Cornbread Crazy!

  If you check your cast iron pots and pans, you are most likely to discover that they are made by Lodge Manufacturing.  Beginning in 1896, Lodge has been passed down from generation to generation creating an American cookware legacy that many companies can only dream of having.
In the years since my family relocated to this area (while I was in my last years of high school), Lodge Manufacturing has been a household name.  After all, they provide jobs for many in this community as well as supporting the schools and civic organizations.  I graduated from high school with it’s manufacturing facility just across the street where some of my classmates would be starting to work the very next week.
Mr. Lodge’s mother-in-law attends church where we do, and gave me my first pieces of cast iron as a wedding gift!
Each spring, our area (Audley & I live just six miles from South Pittsburg) goes cornbread crazy as The National Cornbread Festival, sponsored by Lodge & Martha White takes place for three days in April. Already this week the roads are shutting down as venders are setting up to sell their crafts, foods, entertain us with music from every walk of life, and of course my favorite event of the weekend, the National Cornbread cook-off !
 
The cornbread cook-off takes a while, but is well worth watching.  Contestants from all over the US are chosen based on the recipes they have submitted earlier in the year.  

 

Last year I watched fellow blogger Prudence Pennywise compete and become a finalist in the cook-off.  It was really awesome meeting another blogger and seeing her success!
This is not your Grandmother’s cornbread!
As for other highlights of the Cornbread Festival, Sister’s on the Fly (they have been featured in Mary Jane’s Farm mag.) will be set up all weekend, and Saturday night there will be a classic car show at the old Drive-In diner in town.  A carnival is set up for the kiddies, buttermilk chugging contests for the adults, entertainment galore, and if you want cornbread…… you will find every kind of cornbread you can imagine to purchase in Cornbread Alley!
Of course I don’t know what your weekend plans are, but South Pittsburg is just two hours north of Atlanta & Birmingham, 1 1/2 hours east of Nashville off of Interstate 24 and an hour and half east of Huntsville on Highway 72.  
It really is worth the drive to check it out!
 
 

English Rose

Last weekend, Audley & I had the opportunity to slip away for an afternoon of some relaxing, kid-free activities.  This particular afternoon we found ourselves in downtown Chattanooga where we checked out a local antiques mall and then enjoyed a late lunch at a local tea room.
Yes, I am fully aware that this is not the most ideal afternoon for a man, but I am one lucky wife!
 
 
Chattanooga is not known for as a shopping destination, but over the last 15-20 years it has become known as being a city of revitalization.   On both sides of the Tennessee River, old warehouses and empty buildings have been restored and now lovely shops and galleries fill many of the spaces.  Other buildings have been converted into loft apartments, restaurants, a perfectly calming spa, and a gym.  Chattanooga is known for the beautiful Tennessee Aquarium, a fabulous children’s museum, and the first environmentally friendly “green” movie theater.
Southside Antiques fills one of those old warehouses and is filled with beautiful pieces from the 18th, 19th & early 20th Century.  Oh the delights we found while shopping!
ivory handled cocktail set I purchased
While the antiques store is located in an updated warehouse, the English Rose tea room can be found in the lobby of the old Grand Hotel (which was converted into apartments), just across the street from the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo.
The English Rose is a unique place to visit.  While most tea rooms follow the traditions of Victorian tea, The English Rose allows you to enjoy tea in a traditional English way.  The staff and the menu all reflect this.
Lovely china tea cups and tea pots fill shelves as you enter the tea room.
We visited later in the afternoon, so the crowds from lunch were leaving as we arrived.  I just love the old “royal guard”  at the base of the old grand staircase.
And nothing is more English than a picture of the Queen herself hanging over the fireplace.
The lace covered tables with the mismatched chairs just add to the charm of the tea room.

We started off our meal with a wonderfully fresh scone served up with lemon curd and Devon cream.  Delicious English tea with milk was the perfect accompaniment.

 

Audley ordered Cottage pie for his lunch which is a “casserole” type dish of ground sirloin, mixed veggies and gravy, topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked together.  He also had a large bowl of creamy leek & potato soup.

I enjoyed the Ploughman’s lunch which consisted of a yummy green salad topped with a rich “salad cream”,  a selection of British cheeses, pickled onions, crusty rolls and a small cup of leek & potato soup.

Everything was so flavorful and quite satisfying, and even though we were full, Audley and I just had to have dessert.  We shared Profiteroles which are small cream puffs topped with fresh whipped cream and drizzled with melted chocolate.

Simple and absolutely fabulous!

Audley really enjoyed his lunch at the tearoom and was quite relived to see a few other men dining as well.  The English Rose would make the ideal place for a bridal tea, bridesmaids luncheon, baby shower, or just a casual girl’s day out.  It is well worth checking out if you are ever in Chattanooga.

After such an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon, I am really looking forward to our next afternoon out!