Sunday, December 31, 2017

Meal No. 1992: The Christmas Feast

What a fantastic Christmas it has been. Although Winston-Salem has been in quite a cold snap, there was plenty of warmth within the Roediger House this season (even though I didn't get around to decorating). When it came time for friends to gather for our annual Christmas feast, this past Tuesday evening, the food was almost as good as the company.

Most of the usual dishes were on the buffet bar although I sampled a new recipe for preparing a whole turkey with the most delicious gravy to go with it.

The beef tenderloin in wine sauce cooked up tender and tasty.

The rest of the fixins were reasonably well-received, too:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Apple & Bacon Stuffing / Onion-Mushroom Wine Sauce

I suppose I always mention that we love this meal so much that we have to have it multiple times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Memorial Day "Thanksgiving on the Half-Year." But when you get a plate like this, what's not to like?

"Turkey and Gravy for a Crowd," by Alli Berkey. In Cook's Country, October/November 2017, p. 6-7.

"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.

"Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping," from Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook,  (Oxmoor House, 2006), p. 234-235.

"Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Bacon," from fellow UNC alum David Venable and QVC's In the Kitchen with David. Found online.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Meal No. 1991: Baby Back Ribs

On Christmas night it was the special treat of baby back pork ribs.

Good gracious, they cooked up mighty fine.

With creamy mashed potatoes and more of my homemade applesauce, I was more than happy to knock down 7 or 8 of those ribs single-handedly.

"How to Make Great Ribs in the Oven," by Emma Christensen. From The Kitchn. [Published 01 July 2017]

"Creamy Mashed Potatoes," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. Published online 03 November 2007.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Meal No. 1990: Not So Cajun Chicken

The Christmas Eve meal this past Sunday was Roediger House favorite Not So Cajun Chicken.

It's creamy and flavorful and warm and comfortable. The sauce really brings it all together in such a great way, which I guess is why this is one of the meals that's been made most over the years.

And yes: I'm enjoying the new cooktop!

"Not So Cajun Chicken," a dish I regularly enjoyed at Crowley's Old Time Favorites restaurant and bar on Medlin Drive in Raleigh, NC. Credit to Jimmy Randolph for helping track the recipe down. (Another version of the recipe can be found here.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Meal No. 1989: Southern Fried Chicken Thighs

Every once in a while, you just gotta have some fried chicken. I've not experimented with this much and haven't had great results the few times I have attempted it. So last Saturday night I was interested in giving it another go, in hopes that a combination of sous vide and deep-frying would guarantee a more pleasing outcome.

And wow. Wow! People, I'm telling you: wow. Crispy and full of flavor inside and out: this was some really awesome fried chicken. The Joule did the sous vide cooking of the thighs, and I used the Paragon to heat a Dutch oven full of oil up to 375°F for a quick goldening crust. I used the Instant Pot again tonight to handle a new recipe for macaroni and cheese. I'd already made a batch of applesauce and green beans sounded right with it all. And there were hoecake-style biscuits, along with honey butter. I sure hate you had to miss this fine meal on Christmas Eve Eve!

Fried Chicken, with ideas and help from:

"Best Ever Macaroni and Cheese," from Bob Warden. In Great Food Fast, Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge Press (2012), p. 122-123.

Inspiration for Homemade Applesauce came from the late Evelyn Coulson of Cana, VA. Additional ideas and guidance came from:

"Fluffy Southern-Style Hoecakes," by Erica of My Busy Bees and Me. Recipe first encountered through her YouTube video.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Meal No. 1988: French Toast (again!)

I still had the rest of a challah loaf and a lingering hankering for another batch of French toast this past Saturday morning...and I do believe it was even better than what I'd made just a few days before.

"French Toast," from King Arthur Flour online.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Meal No. 1987: Chicken Fried Rice

Last Friday night called for an earlier supper, so that I could make it to the annual Christmas party that I've enjoyed at the home of Joe and Lucy Milner for nearly 30 years. This was my second go at classic chicken fried rice, and it sure was good all over again.

"Classic Chicken Fried Rice," from the Woks of Life.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Back in January, before I'd taken down the decorations from last Christmas, we got a lovely snowfall. It's sort of perfect for a holiday card, although I really wish I'd gotten the house washed before this!

It's bitterly cold here in Winston-Salem on Christmas Day 2017, and it's perfect for a roaring fire:

Fire No. 35

And also perfect for some homemade eggnog:

On this delightful Christmas Day, know that all best wishes for joy in your world and peace on our earth are sent from this home to yours during this glorious season...

"Homemade Eggnog," by Beverly Sims. In Cuckoo Cooks from Gilboa Christian Church in Cuckoo, Virginia.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Meal No. 1986: Chicken and Dumplings

Thursday evening's big bowl of comfort food was another new recipe tried out in the Instant Pot: chicken and dumplings.

I guess chicken and dumplings ain't really my thing, although everything except the dumplings was pretty good. I'm a much bigger fan of chicken pastry.

"Easiest Ever Chicken and Dumplings," from Bob Warden. In Great Food Fast, Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge Press (2012), p. 66-67.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Meal No. 1985: French Toast

The mid-day meal on Thursday was the inaugural use of my brand-new cooktop: classic Challah french toast.

