Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Some Quality Asian Cuisine

Finding quality Asian cuisine in the Knoxville area…other than Thai and sushi/sashimi can be challenging.  At least in our experience, good Chinese food is particularly hard to find.

Consequently, I was very happy when I had a chance to purchase a Groupon for an Asian themed restaurant that we hadn’t tried before!

This is Fulin’s Asian Cuisine in the Town Center Shopping Center of Knoxville Tennessee.  Fulin’s is a small regional chain based in Brentwood Tennessee.  The company has 12 locations in Alabama and Tennessee. 

The interior of Fulin’s Asian Cuisine is modern and warm with wood and an earth tone based décor.  It has a full service bar and the sushi/sashimi offerings are right up front to entice prospective diners.

No less than 3 of the 12 current Fulin’s locations can be found in the Knoxville metropolitan area.  This one is on the south side, there is one on the north side of town and there is one in Oak Ridge.  Unfortunately they are located anywhere from a 47 to 55 minute drive from our home!

We ordered hot tea as our beverage… It could have been hotter and that very attractive pot doesn’t hold that much tea. 

We love Hot and Sour Soup and this was a very satisfying version! ($2.50) It was just spicy enough for us and it was full of goodies… In addition, the fried wonton crisps were much better than the usual ones served by most Chinese restaurants.

We ordered the Crab Rangoon as an appetizer. ($5.00) It’s one of Laurie’s favorites and this was a winner!  This version was huge and it was loaded with cream cheese and crab meat.  The plum sauce was right up Laurie’s alley…but I would have appreciated them even more if I’d remembered to ask for Hot Chinese Mustard.

For the uninitiated these deep-fried dumpling appetizers are stuffed with a combination of cream cheese, lightly flaked crab meat, (or in some cases with canned crab meat or imitation crab meat), plus scallions, and/or garlic.  The filling is then wrapped in Chinese wonton wrappers in a triangular or flower shape and deep fried.

Laurie loves sushi and sashimi…and even more importantly, she loves lobster!  Consequently she ordered one of the evening’s specials…the King Lobster Roll. ($13.99) It was served with these decorative plastic lobster ‘shell’ pieces…pretty fancy!  There is actually a small LED light in the front part of the shell… Laurie was very pleased with her choice!

The menu contains a nice selection of Chinese offerings as well as sushi, sashimi and a selection of Japanese dinners.  There are also daily specials.  For those who prefer, Lo Mein or Fried Rice is available…

I went with the Chinese side of the menu… This is the Yin Yang with brown rice. ($17.99)  The left portion consisted of those large breaded and fried shrimp in a semi-sweet spicy sauce with carrots, peas and onions.  The right side…on the other side of the ‘orange divider’ was the crispy beef with zucchini slices in a spicy sauce.   The shrimp were plump and very nice but the crispy beef was my favorite!  The texture and spice level was just right.

My only criticism was that the vegetables with the shrimp appear to have come from a bag of frozen veggies.  Peas are peas…but the perfect little squares of carrot could easily be replaced with carrot shreds or julienne carrots.  Never-the-less, I would order this again! 

Fulin’s Asian Cuisine in South Knoxville is located at 2060 Town Center Boulevard.  Phone: 865-769-1515.  The company’s website can be found at  This restaurant is open daily for both lunch and dinner.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 27, 2015

What’s On the Menu? (#2)

Well, once I get on a theme, I have to ride it to its conclusion.  Hence, here are some additional home cooking photos…nothing fancy or too out of the box but it is what I’ve been ‘playing’ with in the kitchen. 

Breakfast is my specialty…and leftovers are critical to my breakfast ‘assemblies’.  In this instance I had some leftover roasted potatoes. I sliced one up and browned them in the frying pan.

Then I heated…’crisped up’…some leftover roast beef and put it on top of the potatoes.

Finally of course, I put a couple of easy-over eggs on top of the beef and potatoes.  This resulted in a very satisfying and tasty breakfast!

It had been awhile since we created a pizza at home.  I had another Maria’s small pizza crust and one fresh large crust.  We decided to make them all up…as in my estimation, cold pizza is a fine leftover item to have in the refrigerator!

This was Laurie’s half of the large pizza… It had a light coating of olive oil, pizza sauce, pepperoni, olives, mozzarella, sausage and shredded Italian cheeses.

For my half of the big pizza, I left off the olives and just used the shredded Italian cheese mix… FYI, we both sprinkled our pizzas with red pepper flakes just to add a little heat!

This is the small…extra…pizza.  I used mozzarella, pepperoni, hot Italian sausage, pizza sauce and red pepper flakes.  I did learn something with this ‘extra’ pizza.  Old pizza crusts aren’t worth saving!  This crust tasted stale…unpleasant even…and I ended up just eating the topping.

What is this you might ask?  This is the leftover 'enhanced' cream of chicken soup that Laurie cooked some chicken breasts in for dinner one night. 
She takes a large can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup and she adds half and half milk, hot shot pepper mix, garlic powder, onion powder and coarse ground pepper.  I added Tabasco.

I don’t know what I like better…the chicken cooked in the enhanced soup or the soup itself!  I had this leftover soup for lunch one day.  Yum!

We usually avoid potatoes or hash with our egg-centric breakfasts… Usually we just have bacon or sausage with an English muffin plus over-easy eggs. 

However, once in a while, we pig out with some fried potatoes, hash browns, or as in this instance, a can of hash.  I season the heck out of it…with onion powder, pepper, a bit of garlic and some red pepper flakes, then I fry it in butter.  Crispy bits and pieces are critical to success!

Here was our finished product on one recent morning.  Laurie missed her bacon but she agreed that this was a satisfying change of pace!  I was a happy camper…love hash!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dinner in Madisonville Tennessee

It was time for dinner and we didn’t feel like cooking… We’d heard some positive reports about a restaurant in downtown Madisonville Tennessee, so off we went!

This is the Patio Italian Restaurant.  It’s to the left of the door with ‘The Red Door’ awning over it.  There is actually a hidden patio underneath that red and white awning.  The front of the restaurant is ‘indented’ which provides the space for its outdoor seating…  

In the top photo you can see the patio area at the upper left side.

It was a weeknight but the Patio Italian Restaurant was very busy!  Note the line that has formed in the bottom photo.  The interior of this restaurant is nothing fancy but the tables are well spaced so you don’t feel crowded… 

Our waitress started us out with these bread sticks and some tomato sauce for dipping.  The bread sticks were OK but the sauce was a little bland for our tastes.

We ordered a tossed salad with our entrees. ($1.00)  While it wasn’t anything special, the ingredients were fresh and it was a good way to start our meal. 

Although we didn’t feel like ordering an appetizer, the menu does include offerings such as Bruchetta, Fried Breaded Mushrooms, Jalapeno Poppers and Fried Breaded Zucchini Stix.  Not in the mood for Italian food?  The options include sandwiches, salads, wraps, dinner salads, chopped steak and a couple of chicken entrees…

I ordered the Rigatoni with Meat Sauce and Meatballs. ($8.50) Even with the meat sauce, this dish was a little bland for me but the noodles were cooked correctly.  The meatballs were OK.  As for quantity…the Patio serves huge portions at very reasonable prices!  I ended up taking half of this pile of food home with me…

The Italian focus of menu for the Patio Italian Restaurant sticks with the basics…tomato, meat and Alfredo sauces; ravioli; eggplant; pizza; calzones, baked pasta offerings, etc.  They do offer shrimp as a protein option but don’t expect seafood, Italian steak or veal entrees… 

For her entrée, Laurie went for the Alfredo Carbonara. ($9.00) Diners have a choice of bacon or ham with this dish.  The Alfredo sauce was fairly rich, the ham popped it up a bit…and as you can see…the portion served was huge! (More food to take home for lunch…)

We noted that there was Baklava and Cannoli for dessert…but we abstained.  Service was efficient, the restaurant was clean and the food was OK… The pasta offerings are really a good value…with huge portions! 

Patio Italian Restaurant is located at 107 College Street in Madisonville Tennessee.  Phone: 423-442-4994.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What’s On The Menu?

Let it be known that I’m always playing with different combinations of food, usually trying to make a quick lunch or breakfast using whatever is on hand…or preferably leftover from another meal! 

While I didn’t take a photo, breakfast this morning was a good example of my ‘creativity.  I had one thick slice of bologna remaining in the meat keeper.  I also had the final smears of garlic hummus in its container.  So, I toasted an English muffin, buttered it, smeared it with the hummus, topped it with bologna and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and microwaved this concoction for 25 seconds.  It wasn’t pretty…but I thought it was very tasty.  In addition, I will now be able to keep the vampires away for most of the day!

So what else has been cooking and showing up on our table?

This isn’t one of my creations…but since prime rib is 'sooo' pricey these days, I thought I'd pay homage to one of my favorite meals.  This is a photo of the prime rib roast that we enjoyed when David II, Amy and our grandsons visited us right after Christmas.  Laurie cooks a great rib roast!! 

In keeping with the ‘leftover’ theme, leftover prime rib is about the best leftover I can think of!

Next…this is one of my breakfast creations.  I started with flour tortilla that I heated with a little butter in a frying pan.

Then I covered it with some leftover heated chili…

Next, I covered it up with a stack of mixed shredded cheese…

Then I topped it with 2 over-easy fried eggs.

To complete my breakfast, I liberally sprinkled my production with Tabasco.  It was a very tasty and satisfying way to start my day!

Laurie and I had been talking about making tacos for weeks.  I finally decided to get it done!  Instead of the usual ground beef, I decided to use some leftover beef pot roast as the meat component.  So, I shredded and chopped away.  Then I heated it in a frying pan with a little butter and the taco seasoning.

I shouldn’t have added the butter to the frying pan as it provided too much moisture and it broke down the shreds of meat.  The flavor wasn’t impacted but the texture was a bit mushy so instead of tasty crispy shreds, we ended up with a pot roast ‘filling’ for our tacos. 

We built our tacos with the usual accompaniments…lettuce, tomatoes, taco sauce and sour cream.  The tacos were good but they would have been even better if I’d prepared the meat without the butter.

Yet another breakfast… This time I simply topped the English muffin with a couple of slices of leftover bacon, 2 easy-over eggs and Tabasco.

Laurie wanted to do something with some leftover flour tortillas.  So she buttered the tortillas, sprinkled Penzey’s cinnamon-sugar mix on then and folded them up.  I lightly fried them in our grilling skillet with weighted steel lid.  These sweet tortillas made an excellent dessert! We liked the grill marks!

I’m no gourmet chef, that’s for sure… I just like to play with my food!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 20, 2015

Montgomery Ward Memorabilia

In 2001 Montgomery Ward announced that it was going out of business after 129 years.  The company was founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1872.  As for myself, I had spent a number of years working at the company’s corporate offices in Chicago and, like many, many others, I was about to be unemployed. 
It was a sad and scary time for everyone.  It was also the end of a retailing era…the death of a retailing giant that had long been a fixture on the American scene.  

I’ve always been a collector of various 'stuff' and consequently I accumulated/purchased a few Montgomery Ward items over my years with the company.  After the closing announcement, many odds and ends were headed for the trash bin.  I managed to ‘rescue’ a few of them for my collection of Ward’s memorabilia and collectibles…

Since my position at Montgomery Ward involved security, loss prevention, safety, inventory shrinkage, collections…asset protection…it seemed appropriate that the first item I’ve included in this posting is this old 3” x 5” “Apprehension Card” that I came across as we closed down our operations.  

The juvenile shoplifter’s names have been blurred as they might possibly still be alive…although they’d be about 93 years old now!

One of my favorite items in my collection is this pamphlet from 1925 that documents the history of the company.  Even better is the fact that there are lots of pictures inside which document company operations… The catalog operations were huge in those days and thousands of employees filled work station after work station. 

The figure at the center of the pamphlet is the “Spirit of Progress”.  It depicts the goddess Diana, dressed in flowing robes, balancing on a globe, and holding a torch in her right hand and a caduceus in her left hand.

FYI…a caduceus from Greek is a "herald's staff" and it’s the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology.  The caduceus is a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation…

That image from the pamphlet directly represents this 22.5-foot bronze statue that still resides on top of the company’s former administration building which was built on Chicago Avenue in 1907.  It had originally been placed on top of the even older Montgomery Ward Building on Michigan Avenue… 

Yes, I still even have a few items of new clothing that I've never worn!  I did wear the tie on a couple of occasions but I’ve never used the sweater or the golf shirt.  I also have a couple of t-shirts and a sweatshirt. 

FYI…For the uninitiated, Electric Ave and More was an attempt by the company to open specialty stores in smaller markets. 

This is a whetstone that looks like a souvenir button or pin.  The small whetstone is attached to the back of the metal front.  I have no idea how old this is…but many of those reading this posting won’t even know what a whetstone is!

FYI, for any younger readers…a whetstone is a stone for sharpening cutlery or tools by friction.

This item was manufactured by the Parisian Novelty Company.  That company was founded in Chicago Illinois in 1898.  For over a century Parisian Novelty was the leading manufacturer of button parts, button making machinery and equipment for North American companies serving the promotional products industry.  It was purchased in 2008 and it continues in business as the Matchless Parisian Novelty Company.  That company was founded in 1895.

This Montgomery Ward “Cold Cooking” booklet of recipes dates back to 1941.  It’s all about summertime cooking and beverages. 

I have well over 100 security/loss prevention badges and cap medallions that I rescued from the trash bins when we closed up operations.  The first photo includes badges from stores in Ohio, Maryland and Texas.  The second photo includes a couple of badges from Illinois.  There is also a badge from Jefferson Stores (Jefferson Ward), a discount department store company that Montgomery Ward purchased and operated for a time.  The third photo shows a couple of the badges I have that were in cases.  The gold badge was from a location in Mobile Alabama.
The majority of the badges from over the years are simple silver medallions or stars, but apparently somewhere along the line more expensive types were ordered by the security department.   

A few years back, I purchased this toy train set on eBay.  I believe it dates back to the early 1960’s…and it doesn’t appear to have ever been used. 

When we opened a store in Fort Smith Arkansas, I was presented with this commemorative plate.  Other stores gave out shirts or hats.  I also have a black acrylic paperweight from the 1994 opening of a distribution center in Phoenix Arizona. (It features a rising phoenix!)

This is another paperweight… These were given out when the company spun off as a privately held company from its then parent, Mobil Oil.  

This 21 inch metal Nylint Montgomery Ward 18-wheeler sits on a shelf in our storeroom.  It dates back to the mid to late 1990’s. 

I also have a couple of Montgomery Ward delivery trucks that were manufactured by Ertl.  Both the 1932 Ford Panel Delivery Truck and the 1926 Mack “Bulldog” are also banks.  Ertl currently focuses on die-cast farm related replicas.  

Here are a few Montgomery Ward odds and ends… There’s a plastic coffee mug; an “owl” keychain with a safety message on the back (“Safety is no accident”); a number of ‘Gold Medallion Service Award’ cards; a “Kick it up a notch” pen/keychain, and a metal paint can/bottle opener.

These photos are blurry…my camera doesn’t do too well with close-up shots.  The pin on the left dates back to 1896 and it shows the old Montgomery Ward building in downtown Chicago.  The other pin is a 2-year Sales Achievement Award pin, date unknown.   

The previous two photos show examples of the service awards that Montgomery Ward handed out to associates for many years.  There were tie tacks, pins, charm bracelets and brooches.  These awards were for 2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of service.  The color of the ‘stones’ changed from clear to yellow to red depending on how many years the recipient had worked for the company.

I have many examples of Montgomery Ward booklets…mostly focused on safety and basic operations.  In addition, I have some old organization charts, a plethora of executive announcements and other paper based memorabilia.
Note: One reason for Montgomery Ward’s demise is the fact that at one point we churned through 60 executives in 60 months!

As an executive with the company, my wife and I were issued some ‘special’ Montgomery Ward credit cards… I especially like the ‘Desert Storm’ card!  This photo also includes some old Montgomery Ward Security stickers, a couple of badges that were used by our associates in the stores and a laminated card that associates wore for some time that contained the company’s stated Values and Guiding Principles on one side and the Mission Statement on the reverse.

More ephemera…a Security and a Loss Prevention shoulder patch plus 3 more Montgomery Ward/Electric Ave pens.  Originally, (long before my tenure), my function was called the Protection Department.  Then it became the Security Department, then Loss Prevention and Safety.  When the company closed, the term for the department was migrating toward the label of ‘Asset Protection’. 

The item at the bottom of this photo is a “Gold Medallion Service Pin”.  The watch is a special Holiday item.  I don’t know when it was marketed but this ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Limited Edition’ watch was licensed by the Robert L. May Co. for sale by Montgomery Ward. 

Note:  Robert Lewis May, (1905 – 1976), was the creator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  May’s parents were hard hit by the Great Depression and they lost just about everything.  Sometime in the 1930s, May moved to Chicago and took a job as a low-paid in-house advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward.  In early 1939, May’s boss at Montgomery Ward asked him to write a “cheery” Christmas book for shoppers and suggested that an animal be the star of the book.  

May decided to make a deer the central character of the book.  His then 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, loved the deer in the Chicago zoo.  The Rudolph poem booklet was first distributed during the 1939 holiday season.  Shoppers loved the poem and 2.4 million copies were distributed.  During WWII restrictions on paper use prevented a re-issue until 1946.  In that year, another 3.6 million copies were distributed to Montgomery Ward shoppers!  Even though the concept had been developed while May was employed by the company, by 1947 the rights to Rudolf were given to him. 

This is an old aerial photograph of downtown Chicago and the “new” Montgomery Ward complex on the north branch of the Chicago River.  I wish that I knew when this picture was taken…

The company’s huge facilities stretch from the lower left side all the way to the right center portion of the photo.  In the 1960’s a 25-story corporate tower was added to the complex and by the time I joined the company most of the large building in the center was either empty or used for storage.  That 2,000.000 square foot building used to be the focus of the company’s catalog operations…  

In addition to everything else, I have a couple of maps of the United States that show the locations of Montgomery Ward Store and Warehouses.  I also have a color coded atlas that shows locations and facility types by state.  The first map was published in 1957 and the second was issued in 1999. 

That’s about it for now… I will be posting a number of Montgomery Ward related postcards and related materials at a later date.

Just click on any of these photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave