Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Food, Mostly Eating Out…

We love eating out!  Now that we’ve had both of our Covid-19 vaccine shots, we feel free enough to finally get out and revisit some local restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in the past.  Once some of the familiar places have been sampled again, we’ll set out to try a few new locations…and that will come soon!

We’d been to Aubrey’s twice in the past ‘pandemic year’, primarily because they have tables that are really spread out along the back wall and all of their staff were always masked.  This time we walked in with masks on but we didn’t worry about where we sat because of Covid-19.  The staff was still wearing their masks…

For your information, Aubrey’s is a small chain of casual dining restaurants that has 14 locations in East Tennessee, stretching from Bristol at the Virginia State line all the way down to Cleveland, just outside of Chattanooga.  Website: Aubrey’s Restaurant - Real Comfort. Real Food. Real Good. Aubrey’s Restaurant (aubreysrestaurants.com)

Aubrey’s makes a nice Caesar salad and we almost always opt for one with our meals vs a standard…but nice…side salad.  Diners have the option of one or the other with their entrees.

For her meal, Laurie ordered this item listed under “Small Plates”.  This order of fish and chips was anything but small!  Two large panko crusted Alaskan Pollock filets over a stack of thick cut homemade potato chips, all served with some really great lemon caper sauce.  There was so much fish we took one filet home...

For my dinner I went with the Fried Chicken Breast.  The double breast is marinated in buttermilk and then deep fried and smothered in homemade white gravy.  In order to stay somewhat under control, I ordered the steamed broccoli as my side.  Don’t be too impressed with my restraint though as I ‘had to’ help Laurie with all those homemade potato chips!

Next food stop…our house.

Who doesn’t like a nice bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toasted fresh bakery bread!  We each had one and a half of these sandwiches a couple weeks ago.  Laurie sided hers with some of her favorite potato chips and olives.  I’m the ‘fry guy’ in our house so I made the bacon and sliced the tomatoes.  We consider BLT’s to be a true comfort food…


I love to play with leftovers, especially when I’m trying to decide what to have for breakfast.  In this case, we had some leftover mashed potatoes that needed to be eaten.  So, I chopped up a slice of deli sliced ham, added in a couple handfuls of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, mixed it up and fried it until there was a bit of crust and the cheese was all melted in. 

When it was ready, I took it to the next logical step and I topped my creation with 2 easy-over fried eggs.  By the way, this was one of the most satisfying and tasty breakfasts I’ve made in quite a while!


The next restaurant we chose to revisit following our self-imposed Covid-19 related self-isolation was Big Kahuna Wings in Farragut Tennessee.  I borrowed the outside photo from the Internet as I forgot to take a view of the restaurant either before or after we ate our dinner.

It’s a fairly small restaurant with a dozen plus tables and counter seating.  Their specialty is hormone-free organic dry rub fried chicken wings.  There are 2 Big Kahuna Wings restaurants in the Knoxville area.  To learn more and to look at the menu, go to https://bigkahunawingsfarragut.com/.


We decided to start with 10 wings plus a beer for me and a “Woo Woo” cocktail for Laurie.  Big Kahuna’s wings are not breaded nor are they ‘sauced’ when they’re served at your table.  We ordered 3 sauces with our wings…’fire’, ‘sweet chili lime’ and ‘spicy bleu cheese’.  The wings were excellent and we really liked all of the sauces.

Big Kahuna is the only place we’ve been where they sell full-size wings…not disjointed like in most restaurants.  We tried them once and we decided that we like our wings ‘separated’…but Big Kahuna offers them either way, and boneless too.

Laurie couldn’t decide whether she wanted a hamburger or not, so she picked the Chicken Salad Sandwich and homemade chips instead.  Her sandwich was made with shredded grilled chicken seasoned with mild Cajun rub and blended with mayonnaise, celery, carrots and cabbage.  It was served on a warm ciabatta roll with sliced tomato.

She liked it so well that she took half of it home because she couldn’t finish it after the wings.  I know that she liked something if she brings it home and then she actually eats it!  She’s not big on leftovers…

As for yours truly, I ordered the Buffalo Wing Burger.  This was a grilled Angus beef burger seasoned with Big Kahuna’s blend of spices, topped with bleu cheese crumbles and their own original sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and house-made bleu cheese.  For a side I had their seasoned French fries.

