Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tennessee Christmas and Beautiful Biscuit Blog

The title picture says it all - Welcome to the world Eleanor (Ellie) Grace Fields!!! My cousin Laddy and his wife Amy gave birth on Saturday December 27th to a healthy baby girl!!! Meeting the new addition to our family was the highlight of our trip.

Rachel and I left Philadelphia for Knoxville on Friday December 19 after work. We drove 8 hours and spent the night with my Uncle Larry and Aunt "Sae" in Abingdon, VA that night. Luckily, they stay up late for us, so we have a place to crash, instead of driving the entire 10 hours to Knoxville in a single late night.

After breakfast, we headed to Knoxville to spend the day with my mom and dad. While we were on our first pass through Knoxville, we had the chance to hang out with the expecting mother (pictured here with Rachel) and father.

After spending Sunday with my mom and dad, we headed down to Nashville to see Rachel's family.

Monday evening, Rachel's mom's family gathered in Linden, TN, about 90 minutes southwest of Nashville. We ate dinner at The Rusty Fish Hook Restaurant. Becca, pictured here with Elmo, is the newest addition to this side of her family. She is the daughter of Rachel's cousin, Amy, and her husband, Charlie. Amy is the daughter of Ann's (Rachel's mom) sister Janis and husband Dan. Amy's brother Stuart was also there.
Becca also has two older brothers, Trey (pictured here) and Caleb, who was eating at the other end of the table.
Rachel's Uncle Tommy was also in attendance. He is the one, who accompanied Rachel's parents for their visit in August (when we went to Yankee Stadium).

Tuesday morning, we went to the Loveless Cafe with Rachel's parents for biscuits (and we dropped a dehumidifier off to Rachel's Dad's friend, W.C.).

The Loveless Cafe has been pictured on The Food Network on more than one occasion and is home to "The Biscuit Lady of Nashville". The food, especially the biscuits, did not disappoint.

Tuesday night,some of Rachel's high school friends came over to hang out. Rachel Bomar brought "Libby the Incredible" over. Libby has been pictured in our blog several times. Libby came into the world at 11 lbs 13 oz. As you can see from the picture, she continues to be a very large girl (only 3 months old). She is in the 99th percentile on all of the charts.

Libby is a happy baby, and is obviously very relaxed. Here, she is sleeping on one of Rachel's other high school friend's lap (Jennifer Hutson). Mandi Ellithorpe Graves was the 4th muskateer in attendance.

Christmas Eve day, we relaxed. I chilled out with Toby the Wonderdog. In this picture, he decided to join me at the bar, while I checked email.

Christmas Eve evening, we celebrated with Rachel's Dad's family (sisters Ginger and Judy and their families). The highlight of that evening is always "Dirty Santa". We exchange gag gifts and eat... two of my favorite things. I wanted Rachel's cousin Daniel's fireworks and I-Tunes gift card. I ended up with a car cleaning kit, which is not bad. I also got to shoot some of the fireworks with Rachel's cousins after dinner.

Christmas morning, we woke up and celebrated at the Hargis household. Rachel, Toby and Heather, Rachel's sister (all pictured here) had a wonderful Christmas. After lunch, we headed back to Knoxville to celebrate with my family. We went straight to my cousin Reid's for dinner. We ate and watched Ryan and Kara (Reid's and Renee's kids) open their Christmas presents.

Friday, we opened presents with my parents. We also visited one of my friends from high school, Craig Daniel, and his wife Ashlea. It was our first chance to see their beautiful new house and meet their new son, Reid. Their blog is listed in my links section.

Saturday, we just chilled with my family and then went to the hospital to meet Ellie. Amy is a champ! Her labor was so quick, they did not have time to administer an epidural. She came through it all just fine.

Reflections - The Beautiful Biscuit Blog

On our journey home each Christmas, we pass the signs marking the Mason-Dixon line - the official division of North and South. On our first morning in the south, "Aunt Sae" served biscuits for breakfast. On our second day in the south, my mom served biscuits for breakfast. Rachel decided, and I agreed, that we should eat biscuits every day we were in the south for Christmas. Mission Accomplished. This was not a challenge at all, as I LOVE BISCUITS, and in the south, there is no shortage of supply.

We decided to kick it up a notch by striving for world class biscuits during our visit. We ate biscuits from nine different sources. Technically, three days worth of biscuits came from Hardees. However, even the Hardees biscuits were of varying quality.

I will not execute the great miscue of actually ranking "family" biscuits, as that would result in no good. I will simply document the biscuits that we received from family members, as a testement to the southern-hood of our two families. I will rank the non-family biscuits.

Saturday - Aunt Sae
Sunday - My Mom
Thursday - Rachel's Mom
Friday - Renee (my cousin-in-law)
Saturday - My Mom

Now, the rankings:

4) Hardees - Old Hickory, TN. Although this Hardees received the lowest of my rankings, I will qualify it by saying that the worst biscuit that I had on this trip was very good.

3) Hardees - Bristol, VA

2) Hardees - Goodlettesville, TN - Interestingly, this Hardees can boast having the award winning best biscuit cook of the entire Hardees chain - nationwide. I may have been swayed by the prestigious award bestowed on her, but I thought these were probably the best biscuits I have ever eaten at a Hardees.

1) The Loveless Cafe - the famed "Biscuit Lady of Nashville" has been displayed on the Today Show and on the Food Network in a Bobby Flay "Biscuit" Throw-down. The biscuits and the preserves were both out of this world. The recipe is actually several decades old and contains secret ingredients. The recipe has been a condition of sale both times the restaurant and hotel have changed hands.