Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welcome To The Loveless Cafe

Nashville's Loveless Cafe opened its doors in 1951. That's when Annie Loveless first served a batch of her prized scratch biscuits – using a secret family recipe – along with her homemade preserves and fried chicken. Soon cured country ham was added. Over the years the business changed hands, but a dedicated group of Music City locals kept it open and continued serving up it's smokehouse specials and country relishes and condiments. Today it has a thriving “Hams & Jams” mail order business, but Carol Fay, who started working at the cafe 30 years ago, and her cooking crew, still make everything in small batches. Peach, blackberry and strawberry preserves are slow cooked – 72 jars at a time – using Annie's original recipe of just fruit, sugar and 4-6 hours of simmering. Each jar is poured, labelled and packed by hand. Over the years, Carol Fay mastered many jobs and worked her way up. Today she is the keeper of the secret biscuit recipe and the face of the Loveless Cafe. If you stop by to eat, you can say “Hello” to Carol Fay.

The Loveless Cafe is known around the world for its hospitality and delicious Southern home-cooked breakfast, the best of the best. Outside of Nashville, you can call, or go online to order gift packs of smoked, favored bacon, country ham, Vinegar-Pepper BBQ Soak & Marinade, Loveless Seasoned Salt, or the cafe's [secret recipe] biscuit mix. You can butter your biscuits by ordering the cafe's scrumptious apple or pumpkin butters and satisfy your sweet tooth by sampling their heavenly confections, like homemade spiced pecans, caramel sorghum popcorn, or famous Tennessee T-Cakes, made in Nashville using a century-old recipe.

And visit the gift shop – either on your way out or online – where the cafe's cheeky slogans like “Our Butts Are Smokin” are sure to put a smile on your face.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Replacing Old Faithful With A New Printer

Okay, it finally happened. The inkjet printer I happily used for 8 years needs to be put out to pasture, not because it no longer prints, mind you, but because technology has moved so far ahead that the printer has lost some vital connections, like the ability to print a single page. This means if I'm reading a 50 page document and want to take a look at a hardcopy of page 19, I have to print all 50 pages to get it. Now that's just wrong. [And forget about printing PDF files. Very hit or miss.] But as it turns out, I can buy a spanking new all-in-one printer for $99.99, which is exactly the same price I paid all those tech years ago for the old printer! It really pays to shop around, and that includes looking online. I'm getting a great deal for a printer by buying from Canon's official e-store. They are running a 33% discount on the PIXMA MP620 Wireless I often eyeball at BestBuy and the Apple Store. By ordering online I get free Fed-Ex shipping, so I don't have to lug an 18 pound, plus box home. And I discovered that Canon has outstanding customer service and technical support. Certainly, I need the technical help to set up the wireless function of the printer. And I always appreciate when a company offers free returns should anything go wrong and you need a replacement.

As a bonus, the new printer will pay for itself in time. It's ink cartridges cost one-third less than the old printer's. And before I selected this model, I didn't realize when a printer's color cartridges are separate, you spend less on ink because you only have to replace the depleted color – in lieu of all the colors at once. It was time for a change ... at an unbeatable price.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mean, Clean And Green

You are the first to know. I'm turning a little bit green. Lately instead of using commercial cleaners with a long list of undesirable chemicals, I mop my floor with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water. And guess what? The acid in the vinegar works to naturally clean and disinfect the floor. Not only does using vinegar cut down on what I have to stock – one less product to buy, yeah! – but a 32 oz bottle costs less than a dollar and leaves no residue, so I don't have to mop the same areas over and over to remove suds. I'm all for simplicity and less elbow grease, believe me! Also the smell of the vinegar goes away as soon as the floor dries, so that isn't a deterrent. Now I wonder why I didn't make the discovery a long time ago. According to a professional cleaner, adding a cup of vinegar to laundry detergent in the wash cycle makes clothes brighter. And vinegar with water removes dirt from windows too.

Here are a few other all natural, multi-tasking tips:
1. Salt – Mix with water and rub on dry, flaky skin during a shower. Rinse and you'll have smooth, silky skin.
2. Olive oil – Coat lightly on your hair before shampooing. It's an excellent conditioner.
3. Dr. Woods Pure Peppermint Castile Soap – Use as a moisturizing face and body wash, as well as, for fresh, itch-free laundry.
4. Seltzer – Cleans spills, including red wine, out of clothes, couches and carpets.
5. Used coffee grinds – Sprinkle on plants as a fertilizer.
6. Honey – Allergy sufferers swear that consuming a couple of spoons a day of locally grown honey reduces symptoms for Hay and Spring fever. I'm trying it and seem to be getting relief. But stay tuned, only time will convince me it's because of the honey.
7. Lemon juice – Cleans and shines brass and copper.
8. Aluminum foil – Crinkle a square and rub it on pans to remove burnt in foods.
9. Microwave oven – Nuke your wet sponges for 60 seconds to kill germs.
10. Baking soda – As the commercial says, put a box in your refrigerator and pour the old box down your drains to keep them smelling fresh. After using detergent, I throw a little in sinks and tubs [mix with water and wipe] to get an extra sparkle, without scratching the enamel.
11. Drop a few bay leaves into canisters of flour, rice, or cornmeal to keep bugs out.
12. Place peppermint tea bags in your closets to keep moths from eating your wool and cashmere sweaters.

All of these products are safe, inexpensive and effective. Why not try them?Red rose

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eaters Beware

Journalist Michael Pollan recently published an interesting book called “In Defense of Food.” In it he argues we could maximize health by only eating food our ancestors would recognize. He advises us to focus on eating real food – mostly plants – and not too much of it. Pollan opposes processed food and corporate farming and says much of what we're eating now isn't even food, but "food like substances" … or "imitations of real food."

Here are his seven rules for better health:
1) Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
2) Don't eat anything with more than 5 ingredients listed, or with ingredients you can't pronounce.
3) Don't shop in the middle aisles of a supermarket. That's where most processed foods are displayed. Instead, buy along the sides where real food like eggs, milk and fresh vegetables tend to be.
4) Don't eat anything that won't rot -- like Twinkies.
5) Leave the table when you're about 80% full.
6) Don't buy food where you pump gasoline.
7) Eat meals with people you love.

His book certainly makes you think about what you're putting in your body. While I haven't gone the organic route just yet – because I like the convenience and variety of a supermarket – over the years, I've cut down on junk food and have gone back to eating fresh food with few ingredients. I also buy an assortment of fruits and vegetables and salad. Sometimes I'll even bake a loaf of whole grain bread.

Here is my recipe:
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups rye flour
2 1/4 cups buttermilk [Eyeball the amount as you work the dough.]
4 tablespoons brown sugar, or honey
1/4 cup of caraway seeds
1/8 cup flax seeds [Eyeball the amount.]
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs [The eggs are optional, but I use them to add protein.]
Extra whole wheat flour to sprinkle while kneading

Make sure the wet ingredients are lukewarm. Mix everything in a bowl until the batter is firm. Kneed until the dough is easy to handle. Place the dough in an oiled bowel. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles [about an hour]. On a cutting board kneed again and shape into a loaf. Oil a large loaf pan and press your dough into it. Allow the dough to stand again in a warm area until it doubles. [Extra tip: For the best tasting bread you'll ever make, bake it in a cast iron dutch oven with a lid, instead of a loaf pan. You can add a cup of raisins also.] Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes until done. Remove bread from the pan while it is warm. Slice and enjoy!