Saturday, September 24, 2022

Sweetwater RV Rally, Day Two

The scheduled events for day two began with a visit to Tsali Notch Vineyards between Sweetwater and Madisonville, TN, where they grow nothing but muscadines.  According to Wikipedia “Vitis rotundifolia, or muscadine, is a grapevine species native to the southeastern and south-central United States. The growth range extends from Florida to New Jersey Coast, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma.”

Tsali grows six varieties, half bronze, or light, and half dark colored, which range in sweetness and nearly all are sold to wineries with just a small percentage made into wine for their own tasting room, all are made by other wineries but using Tsali”s recipes.

The vineyard manager gave us an explanation of the farming process and the muscadines themselves. 

Then we went on a little tour which included a stop at the harvester and discussion of the picking process.  With the machine, they can pick the entire 30 acres of vines in about nine days vs. many months of picking in the old days.

Following the tour, there was a tasting, where we tasted five different wines and a red juice and all were very good as evidenced by our case purchase.

And finally, our Subway picnic lunch under the shade trees with a nice breeze on a hot day.

That evening, we held our annual business meeting followed by a cookout where everyone grilled their own meat sided with baked potatoes and salad.

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.


09/20/22 event date

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Finally, An RV Trip and Rally, Day One

Our last RV trip was in May to Pineola, North Carolina for a club rally then we cancelled our western trip for the third year in a row and this time due to the extremely high cost of diesel – this actually was good as it allowed me to have my toe surgery.  So, the poor, lonely coach has just been sitting out in the driveway all summer wishing we would take it somewhere.

Our RV club (Tennessee Travelers) has held rallies as close to us as Vonore, TN and as far away as Pensacola, FL and as the host for our Sep. event I decided to stay close again and go to the KOA in Sweetwater, TN as the area actually has several things to do and almost none of which I had done.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Alabama Scramble – Different Version

This summer, we made Alabama Scramble a time or two using our normal method of cooking everything in a skillet but since we had oil in our deep frying pan, we opted to change it up some.  We recently had deep fried okra and green tomatoes and realized they needed more seasoning than just S&P at the end so I’ve attempted to correct that.  The following recipe feeds 3-4 people eating only this.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pinto Beans, Hoe Cakes, and Birthday Meals

This post is primarily to get our pinto bean recipe documented on my blog. For our pinto beans, we’ve always just added stuff to taste so they rarely taste the same and some are better than others so this time, I tried to make a good batch and document the recipe.  I looked around the web to see what ingredients were used by others and came up with the following recipe.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Cindy wanted to make this dish and we agreed it would work well for our Friday get together.  She got the recipe for Chicken Shepherd’s Pie from The Kitchen Girl blog and followed it except she increased the ingredients by 50% (shown below) and used corn starch rather than flour for gluten-free. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Six Weeks Visit To The Foot Doctor & Summer Meal

It has been six weeks since the surgery to straighten my toes and it was time for a visit to the doctor.  You may recall I spent the first two weeks with a splint and the past four weeks with my “Go Big Orange” cast.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Bacon Ranch Baked Cheddar Chicken

The Eliza crowd came down again this past weekend and I wanted to fix something simple for supper and I wanted a one-dish meal.  I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a baked Kevin dish and the recipe for Bacon Ranch Baked Cheddar Chicken from his “Closet Cooking” blog looked perfect for this meal.  Since I was using more chicken than him, I scaled up his recipe to get the one below but his original can be found by clicking on the above link.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Fried Chicken Strips – Semi-Failure

Many meat recipes say “dredge in seasoned flour” but they don’t give me the specifics I need to make it which is why I was enthused to find this recipe for a dredge from Horse Thief BBQ while watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Their recipe is for a chicken sandwich and includes marinade (I used it also) and slaw and it can all be found by clicking on the above link.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Pasta Primavera Salad Ala Larry

Eliza brought her parents down on Sunday to play in the lake as the season winds down and we invited them to stay for hot dogs.  For a side dish, I remembered that I had been wanting some pasta salad and after some looking, I found the recipe for one that I had made it the past, really liked, and was somewhat healthy.  I made it the day before so the flavors could marry well.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

German Night At Almost Heaven South, Sausage, Kraut, Spaetzle

Do you remember my June 5 post where I mentioned that daughter, Wende, had brought us a new supply of sausages from The Wurst Kitchen in Aurora, IL or the July 15 post about making our first homemade kraut in several years or the August 14 post that included homemade spaetzle?  Well, it’s okay if you don’t but they are all involved in this meal that is timed to use our newly made kraut which has been fermenting for nearly seven weeks.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Honey Garlic Chicken

When I saw the recipe for this dish from Kevin’s “Closet Cooking” blog, I thought it would fit into our plan to cook a meal then eat leftovers for a day or two.  Since I wanted leftovers, I doubled the recipe to get the one below.  The original recipe, along with some great pics and nutrition info can be found by clicking on the above link.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Jambalaya - Another Winner

I had some andouille in the fridge and decided to build a meal around it opting for jambalaya since I also had shrimp and chicken.  After looking around the web, I settled on the recipe from Café Delights.  The only changes I made involved the heat level and I served red pepper flakes on the side.  Karina’s original recipe and a few pics can be found by clicking on the link above.  Since I couldn't get to our Dutch oven and was afraid the 12" sautee pan might be too small, I used our wok and it worked fine.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Shrimp In Spicy Sauce)

If you missed reading any of these posts, you owe to yourself to check them out as they would all be on the menu at my gourmet restaurant : Kennedy Quiche, Braised Pork Shanks, Chicken Sorrentino, Heirloom Tomato Pie, Holsteiner Schnitzel, Eggplant Involtini, and this one.

I first saw this recipe on the “Ask Chef Dennis” blog and decided it was a dish we should try without the heat for Cindy and Pat.  Then I subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated and opted to use their recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo with a few changes beginning with doubling the recipe so we would have leftovers and we served it with the crushed red pepper on the side for those who wanted heat - most of our group does not.  While I’ve seen several simpler recipes for the dish, I still opted to go with the CI one because it cooked the shrimp shells in the sauce.  Cindy did a great job cooking this meal for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Eggplant Involtini

Cindy made this dish once before but I didn’t blog about it so when she wanted to make it again and remembering it was delicious, I wanted to be sure to get it documented.  She had found the recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated (CI) book that she discovered at a friend’s house and since I have always enjoyed CI and to get access to this recipe for Eggplant Involtini electronically, I decided to join the CI site for less than $10/mo.  This is a pic of the dish from the web.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Holsteiner Schnitzel And Spaetzle – A Delicious Meal

When I cut up a whole pork loin for the freezer recently, I went ahead and got some of it ready to make schnitzel by pounding it thin with the Jaccard.  We like it bare or topped with various sauces so I did a web search for possible sauces and I found this recipe from “German Culture” that absolutely had to be tried.  The lemon, butter, caper sauce is a big favorite of ours and then it is topped with a fried egg - talk about a no brainer recipe for me.  Here is the shot of mine then theirs.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Parmesan Crusted Chicken For Chicken Parmesan & Toe Update

When this recipe for Parmesan Crusted Chicken showed up on my blog reading list, I knew from the first pic (below) that it had to be tried.  Since I had 2lb. 6oz. of chicken, I scaled up the recipe to get the one below.  Visit Jenn’s “Once Upon A Chef” blog for the original recipe and a bunch of how-to pics for the original recipe and lots of how-to pics.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Brisket & Halibut Tostadas And Gnocchi Something For Breakfasts

After four gourmet meal posts, it's time to get back to the basics - breakfasts from leftovers.

When I posted about my foot surgery, I said I probably wouldn't be posting as much but as it turns out, I have all day to plan meals and Bev and Cindy are both cooking so I actually have more to post about than before.

As usual, I’ve been trying to use our leftovers for breakfast as I believe nearly everything is good topped with an egg.

I still had a few brisket slices in the fridge and Chef LeaAnn’s recent tostada post inspired me to make one for breakfast.  It was built from a fried corn tortilla, reheated brisket, diced onion, sliced white cheddar in a skillet with a lid to melt the cheese, then topped with a fried egg from another skillet.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Heirloom Tomato Pie

Bev made this delicious tomato pie back in 2020 but she used a refrigerator pie crust and too large of a dish so this time she followed the recipe as written beginning with the pie crust.  Here is the link to the original recipe.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Chicken Sorrentino

We love both Chicken Parmesan and Eggplant Parmesan so when Dennis posted on his “Ask Chef Dennis” blog the recipe for Chicken Sorrentinowhich contains them both, I knew it had to be tried.  His recipes have the feature that changes the ingredient amounts for more or less servings and I increased it for six servings to get the recipe below.  The original recipe along with great how-to pics can be found by clicking on the above link.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Braised Pork Shanks

I like to watch “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” in order to discover places to eat when we travel and to get meal ideas and recipes.  During one show, a restaurant served braised pork shanks topped with salsa verde but they didn’t provide a recipe.  I searched the web and found a recipe from Food & Wine that seemed to fit the bill with some modifications and I hoped would create this.  I don't know the origin of the dish but since I've had it in German restaurants here and in Germany, somewhere in Europe is likely a good guess.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Kennedy Quiche Frittata Then Brisket For A Delicious Breakfast

Over the years, we have made this quiche several times, especially when we have extra tomatoes, but I can’t find that I ever blogged about it.  The recipe came from our local newspaper many years ago and I could only find it on-line in one place but it was supposedly a favorite of John Kennedy.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Tuna and Crappie With Lemon Butter Caper Sauce & Toe Update

I had some tuna in the freezer that I wanted to cook for Cindy and me, while cooking something else for Pat, Bev, and neighbor Pat.  So, I turned to the web for sauces to use with tuna and the second one I saw was a recipe for Lemon Caper Sauce from “Food & Wine” which is also our favorite sauce for crappie, so I cooked it for the others.  I used my usual sauce recipe times 1½ to get the one below.  The last time I made tuna, it was more of a burgundy color but these came from the grocery store and had received the treatment to make the flesh bright pink.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Toe Surgery

After two knee and two hip replacements over the past seven years, you may be thinking “this guy must like to have surgery,” but I assure you this is not the case.  Arthritis destroyed the soft tissue in my knee and hip joints and I have a hereditary issue that has caused the three middle toes on each foot to dislocate toward my little toes.  As a result, I can only wear sandals without pain and a pair of very wide SAS shoes for a few hours without pain.  Here is the x-ray and you can see the screws in my left foot from a failed first surgery.  I know, I have ugly feet.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Chile Verde Empanadas

We had some rolled pie crust in the fridge that I wanted to get out of there and some leftover Chili Verde that needed to be eaten or frozen so I decided to try combining them.  I’ve been wanting to try making empanadas with our two formers (6" & 3") for a very long time but have never gotten around to it.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Slow Cooker Ginger Beer Barbecue Baby Back Ribs & Brisket

The title of this post which contains the words Slow Cooker and Barbecue is about as close to blasphemy as one can get for us BBQers, but when I saw the recipe from Dennis on his “Ask Chef Dennis” blog, I decided to give it a try with a little twist – a little smoke first.  For the original recipe and some great how-to pics, click on the above link.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Grilled Salmon From Alaska, Taste Test, and Salmon Breakfast

A couple of weeks ago, we made low country boil for an past co-worker we hadn’t seen in a long time and he brought us some Coho salmon from his recent fishing trip to Alaska – he brought back 100 lbs. of mixed fish.  Coho is also known as Silver Salmon and is one of five varieties found in Alaskan waters with the others being Chinook (King), Sockeye, Chum (Keta), and Pink (Humpback), which is the most abundant.  To package, they cut the salmon flesh, folded it in half and sealed it in plastic.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Our First Homemade Kraut In Several Years & Chicken Salad Breakfast

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we made a big batch of kraut and since then we’ve been buying it from the Mennonite market.  While theirs is very good, it has still been processed (cooked a little) which takes away from the flavor somewhat and while you can buy theirs raw, you have to order it in advance which we haven’t done.  When I mentioned to Bev that we should order some she insisted we make our own so we bought some of their cabbage instead and after trimming, we had 10 pounds.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Chili Verde Supper & Breakfast and Top Gun: Maverick

Thanks to be introduced to it by our Colorado friend, Chef Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch blog), we made our first batch of delicious Chili Verde eight years ago and I could not find we’ve made it since then and I can’t believe it.  So, it was time to change that and I decided to make a batch for our Friday get-together but first I needed some pulled pork.  Our first batch of verde turned out so well using BBQ pulled pork (rather than oven roasted) I opted to go that way again and just happened to have a pork butt in the freezer.  See previous post.

I made the chili using the same recipe as previously but I used fire roasted tomatoes and chicken broth for this batch.  You can click on the link for the recipe I used so I won’t reproduce it here.

Monday, July 11, 2022

BBQ Day (Pork Butt & Chicken) and Eliza on July 4

It’s been a while since I had a BBQ day so I smoked a pork butt, a spatchcocked chicken and a half dozen thighs on Thursday in prep for our Friday get-together.  Both meats were rubbed with a 50-50 mix of Billy Bones Original and XXX Cherry.  

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Greek Baked Zucchini and Potatoes (Briam) & Inept Airlines

I had made my first attempt at smoking beef short ribs for our Friday group but I will need to work on my process before I blog about them.  The next day, we had some that weren’t yet done, so I braised them in a covered pan for three hours to get them tender for supper.

That morning, we had discovered a bag of yellow crookneck squash on our porch swing and Bev went in search of new recipes to use them coming up with one from All Recipes for Briam and we decided to give it a try.  We made several changes to the recipe so just click on the link for the original - some folks get very fancy with the dish as this shot from the web shows.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Awesome Greek Chicken Ala Pam


I’m a big fan of Mediterranean dishes and when I recently saw Pam’s recipe for Greek Chicken with Roasted Vegetables & Lemon Vinaigrette, I didn’t know which appealed to me more the looks of the chicken or the sound of it.  

I had planned to make it several days ago but had no feta until Bev went to Sam’s club and bought this 2½ lb. block which I cut into six pieces and froze five of them.

Friday, July 1, 2022

A Summertime Southern Meal From The Garden

We made a trip to Tellico Plains the other day to meet some friends for lunch and on the way down we stopped at the Tellico Community Market for some produce, so while our meal ingredients didn’t come from our garden, they did come from the gardens of this Mennonite community (except the onion from our neighbor’s garden).

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Chicken With Pistachio Herb Sauce

I had another meal planned and I discovered I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but I did have everything needed to make a dish that had just shown up on my blog reading list.  The recipe for Chicken With Sicilian Inspired Pistachio Herb Sauce came from Karen’s “Backroad Journal” blog and it looked very interesting plus I had a bag of pistachios in the shell.

Since I had already thawed three chicken breasts, I increased the sauce ingredients by 50% to get the recipe below.  Karen’s recipe used naked chicken breasts but those in her pics looked breaded so I decided to omit the olive oil coating and lightly dust mine with flour.  For the original recipe and shots of Karen’s dish, please click on the above link.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Tapoco For Lunch And A Couple Of Breakfast Meals

Our RV travel club didn’t hold a rally in June but a small group of us decided we would drive up US-129 (the Tail Of The Dragon) and have lunch at the Tapoco Lodge Tavern on June 15.  The 318 curves of The Dragon is 11 miles of hell for us old normal drivers and an absolute mecca for motorcyclists and sports car enthusiast.  This is a shot from the web of the back of the Tapoco Lodge showing the Tavern (umbrellas) and the Cheoah River .

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Crab Cakes and Low Country Boil For Four

Last summer we went to an outdoor concert at some people’s home and ran into a guy that I had worked with at Alcoa but had not seen in 20 years and I promised I would get us together in 2022 after hip surgery recovery and this was finally the day.  I wanted to have a seafood medley in the air-conditioned house but “the boss” wanted to have low country boil on the dock and she balked when I suggested we could make it in the air-conditioned kitchen – “it has to be done outside on the dock.”

Unfortunately, I got so busy visiting and cooking that I took only a couple of pics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

It’s A Bologna (aka Baloney) Kind Of Day

For some reason, we have gotten into fried bologna sandwiches lately and with fresh homemade bread from the previous day and sliced bologna in the fridge, this was the perfect day for them, so they became the supper meal.  A couple of years ago we visited Historic Rugby, TN and one of the trip highlights was my best ever bologna sandwich from R.M. Brooks and what really stuck in my mind was the thickness of their meat.