Saturday, May 23, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Grill 73, Newport, Tennessee

I drove up to Newport, Tennessee, last week on court business, and I worked it out so I could have lunch up there. I was expecting to find country cooking at a local diner, but one of the first results that came up on a quick computer search was Grill 73 at 616 State Highway 73 in Newport on beautiful English Creek. What caught my eye was that they serve American and Russian food.

I had three years of Russian in undergrad, and with the hope and expectation that I would actually be able to speak the language with a native speaker, I set forth to find the aforesaid grill after fulfilling my duties at the courthouse annex in Newport. It was maybe a ten minute drive from there, if that. I ordered the scalloped potato pie, which the menu describes as scalloped potatoes, pork chop, onion, mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese and their spice blend. The mayo was homemade, not Hellman's, and it was very tangy and about the consistency of ranch dressing. I could cut the pork chop with my fork it was so tender. It was a delicious meal, with good, quick service and it cost me $12.00, some change and a tip. I also note that they have a variety of good, ol' American items on their menu as well, including burgers, hot dogs, and a variety of sandwiches. If their pork loin sub has meat on it anything near as tender as what I had, it must be wonderful.

I did get to speak a bit of Russian, although not much more than to inquire whether the lady that served me did and to then say that I don't speak much Russian. I then quickly went back to my native East Tennessee English.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Incivility in Washington is Nothing New

On May 22, 1856, Senator Preston Brooks of South Carolina delivered a vicious beating to Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the floor of the United States Senate two days after Sumner gave a speech highly critical of slavery in the height of the Bloody Kansas crisis. Wikipedia describes the scene,

Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber: "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head before he could reach his feet, using a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Sumner was knocked down and trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to strike Sumner until Sumner ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until his cane broke, at which point he left the chamber. Several other Senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who brandished a pistol and shouted, "Let them be!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicken Duxelle with Dijon Cream Sauce


Boneless chicken breasts
Mushrooms, chopped finely
Shallot, chopped finely
2 or 3 cups heavy cream
Dijon mustard
Wild rice
Fontina, Edam or Brie cheese, cut into 3 inch slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare wild rice and spread in bottom of casserole dish. Pound chicken breast as thin as possible between two pieces of wax paper. Saute mushrooms and shallot in two to four tablespoons of butter. Lay out flat chicken breast and spoon in a few tablespoons worth of mushroom and shallot mixture and a slice of cheese and roll or fold chicken breast. Use baking string or toothpick to hold it together. Season to taste. Put a generous amount of flour onto a platter and season to taste. Heat about a half stick of butter in saute pan, coat chicken with flour and brown. Place on top of rice in casserole dish.

For the Dijon cream sauce, pour cream in saute pan and season with salt, pepper and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until it reduces down. You can add flour to thicken. Add two or three tablespoons of Dijon mustard after it thickens.

Serve chicken on top of rice, and spoon Dijon cream sauce over it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hogs and Hominy

Tennessee was once known as the Hog and Hominy State because of our pig and corn production. I have read accounts of travelers who claimed to have seen countless hogs in Tennessee being driven to market. Atlas Obscura has an interesting article about those days, "The Great Appalachian Hog Drives."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review -- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Sarah has been reading A Winkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, with her class as a school assignment. While I remember the novel's striking cover from my childhood, I never read it, perhaps because English teachers had sentenced my classmates to read it, dooming it in my youthful eyes. I had never read a book at the same time as my child, so I found it online and finished it in a couple of days. It is a really weird science fiction/science fantasy story, but I enjoyed it. It is the first in a five-book series, but I doubt I'll continue reading it unless Sarah wants to this summer.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Lincoln's Waffle Shop, Washington, D.C.

Ford's Theater was at the top of Sherry's list of places to visit in Washington, but we got there at the same time a huge group of high school kids got there. We decided to have breakfast at Lincoln's Waffle Shop, which was just across the street at 504 10th Street NW. The place was packed, but the service was quick. Nothing fancy here, just good, hearty breakfast fare at a reasonable price for downtown Washington. With our bellies full, we tackled Ford's Theater and walked all over the National Mall before the girls started to tucker out.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review -- Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I recently read Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which is in the public domain and is therefore available online for free. The story was originally published in the fall of  1912, and the character has so pervaded American culture that everyone knows who Tarzan is whether they've read the stories or not. I've been doing the Tarzan yell ever since my voice changed in adolescence, but this is the first time I've read even the first Tarzan story.

