Under The Dome-Piedmont; Jam Up – Jelly Tight
When asking Rick the question; “How are you”? Jam Up, Jelly Tight is always the answer. And- as all of our visits with Mike’s sister Barb and her husband Rick- that was indeed the answer. It means, life is good.
This year’s visit to Piedmont began at River Road Park. It’s an Army Corp of Engineers State Park, and it was absolutely beautiful. Before this visit we had only spent one night in a State run park, and it was a National Forest in Pedro, OH- also beautiful. We were told by Bob and his wife (Trudy or Judy- I can’t quite remember), from Doc’s RV Park in Gulf Shores, AL that we should join Recreation.gov and take advantage of the lower prices and beauty of State parks. I’m looking forward to going back there and telling them about the ones we visited.
Anyway, in case you were wondering why it’s been so long since the last post, it’s because Piedmont and the surrounding towns are pretty much ‘under the dome’. In other words, off the grid. Internet is sketchy, and when you do connect it’s really slow. To be clear, this is not a necessarily a bad thing. It has forced us to not go down the rabbit hole, that is the internet. It does take some getting used to. The service during our visit to Kentucky was much the same, but Kentucky is another story…
As I write this (Sunday 9/18), I’m sitting at Rick and Barb’s dinner table watching Rick do his magic in the kitchen, and when I say magic, I mean it. He needs like 7 things; a knife, a mixing spoon, a stove, their herb and veggie gardens, any protein, and what he would say is most important, his favorite Soux chef, his beloved Barb. Then, all you have to do is sit back and watch what happens. It’s truly dinner and a show, in the best of ways.
Now, when I say “any” protein, I mean it! If you read the blog about our last visit (STOP, EAT BEFORE VIEWING), you’ll know what I mean. Well, I’m here to tell you, this visit has been ‘next level’! There has not been one thing that has been put before us that has been anything less than excellent.
During our 3 week visit, we have also enjoyed some of Mike’s grilling talents as well, the man has mad charcoal grill skills! He grilled Cornish game hens, Brats, and not 1, but 2 rounds of Ribs, (for those that know -need not ask….). Meanwhile my only contribution this time was my spaghetti sauce that we used as a ‘dip’ for the Rattlesnake that Rick prepared. Yes, I said Rattlesnake. He breaded it, then fried it, and it was awesome. It has many bones, so one has to eat with one’s fingers and in general get in touch with one’s “inner caveman”. Basically, this is not your “first date” meal. If you are smart enough, when the opportunity presents itself you will try it, and if you don’t, well then-you’re just a chicken shit! (Again, my blog and I’ll call it the way I see it..lol).
I’ll get back to the food in minute, trust me when I say it’ll be worth the wait. Now, back to the campground. We spent 2 weeks there, one of the weekends was Labor Day, and wow! One day we were 1 of about 15 campers, and the next there was not a site to be had. For a campground that has over 100 sites, that’s saying something.
The campground is set up in such a way though, that you don’t feel cramped or, like your just camped in a parking lot (like Kentucky). For those who of you not playing along, Mike and I do not like crowds. The only ones we tolerate are the ones at the Drag races and even then we look for as much space as possible. We spent that weekend watching kids ride anything and everything on wheels. There was one kid in particular that made me smile and think about the way life should be for all kids. We were walking around getting in touch with our inner “Yvonne” by checking out all of the campers and how they decorate their sites, when this little boy probably around 11 or so came whizzing by on his bicycle, with his left had on the handlebars, a fishing basket flung over his shoulder, and a fishing pole in his right. His outfit included the required shorts for the heat, a t-shirt and on his feet, peddling for all he was worth, what every young fisherman needs- Muck boots! It was something literally out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and my heart smiled.
When the crowd thinned out, and it was back to just a few of us campers we enjoyed, time with Freda, Cornhole, and walks (and bike rides) around the campground. Some with Stella and some without. One time, while walking with Stella, she increased her fan club by 3. This woman and her husband, clad in overalls and a big Santa Claus beard, (the husband, not the wife) saw Stella on her leash and thought that she was the most adorable thing they had ever seen. So much so, that the wife made us wait by their site so she could run inside and grab her phone to take a picture. She said “OMG, I need to send this to my sister, she’ll go out of her mind”. And so the legend of “Stella, The Cat on a Leash” continues.
There was also much fishing to be had at the campground. I’m not sure if it was day 2 or 3 when Mike set out on another quest to catch himself some fish. Low and behold his first day out he got one! A good sign of things to come? Alas...no. He did, however, tell me about the “one that got away”. The one that he lost not once, but twice because his line snapped. So the next day there was a walk to the cafe/store just up the street to fetch some higher test line. He was a man on a mission. In the end, after many days in the sun and with a nibble here, and a nibble there, the mission ended and the captain’s great white was not to be seen again. But as anyone can attest, (even this writer that is a fan of eating fish, but not fishing) “A bad day of fishing, is better than a good day at work”. There will be more fishing opportunities in his future, but for now, we’ll take the one he caught and enjoy the “fruits” of his labor.
We spent some time at the cafe/store where we enjoyed wine, food and the company of Jo-Jo the dog, Ms Linda and crew, (also the only time we had internet connection). I know I said that being “unplugged” is a good thing, but in the interest of full disclosure, too many days without information or even just the stupid memes is a hard thing to get used to. Just saying, that my hypocrisy goes only so far…
One day Rick and Barb picked us up and brought us to the liquor store downtown, where they helped the owner (Sandy), with a day of wine, and whiskey tasting. A free event for everyone, with a handful of vendors and a food truck. We met a woman named Amber, her boyfriend, her dad, and her dog, Zeus. She is a hot ticket, who’s tall, athletic and wears her hat backwards. She thought my tattoos of the countries I’ve been too were so cool that she made her boyfriend take pictures of them-that was a first for me. I’ve had people admire my ink, but no one has ever taken pictures of them. We met another couple- who’s names escape me- that want to go full time RVing as well, so we gave the high points of our adventures, both good and bad. I hope it helped. We met another couple that gave us tips on the mixing of different liquors that were available that day- Kinda reminded me of the “I wonder what it tastes like Fridays” that we used to have with Heidi, back in Keene. It was a good day, the weather was perfect, the crowd wasn’t too big and meeting new people is always interesting if not entertaining.
Once we left the campground, we made our way to the thriving metropolis of downtown Piedmont and got supplies, then headed to Rick and Barb’s- a mere 15 miles from the campground. When I say 15 miles, that’s equivalent to 35 minutes. Just to give you an idea of how rural and off the beaten path they are. Once you reach their house though, you realize why they are where they are. It’s quite simply “Grand”- as Rick would say, and I couldn’t agree more.
After a week and a visit from one of their friends (also named Rick), we had to run some errands in downtown Piedmont. This included a trip to the library, the pawn shop, gas station, hardware store and recycling area. After all that was a final stop at the local grocery store; Town and Country. It was there that we realized the full notoriety of The Legend of Stella. As we walked out of the store a woman in her car looked me straight in the eye a waved frantically at me. So I put on my “fake it, till you make it” face and said hi. Then she said to me “Do you still have your baby kitty?” She then asked if we were coming back to the campground, and I had to burst her bubble and say no, that after our visit to Piedmont we would be heading south. To which she replied “Ohh, I didn’t get to meet her”- in case you haven’t caught on, this was Santa Claus’s sister in law. Apparently his wife sent the picture of us with Stella and recognized me as Stella’s “cat mom”. It’s a small world is a phrase that just doesn’t quite cut it. When I got to the truck, Mike looked at me and said “Who the heck was that”? When I was done repeating the dialog, we both agreed; it’s time to go, but before we do, we have a few more evenings hiding out on the hill that is; The ‘Grand’ Estate, where there was more laughter and foodie adventures to be had.
And now, as promised – the food! Most of these dishes are truly "farm to table". Most of the produce and herbs come from their gardens. The proteins came from either fishing excursions by them and their friends, or hunting trips by Rick, and the Rattlesnake was found by Barb in their own yard. Also a big shout out to our friend Allen. Thanks for the garlic scape pesto, it was added to mashed potato, YUM! Enjoy...I know we did!!!
1- Medallions with Whiskey, Wild Mushrooms and Horseradish Cream Sauce and Basque Grouper with Piperade
2- Casarecce with Red Snapper and Cherry Tomatoes
3- Asian Bison Burgers with Garlic Scape Mashed Potato
4- Blueberry Shortcake with Peach Moonshine Whipped Cream
5/6- Groundhog Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms
7- Hoecakes with Wild Fruit Jelly (Fig)
8- Hawaiian Poke with Hogfish and Red Snapper
9- Squash Saute
10- Greek Shrimp Saganaki with Feta cheese
11- Southern-style Turtle over Rice Noodles with Lavender steamed Asparagus
12- Wild Mushroom Soup with Mushroom Ravioli
13- Peach Moonshine
14- Braunsweiger with fresh Tomato and Inglehoffer Stone Ground Mustard
15- Eggs Benedict with Surimi (crab)
I can only hope that I labeled these correctly- Rick, my apologies if I didn't. There were a few things that we didn't get photos of, don't ask me why and they include the following:
Duck and Chicken Rillettes
Wild Game Pate
Potato Salad with Goat Cheese
I'm finishing up this blog from our next location in Mississippi, enjoying the leftovers that were so kindly given to us. As well as goodies from the gardens. I cannot begin to express how delicious each and every meal was. Yes, we were in fact, SPOILED ROTTEN!
While our time at Rick and Barb's was spent meeting new people, reading great books, eating delicious food, what I will (personally) take away is the filling of the well. Watching Mike and his sister share memories from their youth (more of the good this time), and getting to know Rick more (our soft spoken southern gentleman brother) has been the best part of this visit, as it is every time. There are sad times to come for my family, and we are a long way from them. We cannot be there in person to support them, but we are there in spirit, and they are never far from our thoughts - I hope they know that. And thanks to this visit, my well is full to over-flowing, and I am blessed.
So thank you, once again to Rick and Barb, for your hospitality, your patience and your generosity. I have but one more favor to ask- when you sit down to say grace, just once in awhile give my family a shout out. We are going to need it and we will be forever grateful for it.
We are on the road again, continuing to live our best life, and as always looking forward to our next visit “under the dome” in Piedmont.
Until then, Be Well, Be Happy and Safe Travels.