Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Kitchen

I'm not a chef, but I like to play around in the kitchen. I like to try recipes and ingredients when I'm entertaining and/or have time on my hands. But honestly, a lot of the time I stick to a few staples. One of my 'go to' dinners is pre-marinated baked chicken.

When I catch chicken on sale, I grab a family pack. When I get home I put individual portions in freezer bags with a marinade. Sometimes I make my own, sometimes store bought. I always try to do a couple different ones, so I've got choices depending on my mood. I toss them in the freezer and I'm done. (you can let them sit overnight in the fridge first if you want) When I'm feeling like chicken, I'll just move one down to the fridge on the way to work, and as it defrosts, it starts marinating. By the time I'm home, I throw it in the oven, and I'm well on my way to dinner.


Today I did drumsticks. A few plain, some Honey BBQ, Lemon Pepper, Sweet & Sour, and Greek. I have chicken for over a month.

Friday, May 20, 2011

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Alleia

I wish I could cook like this. Better yet, I wish someone would cook like this for me. Every. Day.

Last Friday, 5 of my friends and I had dinner at Alleia. We called the night before, and were able to get an 8:15 reservation without a problem. I had never eaten at Alleia, but the St. John's family of restaurants may have the best reputation of any group in Chattanooga.

I was not disappointed. We sat in the front section, and floor to ceiling opposing mirrors were pretty snazzy in a 2 table space. We ordered 2 bottles of wine for the table, and it was tough to choose an entree. I went back & forth between Goat Cheese Ravioli with Olives (I can't remember what kind) and the Gulf Shrimp and Pasta with Tomatoes. It was probably the oil spill that made me choose the ravioli, and it was Ah-mazing. I don't normally like olives, but it was just the right salty to compliment the pasta and goat cheese. This was sooo tasty. There was just enough sauce to add a bite too. yummy. yummy. yummy.

Every dish on the table looked great. My friends raved about how tender the pork cheeks were, and the cowboy steak looked fantastic. All of the sides were paired very well, as they should be, and cooked to perfection. The food on our plates was steaming it they came to the table.

I had peach and vanilla gellato for dessert. It doesn't get any better.

I haven't posted all of the places I've tried so far, but this is my favorite new place to eat in Chattanooga!

Alleia Restaurant
25 E. Main Street ~ Chattanooga TN
423 305-6990 ~ Facebook

Hours: Monday–Thursday 5:00-09:30pm, Friday–Saturday 5:00-10:00pm
Sample menu (winter)
Alleia Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Simple & Tasty

I was browsing through the BEAUTIFUL garden's showcased by Carol at May Dreams Gardens after dinner tonight, and I found Wendy at Greenish Thumb and her Garden to Table Challenge. Since I happened to make a quick dinner tonight using basil from my patio. I thought I'd jump in and share. You'll have to forgive me though - found Wendy's blog after dinner, so the only pictures I have are the basil pictures I proudly texted a friend tonight!

Call me silly, but I was really excited when I was told I could freeze dry herbs in ice cube trays.

I snapped a few freshly frozen leaves, and let them simmer with petite diced tomatoes & garlic for about 20 minutes.

I used this as a topping for shell pasta lightly tossed in Alfredo sauce. Simple & Tasty!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May Blooms Day

The 15th is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens, and I'm chiming in for the first time! I am not a 'garden only' blogger, but I love to play in the dirt and create special outdoor spaces no matter how large or small. My space this spring is a very small 4'x6' patio with midday & afternoon sun in Zone 7. I have only lived here a week, but I do have a few blooms to share!

