Thursday, March 31, 2011

Colonel's Deli

I have been eating at Colonel's Deli at 4809 Newcom Drive in Knoxville since I was a teenager, and the same couple, originally from Hong Kong, have operated the sandwich shop ever since I can remember. My sister told me that they recently retired, and I regret not being able to tell them goodbye and to thank them for the countless wonderful lunches I have had there over the years. I like the way they did business. You order your sandwich, select your drink from a cooler and pay on your way out. I just called, and Colonel's is open under new management, though they answered the telephone, "Colonel's Cafe." That will take some getting used to.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Observations About the UT Campus

I had occasion to be in Knoxville twice last week, and I drove down the Cumberland Avenue strip to downtown both times. I observed a couple of things that caught my attention. One is that just about every student one sees on the University of Tennessee campus is either talking on a cell phone , listening to an I-Pod or texting as they walk to class. When I was a student in the late '80's and early '90's you saw the occasional student listening to a Sony Walkman, but cell phones weren't common back then. Texting didn't come along until much later. At my age the distraction seems rather dangerous, but then I was invulnerable in my twenties, too.

The other thing I noticed is that every student I saw was using both of their backpack straps, as one would wear a backpack on a hike. That was considered bad form in my day, and everyone carried their backpacks slung over one shoulder with one strap. I always thought of my backpack full of books as a rather formidable weapon, should the need arise, but you sure couldn't wield it as one if it were on your back rather than on a shoulder.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Restaurant Review -- Confused Grill and Bar

I've been curious for several months now about the Confused Grill and Bar at 1805 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, which is convenient to both the justice center, where I work, and our house. It occupies the building that used to house Lowell's Place, which was a popular eatery when I moved to Nashville in 2002. Before that the building housed the infamous Jailhouse Lounge, which even had bars on the windows. "Drinkin' starts at 7:00. Fight starts at 9:00." When I arrived there at 12:30 p.m. for lunch today, the place was deserted, except for the nice lady that waited on me and her child. This surprised me, because Lowell's usually had a busy lunch crowd. I ordered the American Cheeseburger, which came with fries, and I could hear it sizzling as it cooked in the kitchen. With a drink my tab was $7.10, and I gave my server a couple of dollars gratuity. After scoping out the inside of the place and the Confused Bar and Grill Facebook page, I can say the place is more bar than grill, but they serve a great burger quickly. I'm surprised that they don't have more lunch business than they do, but then maybe I visited on a slow day.

Old College Inn Moving

Yesterday's post about the change of ownership at the Pie Wagon in Nashville reminded me to write about the Old College Inn in Knoxville, which has been in the same location on the Cumberland Avenue strip since before I attended the University of Tennessee in the late '80's and early 90's. Most all of the restaurants on the strip now are chain stores, and OCI is one of the few places left near campus with local flavor.

OCI has existed in one form or another since 1939, and my dad, who was born only two years before the restaurant began serving UT students, frequented the place when he was a student in the 1950's. He continued to enjoy OCI, particularly their mettwurst and beans, and he took us when we were kids and later as adults. Although I suppose I understand the business considerations, I was saddened to hear that OCI is changing locations after all these years. It will remain on Cumberland Avenue, but it is moving east. I suspect parking for lunch will now be next to impossible.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pie Wagon in Nashville Under New Ownership

The Pie Wagon is a restaurant in Nashville that serves Southern-style country food, and it is a place I visited for lunch often when we lived in Nashville. (Nashvillians refer to this type of restaurant as a "meat and three.") At the Pie Wagon, they serve you from a cafeteria line, and they always feed you a hearty, quick meal. Carol, the lady who ran the place for twenty years, sold the restaurant recently, and the new owner plans to add breakfast, burgers and wraps. Carol and her son, Jason, were always nice to me when I ate there, and I wish them well. I will have to visit the restaurant soon and check out the changes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Pictures from the Cruise

Here are some more snapshots from the cruise Grams took Sherry and the kids on during spring break.
I'm proud to say Joey tipped these musicians with his own money.

Rainy Weekend at Home

We've been busy and travelling the past couple of weekends, and with rain in the forecast all weekend we've enjoyed some domestic tranquility here at the homestead. Sherry and Sarah did their regular volunteer work over at the animal shelter yesterday morning while I bought our groceries for the week. They also went out for a bit yesterday to visit one of the ladies they know from the shelter whose mama cat had kittens yesterday morning. I cooked us a batch of chicken and white bean chili, and we spent most of the day watching movies. My selections included Iron Man, which I had not seen, and The Blues Brothers, which I can recite by heart. We also watched Marmaduke, which Sherry and I thought was awful and which Sarah loved. It was quite sappy.

Chicken and White Bean Chili


3 to 4 cups chopped chicken (or turkey)

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried, crushed oregano

¼ tsp. ground red pepper

¼ tsp. ground cloves

3 cans (15 oz.) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans (4 and ½ oz.) diced green chili peppers or chopped jalapeno peppers

3 cans (15 oz.) or less chicken broth or stock

2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (8 oz.)

Sour cream

Sautee onion and garlic in hot olive oil until onion is tender. Stir in spices and simmer for a few minutes until mixture starts caramelizing and sticking to skillet. Use broth to loosen mixture from bottom of skillet, and to wash contents into crock pot or soup pot. Add the rest of the canned ingredients to the pot and set heat to high. Cook chicken, chop into bite-sized pieces and add to pot. Once the chili is good and hot, reduce heat to low and cook for an hour or so. Serve with Monterrey Jack and sour cream.

NOTE: We've made this recipe several times, and it is quite good, though I'd like it to be thicker. The original recipe called for four cans of broth, and three still makes more liquid than I'd like.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy 80th Birthday to Mr. Spock

Today is the 80th birthday of Leonard Nimoy, who plays Mr. Spock in the classic Star Trek franchise. There is an interesting clip on You Tube of Nimoy explaining his famous greeting, pictured above, which was inspired by Jewish liturgy.

Shark Jumping and 'Fridge Nuking

I ran across the idiom "jumping the shark" recently on the Amazon Al Dente foodie blog in a post suggesting that the current obsession with bacon on the internet and elsewhere has hit its peak and may be in decline, and this may be so inasmuch as I have not seen a post with bacon on No Silence Here in some time now. According to Wikipedia, the expression is from the Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis, after which nothing on the show could be quite as noteworthy. A similar expression, "nuking the 'fridge" is derived from one of the Indiana Jones flicks, in which Indy survives a nuclear explosion inside a refrigerator.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Space Station Against the Sun

The object that looks like a Star Wars TIE fighter in the upper right-hand image of the sun is the International Space Station, with space shuttle Discovery docked to it. You can get a better view of it at Wired Science.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fallen Tree at the Cabin

Here is a photograph Laura took of the tree that fell at our cabin in Estill Springs during the storms there several weeks ago. We're just about to burn up the last big tree that fell out there, so once we take a chainsaw to this one we'll be set for firewood for a few more years.

More Cruise Pics

Scary Boong


Pirates! Arrrgghh!

Tornado Pounds Greenback

I just got up and turned on the television to learn that a tornado hit Greenback, which straddles the Blount and Loudon county line, last night. Highway 411 was closed overnight, and several homes and other buildings were damaged or destroyed. Greenback is about fifteen miles from where we live in Maryville. I checked outside our house this morning and could discern no evidence of the storm. In fact, I slept right through it.

UPDATE: Ed Rupp just reported that 411 is passable, although a lane is still closed northbound.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Caribbean Coiffure

Sarah got a fancy hairdo during her Caribbean cruise.

Sauron in Nashville

It has occurred to me that the Bat Tower in downtown Nashville looks a lot like Sauron's fortress of Barad-Dur in the Lord of the Rings movies. From this image, it looks as though he's made himself right at home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Helix Nebula

This is an image of the Helix Nebula from the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Henry V Becomes King

Henry V became king of England on March 21, 1413, the day after his father, Henry IV died. Pictured above is their family coat of arms.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Cruise Photos

Here are a few of Sherry's photographs from their cruise. She has all of them on her Facebook page, but I'll post some here as well. I had our 35 mm camera in Estill Springs, so my spring break photos from the cabin will follow later. Above, Jake and Joey enjoy a meal at one of the ship's eateries. The ship is pictured below.

Sherry and Sarah smile for the camera on the flight from Nashville to Fort Lauderdale. Sherry isn't a big fan of air travel, but Sarah, who hasn't been on a jet since she was a stroller baby, loved it.
Above, the kids hang out on the ship. (Note the uniformed member of the crew behind them.) Below, Grams and Sarah pose with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Back Home

Today ends spring break for everyone in our family except Sarah, who has a three-week spring break because her school is on a full year schedule. As I reported earlier, Grams generously took Sherry and the kids for a wonderful Caribbean cruise with ports of call in Cozumel, Mexico, and George Town, Grand Cayman. Sherry said they had a delightful trip and that the cruise ship was luxurious, and there are a lot of photographs to share.

I spent a rural spring break with my sisters and our friend Johnny at our family cabin in Estill Springs. It has been perhaps fifteen years since I spent an entire week out there, and it did my soul good to enjoy our creek and woods for such a long visit. In addition to enjoying some down time, we rescreened our back porch and pressure-washed, water-sealed and stained the deck we built some twenty years ago. We also had a number of contractors out to the cabin to give us some advice on maintaining it, and we expect to start receiving bids next week for roofing, some excavation work at the back of the house and electrical work.

The storm that generated a tornado in Estill Springs just recently took down a large tree on our property. While fallen trees aren't unusual on our wooded acreage, this particular tree was right on the creek at the spot where we normally hang out down there, and it fell parallel to the creek so that you have to go around it to get to the rock shelf that is our entrance point into the creek. Johnny brought his chainsaw, but the blade was dull so cutting that tree up will await another weekend later in the season.

Sherry brought the boys back to Maryville from Nashville with her, and she is on her way to Cookeville to meet their dad so that they can get home for school next week. After a fun spring break, we are ready to get back to work and our normal routine.

Spring Equinox

It's the vernal equinox, Vern! Spring has finally arrived! It is also Purim, which commemorates events in the Book of Esther.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thai Pork

In the past couple of years I have learned to enjoy Thai food, which I have only experienced at Stir Fry Cafe over in Knoxville and at Lemon Grass Restaurant here in Maryville. There was talk a year or so ago about a Stir Fry Cafe opening in Maryville in the building that used to house Roy's Record Shop, but there was still a "For Sale" sign in the window when I drove by there on Friday. I've never cooked Thai food at home, but I found a recipe for a Thai pork dish that I may try and make one day on a Nashville foodie blog, Eat. Drink. Smile.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius erupted for several days beginning March 18, 1944. There are a lot of cool photographs from the eruption here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today is Saint Patrick's Day. There's plenty of information on Saint Patrick here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This image, featuring two of Sarah's favorite colors in a pink moon and a purple sky over Sweden, is from Earth Science Picuture of the Day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Le Port de Gravelines

This painting, Le Port de Gravelines, was painted by George-Pierre Seurat in 1890. Sarah recently brought home a book from school that featured Seurat, so I post this for her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hank Ketcham's Birthday

Hank Ketcham, who created Dennis the Menance, was born on March 14, 1920. Ketcham died in 2001.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Forward

Daylight Savings Time begins today, so move those clocks forward one hour this morning if you didn't do it last night. Your local fire department would also want me to remind you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm at the Creek

When the gentle reader sees this, I will be at our family cabin in Estill Springs, with my feet in Taylor Creek, weather permitting. Sherry and the kids are on their Caribbean adventure while my sisters, my friend Johnny and I enjoy some time in the woods. We have quite a few projects planned including rebuilding the front porch and stairs, painting and rescreening the screened porch and pressure washing and water sealing the deck. We also plan to have several different kinds of contractors out to the place to give us bids on some larger projects, like roofing, electrical and excavation work.

The cabin, as Grandmother always said, is crude, and the technology there is limited, though we have running water out there, which was not the case when I was a kid. Blogging will be light this week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Red Moon

My brother-in-law Stewart is from Edmonton, Alberta. I found this image of a red moon over his hometown on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mr. Watson, Come Here

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made perhaps the most famous telephone call of all time. He recorded in his notebook that he said through his newly made device, "Mr. Watson -- Come here -- I want to see you." Watson replied that he had heard Bell.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. At my age, I am surprised that it was only a couple of years ago at a conference in Nashville that I first saw people wearing ashen crosses on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before the fasting of Lent, and the French Quarter in New Orleans is no doubt geared up for the Mardi Gras festivities, which reach their peak tonight. I've been to New Orleans, a very cool city, but not for Mardi Gras. It would be fun to experience it some day.

The Play's the Thing

We enjoyed The Merry Wives of Windsor Sunday at the Clarence Brown Theater. Although Sarah has seen and participated in stage productions at her elementary school and seen productions like the Wiggles and the Backyardigans, she has never seen a serious theatrical production, and it seemed like Shakespeare was a good place to start. Although she got a bit squirmy during the fourth act, she was very interested in the set change for the fifth act, which takes place outdoors at night about Herne's oak and involves fairies. She was most impressed, and declared after the show that it was "great."

Sherry and I enjoyed the production as well. The actor that played Falstaff got one last laugh out of the crowd after taking his bows. The play involves Falstaff sending identical letters to two married women of Windsor so that he may woo them and spend their husbands' money. He is thwarted by the women, who make a great fool of him and expose his plan to their husbands, and indeed all of Windsor. After taking his bows, the actor pulled the letters out of his pocket and gave them to two different women seated on the front row, indicating that perhaps Falstaff did not learn his lesson after all.

Restaurant Review -- Crown and Goose, Knoxville, Tennessee

As I reported earlier, Sherry, Sarah and I had brunch Sunday at the Crown and Goose gastropub in the Old City in Knoxville. As is usually the case with any visit to the Old City, we spent five to ten minutes searching for a convenient parking place on the street to avoid paying to park (around $5.00) on a commercial parking lot. (As my friend Dave used to say in college, "I'm not a tourist. I don't pay to park. I live here.") We found one within a short walk of the Crown and Goose, but I sure wouldn't have wanted to park there after dark.

The atmosphere in the Crown and Goose was cozy, and it indeed reminded me of some of the pubs and restaurants Mom and I visited in England in 1993. We made reservations, and were seated immediately. As an appetizer, we ordered their deviled eggs, which featured crab meat and capers, and they were delicious, if a bit steep at $4.00 for an egg and a half.

Sherry ordered the Blue Lump Crab Eggs Benedict, and I ordered the Croque-Monsieur Ham and Cheese, a sandwich that reminded me very much of the pub fare I experienced in London, which is to say it was nothing to write home about. The Crab Eggs Benedict, served on top of a fried green tomato, however, was excellent, as were the scones they brought out before our meals. Sarah ordered Belgian waffles, which she seemed to enjoy, and all three meals were served with potato hash, known around these parts as home fries, which are fried potatoes (about 1/2 inch squares) fried with onions and bell peppers. Our total bill, including a 20% tip, was just about $60.00.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

I love cooking in my Grandmother Isenhour's cast iron skillet, but I don't think she ever made pizza in it. Cornbread, yes. Pizza no. Ungourmet says it is possible, and the resulting pizza looks thick, cheesy and delicious!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Merry Old England

We are planning to visit merry old England today, though without leaving East Tennessee. We are going to begin with brunch at the Crown and Goose gastropub in the Old City in Knoxville, after which we will see the matinee performance of Merry Wives of Windsor at the Clarence Brown Theater on the University of Tennessee campus. Cheerio, y'all!


I just went downstairs and looked out the window to find it pouring snow outside! Our thermometer says it is 35 degrees outside, so it won't stick to the roads, but it's covering our deck and cars. I tried to take a photograph I could post, but I didn't have any luck taking one that showed the snow, even though the flakes are pretty big.

Guitar Pickin' Saturday

Some friends invited us over to their lovely home on Morganton Road yesterday. I believe they said the restored farmhouse was originally built in 1901, and they have a wonderful view with farm land and a pond. After a lunch of sandwiches our host broke out a couple of guitars, and we played until my fingertips were sore. It's been a long time since I've played for any significant amount of time, and what calluses I have left on my fingertips are pretty wimpy. Nevertheless, we played for a couple of hours, and the ladies joined in by singing. Our collective children all played well together. It was quite an enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Restaurant Review -- Giovanni's, Maryville, Tennessee

Years ago there was a wonderful little Italian restaurant, Alejandro's, in Midland Plaza in Alcoa. I recently heard that the proprietors of Alejandro's were now operating Giovanni's, an Italian restaurant at 331 Whitecrest Drive in Maryville. I had lunch there yesterday with my former law partner, and I was happy to find that the food was just as good as it was at Alejandro's. I had the Friday lasagna special, which was about $5.00 plus a drink and tip, and we were served quickly during a busy lunch hour. I look forward to taking my family there. Sarah will love their fresh bread, and the Brothers Ferrelli can scarf down some Italian food.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Meatball Sub

I always keep an eye open for food to feed my stepsons, Jake and Joey, when they visit. At fifteen years old, the boys can pack in some food these days, and we enjoy cooking for them. Joey has a reputation as a picky eater, though that has changed as he's gotten older. Now his sister, Sarah, is the picky eater.

Joey has always liked Italian meatball sandwiches, and I suspect that Smitten Kitchen's version, pictured above, would go over well with both boys (though Sarah wouldn't come anywhere near it). The recipe includes caramelized onions, which helped sell me on it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In the Back Yard at Cozy Creek

Here are a few photos from our overnight trip to Laura and Stewart's Cozy Creek cabin on Flat Branch Road in Gatlinburg. The young'uns raked up a leaf pile, while us old folks enjoyed a roaring blaze.

First Flowers in Our Yard

There are a few daffodils coming up in the erstwhile flower bed in our back yard, though the bulbs I've transplanted to the front yard haven't produced blooms yet. Our neighbors have pink hyacinth coming up, and crocuses are blooming in the flower bed at the justice center. Spring is upon us!

Spring Break Approaches

The children's spring break is quickly approaching, and we are looking forward to some time off as the weather gets nicer. Grams is taking Sherry and the kids on a Caribbean cruise with ports of call at Cozumel, Mexico, and George Town, Grand Cayman, and they are looking forward to their adventure. We were a bit worried about Sherry's and Sarah's passports getting here in time for the trip, but they came last week, so all systems are go. (Jake and Joey already had passports from their trip to Italy with their dad last summer.)

Meanwhile, my sisters, my friend Johnny and I are going to Grandmother and Granddaddy's cabin in Estill Springs that week to open it up for the year and do some work. Before Leslie had a chance to call the Estill Springs Police Department, they contacted her to let us know that the police chief had already been by our place to have a look, and nothing was amiss after the damaging storms that hit Franklin County earlier this week. I haven't spent a week at the Camp, as we call the place, for maybe fifteen years, so I'm really looking forward to some quiet time out in the woods by the creek.

Volcanic Lightning

I found a spread of volcanic lightning photos on a website called WebEcoist, via Mental Floss. These images are from an unprounoucable (at least to this East Tennessee country boy) volcano in Iceland.