Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meal No. 558: Grilled Porterhouse & a Mess of Fries

Sometimes I've just got to have a steak. This was a pleasant summer evening where pulling out the deep fat fryer was also called for. Both the beef and the fries were among the best they've ever been.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meal No. 557: Turkey Cutlets with Cashew Nut Sauce

Not so good, not so good to me later in the evening, and not so likely to ever show up on a Roediger House menu again. I can't be certain what all went wrong with it, but at least there was still some red velvet cake afterwards to make it all seem better.

"Cashew Nut Sauce for Chicken," in 400 Sauces: Dips, Dressings, Salsas, Jams, Jellies & Pickles by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 156.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Meal No. 556: Pork Medallions with Ginger Shiitake Sauce

Tonight the Roediger House enjoyed a long-overdue visit from a simply amazing family, long-time friends, former college roommate, very dear people: Jimmy and Julie Randolph and their sons Jay and Hunter. I'd had a chance to catch up with Jimmy a couple of times over the last two or three years, but it had been a mighty long time since I'd seen Julie, Jay, and Hunter. They got here mid-afternoon and stayed through my typical late dinner hour, and it wasn't quite long enough.

We talked and talked, catching up on ourselves and those around us. We enjoyed creamy stuffed eggs and pimento cheese to hold off the hunger. The boys watched Thor in 3D on the plasma TV upstairs. The whole crew of us played an extended game of Two Bounce with the new basketball goal. The boys did a sampling party of the strange sodas that had been accumulating in the wetbar area (and they soundly rejected the fermented pineapple soda, as they well should have).

I served up one of the RoHo standards for our supper: pork tenderloin medallions in a ginger-soy-shiitake mushroom cream sauce; layered green bean casserole; company mashed potatoes; some honey wheat bread from the bread machine. I even made sweet tea (not nearly as good as the tea Jimmy makes). Dessert was a delicious red velvet cake (to be blogged about at a later time).

It was great seeing them. Damn, I'm old. And short. But how do you like my new glasses?

"Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce," from The Bon Appétit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, 2006, p. 398-399.

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

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meal No. 555: Macadamia Nut-Crusted Mahi Mahi

"Macadamia Nut-Crusted Mahi Mahi," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 93 (June 2012), p. 16-17.

Starting Point for my version of Israeli Couscous: Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meal No. 554: Turkey Cutlets with Marsala Cream

"Marsala Cream for Turkey," from 400 Sauces: Dips, Dressings, Salsas, Jams, Jellies, & Pickles by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 152.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Death of the Junebugs

I keep finding dead junebugs/Japanese beetles on the driveway. Not sure what's going on with that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meal No. 553: Grilled Lamb Chops with Herb Aioli

Tonight, I had a few folks over so that we could watch the final episode of the second season of the BBC's Sherlock. An outstanding show calls for an outstanding dinner, and methinks this one was pretty good.

Main course: marinated grilled lamb shoulder chops, with an herb aioli to brighten it up. Salad: hearts of romaine, diced fresh tomato, and that very good rich and creamy blue cheese dressing. Side dish: a mac and cheese casserole that was a new recipe for me, and the crew seemed to take to it. Bread: a return of the always-delicious cat head biscuits, which did not seem to be gravely harmed by my error in measuring out buttermilk.

Main Course based in part on:
"Macaroni and Cheese Casserole," by Sarah Gabriel. In Cook's Country, June/July 2012, p. 17.

"Cat Head Biscuits," by Cali Rich. In Cook's Country, April/May 2010, p. 12-13.

"Rich and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing," from Cook's Illustrated. Published May 1, 1999.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meal No. 552: Beef Tacos on Indian (Navajo) Frybread

While studying up on the recipe for last night's delicious Chic-Fli-A copycat sandwiches, another recipe on Hilah Johnson's website caught my eye: homemade beef tacos served on a Native American-style frybread. I've not messed with fried breads all that much, and in the past it has been with limited success. Hilah's instructional videos that go along with her recipes help ease my mind with what's involved in making her stuff. Everything about this sounded simple but also wonderfully different from what I often make. So that was the dinner I decided to go with tonight.

Pictured below, you see the two open-faced tacos I made for myself, on top of the crispy delicious frybread. The beef was great, made from scratch instead of dumping an Old El Paso or Ortega packet in there. They were mighty filling, and I only managed to eat half of my second one.

"Indian Frybread and Indian Tacos" and "Crispy Beef Tacos," by Hilah Johnson. From HilahCooking.com.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meal No. 551: Copycat Chic-Fil-A

I'd never heard of Hilah or her fun, short cooking videos until these last few days. She's been getting a lot of mentions in various articles and blogs and such because she crafted a darned good imitation of the famous signature fried chicken sandwich from Chic-Fil-A. (I love their chicken, but I just can't patronize that business.)

She nailed it, methinks. I gave it a try tonight and did what I don't think has ever occurred before: I ate a whole second chic-fil-a sandwich.

Toasted, buttered bun, some Duke's mayo, and lots of tender, juicy, flavorful chicken. One more bonus: I can make it without the pickles that for some reason Chic-Fil-A insists is indispensable to the sandwich.

Thanks, Hilah!

"Chic-Fil-A Copycat Sandwich," by Hilah Johnson. From Hilah Cooking.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Meal No. 550: Vernon's Jerked Pork / Drinks Night

As the summer wraps up, it's going to bring a much more official end to this very good year of the good times I've enjoyed with some of the current crew who are studying education at Wake Forest. So tonight was set aside for some dinner and wild drink making. This included some standard drinks and some inventions, and in between we managed to squeeze in some time under the hoop of the new basketball goal (in spite of how crazy steamy hot it was even after midnight).

Dinner: Vernon's Jerked Pork, with salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, jasmine rice, and garden peas.

As for the drinks part of the night, the kids started out making strange concoctions with names like "Flat Pear" (this involved flat generic diet Mt. Dew and a cheap chardonnay) and "Bad Lime" (the ingredients are unknown to me). I decided to try my hand at a few, with some moderate success, but I drew on traditional drinks: frozen piña colada, frozen strawberry daiquiri, frozen peach bellini, and pomegranate martini.

Monday Morning Update: Since the crew stayed over last night, I tossed some pumpkin spice muffins in the oven and had the coffee going. Ten muffins and two pots of coffee were quickly consumed.

"Rich and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing," from Cook's Illustrated. Published May 1, 1999.

"Vernon's Jerked Pork," from Allan Vernon of Atlanta, GA. In One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking, by Molly O'Neill. Simon & Schuster (2010), p. 493.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Meal No. 549: Deviled Chicken Thighs & Batman

I was up in Richmond the last couple of days, and that eliminated me from any plans to catch the midnight opening of "The Dark Knight Rises," the third in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.

Such a godawful tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, for the midnight movie-goers during that city's premiere. One can only be stunned and saddened at that senselessness. And yes: our nation's gun laws are wildly out of whack.

The local crew here in Winston-Salem, though, is waiting it out so that we'll be able to go see it in the next week or so while I'm home. In anticipation of that, Saturday had been set aside to re-watch the first two movies done by Nolan and Christian Bale: "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." Tim Schwarz (WFU '07) from New Orleans was passing back through town after his family vacation and was an unexpected and most welcome addition.

Dinner in between the two films: deviled chicken thighs, baked sweet potatoes, and seasoned green beans.

"Deviled Chicken Drumsticks," by Ian Knauer. In Gourmet, August 2008.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Meal No. 548: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

It was a stormy drive in this afternoon from Richmond, where I spent the last two days with administrators at St. Christopher's School, working on how we think about and how we observe effective instruction. They were a great group and I'm looking forward to getting back up there in October for us to do some observations together.

Former student and good friend and colleague Timothy Schwarz was waiting at the house for me, since the Roediger House is a stopover point for him in returning to New Orleans from his family vacation in New Jersey. Dinner was called for and I thought it was time to return to a recipe for skillet stroganoff that I've enjoyed making a few times in the past.

Turns out it's still a hit here, and we definitely went for seconds.

"Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Dinner in a Skillet," by Emeril Lagasse. Found online at The Food Network.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beautiful Blooms, Now Appearing

A busty bloomer growing on the back wall that I don't think I realized I had until the trash trees were cut down there.

Cranberry Crush Hibiscus

Sweetheart Dazzle Dwarf Crepe Myrtle

Lord Baltimore Hibiscus

Lord Baltimore Hibiscus - stunningly large bloom

Thriving Vinca and Petunias

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dying Is the Downside of Landscaping

The tremendous amount of landscaping I've done so far this spring and summer has made the yard look much, much better. The constant maintenance is not a drudgery to me, but I also know that my travels this summer have left my new shrubs and flowers more at the mercy of the terrible heat and dryness we've been experiencing in Winston-Salem.

The signs of some plants' struggles are obvious. I've just about completely lost one of the Soft Touch Compact holly bushes, and a second is now about one-third brown.

Three of my four rhododendron are showing distress, with the Anna Rose Whitley now manifesting quite a few half-brown leaves:

Finally, as previously noted, the wiregrass on the north portion of the front yard is just a nightmare, which I did not help since I tilled it all up without first removing as much of it as I could when I was preparing planting areas. You'd never know I had a well-tilled place for these plants, and the mulch is long since overcome by this fast-spreading and horrendous weed:

My Archangel Angelonia are growing beautifully, at least for now, in the midst of this terrible invasion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meal No. 547: Coronation Chicken

This here dish used to be quite a favorite in the Roediger House, and then I tried to eat it after I'd had some tummy trouble, and it was too soon. So I've been "off" of this for a long, long time (last time I think I made it: Meal No. 163.)

I did some tinkering with the recipe, though, and toned down some of the aspects/elements that were so striking in their opposition to my happy eating on that previous occasion.

Presenting: Chicken with Coronation Sauce, served over fresh steamed Basmati rice with garlic naan on the side, enjoyed while watching the first episode of the second season of Sherlock from the BBC.

"Coronation Sauce for Chicken," from 400 Sauces, by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 155.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Large Bloom on a Small Hibiscus

To the right of my new patio pad (built as a place to put a firewood rack), I planted a small hibiscus. It's managed to cough up some lovely blooms, now that it's getting settled into its new spot. They're there one day, and dropped the next, though!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spring Street Armed Robbery

As I am away working in Kalispell, Montana, at the National CRISS Trainers Conference, I am certainly discomforted to come across this headline in my Twitterfeed, which strikes all too close to home. Sounds like it was on my block, in fact.

3 men robbed in Winston-Salem | Piedmont - WXII Home

Let me hasten to add, though: crime in downtown is actually less than the surrounding city. I want to continue being careful when I'm out and about, especially given how tough economic times lead to more crimes like this. But I do not live in fear.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Basketball Goal: Finished!

Although the instructions suggest that "Three Adults Are Required to Complete Assembly," let me assure you that on a sweltering hot summer day with lots of sweaty hands, we were lucky to get the basketball goal up properly with four of us laboring.

But it is finished and has already been tested with some loose shot-taking and a couple of games of Two-Bounce.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meal No. 546: Hamburger Supreme

I had a choice: eat overpriced, rushed, sub-par airport food. Or fix myself a good dinner before I dashed off to the airport for my flight to Kalispell. I went with the smart choice, and it was a delicious respite before finishing my packing and dashing off to Piedmont Triad International.

"Hamburger Supreme," from the late Mrs. John T. (Glynn) Johnson of Buies Creek, North Carolina, via Janice Jones Bodenhamer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meal No. 545: Belgian Waffle

The day is a bit on the frantic side, because this afternoon I have to catch a flight to Kalispell, Montana, for the National CRISS Trainers Conference. With an early start to the day and some rapid hunger onset, I had to take the unusual step of fixing breakfast. It was just right.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Meal No. 544: Bittersweet Beef Tenderloin

At the Roediger House tonight, a celebration (Jen Martin's birthday) and a sadness (Beau Ward's departure). The fitting dinner menu for great occasions here gravitates most towards a healthy beef tenderloin in wine sauce, with a creamy spicy horseradish sauce, layered green bean casserole, and the Jones family favorite: company mashed potatoes.

I didn't get around to making dessert, but boy-howdy, the gelato at Caffe Prada has been mighty fine, so we took a stroll to this great shop behind the house, on Broad Street, for our sweet endings.

"Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce" (p. 296) and "Spicy Horseradish Sauce" (p. 295) from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Compiled and Edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Oxmoor Press (2006).

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

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meal No. 543: Sweet Bourbon Salmon Steaks

While it would have been fine with me for the salmon to have a more pronounced glaze, this was still a fine dinner. I guess an extra step might have been to boil the marinade and let it simmer a while, or reserve some of it before the salmon goes in and cook it to a nice syrup-y texture.

"Sweet Bourbon Salmon," by Martini Chef of Johnson City, TN.

Cooking method based partially on "Miso-Glazed Salmon Steaks," from Bon Appétit, May 2011.

Couscous recipe based partially on "Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley, from Bon Appétit, December 2004.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Meal No. 542: Sandwich Time!

After this past weekend's hometown endeavors over Mother's estate, and the pretty intense and hard last steps of erecting the basketball goal (accomplished this morning; blog update to come later), I had to take the afternoon off. That means that Meal No. 542 can be called "I-Put-Up-a-Basketball-Goal Sandwiches."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meal No. 541: Pasta Carbonara with the Sister

It was almost 10:30 pm tonight when my sister Allison and I sat down for a bowl of rotini carbonara. We put in our full day again down in Harnett County, working through all of our mother's possessions and housewares and belongings along with our two older siblings, as part of getting the estate settled and divided. It was a hard two days and neither of us had enough sleep. With temps around 100°F, spending hours sorting and negotiating and unpacking and deciding in a metal storage building can really take it out of you. Not to mention the fact that it's just an emotional process.

This meal seemed to be just the thing for us, and it had the added benefit of creating the "pasta sleepies" so we probably managed to get to sleep promptly even though we were also pretty keyed up.

"Pasta Carbonara," a recipe shared by Monie Lawrence of Raleigh, NC.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Divisions & Additions: Settling Mother's Estate

Family, 2003
Today was spent down in Buies Creek, my hometown in Harnett County. It's been almost exactly 18 months since my mother passed away, and her four children gathered in a metal storage building behind my brother's house to sort through her household items, furniture, housewares, and so on. Our heatwave of late meant that we toiled through this in 100-degree temps, and it was not easy.

The added wrinkle for us is that, after Mother's car wreck rendered her unable to care for herself, there was a drainage block in her air conditioning system in the attic in my childhood home; the leaking went undetected and led to a huge mold and mildew problem both upstairs and downstairs at her house. This calamity was not revealed to my sister Allison nor me until many months later, so I never saw the extent of the damage. I assumed that some possessions that would be dear to me had perished in all that or been destroyed when ServPro was brought in by the insurance company to do salvage and restoration.

But there was good news to be found amongst the collected boxed and bagged items: my childhood portrait was intact and in good shape, my high school and college and teaching posters and such were in good shape, and even my Legos from childhood were salvaged. Some clocks that I had purchased from my Mother over 10 years ago but not yet brought home with me were in good shape (it seems that only one of them was among the damaged items).

Still, it was an emotional and tough day. It did not take long following Mother's wreck for our family's fabric to fray, and there is little now to bind some of us together. The necessity of surviving this process in one piece mentally was a great incentive for minimizing disputes. I will say this, for any of you who are or who might be executors of an estate: it is a sad, sad day when things are orchestrated for a daughter-in-law to lay claim to items desired by the actual children of the deceased whose estate is being divided. It left me heartsick that my brother permitted that to happen.

Mother loved my home and loved telling people about it. She was only here a couple of times, unfortunately; the auto accident that left her with brain damage occurred less than a year after I bought it. Still, for me there is an overwhelming joy in having now brought home and added to the Roediger House things that remind me of her or were so much a part of my growing up. (She was a fantastic mother. If there are things about me you like, or think are good, you can trace it back to how she raised me.)

It's going to take a while to unpack the several boxes that came home with me, and there will be more to bring back after tomorrow's second day of sorting and dividing.  I expect I'll be doing a few random blog entries over the coming days and weeks that highlight some of what she has passed on to me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meal No. 540: Lamb Köfte

Tonight was another set of meatballs, but this time it was a return to the always-amazing lamb köfte with yogurt tahini sauce, sautéed onion, and roasted red pepper muhammara.

I captured this picture in the glorious early evening sun coming into the back of the kitchen from the west, while out front a partial rainbow stretched across the city skyline towards the south. This delicious dinner preceded a stroll up to the downtown arts district for Gallery Hop, followed by a huge heaping of Euro yogurt from the guys at Caffe Prada.

"Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara" from Bon Appétit, January 2010. Recipe Online.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meal No. 539: Independence Day Meatballs

I had to send my sister Allison a note last evening, thanking her for dinner. Two of the key elements were thanks to recipes she shared with me.

The first of those recipes last night was a version of meatballs she first served to our family years and years ago on New Year's Day, so I've always called them New Year's Day meatballs. They are absolute olfactory murder while they are cooking (for two hours!). The amazing aroma kicks in about 15 minutes after they go into the oven, and I start muttering in spite of myself: "I wish I could blog smells. I wish I could blog smells."

Allison also made sure I had the recipe for another family favorite: company mashed potatoes. They may be the most-frequently-made side dish in the Roediger House repertoire. Finally, I tried out a recipe for garlicky seared green beans, and several around the table favorably compared them to the ones they love to get at P. F. Chang's. They were pretty darned good.

After the meal ended, we all had full bellies now and could not devote any energy to considering dessert. Which was good, because I didn't get around to making any.

Yard Update: This heatwave and dry spell are taking their toll, but I don't seem to have lost more than some of the little annuals that were struggling from the start. I'm having to keep a close eye on my rhododendrons; they're not any where near self-sufficient yet and especially vulnerable to any lack of water mixed with the oppressive heat.

Today was also the first time in nearly a month that I cut the grass...the dry, dry, parched, struggling grass. That's No. 10 for 2012.

"New Year's Day Meatballs," from Carol Fultz and shared with me by my sister Allison Jones Holden of Rossville, IN (2001).

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

"Garlicky Green Beans," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 93, May/June 2012, p. 34.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meal No. 537: Chicken Tikka Masala

I could claim to have quite a run of international meals of late: Italian risotto, French yogurt cake, Caribbean pork shoulder roast, Mexican arroz con pollo. Last night, it continued, with the Indian-inspired chicken tikka masala. Alongside, attached at the hip: roasted cumin-coriander cauliflower.

Beforehand, an appetizer of sorts: mango lassis.

"Chicken Tikka Masala," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 85, February 2011, p. 14-15.

"Mango Lassi," by Jamie Oliver. Online from The Food Network.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Meal No. 536: Unexpected Brunch

It's really terrific having Andrea and Mark Bailey spending time here as they make the journey from New Orleans to see Andrea's folks in New Bern, NC. I fretted privately that they'd feel too pushed to get up and get gone this morning, and I wanted them to hang out here a while. Bless 'em, they gave me just what I wanted.

I'm not beyond taking advantage of a good situation, so I got an early start this morning and worked on a partial construction of the standard Roediger House brunch meal. Couldn't put all of the usual pieces together, but I hope it was sufficient to please the brunch palates around the table.

On the menu: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, zucchini bread (thanks to a recipe from Laura Thomas), bacon, and creamy cheese grits.

I'd been meaning to make blackberry buttermilk cake again, and it seemed like a good option for a brunch dessert. It seemed to come out particularly tasty this morning, if I can say so myself.

"Blackberry Buttermilk Cake," in Bon Appétit, July 2011, p. 109 (pictures on p. 106).