Category Archives: BBQ

“Almost Home”

We just happened to be passing somewhat near Martin’s on our way to Gatlinburg.  And it just happened to be lunchtime.

So we started our trip off with some of the best BBQ ever.

Beef brisket, cornbread pancake, and slaw

Beef brisket, cornbread pancake, and slaw

Mario was kind not to balk at our choice.  Being a non-meat-eater, Martin’s wouldn’t have been her first choice.  Luckily they had a grilled cheese sammich on the menu.

But then this happened… right behind our table…. directly in her line of vision…


And this…


And then this….

Thought this was a family establishment.

Thought this was a family establishment.

We agreed to choose a more vegetarian friendly restaurant the next time.

After a few wrong turns in the Smokies, we finally located our cabin.  It’s a cute little place deep in the woods.  A little rickety, a little clubhouse-y, but it should suit us just fine…

"Almost Home" is it's name

“Almost Home” is it’s name

Living room

Living room


Dining area

Dining area


Back deck

Back deck

as long as we don’t mind sharing our home with him…




Posted by on June 11, 2014 in BBQ, Family, Vacation


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A Real Weekend

So THIS is what  a real weekend feels like.  I’m tired, I’m sunburned, and my butt hurts.  It was GREAT!

Saturday began with a much needed vacuum of our overly hairy floors.  It felt good to do something around the house that didn’t involve an oven or butter.

After a quick motorcycle ride around the county, we proceeded to get dressed for Hubby’s 30th class reunion.

I was proud of myself for not stressing too much over what to wear.  I have one pair of pants that fit, and one sweater that matched.  I HAD to be happy with it.   (There’s something to be said about having to wear a uniform to work….)

It was nice to hang out with the group of friends we spent so much time with before we all got married and had kids.  We managed to stay out til after midnight but were one of the first to leave.  The others were making plans to hit the next bar.

I had planned to sleep until 7:30 AM, (an eternity for me) but certain “needs” woke me a little before 7.   I didn’t bother going back to bed, thinking an extra cup of coffee would do the trick.

After enjoying a cup with my hubby, we fired up the lawn mowers and plowed through the tall grass.  (Another neglected area thanks to a baking commitment I regret making. Ok – not really, but kinda.)

With our exercise done for the day, we fixed ourselves some breakfast and plotted our motorcycle route.   I can’t remember the last time we rode on an actual weekend!  It’s always more fun when there are other motorcyclists on the road.

Rend Lake was our destination of choice.  I found a BBQ restaurant nearby and crossed my fingers it wouldn’t turn out like Grumpy’s.

The ride to the lake was fantastic.  The morning air was cool making me almost wish I had worn long sleeves.  But the sun quickly warmed the air, and by the time we reached the lake, the temps were perfect.  We found a park bench in the shade, and I took advantage of the quiet to close my eyes.  The late night and early morn were catching up to me.

Pop’s BBQ was our next stop.  The place was busy, but we found a booth and ordered the pulled pork.  It wasn’t Martin’s or Ruby’s, but it certainly wasn’t Grumpy’s.  With our bellies full, we began our long trek home.

156 miles we put on the bikes that day.  One of my longest, for sure, and my rump was feeling it.  We pulled into the garage and coaxed our muscles to let us stand up. 100 miles would have been perfect, but I wasn’t complaining.  It was great training for a ride we have coming up on Labor Day, when I’ll have another weekend!





Posted by on August 27, 2013 in BBQ, Everyday Living, motorcycle, My Shadow


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Flyin’ South – Day One

I don’t know why I worried.  I knew once I was on the plane, nothing else would matter.

I’d left the house a mess, a list of chores for Link and Chip, and a few twenties on the counter to keep ’em alive til we got back.  What’s to worry about?

We opted to let Link off the hook, and instead drove ourselves to the airport early Friday morning.  Long-term parking seemed like a better idea than being at the mercy of the city’s only metro line.  Sometimes spending a few bucks more is worth less hassle.

Our plane took off right on time and before we knew it we were stepping off the plane in Austin and instructed at every corner to Keep Austin Weird.   We were going to do our best.

Our first stop was Ruby’s BBQ, a rustic little bbq joint recommended to us by a native Texan who had been there a few times with his son.  It totally lived up to our expectations – run down, hole in the wall, great food.


IMG_3571We’ve often wondered if we would be able to call Austin home and part of the reason for flying there first was to see for sure.  We could certainly sustain ourselves with the bbq, but the traffic was more than we could bear. We were warned by said native Texan, but we weren’t prepared.

We hung around for a while, checking out the river, checking out a nearby lake, checking out some neighborhoods and then we just checked out.  Austin wasn’t feeling like home.

We mumbled and grumbled all the way down to San Antonio.  Even the interstate was FULL of people, all stepping on their brakes.  We want an up and coming area to live in, but we also want to be able to get around without stop and go traffic.  Surely there’s a place like that somewhere out there.

We finally arrived at our hotel, just in time for the much earned, much needed free drinks.  The rest of the evening we kicked back, relaxed by the roof top pool, and planned the rest of our vacation.  With a full day under our belts, we were ready for some big Texas excitement, and I knew  just who to ask….


Posted by on June 11, 2013 in BBQ, Vacation


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After working the entire Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I have four days off in a row.

So what’s a girl to do?

Drag her hubby off for a weekend getaway to Nashville.


I can’t help it!  I love the Nashville area, and coincidentally we had a couple of things we could do while there.

When we first arrived, we went straight to Center Point Barbecue in Hendersonville.  Remember the friend that gave Hubby the Alan Jackson tickets?  She’s from Hendersonville, so we met her at Center Point BBQ and stuffed ourselves with pulled pork and brisket and a cornbread pancake.  Wait.  That was ME who did that.

It was the first time I had met her, so I enjoyed getting to know her – especially with her strong southern accent.  She’d brought us some free “todd” that she’d managed to get with her couponing skills.  I’ve heard of these people, but she was cracking me up with her stories of how she buys 100s of bars of soaps and such, and ends up walking out with more cash than she went in with.  And how she’s on a first name basis with the general manager of the local grocery store because of it.

She generally gives away bags of these toiletries to the homeless, but she made sure we got a bag full of soap, mints, hairspray, toothpaste, duct tape, and of course the “todd”.  (See if you can figure it out… it took us a minute.)

Afterwards, we checked into the hotel, and went straight to downtown Nashville.  Our first order of business was to check out Hubby’s cousin’s cousin who was playing at Layla’s, one of our favorite bars on Broadway.

The band, called the Dusty 45’s, was booked at a bar very near to where I work in St. Louis on Friday night.  As usual, I was working so unable to go.  When I found out they were playing in Nashville on Sunday night, I was ecstatic!

I’d heard wonderful things about these guys, who are pretty renowned in the Seattle area, and they definitely lived up to their reputation.

Although the crowd on Sunday night was small, they played with their heart and soul, and put on such an amazing show, that we stayed right up to closing time. They are a talented bunch, but Billy Joe (Hubby’s cousin once removed?? Anybody know how that works?) stole the show with his flaming trumpet and on-stage performance.

If you have a few minutes, check ’em out.  This is from a few years back, and they have a new stand up bass player now, but the energy and talent is all the same.  The flaming begins about halfway through.  Incredible, I tell ya.

Our next order of business, after a short night’s sleep, was to check out some of the neighborhoods surrounding Nashville.

I fell in love with Franklin the last time we were here, but Hubby wasn’t quite as enamored.  We went back again to scope it out, then headed west and checked out some of those areas.

Every area we went through I fell in love.

I’m taking it as a sign.

We’re both ready to get out of Illinois.  We’ve talked about places like Austin, Charleston, Colorado…. but in reality, they’re pretty far away.  Tennessee has always been a favorite getaway for us, and it’s close enough to family to be able to visit often, so I wouldn’t doubt that we make a decision soon.

Just need to scope out the schools, then convince the kids, then break the news to Grandma and Grandpa, then find a job, then sell the house…


So many things have to fall into place to make this work.  But if they do….

we may very well be Tennessee-ans within the next year.

It may be wishful thinking,

but I hope not.


Posted by on November 27, 2012 in BBQ, Everyday Living, Family, Vacation


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Stumbled Upon?

I like the idea of having an anonymous blog site.  I want to be able to complain about work, or people I know.  I want to be honest about my thoughts and not risk hurting feelings.  I am careful not to write about people or topics that I know would bother my known readers.

So I was quite surprised to receive a comment the other day from Dave.

Now, I don’t know Dave, but I wrote something that could have possibly hurt Dave’s feelings. My post was honest, blunt and downright critical.

Perhaps you remember it.

It was titled Wild Hog-ette.  I wrote about my fantastic ride down to Carbondale, IL. I described my excitement about trying a new BBQ joint.  I openly criticized the meal I had, then I posted a picture of my hubby in front of their sign.  He may or may not have been giving it the finger.

Never would I have thought that the manager of the place would find my little blog site and read my review. But Dave is obviously stealthy like that.

His comment sat in my inbox for a few days, awaiting my approval.  During that time, I revisited my blog post  to remind myself of what I had said.  I secretly hoped it wasn’t too bad now that I knew one of them  had read it.

I decided that while it wasn’t positive in any way, it was my feelings at the time, and I’m not sorry I wrote it.  The picture might have been a little harsh, but we were just having fun.  (I was more concerned about my later post about dashing.)

In Dave’s comment he mentioned that he was sorry we had an unpleasant first experience.  He would like us to come back and perhaps try another item off their menu.  He said he appreciated my feedback, even if it was bad, and then he thanked me for it!

I approved the comment.  Mainly because he was so professional about it.  I have to admire a manager who seeks out reviews, then takes the time to acknowledge it.   I have half a notion to go back and see if  The King is actually piled high with brisket now.  Wouldn’t it be somethin’ if me and my little blog had the power to make a difference?

Even if it’s only in the BBQ world.


Posted by on August 26, 2012 in BBQ, Blunders



My hubby was smokin’ on Father’s Day.

I mean he’s smokin’ all the time….

but Sunday, he was literally smokin’.

He started early, waking at 6am to get the wood chips and coals heating up.  By 7am they were in the barrel, having marinated overnight in a dry rub.

For nine and a half hours he let them smoke, only opening the barrel door once to add more chips.  The neighborhood was filled with the smell of bbq making it extremely difficult to wait so long for it!  Our mouths were watering all day for it.

After 9.5 hours of smokin’, they’re ready to come off.

It literally fell off the bone!

I made homemade coleslaw and cornbread pancakes to go with it. Just like Nashville…

We didn’t even talk to each other as we ate.  It was so awesomely good.  He’d made a vinegar based bbq sauce with the same seasonings as the rub, but the pork was tender and flavorful enough that it really wasn’t needed.  (Although I like the added burst of flavor and tang.)  The coleslaw was vinegar based as well..  just like I like it!  And the cornbread pancake?  Well, it coulda used a little more corn meal flavor, but was delicious just the same.

I all but licked the plate.

Grumpy’s could learn a thing or two from us.

And as if the meal wasn’t enough to make for a great Father’s Day, we gathered the 3 waking kids (our oldest works overnight, so sleeps during the day) and made them spend some time with us.

Havin’ a (root)beer on the deck with Dad

Bribing them with soda and snacks got them outta their rooms, and once out, they surprisingly stayed out there for a while.

All in all, it was a great day for everyone.  We even snuck in a short family walk to visit with Grandma and Grandpa (Frozen Bread).

Agg79, Rock Chef, and StupidTom – hope you all had a great Father’s Day as well!


Posted by on June 19, 2012 in BBQ, Family, Holidays


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Rippy’s and Martin’s Remembered

I have Guy Fieri to blame thank for my love of BBQ joints.

I began watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives a few years ago.  At that time I’d heard of brisket and pulled pork, but I’d never eaten it. I would listen intently as Guy described how these bbq joints smoked the meats for hours and then watch hungrily as he sampled and tasted them.

I had my first taste of it in El Paso during one of my bowling tournament trips.  I had the brisket at Famous Dave’s and from then on I’ve been addicted.  Not just to eating it, but to finding places that are all about smoking, and seasoning, and homemade barbecue sauce….. and the sides.

I’d love to be an amateur version of Guy…. ride around on my motorcycle looking for unique barbecue joints.  Maybe some day I’ll have the time to plan more trips.  Til then, I’lI take it when I can get it.

Like when we went to Nashville.

Hubby discovered Rippy’s Barbecue on his first lone business trip to Nashville.  He took pictures on his phone and flauntingly texted them to me.

He’s been twice since then, so I knew this getaway was going to be my opportunity to try it.

I can see why he loved it so much!

It’s a cozy place on the corner of Broadway.

Rippy’s BBQ

They have a stage for live music.

Our View of the Stage

Most importantly, they serve their pulled pork on cornbread pancakes.  Who knew?  (Well hubby did… this wasn’t his first rodeo.)

Pulled Pork on Cornbread Pancakes

Diggin’ in for My First Taste

I gotta admit, the sweet cornbread and the smoked meat and the tangy bbq sauce go VERY well together!  My only complaint was the cornbread got kinda soggy where the pork was, so next time I’ll ask for it on the side.

The next day we headed to Martins Barbecue Joint.  I scouted this place out using the Diners website. The way Guy made it sound, I was excited to try it.

Martins BBQ

The show on Martins described how they cook the pig whole.  It was funny watching them sling the entire pig, minus the head, onto the grill.  I was happy that I didn’t have to see it in person, however…

The Smoker and Me

Inside, the place was rustic looking.  Just like I’d imagined. I had studied the menu before going, so I knew what I was gettin….

The Menu

The beef brisket plate with cornbread pancakes and coleslaw  on the side.

No drooling please.

Let me just tell you.  This was absolutely the best brisket I have ever had – and I’ve been to Rendezvous in Memphis.  Hubby’s pulled pork was downright spectacular as well. So moist and flavorful!  The cornbread pancakes were crispy on the outside and were cooked with the same seasonings as the meat.  They were almost a little too peppery for my taste, but that didn’t stop me from eating most of it.


Definitely finger-lickin’ good and 2 saucy thumbs up!


What’s that?


Posted by on May 30, 2012 in BBQ


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