Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Slammed by a Late-Fall Snow Blast

We'd had days of warnings that we were under a pretty certain threat for a hellacious snow event over Winston-Salem, and it did not disappoint.

It was a blinding, blustery snow dump that started a little past midnight Saturday night. By morning's arising Sunday, there were already five inches on the ground and it just kept coming and coming. The final total: around a foot of snow!!

Sumner loved it! Must be the nearly one-quarter Siberian Husky in his genes, but it was for him a glorious and gratifying frolic each time I took him out.

The gusts were enough that I preferred closing up the chimney flue; that means there was no fire even though that would have been quite the cozy addition to the day.

Of course, we can't have nice things, so we did get some sleet and freezing rain beginning to mix in by early Sunday afternoon. By bedtime, it was just rain, darn it. Still, the drifts were sizable for what we are used to in this neck of the woods, and it was all quite lovely.

After dinner Sunday night, can you blame me for thinking a bit of snow cream was called for?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Meal No. 2255: Boeuf Bourguignon

Before the massive snow event rolled in overnight this past Saturday, a small crew engaged in a late afternoon watching of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, before adjourning to the kitchen for savory bowls of Boeuf Bourguignon over egg noodles.

Fire No. 51

That Saturday morning was plenty chilly, so the day began for Sumner and me with a roaring fire that made the kitchen comfortably toasty.

Based on "Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon," by Emma Christensen of TheKitchn.com. [Published 10 October 2018]

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Meal No. 2254: Steelhead Trout

'Twas a simple repast on Friday night: roasted steelhead trout with roasted garlic-and-parmesan asparagus spears.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Meal No. 2253: Asparagus and Chicken Linguine Alfredo

I was in Virginia Beach working at four different high schools this week and drove back in Thursday evening, just in time to make up an off-the-cuff pasta dish of chicken and asparagus over linguine with a Creole-enhanced alfredo sauce. It hit the spot!

Loosely based on "The Best Homemade Alfredo Sauce Ever!" by Alyssa Rivers of The Recipe Critic.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Granny Grant's Texas Sheet Cake

Following last Saturday night's dinner of pulled pork barbecue, I also offered up to everybody a different take on our much-loved Texas sheet cake. This is the thin version, made in a large sheet pan instead of the usual 13 x 9 that I have always used.

"Granny Grant's Texas Sheet Cake," by Fran Murray on JustaPinch.com.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Renovation of the RoedigerHouse.com Website

As often happens with websites, the homepage that I made about fifteen years ago, when I first bought the Roediger House, had over time undergone some deterioration. For the last couple of years, in particular, the photo galleries had become frustratingly persistent broken links. I'd cheated to build those "picture shows" originally, using Apple's old iWeb program, and then the files and scripts were tucked into a variety of places. The last time I really messed with it was back in 2010, and I didn't realize so much time had passed without my attempting to do any maintenance.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to re-educate myself in the web-based graphic design world. I am still hand-writing HTML code, creating (and sometimes hacking) cascading style sheets, and definitely hacking Javascript. I delved into Lightbox to combine HTML, CSS, and Javascript to get those galleries back up and running again, so I'm pleased to report that the static RoedigerHouse.com website is again a thing of approximate beauty.

I'm not sure if its re-emergence is related to the phone call I got Saturday afternoon, but once more there was a very nice lady wanting to know what the hours for tours of the house were that afternoon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Meal No, 2252: Indoor Pulled Pork Barbecue

Last Saturday night was a happy gathering of the most regular Roediger House regulars on a drizzly warmer evening. I had made indoor pulled pork, which was keeping warm in a slow cooker, and the coleslaw and potato salad were chilling in the fridge. So that left lots of time for pool playing before and after dinner.

And yet again, I managed to forget to get out the container of creamy stuffed eggs that I'd also made that afternoon, so I sent them home with folks and saved a few for Sunday morning snacking.

"Indoor Pulled Pork," by Bryan Roof. In Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2010 (No. 102), p. 6-7.

"Creamy Stuffed Eggs," a recipe shared with me by Barbara Huneycutt of Crozet, VA.

Guidance for Hard-Boiled Eggs from "Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs," by Jill Winger of the Prairie Homestead [Published April 2016]; and from "Instant Pot Recipes Everyone Should Know," by Alina Bradford from c|net.com. [Published 17 May 2018]

Sweet Southern Coleslaw based in part on a recipe from Allison M. Jones.

Potato Salad based on "The Best Potato Salad," by Ben Rayl of ComfortableFood.com [Accessed 20 February 2016]; and "Instant Pot Potato Salad with Dill Pickles," from Becky Hardin of TheCookieRookie.com [Published 20 March 2018].

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Meal No. 2251: Baked Chicken Tacos

With several chicken thighs remaining from the previous evening's meal, I thought I'd try out a new recipe last Thursday night: baked chicken tacos, and it wasn't all that bad. I first cooked the taco-seasoned boneless thighs in the Instant Pot, while simultaneously making the white cheese dip plus sautéing the onions. Once it was all assembled, I tossed it into the oven and filled a baggie with the white cheese dip to ooze out all over 'em once they were done.

That Thursday was sunny and lovely for a brief bit of the afternoon, but the day had dawned cold and by late afternoon it was gray and raw again. So it was actually a rare "two-fire" day, with one in the morning:

Fire No. 50

...and another built late that afternoon:

Fire No. 51

"Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Thighs," from Kristen Chidsey of A Mindfull Mom blog. [Published 25 June 2018]

"Easy Baked Chicken Tacos," from Layla Atik of GimmeDelicious.com.

Taco Seasoning based on "Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos," from Lauren Allen of TastesBetterfromScratch.com.

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from EatingonaDime.com.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Meal No. 2250: Chicken Penne Casserole

When Mookie and Kristen were here last Wednesday for dinner and hanging out, I tried out yet another new recipe: chicken penne casserole. Eh. Doubt I'll rush to make this one again. But at least we all had a fine evening together!

"Chicken Penne Casserole," from Cameron Vanosch [British Columbia], originally published in Simple & Delicious, January/February 2008. From TasteofHome.com.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Meal No. 2249: Roasted Salmon

Last Tuesday night, it was a healthy and simple meal: roasted salmon and lightly-buttered baby Brussels sprouts. Once again, that seafood was deliciously and perfectly cooked!

Also, that afternoon, Dylan from Webb Heating & Air Conditioning installed my two new Nest thermostats, which are smart but also designed to help economize. I'm already digging being able to control them through the app as well as voice commands to Amazon's Alexa. (This house has four thermostats/four HVAC zones, but I only put these in the most lived-in and actively used areas.)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Cozy Inside, Hawk Outside

Fire No. 49

As we approached the end of November, it seems we could not quite shake off the unusually chilly temps. Last Tuesday, for instance, our high temp was still about 20 degrees below average for this time of year. A nice morning fire was called for, which was great for Sumner and me: he lazed in the big chair, and I enjoyed coffee and another Sinclair Lewis novel.

We were briefly interrupted, though, by predator and prey activity right outside the kitchen window, which is how I knew the hawk was again lurking about. In the picture above, you can see him perched watchfully. In the picture below, you can see that the waning last quarter moon is itself lurking over him in the western sky.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Meal No. 2248: One-Pan Pork Tenderloin

The end of Thanksgiving weekend found the Roediger House dinner table again happily populated with folks who are dear, and the four of us on Sunday night dug in to what has become an easy favorite and easy regular dish: one-pan pork tenderloin with green beans and baby yellow potatoes.

On one of the trips outside for Sumner to run around, I really screwed up by leaving my phone on the charger. A hawk was perched on the AT&T cable right above the front wall, and there was a pretty cool moment where he and Sumner had a brief staring contest at each other.

The hawk relocated to one of the cherry trees overlooking the driveway, which gave me time to grab my long lens.

He hung out here for quite a while but my birds all seemed to get word of his threatening presence and were nowhere to be seen or heard. The hawk took off after about an hour of sitting and spinning that little head of his.

And ain't this a fine looking dog?

"One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potatoes," by Christie Morrison. In Cook's Country, October/November 2015, p. 27.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Meal No. 2247: Potato and Cheddar Soup

After the long morning of drear and cold and even some light icing on vegetation and on the cars, with a pervasive chill dominating all the feels, by Saturday night I was pretty sure soup was called for. With the ingredients on hand so that a trip out to the grocery store could be avoided, the smart call was for potato and cheddar cheese soup, topped with some crumbled bacon. It was the ideal evening meal for a day like that, while the fire still crackled on the grate nearby.

"Potato and Cheese Soup," shared with me by my sister and her husband, who got it through a cooking class at KitchenArt in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Winter Cometh

Fire 47

Black Friday turned cold, with a high temperature in the low 40s...or, put another way, 20 degrees colder than the average. It was time to get another great all-day fire going in the kitchen fireplace, which seemed (as the photo above suggests) to be perfectly cozy for Sumner. Friday was also the first day that Cristina Zavaleta took over the mammoth job of housecleaning, since Maid to Please didn't turn out to be the right choice. She and her team did a great job—I'm glad to have her. And the highlight of that cold day was a warm visit from my college roommate Jimmy, along with his wife Julie and their son Hunter. It's always terrific to see them.

Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend managed to dawn even more miserable, with temps hovering around 31°F and freezing rain overtaking the area. Which seemed to make a roaring Saturday morning fire an absolute necessity.

Fire 48

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Meal No. 2246: Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving remains my favorite of all the holidays precisely because it is all about food and fellowship with folks who enrich our lives. Sometimes that's our blood relations, but the Roediger House enjoys its own kind of family. Most years, that's meant a table full of a wonderful mix of people when all the many Thanksgiving dishes are offered up. This year was remarkably different and yet every bit as delightful: it was just four of us around the table.

And feast we did! The only regular feast menu item to make an appearance was layered green bean casserole. I tried new recipes for roasting a whole turkey and for a different take on stuffing. I brought in the Neely's terrific Southern creamed corn and pulled out a recipe for sweet potato casserole that I might only have made once before (at least since I began blogging about my kitchen exploits in 2010). It all seemed to turn out pretty great!

Roast Turkey

Sage Stuffing

Sweet Potato Casserole

Southern Creamed Corn

Layered Green Bean Casserole

"Make-Ahead Roast Turkey," by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.

"Classic Sage Dressing," by Faith Durand for The Kitchn. Posted by The Splendid Table.

"Sweet Potato Soufflé," by Eudell F. Smith of Clayton, NC. Published in Foundation Family Favorites. Cary, NC: North Carolina Baptist Foundation (1993), p. 205.

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

"Southern Creamed Corn," by Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Meal No. 2245: Brunswick Stew

We had us a fine gathering of five on the Wednesday night ahead of Thanksgiving, and the crew allowed me to try out another new recipe on them: Brunswick stew. I've made this before but I think the version that went into everybody's bowls that night was labeled a winner. So much winning!

Brunswick Stew based on:

Pulled Pork: "Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork" and "Homemade BBQ Sauce," from Ali of Gimme Some Oven.

Rotisserie Chicken from Sam's Club.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Meal No. 2244: Beef Bourguignon

Cooked last Sunday and served at dinnertime this past Monday night (after an overnight rest) was a gratifying pot of incredible rich, silky, and deeply-flavored beef bourguignon. Man-o-man, that hearty goodness ain't easy to resist.

Fire No. 46 - Prepped and Ready

Last weekend, there was enough of a chill and I was free enough with my schedule to make a third fire in three days. I'd laid it that morning so that it would be in readiness, but I wasn't planning to light it since the forecast was for a gentle warming up to around 60°F...but with intermittent cloudiness and enough chill in this old man's bones, I was quick to strike a match to it and then enjoy working by the blaze.

Fire No. 46 - Work Setting

Also, many thanks to all of you who were not that morning's example of careless inconsideration:

"Beef Bourguignon (Julia Child Recipe)," from Karina of CafeDelites.com. [Published 18 February 2018]

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Saturday Night Carrot Cake

Exactly a week ago, when there was a crowd here and we had baked spaghetti casserole, I also had a dessert to offer up to the gathered crew: one-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Yum. Seriously, it was supremely yum.

"Perfect Carrot Cake," by Shelly Jaronsky of CookiesandCups.com. [Published 11 April 2018]

Friday, November 23, 2018

Meal No. 2243: Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole

On the Saturday night before Thanksgiving, there were seven of us around the dinner table. I served up a new recipe for baked spaghetti. For years and years, I've depended upon a delicious recipe for this that I got from my long-time friend Cindy Coulson, but I was up for trying something new and a bit goopier than the usual.

I wanted to walk a fine line: to up the cheesiness and ooze without the dish becoming a spaghetti'd version of lasagna. I wanted it to retain some distinctness and, in the end, I reckon it mostly succeeded. It seems the unanimous verdict was that this was a fine dish, worthy of repeating.

We had salad with it, with homemade Caesar dressing and homemade croutons.

The chill that invaded Winston that week was slow to abate, and I uncharacteristically made an evening fire on Friday night...normally I make 'em an all-day affair.

Fire No. 44

And then, although Saturday was a beautiful and sunny late fall day, I still started the morning with a fire since (1) it was 33°F when I woke up and (2) I like having a fire. With coffee in one hand and a good book to read in the other, and with Sumner settled in as an oversized lapdog, it was a picture-perfect Saturday morning.

Fire No. 45

Recipe based primarily on "Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti" and "Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce," by Sabrina of Dinner, Then Dessert. [Published 06 May 2016]

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

"Croutons," by Marg CaymanDesigns on GeniusKitchen.com.