Sunday, August 2, 2015

Love is a Many Splendored Elf

Every year, the first weekend in August, the small MS town of Water Valley hosts a Watermelon Carnival. When The Elf and Big Solid first started going to this event, Water Valley was in decline. Buildings were vacant, downtown was not thriving and there was just a general sense of loss of town and spirit. And THEN…revitalization like no one ever thought would happen HAPPENED! The B.T.C Old Fashioned Grocery.

This place is a miracle on Main Street…Alexe Van Buerren and Kagan Coughlin made a commitment to Water Valley a few years back by buying and renovating an aging historical building on Main Street. They worked like crazy to bring an idea to town as well…Be The Change and The B.T.C Old Fashioned Grocery was born. This year, the menu even featured a VEGAN sandwich! We left ahead of The Elf’s opportunity to try one, but there will be another chance pretty soon. Love the name of it as well – the HIPPEE TRUCKER

One of the specials featured during Watermelon Carnival weekend was these gorgeous Moon and Stars watermelons. These gorgeous melons are named so because of their markings which do indeed look like moons and stars.
Of course, we came home with one.

The idea of providing fresh, local produce and goods (such as milk and other dairy) and freshly baked breads harkened back to the day of the ‘green grocer’ where you could walk to town and buy ‘good food’.  Well, The B.T. C Old Fashioned Grocery took root in the hearts and stomachs of the good people of Water Valley and the support grew.

  Not only that, this store and the whole revival of Water Valley MS has been featured in The New York Time, Southern Living, and dozens of other articles on bringing life to small towns.
No Wal-Mart for Water Valley but they do have art galleries, a craft beer brewery, Yalobusha Brewery,
a new boutique hotel, and newly renovated apartments to rent as well as rooms for just such occasions as football games and the Watermelon Carnival. In fact, our room even had a French Press coffee making thingie and ground coffee on hand. French Press coffee is yummy! The proximity to Oxford (and Ole Miss) is certainly not a hindrance to continued growth and renewal.
So being plant-based in a sea of folks who aren’t, we were prepared.  We packed more food than we could have ever eaten; and we ‘fixed’ some Red Beans and Rice to take to the Friday night ‘do’ complete with plant-based Andouille sausages.
  We also carried a quart of Sriracha tinged gazpacho from the new food sheriff in town, FEAST Foods which was absolutely awesome, complete with REAL croutons!!

which was absolutely awesome, complete with REAL croutons!! AND, our carrot hot dogs (we’ll feature these in a bit), Ethiopian Tempeh salad, one of The Elf’s favorite vegan dishes EVER!

AND, no Elf presence would be complete without cookies.

We did not struggle for great plant-based food to enjoy because we planned ahead BUT the most fun of all was sharing the positive aspects of being vegan/plant-based. This type of eating regimen is gaining in popularity as more people become aware of the health aspects of going plant-based. So many folks have said to us, “I just couldn’t eat like you do” or “I have to have my meat”. Well, The Elf disagrees…you CAN eat plant-based and love it and you DON’T have to have meat. If we planted the seed of going ONE day a week without meat, dairy (including cheese) or eggs, we feel like we’ve accomplished a lot.

One of the really REALLY cool things we’ve prepared in the Elfin Kitchen has been the CARROT HOT DOG!! Yep, you got it right. Hot dogs out of carrots!! They looked so good and sounded so interesting; we had to give it a try. You know WHAT!! They are freakin’ delicious!! The link to the recipe is at the end of the pics. First, you boil up some carrots that you’ve peeled and cut to hot dog bun length. Boil these until you can pierce with a fork but not so soft they’ll lose their shape or ability to withstand a marinade. And, you don’t want little wimpy carrots; get some carrots that approach the thickness of a hot dog.

Next up, remove the carrots from the water and let cool. In the meantime, prepare your marinade in a plastic bag or container of your choice. Just be aware that the whole carrot needs to be covered. Marinate overnight but no longer than 24 hours.

 Remove them from the marinade and pat dry. Then grill or sauté them to get them nice a hot with a crust of sorts.

Slap that sucker on your bread (with relish, vegan mayo, catsup or sauerkraut) and enjoy. The Elf was bowled over when we bit into the first one we ate. They are now a staple for a quick lunch (given that you’ve prepared a few at a time).

Allrighty then…that’s it for this week. It’s good to be back although we have to admit, there was one day in Water Valley that The Elf did NOTHING but read on the little balcony we had. It was a totally enjoyable day…Big Solid was out golfing and we were immersed in our Kindle.
And lastly, we’d like to dedicate this blog to John Tubbs (in red), shown here with his best buds (from l to r…Eddie, John, Jimmy, Larry, Chesterfield).

Johnny was a childhood friend of Big Solid’s (Larry in the pic) and dear friend to us both over the past few years. We were on hand for the touching and often very funny memorial for John, remembering the man/husband/father and friend with affection, warmth, and abiding love. The eulogies delivered were a testament to growing up in a small town, where everyone knew each other, helped each other and kids actually went outside to play. Godspeed Johnny…


  1. "Marinate overnight but no longer than 4 hours..." Do you maybe mean no LESS than 4 hours? Otherwise that is a mighty short overnight. 😄

  2. Jo
    ! You're aboslutely right!! Sometimes, no matter how many reads I give this before I hit publish, things just slip right through. It actually should read no LONGER than 24 hours. I'll edit it now. Thanks for the heads up!!