As I noted in a few recent blog posts, the Bosch cooktop (that was installed when the kitchen was demolished and rebuilt in early 2009) developed a circuit- or motherboard issue that was going to be quite costly to repair. It seemed to me that the hundreds of dollars to fix a broken one could go a long way on an upgraded cooktop! After doing my online research and thinking it through a good bit, I settled on a 36-inch Samsung induction cooktop. In all the years I've consulted Consumer Reports for (mostly) major purchases, I think this was the first time I'd seen a 100 rating:

I wasn't in any hurry, but suddenly the cooktop was on an extra big sale with an additional discount for Samsung appliances, which knocked the price down by over $600.00. I ordered it promptly, and the appliance delivery crew was here late Wednesday afternoon. My electrician was able to schedule me for first thing Thursday morning, so now it's all hooked up and working great.

Interestingly, only a few of weeks ago, I'd finally decided to take advantage of a great sale and replace my old hand-me-down Revereware cooking ware with the AllClad set I'd had my eye on:

Perfect timing to be ready for induction cooking!

"French Toast," from King Arthur Flour online.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Meal No. 1984: Perfect Pot Roast

When dinnertime rolled around Tuesday night, with four at the table and with the next couple of episodes of Game of Thrones to watch, I went with a long-cooking one-pot dinner: Ree Drummond's perfect pot roast. With my cooktop not working, this was another time to put the Paragon countertop induction plate to use, even though I'm finding that it only really heats about a 4-inch diameter in the center of whatever cookware I've used on it. But it all finished out nicely in the low-temp oven. With onions, carrots, and potatoes, this was a hearty beef dish that we tackled with enthusiasm.

I might add that Tuesday was a gloriously gorgeous day here in Winston-Salem, with temps topping out at 71°F when I took Sumner for a walk. We then enjoyed sitting in the sunshine on the back of the Tundra for a spell of rest afterwards.

And yet there are snowbells coming up by the front steps...

My sister did not seem to appreciate my weather/temp screenshot, which is understandable given the conditions in her hometown in Indiana at that same time:

"Perfect Pot Roast," from Ree Drummond. From The Pioneer Woman website. [Published 24 September 2011]

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Meal No. 1983: Pork Carnitas

For the Monday night meal and the beginning of the crew watching the 7th season of Game of Thrones, I returned to my Instant Pot and to AllRecipes Magazine for a recipe that could be made without using my cooktop. The resulting pork carnitas were pretty tasty. I tried caramelized plantains, too, but they weren't all that great.

I also tried making guacamole for the first time ever. I'm not sure what the big deal is with this stuff. The rest of the dinner crew said it was great, but for all I care, guac can take a walk.

[Somehow I managed to forget to snap that night's dinner plate but the photo above captures my Tuesday lunch leftovers of it.]

"Pressure Cooker Carnitas," by Jennifer Lindley (based on a recipe from Jennifer Sierra-Quick). In AllRecipes Magazine, September/October 2017, p. 104.

"Great Guacamole," by Lan Lam. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 146 (May & June, 2017), p. 4-5.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Griddled Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Coffee Ice Cream

When fellow Wake Forest University alum Jason Miller was here at the end of last week, we made a quest for old time's sake to catch Hot Doughnuts Now at the Krispy Kreme on Stratford Road...just like back in our late 1980s WFU days. Jason also gifted me with a bag of Iron Bell coffee from Louisville, and I used some of it to make coffee ice cream over the weekend. Because I spent five years in Charlottesville while completing my PhD at the University of Virginia, I had become familiar with a wonderful and unique dessert known as the "grills with" [some say "Grillswith"]. These three relatively disconnected thoughts will make sense when you consider that stale doughnuts, coffee ice cream, and Charlottesville memories were successfully combined this past Sunday night into an absolutely incredible dessert of a griddled doughnut with coffee ice cream on top.

While the University Diner and the White Spot were best known for making this concoction famous, I think I only ever had it at the now-defunct Sloan's Restaurant, which used to be behind Barracks Road Shopping Center on Millmont. The Charlottesville experience has translated into portability for this dessert, to Richmond, Memphis, New York City, and New Orleans. It's something that'll stick with you, once you've had it, and I felt I had no choice but to be inspired by it...especially since there are never any doughnuts at the house.

Except the glazed ones I made one time...

Inspiration for griddling—rather than grilling—the doughnuts came from Darron of Graphique Couture.

"Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream," by David Lebovitz. In The Perfect Scoop. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2007), p. 35.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Meal No. 1982: Moroccan Tagine

With my cooktop on the blink, and still needing to make dinner (especially now that I'm on Christmas break!), I finally broke out my Instant Pot to use it for the first time. My sister talked me into getting one, probably around Black Friday 2016, at about two-thirds of the price they sell for right now. But it's taken me until now to press it into service, and the inaugural recipe was Moroccan tagine, and it was delicious over Basmati rice.

"Moroccan Tagine," by Jennifer Lindley (based on a recipe from jrljackson). In AllRecipes Magazine, September/October 2017, p. 103.

Monday, December 18, 2017


On the 17th day of December in 2017 at the Roediger House...

There was a gorgeous watercolor palette of colors in the eastern sky:

It was a great chilly day for the 34th fire in the kitchen (included in the kitchen addition project of 2008-2009):

Strangely, daffodils appear confused about what season it is:

And I can report that my crazy azalea finally stopped blooming after almost four-and-a-half months of beautiful color: