Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gardening Thursday – Onions, Garlic, And Tomatoes

As I’m sure you know, we eat lots of onions and we also eat plenty of garlic so for  several years I’ve been growing ours.  I can’t say that what I grow is fundamentally better than what I buy in the store, but the garlic is a little more powerful and the onions have just the flavor we like.

For several years I’ve grown several garlic varieties in hopes of finding the one we like best and each year something messes it up.  But this year, I knew what I planted where and I was careful to label it when harvested.  I bought my bulbs to plant from Seed Savers Exchange and grew four varieties – Georgian Crystal, German Extra Hardy, Broadleaf Czech, and Chet’s Italian Red.  For our area, I plant mine in early November before it gets too wet, after which it puts out some small tops and settles in for the winter.  If you decide to grow some, bear in mind that different types (soft neck, hard neck) do better in warm and cold temps – garlic generally likes cold winters.

Here they are hanging on the Easy-Up over my BBQ area to dry for a few days, then I’ll remove the roots and relocate them to the downstairs garage.  Removal of the roots is important as it can wick moisture from the bulb just as it moves it into the bulb from the ground – same for onions.  I was a week or so late getting them out of the ground and some had already lost their outer wrappers - they should be harvested when they still have three green leafs.

The onions we have settled on are Superstar and we buy the slips from Dixondale Farms.  This white variety is sweet, but has a little more flavor than a Vidalia.  Like garlic, growing onions is pretty easy if a few basic conditions are followed.  First, the right variety (long day, intermediate day, short day) needs to be grown for your area.  Secondly, they need to be planted early enough to allow lots of leaf development before bulbing begins.  Each leaf will become one onion layer so the more leaves, the bigger the onion.  Bulbing begins when the right amount of daylight for the variety begins to occur. 
Here’s a shot of my chief onion puller, granddaughter Riley, who, after a few instructions, harvested the crop while I tied and suckered my tomatoes.

This is the trailer when she finished and one of the larger ones – a little bigger than a softball.
I’ve laid them out in the green house for a few days to dry some then I’ll remove the roots and tie them similar to the garlic to finish drying.  After that, I’ll remove the tops and store in the cool dry garage.
I’ve got the greenhouse roof fan set to run full time and I have an oscillating fan blowing on them as well.  For you young folks, this is a device that was used to cool folks (you better sit down for this) prior to air conditioning. 

I’ve always been told that if you have ripe tomatoes here on July 4th, you’ve done good and I think I’ll make it.

I may have posted that I grow Kada Hybrid and Quimbaya paste tomatoes for most of our canning and here’s one reason why - 3 different plants.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  BBQ Day two


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brisket, Beans, And Mac

The youngest Walker child, Riley, has PKU, which means she has to be very careful about the amount of protein she eats – it used to be zero.  Fortunately, hers is not as bad as some and it’s improving as she gets older, so she can eat a little cheese for example.  One of the nice things about her being here is we eat healthier.

For this meal, it was leftover brisket from the blogger party, mac & cheese (some made with less cheese for Riley), and fresh picked green beans.  I was too busy to notice during our blogger party, but even left over, this may be the best brisket I’ve cooked.  I began using smaller choice briskets from Ingles rather than the larger, often select grade I’d been getting from Sam’s and Walmart.  I also adopted Chris Lily’s cooking method and will stay with this until someone can show me how to make them even better.
The beans were some Lazy Housewife pole beans that I grew from seeds given to me by Diane over at Voice In The Garden. According to SeedSavers Exchange they were “Introduced around 1810, this is one of our oldest documented beans. Named Lazy Housewife because it was the first snap bean that did not need to have the string removed. Vines bear heavily and continuously until frost. Straight 5-6" long pods with distinctive shiny white seeds. Pole habit, snap or shell, 75-80 days.”  I believe I let them get too large as they required stringing and they were a little tough when Bev broke them.  She cooked them up with our standard smoked country ham hock for several hours (just like Mom did) and they turned out very well.  The flavor reminded me of our favorite Blue Ribbon and like most pole beans, they had a good sized bean (white) in them, which I prefer.  Thanks Di and I’ll save some to grow next year.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Eat This Meal

I wasn’t going to post about this meal as it’s just a basic breakfast that all of you know how to prepare, but then it occurred to me that, while you may have eaten it many times, you may not know how to eat it properly – remember I’m the egg guy.  The dish is two sunny-side-up eggs with some Tabasco Jalapeno Sauce, two slices of bacon (Benton's of course), two slices of dry toast – use butter if you like.  
The main challenge in eating this meal is bite size control so that at the end, everything comes out even.  The goal is to get a bite of egg, toast, and bacon in each mouthful, so I’ve divided the meal in to two phases.
For phase one, allocate one piece of bacon and toast and the egg yolks.  Puncture the yolk slightly with your fork and gently dunk the toast into it being careful not to make it flow out onto the white.  You can keep the toast whole or break off a bite sized piece.  Put this bite into your mouth and bite off some bacon, chew all together, and swallow.  Repeat this process with both eggs until you have two egg whites with some harder yolk, and one piece each of toast and bacon.
Now it’s time to move into phase two which begins by cutting the remaining egg using a crosshatch cutting method, then mixing well to ensure even distribution of the remaining yolk.  Now merely take a bite each of egg, bacon, and toast but not chewing until they are all in your mouth.  Repeat this process until the egg is gone, making sure you still have one bite each of toast and bacon.  Use the last piece of toast to swirl around the plate and sop up any remaining egg then eat with the last bite of bacon.  Depending upon how messily you ate the egg, you may need to save two bites of toast and bacon for this final step.
This same process can be utilized with just one of each or two of any of them, but bite size control becomes more difficult, especially if you have two eggs and only one toast, which may be impossible unless the egg yolks are over cooked.

We can’t always take ourselves too seriously :-).

When we built our house Bev was one who liked long soaking baths and she made sure she got a big whirlpool tub in which to do it.  When the granddaughters come, they also like to take advantage of it and here's a shot from earlier in the week.

A while back Dave Myers (Big Daddy dave) sent me some pictures from Clark Little titled Waves Of Hawaii.  Not being into photography, I'd never heard of him but I'm absolutely impressed with these photos and thought you might be as well - check them out at this link.

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

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

One year ago:  Bev's Early Summer Garden


Monday, June 27, 2011

BBQ Burrito & Ice Cream

After the blogger party, we ended up with plenty of leftover BBQ and decided to start putting it to good use.  I had stripped the meat from Chris’ dino ribs (beef ribs) and we decided on a burrito for it.  Bev added a few tablespoons of the leftover brisket broth to the meat and warmed it slowly in a covered dish in the toaster oven.  When it was warm, it went onto the tortilla and was topped with some of Robyn’s leftover fire roasted salsa and shredded cheddar cheese.

Then I rolled it up, added some more cheese and diced onion and nuked it to melt the cheese.
Chris' beef coupled with Robyn's salsa made for a delicious burrito and the only thing I wish I’d had to add was some fresh cilantro.  You can tell I made this one as it's pretty bare - the next day Bev made one fro breakfast and it was her usual with lettuce and tomato and a fried egg drapped across everything.
A while back, Bev had found a Cuisine art ice cream maker at too good of a deal to pass up and since we rarely make large quantities, these machines are perfect for us.  Since two grandkids are here and she bought her first ever vanilla beans a few months ago, she whipped up a batch to have for dessert.
She put the ice cream maker part in the freezer and made the ice cream mixture that morning using the recipe from Cuisine art, but it was pretty much this one from Amateur Gourmet with a little different portions.  Her ingredients were:
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean (about 6” in length)
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Both Bev and I grew up on homemade ice cream that was really ice milk, but this stuff was rich, decadent ice CREAM and I loved it.  Bev thought she liked the other version better, but I like them equally well.   Here’s a picture of my second bowl – it was dirty and it was even dirtier for bowl three. 

I used to work with a guy with a similar view of homemade ice cream to mine – for the rare times when you eat it, eat all you want.  Thirty years later, I still agree with him and three small bowls were just perfect. 
Our good news is that son Rhett is home several months early from a dangerous Afghanistan assignment to get ready for his new assignment as a battalion commander at Fort Bragg, NC.  We are very happy to have him back safe.  Our other son Eric has completed his move to the Baltimore area and they are getting their new home organized - we'll miss having them nearby.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blogger Party – Part Last

If you haven’t already, please have a look at the first two Blogger Party Posts.  
This is the one shot I got on the dock after some folks arrived.
Here are some pictures sent to me by Laurie of our pontoon boat ride.  Bev is in her usual all-dogged-up situation.

The front group - looks like folks moved around a little.

The Aucoin girls.
The captain and first mate.
The relief captain and fine docker of boats.
There were some pretty tired folks (and critters) aboard – the teenagers and Chris for sure.
From a food standpoint, Bev and I provided the brisket, sausage, pork ribs, turkey, and slaw.  I used a modified version of Chris Lily’s brisket as he cooked at Kingsford’s BBQ University and posted on Robyn’s blog (Grill Grrl).  It was modified in three ways – first I forgot to rub the meat with beef baste prior to rubbing so I added a tbsp full to my 2 cups of homemade beef broth.  Secondly, since I was cooking whole briskets, I took them to an internal temp of 190* vs. his 185*, knowing I would get drier meat on the thin part of the flat, to render more fat from the point.  I put them in a pan, poured the broth (1 cup per brisket) over them and covered at 170* per his directions.  I cooked them at 220* thru the night, then at 250* after I added the ribs to the smoker – I think the total cook time was about 14 hours.  I like his rub and broth combo and may make it my SOP.

For the pork ribs, I used the process that came out of my recent taste test, but made one slab dry and one with Big Bob Gibson’s Red Sauce.
For the turkey I rubbed it with Wolfe Citrus the night before cooking and wrapped it in plastic.  Since it was already flavor enhanced, no need to brine it, but I did lift the skin and got the rub against the meat then added a good coat all over the outside.  From this point, it was kept skin side down until served.  I like to have the spices and juice that are in the cavity have a chance to seep down through the meat.  I cooked it with the ribs at 250* and pulled it at an internal of 161*.  I didn’t eat any of it, and it looked good, but Bev said it was a little dry.
For the sausage, I used the spices I get from Novak’s Meat Market in El Campo, Tx which was just recently mentioned as one of the top examples of Texas Sausage, but I wish I’d done several things differently – but I was just wanting to get it done.  First, I liked the taste of it, but it was a little salty, so I’ll cut back a little next time.  Secondly I wish I’d added cheese to half of it and cheese and jalapenos to the other half.  Maybe next time but for just my second or third time, it wasn’t half bad.
I thought Bev's slaw turned out good (I had some pre-party) and one of the secrets was the nice sweet from-the-garden cabbage.  Her dressing was 2 parts mayo, 1 part sour cream, 1 part Greek yogurt, then vinegar,  sugar, celery salt, and black pepper to taste - no salt added at this point or it will pull the water from the cabbage.  Hope you enjoyed the party recap - sorry there weren't more photos.  Last year I think there were about 6 cameras going full time, but not the case this year - next time we need a designated photographer - assuming we can find an anti-social, tea tottling, good photographer to do it - I fail on all three of these.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago:  Not a thing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leftover Salmon Scramble

Perhaps it’s because I’m more comfortable with egg dishes that it makes me more willing to experiment with them and so it was for this meal.  I considered other options, but since I had to get busy making sausage for our blogger party, I just went with a scramble centered around a piece of leftover salmon.
As with most of my egg dishes the first thing I got from the fridge was onion and I chopped one, ¼” thick slice and got it warming along with the chopped salmon in a little olive oil.
Very shortly after I put the salmon in the pan, Kittty showed up out of nowhere.
Next I rough chopped a fork full of capers, diced a slice of Smoked Gouda cheese, and fine chopped a little fresh dill.  When the salmon was warmed through, I stirred in the capers and cheese – it doesn’t melt well, so I add it before the eggs.
I added the dill, a little half & half, and a few shots of Tabasco to two eggs and beat it all together and poured into the pan.
Scrambled it until the eggs were done to my liking and plated – this is just a salad plate, but still enough that I didn’t side it with anything else.
It was delicious and the one thing I need to do differently is cook the onions by themselves for a while to remove more moisture as I ended up with it on the plate.  A nice dill sauce would have topped it off pretty well.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Fruit Smoothie On A Hot Day


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gardening Thursday - Fall and Winter Activities

I don’t know about you but I learn about a subject a few pieces of information at a time, so using a 55 gallon drum to try and dump masses of information thru the very small hole into my brain ends up with lots of info on the floor.  When I go to a training session, I’m always pleased it I can walk away with a few real nuggets and that’s what I hope you’ll get from these garden posts.  I try to have something in here for the old pro’s as well as those who are just learning to spell garden, so I like it when I get comments like so it’s the cicadas that did that to my trees, or I didn’t know blossom end rot was so easy to fix, etc.

Today’s post goes back and picks up from Jun9, regardingsite selection l with more detail about my 14 Steps For A Successful Garden.  Once you have your site selected, it’s time to perform the fall and winter activities, the first of which is:


GET A SOIL TEST – It’s critical to know the condition of your soil or you’ll be guessing at the best things to do for it.  I discussed in the May 5 post.

PERFORM SOIL AMENDMENTS – Usually lime, if needed and basic fertilizer at this time – can fine tune fertilizer in spring.  Also, this is the best time to work in large amounts of compost and other organic material as it has all winter to further decompose and settle into your garden.  No need to add nitrogen at this time as it will be gone by spring planting.

TURN/TILL THE SOIL IN OCTOBER – Especially for new gardens as sod takes several months to break down, October is usually dry here and any later it becomes a mud hole.  Winter freeze and thaw will break up any clods.  I till my garden each fall except I turn it deeply with a plow every three to four years, to break up the hardpan that can develop by tilling to the same depth every time.

TURN UPHILL ON ANY SLOPE – Gravity, tilling and rain will move your soil downhill, so I use the tilling and turning process to move it back up my slight slope.

Now that your site has been selected and prepared, you can spend the winter looking at seed catalogs, fine tuning your plan, and selecting the seeds and plants you will by.
Remember, the soil is the key to a highly successful garden and it should be treated accordingly. 

The seed catalogs start showing up in December and I use them as a wish book to help me decide what varieties I’ll plant, as I’ve already decided in general what I’ll grow.

CHOICE BASED ON YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS – Taste, size, quantity, when producing (determinate vs indeterminate for canning), etc.

TRY SEVERAL – If room permits.  I started out growing many different varieties as I honed in on the ones I liked.  I still grow new peppers and tomatoes every year.

FIND SOURCES WITH GREATEST VARIETAL SELECTION – A good garden center may have many and unique varieties while Walmart usually only carries the few more common ones.

SELECT VARIETALS FOR THIS AREA – Not all varieties grow everywhere so get the ones for where you live.  For example long day onions (Walla Walla for example) need the long summer daylight hours of the North while short day onions (such as yellow granex which it a Vidalia if grow in a few low sulfur soil counties in South Georgia)  will produce nice bulbs in the shorter southern days.


              BASIC LAYOUT – Rows, beds, scatter, intensive gardening – companion planting, successive planting, fall garden.  Garden size, crops you’re growing and how you plan to maintain and water will all affect your layout.  For example using drip tape and controlling weeds with a tiller pretty well dictates a row type layout.
              MAINTAINABILITY – Roto-tiller vs. hoe, I till mine in the early spring and late fall and maintain it with a hoe in between.  Using a tiller for weed control turns up valuable soil moisture to be baked out by the sun and it brings more weed seeds to the surface which will sprout.
              CROP ROTATION – For pest and disease control, soil depletion/enhancement – legume every other year.  I rotate my garden in blocks of four beds with a nightshade, a brassica, and a legume in each group.  Notice the four beds across my garden – I move them one to the right each year and on year 5, I also move them one bed toward me.

              VACATION TIME – Don’t want your crop coming in while away for a week or two.  This publication shows about when the crop will come in from planting time.  We have a three week trip planned in the fall which will result in giving our produce away during that period.
              TIME YOUR WILLING TO COMMIT – some plants take more effort than others –onions vs. maters.  Many new gardens overdo it the first year and give up by mid-summer.  If you’re a first timer, start small and grow your garden as you know you can keep up with it.

With this you can have your garden end up as you want it and know everything will fit – it doesn’t have to be fancy, but to scale really helps.

And sometimes the best laid plans still result in this after a thunderstorm moved through yesterday – this used to make me so mad, but since it happens every year, I’m used to it.
The corn will try to stand back up and we'll still get a crop, but it will be lessened and its a lot harder to pick.  The onion tops got laid over as well, but they were beginning to anyway, signalling the end of their growth.  We still have some very nice ones - nearly softball size.  The bean trellis needs a little work as well.

In my May 22 post, I discussed new vs. small potatoes with some pics and here are some more.  I dug two plants yesterday and got this variety of sizes and the commercial growers will get the same thing – which they market in different ways, calling the golf ball sized ones new potatoes regardless of their age – sorry about the soil still on them.  The odd one is a Yukon Gold.

While things were growing rapidly, I had to provide most of the water, but now that I’m ready to harvest potatoes, garlic and onions, it rains every day – but given the choice I’ll take the rain vs. the drought.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Pretty Good Greek Leftovers


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blogger Party 2011 - Part 2

Thanks for tuning in for Post 2 about our Blogger Party – look back to Post 1 for the list of attendees.  Shortly after the fajitas, we served the main meal and I don’t think I took another picture, but here are some that Ross Ramsey sent me and hopefully some of the other bloggers took some and will post them.  These first three are of the fajita appetizer Chris cooked as a demo – I discussed them a little yesterday. 

Is that perfectly cooked or what?  Bev later commented how much she liked the meat marinade and the fire roasted salsa - she can pick out those different flavors.  I told her I thought the fajitas were excellent, but I don't do the different flavor thing very well, and hopefully Chris and Robyn will post their recipes.

We served the main meal meat Lockhart, Tx. style, which meant that Chris, Robin and I were at a butcher paper covered table with the meat in front of us and as folks came by, we cut all but the beef ribs to-order (brisket, sausage, beef rib, pork ribs, turkey breast) served it up on butcher paper topped off with a slice of white bread (Bev’s homemade).  Then it was back to the dock for Texas beans, grilled corn, and slaw (plates were allowed for this part).

And if this was not enough for you, there was key lime pie, banana pudding, brownies, and almond limoncello cake, provided by the Ramsey's, Aucoin's and Hofer's.

Laurie kept us going before the meal with a big bowl of her Chex mix, made with plenty of butter and garlic and we washed it all down with margarita’s, sangria, and an assortment of beer, wine, soft drinks, and tea.

I suppose it was possible to have had a miserable time, but virtually impossible to leave hungry.  I stuck with traditional Texas BBQ and ate brisket, sausage, beef ribs and turkey - pork ribs are a Southeastern thing.  I thought all of the meat was very good except the sausage was a little too salty, so I'll have to recheck my spice to meat ratio.  So my meal looked as close as what we had in Lockhart as I could get it - unfortunately, I got no photo - just try to picture it in your mind - the four meats on the butcher paper, with two hands to hold it and a slice of bread laying across the top.  I didn't have room for any of the sides, but after a rest, I had a little taste of the desserts and they were all excellent - thank you to those who brought them.

After eating, Ross gave us some great photography pointers and demonstration – it never ceases to amaze me how much talent and knowledge is contained in the folks around us all of the time.  This is a shot, thanks to Laurie, of Ross and Chris trying to train an old dog to take a picture of a bowl and have it look the same as my eye is seeing - not sure I'm trainable.
Note the water battle raging around us - as you can probably tell, things are pretty formal at Almost heaven South.

Chris is linked into the owner of the company that makes Grill Grates and arranged to get a set for a door prize, which was won by Sam Hofer after guessing the closest to how many charcoal briquettes were in a plastic container.  No way to cheat as your reaching in to count them would have been quickly disclosed by your black hands.
We finished up the party with an evening cruise on the pontoon boat – it’s never before had its maximum load of 15 people, but we didn’t sink it even though there was one brief attempt.
I had an absolutely great time and hope the others did as well – I’m concerned Chris might not have had as he was working way too hard for most of the day.  Since I was able to start my cooking the night before, by 11:30am, I was able to get all of my food cooked and in the 150* oven to stay warm until serving time, but Chris did his cooking after he got here and thanks to a thunderstorm at his house he started a little behind.  Between the beef ribs and sides and a fajita cooking demo, it kept him really hopping until we ate.  It was nice that, co-Kingsford Griller Robyn, was here to assist him with the fajitas.
In addition to the great door prize, Chris also made up some cool name tags, which many folks commented they really appreciated.
And to top it all off, the weather was nearly perfect as it was a little overcast, which kept the temps down, with only brief sprinkle, even though there were serious thunderstorms just a few miles north of us.
In case you’ve ever wondered what H Dog Heaven looks like, I think this could be it - great shot Ross.
After everyone else left, Sam, Meakin, Bev, and I retired to the house.  Last year, they had to leave the blogger party early to make the trip back across the mountain so this year we invited them to spend Sunday night with us.  Had they made it, Jackie and Dave Scott were planning to spend a couple of nights with us as well. 

We ended up sitting on the sun porch and getting to know each other until nearly midnight – I know I’m having a good time when I stay up nearly 3 hours past my bed time.  They had brought us the perfect gift – for me a least, a book by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, titled “A Real American Breakfast” – Sam obviously reads my blog.  The Jamison’s are also the authors of the popular “Smoke & Spice” barbecuing book, which I also have.  I'll be looking hard for meals made from leftover BBQ everything.

Next morning, it was coffee, a BLT, with or without an egg, and some fresh picked blueberries & purchased raspberries.  The BLT was on homemade bread, with Benton’s bacon, our garden lettuce, a locally grown tomato, and Duke’s mayo.  I thought about something fancier, but a good BLT is just hard to beat.

After breakfast, we toured around the grounds and talked veggies and shrubs.  Then we gave them a goodie bag of fresh pulled sweet onions, a head of red cabbage, green and yellow filet beans, and a quart of mater juice, and they headed off to Benton’s (it was on their way home) to lay in a supply of bacon for Meakin’s father – at least that’s what they told us.

I don’t know if we’ll have Blogger Party 3, but if we do, I’m already thinking about a menu – maybe a shrimp and/or crawfish boil, where you just cook it all up in a big pot or two and dump it out on the tables.  I know some folks who live in Seymour that I’m sure could supervise and assist us into a great meal – what do you think Katherine?

Please come back one more time for Part 3.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Fathers Day Greekfest


Monday, June 20, 2011

Blogger Party 2011

As I write this, it’s 5:30am on Father’s Day and I just finished rubbing the pork ribs – they go on at 6am.  I made and smoked 10# of Texas style sausage Saturday and this is it hanging in the smoker almost done.

and the two briskets are chugging away in the Stumps smoker – I put them on last night and went to bed – I love my smoker.  This is the pre-cook shot.

We still have a few last minutes things to do to prep the dock and then I hope we’re ready for a fun day.

Chris Grove is coming down around 8:30 to get his beef ribs on the Klose smoker which I moved down to the lake for this event.  This is the set up we’re using for Chris to prep and cook his stuff and for serving the meat.  The dock is down to the right.
When I got down to the dock around 7am, to fire up the smoker, this guy was sitting on the dock next door.  He was so still, he could have been a statue.

The dock and Sweetie are all ready for the big day.
Here are the finished ribs (6 slabs for a customer and 2 for the party) and a brisket just prior to adding beef broth and covering with foil to finish cooking.
Chris is on the job and has some good looking beef ribs underway and an easy up overhead, just in case.
It’s now Monday, late morning, and we’re still resting up before we head down to the lake and do a little cleaning up.  The party attendees were:

Chris & Alexis Grove (Nibble Me This) – Knoxville, Tn
Katherine & AJ Aucoin  (Smokey Mountain Café) – Seymour, Tn – Daughters Kaitlin & Lauren, and friend Courtney
Sam & Meakin Hofer (My Carolina Kitchen) – Andrews, NC
David & Laurie Myers (Big Daddy Dave’s) – Tellico Village, Tn
Ross & Rhonda Ramsey, Knoxville, Tn
Robyn Medlin Lindars (Grill Grrrl) – South Florida
Joe Howell (our good friend) – Louisville, Tn
Wende Doolittle (daughter) – Oak Ridge, Tn
Pat Whaley (Bevs sister) - Greenback, Tn, and two of our granddaughter, Reece and Riley from Fort Knox, Ky
Beverly & Larry Doolittle (Big Dudes Eclectic Ramblings) – Greenback, Tn
Dave and Jackie Scott from Kansas City had to cancel on Saturday as they had car trouble on the way here – bummer, and Elizabeth Spelling had cancelled earlier due to the illness of the friend who was coming with her.
We started the meal with fajita’s cooked up by Chris and Robin as part of a fajita cooking demonstration.  They cooked the meat and veggies and made a fire roasted salsa and they were delicious.  This is Chef Chris explaining the different meats and how to get them ready to accept seasoning, while his able assistant Robyn keeps him on track - and has a little sip of a refreshing libation of vodka and Fresca - I went yuck when she told me, but tried it anyway - I'm now thinking of buying some Fresca - already have the vodka.
These two can cook and it's easy to see why they’re part of the Kingsford grilling site.
I think this is long enough for today so please stop by again for a little more info including our overnight guests.  And by the way, it's now 5:09 pm and we're still resting up before heading down to the lake - I love retirement :-).
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.