Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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March 28, 2014

TIM PRESTON: Real Food, real range, mud and roses

ASHLAND — Like everyone else, we’ve had to pay a lot more attention to our household budget in recent months. A big part of that has involved eating at home instead of dining out or ordering meals from a drive-thru window.

We had a random case of “got really lucky” as the home food supply was dwindling before last payday — thanks to the volunteers who are still working to establish Real Foods Market at the Kyova Mall. I’ve been picking up randoms packages of frozen meats from the group’s deep freezers, and when the going got tough last week I checked our own frozen reserves. As a result, we had T-Bone steak for dinner one night, followed by filet mignon the next night and sirloins on payday eve. Considering we could barely afford macaroni and cheese or sliced bread to go with the meals, it did seem a little bit odd.

The red-meat bonanza originated from Rolling R Farms in Carter County, where it is produced by a local “grass farmer” without ASH (antibiotics, steroids and hormones), and it is delicious. When purchased through Real Foods market, the meat is priced about the same as you’d expect to find at Kroger.

Real Foods Market, which also offers things like milk and yogurt from Snowville Creamery and other locally-produced goods, has tackled a few challenges since it was initially formed by a group of like-minded local consumers, and it still isn’t where organizers want it to be. Most of all, they seem to need some motivated volunteers to help relieve the primary “worker bees” who’ve had to handle everything themselves. Or, if you don’t want to volunteer but do want to enjoy the good things from the market, you can pay a minimal annual membership fee to get in on the orders and pick-up days.

Pulling from their Facebook page, the market is “A group dedicated to the purchase and distribution of healthy, whole foods from local sources for people in Ashland, Grayson, and the surrounding areas,” and is further described as “a volunteer led buying club for local, healthy foods and products that use minimal or no processing, pesticides, etc.” If you’d like to get involved, the market’s board meetings are held on the first Monday of every month at the Kyova Mall (2nd door on the right through the main entrance), at 6 p.m., although you must pay annual membership dues in order to vote. For more information, look for Real Foods Market on Facebook.

Range within range

I’ve always lacked the crucial skills (patience, observation, stealth) to be a hunter, although I have always enjoyed shooting sports and have a pretty-solid history of putting my lead on the target. Considering the expense involved with buying ammo, it is a pursuit I haven’t had any chance to pursue in a long while, although I was pleased to learn there is a new indoor range just a few miles up the road if I do get a chance to pick it back up.

The best bassist in our ad department brought me a note about the recently-opened K-Hill Indoor Shooting Range, located at 9905 State Route 141, nine miles north of Ironton in Kitts Hill, Ohio. The facility is billed as the “Tri-State’s only state-of-the-art indoor range,” and our man on the scene was thoroughly impressed with what he saw during a recent visit, backing up their ad line “Where shooters come to shoot.”

I’m going to try to set up an interview and target session for a feature story sometime in the weeks ahead. K-Hill Indoor Shooting Range is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. If you have a chance to get there before I do, get in touch with owners Lynn, Mark, Dwain and Debbie at (740) 442-7072.

Mud and roses

I was making some calls last week for a story about the behind-the-scenes work going on at area greenhouse operations this time of year, and caught Ed at Childer’s Nursery in Rush to ask how things are going there.

Childers, who reminded me that I had indeed visited their business a couple of years ago while working on something pumpkin related, explained their operation has become a combination of wholesale and retail, and that they have plenty of work to get done after such a wet winter.

“We’ve got orders to fill, but we can’t dig for all the mud,” he said, noting demand for things including trees, hemlocks and arborvitaes.

I actually had to look up “arborvitaes” after Childers said that, and I was astounded that Google found the coniferous trees based on the mutated spelling of the word in my notes.

Childers said they’ve shifted most of the retail parts to his sister’s place, South Ashland Florist, although they still work customers in to daily operations there as well. “But, we don’t specialize in it,” he noted. Childers said the greenhouse, located near the Rush post office, will be potting roses from Tyler, Texas, during the next few days, and invited us out to take some photos of their crew at work and learn a little more about what they do next week.

For more information about Childer’s Nursery, at 19700 Ky. 854, call (606) 928-9295.

What do you want?

I was reviewing a couple of online rankings recently and came across numerous articles with the same theme — regional restaurants people wish were nationwide.

Ashland is obviously a city with an above-average number of recognizable restaurant franchises, and I was a little surprised to find the area already has several of the business names listed on the most-coveted-nationwide list: Buffalo Wild Wings (Ironton), Chick-Fil-A (Ashland, Huntington), Waffle House (Cannonsburg, Catlettsburg), Golden Corral (Russell), Cracker Barrel (Morehead) and even Dairy Queen (everywhere), which I really thought was located everywhere in the U.S.

One restaurant on practically each of those lists, to my surprise, was the southern favorite Bojangle’s. Now that I’m no longer driving past 50 of those a day, I really miss them — great biscuits. Others, such as Joe’s Crab Shack, Sonic, Skyline Chili, Quaker Steak & Lube and Steak n’ Shake (at the top of my personal wish list for a local location) are within driving distance.

Anyway, it all got me started thinking about which restaurants I would like to see locate within easy driving distance (and asking if anyone knows when the new Cook-Out in Morehead will be open?). And, to ask you what favorite places you would like to have here?

To my fellow burger lovers — there is just no way we’ll ever get an In-N-Out Burger anywhere near here, so we’ll just assume that is at the top of everyone’s list.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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Dirt flies as a wall comes down from the old Catlettsburg National Bank Building on Monday. MARK MAYNARD / The Independent

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