Monday, April 30, 2018

Miscellaneous – April 2018

Well, it’s about time for me to publish a mélange of miscellaneous photos that we’ve accumulated this spring… Hopefully, you’ll see something that you really like…

The first sign of spring at our house is when the Quince Bush blooms.  Laurie loves this colorful harbinger of spring!

The quince bush is soon supported by the blooming redbuds in the woods followed by the dogwoods floral display. 

We’re going to lose some of these trees at one side of our house as construction will begin soon on a new home on a wooded lot at the ‘garage side’ of our home... Unfortunately the deer have been using it as a trail as well so we may see them less frequently.

RIP… We decided to retire our old bird feeder as shown above.  It was an economic move as we will save a lot of money on bird feed and BB’s for our BB gun!  

This is one of the culprits responsible for the retirement of the old feeder!  He’s fat and happy for a reason… Well, we decided he needed to go on a diet!  Not having to chase the squirrels off and waste BB's on them is also a stress reducer...

This is the new bird feeder.  We were very happy to see that all of our usual birds have figured out how to use this feeder.  We were quite concerned that the woodpeckers in particular would struggle with this one but they’ve all adapted…

My feed bill has shrunk quickly!  The squirrels have jumped onto this feeder but all it does is spin around and the cage drops down to close off the feed ports, so they quickly abandon their efforts…

Laurie snapped this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker looking for a bit of lunch in one of the trees at the back of our home… What a beauty!

Moving on to food while still speaking of beauty, how about this gorgeous hunk of ribeye steak!  With spring comes the grilling season.  FYI…this steak, purchased from Fresh Market, was big enough for the two of us!

When we lived in Chicago, one of our annual traditions was the purchase of Italian Easter Pies from our local Dominick’s Grocery Store.   Just before Easter I came across a recipe for these savory pies on the Internet.
So we bought ready-made crusts…combined 6 hard-boiled eggs with a pound (+) of Italian sausage, more than a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, half a cup of provolone cheese, 1.5 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese with 2 more eggs to bind it all together.  The recipe made 2 pies which we readily consumed.  Note: There is a top crust on these pies...

They were a respectable approximation of what we used to buy in Chicago but next spring we’ll use hot Italian sausage instead of the mild version and we’ll kick up the Italian spices too…

We had cats for many years but Laurie is allergic to them now, so we decided that she should stop suffering and we gave up the idea of replacing J.D., our last furry feline.  Nowadays, we have to get our cat ‘fixes’ when visiting friend’s homes.
The 2 cats in the first photo are siblings named Morris and Molly.  They allow our friends Linda and Norm to live with them and serve them…   

The black and white cat in the second photo is a feral (but tame) cat named Miss Kitty.  She has ‘adopted’ Norm, Linda and other neighbors who provide her with food and shelter.  She’s very sweet…

One of our favorite diner type joints is Hot Rod 50’s in Alcoa Tennessee.  They offer a huge variety of burgers, sandwiches and classic comfort food entrees.  I’ve written about this restaurant before but we recently dined at Hot Rod 50s and these sandwiches deserve honorable mention. 

The first sandwich is Laurie’s 6 inch very enjoyable Italian Hoagie. ($6.99) It includes ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese all on a grilled hoagie bun with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mild finger peppers along with a side of Italian salad dressing.

I was very pleased with my 11 oz. Pastrami Burger as shown in the second photo. ($10.99) It was served medium rare as requested and the burger was topped with some grilled pastrami and provolone cheese.  Yum!  Both of our meals came with a side and we both went for the cottage cheese.

Hot Rod 50s website is at

I thought that I’d close this posting with a family photo.  These cuties are Laurie’s great nieces.  From the left we have Avery, Charlie Kate and Delaney.  At the bottom of the sweet family grouping is the latest addition to Kasey and Kevin’s family…and her name is Elliot Jane.  Poor Kevin…living with 5 women!

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Kitchen 919 – Knoxville Tennessee

Once again, it was time to explore upscale dining in the Knoxville area.  Our friends Lynn and George are our ‘go to’ couple for these periodic excursions or adventures in fine dining.

Note: Regular followers may observe that my inside and meal photos are a bit darker than usual.  There are 3 reasons for this.  First, I was using Picasa for all my photos and editing and Google shut it down on March 15 and I haven't figured out how to edit Google photos.  Secondly, I don't like taking flash photos in restaurants.  Thirdly, I guess I'll have to try to remember to change my camera settings for low light conditions.

In this instance, they had identified Kitchen 919 as for our exploration into fine dining.  This building was formerly the home of The Orangery, an upscale restaurant that had closed down in June of 2016 after a number of years in operation.  In May of 2017, the owners of Kitchen 919 announced that they would take over the space, remodel it and open a new locale for fine cuisine.

Actually, if my memory serves me correctly, The Orangery was a bit larger than Kitchen 919.  I clearly remember a courtyard.  Once I took a good look, I noted that part of the building is occupied by a fast growing exercise franchise named Cyclebar.  I will admit a little guilt after our expansive dinner as a few Cyclebar members hustled past us in their Fabletics type gear…

This is a photo of the 919 Speakeasy Bar.  It was early and neither the bar nor the restaurant were particularly busy.  It is an attractive bar…a little industrial and yet warm and comfortable. 

The bar has its own menu.  I checked out the on-line version of the bar menu and I was excited to see Hot Chicken and Waffles.  It’s described as follows: “marinated and fried chicken, tossed in 919 hot sauce, served over a savory blue cheese waffle, topped with house made pickles”.   That waffle really sounded interesting…but alas, it isn’t on the menu for the main dining room….

This is one photo of the main dining room.  While it gives you an idea of the décor, it doesn’t really show you just how big this room is.  It is quite large but one negative for me are the large number of side by side tables.  I find it a bit uncomfortable talking about life, issues, happenings, etc., with complete strangers sitting right alongside me.  Fortunately, we arrived early and we had a standard 4-top with no immediately adjacent neighbors.

FYI...Kitchen 919 is part of the Little Hospitality Group, the same company that owns and operates Seasons Innovative Bar and Grille in Knoxville's Turkey Creek shopping area.

Thirsty?  Show me the Money!  I ordered my usual unimaginative Miller Lite (a reasonable $4.00), and Laurie ordered this ‘dirty’ Vodka Martini with Picker’s Vodka (made in Nashville) with extra pickle juice…the martini is partially consumed in the photo. ($11.00) She did say that it was the best Dirty Martini she’d ever had! 

Lynn had a Cosmopolitan ($10.00) and George ordered a nice bottle of Estancia Cabernet that Lynn, Laurie and he shared. ($45.00) There was an additional charge of $9.00 on his bill entitled “Open Liquor”…which I don’t really understand…

When we go out for fine dining experiences, we tend to really do it up!  We only live once so we feel that we should expand beyond the entrees and try other taste tempting offerings.  So we ordered this Cheese and Charcuterie Plate for the table. ($22.00) It was an excellent selection of sausages, cured meat and cheeses with pickled vegetables and nuts with a warm Dutch crunch roll accompanied by whipped pate butter.

To summarize, Laurie and I felt that the Charcuterie Plate was excellent!

Lynn ordered the Beets and Cream Salad as a starter. ($9.00) This complex creation consisted of salt roasted golden beets, red beet sponge cake and beet puree.  It was served with Cruze Farm buttermilk and goat cheese mousse plus arugula tossed with house champagne vinaigrette, crisp fennel, tossed walnuts and garden herbs.  It was very well received…

Laurie ordered the Jumbo Lump Crab and Corn Chowder. ($9.00) This soup blended blue crab with mushrooms, onion, sweet peppers and green onions in a creamy lobster bisque.  It was served with jalapeno cornbread dunked in the middle of the bowl.  Laurie really loved this soup!

I went for Kitchen 919’s Romaine Salad. ($8.00) The romaine lettuce was topped with a parmesan Caesar dressing and Shelton Farms cornbread croutons.  I had them leave off the shaved red onions… On the positive side, the Caesar dressing was very nice and I could actually taste anchovy!  The dried tomato slices were virtually flavorless.  The salad was good overall…but not great.

George ordered the Niman Ranch Pork Osso Bucco as his entrée. ($22.00) It was presented with a pork demi-glace, truffled macaroni and cheese plus butter braised brocolini.  George is a fairly light eater so he took most of the macaroni and quite a bit of the pork home with him.  He told me that the pork was overcooked…a bit dry in the center.

Laurie ordered the Misoyaki Glazed Chilean Sea Bass for dinner. ($31.00) The sea bass filet was pan-seared and finished with a sizzling soy vinaigrette, then served with steamed rice and sautéed haricot verts (green beans).  Laurie Loved Her Meal!

Lynn and I both ordered the same thing…the Ribeye Steak served medium rare. ($38.00) It was served with a pate demi-glace, roasted/braised Brussel sprouts and typically it came with garlic mashed potatoes.  We both opted for fried gnocchi instead of the potatoes…as this was something that I’d never seen before. 

I have to admit that I loved the gnocchi…especially mixed in with the demi-glace.  I don’t think that Lynn was that enamored with it.  I liked the Brussel sprouts, but they weren’t close to as tasty as my wife’s version.  The steak was cooked perfectly and it was very tender.  The problem was that it was so salty…probably partially due to the demi-glace…that it took away from that quality cut of beef.  Even Lynn, who likes more salt in her food, agreed with me after she thought about it…

Well, we’d gone this far…why stop now?!  Lynn and George split Kitchen 919’s version of Chocolate Mousse. ($8.00) Lynn, who is a chocoholic, really enjoyed it.

Laurie and I split this London Fog Brulee. ($8.00) Laurie thought that it was very nice but I thought that it wasn’t anything special…good but not great. 

We had a great table away from the many patrons who began arriving shortly after we started eating.  Our waitress, Anna, was far more efficient, helpful and friendly than most servers that we’ve encountered anywhere in recent years.  Kudos to her!

FYI…one more little complaint.  The on-line menu doesn’t state that it’s a sample menu and it isn’t the current menu.  I’d expected to order one of two items on that menu and neither were listed on the current menu.

In my opinion, Kitchen 919 is a very nice upscale restaurant…despite any negative observations on my part…probably one of the top 5 or 6 restaurants in the greater Knoxville area.  Given the prices, it’s a place for that special anniversary or birthday dinner for most area residents.  We will try it again at some point.

Kitchen 919 is located at 5448 Homberg Drive, visible from Kingston Pike/US Hwy. 11 in the Bearden section of Knoxville.  Phone: 865-233-9979.  Website: 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we had for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Animal Welfare Efforts in East Tennessee

Every year my better half buys tickets to an animal welfare event designed to raise money to support several group’s efforts on the behalf of feral, abandoned and neglected animals in the community.

This fund raising effort is a ‘soup’ event!  It’s an annual ‘soup cook off’ or amateur competitive soup tasting as a major source of funding.  It’s called a ‘souper challenge’.

The event is held at a second-hand store in Maryville Tennessee named the “4 Chics and a Cat Thrift Shop”.  We bought our tickets from our friend Paula who is with PPAW…”People Promoting Animal Welfare”. 

This is the front of the “4 Chics and a Cat Thrift Shop”.  The store’s mission statement reads as follows:

"4 Chics and a Cat is committed to supporting animal welfare organizations who are working toward reducing pet overpopulation, and caring for the homeless, abandoned, and mistreated animals in Blount County and the surrounding areas."

This store is located at 1116 East Broadway in Maryville.  Phone: 865-233-5666.  They are on Facebook at, and their website is at

To say that this annual event at “4 Chics and a Cat” is a big deal is an understatement.  Every year the parking lot is full and folks just flood into the store!

This a major awareness event and a source of funds for area animal welfare.  In addition to the ‘soup challenge tickets”, I’m also sure that “4 Chics and a Cat”, a non-profit operation, scores more sales than they would on a typical day.  I know that we made a couple of purchases… Of course, in addition to the groups, theses sales help fund ‘4 Chics’ as well, who do have to support a couple of on-site critters…not 1 but rather 2 cats named Gabby and Flo and 2 guinea pigs named Kevin and Kyle.

Not only is there lots of annual publicity about this fund raiser on the area’s social media, but “4 Chics and a Cat also grab attention from the local press.  In this case Maryville’s “Daily Times” newspaper did a full page spread on the “Souper Event”.  

This is the booth set up by the Feral Feline Friends group at the “souper challenge”.  Beyond Feral Feline Friends and PPAW, other groups supported by “4 Chics and a Cat” include the Humane Society of East Tennessee, Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, Pets without Parents and Knoxville Guinea Pig Rescue.

There were folks lined up for soup all over the place!  For only $5.00 each, each person has the opportunity to taste about 25 different soups.  Everyone is asked to vote for their favorite and the winner gets to take home “The Golden Ladle”!
Note: We personally tend to vote for a flavorful soup with a touch of heat but there is something for every taste at this event.  

As usual, this was lively event and our ticket purchases and the money from our in-store purchases will be well used.  Did you know that 2 feral cats that haven’t been neutered and their offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in just 7 years!?  Since we bought our tickets to the ‘souper challenge’ from Paula with PPAW, here’s a little bit of information about that organization.

PPAW/People Promoting Animal Welfare is a non-profit organization with the purpose of operating a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for dogs and cats.  They primarily serve Blount, Loudon and Monroe counties in Tennessee.  The organization has sterilized over 80,000 companion animals in the last 20 years.  The goal is to reduce the number of unwanted dogs, cats, kittens and puppies, thereby reducing the number of deaths in area shelters.  This program has greatly benefited lower income families who might not be able to normally afford these services.  PPAW also supports ‘Trap, Neuter and Return’ of feral cats via low or no cost sterilizations.  In honor of Laurie's Mom who's 107th birthday it would of been that day, we donated a nice check to PPAW in her memory and we received a lovely 'thank you note' in return.

To learn more about PPAW and its efforts, just go to their website at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Casual Dinner with Friends

Our friends Norm and Linda let us know that they were ready to go out and have dinner with us somewhere.  They picked the day but it was our turn to pick a restaurant…

It turned out that Norm and Linda had never been to Pero’s on the Hill on Northshore Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  We were surprised because we rarely identify any restaurants that they haven’t already experienced.
Basically, Pero’s menu ranges from Italian to Greek but it isn’t limited to those cuisines either.  The menu features shrimp and grits, crab cakes, chicken wings, burgers, a wide mix of sandwiches and wraps, salads, pasta, pizza and assorted entrees.  

Note: The above photo was taken during the summer of 2015.  It's not that green here yet!

The interior of Pero’s on the Hill is spacious…with a front dining area near the pizza oven and an even bigger area in the back by the bar.  There is also a patio in the back for warmer weather dining.  This is a very casual family friendly place that can handle a lot of customers at one time…

Laurie and I love garlic!  So we asked our waitress if the tzatziki sauce had much garlic in it.  She told us ‘Not Really’.  Bummer…but then she asked us if we’d like more garlic added!  Yes indeed!  So we ordered it and then we gorged on vegetables and pita wedges slathered with nice (Chicago style) garlicy tzatziki sauce… (Normally $8.10 but Monday – Thursday, appetizers are half price!)

This was another appetizer.  It’s the Triopita. ($7.85/half price for early diners!) These are baked parcels of phyllo pastry with a filling of feta and other cheeses.  This is a very tasty way to start a meal!

Somehow, I missed taking a photo of our favorite Pero’s appetizer.  That was the Fried Ravioli. ($7.10/$3.55 early dining!) Laurie is from St. Louis and we met there.  St. Louis is the home…the place where fried ravioli was created…and they could take a lesson from Pero’s version of this appetizer!  It is just excellent!

Now for the entrees… This was the Veal Parmesan. ($13.65) A nice piece of prime veal is hand breaded and topped with melted mozzarella cheese and Pero’s terrific meat sauce with a side of spaghetti.  Very nice indeed!

This was Linda’s entrée.  It’s the Shrimp Alfredo…fettuccine noodles tossed in a homemade Alfredo sauce with sautéed shrimp. ($13.50) Linda was very happy with her choice.

Norm has been avoiding ‘white’ in his diet.  No potatoes, rice or bread… So he ordered the Souvlaki Plate with marinated grilled pork tenderloin on a skewer. ($13.35) It’s normally served with warm pita bread and tzatziki sauce in addition to the tomato and lettuce.  In keeping with his dietary goals, he ordered the sautéed seasonal vegetables instead.  It was the perfect meal for him…

Since I’d pigged out on the appetizers, I tried to go ‘healthy’ with my entrée.  This was my Parmesan Crusted Tilapia. ($13.15) The 2 hand breaded tilapia filets were served over a bed of orzo.  For my side, I opted for the sautéed spinach.  I really liked the tilapia and the spinach was actually nicely seasoned and very tasty too.

We were all very pleased with our dining experience.  Laurie and I already have plans to return to Pero’s on the Hill!  The service is competent and the food is very satisfying with lots of options available.  One key is that early diner/happy hour period from Monday – Thursday.  Not only are appetizers half price, but the drinks are discounted too!  My Miller Lite was $2.00 and Laurie’s vodka tonic tall with two limes was only $3.25. (That was a $14.00 savings with tax from my bill!)

There are 2 Pero’s locations.  The other location is in the Powell area of Knoxville at 7535 Conner Road.  Pero’s on the Hill is at 7706 South Northshore in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-694-6900.  Pero’s website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, April 20, 2018

Udder Joy!

Not too long ago, my lovely wife found a beauty product (a body cream) that she really fell in love with while shopping at The Lacy.  The Lacy is a tasteful and upscale antique/home décor and clothing store that we like in Lenoir City Tennessee.  This is a story of one thing leading to another…

FYI… The Lacy is located at 105 North A Street.  Their website is found at  They are on Facebook too at  

But this posting isn’t about The Lacy.  Instead it’s about that body cream and our discoveries related to that product.  

My better half went on-line and discovered that her cream was a local product and that the farm where it’s produced was open for visitors by appointment.  She loves farms and farm critters…and this farm has goats, one of her favorite animals!  It wasn’t long before we hit the back roads in Monroe County for a visit to Udder Joy Farms…

Goats’ aside, this Australian cattle dog was a major plus during our visit!  Sadie loves people and she loves, loves, loves attention… 

It’s hard to believe that Sadie actually does any work around Udder Joy Farms.  This is her favorite position if you’re just standing in one place!  Belly rub anyone??

FYI…Sadie does help herd Udder Joy’s goats.  At times she has to herd these guinea fowl too.  My mother had some of these dumb birds when she was living in the country in southern Michigan.  They’ll ‘bark’ at anything that’s out of place.  I remember one time at my mother’s house when they spent the day ‘barking’ at a dead raccoon in the road!  They do have one excellent trait though...they eat all the fleas, ticks and insect varmints they can find!

Love this photo of Sadie!  It’s her cross-eyed ‘please love me’ look… Just pitiful!

…and then of course, there are the goats!  They all have names but this is the only one who paid much attention to me…This is the farms namesake! Udder Joy!

By now you might have guessed that Udder Joy Farms’ beauty products are mostly based on goat milk…and you’d be right.  In addition to the body creams, they produce soaps, scrubs and lip balm.

…another photo of yours truly with his goat admirer.  Or did she just like the salt on my hands?   

For obvious reasons, the male goats (bucks) are kept separated from the females (does).  Otherwise there would be baby goats (kids) all over the place all the time! 

This is Diego and he has an ‘attitude’.  He spends his days gazing over the fence at the ladies and fantasizing.  He’s one of the lucky kids who wasn’t castrated…or he was be a neutered ‘wether’.  His dad was a real stud too!

Here a few of Diego’s ladies.  There is another buck in the herd…but the last time the boys escaped and mingled with the ladies, all but one of the resulting kids looked just like Diego!

This is Suzanne Harper, one half of Udder Joy’s entrepreneurial owners.  Her husband Gary works at Mayfield Dairy down by Athens Tennessee.

The Harper family (Suzanne, Gary, 2 teenage boys, 13 goats, 3 dogs, 3 ducks and 2 cats), moved to East Tennessee from the Sierra Nevada foothills near Fresno California.  While they loved their small self-reliant community in California, state government's over-regulation regarding water rights and vehicles…not to mention the cost of living…led to their happy decision to move to their new family farm near Madisonville Tennessee.  It was a challenging move…leaving all of their friends and their family farm behind, but it has been worth it.

Here are 3 of the products that Laurie has purchased from Udder Joy Farms…all of which she really loves!  At the back are 2 bottles of Goat Milk Body Cream.  The one at the left is the Orange Cedarwood version with the Patchouli Lime version on the right. Loves them!  She is crazy about that jar of Rosemary Mint Sugar Scrub in the front of the photo too! Makes her facial skin feel like a new born baby!

In addition to drinking the goat milk, Udder Joy Farms also uses their goat milk to make a line of 20 different soaps.   They sell them on-line as well as in their various retail outlets.  Examples range from Peppermint Cedarwood to Simply Charcoal, Raw Oats and Honey, to Rosemary Mint and Avocado Storm.

FYI…all of Udder Joy Farm’s products are made in small handmade batches.  They never use pre-made bases or powdered goat milk. Plus, all of the ingredients are listed on the products. No guessing if allergies are an issue.

To find retail outlets that carry Udder Joy Farm’s products, just go to

Udder Joy Farms also sells their excess goats.  However, they consider those transactions to be an adoption more than a sale!  They prefer to sell quality breeding animals to help others begin their herds.  A good home is their primary concern.  It you want to buy a goat, you will need to submit a contact form in advance…Plus, a farm inspection is also required before a sale.

I can’t think of anything cuter to end this post with!  This sweet baby, a recent surprise arrival, is named Little Miss Friday.  Any guesses who the daddy buck was?!  Little Miss Friday was one day old when this photo was taken.

We’ve visited Udder Joy Farms twice now… Sadie and the goats are a prime attraction and Suzanne’s “OK” too.  If you’d like to learn more about Udder Joy Farms and/or its products, they do welcome visitors at specific times.

For more information, you can go to Udder Joy Farm’s Facebook site at, their website at, or their Twitter site at    

Fear not Sadie…we will be back to give you some more belly rubs!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them… 
Plus...Thank you Suzanne!

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been up to!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave