Sometimes life gets so tough that you need to call in back-up. That’s what I did. Cue: my mother-in-law.
My mother-in-law, Lori, has been eager to see her furry grandchildren as she calls them (she had never met Crockett until now!) and she was due for a little time off. She is such a laid back visitor. I never feel the need to entertain her, and she likes playing with the dogs while I go run and meal planning for me. Yeah, I’m pretty lucky.
Much of our time and energy went toward taking care of all the annoying things I had been procrastinating and struggling with. (We took multiple trips 70 miles away to Franklin, TN for my car. Ugh!) Even with all the work we had to do, we still managed to have a little fun. Here’s a peak at what we were up to:
Lunch at Monell’s
Monell’s website bills itself as “Serving South to your mouth since 1995.” Love it! I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of southern food in general. Being that I’m a vegetarian and my parents hail from Michigan, I never ate much southern food growing up. However, I was up to try anything while Lori was in town. She had done a ton of food research (I told you she was a great house guest!), and this place had outstanding reviews. Well, I now consider my a southern food convert!
The restaurant is in a huge house built in the 1890’s. The house burned down at one point but was rebuilt in the 1920’s. It has gone through several reincarnations. It seems that they struck gold with the current restaurant. The dining room is full of huge tables, and you get to sit with strangers. (I realize this fact may be terrifying to some people – aka me – however, we had really lovely people at our table.) As soon as you sit down, they start passing around rolls, biscuits, cucumbers (surprisingly one of my favorite things!), and other cold dishes. Then the real food starts! We were treated to mac n’ cheese, turnip greens, green beans, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy, fried chicken, Cajun catfish, ribs, and roast beef. Again, it’s all passed around the table. Any time a bowl ran low, the staff replenished it. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner! But with strangers!
We had fun talking with our tablemates (fellow teachers!) and oohing and ahhing over how pretty the house was. We finished the meal with coffee (for Lori) and sweet potato pie (for me) before venturing into the rest of the house to admire the décor.
Live Taping of Gilmore Guys at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center
After we stuffed ourselves silly at Monell’s, we headed into downtown for the big event of the weekend – Gilmore Guys! If you are a Gilmore fan and you like podcasts and you somehow haven’t heard of Gilmore Guys, you need to check them out! The two podcasters, Kevin and Demi, are hilarious. Kevin is a lifelong Gilmore fan and Demi had never seen the show until he started the podcast. Each podcast episode reviews a Gilmore episode. You get to hear their different perspectives and enjoy the lightning fast pop culture references. I’ve become addicted over the last year, and when I heard they were coming to Nashville, I snatched up tickets right away.
My eagerness paid off; we had third row seats! The crowd was amazing – so many people were dressed up. Is this what it’s like to be a trekkie? The show lasted almost 3 hours! I laughed the entire time. I wondered how enjoyable a live taping of the podcast would be. I mean, it’s just two dudes sitting on stage talking. Well, they did not disappointed. They were so energetic! They danced, they came into the audience, they joked nonstop, they showed clips from the show. It was amazing! And totally worth the late night for these two old ladies -it was after 11 by the time we got back to my house. You can believe we slept in the next day.
This was another find courtesy of Lori’s research. She had seen this restaurant (can you call a trailer with picnic tables a restaurant?) on an episode of Driven by Food starring Andrew Zimmern. I really love BBQ but there often aren’t a ton of BBQ options that I eat. (I usually settle for BBQ sauce dumped all over veggies cooked at home.) But Ooh-Wee had quite a few things I could eat, and Lori had already scoped out their menu before we drove over there.
Although the place doesn’t look like much from the road, I was super impressed. They have a huge smoker, which smells amazing. The men we met (the cook and owner) were so friendly and accommodating. The owner kept asking if we had our ooh-wee moment and told us it was really important to him that we did. We sat at a picnic table and enjoyed huge catfish sandwiches (with two catfish filets on each sandwich!) and crispy fries. There was a hint of a breeze outside and we just stuffed ourselves silly.
We couldn’t leave without dessert. We got two chess squares to go. I’ve never heard of a chess square, and I honestly don’t even know what it is other than to say they were sweet and flaky and tasty. Lori accidentally left hers in my fridge and I’ve already eaten it.🙂
Dinner a la Lori
No visit with my mother-in-law would be complete without a homemade meal or two. We picked up a ludicrous sized bag of turnip greens (7 pounds! 7!) and green tomatoes being sold from a stand on the side of the road. I’ve seen the Amish people selling their food here before and always been curious. Now I know, their stuff is fresh and delicious! Lori was able to work her kitchen magic and make it into something beyond delicious.
We had three grocery store sized bags of leftover greens that we gave to my neighbors. I was happy to share; there’s no way I could have eaten all that! I don’t know that I’ll be making turnip greens myself in the future, but I will happily order them off of a menu or eat them out of a can!
Lori and I had plans to see the Parthenon but timing (and parking) was not on our side. We also managed to visit multiple grocery stores (Aldi, Costco, Wal-Mart, Oh my!). We didn’t do a ton of sight-seeing, but we both figure that just leaves plenty to look forward to the next time Lori visits.