Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meal No. 183: Open-Faced Tacos

Once again, I was in the position of needing a quick and easy meal to whip up, since I'm driving this evening to Williamsburg, VA. This week it's the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference, and I've got a team of folks who will be joining me for a presentation.

Tonight: open-faced tacos on flour tortillas that have been griddled to melt four cheeses on them. Typical burger meat with taco seasoning, and lettuce and tomato to top it off.

And I love some Pepsi Throwback to wash it down.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meal No. 182: Creamy Feta Chicken over Pasta

This may qualify as the first meal I ever just made up. It was my hope to strive for recreating a delicious dish called MoJack City that I used to enjoy at the old Raleigh Rathskeller on Hillsborough Street, an establishment that it depresses me to know has long since closed.

And while the results were tasty, they were not what I had hoped for. Although I do think it's safe to suggest that this might be just the kind of dish one might get at Carraba's or Macaroni Grill, two places that I find putrid.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meal No. 181: Turkey Drumsticks

As if Thursday's Thanksgiving meal wasn't enough, I managed to fall into line with hundreds of thousands of other bargain shoppers and take advantage of cheap prices on turkey drumsticks. So last night's meal was a miniature recreation of the Thanksgiving feast with turkey drumsticks in wine and broth with onions, mushrooms, garlic, and herbs; a thrown-together sweet potato casserole; a small batch of stuffing; and some green beans. With Marquis Phillips 2008 shiraz alongside, this was some good eating.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Meal No. 180: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

After all that cooking for Thanksgiving, and the accompanying clean-up, you'd think I would have had enough of involved and intensive meal preparation for a day or so. In fact, when I got started on the meal earlier this evening (well, last night), I wasn't even really finished cleaning up from Thursday's feasting and company.

But a recent trip to New Orleans cemented my resolve to attempt a re-creation of one of the Quarter's new iconic menu items: the peanut butter bacon burger from Yo Mama's Bar and Grill on St. Peter [Update: Yo Mama's closed in early 2016].

It started with making my own peanut butter:

Then, another new thing for me: grinding my own hamburger, using a mix of boneless beef short ribs and sirloin tip:

Then, you divide the ground meat into four rough piles and nudge it all together gently (rather than pat and mash and roll and squeeze):

Then I cooked 'em up along with some bacon, toasted the buns in butter in the skillet, and smeared on the special sauce I'd made earlier...

The final result: delicious.

That was Meal No. 180 in the new kitchen. [Recipe and Instructions from Cook's Illustrated, No. 93 (July/August 2008), p. 10.]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun Foods of the Holiday

A little catching-up on the non-meal holiday cooking and prep...

Because I knew there would be social time on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, in addition to the big Thanksgiving meal last night, I wanted to have some munchables on hand. Here's a sampling:

This is the always amazing gnarly garlic dip, based on a recipe I got from a former colleague at the hellish bastion of Wake Forest University.

It can be consumed on many things, but Wheat Thins seem the best match for it.

Above, you'll see a dab of southwestern dip, a staple at the Roediger House for a lot of years now and a particular favorite of a lot of former WFU students.

Finally, it's not a holiday unless there is a batch of fudge lying around. Alongside you can see some cinnamon chip cookies that I made on Thanksgiving morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010 rolled around with a decided change in the weather and temps. It was dreary and cold and rainy and gray outside but, inside, the Roediger House was humping, bumping, and thumping with the warmth and fun of friends.

As has become the tradition here, Thanksgiving morning started off with mimosas and coffee. Some fresh fruit and deviled eggs kept it from being a time of famine. Some of the crew had actually stayed over the night before and it just makes the house that much cozier when folks sleep in and tumble down in search of that first hot brewed cup of coffee. (Apparently, the freshly-ground beans from Community Coffee out of Baton Rouge were much liked!)

Since the Roediger House Thanksgiving dinner is an evening meal, it let the bulk of the day seem more casual. But cooking began in earnest by mid-afternoon, including a 14-pound turkey that was on a great special at the Harris Teeter ($5.34 for the whole bird, actually). There were 12 of us and many of the guests came bearing delicious dishes to add to the buffet gracing the expanse of countertops in this fine new kitchen.

For those keeping track, this was Meal No. 179 in the new kitchen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meal No. 178: Nasty Pasta

Dry, boring, lacking in flavor: this is what I get for trying out a dish described on the back of a package of shredded cheese.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meal No. 177: Slow-Cooker Fajitas

A busy day at the Roediger House: overnight guest Jon Piper left in the morning to head to Greensboro and conclude his business in town this week; long-time dear friends Cindy Coulson and Harley Knowles came through to see the house and go out to Moselle's for lunch; a crew took off for the latest Harry Potter movie around suppertime; and Bradley Phillis's siblings Bethany and Benjamin passed through on their way home for Thanksgiving in the mountains.

So tonight's sensible strategy for supper was slow-cooker fajitas on flour tortillas [Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook, 2006, p. 102]. It smelled mighty right when the cadre of movie-goers got back to the Roediger House and was delicious going down.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meal No. 176: Standing Rib Roast

This evening over dinner, it was mentioned that I might be considered guilty of posting food porn on the blog.

With a meal like the one I made tonight, I'm willing to be guilty of the charge. This was a standing rib roast with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, french loaf, and a delicious demi-glace sauce that tended to be too heavy on the pepper.

Now, I am in a food coma.

Meal No. 175: New England Shrimp Roll

With a bit of inspiration from a shrimp and fried green tomato po'boy I had at Ye Olde College Inn in New Orleans week before last, I decided to try a recipe from the Pillsbury recipe magazine for New England-style Shrimp Rolls for last night's dinner. I zipped it up by making my own cooked shrimp, using the spicy garlic shrimp recipe that has shown up a time or two before on the blog.

It was messy once it was all assembled, for sure, but it was pretty darned scrumptious. Lots of flavor, and the french baguettes from the Harris Teeter yesterday were about as good as you can imagine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meal No. 174: Mission Chicken

I'm not knowledgeable enough about food and dishes to know why this one merits the name "Mission Chicken," but that was the crockpot meal last night. I found it in Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery (1995, p. 134) and wanted something that could cook while I was busy raking leaves. Served over rice from my new rice cooker and with biscuits and fordhook lima beans, it was quite the 10 o'clock meal last night.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Meal No. 173: Spaghetti Carbonara

My dear friend Monie Lawrence used to get some of us from the Leesville Road Middle School crew together, and the meal was extra special when she would serve up some spaghetti carbonara. We loved it, craved it, and regularly requested it. She told me how to make it a few years ago, and while I can't get it as good as hers (true Italian cook that she is!), I can still do a rough approximation.

Coming in from an intense week of work in Nelson County, Virginia, this was a simple and delicious meal for a fall Friday night. And I had a full, full belly by the time I hit the sack for a long 11-hour sleep last night.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nelson County Demands Chocolate

My last week of working with teachers in the four schools in Nelson County, Virginia, back in September, was pretty intense. And teachers at the two elementary schools made it clear to me that if I was going to make them do that much thinking, I'd better bring them some chocolate.

So when I returned this week for our second round of inservice sessions, I made sure I did not come empty-handed. I came bearing chocolate fudge (with and without nuts) and a good batch of monster chip cookies.

And of course I had to sample the cookies when they came out of the oven, to make sure they were fit for human consumption.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yeah for Beignets!

Walking recently past the Cafe du Monde on a recent business trip to the city of New Orleans reminded me that I've only made beignets once at home, and that was back in the day of the old kitchen. Hmmm...I think I need to dig out that recipe again and see if I can't makes some of those tasty French doughnuts again soon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day No. 5 with No Heat Downstairs

Barnette Heating & Air Conditioning
Mocksville, NC

Today is Day No. 5 with a non-functioning heating system in my house, and it is only about a year and a half old. Oh, and did I mention that the sub-contractor who installed it, Barnette Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., of Mocksville, NC, refuses to return to the house to address the many problems that have resulted from the job they did?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meal No. 172: Chicken Noodle Casserole

With the idea of setting up the week with a good supply of leftovers, I put another new recipe to the test from a new casserole cookbook I recently got. Yesterday's fixins included a Chicken Noodle Casserole that was really good. It was piled high in the Pyrex dish and included asparagus, red bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, a diced-up rotisserie chicken, and cream and butter and flour and rubbed sage, all nestled on top of egg noodles.

Page 162 in Beatrice Ojakangas's The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever [Chronicle Books, 2008].

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meal No. 171: Baked Pork Chops

Last night, with my mind on making a meal that would put a lot of heat into the chilly kitchen, I decided to make baked center cut boneless pork chops, following a recipe and recommendation from my friend Cindy Coulson. I grabbed oversized russet potatoes on sale at the Harris Teeter and tried for the first time using my new rice steamer to steam a pile of broccoli.

And the next episode in Season 2 of the original Star Trek series that came up last evening? The incredible and incredibly classic "Trouble with Tribbles."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Barnette's System Is Broken, Again

While it took a call to the after-hours line and a super high weekend diagnostic trip charge, I did get a serviceman from Webb Heating and Air Conditioning Company, Inc., of Advance out to look at the downstairs HVAC system that is currently failing to provide any heat. (Webb is the company that came through and replaced the faulty coil in the attic-based air handler, that the original installer Barnette Heating & A/C of Mocksville refused to fix.)

His finding: the variable air blower motor has ceased functioning and so the heat cannot be delivered to the downstairs areas that it services.

It was 62 cool degrees downstairs when I got up this morning, and this evening it is only 65. It will take several days to get the part ordered, and the hope is (and the expectation, frankly) that it is still under warranty.

In the meantime, I am living in a house with a brand new HVAC system installed less than two years ago which has been plagued by problem after problem after problem. I'll spend the next few days sleeping and showering in a guest bedroom upstairs. I'll try to cook meals in the kitchen that involve the oven and the creation of a lot of heat.

That's apparently what you can count on if you have your HVAC system installed by Barnette Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., of Mocksville, NC.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New HVAC Problem: No Heat Downstairs

After returning from a few days working down in New Orleans, I came back to a pretty chilly house. Without thinking much about it, I assumed it was because I had the system on a vacation setting, and I didn't remember how cool I was going to allow the house to get each night. Since it was the wee hours of the morning I just reset the system to more comfortable temps and went to bed.

But it was a cold, cold night. The downstairs heat for the house is not working at all.

Lest anyone forget, we are talking about yet another major problem with the HVAC system installed just a year and a half ago by Barnette Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., of Mocksville, NC.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not Sure about the Tonsure

Not every house in Winston-Salem's Holly Avenue neighborhood is graced with a visit from a Martin Luther-imitating tonsure-sporting guest.

That's just another one of the things you can count on being different about the Roediger House.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another Downtown Jewel: HanesBrands Theatre

All those great reasons to live downtown in Winston-Salem, and along comes another one. The newly renovated Sawtooth Building, with the additions to create the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and HanesBrands Theatre, is a wonderful addition to the life and happenings of the center of the city. In combination with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, a new professional theatre has begun, called Festival Stage of Winston-Salem. I love being walking distance to high-quality theatre and took in an evening there with their first full production, The Foreigner. It was well-acted and quite funny. And it's nice to be able to have beer and wine while watching the show. I hope it catches on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update on Trash Trees/Power Lines

I guess the property owner/manager behind the house, where the Lifestar 911 ambulance service is located, had better luck on his follow-up phone calls to Duke Power regarding the trash trees straddling our property lines. An Asplundh truck showed up on Monday and commenced to do some trimming, which will take care of the problem for the start of next year's spring and summer months. But those trash trees grow mighty fast and I hope I'll just have them removed by the time it becomes an issue again.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Texas Sheetcake for New Orleans

Since it's time for me to return to New Orleans to work with New Orleans College Prep charter school, I thought I'd have a good dessert for last night's meal and also a huge helping of more cake to take on the road with me. It's deeply chocolatey and frustratingly tempting, so I hope it makes it all the way down.