Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Search for Quality Pizza Continues

One of the services that helps us maintain our home and premises is owned by a fellow who loves good food and who is always asking us about new restaurants that we’ve tried and liked.  In turn, he has provided us with leads on a couple of good ‘foodie’ eateries.

Recently, we’d been talking about pizza and just how difficult it is to find good pizza in East Tennessee.  He told us about Jaboni’s Pizzeria in Knoxville.  It’s located on Kingston Pike/TN Hwy 11, quite close to West Town Mall.  Note the covered outside dining area.  We’ve never been able to understand the ‘charm’ of eating outside…when you are right next to a major thoroughfare. 

Interestingly, there is another Jaboni’s Pizza located in Maryville Tennessee.  The menus are similar but not identical.  It appears that Jaboni’s might be a franchise operation...to be determined.    

Jaboni’s Knoxville has a full bar.  It has a nice bright and updated look to it but in the mid-afternoon on a weekday, it was very quiet.

I took two photos showing the rest of the inside dining area.  It is well lit and it pretty much fits the look of most ‘modern’ pizza restaurants.  FYI, there were 2 tables of customers dining outside next to Kingston Pike.  Laurie wasn’t too crazy about my second photo because she’s in it!

Note the slogan/statement on the wall behind Laurie.  Both Jaboni’s locations claim to provide “A slice of Long Island”.

Our waitress was Kellyann and, as it turned out, she is actually from Long Island New York.  She was very pleasant, friendly and helpful.  She explained the menu to us, especially the pizza options.  We ended up building our own. 

Four specialty pizzas are offered, including a 12-inch “Cauliflower Pizza…gluten free with cheese and tomato sauce. ($12.95 plus $1.95 for additional toppings.  Then there is the 9 slice “Stuffed Meat Pie” with Italian sausage, mozzarella, pepperoni and ham. ($49.95)

In addition, Jaboni’s Pizzeria offers 18” Neapolitan, Sicilian, Grandma’s, Margherita and White Pizzas.  Pricing for these ‘basic’ pizzas just includes cheese, seasonings and tomato sauce.  In the order I listed them above, the price is $18.95, $19.95, $19.95, $23.95 and $23.95.

The other option is to start with basic pizza and build your own.  We prefer thin crust so we ordered a Neapolitan Pizza.  We added Basil, Garlic, Pepperoni and Sausage.  Pricing on ‘build your own pizzas’ includes up to 5 toppings of your choice.  A half topping is $2.95 and full toppings are $3.95 each.  Half toppings count as a full topping against the 5 that are included in the ‘build your own pizza’ plan.

Our pizza looked good when it was served.  It included sausage, pepperoni, garlic, basil and half mushroom. ($28.95) We did like the crust…nice and thin and firm enough to support the toppings.  From there it sort of went downhill. The garlic was like the kind that you buy in a jar from the supermarket, we couldn’t taste the pepperoni and the sliced sausage (vs chunks) added nothing to the pie.  Actually, when picked off and eaten by itself, we thought that the sausage had a ‘funky’ taste.  Our search for quality pizza in East Tennessee continues with Tellico Grains in Tellico Plains still the champ…with no close ‘restaurant based’ contenders.

Jaboni’s Pizzeria in Knoxville does offer a number of hero’s and Italian entrees.  This restaurant is located at 7403 Kingston Pike.  Phone: 865-394-9734.  Website: Jabonis - Pizza, Italian Restaurant, Pizzeria.  Perhaps we were too harsh or we ordered wrong… If you try Jaboni’s pizza and you have a positive experience, give me some feedback.

You may have noted that I ended my feedback on Jaboni’s Pizzeria with a statement that we haven’t found any ‘restaurant based’ sources for pizza in the area that are better…or even close to Tellico Grains Bakery.

Well…sometimes one finds something that you didn’t expect in an unlikely place.  Yes, I agree, this isn’t a slice of pizza.  It is flatbread with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and sausage.  It was Laurie’s dinner the other night, so she ‘dressed it up’ with olives, red pepper flakes, coarse ground black pepper and a bit of parmesan cheese.  She let me have a couple of pieces with the olives removed. 

We both really liked this faux pizza as it had the thin crust we like and we could taste the quality of the pepperoni and sausage that came with it.  This 'take and bake' pizza is now our second favorite ‘pizza’ in East Tennessee.  Where did we buy it?  We found it in the deli area of the Publix Grocery Store in Farragut Tennessee.  It was a happy surprise!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, June 1, 2023

A Little of This and a Little of That…

It was hard to come up with a specific title for this particular post for the blog site… It’s about flowers, food and ‘home’ shopping.

Winters here in East Tennessee are generally quite mild with very minimal snow and ice.  We do get cold here…below freezing…but it generally just happens for a day or two in a row.  However, this past December we had a run of days where it got cold…below freezing at night…and stayed cold for several days in a row.  As a consequence, our Laura Petaluma shrubs/bushes really got hammered!  Looking at them in early spring, there were a few blooms but most of the small branches appeared lifeless and we weren’t sure that the bushes would survive.  On top of that, most of those blooms just seemed to die and fade away.

We just took this photo on 5/28/23 and there has been a lot of growth.  The Laurie Petaluma shrubs are going to make it!  I had just trimmed them to keep the regrowth even and there still are some ‘bald’ areas, especially in their center.  Hopefully, they will eventually fill in…

Our little Boxwood bushes on either side of the entrance to our front porch did not fare as well as the Petaluma bushes.  They took a hit from the weather and they are not coming back.  In this case, those few light green leaves have just been turning into dead foliage.  We’ll have to pick out replacements now that it’s evident that they are finished…

We just love the magnolia flowers!  They are just beautiful and they look so delicate too.  Our two “Little Gem Magnolia” trees aren’t so little.  It appears that they have reached their alleged maximum height of 20 feet…

Unfortunately, they are messy trees too… Leaf litter is especially heavy in the mid to late spring…but they do grow new leaves and shed old ones fairly continuously during the growing season.  

‘Good news, bad news’ in our backyard as well… Our big Oak Hyacinth is in full bloom, looking glorious once again.  Unfortunately, another Oak Hyacinth, which was just few feet to the right of this one, is no longer.  It was wiped out this winter by a big limb that fell from our massive old Oak Tree.

Moving along to one of my favorite topics…food!  In this case, leftovers for breakfast.  You may remember our dinner at TC’s Grill…a diner in Maryville Tennessee.  I’d ordered the country fried cube steak with country gravy.  What I really got was two 8 oz. burger patties that were breaded and then deep fried.

Want not, waste not.  There was no way I could eat 16 oz. of deep fried hamburger in one sitting.  So, subsequently I reheated the second breaded hamburger in a frying pan with butter and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I love fried cheese… So I dropped 2 easy over eggs on top and sided my breakfast with a toasted buttered English muffin.  It was satisfying and very filling!

Another day, another breakfast!  I had 2 deli ham slices tucked away in the fridge and I was going to make scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and the ham slices.  Then I saw a package of Feta cheese in the meat/cheese keeper.  So, I made my ham and cheese scramble with Feta cheese…and it was both creamy and very tasty, a nice change of pace.

Then I discovered a slab of leftover parmesan crusted chicken breast that I’d fried for dinner one night.  We’d purchased it ‘ready to fry or bake’ at the Fresh Market in Farragut Tennessee.  They were big and Laurie couldn’t finish hers…hence breakfast for me!  Again I added cheese and of course, I topped it with an egg.

Since Loudon County with Tellico Village is home to a lot of retired folks, there are frequent estate sales as people downsize, move back with family, move to assisted care or pass on… It isn’t unusual for our area to have 2 to 3 three day estate sales per month.  Most items that remain are 40% off on Saturdays!

Do we need any more ‘stuff’?  Of course not, but that has never stopped us from shopping for things we ‘might’ need or for items that we actually have a use for.

I took a few ‘typical’ photos of some rooms in this particular estate sale.  Everything was looking for a new home!  Like most of these sales, just about everything in sight is for sale.  In this instance dishware, kitchen tools, pots and pans, décor items,  clothing, cameras, TV’s/electronics, office supplies, tools, crafting materials and much more was available to the discerning shopper.  We picked up a few more things ourselves.  They included a small bathroom rug, 2 nice pillows, a framed close up of donkeys and 4 CD’s for my growing CD inventory…

I thought that I’d end this post with a new flowering plant in our yard.  This is a hybrid red Calla Lily developed for gardens and floral displays.  The most common form of calla lily or Zantedeschia aethiopica is native to Lesotho, South Africa and Eswatini/formerly Swaziland.  Normally white or pink, hybrids come in many colors. 

In nature, wild calla lily in Western Australia has been labeled as an invasive pest.  That is because it loves water, swampy areas in particular and it uses a lot of it.  All parts of the plant are poisonous, producing local irritation or a burning sensation in the mouth and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.  On the other hand, Zantedeschia aethiopica can also be used for the treatment of wastewater due to its tolerance of iron and its ability to grow in wet areas.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day – 2023

As is my tradition on Memorial Day for the past few years, I am publishing a post relating to my dad, Ronald Allen Myers.  In 1945, he was killed in action in Czechoslovakia…now the Czech Republic.

After he graduated from High School in Jackson Michigan, my dad attended the Jackson Community College for a while before attending Michigan State College (now University).  He didn’t have any money so he did what he could to get by.  In this case, he worked as a soda jerk in a drug store…sometimes sleeping on a pallet in the back room.  It was during the Great Depression and very few people were prosperous.  This photo was taken by my mom in 1936 and although there isn't a note on the back of the photo, its almost a certainty that that painter on the ladder is my dad. 

My mother, Elizabeth had graduated from the St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in Detroit and she was her second phase of training at Mercy Hospital in Jackson… One day she stopped into a drug store near the hospital.  She was feeling ‘kind of down’ so she ordered a cherry Coke from the young fellow behind the counter.  I think that you can guess who served her that Coke and who cheered her up…  The rest, as they say, ‘is history’.

Dad graduated from Michigan State in 1938 with a major in soil conservation and a minor in forestry.  My parents got married in January of 1939 and my dad got a job with a fish hatchery in Wolf Lake Michigan.  They lived in a little trailer on site… After a bit, he was accepted as a State Conservation Officer and the couple were able to share some great experiences in the wilderness areas of Michigan.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor and war broke out, my dad joined the Army in 1942.

In the meantime, nature had taken its course and in 1942, while they were living in a rental house in or around St. John’s Michigan, yours truly entered their lives…

The first family photo above is of my parents and chunky little me and it was taken in late 1942 or early 1943.   The second one is of me ca, 1944 being held by my dad.  My dad had his college degree and as a consequence the Army sent him to officer’s school for a while…until they discovered that he was color blind.  At one point my mom and I spent some time in Killeen Texas where dad was in training.

Then in January of 1945 my dad was shipped out to the European Theater to fight the German Army and to help end the war. 

This is the last known photo of S/Sgt. Ronald Allen Myers.  He was photographed on April 14, 1945, by an Army photographer as he led a column near Riefensbeck Germany.  Apparently, these troops, part of the American 3rd Army, were on their way to liberate western Czechoslovakia from German forces.

My dad was KIA (killed in action) near Pilsen, likely around the town of Tesov Czechoslovakia on May 6, 1945, about 3 weeks after this photo was taken.  The War in Europe ended 2 days after he was killed… I had not yet reached my 3rd birthday.

So what does this photo have to do with my dad?  Some years ago I was contacted by David Foud, a local historian and researcher from Pilsen, who was and is involved in the development of a Virtual Memorial for the American soldiers who died fighting to liberate Western Czechoslovakia.  David provided me with the photo of my dad with the Army column as well as other related information.  To learn more about David’s efforts, you can go to his website at http://www.mnofu.com/. But I still haven’t explained the photo have I?

