Friday, August 31, 2018

Doubletree-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

I haven't made cookies since very early May, what with my hardcore weight-loss regimen that has governed my summer behavior entirely. But even if I'm not going to be a cookie monster myself, ought others to be denied these goodies? So I busted out the stand mixer and a current favorite recipe and whipped up a bowl of Doubletree-style chocolate chip cookies on Wednesday afternoon, and then I started baking them up Thursday morning. They came out gorgeous but, as of the time of this writing, I cannot attest to whether they taste good or not. That's how good I'm being.

"Doubletree Hotel's Chocolate Chip Cookies," by Ayşegül Sanford and her blog, Foolproof Living. Published December 29, 2013.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Meal No. 2189: Glazed Grilled Pork Chops

During this last week of August, the heat of summer has partially returned. With the descending sun's sharp angle of light full and strong on the back side of the house and the stirring of light breezes, a bit of grilling seemed called for last night. On the menu: glazed grilled pork chops, roasted Yukon gold potato wedges, and seasoned green beans. It was a filling meal, no doubt, but hard to resist!

"Glazed Pork Chops," in Cuisine's Celebrate the Seasons: Summertime Menus, Issue 10 (June/July 2016), p. 36-38.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Double the Goldfinches While the Rat Sat

I guess I didn't know how attractive black-eyed Susans are to goldfinches, because the new ones I planted on the steep slope along the back property line have proven to be quite a draw. I've enjoyed watching my regular goldfinch couple there, even though they are abusing the flowerheads mightily! It was twice the treat a few days ago to spy two males, each working on his own stem, while the rat that's taken up residence near the spilled birdseed source happily munched below.

As I mentioned not long ago, I've been pleased also to finally have some hummingbird action. So far this summer, I've only seen a single one flitting around, and I'm glad she finally found her way to my window feeder.

Speaking of seeing double, you might imagine that I was also quite pleased to see a ruby-throated male jockeying for position with her at that same feeder recently.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

And We Was Swingin'

When the Roediger Family first lived on Spring Street, it was in the house just to the south of me, on the other side of the driveway. Today, that home is divided up into three apartments. On its porch is a swing that was recently incapacitated by a bolt that sheared in half. It turns out the old man from next door might be good for something still: I put in a pretty decent repair job on it and now it's back in service for the neighbors.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Bounteous Harvest, At Last!

Now, finally, the tomatoes are coming! I'm still having to toss out no small number of them, mostly because of splitting from what appears to be blossom-end rot. I'll have to better condition the soil next year and also watch out for the ground moisture...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Meal No. 2188: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

The Sunday night dinner was an attempt at a healthier choice: grilled chicken over hearts of romaine with the last of my homemade Caesar dressing, along with some roasted sunflower seeds. Somehow, it felt like too much, so I did another three-mile walk after dinner.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Meal No. 2187: Ribeye Open-Faced Melt

I had grilled an extra steak last night and it was the perfect basis for an open-faced steak sandwich melt tonight, with a tasty garlic aioli along with caramelized onions and fresh homegrown tomato slices.

"Filet Mignon Melt Sandwich," a Roediger House original recipe.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Meal No. 2186: Grilled Ribeye Steaks

Low humidity, moderate temps, and cool breezes made for a picture-perfect Friday in Winston-Salem. I could not imagine missing the opportunity to grill some ribeye steaks, which were then served up with roasted asparagus and seasoned roasted Yukon gold potato wedges. This is the biggest meal I've eaten in quite a while, and I managed to do so with very little regret. It was fantastic.

To stave off late-afternoon hunger, I went ahead and made early salads with some more of the delicious homemade Caesar dressing and some roasted sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Meal No. 2185: Tomato Pie

After my first day back at work since June on Monday (what a great summer break it's been!), I came home and saw once again on my countertop the growing pile of ripe tomatoes, now that my two plants are really starting to produce. That had an impact on the decision about dinner, which was tomato pie with fresh-cut honeydew melon slices on the side. This was a new recipe for me, and it almost gave off a hint of pizza in its taste. Overall, it was good without being smashing.

"Tomato Pie," by Linda Wasko. Found on

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Rat Pack Launches a Solo Act

It's not just water run-off that's coming through the silt fence along the rear property line: on Saturday afternoon, it was this scurrying rodent who found the spilled birdseed under the feeders to be irresistible. I'm glad I've got a long lens so these precious moments of downtown living do not pass without proper documentation. And I'm glad my overnight guests were not here to glance out the window while his visit lasted.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Banana Bread Before the Bye-Bye

With an anticipated 6:30 am departure time for the Miller crew on Sunday morning, I thought I'd get up extra early and not only make sure there was an ample supply of hot coffee, but I also put together another loaf of the Starbucks-style banana bread that was so good recently. The early-rising guests wolfed their slices down but still somehow found time to taste the goodness therein, and then off they went!

"Starbucks Copycat Banana Nut Bread," from Liz of [Published 25 March 2015]

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Meal No. 2184: Braised Chicken Thighs over Brussels Sprouts

The Roediger House happily hosted a return visit from Wake Forest chum Jason Miller on Saturday night, made even better because his wife Joy and daughter Morgan were also part of the package. It's time for college sophomores to head back to college, and I'm glad they have let Winston-Salem be a stopover en route to Lynchburg. For our supper last evening, it was braised chicken with Brussels sprouts and shallots, steamed brown rice, and a Caesar salad with a really zippy nearly-perfect homemade dressing. Although they had to leave awfully early this morning, I can only be grateful we all got to catch up a bit.

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

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Meal No. 2183: Basil Cream Chicken

Friday night was another evening spent delightedly hanging out with Roediger House regulars Kristen and Mookie, and we all seemed to embrace a new recipe for basil cream chicken. The salad we had tonight wasn't so awful, with the sweet and tangy zip of sweet and sour vinaigrette, diced homegrown tomato, and some more of the cinnamon-vanilla pecans that I'd made not so long ago.

"Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette" from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 373. Usually included as part of the "Spiced Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad," inspired by the signature salad at Ryan's Steaks, Chops, & Seafood (an excellent Winston-Salem restaurant).

"Basil Cream Chicken," by MizzNezz on

Friday, August 17, 2018

Meal No. 2182: Arroz con Pollo

In the last group of graduate students I got to work with when I was directing the secondary social studies program at Wake Forest University was an outstanding young man: Bradley Phillis. After teaching here in town for six years, he headed to the University of Tennessee where, this spring, he earned his PhD in history. Imagine the tremendous joy and celebration when the news came out recently that he had joined the faculty at Gardner-Webb University, teaching both history and also coordinating secondary social studies education! He paid a visit to the Roediger House yesterday and we put in a full and long day talking about teaching and brainstorming ideas for one of the classes on his load this fall. When dinnertime rolled around, I served up arroz con pollo with white cheese sauce, as well as more of the homemade salsa. Given that Boiling Springs is a lot closer than Knoxville, it's nice to know more visits like this are virtually guaranteed in the coming year(s).

"Mexican Chicken & Rice," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 115 (January/February 2016), p. 10-11.

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Meal No. 2181: One-Pan Pork Tenderloin

With fellow UNC alum Steve Zorn, who lives in a neighboring neighborhood, up for dinner last night, I sort of regret not making a more enticing meal. But the basic foodstuffs on our plates were enough to get us through and still gave us lots of time for catching up and reminiscing about the good old days in the Blue Heaven of Chapel Hill. I'd planned on roasted hoisin-glazed pork tenderloin with baby Dutch potatoes and asparagus...but I didn't like the condition of the asparagus so I substituted a Caesar salad with the last of my homemade dressing.

Based on "One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potatoes," by Christie Morrison. In Cook's Country, October/November 2015, p. 27.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Meal No. 2180: Chicken Salad Melts

Last night I wanted to put to use the delicious new batch of chicken salad I'd made, so I picked up fresh English muffins and made chicken salad melts. It was a great opportunity to employ another homegrown tomato, along with some apple slices, for a delicious summer treat.

"Chicken Salad Melt," a Roediger House original recipe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Meal No. 2179: Carne Adovada with Mexican Cole Slaw

For three of us gathered for the Saturday night supper, I was ready to try a New Mexico pork braise called Carne Adovada. It's not Mexican nor is it Tex-Mex but uniquely a cuisine of New Mexico, said to be based in Native American cooking mixed with the influences of Spanish, Anglo American, and French perhaps some cowboy added in as the 1800s played out with the advance of cattle ranching. When it came time to spoon it out, though, we were not concerned with history but with the present: a hearty, delicious, tender, and oh-so-slightly spicy pork dish bathed in red chile sauce. It was a bonus that the Mexican coleslaw (also new to the table here) was full-flavored and creamy, so more pleasant than picante and more tasty than testy.

I had flour tortillas, a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, freshly diced homegrown tomato and store-bought onion, sour cream, homemade salsa, and some more of the homemade Southwestern Caesar dressing to, well, dress it up.

And let me be perfectly clear: this was one freakin' fantastic dinner. That pork braise and especially the sauce are incredible, and that coleslaw turned out mighty fine as well. This here meal definitely earns repeat performances. Oh——and I also had my first Best Brown Ale (or, for that matter, any beer!) since May 28th, a bonus granted to myself because that morning I was under my target weight...and that cold beer was also absolutely delicious.

"Braised New Mexico-Style Pork in Red Chile Sauce (Carne Adovada)," by Annie Petito. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 154 (September/October 2018), p. 6-7.

"Mexican Coleslaw," from Christin of [Published 08 August 2017]

"Taco Seasoning I," from Bill Echols on

Monday, August 13, 2018

Meal No. 2178: Salmon over Caesar Salad

It was another nice summer day in Winston-Salem on Friday, and Sumner and I had a good day together where very little was accomplished. But I did find the time and energy to reach for a new version of Caesar dressing, from the small collection I have of recipes for that delightful topper-of-Romaine, on which some freshly roasted salmon was placed. A bit more of the mango-peach chutney was a bonus on that perfectly cooked fish. I wouldn't have minded upping the dressing's pungency a bit but it did prove to be tasty, all things considered.

"Big John's Killer Caesar Salad Dressing," from Big John on

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Some Other Bricks from the Wall

It seems a safe assumption that there are no readers of the blog who would go out to till a bit of their yard and end up unearthing as many bricks as I tend to least if I'm doing it along the rear property line.

Most of these were buried there, I guess, when the rear wall was was demolished in early 2014. As I noted in a recent blog post ("Sassying Up the Silt Fence Slope," 26 July 2018), I figure it's time to dress up that area and stop staring at a rotting silt fence. The next phase has commenced, at least with this past week's tiller action to begin to prepare the next planting area.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Meal No. 2177: Southwestern Caesar Salad

Quote from yesterday's blog post:

I really liked that salad and expect to be making it again very soon.

Prediction confirmed, from Thursday night's simple supper:

That's another homegrown tomato added to the black beans and corn on top!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meal No. 2176: Chicken Vesuvio

The Wednesday night meal for four involved a couple of new recipes: Chicken Vesuvio with Yukon potatoes and spinach; and southwestern Caesar salads. The chicken was just okay but I really liked that salad and expect to be making it again very soon.

"Chicken Vesuvio," by Andrea Geary. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 154 (September/October 2018), p. 4-5.

Southwestern Caesar Dressing based on:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Starbucks-Style Banana Bread

It's been a long haul since the end of May, which represented the end of beer, bread, soda, sweets, desserts, and all kinds of other things that make life worth living. But this past Monday, I found myself within one pound of my "wild hopes" weight target and decided I was ready to make some sort of sweet confection or concoction. With three ripe bananas on the counter I'd not gotten around to eating, the natural choice seemed to be banana bread, in the style of what one might get at Starbucks. It almost sounds sort of healthy, doesn't it? And it was spot-on, especially when it was still warm from cooking.

Also, right after I pulled this loaf from the oven, I turned to the kitchen sink window and, for the first time, finally caught a hummingbird at the feeder that's been hanging there all summer. At last!

"Starbucks Copycat Banana Nut Bread," from Liz of [Published 25 March 2015]

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Taste of the Ozarks Homemade Salsa

A set of dear friends earns mention here on the blog from time to time because of the many recipes I've gotten from them or because of meals of theirs that inspired action on my part: Cindy and Harley, who now live in Athens, Tennessee. I regularly stayed with them when I was working up in the Shenandoah Valley so we shared a lot of food and good times together. I definitely miss seeing them regularly. One of the recipes I got from Cindy (15 years ago!!) has been on the back burner for me, because I didn't want to try to make it until I had a good collection of homegrown tomatoes to use for it. It was labeled "Taste of the Ozarks Homemade Salsa" and came from Doug Legge. Cindy had a jar or two of it on one of my visits to Winchester and I had to have the recipe for myself!

And it did not disappoint. That right there is some fine homemade salsa. I don't plan to can it, as that's not my thing. But I did flash-boil the tomatoes so I could peel them easily, and I really sank some time into putting it all together. Is it better than store-bought? I'd say so, but maybe that's just the sweat talking.

"Taste of the Ozarks Homemade Salsa," from Doug Legge and passed on to me by Cindy Coulson [22 October 2003].

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Early August Pleasantness

Finally, a fully sunny and clear-skied day in Winston-Salem, with this golden glow of the rising sun on the front of the Roediger House on Sunday morning when Sumner and I took off for our 3-mile walk...

It was a mix of inside and outside projects and tasks for me that day, along with a fair amount of reading over on the shady side of the driveway. When dinnertime arrived, I was content once again just to enjoy some fruit. As the picture above shows, I've got quite a bit cut up and at the ready for me as the joys of summer continue.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Meal No. 2175: Plank-Grilled Salmon with Mango-Peach Chutney

With the skies finally having cleared after a long week of storms and tremendous rainfall totals, Saturday night turned into a gorgeous August evening, perfect for grilling. For the three of us that night, I served up plank-grilled salmon and added to it a new creation from my kitchen: sweet mango-peach chutney. I rather liked it, but I realize that's not everybody's thang. I also had roasted garlic-parmesan asparagus spears and squash with Vidalia onion.

Also: I don't know whether I ought to be more concerned about privacy when it comes to how Google tracks me on my phone, but so far I'm considering it more beneficial than costly to be provided with pretty decent info especially in relation to my morning walks with Sumner, like the one that started the day for us on Saturday:

The mapping of our actual route is pretty imprecise but I like having that overall sense of it...

Guidance on plank-grilling the salmon from "Cedar-Planked Salmon with Lemon Pepper and Horseradish-Chive Sauce," by Dawn Yanagihara-Mitchell. From, Issue 111.

"Sweet Mango-Peach Chutney," a Roediger House original recipe [August 2018].

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Meal No. 2174: Chicken Enchiladas and Mexican Rice

It sure was a nice gathering for five Friday night, and the crew was willing to let me try out two new recipes on them: chicken enchiladas and Mexican rice. The good thing is apparently both were a hit, and a couple of the dinner participants said this was already in their top five favorite meals here. So I guess I'd better plan to bring it back!

We also started off with a mixed berry salad with another batch of homemade raspberry vinaigrette, and this time I thought it was over-the-top-tangy. But when you've got those wonderful spiced glazed pecans on top, what's not to love?

Also: more heavy rains hit Winston-Salem, and I am going to have to put together a plan for that breached place in the silt fence:

"Raspberry Vinaigrette," from Robyn Stone of [Published 13 March 2014]

"Cinnamon Vanilla Glazed Walnuts," from McCormick.

"Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever!" from Ali of [Published 29 October 2014]

"Authentic Mexican Rice," from Lauren Allen of [Published September 2011]

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Meal No. 2173: Grilled Tuna Steaks with Citrusy Soy Sauce

The Thursday meal for three: grilled tuna steaks with a citrusy soy sauce, steamed brown rice, and delicious cheesy garlic creamed spinach. We've been getting inundated with rain but fortunately it was only barely sprinkling for the five minutes necessary to get those tuna steaks cooked just right!

The heavy rains are bringing renewed attention to another part of the rear property line silt fence that is badly in need of repair:

Based on "Seared Tuna Steaks with Citrusy Soy Sauce," from [Published 15 January 2011]

Based on "Cheesy Garlic Creamed Spinach," from Kyndra Holley of the Peace, Love, and Low Carb blog. [Published 28 December 2015]

Friday, August 3, 2018

Meal No. 2172: Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry

When one of the local principals I get to work with was able to return for another Roediger House dinner this past Wednesday night, I served up a beef and mushroom stir fry that seemed to satisfy the appetites around the table. To change it up a bit (this meal is always good and doesn't need much modification!), I went with brown rice, a suitably appealing variation from the standard.

"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).