Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Meal No. 2401: St. Louis Pork Spare Ribs

The Sunday night meal for six at the Roediger House: pork spare ribs, creamy brie four-cheese mac and cheese, and roasted whole green beans. Amazing.

"Crock Pot Ribs," from Christin Mahrlig of the Spicy Southern Kitchen blog. [Published 17 January 2019]

"Creamy Brie Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese," from Tieghan Girard of the Half-Baked Harvest blog. [Published 21 November 2013]

Inspiration for Roasted Green Beans from "Foil-Baked Green Beans with Soy Sauce and Garlic" by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat; and from "Roasted Green Beans" by Samanathon on GeniusKitchen.com.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Sorry State of My Sickly Maple Trees

Looks like I might be one-for-four on the young trees I bought in the fall of 2016 to put in the back yard...the dogwood died within a year, and now two of the three maple trees appear to barely be holding on.

Both of these sad little maples appeared to get a shock of some kind last fall. Instead of a gradual turn of their leaves to a deep autumnal red, the upper half of each went straight to brown. As spring came on this year, the top half of one and about half of the branches of the other never did bud or leaf out.

Within the last week, one of the two main trunks of one just split off and fell over. When you've reached an age yourself where the years no longer seem to stretch endlessly in front of you, the loss of three years' growing time for trees that need about 15 or 20 years to really establish their presence is no small blow.

Guess I'll be planting something new there in the early fall, nonetheless!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Meal No. 2400: Roasted Salmon on Caesar-Topped Greens

I guess it's appropriate that a momentous meal like "No. 2400" ought to feature a mainstay of my current eating life: roasted salmon with homemade creamy Caesar dressing on a pile of power greens. I very nearly planted my face directly into the bowl, such was the degree of my hunger at the moment I sat down to eat late Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Salted Caramel Butterscotch Blondies

Right at the end of June, I whipped up a batch of salted caramel sauce and used it to make a pan of salted caramel butterscotch blondies. But I wasn't quite pleased with how they turned out and wanted to give it another go as long as I still had a nice portion of caramel sauce remaining. So last night I stayed up past a decent bedtime and pulled these out of the oven after midnight. And then ate rather a sizable corner portion that was too hot to handle and too tasty to ignore.

"Salted Caramel Butterscotch Blondies" from Maria & Josh of the Two Peas & Their Pod blog.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Meal No. 2399: Homemade Caesar Dressing on Power Greens

The Friday evening entertainment was to walk up Fourth Street to a/perture, our local arthouse theatre, to catch a really terrible film: Wild Rose. (I hated it, just about every minute of it, and I can't imagine why it currently has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) Then I came home hungry and piled a plate high with power greens, topped with homemade Caesar dressing, and gussied up with roasted sunflower seeds. My supper was much, much better than my cinema.

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of lowcarbmaven.com.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Meal No. 2398: Roasted Pork Tenderloin

I was working in Virginia the last couple of days, so it was nice to return to my kitchen this evening to make a filling dinner of hoisin-roasted pork tenderloin, along with roasted broccoli and parmesan'd red potato slices. Since I don't eat well or much when I'm traveling these days, I took great liberties with the size of my portion.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Immense Popularity of a Tonsured Bradley Phillis

I am under no illusions about the level of public interest that the Roediger House blog generates. It's a selfish indulgence that satisfies a pungent strain of OCD within me, it's an easy means for record-keeping and cataloguing, and it's also a way to share with interested friends and colleagues the comings and goings of RoHo life. Maybe it's safe to say the blog is also a habit.

Sometimes I glance at the stats, and a while back it struck me as remarkable that a brief post about friend and former Wake Forest grad student Bradley Phillis had earned over 500 hits and ranked 2nd of all-time. (Color me peeved, also, since I've cooked some amazing things and taken gorgeous photos of them...and they've not proved to be anywhere near as popular!)

Oh, but the power of Google! When I started digging into some explanation, here's what came up when I did a simple Google search for "tonsure":

Quite likely, it was the photo posted with that entry that got picked up by Google's search engine, and when I ran that image search at that time, I found that Bradley's picture was the fourth most popular image...which might reasonably explain why that blog post has been visited so many times:

The image's popularity deviates, as might be expected...I've searched other times and it's been the 5th most popular, or the 7th most popular...but more recently it has completely fallen out of the top returns. (The last time I checked, Bradley's tonsured mug was at the end of the 43rd row of images on the search results page.) I guess past notoriety and faded glory will have to achieve for us a small bit of satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Restless Granite Wallcaps

04 July 2018

The position of the Roediger House along North Spring Street is somewhat elevated from the street grade and the whole front of the property sits behind a retaining wall adjacent to the city sidewalk.

Over time, the granite wallcaps especially atop the northern end of the wall have been gradually pushed out over the sidewalk.

This next picture might be a little disorienting, but I laid down on the sidewalk and pointed my camera straight up to show how much of this unfortunate overhanging was occurring:

I decided to make that one of my small summer projects back in May and June, which means it was not without its own problems. But please understand: when I decide to tackle these projects solo, I open myself up to no small set of issues! For instance, for this little old man to move those ginormous weighty granite wallcaps, I have to use an oversized crowbar and bit by bit stack wood slats or bricks under them to get any leverage or glide. And that meant I pulverized some of the handmade 100-plus-year-old bricks that were underneath:

And you can also see that at least one of those wallcaps was broken but I didn't realize it until I disturbed their seated positions.

I have pretty limited experience with masonry but I did my best to fix up sad batches of cement and gave it an adequate fix:

I also decided to shift all the wallcaps down so that the broken one would be at the end under the false mop cypress bush.

A lot of the mortar underneath these old granite wallcaps had disintegrated; some were held in place more by the dirt and roots that had gotten under them. I now have them straight along the top of the wall in a linear sense, but they are a bit rocky and uneven given all the variation that resulted from how they're sitting atop the brick wall. I will have to let that be someone else's repair job, if I ever get around to it.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Meal No. 2397: Biscuits 'N Sausage Gravy

The late afternoon meal-for-the-day today: the best sausage gravy I have ever made, over some fresh-baked biscuits, washed down with a tall cold glass of water, and followed by ample happy smacking of lips.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Meal No. 2396: Macaroni Beef Casserole

It was a long, long drive back home from Oklahoma Sunday, and after an afternoon nap, I ventured into the kitchen looking forward to once again making a meal...something comforting and relatively easy. I tinkered a bit with recipe for an Afro-Cuban-influenced macaroni beef casserole and came out with a delightful dish for dinner.

Based on "Macaroni Beef Casserole," from Imma of Immaculate Bites, a blog found at AfricanBites.com.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Stash of Ticket Stubs

Speaking of movies, the quiet and lulls of late winter permitted me another organizing/archiving project, not so wildly different from my recipe notebook endeavor from the fall of 2017. This one involved emptying out a Pearl's Beer pitcher that had the accumulated ticket stubs from movies, concerts, national parks, plays, community events, museums, and athletic events (and such!) over the last four decades.

I sorted them according to type and then started putting them in date order:

Then I started taping them onto sheets and labeling them:

Then I scanned each page so I'd have the digital archive and slid the hardcopies into page protectors to go in a notebook:

I created a new Instagram account (@ticketstubsstash) and have made IG-friendly posts out of each ticket and I upload them no more than once a day. It's been a fun diversion and I've enjoyed the positive reaction to them.

But I've also really enjoyed the trip down memory lane...I've seen a lot of great and even modern classic films...and also some that were utterly forgettable. Many of these posts have been the plain scanned image from my archive notebook, as shown above with my $2.00 matinee price from the original run of E.T.: The ExtraTerrestrial in 1982. Others I've also jazzed up with some photoshop fancification:

It's also rekindled my desire to catch more films in the theatres instead of waiting until release on DVD or bluray or via streaming. Over the last few years, I seem to have seen only a handful per year at the multiplex or arthouse theatre, but 2019 is definitely shaping up to be a record. I suspect that will be discussed in some upcoming blog post.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Winston Theatre

I get why we need megamultiplexes with stadium seating and surround sound and digital projection and all that. But I also feel the loss of local downtown theatres and miss having the chance to catch fun films in those storied and intimate locations.

Fourth Street as seen from Spring Street.
The Winston is just down on the left in this photo.

As I've looked a bit into the history of the surroundings of the Roediger House, I found that just around the corner was once a 999-seat popular movie house called The Winston. The building still stands, but you'd never recognize it for what it once was. It has a new facade and is home to architects and other assorted offices. It's pretty non-descript, directly across the street from the steadily popular Foothills Brewery.

I'm sure that films were better when shown in the remarkable Ultravision:

A bit more about it, and the even more fantastic movie palace that was once the Carolina Theatre, can be found on the classicfilmtvcafe blog.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Sumner Stalks a Flightless Baby Bird

As we moved into late June, Sumner and I got to witness the struggles of a ground-bound as-yet-flightless baby bird for a few days, when we were enjoying our outside time. As soon as I saw that this little fella was what Sumner had cornered under an azalea bush, I commanded him to back off...which he did, and did nicely. (He is such a great pup!) But he still kept his eye on the hops and stumbles of this little tyke, as noted in the picture above.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

There Was No Wire Grass in the Garden of Eden

While I might go so far as to claim the Roediger House is a bit of a paradise, I must confess that wire grass could not have been the invention of a just, merciful, and benevolent God. And by all indications it cannot ever be fully defeated, especially since even the smallest bit of left-behind rhizome or stolon is capable of germinating new growth. Multiple applications of high-strength RoundUp, plus completely removing up to a foot of sod and topsoil from both sides of the front yard, still has not been sufficient to be rid of it. In the photo above, you can see where it's coming up even after removing several inches of topsoil.

Everything about wire grass depresses and discourages me, but finding that a one- or two-inch section played dead for (two or more!) weeks before sending out the taunting green tendrils of new growth (see above), and also finding incredibly thick and vibrant rhizomous roots as deep as a foot (photo below), was sufficient to nearly send me over the edge.

Further discouragement came from discovering all too late that plenty of life was left in the poisoned remains dug out of the front yard, and that it's happily sprouting in the back yard where I relocated a lot of that fine topsoil.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Celebrating and Remembering Mother

NCAA Final Four, 1997

'Tis Mother's birthday today, and were she still with us, she would be turning 93. She was such a terrific woman, an awesome mother, a true treasure. She only got to see the house a couple of times in that first year after I bought it, prior to her devastating automobile wreck, but she loved it for me and was always so interested in its possibilities. I think she'd like it very much.

With her sister Maywood and brother Carlton, 2003

Monday, July 1, 2019

Salted Caramel Butterscotch Blondies

Last Saturday evening, I whipped up a fresh batch of salted caramel sauce, which was amazing all unto itself and I could not quite stop sampling from it whilst it cooled on the countertop.

Then I used it as part of a batch of salted caramel butterscotch blondies, which remained a bit soft in the center but which also were darned difficult to resist. So instead of dinner that night, I basically had sugar. The required and accompanying regrets were delayed.

"Salted Caramel Butterscotch Blondies" and "Salted Caramel Sauce," from Maria & Josh of the Two Peas & Their Pod blog.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Meal No. 2395: Baked Chicken Thighs

Friday's early meal: seasoned baked chicken thighs together with green beans and some easy skillet stuffing. I pretty much scarfed this down and almost licked the emptied plate.

"Baked Tender Chicken Thighs," from Valentina's Corner.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Meal No. 2394: Lamb & Mushroom Meat Loaf

It was kind of a sizable meal for the early bird special on Thursday, but I was headed to a 6:30 documentary screening and needed supper to be over before I left. It was still a great meal, though: lamb meat loaf, buttered mashed potatoes, and garden peas. I had more than my fill.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150), in Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen, by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Meal No. 2393: 2 x 2 Soup

For a simple meal on Wednesday afternoon, I made a half-batch of the warm and delicious 2 x 2 soup.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Praline Clusters

Last Tuesday I got a hankering to try out a new recipe for pecan praline clusters, and boy howdy were they ever a sweet treat that couldn't be beat.

"Pralines," by ratherbeswimmin on GeniusKitchen.com.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Meal No. 2392: Garden Salad with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

For a simple lunch meal on Sunday, I had a nice crisp garden salad with some homemade Thousand Island dressing on it. I ended up having another such salad for supper the following Tuesday. I tinkered a bit with the dressing recipe and it really was great...and easy!

Adapted from "Thousand Island Dressing," from Graybert on GeniusKitchen.com.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Meal No. 2391: Pipetizer Casserole

It's been well over a year since I made what used to be a real staple and much-loved favorite around here: the cheesy beefy goodness of Pipetizer Casserole. With six of us at dinner Sunday night, it's what I offered up, along with mixed greens and homemade Caesar dressing. It seems from the table conversation that we'd all missed this meal...

"Pipetizer Casserole" is an adaptation of "Tailgate Casserole," from The Big Book of Casseroles, by Maryana Vollstedt. San Francisco: Chronicle Books (2000), p. 120.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Meal No. 2390: Roasted Salmon on Caesar-Topped Power Greens

On Saturday evening, after eating very little while I spent the week working in Richmond, I was ready for a healthy but hefty supper. The slab of salmon I spiced and roasted was over a half-pound, and I generously topped my power greens with homemade Caesar dressing, plus roasted sunflower seeds.

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of lowcarbmaven.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls

While my sister was down at the beach over the last couple of weeks, she came across a recipe for pimento cheese sausage balls and sent it to me with the query: "What do you think?" I decided to try it out last Sunday, with a batch of my own homemade pimento cheese. And I'd say they were indeed pretty good...perhaps even a nice improvement on the original Bisquik recipe from my mother!

"Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls," by Kate Robertson of A Thought and a Half blog. [Published 20 March 2019]

"South Carolina-Style Pimento Cheese." Recipe worked out by me, based on Sharon's Palmetto Pimento Cheese.