On May 6, 1945, the day my dad was killed, American forces arrived in Pilsen.  It was the last place where the Allied troops reached on their march east.  With the Russians and Communism dominating the country until 1989, no one could or dare to celebrate the liberation of the area by American Forces.  However, every May since 1990, Pilsen has held a Liberation Festival honoring the American forces who ended the German occupation.  From what I can determine, this is the biggest annual event that take place in Pilsen…now part of the Czech Republic.  To learn more, go to Liberation Festival 2023 - Fotogalerie - Liberation Festival Pilsen (slavnostisvobody.cz).  There are lots of photos with really large crowds celebrating the event…

Thanks to all who have made the greatest sacrifice to protect us as well as those who continue to fight for our freedom…

God Bless America and Take Care

David Myers, aka Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 26, 2023

Cooking at Home - Pot Roast / Beef Stew

It is unusual for me to post an actual recipe…usually I just write in broad generalities about meals we create at home.  However, in this case we liked the meal well enough to actually walk through the ingredients and steps involved in making this pot roast. 

The other issue is that I took it off an Internet video that didn’t have a recipe attached.  Consequently, I had to view the video over and over again until I’d written down all the ingredients as well as the process itself.  Since then, I've been unable to find the original site to give credit to the chef...

The recipe called for 4 pounds of beef chuck roast and we didn’t want to stray from the recipe by trying to cut back on the beef and guessing at ‘revised’ quantities for the other ingredients.  Of course, this also created a lot of leftovers…and I love leftovers! 

Laurie rubbed the chuck roasts with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Using an iron skillet heated and then lightly coated with olive oil, I browned the meat on both sides.  Then I removed the beef from the skillet and sat it to the side.

In the meantime, Laurie had chopped up a large onion and 3 cups of cut up carrots.  I added a half stick of butter to the skillet and scraped up the bits left from browning the meat just for a bit more flavor.  Then Laurie put the vegetables in the skillet and I stirred everything together, briefly sautéing the onions and carrots. 

The next step was the addition of a 16 oz. jar of pepperoncini and all of the juice to the mixture, blending it together.  Next we added a packet of McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning, a packet of McCormick Au Jus mix and a packet of ranch dressing mix…stirring it all together.

Then came a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce…then adding half of a can of water to the mix. 

Then we blended everything together and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, those beef chuck roasts were place in our crock pot.  Laurie then poured the mixture of seasoned vegetables, pepperoncini, juice, and tomato sauce over the meat in the crock pot. 

The pot roast and vegetables then spent 8 hours in the covered crock pot with the temperature set on high.  As it slowly cooked, the marriage of the varied ingredients wafted throughout the house.  It smelled great!

This was not your standard pot roast, that’s for sure.  Laurie served hers next to her mashed potatoes and I had mine on top of the potatoes.  We really enjoyed this variation on a ‘standard’ pot roast.  It turned out to be more of a piquant beef stew than what one normally sees with a beef pot roast.  The meat just fell apart, the carrots held up and the onions basically dissolved into the sauce.  The pepperoncini themselves had a nice flavor but they were not ‘spicy hot’. 

The meal did pick up a little heat from the pepperoncini juice and if you’re heat adverse, I’m sure that the recipe could be modified accordingly.  It wasn’t too spicy for Laurie and it was mildly spicy and flavorful to me… Of course, eating it with mashed potatoes also reduces any ‘heat’.  I do know that this home cooking project provided us with a couple of great ‘leftover’ reheats and easy to clean up meals.

Enjoy!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Back to Blackhorse Pub plus More “Progress”

Our neighborhood continues to expand.  Two recent couples that we’ve met, either moved, (or ‘escaped’), from California to retire, feel the warmth of the people here and to live in a beautiful place that is very affordable.

Recently we went out for dinner with two of our new neighbors… 

If you follow my blog site then you know that we have visited Black Horse Pub and Brewery a couple of times before.  Our new neighbors had been there previously as well…but we decided that we liked it and we should return and try some different items on the menu.  I 'borrowed' this photo from Facebook to show off their expansive outdoor dining area.  It was a nice day and, although the parking lot was quite full, there were still plenty of tables available...inside!

This are our new neighbors, Bill and Peggy.  They are refuges/escapees from California.  Like us, they were looking for a much more laid back life style that was both affordable and friendly, that is located in an area with greenery…and amazing scenery.

As sometimes happens, the ‘other couple’ decided that they should take a photo of the two of us as well.  Turnabout is fair play!  Good picture of Laurie and I’m sort of smiling…

Laurie took a photo of the “Mapati” Flatbread that she ordered for dinner but the photo was blurred so this is a ‘stand-in’ flatbread...not a “Mapati”.  Her actual flatbread ($12.25) consisted of “old world bread, rolled thin, then quick grilled finally roasted with its toppings.  The Mapati includes garlic butter, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon and mozzarella cheese.  Laurie really enjoyed her meal! 

I’m frequently curious where names for food items originate so I had to look up 'Mapati'.  There were 3 choices that popped up right away.  Two were places/towns, one in the Congo and the other in India.  The third mapati I found was a grapelike fruit that grows on small trees in the western upland forests of the Amazon basin.  I’m guessing that the town or area in India is the source for the name of this flatbread…  

I just didn’t order well… This was my Pub Club Sandwich. ($11.95) It consisted of turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard.  It is normally served on wheatberry bread…not my favorite, so I asked for it to come on marbled rye.  My side were the Pub Chips.  Too much lettuce and tomato and for some reason, not a lot of flavor…an OK but relatively bland creation.

Bill ordered what I frequently chose when ordering sandwiches…the Reuben with shaved corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing with marbled rye bread. ($11.95) He really liked the French fries.  No complaints from Bill!

Both Peggy and Laurie partook of Blackhorse Pub and Brewery’s Vanilla Cream Ale…and they love it!  Interesting because Laurie just occasionally partakes in beer of any type.  It is described as a “light-bodied ale with subtle vanilla notes, a delicate hop aroma and a slightly sweet finish”.

This is Peggy’s Patty Melt. ($11.95) Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask her to separate the halves so we could see the substance of the sandwich.  In this case, Black Horse Pub makes their patty melt with a substantial beef patty, 2 slices of American cheese and sautéed onions on marbled rye bread.  She chose a cup of soup for her side…but I don’t remember what the soup was.  She really liked her meal and didn’t think she’d be able to finish it all…but she did!

Black Horse Pub and Brewery is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  This restaurant is located at 441 North Hall Road in Alcoa Tennessee.  Phone: 865-448-5900.  Website: Blackhorse - Blackhorse (blackhorsebrews.com)

Progress? …two more construction related photos.  Laurie took these photos of the newly cleared corner lot.  There is now only one wooded lot between our home and this new construction.  In the first photo you can see glimpses of our house through the woods just to the left of the American flag in front of our next door neighbor on the other side… 

We did see 4 deer in our backyard the previous weekend but such sightings are becoming less common.

Right after we took this photo, we continued up the adjacent lane for a few houses.  However, we noted this concrete marker that had been left in place  in the backyard of one of the newer homes in the neighborhood.  It looked old and I ‘had’ to have Laurie take a picture of it. 

We have always felt that there is evidence of an old roadbed angling across part of our lot.  As it turns out, this marker is additional proof of the existence of an old road.  The marker is about 2.5 lots away from our home.

I found a page of schematic drawings online dated December 3, 1919, that showed a number of views of these concrete markers.  It stated: “Standard concrete right of the way markers shall be constructed and erected in accordance with this drawing and Section 708, Monuments and Markers of the Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction.”  There were 3 varieties of this marker shown.  This one has the inscription on two sides with arrows at the top pointing to each other.  This indicated that the marker was at a point where the road pointed away from the centerline.  In fairness, I still don’t understand exactly why these markers were used…perhaps by road surveyors to delineate the right of way.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, May 19, 2023

Construction “Progress” Plus a Local Diner

…continuing with updates on the progress of local home construction and issues.  Currently there are 247 homes under construction in the Village with 87 more approved in the first 4 months of 2023.  This latter number is significantly lower than it was through April of 2022, when we had 131 approved.  Although we hate losing the trees we will be happier when we can drive up and down our streets without dodging construction vehicles.

This is the view of the new house construction from our front yard.  Work is being done sporadically so we don’t really expect the home to be completed until September or later.

…and the beat goes on!  This is a view of the corner lot on our side of the street and almost all the trees were being leveled.  With construction on this lot, we will only have one wooded lot between our home and this new house. 

This is now the view from the edge of the lot across the street looking of the remaining foundation rubble.  You can see that newly cleared corner lot.  Visitors and family that have been here before won’t recognize the area.

The company clearing and preparing the lot across the street not only killed off a small bush that Laurie was nurturing next to our mail box, but they were also cited for damaging an underground internet cable.  All cables here in the village are buried.  Our cable service seems to have an issue whenever construction starts on a new home or when a drainage culvert is put in place. 

Now…let’s talk about food!

We have eaten at TC’s Grill before…but it has been over 4 years since we last visited this Diner/Grill.  As you can see, it is located in an old gas station/convenience store.  The outside gas pump canopy is part of this diner’s ambiance.  The canopy does need a little repair/upkeep but it actually provides a little sheltered parking for a few customers.

Inside TC’s Grill, the dining area is very spacious, especially for a diner.  We were having an early dinner so the restaurant wasn’t very busy.  As you can see, the décor lends itself to an automotive theme.  In typical old-time diner fashion, the tables are covered with advertising for local businesses.  I’m sure that those ads helped pay for the furniture.

We started out with a half order of TC’s Deep Fried Pickle Chips. (Half - $5.49/Full - $8.99) We had this appetizer when we’d first visited TC’s.  We liked it then and we certainly enjoyed it this time too… As you'll see, its a good thing that we didn't get a full order of the pickle chips!

For her dinner, Laurie ordered the 8 oz. Patty Melt. ($11.99) This grilled creation on sourdough bread was delivered as ordered…medium rare.  It was topped with grilled onions and Swiss cheese.  For her side, Laurie ordered the cottage cheese.  This sandwich was huge and she rated it as “excellent”!  Laurie finished half of it plus her cottage cheese.  The other half of her Patty Melt came home with us and served as her dinner on another night…

Other basic side choices at TC’s Grill include: French fries, hash brown potatoes coleslaw, green beans, home fries, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato, okra, hush puppies and a baked potato. (The baked potato can come ‘loaded’ for 99 cents more)

OK…I agree!  The amount of food I was served was indeed obscene!  My choice was the dinner portion of TC’s Country Fried Steak offering. ($16.99 dinner portion/$10.99 lunch portion)  It was described at cube steak hand breaded in a special spice blended flour then deep fried to a golden brown and topped with creamy white gravy.  It came with 2 sides.  

There were a couple of issues… First of all, as you can see my hash brown potatoes were a bit ‘overdone’, partially burnt.  The grill cook should have never put them on my plate.  The second issue is that my ‘fried cube steak’ wasn’t cubed nor was it steak.  Instead the meat portion of my meal really consisted of two 8 oz. burger patties that were breaded and then deep fried.

Don’t get me wrong.  No, they weren’t cube steaks but they still were very nice and like Laurie, there was just too much food for me to eat at one sitting.  So I also ended up taking home one of those breaded and deep fried hamburgers for another meal…

It was a good thing that we didn’t try to finish our meals and took our leftovers home.  It gave us a bit of room for some homemade pie!  Laurie ordered a slice of Coconut Cream and I had a slice of Banana Cream pie.  I don’t remember the price.  We took them home with us and had them for dessert later that night.  They were excellent!

TC’s Grill is located at 2514 Old Niles Ferry Road in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-980-1905.  This restaurant is open 7 days a week from 7 AM until 8 PM.  By current standards, diners do get a lot for their money!  You can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/tcsmaryville/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave