Category: Food

I wanted to title this post C12H22O11, but couldn’t get the subscripts into the title line. Just in case you’re not up on your compound formula knowledge, that’s the formula for Sucrose, a local bakery that uses Su as its logo, as if it’s listed on the periodic table. Last Christmas, Kari’s family gave Ted and me a gift certificate to Sucrose and we finally used it. It was definitely worth the wait.

I was expecting to order something like a jelly doughnut or a long john, but Sucrose is not that kind of bakery. They do have some cupcakes and cookies, and they offer some breads on Saturdays, but the main feature is irresistible desserts. We chose to spend the gift certificate on some chocolate raspberry mousse (served in molded chocolate cups) and some fruit tarts–a simple name for an elaborate offering.

We’ll be going back soon to try some of their other desserts. Thank you, Kari’s family, for introducing us to this bakery.

I’ve been searching the internet for a hamburger bun recipe. What I really wish I could make are Wisconsin hard rolls. In this case, “Hard” does not equal “stale.” Wisconsin hard rolls are made without eggs and they’re crusty on the top.

I couldn’t find that (secret?) Wisconsin recipe, so I decided to settle for something that would produce rolls that were firm but not dry, and light but not mushy. Based on the ingredients, I found a recipe I thought might be pretty good and I tried it. The recipe is called “Beautiful Burger Buns” and they are.

They’re light, they taste good, and they don’t disintegrate if you add a juicy pickle or some sauce. Yummy!

P.S. I’m still going to stock up on hard rolls whenever we visit Wisconsin.

We’ve had a cool spring, so rhubarb has had a great season. For rhubarb lovers, this is good news, but if you don’t have a rhubarb patch of your own, it’s sometimes difficult to find fresh rhubarb in the grocery stores. Kathy, however, has sources, and she contacted her peeps to fill a big bag of rhubarb to bring to me when she visited this weekend. I’m going to freeze it and look forward to rhubarb in the future.

Here I am, cutting the stalks and filling quart containers for future rhubarb pies and kuchens.

Kathy’s big gift bag of rhubarb was filled with nearly six quarts of the delicious vegetable. I set one quart aside for a fresh (not frozen) rhubarb pie for dinner tonight.

I smiled all the way to the freezer and I can’t wait for dessert tonight.

I’ve had a hankering for something sweet and have been wanting to bake something. I couldn’t decide what to bake until Thom sent a photo of a roasted rhubarb cobbler Katie made. Then, while I was talking with Kathy on the phone, she mentioned having fresh rhubarb and wanting a cobbler. I decided two mentions of rhubarb within a week was a sign from the gods. I decided to bake a rhubarb cobbler.

I made a quick run to the grocery store for some fresh rhubarb.

It didn’t take long to wash and chop the rhubarb, and it didn’t take much longer to mix the crust and the topping for my own rhubarb cobbler. Ted and I enjoyed some of it–still a little warm from the oven–for our dinner dessert this evening. Mm-mm good.

It’s been over a year since our Pilates classes were cancelled due to the community college closing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That was our first sign that COVID was getting too close to us for comfort. Ted and I have been very careful to avoid becoming infected by this awful virus. We started wearing masks as soon as the CDC recommended that practice for prevention; we have practiced social distancing; and our hands are the cleanest they’ve ever been. We have a very small social bubble, and we get a little bit excited if we need to cross the line into St. Louis County for something–about 10 miles away.

The National Weather Service recognizes March 1 as the first day of meteorological spring. Therefore, spring has sprung! The sun is shining, and Ted and I just felt like we wanted to go out for lunch to celebrate. We haven’t eaten in a restaurant since March 16 last year–the day before the total lockdown started. (I had a lunch and a dinner coupon for free birthday meals and I didn’t want to waste them.) We ordered a take-out pizza once last summer, but the ambience of eating it in the car just didn’t measure up to sitting in the restaurant. I like to cook, so I’ve actually enjoyed preparing meals at home, but still, . . . . Did I say it’s been a year???

