SEC Pigskin Picks 9-24: “Professor’s Magic Coin”

Professor Sinclair sells Coach his magic football-picking coin while Chely gets a caffeine buzz and paints the whole coffee shop. Featured games, Tennessee-Florida and LSU-Syracuse

SEC Pigskin Picks 9-17: “Chely Shovels Shoo-shoo”

Listen now to the Sept. 17 edition of SEC Pigskin Picks. Prof. Sinclair is not impressed by Coach Billy Jack’s psychic cat, and Chely teaches a boy a stinky lesson. Featured games, Florida-Kentucky and LSU-Auburn.

This Week’s SEC Pigskin Picks Show

“Coach Wins the Lottery”
Featured game: Florida vs. Alabama

Click here to listen.




Sarge’s Shack in Pulaski, Tennessee

good grub logoSarge’s Shack has been an institution in Giles County, Tennessee, for many years.

We tried it last Friday night for the first time in a long, long time. The place started filling up at 4 p.m., and stayed that way until dark. (We were staying just across the road.) When we got there, we were seated immediately, though. We wanted a booth, but the hostess wouldn’t let us have the vacant one. She said she had just seated that section and she had to rotate. After we were seated at a table — which was near the hostess stand — we heard one of the servers explaining to the hostess that if customers ask for a booth that is vacant, they get the booth. It’s not her fault. She should’ve been taught that during her training.

The salads were fresh, and probably a bit larger than I was expecting. The steak was cooked as ordered and tasty, but not out of this world. The treat, however, is Sarge’s Rice. You can google recipes to copy it, but you will never have it as good as it is there. The main ingredient besides rice is Dale’s seasoning, according to the recipes I found. It is delicious in a buttery, salty, sinful kind of way. And they pile about a pound of it on each plate.

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Sarge’s also serves whole catfish — which is the only way catfish should ever be served. I cannot vouch whether it’s good or not. If you happen to know, comment and tell the world.

Sarge’s is a come-as-you-are type of place. It’s tucked away in the beautiful countryside just off of Interstate 65 at Exit 14. The food won’t change your life, but for the price it’s a pretty good meal.

Stuffed Jajapenos

These Stuffed Jalapenos
Are Hot (& Healthy)

stuffed jalapeno,

Our stuffed jalapenos are low calorie, but they don’t taste like it!

This recipe is for the spicy food lover! It’s also a fairly easy one to do.

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 medium to large fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 3 pieces of reduced calorie string cheese
  • olive oil
  • ranch dressing

Here’s what you do:

  • Cut off the stem end of the jalapenos and hollow out the ribs and seeds. The heat is in the seeds, so the more seeds you leave in, the hotter they are going to be.
  • Rub olive oil on the outside of the peppers and roast them on a cookie sheet at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them about every 10 minutes. The skin should be dark green to black and the peppers themselves should be pliable.
  • Stuff with the cheese, filling the pepper entirely, but not letting any stick out beyond the opening.
  • Put back in the oven until the cheese melts and starts to ooze out — probably 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Serve with ranch dressing.

Ohio Hospitality at the Franklin Tavern

Image via Franklin Tavern Facebook page.

Image via Franklin Tavern Facebook page.

Who says you can only get southern hospitality down south?

The people at the Franklin Tavern certainly wouldn’t say that, and they would be right.

The Franklin Tavern is located in the hamlet of Franklin, Ohio, just off of I-75, between Cincinnati and Dayton. The tavern beverage menu is extensive, and their food menu is impressive as well. Think of it as home-cooked bar food with lots of extras. One of their specialties is the Buffalo Chicken Dip, which is served with tortilla chips and is delectable.

We enjoyed talking with our server, Candace, who took time to get to know us. Jackie, one of the owners, came by and talked for a while. We lost track of time trading stories. It was almost like we were regulars.

We were there on karaoke night, but we got there before that started. I think Candace was genuinely disappointed we weren’t up to the task of staying around and joining in the fun.

The only thing I would change would be the TV channel, because they had the Cincinnati Reds game on. But I guess I can forgive them for that.


good grub logoCalhoun’s is a long-time favorite Tennessee barbecue restaurant for good reason:

You’ll almost always get a good meal there.

Calhoun’s has seven locations in East Tennessee, including four in Knoxville. The most unique, however, is the location in Lenoir City on Ft. Loudon Lake. Weather permitting, this Calhoun’s features a covered outside dining area at the water’s edge. It’s fun to watch the boats come in to the dock.

Calhoun's on Ft. Loudon Lake in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (image via

Calhoun’s on Ft. Loudon Lake in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (image via

Many of Calhoun’s dishes are a party for your taste buds. But you may be surprised which dishes taste best.

The pulled pork and the ribs are both good — real good. However, there are lots of barbecue places around; and Calhoun’s pork doesn’t necessarily stand out.

A pleasant surprise on Calhoun’s menu is the Bar-B-Que Steak Calhoun. It’s served with Calhoun’s own barbecue sauce. The hickory smoked prime rib is special, as well. In short, the beef is better than the pork.

One of the most incredible tastes on planet earth, however, is Calhoun’s cheddar cheese salad dressing. When you go, get a salad and get this dressing. They should not even serve another dressing variety. Another favorite — and Calhoun’s original — is the Spinach Maria, which is served as a side dish. It’s loaded with cheese and spices. Both dishes are delectable. Their cornbread is incomparable, as well.

Make sure to wash it all down with one of Calhoun’s craft beers. They make good food taste even better.

Bottom line: consistently satisfying food and drinks in a fun atmosphere — a good value.

Visit the Calhoun’s web site. Make sure to see a menu.

Chely Loses Her Temper with Selfish Brianna

what would chely do, chely sizemore, beaverdamusa.comWhat Would Chely Do?
by Chely Sizemore

Click here to LISTEN to this edition of “What Would Chely Do?”

Brianna Writes: Dear Chely, My boyfriend has to work every Friday and Saturday night, and I’m getting tired of it. I either stay home or end up hanging out with another couple. I’m not having any fun in this relationship. Should I break up with him?

Dear Becky: Oh, yes. By all means break up with him just because his boss schedules him to flip burgers when you’d rather be going to the movies. And while you’re at it, you could just sue him for all the buttered popcorn you missed out on because of his job. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but sometimes I get sick and tired of people being so selfish. Let me ask you a question, Brianna. Did your boyfriend buy you a Christmas present? A birthday present? Did he get you candy for Valentine’s? I’ll bet he did. And does he take you out when he’s not working? I’ll bet he does. And do you know where that money came from? His job! I’ll tell you this much, if I were him, I would break up with you and find me a girl that appreciated me for trying to be just a little responsible! Oh, I hope I didn’t say an ugly word. Sometimes one flies out before I realize it. I really need to work on that.

Do you have a question for me? Email


Image: Belinda Hankins Miller from U.S.A. [CC-BY-2.0 ( or CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kids With Big Hearts at Ider High School


It all started with a photograph:

A dear Facebook friend (and cousin) Shana Reyes sent me this link, and said “This would be a great story for you.”  Just look at this photo.  A glowing dad, Charles Mitchell watches as last year’s Ider High Homecoming Queen crowns this year’s winner.  Lace McMahon is the radiant young lady on the left, and Taylor Mitchell is wearing her favorite color, Georgia Bulldogs red.

The Mitchell family moved to Ider, Alabama from Georgia last year.  Taylor, then a high school junior had already overcome a lot in her brief life.  Adopted by Charles and Rita Mitchell when she was three months old, doctors said she wouldn’t live to see her first birthday.  As you can see, sometimes the will to live surpasses any and all medical expertise.

She lives with cerebral palsy each day.  It causes a lack of muscle coordination.  For Taylor, just snapping a clothespin on a piece of fabric requires great patience and concentration.  Often, her movements are involuntary and random.  She is unable to walk and has difficulty holding her head up.  Swallowing isn’t easy, and although she is expressive (with personality to spare) her speech can be hard for others to understand.

In brief, Taylor Brooke Mitchell is not the type of high school senior you usually see in photos like this:

ider2Nor is Paloma Vasquez, the young lady in yellow standing next to Taylor.  Shy and soft-spoken, Paloma is in Taylor’s special-needs class with teacher Kim Keena.  The teacher was delighted to see both girls’ names on the homecoming ballot, but like many, didn’t expect much more than that.  Taylor’s mother Rita told me, “We thought it was wonderful that the students nominated our girls.  Taylor was just excited about wearing the dress, getting her hair done, and riding on the truck.”

ider3About that truck:  From the Fort Payne Times-Journal, “Taylor is in a wheelchair, so we were concerned with how she was going to ride in a convertible. Scott Jones of Rainsville stepped up, so Taylor rode in the back of his 1966 turquoise Chevy truck,” Keena said. “We had to build a ramp to get her in the back of it, and the wood was donated by Johnson Lumber.”  Chestnut Grove Baptist Church offered to pay for anything the girls needed and also provided jewelry. The Dream Shop in Henagar  and Affordable Fashions in Geraldine helped with the girls’ dresses.

So the stage was set.  Rita Mitchell was thrilled that her daughter, the baby who wouldn’t survive her first year, would be out there on the 50-yard-line with the other girls.  They would call her name, and she would be escorted by her proud dad.  The beauty treatment, the classic pick-up truck ride, and a few cheers from the fans.  That would be enough.  “We know that Taylor will never walk down the aisle to get married.  We know that she can’t have children, there won’t be any grandchildren for us.  So just the fact that the other students notice her, that they care enough about her to let her be on the field at homecoming…” she paused.  “That was enough for us.”

ider4No one could predict what happened next.  I mean, sure, there are good kids out there.  Up to a point, right?  They’re nice enough to put some special students’ names on the ballot, but when it comes to choosing Homecoming Queen?  Isn’t that always reserved for the head cheerleader, or the slim, graceful girl who wins just about everything?  Besides, those girls spend their entire lives campaigning for that honor, do they not?  They wear the right clothes, hang out with the cool crowd.   Signs are posted, friendships and loyalties are tested.  We’ve all watched “Saved By The Bell.”  Homecoming queens look like Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, don’t they?

Not this time.  When you click the link below, you can see the WRCB news story that includes the big announcement.  A TV station in Huntsville recorded the event, intending to spotlight the two special-needs girls who were happy to be in the Homecoming court.  They captured that moment for sure, but came away with much more.

When Taylor Mitchell’s name was announced as the 2013 Ider Homecoming Queen, the home team bleachers erupted in cheers and tears.  It went on and on and on, like no Homecoming before it.  Brooklyn Mitchell, another senior candidate on the court, would surely have loved to hear her name called.  But instead, she was thrilled to see Taylor’s reaction, as well as that of the crowd.  “I remember thinking, I’ll never experience a moment like this again, with so many caring people together in one place.”  Macy Bell, the school’s drum major and a devoted daily helper to Taylor, couldn’t help but notice the visiting fans from Cherokee County High School.  “I was looking over there at our opponents’ side, and they cheered as loud and as long as we did.  I’ve never seen anything like it in high school.”

Click this link for video

Sometime soon, you’ll see some misbehaving kids on the news.  They’ll get in trouble, they’ll bully somebody, they’ll put something inappropriate on social media.  You’ll sigh, and say, “Kids today.  There’s just no hope.”

Oh yes, there is.  I was blessed to visit Ider High School.  I met the students who love Taylor and Paloma.  They hold their hands, they comb their hair, they cheer the routine accomplishments of everyday life.  Matching the right colors, getting from one side of a room to the other, lifting a piece of food from hand to mouth.  They don’t look the other way when a special-needs student is in the hallway.  They stop, they talk, they hug.

Don’t tell me that today’s kids are bad.  Don’t tell me they’re self-absorbed.  I’ll take you to Ider where, when given a chance to select a Homecoming Queen, that iconic, once-in-a-lifetime honor, they voted to make a night of memories for Taylor Mitchell:  a red dress, a shiny tiara, a ride in the back of a pick-up, as hundreds chanted her name.  Gazing at her daughter, Rita Mitchell said, “We’ll never forget that night.  All I could think of was, thank you God for this moment.  And thank you to the students of Ider for what you gave to us.”

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

We are the folks down at The Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. You know us. We keep you cracked up all year long at our Web site, on twitter and Facebook. We’ve been good this year. Well, mostly we have. You know a little naughty goes a long way, and nice is a bit overrated. Anyway, we know you’re busy for a guy who only works 1 day a year, so here’s the list:

Professor Thorndike Sinclair never stumbles when he does SEC Pigskin Picks. He is a master behind the mic. So, we thought we might could get him some of those cool turntables like DJs have, and he could start a second career. He already has the killer smile and good looks.

Zach Clayton has been a really good… okay, well, you know he tries to be good. Hey, at least his “Music Musings” column good. That should account for something. Anyway, maybe letting him do the sound for the next Van Halen tour would be nice. Have you ever seen him do the Hey! Hey! Hey!’s to “Ain’t Talking Bout Love?” It’s Roth-like.

Mark Grissom wants a World Series Championship for the Cubs. If you cannot do that, just make him a handsome billionaire and supreme ruler of the world. That should be more doable. You know, his blog, “Loving the Cubs… and Other Problems I Have” publishes each Wednesday. Right?

David Carroll, who writes “That Guy on TV and Radio” has been a good boy this year. We really need to change that. Please bring him a $100 Gift Card for the Catfish County Tattoo and Piercing Emporium. For a piercing, we’re thinking something through the eyebrow; and let’s ink him up with a python up high on his neck so when he does the news you can see its eyes poking up over his collar.

Chely Sizemore just wants a balanced no-load mutual fund that outpaces the S&P 500. Hey, who doesnt? Are we right big guy? Oh yeah, and bring her a turtleneck, too. Everybody appreciates a good gag gift now and again.

Brother Hoyt wants either a Tennessee Vols National Championship in football or for Alabama to go 0 and 12. We know you and Jesus compare notes, so see what you can do. Which ever is easier. It doesn’t matter to him.

Ard Svenson just wants to meet Alex Trekek over a couple of Sweetwater 420s. As a matter of fact, buy yourself one while you’re at it.

Coach Billy Jack Hoover is a simple man. He’s kind of like Phil Robertson without all the facial hair and the money. All he wants for Christmas is for him and Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover to have one of those all-inclusive vacations down in Jamaica. (Actually, there’s a kid down there who rushed for 1,400 yards as a high school junior, who Coach thinks might fit in well at CCHS. But don’t tell Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover.)

The Sports Drive has all those super-huge sports brainiacs all crammed in that little studio. So for them, we ask for one of those big studios like Kathy Lee and Hoda have with 10 or 12 cameramen. No, wait. Camera girls who also have really big sports brains.

Okay, well that’s about it. You get to work on that now, and remember, you can deliver the presents to the Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. We’ll have milk and cookies under the tree, which should give you enough energy to make it to the kitchen where we keep the good stuff.

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