Friday, August 18, 2017

The 2017 Eclipse

When I was a kid, I seem to remember a solar eclipse in northern WV – I think it was sometime in the mid 50’s but it was not nearly the high profile event it is this time.  People are driving long distances and filling up hotels and campgrounds to be in the “Totality Zone" - perhaps the most travel ever for a 2+ minute event. Twenty six towns and areas in East Tennessee are using it as a reason to have a public event and individuals are using it as a good excuse for a party – like we do the Super Bowl.

For this eclipse, we have the fortune of being about 15 miles off the center line and are well within the 70 mile wide totality path, so all we need now is clear weather, but it will get dark either way.  Our plan is to invite a few friends over and hang-out on either our neighbors dock or go out in the middle of the lake on the pontoon boat, likely with some pre and post eclipse eats and a few adult beverages on hand.  I need to do some online research for the appropriate food and drink pairings for an eclipse.J

We are at the black spot right of the I-75 shield between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Fortunately, we are now educated enough to not worry about this being the end of the world or a reason to sacrifice a virgin to please the angry gods, so we can just hope for clear skies, relax, and enjoy this unique event.  And if the skies are cloudy, we can all still enjoy our party-in-the-dark.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/18/17 Post Date

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lasagna-Like Baked Fusilli

Bev had purchased a 6 lb box of mixed pasta (she loves Sam’s Club) for us to use while our kids were here in July and we used none of it and with some ricotta cheese that needed to be used, we decided to make a lasagna-like dish using fusilli pasta. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs

I’ve been freezer diving again and discovered a package of boneless short ribs needing to be cooked.  Since I was looking for easy and low mess, I went in search of slow cooker recipes and discovered just what I was looking for: easy, ingredients we had on hand, and tasty sounding.  We rarely cook Asian and I’m not sure why, as we always enjoy it when we do.

The recipe we used was from Damn Delicious and I followed the one below with one exception.

1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces (I used 2# of boneless)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes, if using.
2. Place short ribs into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined.
3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours (4-5 is better for the meat we had).*
4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir in mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired.

*To test for doneness, pull on a bone as it should slide out freely

I used only two pounds of meat as that is what I had and it made three good servings, but there was enough sauce for another pound of meat and 4-5 servings.

We all thought it was good but not blow-you-away and I thought it was very good for the effort I had to put into it.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/04/17 Meal Date

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Salmon Burgers

Bev had been wanting some salmon cakes (patties) so we grilled enough fresh salmon for a meal with enough leftover to whip up a batch of cakes the next day.  I found several recipes but when Bev said she wanted a salmon burger on some rye bread that she had, I looked up recipes for the burgers to see if they were the same as the cakes.  I came across one from Mark Bittman and it had several less ingredients than the cakes.

1½ pounds skinless, boneless salmon – See Note
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup coarse bread crumbs – I used Panko
1 tablespoon capers, drained – I chopped them a little
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil - I used both
 Lemon wedges- we didn’t use
 Tabasco sauce – we didn’t use

1. Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run -- stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary — until the mixture becomes pasty.
2. Add the shallots and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine on and off until the fish is chopped and well combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not make the mixture too fine.
3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and by hand, stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers. (You can cover and refrigerate the burgers for a few hours at this point.)
4. Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high.
5. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lunch On The Riverboat

Our Tennessee Travelers Chapter of FMCA (motorhome club) recently had a little summer get-together for a lunch cruise aboard the Star Of Knoxville riverboat - a 325 passenger paddle wheeler.  The boat headed downriver from downtown Knoxville for a two hour round trip cruise.  This is the docking area with the boat behind it, then out on the river.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Creamy Feta Dressing

I’ve found that I like virtually no bottled salad dressings as most of them seem have this unusual flavor that I call a “wang” that I don’t care for – since so many have it, I assume it might be a preservative.  We usually keep a bottle around for when we run-out , but otherwise I prefer homemade or semi-homemade dressings.

I really like Greek flavors including Feta Cheese on salads and I have always used a vinaigrette with crumbled cheese.  Unfortunately for my waistline, I also really like creamy dressings, such as Bleu Cheese, so I went in search of a recipe for a creamy Feta and my search led me to this one from

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Limoncello Follow-Up

Back in May, I posted about our first batch of limoncello and commented that the next batch would be made with Everclear but I ended up using 100 proof vodka instead and I made a larger batch using 2.5 liters of the liquor and scaled the other ingredients to get this.

25 lemons
2.5 liters of 100 proof vodka
6 2/3 cup sugar
8 1/3 cups water

I added everything to a gallon jar and let it macerate for 3 weeks then added the sugar water (it took two containers) and let it set another month before bottling (it was delicious).

For our third batch, I used 1.75 liters of vodka and 750ml of Everclear and I look forward to seeing if there are any differences (in about six weeks).  If mine looks like it has less lemon peel than others, that's because it contains all of the liquor. 

Thanks Velva for getting me started with making this.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


5/12/17 Finished Date