We decided that we’d celebrate the first day of spring by making something for lunch that we would have ordered in a restaurant. We (used to) like the grilled cheese sandwiches at Panera, so we made grilled cheese and French fries. Instead of our usual milk as a beverage, we blew our healthy diet and had Pepsi. To change things up a little, we decided to eat somewhere different from the kitchen table. It was only 52 degrees outside, so we chose the basement as our setting–someplace different than we’re accustomed to. We named our casual restaurant Unser Haus.

It wasn’t crowded, so social distancing was easy.

There were people chatting at the bar, so there was a little crowd noise.

We were seated in a booth, and the food was good.

Best of all, it’s the kind of restaurant that provides a chocolate after the meal.

Yes, it was a self-serve restaurant, but it was fun to do something different.

While we waited 22 weeks for our replacement windows, Replacement by Anderson treated us to some delicious cookies “to help sweeten the wait.” After completing the installation, they sent us more cookies.

This time, the box clearly indicated the contents.

This time, they came in a nice cookie tin, not a simple plastic bag.

This time, we received a dozen cookies, five more than last time.

This time, they included the recipe. I’ll definitely be making more of these for us. Maybe you will too.

I’ve been making cranberry-orange nut bread since 1970 and never had a problem until recently. Today, I discovered the reason. At some point, I re-copied the recipe and made two critical typos and one not-so-critical typo. (1) I typed 1/2 tsp. of baking powder instead of 1-1/2 tsp; (2) I omitted the 1/2 tsp. baking soda; and (3) I reduced the cranberries by half. Without 3/4 of my leavening ingredients, it’s no wonder my bread was so hard and dry.

I shared this recipe with many people over the years. If I shared it with any of my readers, check the recipe I gave you against the one below. This is the correct one.

One thing Ted and I have noticed about combining two consecutive cruises (Bali to Sydney; Sydney to Auckland) with the same cruise line is that there’s some repetition in shipboard activities. A happy repetition is the choco-fest event. Tonight was the night to repeat that one.

For about 45 minutes, we watched the chef’s staff bring in tray after tray of chocolate goodies. Whatever they brought and placed on the table was then moved–sometimes very slightly–by the head chef so everything would be perfect. That colored stuff (blue, green, white) is sugar, boiled and combined with frosting, then formed into shapes for decoration.

Ted and I chuckled when we saw the staff bring in a blue plastic crate that busboys use to carry dishes around, then wrap it in a tablecloth and set it on the table to use as a platform.

Here comes the chef’s pièce de résistance.

The chef helps the staff set it carefully on the table.

How do we know it’s tonight’s masterpiece? Because immediately after placing it, the chef and staff lined up to take pictures of it.

Here it is–a special cake bringing attention to the severe fires in Australia, with the Australian flag, a koala, and a kangaroo with a joey in her pouch.

Here’s the finished table with chocolate galore. But Mr. Chef, . . . I saw that “Great Barrier Reef” piece of chocolate two weeks ago. Remember that busboy crate I mentioned above? Look at what the fondue pot is standing on.

Let the gorging begin.

Author’s note: Comments overheard from onlookers during this process included “I think I feel a cavity coming on” and “If this were Carnival instead of Viking, everything would be gone before it was all set up.”

Tonight, there was a special event onboard our ship. The shadowed violinists at the bottom of the screen are providing live music for the event.

Never trust a skinny chef, so we’re safe. The assistant chefs were thinner. They’re probably still growing as they work their way up the chef ladder.

After the 15-minute photo op, there were plates and napkins for all. If you think, “Hey, that fruit isn’t chocolate!” notice that beside the fruit on one side of the table is a heavily-flowing milk chocolate fountain, and on the other side, there is a white chocolate fountain for dipping the fruit. You might also want to notice that there are chocolate crinkle cookies on display. I got my recipe from Betty Crocker. Did the chef read the same cookbook?

I have nothing more to say because the chocolate speaks for itself in the pictures below.

Tonight, Ted and I had a dinner reservation at another upscale restaurant on board. It’s called “The Chef’s Table” and offers one five-course menu with paired wines for several nights, then another menu for several nights, and so on. There are no choices to be made after you arrive, but you can view the menus in advance to select when you want to eat in this restaurant.

The current menu is focused on the spice trade, so every dish featured a specific spice–saffron, cinnamon, etc. The server describes each dish and its special features (spices tonight) as it is presented. Plan on a minimum two-hour meal, which is relaxing. Who cares? We’re at sea on the way to our next destination, so we’re in no hurry.

Every dish is artfully presented and servings are very small compared to other restaurants. After five courses, however, even the small servings are more than enough. The main course tonight was beef tenderloin featuring paprika, curry, coriander, and cinnamon. I never would have thought of using cinnamon with meat, but it added a very nice taste to the meat and the sauce. The meat was the most tender Ted and I have ever had. We wondered if it was Kobi beef, but forgot to ask.

The final course was called Apple Délice Façon Tarte Tatin–an apple tart. Again, the presentation was artful, but I had to hold back my smile until the server finished his spiel and left our table. All I could think of was “bunny ears.” Did anyone dare to mention that to the chef?

Ted and I stopped at a Hy-Vee grocery store recently. Hy-Vee stores feature a world-wide selection of cheeses and we like cheese, so we checked out the display. We were: (1) pleasantly surprised to see cheese from Henning’s Cheese Factory (just outside of Ted’s hometown of Kiel, WI); and (2) shocked at the size of this Henning’s cheese on display. We estimated it at about 20 pounds–probably more. There was no price on it, so we thought it might just be part of the display and will later be cut into smaller pieces for sale. Whatever . . . it provided an exciting moment at a grocery store.

We should have put something beside the cheese to show the scale. Believe me, it was huge!

This boggles my mind. Why would I want strawberry-flavored cranberries? Logically, I’d choose either strawberries or cranberries, wouldn’t I?

When Ted and I were first married, I baked him a batch of his favorite cookies: chocolate chip. He saw me licking cookie dough off the mixer beater and, in a voice of disbelief, asked, “You eat the dough???” He couldn’t believe that raw cookie dough could possibly be good.

Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, so I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Ted. Since the first time he tried a lick of cookie dough, it’s been a different story.

Let’s all have a chocolate chip cookie to celebrate!

Ted and I have selected a caterer for our 50th anniversary weekend. Before finalizing our menu choices, Karlyn, the caterer, wanted to provide us with a taste test. We asked when we could come to the market to do that, but she said she would bring everything to us. We expected her to bring a few bites each of the four meat entreés we are interested in ordering (i.e., a taste test), so we were caught completely off-guard when she had to make two trips to her car to bring in all the (warm!) food.

Top>bottom, left>right: pasta don lite (at least 12-15 servings), BBQ pulled chicken (at least 8 servings), chicken spiedini, Swedish meatballs, twice-baked mashed potato casserole (8 servings), beef brisket marsala (8 servings), meatballs in marinara sauce, Italian pulled beef (8 servings), tuxedo cake and strawberry shortcake (only 4 servings–darn!), and honey-glazed ham in pineapple / cherry sauce (4 servings). Not in the picture: mixed veggie salad (10-15 servings), plates, and serving / eating utensils.

Everything was so-o-o-o good, we know we made the right choice when we picked Valenti’s Catering. After eating some of everything (1-2 bites of each item filled a dinner plate), we asked Karlyn a few questions and talked about final menu choices. Then we talked about Wisconsin. She’s from Waukesha (a Milwaukee suburb) and was thrilled to meet fellow Wisconsinites. It was fun to share memories of WI with each other.

After Karlyn left, Ted and I sat at the table and looked in awe at the sheer quantity of leftovers. We put aside enough food for three meals, and then I texted Kari to see if her family would like something for dinner tonight while Ted offered food to Jim, our neighbor, who is “batching” it while his wife recovers from surgery.

The leftovers fill two shelves of our refrigerator. The plastic containers are for us; the rest is waiting to be shared. That container of white stuff in the upper right is nearly a quart of WOW! dressing, plus Karlyn gave us an 8-oz. bottle of it.

Kids, if you’re reading this, we’re going to eat well on our party weekend!

For my birthday, Kathy and Annette gave me a jar of Cherry Man jumbo maraschino cherries. They are available at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Kirksville and are the biggest cherries I’ve ever seen. I measured one and it was a little more than an inch in diameter, so only 14 cherries fit in this 12-ounce jar.

Around the lid, the directions tell me to: (1) Open jar; (2) Remove one cherry; (3) Put in Mouth; (4) Chew (yum!); and (5) Repeat. Ted and I did.

Kathy and Annette arrived today for their Christmas visit, and Kari joined us for dinner after her shift at the skating rink.  Kathy and Annette brought unstuffed pepper soup and a salad for the main course, I made a cherry pie for dessert, and Kari brought cookies and candy she and the boys made for the holidays.

Kari and I previously decided we didn’t want so many cookies and so much candy this year.  We agreed that we’d each make a full batch of two specific cookies we enjoy (cherry and chocolate freezer cookies for me; cut-out cookies and scotcheroos for her) and we’d each make a batch of the single candy we most enjoy (bon bons for me; turtles for her). Together, we’d divide the batches to increase our individual variety and to share the bounty with Kathy and Annette.  We didn’t know that Kathy and Annette were also going to make some cookies and candy to share with us.

The pepper soup and the salad were delicious, but they paled in comparison to the desserts we had available after dinner!

Here’s the Christmas cherry pie I made with Door County cherries from Wisconsin and Ted’s mom’s cherry pie recipe.

The table groaned when we covered it with the cookie and candy selections.  There were so many choices, and every one of them was tempting.

We have six inches of snow in our forecast for tonight and tomorrow.  Ted and I went out to dinner tonight and our waitress told us her mother would call this “french toast weather.”  Why?  Because everyone goes to the store to buy milk, bread, and eggs–the ingredients for french toast.

Today is National Chocolate Day!  According to the National Confectioners Association, there are actually 16 different made-up holidays for chocolate and more than one has been designated as National Chocolate Day, but October 28 is the most commonly cited day.  Have some chocolate and carpe diem!

Purchase:  1 bushel of apples

Personnel needed:  1 person to operate the apple peeler/corer (Ted); 1 person to cook the apples to perfect chunky-style applesauce (me)

Equipment:  4 kettles of apples cooking on 4 burners; cookie sheets to cool applesauce while cooking more apples; freezer containers to store applesauce

Result:  Applesauce!

I’ve been hungry for cupcakes for a long time.  I thought about making a batch to share with the kids’ families when they came home in June, but decided to bake cookies instead.

The thought of cupcakes continued to haunt me, but I did nothing about making any.

A few weeks ago, cupcakes came up in the book I was reading and I thought about making some, but didn’t.

Last week, Jeff posted on his blog that he was in the mood for cupcakes and made a batch.  “I should do that too,” I thought, but I didn’t.

In the book I’m currently reading, the heroine decided to start a cupcake business.  What are the odds that, within a few weeks, I read two books published in different years by different authors in which cupcakes played a role?

I decided that the universe wants me to make cupcakes, so I gave in and baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, topped with Mom’s caramel frosting.

Yum!

 

Because it’s a tradition.

“You may ask, how did this tradition get started?  I’ll tell you.  I don’t know.  But it’s a tradition.”–Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

A few weeks ago, I discovered the secret of perfect Vienna Torte custard frosting.  Now I’ve cracked the code for delicious cherry pie.  My cherry pies are always ok, but not great.  Ted’s mom made delicious cherry pies but, for unknown reasons, I never asked her for her recipe.  “Aha!” I thought.  “Perhaps Ted’s sister, Mutzie, has her mother’s cherry pie recipe.  I’ll ask her.”

Mutzie’s response to my request was that she doesn’t bake much.  She did, however, have a Door County cookbook and thought that, since Door County is famous for its cherries, there might be a cherry pie recipe in it.  Sure enough, there is, and it’s called (surprise!) “Door County Cherry Pie.”  Mutzie doesn’t use the cookbook, so she offered it to me and I accepted.

I discovered some forgotten Door County cherries from last summer in the freezer and decided to try the recipe.  It tastes just like Ted’s mom’s delicious cherry pie.  Thanks, Mutzie.

My favorite birthday cake is Vienna Torte–a recipe from my grandmother.  It’s a chiffon cake with a custard frosting.  My mom always made it for my birthday, and I started making it after Ted and I were married.

I never have trouble making a great chiffon cake, but it’s always a challenge to achieve the right texture for the custard frosting.  Grandma’s Vienna Torte frosting recipe tells me to cool the custard and then to “add powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.”  That’s what Mom did and that’s what I’ve done every time I made the cake.  A few times, it has turned out perfectly; most of the time, the custard is runny instead of fluffy.  It firms up in the refrigerator and tastes fine, but its unpredictable consistency is frustrating.

This year, I decided to see if Google had any ideas related to custard frostings.  I searched “frosting recipes with custard and butter and powdered sugar” and–surprise!–found several.  They weren’t exactly like Grandma’s, but I found four that required cooking a custard, letting it cool, and then combining it with butter and powdered sugar.  Each of the online recipes, however, directed me to first whip the butter; then to whip it with the powdered sugar; and then to add the custard to the butter/powdered sugar mixture and whip it.  I have always done the opposite:  added the other ingredients to the custard.

Using Grandma’s recipe and following the online whipping directions produced a perfect custard frosting!  Maybe that’s what Grandma did all along and she just didn’t write it down for herself and/or future generations.  After all these years, I can finally make stress-free Vienna Torte for my birthday.

I have to go now so I can do my happy dance.

My dad loved Hostess Twinkies, and my mom packed one in his lunch every day.  I’m pretty sure Twinkies have negative nutritional value and an expiration date of “when the world ends.”  I wonder if Dad would have appreciated this treat for Easter dinner.

Last night, Ted and I had dinner at Dewey’s, one of our favorite pizza restaurants.  We eat there frequently enough to make participation in their rewards program worthwhile.  After we spend $xx, we get $10 off our next dinner.  We’ve enjoyed the $10 reward a number of times, but had no idea there was a higher reward level.  Last night, when we presented our $10 coupon, the waitress said we’d be getting something special in addition to the $10 off the price of our meal, and the manager would be right over.  Something special?  And it requires a manager to present it?  We were mystified.

When the manager arrived, she offered us a choice of a Dewey’s shirt, a Dewey’s cap, or a Dewey’s glass.  Neither of us thought we’d wear the shirt or the cap, so we opted for the glass.  The manager left to fetch our choice and returned with the glass in one hand and a gift bag in the other.

We waited until we got home to open the gift bag and were surprised to see how much our patronage is appreciated.  Inside the bag was a very nice 20-ounce mug with (according to the box) “a vacuum insulated body (and a) copper-plated inner wall to help retain the internal temperature of the tumbler longer.”  According to the box, beverages will stay hot for 8 hours and cold for 16 hours.  In addition, there was an envelope with another surprise inside:  a $50 Dewey’s gift certificate.  At a pizza restaurant, that’s very generous.

Dewey’s slogan is “Taking pizza to the next level.”  They also take customer appreciation to the next level.

Ted and I were browsing in the kitchen store at the mall and saw a breakfast idea.  Two eggs, a little bacon, and this handy gadget gives you big-eyed bunny-face eggs to make you smile in the morning.

Ted and I were going through our pictures from our Southwest trip and I found one I meant to blog.  It’s a picture of an awesome chocolate fountain at a candy shop in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  Go ahead–salivate!

We arrived in Longmont and were happy to see Jeff, La, Kyra, and Zaque.  Kyra will be leaving on September 13 for her 18-month mission in Bakersfield, CA.  To celebrate, Jeff and La took all of us to Kyra’s favorite restaurant, Benihana, for a farewell dinner.  Jeff has told us many times how much they like this restaurant, so Ted and I were eager to see what it’s like.  (Remember the trail mix lunch in Cheyenne?  We were ready for dinner.)

There were six of us, and Benihana seats tables of eight, so two other people were seated with us.  The six of us ordered the filet mignon; the other two people ordered salmon.  I mention this because you can tell which food is going where in the pictures below.  If there are only two of an item, that’s what the other people ordered.  Everyone gets many of the same side dishes, so there are eight of some things.

The first course (vegetables) included the onion volcano.  I’ve got to try this at home!

This man had sharper knives than I’ve ever seen.  He has to cut the food to chopstick size and his knives slid right through everything, from the zucchini to the steak.  Here he’s stirring the chicken cubes he cut.

And now, the main course–our steaks.  It was so much fun to watch him cook and to smell everything, then have it served piping hot.