I always loved strawberry pots, but I don't remember ever growing strawberries in them. Mom always used them for impatiens. I paired the gerbera daisy & moss roses in this recently acquired pot.

gerbera jamesonii

portulaca grandiflora "margarita banana"

This is a hanging basket I made this week at The Barn Nursery in Chattanooga, TN & the subject of a post earlier this week.

lantana camara with petunia hybrid "hurrah white" & "hurrah blue"

I hope you've enjoyed the first blooms on my new patio. I have & I'm looking forward to what summer will bring!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tornado Stories

I just wanted to share a few quick tornado stories. One from my cousin at the University of Alabama, one from a co-worker, and one of my own.

Moving Out
My cousin is a freshman at the University of Alabama. This year she lived on the 14th floor of 'Tut' and watched from her window as a massive tornado destroyed Tuscaloosa. The university lost power & water, was forced to move graduation, and cancel finals. I can't tell you how much my cousin hated that. She stayed 2 nights on campus with limited food and water then moved out. The move out process is the story I wanted to share. Picture in your head a 14 story, all girls dorm. Then add some Alabama heat. Then take away all power and sources for clean water. Then think about all of these girls trying to move out at once. In order to avoid as many trips up and down the crowded stairs as possible guess what happened? Lots of clothes and bedding shoved into garbage bags and tossed out 14 story windows, exploding as they hit the ground. Call me whatever name you want, I think that's funny.

'Nilla Waffers
One of my co-workers lives in 'downtown' Ringgold, and his home was hit in the storm. One day last week his son, a local teacher off work due to the closed schools, was clearing brush at my coworkers house when he saw some people walking up the street. It was a father and his 4 year old daughter pushing a stroller up the street and talking to each person she passed. When she approached my co-worker's son, she asked him if he wanted anything. He said no, he was fine. She pressed again, asking if he wanted a cookie. He said yes, and she handed him a Single Vanilla Wafer cookie, and walked away. This 4 year old girl saw all of the devastation around her, had a box of 'Nilla Wafers, and wanted to share. She knew how many people were suffering, so she gave only one cookie so she could give something to as many people as she could. How FREAKING CUTE is that!

The Coolest & Saddest thing I have ever Seen
This is not a very good picture because I felt HORRIBLE taking a photo of these people and not stopping to help. I was in this area because my uncle owns some property on the south end of Clonts Road in Apison TN, and he asked my dad and I to come by and help him make some decisions about his barn that was flattened in the tornado. He was running late, and since we were coming from the GA side, he told us to drive up to the end of the road and come back to meet him. It looked like a war zone. It was worse than the other areas I had been through because of how concentrated the population is. As we passed the painted "We Survived" and "God Bless Our Community" signs and came to the end of the road, we saw about 12 cars parked on the corner. The neighborhood coming together for a bonfire. The sense of community in the middle of all the destruction was overwhelming and encouraging. When we stopped to make our turn, we looked closer at the bonfire and realized that the fire was burning what was left of a home. I have never seen anything so sad in my life. The sense of intrusion on something so real and painful, it made my heart slow down, wanting to minimize my impact on the scene. You just knew if you weren't helping, you shouldn't be there. What was happening was not to looked at from the outside like an exhibit in the zoo. The bonfire reminded my dad of a refugee camp you would see on TV. It was not something I was expecting to stumble upon less than 5 miles from my parents undamaged home. It was so great that the community was coming together to support each other and work through the destruction, but the work that had to be done was beyond sad.

Friday, May 13, 2011

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - The Barn Nursery

"Thanks for shopping with us. Now go play in the yard!"

Last night my mom and I participated in a TN Aquarium member program at The Barn Nursery. It was a hanging basket workshop, and my Mother's Day present for Mom.

I haven't been to The Barn Nursery in over 10 years, and I was impressed. They have a new design center with durable counter space, recessed soil bins, and a hanging display area. The staff is CRAZY knowledgeable, and had some great handouts for us to take with us. (more available online)

Mom made a basket for shade, and I made one for sun. I was happy when my basket included two types of bi-colored Lantana I had been eying, and some petunias that should hold up well in the Hot Chattanooga summer sun. I also picked up a "Sweet 100" tomato, and an apricot Gerber Daisy & some yellow Moss Roses to go in a strawberry pot on my little patio.

