Smoky Mountain Memories

I had a truly splendid birthday yesterday.  I am very lucky.  I spent a happy morning pottering about Rye with Lara and then we had a wonderful and fun lunch at Chapel Down in Tenterden.  In the evening I went to see Dolly Parton with the Stilletto Sawkins sisters,  Jane and Joanne.

Dolly was FAB-U-LOUS!  She sang her classics, sang songs from her latest album and other people’s songs too.  I had no idea she was able to play so many instruments either; guitar,banjo, piano, some kind of a pipe/flute, harmonica and the saxophone.  Dolly can write songs, sing songs and play many instruments.  She is so talented.

Lots of my nearest and dearest were surprised I am a Dolly fan but I am.  I enjoy her songs and her voice is delightful and I admire her for coming from nothing and becoming so successful.  And I admire her even more for staying local to her roots where she has built up some very successful businesses, such as Dollywood,  which bring much needed income to a very poor area of the USA.

Dolly Parton is who she is and doesn’t pretend to be any different, which is refreshing.  As she said “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”.  For a woman of 65 years, she looked great, belted out the songs and danced.  Amazing.

Dolly talked about her upbringing as one of 12 in a one roomed cabin in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and she has written songs about that time.  And that got me thinking about one of my favourite holidays.  In October 1994, I went camping in the Smoky Mountains with James, Lara (who was only 2 years old) and a very special friend, By Jove.  We camped at the KOA campground in Cherokee, North Carolina within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We walked round the mountains in warm sunshine by day and froze at night.  Apart from being scared of the bears, it was a brilliant and very interesting holiday.  This is a photo of a photo of myself, James and Lara out on one of our walks.

I would love to go back and I hope that someday I will.

The day after a birthday is always a bit of an anti-climax.  And I had to be careful with points today after yesterdays blowout.  A very simple breakfast of 50g Jumbo oats, 140 ml soya milk, 1/2 tbsp Chia seeds and 1 tbsp almond butter with coconut and cinnamon. Harvey and I both overslept so we had to add cold milk so we could eat it before rushing to school, which is why it looks so runny today.

I also had a lot to do, after swanning around yesterday.  I weeded the vegetable beds and planted more lettuces and radishes.  Check out my new girly gardening accessory I bought yesterday.

That pretty little bag is perfect to carry round my gardening gloves, packets of seed, plant labels, twine, mini secateurs and weeding tool.

I swept the patio, cleared out some flowerpots and planted more winter lettuces.  Hopefully the empty looking pot will soon look more like this 🙂

Quick and easy lunch of salad leaves, spinach, radishes and tomatoes from the garden with some leftover pasta and salad from 2 of our meals earlier in the week and some blue cheese.  And Salad Cream – I am such Trailer Trash.

Lara and I met Lucy in Hemstead Forest for a lovely long dog walk.  We have had back to back holidays and trips away since returning from Turkey so we haven’t seen her since saying farewell at Gatwick in early August so it was great to catch up.  Plus we had a lovely walk in a beautiful forest so that was a great afternoon.

I wanted to cook a traditional meal from the Smoky Mountains but I didn’t have the correct ingredients or any time to get them.  I should have been cooking chicken and rice or grits with collard greens and cornbread.   So, using what I had, I made Jambalaya – meat free.  Vegan actually.  So vis a vis my Dolly tribute meal, I was staying in the South but moving along a bit to Louisiana.  I will do a Smoky Mountains recipe another day.

Jambalaya (meat free) for 4 people

  • Brown rice
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Tofu sausages, Andouillette style  (or you could use  meat ones if you prefer), chopped
  • Swiss Chard
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp jalapeño jelly (not necessary but adds a sweet heat kick)


  • Put 1 cup of brown rice in a saucepan with 3 cups of water.  Bring to the boil then put the lid on and simmer gently for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile,  fry the onions gently until they soften
  • Add the garlic
  • Remove the stalks from the chard and add to the frying pan and let them soften
  • Chop the leafy part of the chard and add to the pan

  • Add the tinned tomatoes, Tofu sausages, sweet smoked paprika and jalapeño jelly.

  • After about 10 minutes more it’s ready.
  • Stir the rice in to the other ingredients in the frying pan.

Bon appétit!

Tonight I went to the George in Cranbrook for a birthday drink with our friends from the village.  We all have a 19 year old who has had a gap year and is about to leave home for the first time.  Sad times:-(  Where did this time go.  How did they get to leave home/school so soon after joining ?  I am so proud of Lara for getting in to such a good University and I feel so excited and happy for her and sad, all at the same time.

As they used to say in the Smokies whenever we left anywhere, “Y’all come back now ya hear”.

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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2 Responses to Smoky Mountain Memories

  1. Holly says:

    Can’t decide if I’m more envious of the amazing spread that the unseemingly-monikered Undomesticated Goddess put on for you… or the trip to London to hear the genius of Mrs D Parton. I think it’s the Dolly experience that I’m yearning for most! x

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