Sunday, March 31, 2013

Meal No. 708: Chicken Korma over Basmati

Photo Credit: John Borwick
Way, way, WAY back in the day, when Karissa and Jon Piper lived just down the street and we caught up with one another most nights (it seems) for dinner somewhere in town, we made regular treks to Kabab's Indian restaurant. At the time, it was located at the intersection of Fourth and Marshall Streets and we considered it to be the best Indian in town. It had the added advantage of being walking distance for us from our homes on Spring Street.

I'm sure this wonderful couple chose various items from the Kabab's menu, but I seem to recall that Jon had a fondness for chicken korma. Too bad their vacation time at the Roediger House had to end today at mid-day, because that means Jon missed tonight's first trial at that very dish.

I'd like it to pop with more flavor, as I've come to expect with chicken with coronation sauce, butter chicken, and chicken tikka masala. Still, the korma sauce was delightful with the browned chicken cubes on that bed of fragrant basmati.

"Classic Korma Sauce for Chicken," from 400 Sauces, by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 158.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Meal No. 707: Grilled Lamb Chops

The joy of having The Pipers in town this weekend continues. Not only did I get to enjoy spending most of the day with them, including lunch at long-time favorite The Fourth Street Filling Station, but they were able to make it to dinner this evening as well. That's because they had to have a shorter visit with their friends the Binkleys, who live out in East Bend. That smaller window with the Binkleys meant Karissa and Jon were free for dinner after all.

Sam Binkley was the architect for the renovation and addition project of 2008-2009, thanks to Karissa and Jon's recommendation. He did a beautiful job with the designs, as I think most of you are aware.

Tonight we had marinated lamb chops that were then grilled, along with baked sweet potatoes and garlicky green beans. Turned out to be pretty tasty, I'd say.

Grilled Lamb Chops:
Based on the marinade ideas from:
"Pan-Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops," from the
...with instructions for grilling found at:
"Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Herb Aioli," by Martha Stewart. Found online.

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Meal No. 706: Miso-Glazed Salmon & Leftover Sides

Not my best meal. Not sure that I find wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon to be worth the extra cost, although the part of me that should invest more concern in issues of global sustainability and environmental impact is supposed to care about more than taste. Served with leftover sides from last night's pork chops meal.

"Miso-Glazed Salmon Steaks," in Bon Appétit, May 2011, p. 58.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meal No. 705: Smothered Pork Chops with Onion-Thyme Gravy

Given how long it's been since Jon and Karissa Piper came back for a Winston-Salem visit, they have filled up their dance card with visits to other friends in town, and I'll only get to make dinner for them one time. (We might have eaten here last night, but with their arrival right after I drove in from Virginia, we went to the old favorite: Arigato's.)

Tonight they indulged me and let me be the maker of dinner, and I went with a favorite that hasn't been on the menu in quite a while: smothered pork chops with an onion-thyme gravy. Alongside: company mashed potatoes and layered green bean casserole.

"Smothered Pork Chops," by Erika Bruce. In Cook's Country, April/May 2011, p. 22-23.

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

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Return of the Pipers

The timing of Easter and Spring Break means that I get a few days off the road and a chance to just enjoy being at home. These last few months since Christmas have involved considerably more travel than what I had originally planned for (and I'm not complaining...really). I do love the work I get to do but I think regular Roediger House blog readers understand well how much I value the time I get to be back in Winston-Salem.

Speaking of people being back in Winston-Salem, that happy and fun couple you see pictured to the right are using their own Spring Break days to return to this fair city. These folks are Karissa and Jon Piper, who now live up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

For my first three years living in the Roediger House, the Pipers were my neighbors from down the street. As I've mentioned previously in a blog post, these two first spotted my house when it was for sale and pushed, cajoled, persuaded, and otherwise compelled me to buy it back in 2003.

We were all rather inseparable for a few years, and then Jon got a fantastic job opportunity in Cleveland and Karissa, who'd twice been a student of mine at Wake Forest, landed a high school teaching position in a school district outside Cleveland that's pretty hard to get a job in.

Because Jon works in the medical imaging business, and because there are hospitals here in Winston-Salem and in Greensboro that are among his client base, he has been able to visit the Roediger House several times. But this was Karissa's first trip back to Winston-Salem in seven years.

That is much too long. So I'll count on them to return again before long.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

O Captain, My Captain

It has been years and years and years since I had a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. It was mighty good.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Punk'd by Punxatawney Phil

As someone who hates, hates, H-A-T-E-S cold weather and being cold, I feel completely punk'd by Punxatawney Phil, who gave me unsubstantiated hopes about an early end to winter. The recent 77-degree Saturday played right into those unrealized hopes. And here I sit in Winchester, VA, very near the end of March and a few days into the season of Spring, and we're looking at 3-4 inches of snow. Those who know me know this takes its toll on me.

That's the view (above) from my window at the Winchester Sleep Inn this morning. I guess I have a good long day to get caught up on some work. And probably to go back to bed for a morning nap.

This is what I understand from to be the explanation for this strange wintry start to spring. I had never heard of a Greenland High. It must be news to Phil as well.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aye, Aye, Cap'n!

These are going to be a very, very incredible addition to the Roediger House cookie recipe collection: the surprising and surprisingly amazing Capn' Crunch cookies. I made them over the weekend and they will be made again. And again.

UPDATE: Those who sampled these found them to be pretty good, and I was indeed ordered to make more before I headed out of town this week. The following picture is from the Saturday night batch:

"Cap'n Crunch Cookies," found online at The Capitol Baker, with credit going to The Sugar Plum Blog for inspiration and the source of the adapted recipe.

The version I made is available for download and printing from this pdf document.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Meal No. 704: Glorious Beef & Mushroom Stir-Fry

Saturday night was feeling all right, with stir-fried beef tenderloin with mushrooms, onion, asparagus, and garlic with Really Risqué Sauce. I do love these wok meals.

"Glorious Beef with Mushrooms," in Wok Fast by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison. Ten Speed Press, 2002, p. 87 (recipe) and p. 26-27 (marinade and sauce).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Meal No. 703: Chicken Caesar Salad

Once again, it's a Friday night at the end of a week on the road, with all four of my workdays spent in Frederick County, Virginia. Tonight was a repeat of last week, a simple and healthier meal. The chicken breast tenderloins were seasoned with a key lime pepper mix and it was all pretty satisfying.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Welcome to Spring 2013

This past Saturday, on a phenomenally gorgeous almost-spring day, I got to be home and I also got to see some of the earliest indications of the advent of the Spring season. Here are a few shots.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kitchen Vision Punch Guy Might Be an Idiot

In early August, I started having a bump and jump in the center island drawer when I opened and closed it.

Once I took a look at it, I discovered that the track rail had become detached inside the cabinet:

I got up under there, aligned the drawer track again, and retightened the screw used to install it.

At the end of November, the problem re-emerged:

To have the problem repeat did not leave me happy, so I decided I'd better take another look at the screw used to mount the drawer. Here it is, with a dime as a comparison so you can see what a tiny and ridiculous little screw it is:

Who does this? Who installs a major drawer in a cabinet and uses something hardly bigger than a watch or eyeglass screw to secure it?

I have replaced it with a more worthy and dependable screw now, and I am saving this munchkin screw to mail to the president of Kitchen Vision, along with a few thoughts about the overall lack of care his punch guy seems to exercise in the several things they had to come back and fix or correct.

I suppose my irritation and frustration are coming through just a bit?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meal No. 702: Braised Chicken over Brussels Sprouts

Sunday night's meal was yet another return to the braised chicken over Brussels sprouts that's been an awesome addition to the regular Roediger House menu rotation.

A nice bright green for St. Patrick's Day, eh?

There is so much flavor in this simple one-pot meal.

Did I really just have this two or three weeks ago?

"Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts," in Everyday Food, Issue 97, November 2012, p. 22.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meal No. 701: Pan-Seared Filet Mignon

On Saturday, when the temps were in the upper 70s and the sunshine was gracious and warm, and the breezes were soothing, it seemed to me that a grilled supper was called for. I've gotten to do my fair share of good grilling but, to my way of thinking, it's hard to beat a good ol' steak and some french fries.

I even finally got around to doing a partial (and much-overdue) cleaning of the grill, while the weather was so nice. But it was just as I was finishing up the bulk of that that the rains came. This was not helpful, not only because I now have my grill out in the open instead of on the front porch, but also because I'd already set the deep fat fryer outside and it was well on its way to hot hot oil.

It took me a while to find it, but I shifted gears to a set of directions for pan-searing filets and finishing them off by roasting them briefly in the oven. The steaks were perfect and the french fries were tasty, although not a particularly healthy choice.

"Pan-Seared Filet Mignon," from Cook's Illustrated. Published May 2001. Accessed online.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meal No. 700: Chicken Caesar Salad

Friday night, after coming in off the road, I chose the simple meal route again. I used some key lime pepper blend to season my sautéed chicken breast, and I served it over a pseudo-Caesar salad. It hit the spot and let me avoid heavy lifting in the kitchen after a full week of work.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Phenomenally Gorgeous Saturday in Winston-Salem

My work schedule had me spend most of this past week in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where it stayed mostly cool. And even on the days where the temps approached 50, the winds were icy cold and would cut right through you. Once the sun went behind the clouds, or down for the day, those of us who seek out the warmth were out of luck.

I would say the fates were on my side by letting the one clearly gorgeous North Carolina day this week occur on Saturday, when I was home and free to enjoy it. As shown by the screen image from my cell phone late Saturday afternoon, our temperature got up pretty high...even higher than forecast.

It was a bit breezy but it was wonderful and pleasant. By afternoon, there was much more sun than cloudiness. Cyprus and I spent a lot of time just enjoying the sunshine and being in the yard. I should have taken her for a big walk around downtown, but I never did get around to it.

Weather like this can put one's mind to the spring yardwork tasks. I could have gotten some stuff done but my desire was not matched by any corresponding efforts in this regard.

Instead, I switched back and forth between getting business-related paperwork done, some bills paid, and a bit of kitchen clean-up...and getting outside to take advantage of this glorious almost-spring day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Office Building Is Coming

Looks like the view out the kitchen bay windows will change in the coming year or two: the parking lot across Fourth Street (shown below) will be developed into a multi-story office building.

These two shots are what that property looks like as viewed from the house. The first is from the kitchen eating nook/bay; the second is from the upstairs window of the Van Gogh guest bedroom.

I tracked down the documents that were submitted to the City Council when they were asked to approve this project; I wanted very much to see what it is planned to look like. Here are those extracted images of the architect's rendering (some of which are followed by shots of what it looks like as of January 2013:

"New Office Building Planned for Fourth and Broad Streets," in the Winston-Salem Journal, November 22, 2012.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crane Your Neck, Winston Tower

Here are some shots of what was happening a few weeks ago downtown, which I got to look at up-close when I was walking Cyprus.

I reckon there was some HVAC equipment to be replaced at the top of the 29-story Winston Tower, which is one of the landmark buildings of the downtown Winston-Salem skyline that I regularly look out at from my house. This building also has a connection to the Roediger House because George Roediger once owned a part of the city block that this building now occupies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie (a/k/a Blender Pie)

A recipe that's been a Jones family favorite for a very long time is this one, which we got from Lib Keith. In my recipe book, it's simply called Chocolate Blender Pie, because it's pretty easily whipped up in (you guessed it!) the blender.

That doesn't quite give you enough explanation, so you might as well think of it as a chocolate pecan pie: the cocoa-rich chocolate-y sweet filling is poured over a cup of pecan halves in an unbaked pie shell. Out comes this delicious goodness.

This served as the dessert on both Sunday and Monday nights. On Monday night, a couple of dinner guests decided to combine the two dessert options, as follows:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weekend Banana Pudding

Over the weekend, I managed to make this for dessert:

"Murray's Old Fashioned Nana Puddin'," from the Murray Vanilla Wafers package. Also found online at;skin=murray.