Monday, July 20, 2009

Farmer's Markets

It was a beautiful summer morning in downtown Clinton with a rainbow of tents lining the parking lot. Local honey bee keepers, fresh from the garden, organic tomatoes, squash, corn, beans and other summer produce were proudly displayed on tables, in baskets and on the tailgates of trucks. One special vendor caught my eye.
Two long tables were lined together towards the front of the tent. On the table to your left were several pans, commercial kitchen size with several utensils on the table, a few spices, garlic cloves, olive oil and a few burners to your right with frying pans. Off to the side of the tent, flanking the tables were chairs where you can enjoy your biddles. Savory home fries, along with your favorite fresh egg omelette. Xavier Presley is at your service. He will gladly special order your breakfast for you at the market. Or, Presley comes to your home and prepares a meal at your request. You tell him what you want and he does the grocery shopping and cooks for your family and friends. 
Local vendors and farmers will gladly supply some veggies to Xavier at the Farmer's Market and he brings most of the staples to cook for you, as a demonstration. He only accepts donations at the market. But will charge you accordingly for your dinner party or festive event. Xavier once cooked for President Jimmy Carter, while working in a major hotel chain. He was formerly trained at a Texas Cooking School while on scholarship. Xavier is originally from Miami.
Xavier's son helps him cook on the weekends. Today he was making fried green tomatoes. A wonderful corn meal or flour coating with fresh spices for seasoning then fried to perfection. Rupert also helped make a sweet potato casserole. After selecting your favorite toppings; cheese, onions, green peppers, etc., for your omelette, Xavier will show you how they make fire in the frying pan and then prepare your delightful breakfast or brunch. He expertly cooks your eggs and breakfast. Xavier also has some corn on the cob slowly cooking in a large pot of water. "This is how you should prepare your corn," suggests Presley. "People today are often in a hurry and want their food instantly. When we do that it doesn't taste as good."
Xavier should know, while working for the hotel, President Carter sent a letter to the General Manger telling him that his potatoes were the best he's ever had. 
In addition to preparing food at the market, Xavier will give you tips and techniques from chopping vegetables to cooking eggplant parmesan, even which spices to purchase for the best flavor. 
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

People, its about the people

"I hold a strong conviction that the true breed of diminishing mountain folk of Southern Appalachia are among the most admirable people in the world. They are kind, gentle and compassionate, yet tough and resourceful," said John Rice Irwin, who founded the Museum of Appalachia, a Living Mountain Village in Norris, TN. 
Irwin began collecting history, artifacts with human touch, when he was young. His grandfather told him to "start a museum of these old-timey things". His grandfather has an appreciation for his ancestors and an eclectic assortment of primitive items from three or four generations back. 
"If you need something, what do you do?" asked Irwin of us. Looking around the dinner table at our faces, he explains, "With our parents and grandparents, they made the things, tools and resources they need. Today people just think about where to go to buy what they need."
According to Irwin, each generation is loosing more and more of their history, not even connecting with their ancestors. 
This unique living museum offers a respite for many. Stepping back in time, maybe a few dozen years or more than a hundred, depending on your history lesson. Irwin, a former School Superintendent, would spend weekends driving around several counties, meeting people, getting to know them and if they had something from the past, something he felt would tell a story, their story, he would offer to buy it from them. Irwin didn't want anything that he didn't know who it belonged to and the connection.
(more soon) 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Secret City, Oak Ridge

I first visited the Secret City, Oak Ridge, TN, a few years ago and was fascinated by the history and who the people were and what their life must have been like. May people are still unaware of the secret city. I have the wonderful opportunity to come back and learn some more about America's history and how it affects us everyday. I flew into Knoxville, just  a few minutes down the interstate from Clinton and Oak Ridge. 
We began our excursion at Norris Dam State Park with a picnic lunch and a great narration from our Park Ranger/Manager, Mark Morgan. Mark explained some of the history of the area to us including the park, its' uses, the river and the dam. The dam was built for flood control in 1936, and also brings efficient electrical power to East Tennessee. the dam is 265 feet high and stretches 1,860 feet across the Clinch River. The dam is surrounded by 4,000 acres of virgin forest complete with scenic nature trails. 
Norris Dam State Park offers wonderful amenities for everyone to come out and enjoy, including; rustic cabins, a full-service marina, recreation areas and a swimming pool. Anglers will love the river with more than 50 different species of fish to reel in. The park offers 20 miles of trails for hiking, bike riding or horseback riding. Active lifestyles, getting outdoors is great for the body, mind and soul. Bringing families together is what it's all about.
Photo above: At the American Museum of Science and Energy; this is what 300,000 volts of electricity will do to you. Gives you a nice tingly feeling.
(part one- more to follow, stay tuned for more history, colorful people and wonderful places to visit in Eastern TN).

Kids everywhere

When you're pregnant you can't wait for your bundle of joy to be born. Then after they are you're lugging around diaper bags, bottles, toys, medicine, change of clothes-you basically need another set of luggage and then wish the little lanolium lizard (noun- baby or toddler who crawls on the floor) was back inside you, or perhaps older so they can tote their own toys and tools. Your little crumb snatcher, (noun) who grabs everything in site and attempts to maul it with their gums or little teeth are eating dirt and chasing animals in the wild, that are meant to stay in the wild. Can't find your keys? Check with the little rugrat, (noun) you know the one-running around taking things and hiding them. Or worse, your little peepot, (noun) yes that lovable child who pees all the time with or without a diaper on. And finally, snookums, (noun) your little devil who likes to snitch, or sneak thing when they think you aren't looking. Really, how dumb do they think we are. I'm not sure I'm happy my kids are older or wish I could send them off to grandma's until they are 24.  Happy Trails! Also connect at:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

South Beach Adventure

The beach beckons. Warm, soft sand and turquoise waters offer the perfect playground 
for any age. Welcome to South Beach Miami. We're staying at the Z Ocean Hotel a few sandal-clad steps from one of America's Hottest Beaches. 
Valet your vehicle and step into a new adventure.
Guests can enjoy jet skiing, para sailing, boating, biking and helicopter rides, to peek your adventure. Shopping alone is a sport not for the faint at heart. If you're going to visit Miami, South Beach is the place to be, and Z Ocean Hotel is in the heart of the action. Walk to great restaurants, whether you're looking for pasta, steak or sushi, you'll find plenty of choices along the beachfront, Ocean Drive, or on Collins Avenue one block over. Or, at the hotel's restaurant, Table 8, partake in a light or hearty fare with hundreds of candles, earthy plants and decor, watch a game on one of the large screen tv's or dine with friends over drinks with hip music. 
After a hectic day playing in the surf or shopping, step into your Spa Suite, with a jacuzzi (for four) on the balcony, plush king-size beds with overstuffed pillows and an entertainment center to chill out. Bose surround sound both inside and out, on your private balcony. 
We know men and women a like will enjoy the partitioned bath. With frosted glass and four wall sprays, a handheld spray and rain shower, a separate vanity area, you'll feel like you're in heaven. 
Oh, did I mention the pool on the second floor? A great lap pool with lounge chairs in the sun and in the shade, a bar and even a few small waterfalls to help you forget the hustle and bustle around you. 
Elegance surrounds you--both inside your suite and outside on the sizzling beach.