Sunday, July 23, 2017

[Insert Poop Pun Here]

Before the loss of dear sweet Cyprus, I had on a wild hair purchased a poop station because it certainly did seem needed! But then she passed away and it went into the attic for the last couple of years.

Now, though, the Roediger House is home to the precious pup Sumner who is quite a regular pooper in his own right. Here in the heat of summer, I am reminded why it stinks (!) to have a poop bucket at the back corner of the house...and since Sumner has been well-conditioned to do his business on the mulch in the azalea area along the south property line, bringing back out the dog waste station and installing it over there just made a lot of sense to me. I am a man who seems to lack moderation.

Count that as another item on the extensive house to-do list...completed.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Maid to Please

As I manage to tackle item after item on my house to-do list, another one got checked off in the last few weeks. I've been in this house for coming up on 14 years, and I've never given it a truly thorough deep cleaning. And that's with two major construction projects, plus about a six-month intensive renovation process, having occurred! You don't even want to contemplate the condition of all the plantation blinds, for instance. Turning to Angie's List, as I am fond of doing, helped me connect up with Margaret Staton and her cleaning service, Maid to Please. Right around the first of June, she and her crew came and gave this house an amazing thorough deep clean...and yes, it took part of a second day to get it all done. They've now been back twice more for regular cleaning, and I am really, really glad to have things looking so nice and cared for.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sloshed on a Sunday

Downtown living...which includes watching two incredibly drunk men sway and stagger and stumble while stopping to relieve themselves into the bushes at my neighbor's house across the street:

The dude with the bag had the aesthetic sensibility to pluck a flower blossom or two. The dude with the turquoise cap wasn't feeling much, except for the constant pull of gravity.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Meal No. 1874: Roasted Vegetables

The plan at dinner this past Friday night was supposed to involve a delightful young couple who'd been here once before, and since one of them is a committed life-long vegetarian, the intended menu was going to be mindful of that. Unfortunately, illness among the party resulted in a complete cancellation of the visit and meal. I still had to eat, so I made some of the intended dishes and was quite pleased at how good it was. That included zesty roasted broccoli, green beans with tangy mustard sauce, and feta-stuffed balsamic peppers. (I'd made yet another batch of applesauce earlier that day, and it was super once again.) I like my meat, of course, but it still turned out to be a great late supper.

"Zesty Roasted Broccoli," from Amie the Day-Dreamin' Optimist.

"Green Beans with Tangy Mustard Sauce," from Southern Living, June 2009. [Recipe Clipping.]

Feta-Stuffed Balsamic Peppers, first made for me by Sheryl E. Cohen of Los Angeles, CA.

Guidance for Homemade Applesauce from:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Balcony Porch Repair

Balcony as seen in September 2014
(attic windows were being restored)

Another project tackled earlier this month by Kenny Schrader and his brother Jake (from Kenny's Carpentry) began with a single small rotted piece of trim at the base of one of the front "boxes" at each corner of the balcony porch above the front door. It turns out that, when my general contractor Peter R. "Pete" LaRoque of Mocksville, NC, renovated that porch in January 2009, he and his crew did not build it to last. It was disheartening to find how much rot had occurred since it appears to have been built with untreated lumber, not wrapped in tar paper, not well primed or sealed, and not well-protected with the paint or stain he used. Here's what Kenny uncovered:

By the time we dug down into it, it seemed best to rebuild both porch boxes as well as the front railing.

One good outcome of this: Kenny built into the face of them a design closer to what my architect Sam Binkley had envisioned and drawn all those years ago...and I also got him to make the rails easier to see through. I like watching what's going on when I'm out there!

Of course, these are only primed at this point, and on my future agenda in the next six months is to get the whole house painted. But I am awfully glad we could rebuild these with this design, instead of what you see in the picture at the top of this blog entry:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meal No. 1873: Bourbon Chicken

Thursday was my last day of work for a brief stretch, and after doing some early evening/still-hot-outside weeding, I threw together a quick one-bowl supper that suited the moment: Bourbon chicken.

"Bourbon Chicken," by LinMarie. From

Monday, July 17, 2017

Meal No. 1872: Moravian Chicken Pies

It might have been because I put in four full days with the good folks of Mount Airy City Schools last week, but last Wednesday night with six at the dinner table I was drawn to my Cooking with Grace recipe collection, from Mount Airy's own Grace Moravian Church. The favorite main dish to be found there is Moravian chicken pie, and I also used another recipe to help me whip up a sweet potato casserole. Lima beans were the final piece of the evening's repast.

"Moravian Chicken Pie," adapted from a recipe by Mimi Patterson and published in Cooking with Grace: A Collection of Favorite Recipes from Our Congregation to Your Home, by the Women's Fellowship of Grace Moravian Church in Mount Airy, NC (2001), p. 47.

"Sweet Potato Casserole," based in part on Wanda Byerly's recipe, found in Cooking with Grace, by the Women's Fellowship of Grace Moravian Church, Mount Airy, NC (2001), p. 39.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Christmas Un-Decorating at Independence Day!