 

On Saturday, none of us wanted to do much of anything, so we relaxed at home.  I found an interesting lamp in the room where Ted and I sleep and asked La about it.  She said her mother made it for her.

La’s doll lamp.

Look what La’s mom used for the lamp base: a weighted Clorox bottle.  You never know what women put on under their clothes to look good.

 

Sunday was church day and it was special because it was Kyra’s last Sunday and she was scheduled to give a 20-minute talk to the congregation about her upcoming mission.  She had worked on the speech a lot before we arrived and she also spent several hours Friday night and Saturday polishing it and timing it so it would be just right.  The speaker ahead of her went over his allotted time, but Kyra was told to use her full twenty minutes anyway.  Her talk was excellent.  She has a gift for personalizing what she says and it’s always interesting to hear the personal side of people’s stories.  Church worked up an appetite, though, so when we got home, it was time for a snack.

 

At 4:00, we headed back to church for Kyra’s setting apart service.  This rite set her apart as a missionary and she will have to follow missionary rules from this point forward.  Only family and close friends attend the setting apart, and Ted and I were honored to be present.  I asked Jeff ahead of time if this was a photo op celebration or if it was reverent and without pictures.  He said “reverent” (no surprise to me), but I brought my phone along anyway.  After the prayers and congratulations, the man who conducted the service (I don’t remember his title) smiled at all of us and asked, “Does anyone want a commemorative photo?”  I produced my phone and he took a group picture of us.

 

Knowing what a busy and important day this would be, La had a beef roast in the crockpot.  Combined with fresh seasonal corn on the cob, we had a delicious dinner and then sat around talking and playing games.

Sheephead has become a favorite of Zaque’s and Kyra’s.  They must have some Wisconsin blood in them.

 

At one point, we found ourselves talking about rewards and punishments parents use with their children.  Jeff’s family started talking about the “bucks” the kids used to get for good behavior that could be redeemed for privileges.  Naturally, that required digging out some souvenir bucks.

Zaque tried to duplicate the expression on his childhood 10-buck.

Kyra’s grown-up smile is the same as her little girl smile.

Alex is still in Peru, but we included his bucks in our discussion.  When she was little, Kari would have called these recollections “rememories.”  I’ve always liked that word.

 

Much too soon, it was bedtime and our time together was over.  Ted and I plan to leave at 5:30 am; Jeff and Zaque will be going to seminary at 6:00 am; and Kyra’s missionary rules say she should get up at 6:30 am.  It looks like only La can sleep in tomorrow morning.  We said good-night and good-bye to each other before going to bed.  Jeff was up and dressed when Ted and I were ready to leave, so he wished us a safe trip and we were on our way.  This MAT was one of our best trips ever.  (But we say that after every trip.)

The sun rose as we drove eastward from Denver.

Is there anything better than summer fruit in season?  I don’t think so.  I made this for dinner and it tastes even better than it looks.

I brought cookies to school today to celebrate my birthday with the kids I help on my weekly volunteer day.  They are all teenagers, so of course they’re always hungry.  Even so, they were very appreciative and repeatedly complimented me.  The most frequent remarks were, “Thank you,” “Did you make these?” and “Did you work as a baker?”

It was fun to bake a variety of cookies like I used to do before our kids left home.  While the kids were growing up, I baked about three batches of cookies every two weeks; now I make a half batch and it still lasts too long for Ted and me.  I split these 14 dozen cookies three ways:  some for school, some for Kari’s family, and some for Ted and me.  At least for a few days, while Ted and I eat our share of the cookies, we can enjoy the variety of flavors like in the old days.

Left to right:  carmel-filled bars with mini chocolate chips; brownies with raisins and nuts, topped with melted marshmallows and fudge frosting; TV squares (no reason for that name) with mini chocolate chips in a meringue topping.

The only thing I brought home was an empty (reusable) box.  I think the cookies were a hit.

Our drive today took us from Nashville, TN to Asheville, NC.  We planned to drive and hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but that plan became dependent on how the unexpected winter storm warning turned out.  The weather was cloudy, but dry, with not a single flake of snow outside of Nashville, in spite of the dire predictions for a major storm throughout our driving area.  The Smokies are very scenic, so it was a pretty day of driving in spite of the clouds.

A typical scene in the Great Smoky Mountains.

We had no activities planned except for the park visit, so the highlight of the drive–a distant second to the scenery–was Gatlinburg, TN.  If you’ve been to Gatlinburg, I need say no more; if you haven’t, you should go for the experience.  Think “Wisconsin Dells, WI” or “Branson, MO” and you’ll be getting close.  Just add “Tennessee” to the mix and you’ve got the idea.  Gatlinburg is a one-street town, and all four lanes of traffic were slow–even at this time of year.  I’d hate to be here in the summer!  It’s the entrance to the national park, however, so we sat back in the car, crept along, and watched the show.

Slow traffic on the mile-long main street of Gatlinburg.

If you can’t keep it in the front yard or on the porch beside the washer and the refrigerator, put it in the upstairs window.

It’s Tennessee, so of course there’s moonshine . . .

. . . not to mention a mall with a denim-clad bear as its mascot.When we got to the eastern end of Gatlinburg, we had another surprise.

Hwy 441 is the road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It was disappointing to see the barricade after seeing no snow all day.  Darn those higher elevations!  Since we couldn’t drive on the single road that goes through the park, we had to turn around and drive through Gatlinburg (again!) in the other direction, then drive around the park.

We stopped for dinner at a restaurant called “Applewood.”  If it can be done with an apple, it was on the menu.  We ordered chicken pot pie.  Included with the price of that entreé were apple juice, apple fritters, apple butter, fried apples, and apple dinner rolls.  We were too full to finish the meal with the special deep-fried apple pie.  Apples of many varieties were for sale as well.  We noticed the heaters running in the apple storage area to protect the fruit from the freezing temperatures tonight.  The food was delicious and we more than met our required daily requirement of fruit.

Even the curtains in the restaurant are apple-themed.

Appetizer:  apple juice with apple fritters and apple butter.

Side dishes:  apple dinner rolls and fried apples.

Ted and I went out to lunch.  Since it was a gray, blustery day, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate.  It came with the whipped cream on the side in a miniature milk can.  Awww!

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This is our eighth consecutive day with temperatures in the 90s, so a cold potato salad and deviled eggs sounded like good components for dinner tonight.  That reminded me that we use more mustard in the summer than in the winter, so I checked for a spare mustard in the pantry, only to discover that it expired last year.  It made sense then to check the expiration date on the mustard in the refrigerator.  Uh-oh!  It expired 18 months ago.

As a result of those revelations, Ted and I thought maybe we should check some other items in the pantry before we leave on our European trip.  It was unbelievable!  We found quite a few things that expired between 2011 and 2015, and even one that expired in 2009!  Apparently, we don’t need to keep our pantry as well stocked as we thought.  We purged all the expired items, replaced a few, and decided to hold off on buying replacements for the rest until the current box is nearly gone.

Most of the expired items were dry foods–rice, pudding, graham cracker crumbs, Jell-O, cake mixes, etc.  I don’t think any of them would have killed us if we used them, but if they’ve been sitting unopened on the shelf for one to seven years past their expiration dates, a fresh product is probably a good idea.

A boxful of expired rejects

A boxful of expired rejects

It’s a beautiful spring day and we had no other commitments, so we went out to lunch and then drove to the Central West End.  Our mission (which we chose to accept):  check out the chocolate Easter eggs on display in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel lobby.

We learned from a local news report earlier this week that we were admiring 150 pounds of chocolate.  The eggs were molded and decorated by a local chocolatier.  Decorations were also handmade and were attached by gently blowing air (from a compressor, not from the decorator’s mouth) onto the chocolate to melt it slightly.  Unfortunately, to preserve them while on display, the eggs were sprayed with an inedible coating, so there will be no choco-fest to consume them next week.  What a waste of good chocolate!

You could smell the chocolate from 10 feet away.  Yum!

The gold must be a coating on the chocolate

The gold must be a coating on the chocolate. Notice the chocolate curlicues on the left egg.

 

Beautiful decorations!

Beautiful decorations!

 

Proof we were there. ? Happy Easter from both of us.

Proof we were there. ? Happy Easter from both of us.