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 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 (  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 (

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

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Spring Fauna and Flora

It’s now late spring here in East Tennessee and my personal ‘farmer’ and ‘livestock manager’ has been busy!  Despite all the construction in our neighborhood, for now we still have a wooded lot on one side and another behind a portion of the back of our home, plus a little strip of woods which we believe will stay put. 

In any case, Laurie has been plying the birds with food…seed, suet cakes and of course, sugar water for the hummingbirds.  In addition we have several birdhouses in place.  All of these factors combined mean that we have lots of birds visiting and nesting. With young to feed, those suet cakes in particular are going fast!

This cardinal decided to build a nest in the Japanese maple just outside Laurie’s western focused ‘plant room’ window.  The cardinals hang around here a lot anyway, seeming to love hiding in the magnolia trees and in the loropetalum bushes in front of the house.  Perhaps she chose the maple because the loropetalums are still recovering from this past winter and they aren’t providing much cover…

In any case, we kept the curtain drawn in an effort to give the cardinals a chance.  They later abandoned the nest, probably when the lawn service blew off the adjacent sidewalk.

This was the bright and cherry spring-time wreath that Laurie hung on our front door…but it didn’t stay there long!

Look closely at the wreath… We had to take it down after we discovered that a wren family started a nest on top of it!  We have learned from past experience that wrens living or hanging out on wreaths can lead to home invasions!  We have had several instances of wrens flying inside the house when we opened the door in the evening.  We/Laurie always recovered the ‘invaders’ without harming them but with our high living area ceilings, it is a stressful situation for us and the wrens.

Every spring we are visited by a number of red breasted grosbeaks… Grosbeaks are seed eating members of the cardinal family.  The males have black heads, wings, backs and tails…with a bright rose colored patch on their white breast.  These birds winter in the North American tropics and we are on their migration route and right up against some of their prime breeding territory in the Appalachian Mountains.

Yes, this is an indoor plant but I included it anyway.  Laurie’s Christmas cactus is obviously seasonally confused but we always welcome its blooms…

If you follow my blog, then you may recall this earlier photo showing a variety of plants that Laurie purchased for her ‘planter farm’, most of which is ensconced on our back deck.  So…where did these plantings end up?

As you can see, we have 2 planters right at our front step.  They are now populated by a number of mixed annuals to include those ‘spiky’ cordyline red sensations.  Unfortunately, the 2 small boxwood bushes adjacent to our walkway did not survive a string of consistently cold days this past winter.  We will have to replace them…

This planter is right next to where our front sidewalk starts at our driveway.  Thanks to the special plant identifiers, you already know that these are lavender plants.  There are 47 known varieties of lavender.  Bees love these plants!

Lavender plants produce essential oils and English lavender is used in pastas, salads, dressings and desserts.

There are several planters/large pots on our back deck.  This one contains 'creeping' thyme and French tarragon.  Thyme is most often used with savory dishes such as roasted meat, vegetables or fish.  Tarragon is one of the 4 key herbs in French cooking, especially with chicken, fish and egg dishes.  Tarragon is sweeter than thyme but it’s also quite ‘minty’.

Thymes are related to the oregano genus and it is indigenous to the Mediterranean region.  The variety most often used in cooking is ‘Thymus vulgaris’.  The Romans used thyme to purify their rooms and to lend an aromatic flavor to cheese and liquors.  In the Middle Ages the herb was placed under pillows to aid sleep and to ward off nightmares.  Women often gave warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed that they would bring courage to the bearer.  Creeping thyme is frequently used as a ground cover and it is considered invasive in some areas.

Among its many uses, Tarragon is used to flavor a popular carbonated soft drink named Tarkun.  This drink is made from sugar, carbonated water, and tarragon leaves which give the beverage its signature green color.  This beverage is especially favored in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. 

Basil boxwood plants now occupy this particular planter.  These compact basil variety with its small leaves make it to resemble a boxwood bush… This ornamental herb has great fragrance and flavor.  The leaves can be used in pasta dishes, soups and pesto.

The green plant is sweet basil or Genovese basil.  The generic term ‘basil’ is generally associated with this variety.  It is estimated that there are as many as 150 species of basil.  Most of the culinary basils are cultivars of this basil.  The purple basil is more clove-like, a little spicy and can be used in salads.  All basils are high in Vitamin K.

The ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed that basil would open the gates of heaven for a person who is passing on.  This herb has religious significance for the Greek Orthodox Church, where it is used to sprinkle holy water.  The Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian and Romanian Orthodox Churches all use basil in their ceremonies.

This container is home to a variety of herbs.  The low bright green plant at the right is marjoram.  It is a perennial herb with sweet pine and citrus flavors.  It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.  It also has been used by Sephardi Jews in a ritual medical tradition or practice.  Marjoram or its oil have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments.  In cooking, it is used to season soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces and herbal teas.

At the left, she has planted some sage.  It is a perennial, evergreen subshrub and it’s a member of the mint family.  It has been used since ancient times to ward off evil, for snakebites, to increase women’s fertility and more… It has a savory, slightly peppery flavor.  Sage is notably present in Italian, Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisine.  In the USA and Great Britain, it is traditionally used in stuffing and with roasts.

The small low lying grouping of green at the front of the photo is germander.  While it doesn’t seem to have a culinary use, it is said that it can be used to treat inflammatory conditions including fever, arthritis, gout and digestive issues.  On top of that, it survived the winter and it produces nice flowers that our bees love…

The variegated leafs in the middle of the photo belong to lemon verbena, a species of flowering plant that is native to South America.  Another telling name for this plant is ‘lemon beerbrush’.  It was brought to Europe by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 1600s and it was cultivated for its oil.  Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemon flavor to fish and poultry dishes, marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, Greek yogurt and beverages.  The leaves are also used to make herbal tea and to flavor liqueurs.  They are also frequently used in potpourri...

Rosemary is also a member of the sage family.  Rosemary was first documented on cuneiform stone tablets that date back to 5000 years BCE.  It is known that Egyptians used it in their burial rituals.  Rosemary was considered sacred to ancient Romans and Greeks as well.  The plant is used as a symbol of remembrance during war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia. 

Rosemary leaves are used as a flavoring with foods such as stuffing and roasted meats.  Fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine.  Although they have a bitter, astringent taste they do complement many cooked foods.  Rosemary oil is used for fragrant perfumes or in incense to mask other odors in a room.  In addition, it is used in shampoos and cleaning products.

…and so ends our tour of Laurie’s garden pots, for now at least.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave