Loca Luna, Little Rock

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

We got to Little Rock today for the Big Dam Bridge 50 mile bike ride. The event starts downtown Little Rock to the Big Dam Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the United States, and goes to Mayflower and Conway depending on the distance you ride. Our group of 8 all rode 50, Kara and initially signed up for only 30, but Beth Bradshaw and I changed her mind. It was Jackie and I's first time since last year when we were signed up, we both came down with the swine flu after Chloe had it for a solid week. Glad that is in the past!

We had a great time at the event, even though my bike arrived with a flat. After dinner, we had our supplies and Martin changed it the first time and it blew (it sounded like a gunshot and didn't even wake Auggie!) and the second one looked like it would hold. They checked the tire for shrapnel and checked the tire frame and it looked good. Well it was flat the next morning and I didn't notice it until 45 minutes until event time. Bob Hardin, Kara's dad, came to change it and noticed that the spout where the nosel comes through looked rough and was probably the reason. We used one of Kara's tubes and used my tegaderm tape and some band aids (thanks to Kara) and hope it'd hold. Meanwhile back at the ranch, it was 7:25 and everyone was patiently waiting out front. Beth and Stan Bradshaw, Bob and Polly Hardin (Kara's parents), and Kara and Martin waited for us. Luckily Bob and Polly weren't in a hurry. The four of them did the event last year and said there was NO rush to get to the start line because there are thousands of bikers and we needed to let them get ahead. The beauty of the event was that when we strolled up the crowd was still thinning out. After the event, we all agreed that the key to the Big Dam 50 is taking breaks at the aid stations and eating. The first aid station at the 15 mile mark boasted lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oranges, bananas, pickles, Gatorade and toilets. We all enjoyed the stop. At Mayflower, Arkansas, the 25 mile aid station and our turn around, had the same thing plus cookies. We got some pictures and turned around. The ride back was so easy, I enjoyed stalking two 100 mile participants when they passed me 6 miles from North Little Rock. I picked up Bob on the way and he and I crossed the finish line together several minutes after Martin, who was the top finisher in our group and probably had been waiting on us for 30 minutes. It was a great day! After that we grabbed a quick bite at the Flying Fish, I wish I'd taken photos of to blog, but we were still settling after the 50. Plus everyone in the restaurant was in their Razorback gear and enjoyed looking at us in our biking gear. Fun times.

We had a great meal the night before the Big Dam at Loca Luna. Kara picked this restaurant because she had planned to bring her 3 precious blessings with her but ended up getting a sitter, which was a great idea. We had reservations at 6:30 and were promptly seated. Polly added her cousin Nancy to the group, so we had to have the table adjusted which gave Bob a reason to move to the boys end of the table, lol!

Our great waitress, I didn't get her name, was friendly and on her toes. I had a special Syrah and I loved it. Most of our party had their house salad, I didn't because Jackie and I had a snack and a beer at the Flying Saucer before hand. Everyone seemed to like it though. I also noticed there wasn't bread on the table which was good. In a time of an obese America and especially children, who needs bread and butter with a salad before a large meal? I think it's a good idea to not fatten people with that stuff. And you all know I am a non-appetizer person, and I had just had one at the Flying Saucer! There are times when I need a piece of bread, so rules and ideas can be amended and I do all the time! You gotta live a little.

There were tons of specials, Polly had the Voodoo Stew and loved it. I had the sea bass special served with rice and steamed vegetables and it was the first plate to be gone. I loved the fish because it was poached and not covered in one of those sauces. It was light and perfect. Of course Kara ordered dessert and some partook. We all loved Loca Luna. I recommend it when you are downtown. It was just a 5 minute drive from our hotel. And the ladies room was in perfect shape.

Loca Luna has many national reviews for being a great neighborhood bistro. Chef Mark Anthony has a wonderful bio on their website. You'll love the location and feel of the restaurant. They are also known for their gourmet plate lunches.

Picture number one is everyone at Mayflower half way point, picture number two is the view from the Big Dam Bridge, yes I took photos while on my bike, crazy I know, then the restaurant!

Loca Luna, 3519 Old Cantrell, Little Rock, 501-663-4666 www.localuna.com

Grilled Chicken Thighs, Wynne

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fellow volunteer and good Samaritan, Joy Shepherd invited us over for dinner to visit with Mary Margaret Meyer, who is in town for a week with husband Ben and precious 2-1/2 year old Maggie Grace. Mary Margaret and I have been good friends over the last decade. We met in St. Louis on our annual couples trip to see the Cardinals and have been good buddies ever since. Jackie and I threw an engagement party for her and Ben 8 years ago. We had the hostesses dress alike, white shirts and khaki pants, to look like stewardesses. Ben is a pilot with Delta Airlines and at the time, she was a stewardess. We had a great time and even received a prank phone call from Matt Boone, fellow host, that it was Sargent Pettigrew, and we needed to keep the noise down. So what did I do? I shut the party down! Fun times and it seems like an eternity since that great party.

Mary Margaret is also a founding member of our girls trips. The first one was a trip to New York in 2007, then to Fayetteville and last year she joined us at the Alluvian in Greenwood, Miss. She missed our Hot Springs trip this year because she's due to have a baby in December. How exciting! We'll have to get her back in the girls trips next year.

Well tonight we all met at John and Joy's and did a potluck style dinner. The kids ran around and played on their very nice property. I'm really sad I didn't take some photos of it. Joy made the most delicious hash brown casserole and dump cake that was divine. Becca Jackson brought a cheese ball and rolls. Oh and Joy made hummus and salsa, both so good and out of the garden. A new tip that Joy told me about was freezing jalapenos. Now I have to confess that I have been a gardener now for 12 years and have never heard of this. Joy said to freeze your fresh produce in a Ziploc bag and just pull one out when you need it. Amazing and I can't wait to start this practice since I have dozens of japs, serranos, pablanos and bell peppers. I'll let you know how it works this winter. Joy is always so good about sharing her good, inside information. She's also influenced me to appreciate sushi (as does Kara).

Kara brought a salad with blue cheese, her own tomatoes and homemade balsamic and raspberry vinaigrette. It was so good! I grilled the chicken thighs at home and brought them, I know that's weird but I hate to see a bunch of men watching me over the grill. Plus I always panic about the flame and doneness of my chicken. This is Kara's grandfather's recipe that she's used for years. Jeanie, my mother-in-law, remarked once that Winnie Bob had a similar recipe like this one. I love, love it and haven't ruined it yet.

Kara's Grilled Chicken

1-1/2-2 Cups White Vinegar
1 stick butter
3 T each of garlic powder, worcestershire and salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
6-8 skin on and bone in chicken thighs, I always take the skin off

Mix ingredients and pour over thighs. I let them hang out then fire up the charcoal grill. This gives the chicken 45 minutes to come to room temperature before going on the grill. (you don't have to marinate the chicken, and shouldn't) Place chicken on grill that's been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Grill 8 minutes then dip chicken back in the marinade and place on the grill on the other side. Grill another 8 minutes or so with the lid on the whole time. I really struggled today with flames because of the butter, so I used my ironing spray bottle to de-flame them (is that a word?). Then dip for the second time in the marinade and grill until done, another 8 minutes. The time can vary depending on how hot your grill is and how many chicken thighs you're serving. Remove from grill and let hang out 20 minutes or longer and serve. The chicken tonight hung out for 2 hours and was delicious, I thought!

Joy introduced everyone to her fall tradition of peanuts and candy corn. She had some on the breakfast bar near Mary Margaret and I. It was like eating a payday candy bar or snickers without chocolate. It was so good. Of course, Jackie refused to try it, he's funny that way. So Chloe picked out a bunch of candy corn and after homework and shower last night, placed candy corn every where. This morning he had candy corn in his wallet, in the cabinet (photo) and in his Carnation Instant Breakfast box. We got a chuckle out of that this morning. Chloe confessed that she hadn't tried the combination either but seriously wanted her dad to. Very funny!

I decided I'd add a photo of Chloe from last week's soccer game. She didn't want to go to the game because she was scared of getting hit like she did at practice. She survived and the game ended in a tie.

Kara's Birthday Party, Pleasant Hill

Happy Birthday Kara!

Gosh, my fabulous sister-in-law Kara, turned another year older today. Our mother-in-law is famous for having a wonderful birthday dinner planned for her two sons and luckily, for Kara and I, her daughter-in-laws. This year Jeanie had the idea of instead of cooking, have it catered by one of Kara's favorite places. Helen McClain, a former chef at Chez Phillipe and Ronnie Grisanti's in Memphis has her own catering business, Fabulous Foods in Marianna. You can check out the website, pick your food, grab it in Marianna and you've got a wonderful, home cooked meal (or birthday dinner for Kara) with no mess.

Jeanie had her table in perfect shape for dinner. And she always makes a table for Chloe, Whit and Stella. They are so cute with their place settings. For simplicity, Jeanie had them pick their own Lunchable, which Kara and I can't stand, but allow for ease. They enjoyed it as much as we loved Helen's food. Kara picked baked catfish with crawfish sauce, turnip greens, salad with goat cheese and vinaigrette and homemade yeast rolls. We had a Hay's birthday cake but Helen's dessert also was served, a chocolate creme brulee with raspberry sauce. Delicious!

Next time you want a wonderful meal without the mess, don't hesitate to think outside the box and get Helen McClain to cook for you. Go to www.fabulousfoods.org or call her at 901-574-2285 or email her at chef@fabulousfoods.org.

I added photos of Chloe, Whit and Stella performing for us. Chloe is the instigator of original plays. She and Whit plan their play and this year they actually included Stella. In year's past, Whit would refuse to perform because Stella was included. Well, finally they are old enough to let 3 year old Stella have a part. We had rows of chairs in Jeanie's hallway to watch the original plays. We loved it and I think we saw 3 different plays, there were so many intermissions I'm not sure I kept up! lol!

Helen McClain, owner of Fabulous Foods, Marianna, Ark., 901-574-2285 www.fabulousfoods.org

Currents, Memphis

Monday, September 20, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Kara! Kara's been wanting to go to this Harbor Town restaurant forever. And she finally got to Saturday night and with all her biker friends. We have a crew of road bikers, it's funny almost all of them are fellow Presbyterians or family. We carpooled with Kyle and Cecilia Killough and we enjoyed the conversation so much! Martin drove us and with Jackie at the Vanderbilt/Ole Miss game, the girls got to sit in the back with our hors d'oeuvres and Cabernet. Kara and I are notorious for taking snacks with us for the hour drive over to Memphis. I made a trial run of an appetizer Kara found for me to make for the Historical Preservation fundraiser at their home in a few weeks. The recipe was super easy and very tasty. What I liked most about it was that it was made with canned flaky biscuits that you separate into 3 pieces that fit in a mini muffin tin. And we didn't get flakes all over us! The filing was tomatoes, crisp bacon, fresh basil, oregano, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Very tasty, we all liked it. Kara also had a chore for Cecilia and I on the way over. We cut ribbon for her napkin rings for the fundraiser at her house. We enjoyed helping her out and talking about our kids and everything inbetween.

When we got to Harbor Town, we pulled into the parking lot by Tugs and the River Inn and parked in the back. It was a super short walk to the hotel. We were seated immediately in the rear of the half full, quiet restaurant. Ashley was our waitress and had the cocktails and wine on the way. We loved that a waiter showed up next with a dessert with a candle on it and placed it in front of Kara. We hadn't even ordered our food yet and she said, "Uh, it is my birthday but I don't think this is mine." He brought it to the wrong table and we all just laughed about it.

We had some great conversation about bike riding, our kids, upcoming travel plans and all sorts of things. We all had a great time catching up for Kara's birthday. In the photo is Kara at the head, Martin, Chuck and Lisa Blanton, Cecilia Killough then Kyle Killough, Stan and Beth Bradshaw and me. Bikers not present Jackie, Becca and Neall Jackson, Jimmy Huff and Beth Malone and Michael Hirons. And that's about it on the restaurant.

Currents, 50 Harbor Town, Memphis, 901-260-3300 www.riverinnmemphis.com

Kids Marathon, Wynne

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I was thrilled with Chloe's statement from taking best friend Bailey Bigger home just now..."mama, can we run over to Whit's to get one of our miles for the Kids Marathon?", I thought, wow, that's wonderful. Chloe did a kids marathon this past March in Little Rock. She met her Benton, Ark., best friend Anna Claire Burrow for the event and had a great time. She had a bib, t-shirt and finishers medal. She loves that medal. In fact, she loves ribbons and medals. She loves to get in my dog ribbons when I showed Emmy (Ch. Safari Emmy Nomination, CD, SC, CGC) and Tu Jagues (Ch. Safari Southern Odyssey, JC). Those years were some good times for me. Chloe also loves to mess with my 1/2 marathon and 15K medals and trophies, you'd think I am fit athlete but... kids just love trophies, ribbons and medals.
I am looking forward to this new event for the Cross County Ramblers. I hope it's a success and that kids and families get out there and get moving! Our local Kids Marathon is the same day as our Championship Midsouth Marathon Saturday, November 6, 2010. Pictures are from the Little Rockers Kids Marathon, March 2010 (Chloe in 3rd grade with Anna Claire Burrow, Benton, 2nd grade)