The French fries were very nice but my burger seemed small and overcooked…or else the bun was too big.  It was a messy sandwich to eat but I could taste everything except the burger itself.  May well have been my fault as I didn’t tell our waitress that I wanted my burger medium rare.  On the other hand, she didn’t ask.  I had saved the remnants of our wing sauces, and I made everything much better by dipping my burger in them… 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Baking, Building and a Bit of History

This post features a bit of this, a bit of that and a little history too… I’ll start with baking, something that we rarely do.  The main reason we don’t usually bake is that we like fresh bakery items better than almost any other food.   In Laurie’s case, she would prefer lobster…but baked goods would be second.  At my stage and age, some baked items would overshadow a nice steak or most fried chicken…

Laurie spotted a recipe on-line that sounded amazing.  It was on Erin Napier’s Facebook Fan Page.  For the uninitiated, Erin and her husband Ben are the stars of HGTV’s ‘Hometown’ show.  It is one of our favorite HGTV shows, hands down… Check it out at Home Town | HGTV.

What you see in the Bundt pan above is in reality, a pound cake.  It had just come out of the oven and we were letting it cool down a bit before removing it and slicing it up.


The plan was that with enough Pam sprayed on the inside of the Bundt pan…then dusted with a bit of flour, the pound cake would just slide out after it was baked.  No such luck!  Having had this negative experience, and knowing that her sister Bonnie in Missouri was also in the process baking this same cake, Laurie called and suggested that more Pam spray should be applied.  The warning was in time and Bonnie’s cake was easily removed in one piece.

I knew I was in trouble when I began smelling the beguiling scent that was saturating the house as the cake neared completion.  I can’t remember any kitchen scents that have ever reached my computer room/man cave before.  It is about as far from the kitchen as possible…and it has its own HVAC system.  I hurriedly headed for the kitchen!  


My first warm slice of Miss Dot’s warm pound cake was amazing…warm, rich, and sweet, a bit dense…we both thought that it was just excellent.  Of course, as you can see from the recipe above, the rich and satisfying flavor and texture might have something to do with the fact that it contained 3 cups of sugar, 6 eggs, 3 sticks of butter and 8 oz. of cream cheese!  We’ll have to limit the production of this treat or we’ll have to buy larger clothing… As it was, Laurie took a large hunk of the cake over to our neighbor's house just to lighten the task ahead of us!

Moving on from food…here in East Tennessee new houses are still being built faster than I can count them or take photos of them.  Some builders are just overwhelmed, don’t have enough crews but others, like the contractor building this home about 3 blocks from us, really have their crews going flat out.  It is going up very quickly!

One of our neighbors who lives about a half block to the left of our home, (looking out our door), has begun the process of having a new home built for them…about a half block to the right of our home.  As they’ve aged, they wanted to move into a single story house and they wanted to stay in the same neighborhood.  Since this is clearly a seller’s market, they should do rather well with the sale of their old house.  We are sorry to see more trees disappearing though…


Another short street through the woods branches off our road just a house down and across from us.  When we first moved here, there weren’t any houses on this street…and it’s about 3 or 4 blocks long.  It was all woods and rocks.  In the last couple of years, 2 homes have been built along the street and 2 other lots have been cleared but they are sitting dormant…

Then we drove down the street the other day and discovered that the rocky hilly and heavily forested portion along the way had been breached!  Look at all the rock…boulders that had to be cleared to ready the lot.  There is even a rock ledge across the back!

While we are getting older ourselves and there are advantages to having more neighbors close by, we haven’t seen our flock of turkey for months now and deer sightings are increasingly rare.  Sad L!


The other day we had to visit the Loudon County Tennessee Courthouse and I’d remembered reading about a group that had been working on revitalizing an historic school in the town of Loudon.

The Rosenwald School had been a sad structure…very poorly cared for…the last time I’d stopped by a couple years ago.  It has been greatly improved and will survive as an important history lesson for the community.

Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and President of Sears Roebuck built state-of-the art schools for African-American children across the southern USA.  Rosenwald provided the seed money and the communities raised the rest.  It was a critical initiative in the advancement of black education in the segregated early 20th Century.  A total of 5,357 Rosenwald schools, some shops and a few teacher’s homes were built in 883 counties across 15 states.  By 1928, a third of the South’s rural black school children were served by these schools.  Today, just over 2,000 of these structures remain…

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Back to a Familiar Dining Spot and more

In this new partially post Covid-19 world…we’re semi-free and getting out and about.  We’re still masking up as needed but fewer and fewer places are requiring masks or encouraging social distancing.  It will be a problem for vulnerable populations as less people take any precautions.

Nevertheless, we are enjoying our new-found freedom…

OK, Waffle House may not be your cup of tea…your choice for dining.  However we enjoy the informality and the ‘down-home feeling’ that we find in most Waffle House locations.  You’re usually greeted upon entering these restaurants and the staff is generally friendly.  FYI, there are over 2,100 Waffle House restaurants, mostly in the Southern USA.  This particular location is at the interchange of US I-75 and US Hwy. 321 in Lenoir City Tennessee.


We’re not used to getting out after a year of confinement so we’re still taking photos of each other to commemorate the occasion.  If you’re wondering, Laurie had just had blood drawn for one of her periodic physicals.  Waffle House had plexi-glass hanging between the booths to help separate diners and maintain coronavirus safe practices…    


We both went for our standard breakfasts… Coffee, two eggs over easy, bacon or sausage, crispy hash brown potatoes and toast.  Laurie always gets the bacon.  We shared an orange juice.  One real positive for me at Waffle House is that they always have Tabasco on hand!  The coffee is good too...



Now on to the flowers in our yard… What a nice splash of spring color!  Our azaleas are in bloom.  It just brightens our day to look off the back deck or walk out along our driveway to see these cheery flowers.

We don’t get too many blue jays at our feeder although we do see them fliting along the fringes of the woods and under bushes looking for something to eat.  Laurie grabbed this photo…the first of a blue jay this year.

The colorful blue jay is the team symbol and mascot of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team.  It’s also the mascot for Johns Hopkins, Elmhurst and Creighton Universities.  Prince Edward Island Canada has named it as their provincial bird.  It’s surprising to me that none of our 50 states have chosen it as their official state bird…

I’ve been meaning to share this cookie with you.  It is a raspberry crumble cookie and we purchased a container of them at Costco.  It is a thick cookie with a taste and consistency like shortbread…with raspberry on top.  You can’t eat more than 2 of them at a time as they’re very filling.  These cookies are excellent!  We love them but we wish we could buy smaller packs of them…12 is over the top.

I decided to end this post with a photo that Laurie took of the most recent super moon…aka the ‘pink moon’.  It’s not really pink but it’s called that due to all the pink blooms that seem to be everywhere this time of the year.  It’s a pretty clear photo despite our limited 10:1 zoom lens.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 30, 2021

Time Passes Quickly – A Celebration!

It seems like just yesterday…or perhaps just a few years ago that Laurie and I got married.  But as April 2021 rolled around, so did our wedding anniversary.  Looking at the calendar and then looking back at our wedding photos provides proof that many years have actually passed since we tied the knot!


We were married in April 1979, a mere 42 years ago!  It all started with a ‘blind date’ that my admin had arranged at my behest.  I’d guess that putting that pressure on Debbie these days would be inappropriate behavior… In any case, Laurie and I met in April of 1978 and we got married exactly a year later.  Dang, I even had hair back then! 

Our wedding party was very small indeed.  We were pretty much broke at the time and didn’t want to roll up a big debt.  After the wedding, the group reassembled at a local restaurant.  Our wedding party consisted of our mothers, David II, Laurie’s maid of honor, my best man, the minister and his wife.  Our honeymoon consisted of a night at the Marriott Hotel at the St. Louis-Lambert Airport and, after a drive across Missouri to Kansas City, a night at the Regency Hyatt Hotel.  On Monday, it was back to work for both of us…



For our celebratory dinner this year…after skipping anniversary dinner out in 2020…we returned to the restaurant where we’d celebrated our 4oth anniversary, an Outback Steakhouse in Knoxville Tennessee.  It’s not a particularly romantic restaurant but, as you’ll see, it was perfect for the occasion. 


It would have appeared more romantic if we sat next to each other but sitting across from each other allows for a better conversation and reminiscing.  Time for a toast with our adult beverages!  While Laurie had a fancy special cocktail, blackberry and lemon vodka martini, as usual I went for a Miller Lite.

Our pleasant and eager to please waitress snapped this photo… We sure look a little different than we did 42 years ago.  Laurie sure did marry an old guy!  It’s hard to imagine where the time has gone…but our memories are strong and we’ve had a lot of great adventures, as well as a few mishaps, along the way.  Right now we’re looking forward to visits later this year with family and friends as well as continuing our explorations along the back roads of the USA and Canada.

