Monday, December 10, 2018

A Couple Of Casseroles For A Bachelor

It’s that time of year when Bev, Pat and various friends of theirs head to the time-share condo for two weeks on Marco Island, FL while the three dogs and I hold down the fort at home.  During these times, I’m faced with the situation of cooking for a single and one of my strategies is to make casseroles – fortunately I like reheated leftovers and don’t mind eating the same things several times in a row such as this piece of breakfast casserole.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

New Roof At The Ranch

At 25 years on a 30 year roof, we had spots with very little gravel and we decided it was time for a new roof (it was more important than the new flooring we’d been considering for this year).  The two major decisions were using painted steel or shingles and which roofer to use.  After researching it and considering our wooded location, we decided on painted steel with a 40 year warranty so I went to the local company that makes the roofing and got the names of three installers they would recommend.  They each gave me a bid for both metal and 40 year shingles (about $1000 cheaper) and some homes we could look at to see their work and look at colors – we knew we did not want one of the bright ones and it’s better to see a whole roof rather than just a small sample.

Of the three bids, which were pretty close, we opted to stick with our metal decision and go with the middle bidder (Valley Vista Construction) as I felt the best about him personally.  If you are considering a metal roof, our cost to remove the old roof, clean up and haul off, replace any damaged wood, and install felt and roofing with a two year installation warranty was $272/square or $2.72.sq.ft.

So they showed up at 9am on the coldest day of the fall at 22F (8 degrees below normal) and began the removal process – note the frost.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Heuvos Rancheros Ala Larry

As I understand it this dish is basically a tortilla topped with beans, eggs, and sauce and while I’ve eaten them out many times, I can’t recall ever making them at home, but that changed today.  My construction of them was based upon using what we still had left from our Tex-Mex Thanksgiving meal and I made a single for Bev and a double for me.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chicken Tetrazzini

When I saw Steph’s recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini on her Plain Chicken blog during my morning blog reading and knowing that Bev was planning a trip to the store and could get the supplies, we decided it would be perfect for an easy meal on a cold rainy day.  Please check her blog for pics and the original recipe as we adapted it just a little.  

One of the things I picked up from a BBQ buddy back it the day was how delicious it was to add the chicken skin to the pulled BBQ chicken after chopping it and rendering the fat so I did that for this dish and Bev wanted to add some mushrooms so we did that as well.  

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tex Mex For Thanksgiving

I believe I've mentioned this before but I’m not really a fan of plain roasted turkey but Bev is a traditionalist so I was surprised when she readily agreed to serving Tex-Mex for our Thanksgiving meal – it helped that it’s one of her favorite foods and we were eating on Wed.  This seemed to fit well with a visit by Kathy (daughter) who lives in San Antonio which claims to be the home of the cuisine.  A big highlight of the day was getting to meet Kathy’s new fellow and see how happy she is.  Kathy likes to talk and here she is with a captive group.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Not Exactly Poutine

I like fries and I love cheese but even more so, I love gravy so when I first saw poutine on a TV food show, I knew it would be right up my alley.  I’ve never made it but while on our trip this past summer I had some at a restaurant in Michigan's UP and as expected, I really liked it.  For those who may be unfamiliar with it, the dish consist of fries topped with cheese curds and then brown gravy – how could anyone not like that.

I had some leftovers from a couple of meals and while they will not make real poutine, I did have some rich beef broth from a recent batch of Italian beef, some cheese (not curds), and some potato gnocchi left from making Pam’s delicious Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup (For The Love Of Cooking blog).  Since we just followed Pam's recipe except we used kale, I didn't post about it but our soup looked like this shot of hers and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cindy Makes Quiche

I don’t want to debate the Real Men issue here, but I do love quiche and similar dishes so when Cindy offered to make a couple for supper, Bev and I immediately responded YES.  Since she is rarely here, she usually just eats what we cook for supper (except red meat) but a job was cancelled and she was off for the week and had time to plan, shop for, and cook a meal.  She pretty well spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen, but at mealtime I understood why.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Errands, Day Trip, and Fish

Since we live out of town, we like to consolidate our errands and such to maximize the 20 mile drive and Thursday was such a day as Bev and I each went to the dermatologist and the hair dresser plus I went to the bank, cell phone store, and wine store then we both went to Walmart.

Friday was a similar situation but more of a day trip centered around early voting early so Pat, Cindy, Bev, and I headed out late morning with the first stop at the Amish Farmers Market in Englewood for veggies, more kraut, and baked goods – they are now only open on Fri & Sat until Nov 24 when they close for the season.They are still getting a few summer items like tomatoes, peppers, and beans but it is now more fall produce such as winter squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and greens.

From there, we went to Sweetwater Valley Farm (Cindy’s first trip) to sample and buy a few of their cheeses – but they won’t be making cheese again until January.  I think we bought about 10 pounds between us.

The cheese making operation is on the other side of the wall and can be observed through the large windows.

Then it was a short drive up to the Loudon County election offices where it took us no more than 10 minutes to complete the voting process.  Now if could only tell the TV we have already voted so the mud-slinging attack ads could stop.  They seem to be everywhere and it would not shock me to find them on PBS and the Home Shopping Network J

Our next stop in Loudon was a couple of block drive to Z Fish House for lunch - 4½ stars on Trip Advisor and Yelp.  We’d been there a couple of years ago and it has gotten even better with more menu offerings and even fresh tuna.  Z’s is a small restaurant in a small, unassuming building and you must be looking or you’ll miss it.  The meals were all huge (the dishes must be about 12" across) beginning with Cindy’s catfish.

Pat and Bev each add Jumbo Fried Shrimp.

I was going to order the catfish until I spotted the Rainbow Trout which I had deep fried.  It was both sides of the fish but deboned and laid out flat - I took half the fish and the slaw home with me.

Everyone thought their meals were delicious, including the sides, and for such a great price ($11-$12).  I can easily imagine paying much more for food not nearly as good and I'm looking forward to our next visit.

From there, it was a quick stop at Food City and home after the four hour loop made for a fun day for me and my girls.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


10/26/18 Event Date

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018 October RV Rally – Sevierville, TN

As I mentioned in my previous post, we came to River Plantation RV Resort two days early for the Tennessee Travelers Rally and as it turned out, two other coaches also came in a day early and Pat drove up to join us – she had not gone with us to get the coach serviced.

We had planned to have grilled brats (from the Wurst Kitchen of course) with kraut and mashed potatoes and since we had seven sausages, we invited the other early arrivals to join us – I had planned to cook all of the sausages anyway so we just made more potatoes.

Four this meal, I like to dress my potatoes just like the brat with kraut and mustard and some other the others were pleasantly surprised when they tried it.  Sorry but I took no meal shots.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Coach Maintenance and RV Rally

After a month at home doing various fall chores, we got back on the road for a two stop trip.

I get the RV chassis serviced once a year following the Freightliner service recommendation and since it was due for a big five year service which includes transmission and coolant system I decided to take it to the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp (FCCC) service center in Gaffney, SC.  I figured these folks are likely to do a fine job since they service these chassis all day, every day.

This is the service center with six bays (three on the other side) and the coaches lined up for the day with us in the last shot. 

Our appointment was for 8am on Friday so we drove over to Gaffney on Thursday and pulled into one of their 20 camping sites with 50 amp electric but no water or sewer which was no issue. 

That evening we went to Daddy Joe’s Beach House and Grill for supper where we got large portions of good food and at reasonable $10.95 price.  

I had a combo of chopped BBQ and Calabash Chicken with sides of baked beans and wedge fries along with hush puppies and while I didn’t get a shot my meal looked like this one with chicken in place of the wings.

Bev said she enjoyed her Calabash Chicken and Calabash Shrimp with potato salad and slaw – Calabash Style means lightly breaded but it seemed like a normal amount to me.

After servicing on Friday, the coach was returned to the site and we spent another night before heading to Sevierville, TN on Sat.

The service cost was $1368 + tax with labor to service the chassis and generator being $650 at $100/hr (actually cheaper than taking it to a dealer) and materials account for the rest of the cost (fluids were $438). 

So we are all serviced for a year but unfortunately they found a small oil leak from the engine which we’ll need to attend to when we get home. 

Since we stayed both the night before and after the service, we had an entire day to kill and several hours with no coach, so we opted for a factory tour.  Gaffney is not only home to the service center but also the factory for FCCC, where they assemble chassis for school buses and delivery vans (think UPS) as well as motor homes for several brands - about 50,000 chassis/year.

FCCC is a sub-division of Freightliner which is owned by Daimler, the German company that also owns Mercedes Benz and Smart Car.  The factory uses very modern and highly efficient manufacturing practices to make their high quality products and as an old plant guy I found the tour very interesting and even Bev said she enjoyed it.

Then we drove about 10 miles north to the site of the Revolutionary War Battle Site at Cowpens.  It is a National Battlefield Park requiring no admission.  It is basically just a visitors center and a field with not much in it that I saw and while it was an important battle for the Americans, I don’t quite see the need to spend money on a place that seems to slowly be taken over by trees.

The main reason for scheduling the service appointment when we did was that we would be part way to Gaffney anyway to attend a Tennessee Travelers rally in Sevierville the following week so we just showed up two days early.  The Saturday drive back from Gaffney took us an extra hour due to a four car wreck on I-26 and the heavy traffic from I-40 to Sevierville (Saturday of fall break). 

We checked into River Plantation RV Resort (our forth visit) and were assigned site 122 for two nights – we added the extra days too late to get the same site as for the rally.  I really don’t consider this a resort yet as they have gravel roads and sites and WiFi only in a couple of central locations.

The highlight of the day was getting set up in time to watch the second half of the Tennessee – Auburn game in which UT pulled off an upset and gave first year coach Jeremy Pruitt his first big win.  The low point of the day was watching my WV Mountaineers flounder around in a loss to Iowa State and after watching several previous games I was not at all surprised.

That’s it for now from Sevierville and I'll have more updates about our rally.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


10/11-10/13/18 Event Dates

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Naan Bread Pesto Pizza

We had been recently talking about pesto and Bev began looking for recipes that use it and she came up with Pesto Pizza from All Recipes so during a recent Sam’s club visit, she picked up a jar of Member’s Mark Pesto.  We all thought the jarred pesto was very good but care must be taken as it is a little salty.

The four of us each built our individual pizzas selecting from the available toppings and beginning with a generous layer of pesto.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sausage & Kraut Flatbread Pizza

I’d seen this pizza made on TV and since I had some really good ingredients on hand, I wanted to give it a try and serve it to sausage fan (ex-Chicago) friends Laurie and Dave.  I decided to use our favorite Lithuanian Sausage (from the Wurst Kitchen)  but wanted to cook it first too make it easier to slice later and be certain it got done on the pizza.  Since I didn’t want it to cook too much, I cooked in Sous-vide in 140-150F water for six hours (this was the temp my stove would hold the water at and in the range I wanted).  Here it is in the vacuum sealed package with a probe thermometer monitoring the water temperature.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Back Home and Cooking Brats & Stuffed Chop

While in Sycamore, IL, there was a little dive looking place at the end of the road entering the campground that Bev found totally fascinating and insisted we check it out.  It’s somewhat hard to describe so we’ll use their words – “A butcher shop that cooks.”  

All of the meat cooking and smoking is done over charcoal on outside grills and the eating is at picnic tables also located outside.  The inside contains a case full of good looking meat, homemade salads of all kinds (slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, etc), deli meats.  They serve hot and cold sandwiches along with plate meals from the meats they cook. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 Summer RV Trip – Days 44-46 – Last Day In Sycamore & Trip Home

Our original plan was to go from Illinois to Ohio Amish Country (Holmes County) then on to West Virginia for an 11 day, two stop rally of our RV club, but when the rally dropped down to just three coaches, we decided to cancel it.  My girls had already been saying they were ready to be home, so we cancelled out Holmes County as well and made plans to head south.

We were due to leave IL on Sunday of Labor Day weekend and not surprisingly, a suitable campground site was not to be found in the area we needed to spend the night so we stayed another day in Sycamore and had no problem getting into the Monday night place we wanted.

So Sunday, we made preparations for departure and watched a Shania Twain concert on TV and all I can say is that she is spectacular and then she starts singing and becomes even more so. J

Monday, September 10, 2018

2018 Summer RV Trip – Day 43 – Historic Roundhouse Restaurant & Sausage

Saturday was our day to visit with the kids and stock up on sausage and at Ann’s suggestion, we met for lunch at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, IL.  Eric was out of town so it was Ann and Matthew & Sophia who are growing like weeds.

The restaurant is in an old railroad roundhouse and here is an excerpt for Wikipedia – “The Two Brothers Roundhouse, formerly the Walter Payton Roundhouse, America's Historical Roundhouse, and Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Roundhouse and Locomotive Shop is a historic building converted to a restaurant in Aurora, Illinois. It was originally constructed in 1856 as a roundhouse for the Chicago & Aurora Railroad (later Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad) and served in this capacity until 1974. It was abandoned until 1995, when a group of investors led by Walter Payton purchased it and converted the building to an entertainment complex. Its most recent tenant is Two Brothers Brewing. The building is the oldest limestone roundhouse in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Two Brothers is a restaurant, brewery, and distillery and it is amazing how they have made use of this fine old building which is made of stone and wood – huge beams can be seen supporting the roof on the inside.

Then the outside area where the turntable was located is set up for events.

Our lunches were burgers, wings, stuffed poblano, and a reuben and they were all just warm by the time we got them so the food gets a C but the location was a winner.

From there, we headed over to The Wurst Kitchen to stock up on some great sausages to take home – we bought at least 30lbs of frozen ones and the RV freezer was completely full.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


9/01/18 Event Date

Saturday, September 8, 2018

2018 Summer RV Trip – Days 41-42 – Moving To and Visiting the Sycamore, IL Area

Our son Eric and his family live it Naperville, IL so we planned to stop for a visit on our way south and the nearest decent campground I could find was in Sycamore, IL which is in farm country about 40 miles from Naperville.

The trip south from Egg Harbor was uneventful (just the way I like them) and our route was WI-57S, I-43N, I-41S, WI-26S, I-39S, and WI-64E.  Most of the roads were concrete or paved over concrete so we experienced joint cracks most of the way but none of the surfaces were really bad.  WI-26 was a nice drive out thru the county side and much of it was 4-lane. The two interstates around Green Bay were uncrowded and made for a good by-pass.  I would use this same route again.

We pulled into Sycamore RV Resort around 4pm and had no issues with any roads until making the turn onto E North Ave leading to the campground.  The road was narrow and I crossed over the curb with both the rear coach tires and the car.  Here are shots of our site and our view out the front.  We were in site 86.

On Friday we drove through Sycamore and down to DeKalb and noticed the area seemed to be doing well economically in both the downtown's and the road between the towns was lined with the normal strip malls and big box stores.  I asked the campground owner if there was something beside Northern Illinois Univ. and farming bringing in money and he said it was mostly farming plus Sycamore is the county seat.  Here is an NIU shot from the web then two buildings I was impressed with.

Since Saturday was Pat’s BD and I thought we might be busy that night, we pan fried some steaks for her celebration supper on Friday.  I used the induction cooker and had not used it like this before, but it worked fine once I figured out which heat level to use.  The girls each had a filet and I had a strip and after tasting mine and theirs, I will never again order a filet.  Yes, it was more tender but the strip had way more of a beef flavor – I knew this but it was never before made so clear to me.

For more on the campground, here are some shots of the part that is in the shade and along the lakes beginning with a web shot of their map - we were in the blue sites in the upper right.

Everything worked well at the campground and it had one of the best WiFi's I've found but the big negative was no cable and our antenna would not get local channels so I couldn't watch WVU whup-up on TN on CBS without going to a sports bar, which I originally considered then decided against.  I hated to pull against UT but I just have to root for my home state school and alma mater, but I hope the Vols have a great year from here on.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


8/30-8/31/18 Event Dates