Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meal No. 111: Smoked Paprika Salmon

After a week's vacation in Maine with wonderful friends, and lots of good food prepared by others, it was delightful to get home again to the joys of cooking myself. I didn't go hog-wild, though, and decided a simple meal was called for. So Meal No. 111 was smoked paprika salmon, with broccoli and vermicelli & rice. It wasn't the best thing I've ever made but it was a pretty suitable dinner nonetheless. Final preparations were undertaken while I was enjoying a chance visit from good friends lovingly known as "The Jens."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cloverwhelmed

Looks like I've got another clover invasion to deal with this spring. I've got to dig up my weed-be-gone treatment so that I can get this clover knocked down. Right now, it's got the north plot of grass (to the right of the front steps, when you're looking at the house from the street) looking entirely too much like a great expanse of elementary school playground. It would be awesome if 8-year-olds wanted to see if they could find a four-leaf clover, but for a man's yard, it gives off the whiff of neglect. Better get it under control.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Onion Rings for a Saturday Snack

Not too very long ago, I decided to experiment with another untried cooking experience: onion rings. There was a tempting recipe in an old cooking magazine and the clincher was the recipe also recommended a lime honey mustard dipping sauce to go with it.



The result? Pretty darned good. Makes me want to mess around a little more with battering and frying things, although I'm not planning to go hog-wild with it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shady Spot Gives Me the Willards

My happy quarter-acre in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem looks very urban and industrial if you take a wide shot of it from up on the parking deck across the street. But in summer, when the trees get all leafed out, there are some terrific shady spots.

Like this area, at the back corner of the parking lot:



Which is where a driver for Willard Cab Company decided he would pull up into and park for a while so that he could get out of the hot sun. But that ain't what I bought the lot for, so I sent him on his way. Like I want his oil dripping on my driveway?

But that's a long, long way from when I first bought the house back in 2003, and that corner of the lot was where I watched a drug deal go down around 6:30 one morning. Times, and the neighborhood, have sure changed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grousing About the Grout



This picture was taken on January 3, 2010, when I set about documenting all the problems that had emerged since final construction related to settling of the new structure. What you see here (click the photo for an enlarged view) is how much separation had occurred between the floor and the walls of the main upstairs bathroom's shower, as well as the crack in the corner joints of the tiles on the walls. All four of the full bathrooms had cracks and separations in the grout work. I did not do extensive blogging about this, but I've noted before the problems with tile separation in the grout between the walls and the floors of the showers and a general disintegration of the grout around the Van Gogh bathroom's tub.

At the end of February, most of these issues were reworked with a more pliable grout by the general contractor, Peter LaRoque of LaRoque Construction of Mocksville, NC.

Alas, with the passage of more time, cracks have appeared in the floors of the master bathroom (rather extensive, as noted in an earlier blog post) and in the Wyeth bathroom upstairs. The Van Gogh bathroom is not showing much in the way of obvious cracks but there are hairline-sized hints at it. The main upstairs bathroom, located on the stair landing, is showing cracks in the grout in front of and along the sides of the shower threshhold:



As of early June, it appears that the floor is continuing to separate from the walls in the Wyeth shower, in spite of the use of the altered grout compound. The following two pictures are from June 7, 2010:



Friday, June 25, 2010

Drunk Visitors

Back in May, Fourth Street was the scene of the Salute! Wine Festival (a tremendous and very popular gathering around the corner from the house). I didn't make it up there this year...when I was ready to check it out, that's when the rains were coming. I had other plans for my evening, though, as seen in a previous blog post.

At the end of that evening, I was enjoying getting started with the second season of Damages on DVD, and I'd refilled my plate with some of the fried shrimp and some cocktail sauce, and as I headed to the stairs, I noticed a woman creeping up onto my porch.

Turns out some rather drunk folks were headed out after their day at the wine festival, but the house caught their eye, and they could especially see the woodwork and wanted a closer look. So I let them in to look around a bit. I thought too late about snapping their picture for a blog entry.

Next day, I discovered that they must have pilfered a Foothills Brewing Company glass, because there it sat on my front porch.

I don't suppose one can ever have too many Foothills Brewing Company glasses. Into the dishwasher it went, and now it sits on a shelf waiting a chance to be filled with a frosty brew...from my own fridge here at home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

See the Debris of the Trash Trees

Not too long ago, I tossed up a blog entry about the trash trees growing up on the back wall between my property and the higher retaining wall of the lot behind me (home to Life Care ambulance service). Here's a picture to highlight yet another example of the trash some of those trees put out, as seen on top of my car after a rainy night.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dish and Chips

My pleasure with how the kitchen turned out is reasonably well-known by now. My lament is that I do not get to spend more time in it, given that I make my living by being gone entirely too much. I am, however, realizing that an understandable cost of or price to be paid for lovely quartz countertops is that they are much less forgiving with dishes and drinkware.



So far, with about a year of living with the new kitchen, the casualties have been one dinner plate and one Roediger House coffee mug. They're not out of commission, and I probably need to wear down the chipped edges to prevent injuries when handling them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meal No. 110: Asian Chicken Salad

I realize this is a repeat, but I did make a few modifications to it. Anyway, here's Meal No. 110: Asian Chicken Salad.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cue the Flood Lights

I suppose my enthusiasm for casting more light on the parking area got me too excited about installing these flood lights, without taking the time to consider what happens when they burn out:



I mean, these flood lights are under the eaves of the second story, and I ain't got a ladder that'll stretch up that far. And if I did, I really don't have anywhere to store it.



So recently, on a trip to Lowe's, I spotted one of those extension lightbulb changers, and I figured I'd give it a try. I still had to climb up the ladder and get up on the roof of the bay window, but Ray Jones managed to get both of these burned-out floodlamps changed. Now, the lot is once again properly lighted at night.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Grass-Cutting Day

All these summer thunderstorms are bringing enough rain that the grass just keeps growing, and it requires cutting at least weekly, if not more often than that. So after the weekend's houseguests departed, it was time to brave the heat of this heatwave we've been having and get the grass cut again. I did it pretty darned quickly but I was sweating up a storm anyway.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Meal No. 109: Beef Tenderloin for Guests



If Harris Teeter wants to keep its beef tenderloin on special, I guess I'll have to keep buying it and roasting it. Meal No. 109 in the new kitchen was my single effort at the cook's role while Tim Schwarz and Andrea Bond were here visiting this weekend, and I was pretty pleased with the results. It's probably good it was just the four of us (Bradley Phillis also joined in) because there wasn't much of the meal left once we were done.



This evening's menu: beef tenderloin in wine sauce, spicy horseradish sauce, layered green bean casserole, company mashed potatoes, maple wheat bread, and Local One brew from the Brooklyn Brewery. Dessert was a choice although choosing both seemed a good idea: lemon buttermilk pie or Vietnamese Coffee ice cream.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Houseguests

It was a distinct pleasure to be able to host Tim Schwarz and Andrea Bond when they were visiting North Carolina for the week. It's been a while since there have been weekend guests and I think I was getting rusty with my inn-keeping skills. But they were easy to have around and it was terrific to have them here.

I came in just ahead of them from working the previous four days in Virginia, so there would be no cooking when they arrived Thursday. Instead, we enjoyed a long visit on the upstairs porch over a variety of beers, joined somewhere along the way by another former student, Bradley Phillis. Dinner was out at Moselle's, just up from the house on Fourth Street, and it was delicious. (The waiter overdid it, but to each his own.)

And on Friday evening, I really wanted them to take in the great food at 6th & Vine, followed by a drink or two at Single Brothers on Trade Street.

Definitely a good time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Movie Night of 2010

Since the initial movie night that was planned to kick off the Fourth Season of the Roediger Theatre got rained out, the inaugural screening of this summer ended up being a delightfully small affair for out-of-town weekend guests. A former student of mine, Tim Schwarz, and his girlfriend Andrea Bond, came up to North Carolina from New Orleans for a week of visiting with friends, and they took up residence in the Roediger House for the weekend.

To note the occasion and to give Andrea the full treatment on her first trip here, we schemed to show a movie that we knew she would like: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It's a fairly dark movie (and by that, I also refer to how most of its scenes are shot), and unfortunately for about the first half of it, the ambulance service behind us was burning extra security lights which washed out what was on the screen.

Nonetheless, it was a fun evening and a good film. Season Four is now officially underway.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Storm Coming In

When I was checking the poor condition of the "new" gutters on the kitchen addition to the house over the weekend, I found myself up on the ladder just as a nasty summer storm was brewing itself up to full strength for a late afternoon onslaught. I went ahead and snapped a shot of it, and here it is:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Estimated Tax Time!

June 15, 2010 • Winston-Salem

Ah, the joys of being self-employed. It is June 15th and that means it's time to send in another estimated taxes payment to the Internal Revenue Service (and another check to the North Carolina Department of Revenue). So this is a pretty good explanation as to why I have a great house but have to spend so much time away from it: somehow, I've got to earn the money to pay a share of it to the government.

So each time before I leave home, I'll get cleaned up in my county-inspected new bathroom, brush my teeth with municipal water, turn off the lights that come from a publicly-regulated utility, and hit the public highway to go earn my living. I'm okay with the trade-offs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Meal No. 108: Chicken Salad with Asparagus Cuts

To start off this week, I wanted to have some easy fixins on hand, and this coincided with a perusal of a recent issue of Bon Appétit that featured a tempting-sounding guide for making chicken salad with an asparagus twist.

Put that together with a special deal on the "Baked 8" chicken from Harris Teeter, and it was practically ordained.

Back in early April, when I tried my hand for the first time at making any kind of chicken salad, I vowed I would make it more often. I love me some chicken salad. And I've got a good little assortment of variations and possibilities for it. But it's taken me almost 10 weeks to give it another go? That's crazy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meal No. 107: Grilled Pork Chops with Lime, Cilantro, and Garlic



Just before today's storms came, I did a little early afternoon grilling on the front porch, and what you see above was the result. Today's menu: grilled center-cut pork chops with a lime, cilantro, and garlic sauce; Asian rice; and sugar snap peas. And in a few minutes, the last of last week's lemon custard ice cream will get dusted off.

I know how to live it up on a summer Sunday afternoon.



"Grilled Pork Chops with Lime, Cilantro, & Garlic," posted by Bergy originally to Recipezaar. Now found on food.com.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Coffee Cake

It's Saturday morning at the start of the FIFA World Cup soccer ("football") action taking place in South Africa. Some dedicated and hard-core fans of the matches were hitting 6th & Vine early this morning before work to take in some of the coverage. Seemed to me a good opportunity to bake up a Bundt coffee cake to serve warm whilst we watched. But doggone it, I've got to get a handle on incorporating the swirl into it. I've been making this coffee cake for 25 years, I bet, and I've lost my touch with the good stuff that should nestle into the moist, flavorful cake. So it settles down to the bottom and ends up sticking to the pan.

Nonetheless, in spite of the unfortunate aesthetics of it, all but a single piece was gone by the time I left late morning. So I'm hoping that means folks enjoyed it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meal No. 106: Lamb Köfte

Last night, I went a bit Middle Eastern with the dinner menu. Officially, the dish is called Lamb Köfte with Tahini Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara. According to whatever recipe magazine I got this out of (Gourmet? Bon Appetit?), it's "the Middle East on a flatbread": Turkish meatballs, a tahini-spiked yogurt sauce, and a Syrian red pepper spread.

Together with carmelized onions, I'd say it was just flat-out good. It had enough heat to it that it made the lemon custard ice cream afterwards that much sweeter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day Lillies and Yard Work

In the seven years I've lived in the Roediger House, I think I've managed to miss the blooming of my day lillies at the front walk several times because of my traveling. Today, they showed themselves to be on the verge of blooming, and I'm hoping they'll really pop out for this weekend.





We've had enough rain that the grass is really not giving me much of a reprieve on mowing. So in the rapidly-increasing heat of late morning, I gave the yard a quick mowing.



It seemed a good day to go ahead and cut back on the terrible rapid growth from the trash trees on the back wall, about which I blogged yesterday. This means I added a good bit more to the pile of downed limbs that showed up after the bad storms from a week ago.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When Your Back's Up to the Wall



Let me introduce you to the rear wall of the property, which "stands" only about 20 feet behind the kitchen addition. I have to put "stands" in quotation marks because it is decreasingly certain that it will remain standing, especially since in the years of neglect of the house (from the 1980s into the 1990s), trash trees managed to get a toe-hold in the space between my wall and the retaining wall of the property behind--and above--me.



So I think I've got a real problem on my hands. These rascals are not particularly sturdy and they are particularly pernicious. Their survival instinct is on hyperdrive and it's tough as heck to kill them. And the roots! My gosh, the roots are fast-moving and invasive and ultimately destructive.



By the time it's all said and done, I'm going to have one heckuva time wrestling control of all this back from them, and the fact that I've let another seven years pass without reining them in is not really helping.



And not only will I need to pay someone to remove the trees, but there will also be a sizable outlay in getting the wall restored or, perhaps, replaced. Ka-Ching!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Continued Grout Deterioration in Master Bath

Back in February, I did a blog entry about the floor tile in the master bathroom coming loose and even cracking. At the end of that month, Peter LaRoque (of LaRoque Construction of Mocksville, NC), the general contractor, was in the house to tackle several repairs and fixes, and he re-did a portion of that floor. I did tell him at that time I felt that more of the floor was going to need attention; you could hear the grit of deteriorated grout shifting underfoot when you walk across that bathroom floor.

It was also an issue that was emerging in the bathrooms added to the two back bedrooms upstairs.

Pete only repaired the portion of the master bath floor with visible cracks, and I cannot report being thrilled with the finished job. The newly-grouted portions are not smooth across—there are dips in it—and the color is not consistent within the new grout he applied.

Well, the rest of the floor has now manifested the problems that plagued the portion that he repaired. This picture shows the portion of the floor in front of the closet that Pete regrouted; the red lines show where cracks have now appeared and that will also need to be reset and regrouted. Click on the picture and you'll get a large version of it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shaky Shower Control

Here's a recent discovery up in the Wyeth bedroom's shower:

video


It seems that the shower control is not, well, attached really to anything. The whole thing moves and jiggles and shifts and shakes.

Let's add that to the list of things that will need to be addressed by Peter LaRoque of LaRoque Construction of Mocksville, NC.

[Please Note: Because I'm not really taking extra time capturing this video, I did it with my laptop but did not worry about reversing the angle on the video.]

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cookies & Cream(y) Custard

A weekend of more dessertification:



Lemon custard, from a recipe kindly and thoughtfully shared by Donna Whitley-Smith, Assistant Superintendent in Page County Schools in Virginia. This is her mother's recipe and it's some good stuff.



And white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, fresh-baked and straight from the oven. Yum.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Meal No. 105: Chicken Paprikash

Feeling Hungary? Good, because this evening's meal is the Hungarian speciality of chicken paprikash. Yep: another recipe I'd not tried out before. It was delicious but I still ran into the problem of undercooked chicken, that had to be microwaved. Am I losing my touch?



The joy of the meal was definitely increased by a more successful run at biscuit-making. This is an ongoing quest for me, to get good at biscuits. I am a southern boy, after all. Tonight's version is actually called "Cat Head Biscuits," because they bake up big as a cat's head.



Still not exactly on the money, but definitely delicious.



"Chicken Paprikash," by Kris Widican. In Cook's Country, October/November 2009, p. 23.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Feeling Squirrel-y

Sometimes there will be as many as four or five squirrels running around my small expanse of yard. They do seem to be especially grateful to the birds that do so much careless slinging of seed from the various bird feeders. They also typically seem to know their place in relation to the birds, because they will get squawked at and chased off with regularity.

I sat on the back stoop not too long ago, and that gave me a chance to snap a few shots of one of the backyard dwellers.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Feeling McNeely



Spring brings out the critters, so I'm glad it rolled around to be time for my usual pest control treatment, which is brought to me by the local McNeely Pest Control folks. They've been great to work with and I can see the results when they're on the job.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Willy Nilly on Some Chili

Since I've been on a cooking rampage, I've had to wrestle with the waste factor and the waist factor. All this food leads to too much eating but I also end up with leftovers that don't ever get eaten because I'm already whipping up the next fresh meal instead of whittling down what accumulates in the fridge.



Yesterday ended up being a good chance to reach into the freezer for some of the chili that was made for last January's Chili Cook-off. And it was some delicious kind of chili, let me tell you. A simple pleasure on a Tuesday before I hit the road for a few days of work in Virginia...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kindest Cuts

There's been enough rain lately that it was time for more grass-cutting on this warm Tuesday. I have been doing a much better job staying on top of the lawn so far this summer, but that may be in part because I did not subject myself to as demanding a travel schedule as I have in the past.

It seems like last year I would be home a day or so on the weekends, and if it happened to be raining, then it would be a whole 'nother week before the grass could be touched. That, plus the ongoing construction last year, made trimming the lawn a trickier proposition.

But as I've said before, the well-cared-for lawn makes the house look that much better. And I'm into that.

It also seemed to be a good day for a haircut, which was long overdue.