It started raining after our class, so we didn't get to spend as much time looking around as I'd like - but I can't wait to go back!

The Barn Nursery
I-24 at the 4th Avenue exit • Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hours: Mon - Sat 8 to 7 & Sun 10 to 6 *These may just be April - May hours
Phone: 423-698-BARN

Related Posts: (Re)Discover Chattanooga - TN Aquarium


Blogger is down but it looks like my app is working...hmmm

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 5, 2011


On Wednesday April 27th, 2011 the southeast saw one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history. One tornado, an EF4 with winds of 195 MPH, passed about a mile and a half from where I was staying that night, my parent's house - and we didn't even hear it.

All day the waves of storms passed my parent's house to the north. My parents live in northwest Georgia, a few miles south of the TN state line. Its a very rural area technically called the Keith Community. [Its outside of a little town called Ringgold(population 2,242), outside a smaller town called Cohutta (population 582), and I have always simplified things by telling people I'm from Chattanooga, TN.] Before this storm cell hit near us, we watched the marathon storm coverage on our local TV station, and when a transformer on our street blew, we were able to listen to the same coverage on the local radio station. As it was too early in the season for the AC, all of our windows were open, and we felt as the air turned cool, warm, then cool again. Everything was calm and dry, so we took the nervous dog for a walk, and watched the teal blue-green sky light up orange with lightening in the clouds. When our local weather man, Paul Barys, said the storm was going to hit Ringgold in 8 minutes, we took our candles, and a grateful puppy, into our basement. When Paul said the danger had passed us, the puppy was hesitant to leave the safety of the basement, and went immediately and on his own to his safe place in the half bath upstairs. We didn't have a single large limb down, and our neighbors a street over had power.

We knew we were lucky, and immediately thought of my grandmother 20 minutes away, who lives near an area mentioned in earlier storm alerts. The last time a tornado was in our area, 1997, Grandmother had about 70 trees down on her property, but thankfully no damage to her house. We knew she would be worried, so Dad and I loaded a chainsaw and some gloves in the car to go check on her. We had NO IDEA that a major tornado had passed between out homes.

View Tornado in a larger map

The tornado that passed near us left a debris field nearly a mile wide, with a 1/2 mile section of barren land scattered with the bases of snapped trees in the center. We tried to reach my grandmother first via our normal route, London Lane, but the trees were piled 10-12 feet high across a road littered with power lines and the remnants of 3 large metal barns. Next we tried I-75 to our south, but the interstate was shut down. Then we tried the back roads north of our house, where we ran into a family who had lost everything and couldn't find a clear road to get to the hospital. We passed a stove laying on the side of the road, a school where you could smell natural natural gas, and drove over countless downed power lines. The devastation spanned almost 30 miles before we could find a point to cross. To make a long & frustrating story short. It took over 3 hours to discover that my grandmother was sound asleep and safe. (Side note...its time to teach Grandmother how to turn her cell phone on)

By the time we made our way home, over 200 trees on London Lane had been cleared to grant one lane of limited access. Even at 1:30am, you could tell that entire forests were gone. This was the place it smelled the strongest of Christmas trees. We drove through one mobile home that was thrown across the road and up a hill, and were thankful to later see the Katrina style markings that indicated no one was killed at this home. We didn't even see the mobile home in a tree. It was absolutely eerie to drive through this area that night. Everything seemed quiet, and so unbelievably sad. It was 5 days later before we were allowed to pass through again.

The roads are now almost always open, power has been restored, and other utility companies continue to restore services to this area. All in all there were 16 fatalities within 5 miles of my parents house...and we didn't even hear the tornado.

Here are some pictures I have taken from my iPhone going to and from work. While Dad still drives through a mobile home twice a day, they have taken one out of the trees.

I have to say this again. We were lucky.
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