We had the advantage of living in our mountain-side Roanoke Valley house for about ten years before planning renovations. Our house when new had a huge deck which we enjoyed, but my wife was certain that we could make it even better.
As usual she was right. We took part of the deck for our breakfast room/sun-room where I am writing this post as I gaze out across the valley. The remainder of the deck we remodeled as a more intimate center section by switching to Trex decking and adding a balcony and wrought iron railing which would not interfere with the view.
It turned out to be a very popular spot for neighborhood gatherings. Recently we revisited those days by inviting some neighbors over for a meal of grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, and salad. Cooking on the deck is a treat since it is only one door and just a few steps from our kitchen and all its preparation spaces.
As we enjoyed our meal on the deck with our neighbors and talked until well after 9 PM, it brought back memories of many other meals on the deck.
The deck we found was a great place to enjoy a view of downtown Roanoke without being bothered by bugs especially early in the season. With a large screen porch adjacent, we could have easily retired to it if the bugs ever attacked, but the worse that I can remember is setting out a few citronella candles. No one ever seemed to want to leave the deck even though the view from the screen porch was even more spectacular.
Though we had some great meals, mostly we enjoyed the conversations which the deck and a few bottles of wine seemed to spark. With our visitors all from within walking distance, there were no worries about people getting home. I can remember a few nights when the conversations carried on until midnight.
I think our inviting deck is one of the things that I have enjoyed most about our Roanoke house. There are few people who visit who don't want to stand out on the deck even in the winter and check out the area's landmarks.
Our choice was to have a view that changes from the late winter picture in the post to a greener summer view. We chose to keep the trees instead of opening up the view even more by cutting them down. They make great shade in the summer and with the retractable awning that covers most of the deck, we can even have lunch on the deck during the heat of summer.
Downtown Roanoke of course is a popular sight from our deck especially at night, but as we were enjoying our salmon the other night, we got an airplane come down over Tinker Mountain and land at the Roanoke airport. Of course it is hard to beat the fourth of July when you can sit on the deck and watch fireworks from all over the valley.
One of my favorite things to do is to take sunrise photos from the deck. I even have a website dedicated to a few of the hundreds of sunrise photos that I have taken.
Having an enticing place for friends and family to gather is a blessing. From my mother's ninetieth birthday to graduation parties, our deck has seen it all. A lot of memories revolve around our deck.
I hope the folks who end up buying our home on the mountain enjoy the deck as much as we have. However, I doubt they will ever have as many wonderful summer naps as I have taken in our screened porch.
If you don't have a place with a view like the one from our deck, you might try following my recipe for grilled Atlantic salmon. Usually if I dangle grilled salmon in front of a guest who had ever tasted mine, I can guarantee their attendance.
Though I switch toppings from time to time, one that I have just found is especially good. It is Penzey's Ruth Ann's Muskego Ave. Chicken and Fish Seasoning. The best thing is that we got our bottle of the spice free since it their April promotional item.
I find that about half a pound of salmon with the skin on is enough for hardy appetites and a couple ounces less for the ladies. I prefer to grill salmon with the skin on the fish. I coat the skinless side with topping about fifteen minutes before I put it on the grill. I clean my grill with a mixture of one half teaspoon of olive oil and a cup of water. I usually clean it with a couple of paper towels dipped in my cleaning solution as the grill is warming up. My friend, Ron, taught me that trick.
The salmon goes on the grill skin side down, and I let it cook that way for about five minutes with the grill at medium heat and with the lid closed. Then I take a sturdy steel spatula and run it between the fish and its skin. I flip the fish off of the skin and scrape the skin off the grill and dispose of it.
Next I apply my topping to the now skinless side of the fish, close the top to the grill and let it cook for another four to five minutes. After about ten minutes total cooking, I flip the salmon over one more time so the now skinless side can be seared. Depending on the thickness of the fish, it will be done in three to five minutes. Total cooking time for a nice thick piece of salmon is usually under fifteen minutes.
Just when the salmon is starting to flake I remove from the grill, place on a platter and cover with aluminum foil until the rest of the dinner makes it out onto the deck. It is a guaranteed to delight your guests.