Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Morning Repasts…

During this time of self-isolation and staying home for the most part, our daily routine is even more fixed than usual.  There is no going out for breakfast or taking an all-day drive because it’s a beautiful day, so our usual schedule involves getting up late (we are going to bed later and later), watching some news while drinking coffee and then having something for breakfast.

We are trying hard not to waste food while confined… The following are samples of our morning fare.

Laurie loves Cheerios.  She just adds a bit of Splenda with dried cranberries on top and adds milk.  I’m trying to finish off some leftover Rice Chex and Corn Chex remaining from our snack making efforts around the Super Bowl.  So I put my cranberries in the bottom of the bowl, add the Rice Chex, then the Corn Chex, sprinkle on the Splenda and then I add milk.  Laurie doesn’t understand why I put my cranberries on the bottom but hey, we’re all different!  I also use a lot more milk with my cereal than she does…

We use half and half milk anytime we have cereal or a recipe calls for milk.  Why?  While it’s a little less healthy, we don’t use much milk and half and half has a long shelf life, hence no waste due to spoilage.

Another example of not wasting food.  Our friends Norm and Linda gave us a gift pack of Wolferman’s English Muffins at Christmas.  We froze some of them and this was the last of the lot…toasted, buttered with jam…for one of my breakfasts.  Quick, easy and satisfying...

We both love oatmeal but it’s basically a ‘cold weather’ breakfast…and we define that as any morning here in East Tennessee when the temperature drops below 40 F.  It was right around 32 F. on this occasion so Laurie made up a big pot of oatmeal.  We prefer the 12 minute type of Quaker Oats, not the instant variety.  We like our oatmeal with lots of Amish butter, brown Splenda sugar and dried cranberries with half and half milk.  This was a great start to another day in self-isolation! 

On another happy morning, I ‘had to’ finish off my last slab of Laurie’s meatloaf.  I heated it in the frying pan, covered it with some leftover chili, and then I topped it with an egg.  A very satisfactory way to start my day!

Another morning…so what to eat?  Laurie decided that she’d make some ready to bake Pillsbury biscuits.  Serve, top with lots of Amish butter and then add either apricot or strawberry jam.  Happy days!

We also did smoothies one morning… We had a bag of frozen mixed berries in the refrigerator and we had a couple of ripe bananas too.  Combine, blend and drink!  Very refreshing, healthy and satisfying too… 

Yes indeed…Pillsbury at work again.  This time it was a batch of large cinnamon rolls.  Not the best and not the healthiest, but they did provide a change of pace.  

We've noted that the fact that we've been eating more carbs than usual hasn't really hurt us weight-wise.  It's probably because we're only eating twice a day and if the morning repast is heavy, we tend to eat a light evening meal.

One evening we’d had tacos for dinner.  That meant that I had leftover taco meat prepared and ready to go, along with taco sauce and an 8 inch flour tortilla.  So for breakfast one morning I scrambled an egg with the meat and some Mexican blend shredded cheese, then topped it with the taco sauce… Wrap and eat…done!

FYI…The morning meals shown above aren’t the norm, at least for my better half.  Laurie’s usual breakfast consists of yogurt mixed with granola along with a glass of mango juice.  My usual breakfast consists of anything I can find in the refrigerator that needs to be disposed of plus juice, in my case its a mix of orange juice and low calorie cranberry juice.

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, 2020

Still Hunkered Down!

As I write this post for my blog site, we are into Day 41 of our self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Georgia begins opening up some businesses tomorrow (Friday, 4/24) and whether we agree or not, Tennessee will follow suit in a week or so.

In any case, other than taking drives around the area and the rare visit to the supermarket, there isn’t much exiting news to report…or to blog about.  Such as it is…here it is!

Our 41st anniversary was on 4/20/2020.  No trips and no fancy dinner out…or for that matter any casual dining outside of our home.  We started the day with the news, a couple cups of coffee and these Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls.  We watched a little TV and then quizzed each other using Trivial Pursuit cards.

Then there was our anniversary dinner.  The plan was to follow-up after this appetizer, (pre-packaged potato skins stuffed with bacon and cheese along with some dips), with steamed hot dogs on buns.  But, by the time we finished the potato skins, we were too full to go for the hot dogs.

Later, we did have ice cream and then we watched a movie on Amazon… “Emma” was quite entertaining.  We both liked it but I’m not sure we’ll ever understand British humor.  This ‘comedy’ had its amusing moments but it was basically a story about a spoiled and privileged young woman discovering what life is all about.  All in all, it was a very nice anniversary day!

Recently we had a severe rainstorm, receiving a month’s worth of rain in a 24 hour period.  This creek near our home flows into Tellico Lake.  While we’ve seen it higher on one occasion in the past 10+ years, the muddy waters rose significantly, changing the usual placid view.  At this point it was a river!

We stopped by to check out a pavilion and its beach on Tellico Lake.  Water, water everywhere!  Still, we noted that the nearby boat docks were still accessible…while they weren’t accessible in a major flood event that happened a couple of years ago.  This year through 4/21 we’ve had 4.84 inches of rain.  Normally, we only have 2.36 inches of rain in the entire month!

So, after checking on local flooding, we drove through some of the neighborhoods in Tellico Village, checking out the spring time foliage and eye-catching blooms.  As you can see, it was a beautiful day!

A few days later, we took another drive…this time we headed east on TN Hwy. 72 and then turned south down along TN Hwy. 304.  That road basically follows along the western shore of Watts Bar Lake (reservoir).

Like Tellico Lake, Watts Bar Lake was also created as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s long term power and flood control project along the length of the Tennessee River.  The lake/reservoir is 72.4 miles long, is up to 108 feet deep and it covers 39,000 acres.  This picture was taken from a bluff overlooking part of the lake.

Nothing like ending a post with bright (literally) and cheery photos.  Laurie captured these photos of a pretty male American Goldfinch at our feeder.

These migratory birds range from mid-Alberta Canada to North Carolina during the breeding season and from just south of Canada to Mexico in the winter.  They are the only finch in its subfamily to undergo a complete seasonal molt.  Male American Goldfinches are bright yellow in mating season but they are an olive color in the winter.

That’s all 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 24, 2020

Pandemic Grocery Shopping Plus!

Grocery shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic can be interesting…and challenging too!  What follows is a tour of our local Food Lion Grocery Store showing some key product displays…

The first shortage we noticed was baking potatoes.  There were only a few small potatoes left.  They have a great shelf life so that’s probably why they were almost out of stock.

The bacon display at Food Lion is usually packed with multiple choices for customers to peruse.  While it wasn’t wiped out, some brands were out of stock or close to it.  I wonder if the fact that Smithfield’s Covid-19 reported plant infections and the resulting publicity has hurt their sales…or is it because the brand is owned by a company based in China… They were still in stock here!

There were still enough steaks and other cuts of beef on hand, but you can see that available product in the cooler is somewhat lacking. 

No surprise here!  Given all the negative publicity regarding Covid-19 at Smithfield’s big pork processing plant in South Dakota and the fact that it supplies such a large portion of the United States pork for grocery stores, I expected a ‘run’ on pork.  The cooler looks fairly full but while there were plenty of pre-cooked pork ribs and pork roasts (far more than usual for either product) they were being used as display ‘fillers’ for the missing chops, pork steaks and other smaller cuts that were basically gone!   

We weren’t looking for instant meals…but it’s a good thing we weren’t!  Ramen noodles, instant lunches and other inexpensive bowl style foods were just about wiped out.  I hadn’t thought about this category but it makes sense.  In our area a lot of workers are still building homes, landscaping, etc. and all their usual lunch spots are closed down…so perhaps this was one of the solutions they migrated to.  Alternatively, some local retirees don't like to cook and the restaurants are closed!

This was another section of the store that sort of blew my mind.  The bulk rice was wiped out!  It is cheap food with a great shelf life and perhaps that’s why the shelves were bare.

I wasn’t too surprised to see that many of the Mexican/Hispanic basic items had been snatched up by shoppers.  We do have a large population of Hispanics living in the area who work in food processing, construction, landscaping and other industries.

No surprise here either!  This is where the hand sanitizer and disinfectant hand soaps would normally be displayed.  I think that it will be at least August before we once again see hand sanitizer on the shelves of our grocery stores.

Spray disinfectants and sanitizing wipes that kill bacteria and viruses are almost as hard to find as hand sanitizers.  Thankfully, we had a couple of spray cans of disinfectant on hand when the panic set in and store stocks were decimated!  We keep a can at the ready to spray down any deliveries we receive from Amazon…

No big surprise that these shelves are completely empty of their normal products…but those Kleenex Multicare multipurpose wipes are a poor stand-in for toilet paper!  I guess that if one is desperate enough, these wipes are better than nothing.  The problem would be that where we live, we’re not supposed to flush any paper products other than the real thing.

Good news for us though!  On the same day, we made a second trip to the grocery store, this time the Ingles in Lenoir City Tennessee.  They were more in stock on most products…and we even came across 7 packs of TP and we bought 2 of them!

Food City vs. Ingles stocking levels may be the result of three factors.  One would be when the last trucks or truck replenished any particular store.  The second factor is store size and probable sales volume.  The Food Lion stores are smaller than the Ingles stores.  The third factor is the supply chain itself.  Food Lion has 6 stores spread out over a wide area around Knoxville.  Ingles, with larger stores, has 9 stores in the area.  Food Lion has over 1,000 stores in the Eastern USA while Ingles has only 212 stores in the Southeastern part of the country.

Now for a bit of happiness!

This is our friend Norm, who by the way is a fellow Michigan State grad!  You might be able to tell that Norm is a frustrated but dedicated golfer who also has a nice creative streak going for him.  Love that face mask!

…and just because we’re so proud of our two handsome and accomplished grandsons, this is a recent photo of the quarantined pair at home in Omaha Nebraska.  Maybe some day we'll see them face to face again! (Here they were picking up some take-out for dinner)
Emmett Lee on the left is frustrated by his inability to play team sports and having to take high school classes on line.  This is the time of the year that he’d be running track and he’s already missed the remainder of the basketball season.  As for David III, he’s stuck at home, taking his New York University courses long distance/on-line.  He’s missing what was the exciting and energizing environment he enjoyed while attending college in New York City.  Nevertheless, we’re glad that both boys are home with their parents and everyone is staying safe…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Eating Our Way through Self-Isolation

Let’s face it… I don’t watch much TV and while I read a bit more these days, one of my big breaks in the day is whatever we’re (or I’m) going to eat for breakfast, a mid-day snack or for dinner.  While I’m eating less during the Covid-19 emergency, (Laurie is eating much less), I do look forward to whatever is on the table. 

The good news is that I’m not fussy in the sense that nothing has to be fancy or gourmet…just basic comfort food.  Happily, Laurie’s equally happy with basic cuisine as well!

The other day we got a phone call from our friend Larry. (aka Big Dude at He and Bev, his better half, have been hunkered down like we have.  Larry told us that Bev had put together some of her famous yeast rolls.  They wondered if we were going to be home so they could deliver a batch of her ready to bake rolls.  Absolutely!

So, Bev and Larry pulled into our driveway and backed up to our garage door.  They opened up the back hatch on their SUV and I retrieved the goodies!  They had another drop off to make after stopping at our place but we were able to chat (socially distanced) for a few moments.  Missing friends and family is one serious side effect of the pandemic…

Much to our delight Bev had also made some deviled eggs.  Yum!  They didn’t survive until it was time for a proper meal… Laurie makes good deviled eggs too but even though they are classic comfort food, they just hadn’t occurred to us.

So when it was time for dinner Laurie followed Bev’s instructions and baked those rolls.  They are great just with butter and I love them with nice jam too.

In this case we had some fried chicken on hand that we’d purchased from our local Food Lion.  So I cut it up…preserving all that fried goodness…and we sat down for dinner.

Laurie put together this little fried chicken sandwich on one of Bev's fresh yeast rolls.  Mayonnaise, chicken and lots of crust made a great little feast.  Add a  orange and that was dinner. (OK, I might have had a couple…or three rolls, two with chicken and one with jam!) But I did eat a orange too!
Moving on to some other meals…

We usually stick to basic food items…nothing fancy!  We had laid in a supply of different soups so on one occasion we enjoyed a couple of cans of Bar Harbor brand New England Clam Chowder!  I had mine with a couple of slices of buttered bread that I dipped into the soup…after adding Tabasco of course…

Nothing is more satisfying in times of stress than some form of dessert…something sweet.  These tasty chunky chocolate chip cookies were the Ingles brand…as all of the ready to bake Pillsbury cookies were out of stock.  

I’d been hankering for Tacos even before self-isolation began!  In one of our last shopping missions I finally remembered to buy the necessary ingredients…taco seasoning, sour cream, lettuce and a taco cheese mix along with some form of taco shell or tortilla to hold it all together.  We had plenty of hamburger on hand thanks to an earlier trip to Costco.

The first “taco” shown above was my experiment using green tomatillo salsa instead of the usual red taco sauce.  It was just OK.  Of course, when is a taco not a taco?  We both prefer soft flour tacos and why go small…so we bought these 8” flour tortillas.

We had decided to skip tomatoes on our tacos but Laurie’s version is a bit more true to form.  She added sour cream to hers and used the red sauce. (So did I on my subsequent creations) We kicked up the heat for our taco meat with some cayenne and we agreed that it was just about right!  Another soul-satisfying self-isolation meal done…with many more to go.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! 

Note: Give generously to your local food bank.  The need is enormous... Here in our area, our food bank of choice is the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.  Website:

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 20, 2020

Our 41st Anniversary – Definitely Not the Usual!

Here it is…our 41st wedding anniversary, right in the middle of a world-wide pandemic.  Like everything else, for everyone else, the dynamics and challenges of the current situation have caused deviations from the usual…

So the goal for everyone is to adapt and keep putting one foot in front of the other…never stop living life, even if its daily norms have changed.

Going back to the beginning…that is our beginning way back in April of 1979.

What a sweet couple!  This photo was taken just before the wedding.  The setting was our apartment off of Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield Missouri.  I look like a pretty dang happy cradle robber don’t I!  Poor sweet young ‘child bride’…she didn’t know what she was in for…

Our wedding took place on this date at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on Mason Road in Creve Coeur Missouri.  The newly married couple posing at the altar gazed lovingly at each other… (Damn, I actually had hair!)

Our wedding party was pretty small…after all we were ‘financially challenged’ at the time.  After the wedding the entire wedding party gathered for our reception at a local restaurant.  The group consisted of Father McNulty and his wife, both of our mothers, David II, the maid of honor, the best man…and the two of us…nine in all. 

For our ‘usual’ anniversary celebration our tendencies are to take a little road trip or to just enjoy a fine meal out somewhere.  One year we’d taken the back roads up to Roanoke Virginia.  On our way home we stopped at one of our favorite wineries…the Abingdon Vineyards near Abingdon Virginia. 

A couple of years ago, I’d asked Laurie which fine dining restaurant she fancied for our annual celebration.  She said that she didn’t feel like going upscale!  Steak ‘N Steak was her choice… She was happy and so was her life partner. (I had 2 double steak burgers and money to spare!)

Bonefish Grill is one of our favorites when it comes to celebrating our anniversary.  It’s a bit upscale without being over the top and we don’t cook much seafood at home.

Our waiter took this photo of us last year when we celebrated our anniversary at the Bonefish Grill in the Turkey Creek shopping area in Knoxville.  Happy time!  The world has changed quite a bit since then…

Well, no big anniversary dinner or road trip this year, that’s for sure!  We had planned to celebrate our 41st in Laurel Mississippi…the home of HGTV’s show “Home Town”.  We’d been there once before and loved the downtown area and enjoyed some great food too.  The trip just wasn’t meant to be this time around.  Even without Covid-19 pandemic, just about a week ago the Laurel area was hit with its second devastating tornado of the spring.   

However a couple of days ago we did take a 3-hour ‘anniversary road trip’, driving the back roads and checking out the spring-time sights around East Tennessee.  Laurie took this selfie as we were driving.  The drive wasn’t quite the same as our usual multi-day adventure…no restaurants to dine in and no places for Laurie to shop…but it was a beautiful day!

So here is our official 41st anniversary selfie…the happy couple dressed to go out and party in the Covid-19 era!  Flattering, don't you think?  At least no one can say that I’m not smiling…

Laurie insisted that we had to take another anniversary selfie, this time without our masks on… I acquiesced and this was the result.  I actually prefer my photo with the mask on!

In the post this coming Wednesday, I’ll include a couple of photos of our anniversary dinner this year as compared to last year as well as some other pictures from our cozy 2020 celebration.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave (Honey Bear) and Laurie (Sweetie Pie Pie)