The century old story holds up well, though it is very much of its own time and with the sensibilities of that time. Tarzan's parents, Lord and Lady Greystoke, are marooned by mutineers on the coast of Africa. Lady Greystoke gives birth to a son, John, and both parents die when the child is an infant. He is taken in by an ape bereaved of her own dead infant and raised as an ape. The first part of the story focuses on his life in the jungle living with the apes. He eventually encounters an African tribe, causing him to ponder his difference from the apes that have taken him in.

Obviously, a lot of this is pretty far-fetched even for adventure fiction. Tarzan discovers his parents' cabin and teaches himself to read and write, but not speak, English. Amazingly, his cousin, William Clayton, now Lord Greystoke, is also marooned by mutineers near the cabin with a group that includes Tarzan's famous love interest, Jane Porter. The story gets more far-fetched as it goes along and Tarzan, who saves just about every European in the story from begin eaten by lions, apes or other jungle creatures, saves a French soldier who befriends him and teaches him French. He saves Jane, and they fall in love with each other. Eventually, Tarzan's French friend proves to him that Tarzan is in reality, John Clayton, the real Lord Greystoke. Unfortunately, his cousin is in love with Jane, too, and the story concludes with Tarzan in Wisconsin relinquishing Jane so that she can marry William Clayton, although she does not love him.

One is left with the sense that Tarzan should have gotten the girl and the Lordship, but noble and self-sacrificing, Tarzan is a sad character at the end of the story. Fear not, gentle reader, for Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a bunch of sequels, and a married Tarzan sitting around a manor somewhere in England wouldn't be much fun, now would it?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday

This is a family portrait done around 2005. I haven't worn khakis since.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thinking About the Beach

As spring unfolds our minds are turning south to the Florida gulf coast where we spend our annual summer beach vacation. There has been a lot going on down there in recent months. LuLu's Destin restaurant is well under construction, and Bud and Alley's in Seaside now features breakfast. Last month local residents fought off a Hampton Inn on County Road 30-A in our beloved Seagrove Beach, although the fight may not be over.

Sadly, there was a recent drowning off Crab Island, and another incident that could have ended up much worse. Both were related to the strong tide, which I have experienced there firsthand. We haven't been out to Crab Island since Captain Randy took us out there for the last time in 2012. There are several different pontoon boat rental services, but it won't be the same as the trusty sailboat.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Tupelo Honey Cafe, Knoxville, Tennessee

I had to run an errand in downtown Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, and Sherry and I had lunch at Knoxville's new Tupelo Honey Cafe at One Market Square. Asheville has had one for some time, and I've heard good things about it. The menu is expansive and has a lot of variety. I, of course, went for their meatloaf with sides of smashed cheesy cauliflower and fried okra. Usually when you order fried okra out you can pretty clearly tell they are using a packaged product that was breaded in a factory somewhere. This looked like it was made in the kitchen in a skillet. Sherry had a wonderful (She let me have a bite.) chicken club sandwich, and I saw several tables with hamburgers that looked pretty darn good. Our tab was $54.89 including tip.

Downtown Knoxville continues to have the same problem it always has had, which is expensive parking, which added $8.00 to our tab and which is why I usually avoid eating there when I'm on that side of the river.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Moms, Paddles, Legos and Recipes

Sherry is in Nashville for Mothers Day visiting with her mom and Joey and Jake. She just called to deliver an eat-your-heart-out call inasmuch as Jake and she are heading out for several hours of canoeing at the Narrows of the Harpeth River. We've paddled it a few times when the boys were kids, so I know they're going to have a fun day.

Sarah and I went over to Mom's this morning to cook her a Mothers Day breakfast. We visited for a couple of hours while Sarah watched The Lego Movie, and then headed back to the house so I could take care of some weekend chores, which included spraying our house for insects. We've had a couple of small hornet nests, and wanted to get rid of them before they got any larger. While I was at it I figured I'd treat the whole house.

Sherry departed for Nashville yesterday after our moving project, and so Sarah and I spent part of yesterday afternoon cooking. She made sausage balls, and I made my Uncle Mack's spaghetti recipe, which Sherry requested. I cooked the roast for the spaghetti sauce for ninety minutes in the pressure cooker, and the meat just fell apart into the sauce. When I was a hungry, young freshman in college, Uncle Mack and Aunt Nancy fed Mom and Laura and Leslie one night a week as a way of helping out Mom, who was at that time a single mother and full-time psychotherapist in their hometown of Hickory, North Carolina. I got to join the meals when I moved to Carolina for school, and the spaghetti was one we always enjoyed.

Happy Mothers Day