxville/Farragut’s Turkey Creek shopping center, is fairly close to our home.

I noted that the dining room never really filled up with customers…and it was a Friday night.  Perhaps burgeoning inflation and growing credit card debt is beginning to really impact the middle class.  I do know that while this is the exception, Laurie and I are eating out less while tending to dine in lower cost restaurants.  Given the lack of customers, this didn’t appear to be a promising evening for the wait staff but it was great for those of us who were being served…

Bill love Brussel Sprouts…as do I!  The difference is that I can’t eat them (greens in general) as they negatively impact my meds.  So…I had to watch Bill devour this appetizer special, a platter of roasted Brussel Sprouts. ($9.90) He thought that this was a terrific start to his dinner…and I did eat one little piece to confirm what I thought.  Bonnie was treated to a couple of bites too.  We agreed that they were delicious!

So…I ordered an appetizer as well.  This was my Tempura Crunch Sashimi Tuna. ($13.90) The sushi-grade tuna was seared rare and sliced with sashimi sauce and tempura crumbles.  It was served with wasabi, soy sauce and it was accompanied with a sriracha drizzle.  It was excellent…as confirmed by Laurie, who is a real sashimi lover.

Both of the ladies decided to go all out so they each ordered a pair of Cold Water Lobster Tails. ($38.90) Each of them were served a pair of 5 – 6 oz. lobster tails, seasoned and steamed, then served with warm drawn butter.  The lobster tails came with 2 sides, so the ladies got to choose between coleslaw, seasonal vegetables, jasmine rice, garlic whipped potatoes and French fries.  Two happy wives!!!

While Bill and Bonnie went for beers, Laurie decided to try a special Bonefish Grill adult beverage.  It was the Smoked Old Fashioned Woodford Reserve Bourbon with Angostura bitters and a Bordeaux cherry…smoked with oak and served over a ‘colossal’ ice cube. ($13.10)

Bill decided to order the seafood special.  This was the Rock Butterfish stuffed with lump crabmeat. ($28.90) He sided it with broccoli and jasmine rice.  He thought it was very nice but he did second guess his choice…

For my entrée, I went with the Mahi-Mahi and Shrimp. ($24.90) A wood-grilled mahi-mahi filet was paired with 5 jumbo shrimp…all brushed with a light citrus-herb marinade.  The seafood was very nice indeed.  For my sides, I just asked to for double up with the jasmine rice…although if I could have, I would have had that nice looking steamed broccoli like Bill had.  I saved some soy sauce as well as some wasabi…so I mixed it in with the rice…and I was happy.

We did have a nice dinner…no problems at all.  This particular Bonefish Grill location is found at 11395 Parkside Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-996-9777.  This restaurant’s website can be found at: https://locations.bonefishgrill.com/tennessee/knoxville/11395-parkside-drive.

Time for a couple of photos from our home…

Laurie took this great photo of ‘our’ Northern Flicker on our feeder.  She actually held still for Laurie!  When she or her mate comes to feed, they just stays put until they’ve eaten their fill.  The only other birds that we’ve seen challenging them at the feeder are the mockingbirds… 

Time for a simple breakfast…just leftover cheesy potatoes, pan fried in butter to ‘brown them up’ a bit.  Then I just dropped 2 over-easy eggs on top of the potatoes for a very satisfying meal.  Of course, I did sprinkle it with Tabasco after I took the photo.  I must be ‘slipping’ though…as there was no meat or bread accompaniment!  I did however adhere to my home dining mantra, “waste not and want not”!  It was plenty to eat!

Just click on any photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, March 17, 2023

Visitors – Out and About

Nothing too exciting going on lately.  So we were happy to learn that Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill were once again coming to pay us an extended visit!  It was a great way to celebrate the beginnings of the Spring Season.


Some of our early spring blooming plants had already showed themselves, and, with the mild late winter weather we were experiencing, life was once again proving resilient despite some truly damaging freezing temperatures back in December.  The daffodils and grape hyacinths were among the first blooms to appear.   We love spring, don't you?!   


Laurie doesn’t get much satisfaction shopping with yours truly…mainly because I don’t like to shop for much…except groceries.  So, when her sister visits, she and Laurie are off and running.  We needed a new towel set and new bathroom rugs for the primary bathroom and Laurie was also looking for a replacement carpet for our living room area.  Homegoods, in Maryville Tennessee, was the first of many stores visited over the next few days… They were ready for Easter business and even I think that this store was well organized and stocked.


Of course we stopped at Homegoods’ carpet display to see if we could find something that had the right colors…and of equal importance…the right dimensions to fill our need.  The width and colors of the carpet shown above would fit our needs but it wasn’t quite long enough.  We may go back and pick it up and make it work if nothing better comes along.

Note: We did find a towel set that fit our needs.  Time to retire the old ones!

Next, the ladies stopped in at the Rack Room Shoes adjacent to Homegoods…but I (we) escaped without making any purchases.

What to do next?  In the depths of my memory, such as it is these days, I recalled reading about a new brew pub in Alcoa Tennessee…which is right next to Maryville.  Bill loves a good beer plus Laurie and I are always looking for a new place to bring visitors and/or just to have dinner.

This is Black Horse Pub and Brewery.  Jeff Robinson was a helicopter pilot for the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm.  After returning from Iraq and Kuwait, in 1992 Jeff and his wife Sherri opened a small pub in downtown Clarksville Tennessee.

Then in 1995, the couple completed construction of their own brewery.  They chose the name “Blackhorse” in honor of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.  Jeff never served in that unit but he admired the Cavalry’s spirit and energy.  The “Blackhorse” Regiment has served in the Philippine-American War, the Pancho Villa Expedition, World War II, the Vietnam War, Gulf War and the Iraq War.


This is a big restaurant and pub with a very large bar and a variety of seating…the latter ranging from low tables to booths to high stools and tables and, of course, stools at the bar.  The ambiance is industrial but the ‘look’ is tempered by the wooden beams, wood covered ceiling and those big circular lighting fixtures.  Thanks to the server for her big smile!

At my stage and age, I opt for a standard table if one is available.  Booths are too hard to slide in and out of and if I sit on one of those high stools for very long, my legs tend to go to sleep…awkward! 

It wasn’t time for dinner so we just ordered this large Charcuterie Board with crusty bread, some unleavened crackers, cheeses, fruit, nuts, pepperoni and salami…all drizzled with honey. ($17.50) It was a very good charcuterie board with lots to nibble on for the money.  Everything was nice and fresh.  We proclaimed the Blackhorse Pub and Brewery as a “winner” and vowed to return soon!

I stuck to a nice Lemonade ($3.25), Laurie had the Vanilla Cream Ale ($6.00) which she loved, Bonnie had McGee’s Pale Ale ($6.00) and Bill had the Beer Sampler. ($7.50) He really liked their ‘Warhorse’ brew!

The Blackhorse Pub and Brewery in Alcoa Tennessee is located at 441 North Hall Road.  Phone: 865-448-5900.  The Blackhorse Pub and Brewery’s website is at Blackhorse - Blackhorse (blackhorsebrews.com).

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Tried a New Place for Dinner…New for Us at Least

At this point in time we’ve lived here in East Tennessee for over thirteen and a half years.  One would think that we would have tried every restaurant/dining opportunity for miles around where we live.  The fact is, that for one reason or another, we haven’t chowed down in all the restaurants…even ones that have been around longer than we have…


Asahi Japanese Grill was in business when we moved in those many years ago.  There were 3 reasons why we hadn’t eaten here previously.  First of all, I’m not crazy about Japanese food…but admittedly I hadn’t been to a Japanese Grill.  Secondly, for quite some time, the landscaping wasn’t taken care of…and that turned off my better half.  The third reason was that none of our friends ever mentioned it so it wasn’t on our mind.  In any case, I decided that we had to give Asahi’s a try!

It’s a nice looking building but all the parking is in the back.  If you’re dining in, it’s easiest to enter through the back door.  The dining area itself is fairly austere…plain with minimal decorations.  It appeared that most regular customers order at the counter.   We hadn’t eaten here before so we asked if we could take the menus to our table.  Shortly thereafter, a waitress began serving us…

To start, Laurie ordered her favorite appetizer, the Crab Rangoon. (6 for $6.99) I went for the Vegetable Spring Rolls. (2 for $2.99)

The Crab Rangoon was not a winner.  Basically it seemed to be pre-packaged and the only flavor was the cream cheese.  No spices of any note were present.  I ended up eating 2 of them…but neither of us thought that they were very tasty.  As for the Spring Rolls, they were pretty mushy…enough said!


For her dinner, Laurie ordered the Shrimp and Chicken Combination with mushrooms, rice, broccoli and carrots. ($15.99) As you can see, the amount of food she was served was huge!  She wasn’t crazy about the chicken…chewy she thought…liked the shrimp and ate them all, loved the mushrooms and the vegetables were OK.  The most significant downfall for her entrée was that it was so bland…no pop at all.  The meal came with "Yum Yum" sauce...which again had little flavor or spice to add.  FYI, little salads came with our meals and the dressing used was pretty tasty.

I ordered the Teriyaki Steak with rice and extra carrots for my dinner. ($12.99) Broccoli usually comes with this meal and I love broccoli.  But, it doesn’t work with my meds.  Again, the quantity of food I was served was pretty impressive.  The steak wasn’t very tender but it wasn’t overly tough either.  The carrots were a bit overcooked.  I was OK with my meal but I had the same problem with my entrée as Laurie did with hers… Bland, lacking seasoning…

Asahi has a drive through window and they seem to have a lot of take out and drive through business.  Someone looking for a large quantity of food for a reasonable price…especially given the inflation we’re experiencing, they will do well at Asahi!  If you are an Asian or Japanese food aficionado, this restaurant isn’t for you. 

Asahi Japanese Grill is located at 704 East Broadway Street/US Hwy 11 in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Phone: 865-816-6668.  They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  Website: https://www.asahijapanesegrills.com/.

I did experience one real positive from dining at Asahi Japanese Grill.  Leftovers!  There had been so much food that we brought home a pile of rice, chicken and steak.  I had the leftovers for breakfast.  Since it had been hit pretty solidly with soy sauce at the restaurant I couldn’t convince myself to add my usual couple of easy over eggs. 

Sorry Larry…aka Big Dude at https://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/.  I know that I’m an ‘egg-less’ disappointment… Nevertheless, this was a very satisfying breakfast, especially after I kicked it up a couple of notches with a combination of spicy Asian sauces we keep on hand.

Just to show that I’m still in the egg business, here is yet another breakfast I put together recently.  We had some mild summer sausage we’d been gifted and I had a bit of feta cheese on hand.  I chopped up several slices of the sausage and heated the pieces in a frying pan with a bit of butter.  Then I broke up quite a bit of the feta cheese, tossed it into the pan and scrambled in a couple of eggs.  It was a very satisfying breakfast sided with that buttered toast, but that ‘mild’ summer sausage managed to hide the flavor of the feta cheese.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, March 10, 2023

A Different Take on Fried Chicken + ‘Visitors’

We are always looking for good fried chicken and especially chicken wings.  Then Laurie noticed that the building that formerly housed our favorite Chinese restaurant, had now become a restaurant featuring Korean style fried chicken… We had to check it out!


The outside of the building occupied by CM Korean Style Chicken is attractive.  On the other hand, the dining area is fairly bare bones…plain and simple.  The posters on the front windows showing this restaurant’s offerings are very visually descriptive of what CM Chicken is serving.  FYI, the restaurant also offers take-out service.



We took photos of the 3 primary pages of the restaurant’s menu but somehow we missed a key page.  Our waitress did a good job of explaining the menu to us…especially the ‘spice’ or ‘heat’ levels.  For our first visit, we stuck to the Specialties and Sides page as well as the “Original” offerings.

I didn’t capture the information about ’Tikkudak’ style chicken that CM Chicken offers.  This style involves extra steps.  First the chicken is fried and then it is baked in a charcoal-grill Tikku oven, which makes the chicken extra crispy and crunchy.  I’ll probably try this style when we return for another meal.

We started out with the Fried Calamari from the Specialties and Sides portion of the menu. ($8.99) We chose the ‘original’ over the soy-garlic or the red-hot versions.  As happens when we…or I…are hungry and forget our photographic intentions, we ate more than half of the calamari before remembering to take a picture.  The calamari was nice and tender…good quality…but the batter was too bland for us.  The next time we’ll order one of the other options, probably the soy-garlic version.

Interestingly enough, CM Chicken offers fried chicken gizzards, an item rarely seen on menus in the USA.  We do know folks that love gizzards, but it’s not our thing…

Laurie ordered the Curry Chicken Wings…crispy chicken tossed in their signature golden curry sauce. ($14.99) She liked them a lot despite the fact that we prefer chicken wings that aren’t breaded.  There was just a little touch of spice or heat in her wing seasoning.

I also ordered chicken wings.  My selection should be no surprise for anyone who knows me.  I went for the Red Hot Pepper Chicken Wings. ($14.99) These wings were tossed in CM Chicken’s “addictive” Gochujang sauce.  I can assure you that these wings put out some heat.  However, after the first blast of heat settled down, I really enjoyed both the spice and the flavor of the ingredients. 

Despite the breading, we really liked the wings.  After the calamari appetizer and about half of our wings, we were full so we took the rest home with us, reheating them in the microwave for dinner…still good!

CM Chicken is located in the Kroger shopping plaza at 115 Brooklawn Street in just off Kingston Highway/US Hwy 11 in Farragut Tennessee.  Phone: 865-392-1060.  The company’s website can be found at http://cmchickenus.com/.  Apparently there are about 50 CM Chicken restaurants in the eastern and central portion of the USA.


Now for a couple of wild visitors in our yard.  We don’t see Flickers at our feeder very often but this one has learned that he can access the suet by standing/perching on top of the other feeder, the one full of seeds and fruit.   The second photo is clearer as Laurie had time and the right camera to take the shot.  They are one of our most beautiful birds...

This photo is pretty fuzzy…not great…but it was with a phone through a window and in the rain.  This red fox was just lying there chilling and grooming between its hunting efforts.  The fox family has a den about 2 houses away from ours.

I borrowed this photo from The National Wildlife Foundation... The red fox is the largest of the true foxes.  They can be found across the entire Northern Hemisphere including most of North America, Europe and Asia, plus parts of North Africa.  Introduced by the British into Australia for the ‘sport’ of fox hunting, the red fox is considered a destructive invasive species on that continent.  It is estimated that there are 7,200,000 red foxes in Australia.  The only place where they did not established themselves was on the island of Tasmania…where they were out-competed by the Tasmanian Devils.  As of about 2000, they were accidentally re-introduced on the island and the government initiated an eradication program.  Red Foxes have significantly contributed to the extinction or decline of several native species across Australia.

We love seeing them here however…as they keep down the population of mice, moles and other destructive critters.  Also, they are fun to watch!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave