Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meal No. 1761: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Paninis

Last Friday night: a deeply satisfying comfort meal of cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese paninis, following a five-hour drive home from several days working in Virginia Beach.

"Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup," from Cook's Illustrated, November 1999. Recipe can also be found online at Cookography.com.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Man and His Dog

Today marks a year since the departure of the amazing Cyprus of Roediger House, and I find myself a bit tore up.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Frightfully Early Spring

When I drove in Friday evening from a week of working with a lot of great educators in Virginia Beach, I was a bit shocked to find the Bradford pear had burst out in bloom:

The daffodils were still strutting their stuff but two other varieties of crocus had pushed up into colorful glory:

I think I've got some confused azaleas, because three of them have pushed out one or two blooms each:

And the ever red lorapetulum are sporting their bright spring redness all too early:

It was 74°F on Thursday (a new record) and 75°F on Friday. I think we've had four record high days thus far in February. A cold front came in last night and brought temps down again: it was 31.9°F on my Indoor/Outdoor temperature gauge when I finished up an early morning shower. Brrrrr.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Up Close and Personal Hawk

Man-o-man. Back on 04 February 2017, I drove up in the driveway and realized there was a hawk sitting right there on the south driveway wall. I was able to park, get out of my truck, sneak inside, and grab my camera and long lens to come out and see if I could score some decent shots.

Regular readers know that I dig my hawk sightings at the house, and this third recent "hawk report" blog entry is because of five different days in January and February that I was able to watch and record hawk visits. On that particular day, I watched him over the hood of my vehicle for quite a while, in spite of the chilly temps in the 40s, but I wanted to get some good action, if I could.

He flew across the driveway to the rear property wall, likely because he'd spotted one of my precious chipmunks back there. He was so intent on getting that prey that he had his back turned to me...and I was able to really sneak up on him, inching my way closer and closer each time I thought I could get away with it.

While he stood on that rotting rail tie and before he turned around, I reckon I got to within five or six feet of him.

And then I just snapped away and he seemed most unconcerned with me.

This went on for a while before he jumped down...and then I really think I was only a few feet away. It was amazing. I kept clicking!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cookie Butter Cheesecake

When a good Friday night crew was here at the house for slow-roasted pork shoulder barbecue, I figured we were due for a cool new dessert treat. I took that night as a good opportunity to serve up cookie butter cheesecake with a Biscoff cookie crust and melted cookie butter topping.

We all seemed to think it was quite all right.

"Cookie Butter Cheesecake," from Brandi Burgess of Aunt Bee's Recipes.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cookies

Back in early February, on my penultimate day of training and consultation with the administrative and instructional leadership crew at North Forsyth High School, I reported for duty on that Friday morning with a batch of caramel popcorn crunch cookies in hand. I think they appreciated them.

"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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two Hawks on Three Different Days

It's proven to be a winter of hawk action at the Roediger House, which I dig. In this post, I'm putting up photos of, well, short-sightings! The hawk didn't hang around long enough for me to get more than just a few shots, so here they are!

04 January 2017

10 January 2017

30 January 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lemon Shortbread Cheesecake

Last year, Taste of Home ran a contest involving recipes using Girl Scout cookies, and the first one I tried was lemon shortbread cheesecake. It was unusual and different but also really good, and the crew of regulars around here insisted that it reappear as soon as Girl Scout cookie sales started up again.

When folks reported for dinner on the first Sunday in February, this was indeed the dessert I had on hand. It treated us well enough but boy-howdy were we all stuffed.

"Lemon Shortbread Cheesecake," by Rosalia Roger of Lincoln, Nebraska. Originally published in Taste of Home, February/March, 2016, p. 64-65.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Meal No. 1760: Barbecue Chicken & Bacon Naan Pizza

When guests were back over for Sunday night dinner last night, I tried to preserve maximum pool time while also putting a decent meal on the table. Thanks to four slabs of naan and a simple recipe from PJ Hamel at King Arthur Flour, I was able to put barbecue chicken and bacon naan pizza in front of us around 8:20 pm. We all seemed pretty pleased with it.

"Barbecued Chicken Pizza," by P.J. Hamel. From Flourish, from King Arthur Flour. Published 06 July 2011.

Additional Inspiration from "Flatbread Naan White Pizza," by Leslie Green, The Hungry Housewife. Published 03 October 2011.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Meal No. 1759: Caesar Salad with Southern Fried Chicken Strips

Keeping in the relatively simple mode for dinner prep last night, I tried a new recipe for frying up chicken tenders to put on a Caesar salad. I liked 'em.

"Southern Fried Chicken Strips," by Genise Krause [Sturgeon Bay, WI]. In Taste of Home, June/July 2010, p. 21.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Meal No. 1758: Juicy Burgers and Game of Thrones

After a really full week of work, including four days up in Virginia, it was nice to be home last night. I took advantage of the call to unwind by prepping burgers for grilling in order to make watching the final two episodes of the sixth season of Game of Thrones as easy as possible. And it proved to be a very good night.

"Grilled Juicy Burgers," from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks recipe magazine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Grand Hawk at the Grand New Year

I was sitting by the fireside in my old man's chair in the kitchen when I was startled out of my work by the commotion of a hawk attack. Although it was more in my periphery, I knew that this seemed like a larger-than-normal hawk. I first spotted him down in the drain lane just outside the kitchen bay windows, and he had a mourning dove pinned down in his claws. But when he tried to fly away with it, he lost his grip. By then, I'd grabbed my camera and zoom lens and was ready to try to see what might transpire.

He'd flown around towards the front of the house so I hoped I could follow the action from there.  I first spotted him on the utility lines in front of the house, and so I was able to start snapping shots of him:

Suddenly he swooped down to the planting bed in front of the porch, and then jumped up beside the front steps...with me standing right there!

From the porch steps he flew up to the power lines across the street from the house:

Then he flew up to the light pole at the bottom of the driveway:

Then he flew into the cherry tree closest to the house:

Then he zipped up to the peak of the roof over the kitchen:

And the last I saw of him, he was hiding on the cover on top of the taller chimney of the house:

He's definitely the largest and most mature hawk I've seen in and around the yard. It was fun tracking him that afternoon.