Monday, August 31, 2015

Meal No. 1364: Grilled Ribeye Steak and French Fries

This past Saturday night in downtown Winston-Salem, with a light pleasant breeze and awesome temps and low humidity...or to put it another way: a perfect night to grill out.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Convenience of FTFWS

It is not a short return trip when I come back home from working in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. After an intense but excellent five hard days of work, I got home Friday night and it was nearly 8:30 pm. Yet again, right behind the house, there was a whole collection of food trucks for the latest edition of Downtown Winston-Salem Food Truck Fridays. On a beautiful August evening with a very nearly full moon coming up over the city skyline, and tempting smells wafting all around the house, I stepped up to the Bulkogi Korean BBQ food truck and ordered my dinner. This here is kimchee fried rice with chicken bulkogi BBQ, and not a small amount of kick:

The spice in it caused me to too quickly down a couple of Abita Andygator helles doppelbocks, forgetting that they are 8% I ended up a bit giddy once dinner was over. Guess that reduced my hesitations and why it was a double scoop of gelato I got from the West End Coffeehouse afterwards.

This Korean BBQ crew came all the way from Wake Forest, NC (not Wake Forest University!). I see from their schedule that they don't just stay in the Raleigh area. They'll be back for another Winston-Salem Food Truck Friday behind the house on September 11th (but I'll be in California!).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Repeating the Tweets of a Great Week!

This week, I've been on the road to Virginia Beach, where I conducted two Project CRISS trainings at two different high schools, with a session on Instructional Design sandwiched in the middle (attended mostly by administrators and other instructional leaders). It was a particularly awesome week that was full of high notes, serious conversations, responsive participants, and the genuine joy of working with capable and bright educators. I thought I might sum it up by embedding a few of the tweets that were posted by some of the folks I worked with:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Rat Came Back

I was at the kitchen sink, again washing dishes, and I spotted something strange under the bird feeder that's positioned for me to watch it from that vantage point:

This is not a squirrel.

The grass was a bit long but laid over, so I was mostly catching movement in the blades.

Then I caught sight of its face.

Then I saw it scamper.

I hadn't seen any rats in the backyard in about three years, so I'll have to get the pest control folks to rebait the traps outside.

One of the persistent and determined squirrels was back to focusing on the feeder above, hanging on a yard hook stuck in the ground:

I'm sure this rat was glad that the squirrel was spilling more seed down to the ground with his valiant efforts to break into the food bank.

But then the squirrel fell:

I was not quick enough with my camera to capture the way those two creatures tangled with each other, but I can assure you the squirrel was the one who backed away. That rat was not playing and he owned the day. They were wary of each other from then on.

That's downtown living, I suppose!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Scarcity of Butterflies

Now that I've got two reasonably healthy butterfly bushes growing outside the door to the parking area, and now that they've been there for a couple or more seasons, I was hoping I'd start getting some great butterfly action. Alas, not so much. Thus far this summer, I've been able to catch sight only of two different butterflies, and one of them was on the job when I had my telephoto lens nearby.

Oh, and I think you might already know how much I love cicada season:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Keyless Entry

Yet another overdue task on my house to-do list was getting a locksmith in to do some work. Ever since the kitchen addition was completed in 2009, there's been a mismatch in exterior door locks: the rear kitchen door to the grill patio did not work with the same key as the other doors. I'm willing to lay the blame for that on my general contractor for that project, Peter R. "Pete" LaRoque of LaRoque Construction (Mocksville, NC). He didn't care that the lock didn't match.

I also wanted to put a keyless codepad deadbolt on the door coming in from the parking lot. The Roediger House has so many good friends who regularly come and go, plus I liked the idea of being able to come in with groceries or from yardwork without having to have my keys on me. Also, over the years, a lot of various contractors have had keys to the house. Now that most of the major work is done, I wanted to reset all the exterior door locks to up the security protections. With this keypad, I can enter temporary codes when needed, and then take them back out. Another bonus is that any departing guest can lock the deadbolt from the outside, whether that guest is gifted with a code or not. That's a nice feature of this new lock.

So, Aaron-Elliott Locksmiths from here in downtown came in late June and rekeyed the locks, installed the new keypad lock, and switched a couple of interior deadbolts for rooms upstairs that I'd changed the assigned use of. So far, so good. It's a much more workable system.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The June Birds

Back in June, when I was enjoying a pleasant sit-for-a-spell on a lovely afternoon, I spent some time watching the activity of the birds, who were busy at the several feeders hanging in the small grove beside the house. At some point, I decided to get my telephoto lens and capture some of the action, including the following:

One of the items I brought home from my mother's estate was her outdoor concrete features, including two benches, two planters, and her beloved birdbath:

I have yet to properly place the benches and the planters, but I enjoyed watching the birdbath get put to good use a few days after the above pictures were shot:

Finally, I was working on plants on the far side of the driveway when I heard some ornithological commotion...and that signaled to me that the hawk was in the vicinity. I caught sight of him leaping down from the porch roof to the front yard, but all I had was my cellphone camera, so it's not as clear as I'd like. Still, as some of you are well aware, I love catching the hawk in action. Do you see him on the lawn, near the middle of this picture below?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's Electric!

In a place like the Roediger House, one can accumulate quite a long list of items for when one finally gets around to calling on an electrician. Such was the case for me, with years to pile on the tasks, and my recent stretch of time at home allowed me to finally get on the case.

I used Angie's List to narrow down my choices and gave a call to Fred Schlosser of eWire Electric Company here in town. What a terrific guy he is...he was able to come over the next day, which was a Friday, and then he returned on Monday since it was more than could be finished in one afternoon.

Here's a sampling, but not the complete list:

I'd never gotten the ceiling light put back up in the study after the plaster repair was done. Since it's doubling now as a bedroom, it made more sense to put in a ceiling fan. Fred took care of it for me.

Near the old men's chairs by the fireside in the addition, I had a floor plug installed for the lamp there. However, it was cheap, plastic, and floor-level instead of recessed, so whatever was plugged in was regularly stepped on. Finally, one of the blades on a lamp plug broke off in the receptacle. I wanted something sturdier that was also recessed into the floor.

The left switch controls the outdoor security flood lights, which are on a photoelectric cell. But from time to time, they'd be inadvertently turned off by guests or workmen and I wanted to put a stop to it. I also still wanted to easily turn those outdoor floods off whenever there's a movie night, so I asked for the kind of switch that you see in schools, where the custodian has a key but otherwise the switch cannot be used. This was the perfect solution.

In both the laundry room and the master bathroom closet, the ballasts in the fluorescent fixtures had gone bad. The closet had been out for years, in fact, and I had a lamp in there for light!

Finally, at the suggestion of Philip Lamachio of Estate Plaster, Inc., I replaced the cheap and potentially faulty sconce lights in the main hallway. Fred installed these for me when he was here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Meal No. 1362: Herb-Roasted Salmon Fillet

I love salmon and enjoy making it at home, but I swear I have a tendency to overcook it (usually) or undercook it (occasionally). Every once in a while, though, I nail it. That was the case tonight with a nice thick slab of salmon, which was perfectly seasoned and roasted. It was hard to beat, together with pearl couscous and lima beans, and a healthy dollop of chilled rosemary dijon cream sauce.

Chilled Rosemary Dijon Cream Sauce, from "Poached Salmon," in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 216.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Meal No. 1361: Spice-Rubbed Grilled Turkey Tenderloins

It was a full week of teaching and presenting on the road, so I was glad to be able to come in early on this Friday afternoon. There were two bonuses of how the week wrapped up: I was only two hours away in Roanoke, and I was finished with my presentations before 11 am.

Tonight's grub: grilled spice-rubbed turkey tenderloins along with stuffing and broccoli florets. And a cold Bell's Best Brown Ale to wash it all down. It was hopping around the house last night, with a Friday night Winston-Salem Dash baseball game and another round of Downtown Winston-Salem Food Truck Fridays behind the house. The evening inside the house went late with 19 games of pool, with the fireworks from the baseball stadium reflecting off the 751 West Fourth Building just across the way. One of these days, I'll try to snag those reflection pictures.

"Spice-Rubbed Grilled Turkey Tenderloins," from Southern Living, March 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Squirrel's Frustrated Frolic

While at the kitchen sink washing some dishes back in July, I caught sight of a determined little yard rodent desperately attempting to get food out of a relatively new squirrel-proof feeder. I grabbed my telephoto lens and caught quite a few fun shots of his hapless adventures. You can click on any of these photos to see the full/large version.

Just as he began to fall off...
which he did several times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Meal No. 1360: Simple Beef Chili

The Sunday departure meal a few days ago was the amazing simple beef chili with kidney beans, which I've been making for over a decade now with this as the ideal recipe to get it just right. And Sunday's version was easily ranked among the top that I've ever made: it was so thick and hearty and full of delicious flavor with just the right amount of heat.

This might have been a result of how I tried to intensify the flavors a bit more while the onion, bell pepper, and garlic were sautéing in the bacon grease and spices (and I also added just a bit of beef broth near the end of this part of the process).

Then, with two hours cooking, half covered and half not, and topping off the taste with the right amount of salting, it was the perfect base for a layer of sharp cheddar cheese...and a busy spoon to ladle it all up into my waiting mouth.

"Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans," from Cook's Illustrated, Number Sixty-One [March-April 2003], p. 10-11.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meal No. 1359: Indian Tacos on Navajo Frybread

Last Saturday night's super tasty alternative take on tacos: completely homemade meat filling and the extra interesting twist of Navajo frybread to put it all on, along with fresh tomato and onion.

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Meal No. 1358: Diner-Style Breakfast

At mid-day this past Saturday, with a small group coming to the table for lunch, I decided I had a hankering for the kind of breakfast I'm fond of getting at local breakfast spots: sausage patties, fried sunnyside-up eggs, grits, toast, and orange juice. Perfect!

Source of creamy grits recipe: Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Weeklong Cass Party

This past week the Roediger House has played host to Amy Williamson's pooch, a papillon named Cass while she was enjoying time down in the Florida Keys for vacation and family visiting. Cass is a great little guy and always seems so happy. He's an easy guest to have here for a multiday stay.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Food Truck Fridays Strikes Again

I was all prepared to make some dinner on last night's delightful summer Friday night, but I also wanted to support the local happenings right outside the back door. So the small crew on hand last night joined me in walking up the steep hill behind the house, up to where the latest round of Downtown Winston-Salem Food Truck Fridays was playing out. I went with a chicken pita from Ghassan's on the Go. Not to be self-serving about it, but it wasn't as good as the dinner I'd've made here at home. Like I said: supporting the local shindig is also important.

After bringing dinner in, though, I still had a hankering to create something in the kitchen, so I turned to the Caramel Popcorn version of Cap'n Crunch Cookies:

"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.