My choice for dinner was a 12 oz. ribeye steak grilled medium rare.  It was accompanied by a baked potato stuffed with butter, cheese and crumbled bacon.  We’d started the meal with some bread and very flavorful matching Caesar salads.  My steak was good if not great…but it was very satisfying. 

One of the reasons that Outback Steakhouse fitted our needs…or at least our wants…was that I could order a steak and Laurie could order her favorite food…lobster tails with drawn butter!  They were sided with some nice home style mashed potatoes.  She was a happy wife for sure, especially after a year in self-imposed quarantine and zero lobster.  It was just great to get out and about!  FYI, the other reason for our choice…we had 3 gift cards for Bloomin’ Brands that we’d been unable to use for almost a year!

Only 8 more years and we’ll be able to celebrate our 50th! 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Not Quite Back to Normal…but Better than Before

Both vaccine shots in our arms equals less risk from Covid-19 and we are out and about more now.  However, given the millions of Americans that haven’t been vaccinated, caution is needed.  Vaccine hesitancy, resistance or fear is one issue but the Johnson and Johnson vaccine blood clot issue and related publicity has exacerbated the problem.  Of course, while it is possible for vaccinated folks to still be infected with the coronavirus, we at least have a much improved chance of avoiding hospitalization.

In any case, we’ve been getting out more, visiting with friends and neighbors and even eating in local restaurants.  Being able to get out and about more safely is certainly a positive feeling!

Local farmer’s markets in the area are beginning to open.  One of our first stops was a couple of weeks ago at the Mennonite Farmer’s Market in Tellico Plains Tennessee.  We actually have 3 of these markets in our area, with the other two being located near Englewood and Delano.  From the outside, they all look pretty much alike.  This conservative religious order seems to have a loyal and eager clientele at all their markets!


This plant building is right next to the market itself.  As you can see, it was loaded inside and  out with all types of starter plants for vegetables, herbs as well as flowers and some trees.  Laurie picked up replacements for her parsley and basil plants that didn’t make it through our winter. 

As I wandered through the main store, I spotted this horse and wagon tethered at the back of the store.  It’s like going back in time just seeing something like this.

The main store didn’t have too much to offer that early in the season.  Mostly root vegetables, jams, pickles, some early leaf lettuce, granola and several bakery items.  We picked up 2 bags of the granola (Laurie’s favorite) as well as a couple loaves of the sourdough bread. 


Before we left, I walked over to the edge of the hill where the market sits and took these two photos of the valley that this group of conservative Mennonites live and grow their crops.  The scene is very bucolic…and quite peaceful.

Early this past week we were off to a party, something that we haven’t done in more than a year!  A new resident had discovered that we had lived in Attleboro Massachusetts for a while…and she invited us to the couple’s 20th anniversary party…a no gift rule was in force. 

As you can see above, the party was held outdoors in their driveway.  Guests brought their own chairs… It was the largest group of people that we’d seen or been around since early 2020!  One person was wearing a mask, probably due to not having his jabs yet.  Two other people attending said that they weren’t going to get the vaccine.  We stayed away from them! 


This was the happy couple.  JoAnn and Tex got married in Hawaii so that was the general theme of the get together.  JoAnn has discovered the joys of quilting since moving into the neighborhood.  They are a lively couple!  Tex is a former heavy metal rocker/guitarist.  When he hit a certain age, he told me that since he wasn’t a ‘Mick Jagger’, it was time to do something else with his life.  So he became a stockbroker.  He told me that 3 out of the 4 members of his band had taking up the same profession…  What are the odds!


Lei’s were furnished to all the party goers and the couple set up this long table loaded with a variety of tasty desserts.  My favorite was the Tres Leche cake from Costco but cheesecake, cookies, chocolate cake, a chocolate torte and much more was available.  It was a nice change after a year of self-isolation!

Looking ahead at a positive development in our area… We already have 2 ice cream parlors in our area.  One is located in Loudon and another is adjacent to Tellico Village but we will soon have a third option.  The La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor will soon open in Lenoir City!

A little research revealed that La Michoacana is a group of different Mexican ice cream parlors with more than 8,000 locations in Mexico alone.  This loose ‘chain’ is a successful business model network of family-operated businesses. 

No single company operates them as a formal franchise operation.  Training and image related materials are provided through the ‘parent organization’, but the fact is that these stores are truly independent businesses that choose to use the name.  Consequently, the quality of the product, pricing and variety can vary widely between locations.  Hopefully, this outpost for the group will be a winner.  Another location can be found in Knoxville itself.  We’re looking forward to giving this one a try!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave