Memorial Day Reflections

Soldiers
I can remember as a child being so excited about Memorial Day.  That meant for me that swimming pools were opening, fireflies were coming, and I was about to punch my first pass for Opryland Theme Park-a much loved tradition for many native Nashville kids of the early 1970s.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I understood the true meaning of this great day.  I have vague memories of Vietnam as a very young child. I recall Walter Cronkite, who looked very kind, showing news reels of men dressed in uniform and marching along fields. I didn’t really see or understand the marches when they returned home. I’m sure my parents shielded me a bit from too much of that news as I was so young.

Of course I have heard the stories of my father at age 15 running away to join forces in WWII, only to have to return. Then he officially joined and proudly fought in the Navy after he was “of age.”  To this day, he and his fellow sailors get together on terrific memorial trips along with those who sailed on the USS Oklahoma City.

Many of my classmates went on to join the forces, but my teenage years were considered to be peaceful; all but the Cold War, which began its end at the great fall of the Berlin Wall.  However, war hit close to home at an age I remember well. As a young family, Andy and I lived in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a town very close to Fort Campbell.  Our next door neighbor was a Colonel in the Army during the first Iraq war. I marveled as I watched his wife, and her commitment not only to her family, but to the families of each of the soldiers under his command. She took on a huge role the day the soldiers left for war. It was humbling to watch such dedication and determination on her part; all along not knowing if her loved one would return. It was my first personal touch with our amazing military. At the same time, one of my closest high school buddies was commanding Navy Forces. My thoughts were with him often.  The television constantly showed the war. Our nation could not stop watching with great concern.

It was the beginning of a long journey with war for my generation. Most of our parents are of The Greatest Generation—those who faced the Great Depression as well as the Second World War. They taught us well how to honor and respect these freedoms we have. Now, I’m watching as my own children have friends who are in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Many are with the National Guard and Coast Guard. This generation knows war at a whole different level than any of us forty and fifty something’s would have thought our children would have to know.

From all of us at Puckett’s, we thank those who followed Christ’s lead as quoted in the Book of John: “There is no greater love than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Thank you to the men and women in our armed forces, and to their families.  They offer us the gift of freedom at their life’s expense. It is a graceful and lovely gift indeed.

The Flag of the United States of America

A Weekend in the Windy City

It’s always good to step out of your circle of comfort and learn new trends in your business. We were able to do that this weekend in Chicago when Tim Poulos, our foodservice representative, invited us to join him for a restaurant tour. Tim is with the family owned Gordon Food Service Company.  Mr. and Mrs. Gordon hosted several groups throughout Chicago.

Tim Poulos

We learned some new trends hitting the Second City that could soon spread to our part of the country. One such trend that I love is comfort or peasant food. No matter the ethnicity of the cuisine, the trend is for real authentic flavor.

Devanti

Communal settings are quite popular here; something the South does well with front porches, potluck dinners and such. It is now found in restaurants in the heart of the city.

Purple Pig

We also were able to visit the National Restaurant Association’s food show held annually in Chicago. Though Andy was familiar with many of the booths, I admit much was new to me in the areas of viral marketing. I do have knowledge of many aspects of advertising and marketing, but was excited to see so many new ways to use this ever changing tool.

It’s been a great time and I truly thank GFS. They went out of their way to make this a special occasion indeed.

Chicago

Needless to say, I’m stuffed and look forward to Puckett’s lighter fare when I return home. Yet Chicago is a great city and I can’t wait to come back.

Summer Vacation

I just love family vacation time. With all the kids in our family grown and basically out of the house, it has an even more special meaning to me.  I sleep better (and more often!)-knowing all of us are together hanging out and relaxing.  As most of us these days, we are all on the go constantly with deadlines and commitments.  Vacations are a time to relax, regroup, and get to know ourselves a bit better.

Over the years, my family has grown up spending time at Watercolor or Seaside in Florida. Both resorts are some of the best the South has to offer, full of charm and comfortable, easy going style.  We also love that the entire area is loaded with independent businesses, something we can relate to so well.  These entrepreneurs get their livelihood and joy serving the local community and tourists alike  They are talented, and have been an inspiration to us over the years as we’ve built our own family business.

Modica Market in Seaside has been a great influence on us.  If you don’t know this market, it is worth your trip.  This family business in its second generation, houses delicious, freshly made foods to take and enjoy, along with gourmet cheeses, sauces, and any of the best foods you could take home and cook. All of this is in a compact little market with shelves lining the walls instead of rows. When we grew Puckett’s to Franklin, we took this theme with us and we continued it into the Nashville store.

Modica Shelves
We also got the idea for our diner mugs from Modica Market.  We love the feel and size of them for the perfect cup of coffee.

Inside Modica Market
Most of all, it’s the authenticity of the market and the area in general that draws us back.  We try to seek out independent businesses wherever we go, whether at home or while traveling.  It is still one of the best ways to give back to the community at large. I highly recommend that for you as you travel around this summer.  Also, if there is a favorite place you like to go to while on vacation, I’d love to hear that too!  Thanks, and happy traveling 🙂

Modica Market

Community Garden, local food at its finest!

Andy and I started a vegetable garden with our neighbors a few weeks ago.  This is a first for us.  It is a community garden, shared by just a couple of families along with us.  We were all excited as the promise of spring, and testing of the soil showed us a great spot on our little corner of the world.

Tilling
True to my fashion, I immediately sought advice for the perfect “look.”  I dreamed of a Martha Stewart fencing, lined with lovely flowers, and peaceful walkway retreat.  Of course, being the first year for us, I thought it better to forgo the more complicated plans, and turn to the simple and effective country row garden that my family did before we did.

Our son cleaning the rows
We all then began seeking the wisdom of our elder family members, and learned there are about as many ways to plant a garden as there are people to plant them.  Everyone’s opinions of how big, when to plant, how much to put in them and what soil, actually got a bit daunting.  So, we took with respect what we learned from all, and finally decided just to go for it.  Just like life, there will be some mistakes, weeding, pruning, and hopefully some at the right time, a good harvest. I’ll keep you up to date as it goes.

Ready to go!
Just maybe some of our produce will be as wonderful as the local professional farmers we buy from at Puckett’s to feed our guests. We love local foods at Puckett’s, and use them whenever and however we can.  Try our Hatcher Dairy products sometime.  They are not only local, but also organic.  The taste and quality of their dairy products is outstanding.  Same goes for our free range eggs from Willow Creek Farms from Summertown, Tennessee.  We celebrate Pick Tennessee products in all our stores too. When the season is right, you’ll have farmer’s market to table on our produce every day.  Starting fresh is what makes Puckett’s a favorite around here.

Below is a recipe of one of our customer favorites, and ours too.  Enjoy!

Jan's Favorite Recipes
Fruit Cobbler:  (We recommend using whatever fruit there is in season in your local area)

  • 2 pounds of fruit
  • 1 cup of sugar—emulsify with a touch of apple juice if fruit is dry after mixing with sugar
  • 1 cup each of self rising flour and sugar, and buttermilk
  • 1 stick of butter,  melted
  • Cut the fruit into bite size pieces if necessary. Mix with sugar and add juice if it is needed.  Pour into the bottom of a baking dish.  Mix the flour, sugar, buttermilk and butter.  Pour over fruit.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is bubbly.  For extra flavor, dollop a bit of good vanilla ice cream over it.
  • Serves 4-6 people

Enjoy!