Boy howdy, the house sure was gorgeous this past Christmas! I must've liked the decorations an awful lot because I managed to leave the Christmas tree up and candles in most of the windows until the day after Independence Day. I am tickled to again have the South Parlour restored to proper configuration and use, and to also not continue to be embarrassed when visitors come over (or when I hear people on the street comment on it...).

Hey: that's better than three years ago, when I left the Christmas tree up until Labor Day!!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Meal No. 1871: Grilled Porterhouse Steaks

It was a great start to the week, working with elementary teachers in Mount Airy, and starting off the week with two full days of teaching made me ready for a good ol' grilled steak with some french fries at suppertime this past Tuesday. I mean, c'mon: fresh deep-fried french fries? Beef on the grill? What's not to like?

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Piano Is Now Playable

For those of you who have indulged in eBay, I'm not sure what your first auction item was. Mine was a baby grand piano, which I achieved the winning bid on in December 2003 a couple of months after I bought the Roediger House. It was shipped here from Colorado and arrived only slightly worse for the wear. It was installed in the south parlour and has been waiting patiently all these years to get tuned as well as repaired.

My burst of industrious energies this summer has led to quite a lot of long overdue activity, and that includes finding someone to tackle the piano job. Fortunately, there's Angie's List, and on it was the highly-recommended Michael Preston of McLeansville, NC.

He came in June to do some initial work and then took the keyboard and action frame with him back to his shop. He returned and completed his work on the final day of June, and I'm darned glad to have the piano in shape!

Although I was sad and disappointed that he'd missed one sticky key:

I've sent word to him about that and hope he'll be able to swing by when he has another job in the vicinity in order to fix it...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Meal No. 1870: Beef Tacos on Navajo Frybread

The Monday night meal brought back something that I hadn't made in full force in well over a year: Navajo frybread topped with beef taco meat, onions, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese...with a huge dollop of sour cream on the side. It's a little messy to make but the results are worth it.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Window Sills and Rotted Siding

Make no mistake: I absolutely love the Roediger House. It is a fantastic place to call home and, as time passes and more of the needed projects get checked off, the more awesome this dwelling becomes. This past Sunday morning, in the quiet of a city summer weekend morning, I was outside while Sumner ran around checking all his usual squirrel and chipmunk spots for activity, and I reveled in the tremendous good fortune of where I get to live. Of course there's much more on the to-do list, including exterior mildew removal and a fresh new paint job, plus all the summer landscaping I've not yet gotten around to.

One thing that definitely increased the livability of the Roediger House was the huge renovation and addition project of 2008-2009, with Peter R. "Pete" LaRoque of Mocksville, NC, as general contractor. After he and his crew were done, I had a spanking new gorgeous kitchen, four great new bathrooms plus a new powder room, a laundry room, and a rebuilt butler's pantry with all the original cabinetry put right back into place. (Exterior painting, a full new HVAC system, and a new roof were also all part of Pete's work.)

As I've said before, I thought Pete was great for 90 percent of the job, but his excellence waned as we got to the end of that massive project. I ended up mostly unable to pull him back to correct problems that emerged in the months following the completion of the punchlist. It's also disappointing to see problems surface all these years later that were the result of some shoddy attention to detail. (One of those recently emerged when the new shower doors were being installed.)

Pool Table area in attic - rotted window stool
(replaced by Kenny in November 2016)

Well, during Independence Day week, Kenny and Jake Schrader of Kenny's Carpentry were here tackling some of those issues, which included rotted window sills/stools on the new part of the house! I reckon Pete used untreated wood that was not properly primed and then was cheaply painted...and here we are only about eight years later and I've had Kenny replace two large ones and one small one (and he also took care of a rotting original house window stool, outside the dining room).

Dining Room Window

The guys also have been spot-replacing some of the original clapboard siding that has rotted over time:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Monday Surprise: Sister and Crew

I had just changed out of my workday attire after a full and good day with elementary teachers up in Mount Airy City Schools yesterday when the house phone rang. "Are you home?" said a voice that sounded suspiciously like my eldest sibling Janice, who lives down on the coast of North Carolina. When I affirmed that I was, I was directed to go out to the parking area, and lo and behold, there she sat. Also in tow, her daughter Casey and two of Casey's children: Madison (headed into 5th grade) and Gideon (headed into his 5th month).

Only Janice had been to the house before, so Casey and Madison got to traipse the place up and down (while Casey simultaneously Facetimed the tour back to her husband Joe in South Carolina). They were passing through on the way home from a whirlwind trip to Indiana and to Wisconsin. I'm mighty glad the house was only 7 minutes off their travel route on US 52! The visit was too short, but it's a lot better than no visit at all.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Meal No. 1869: Deviled Beef Short Ribs

With a new dinner guest at the table last night, I figured I ought to make it seem like I went to some small effort on putting together the evening meal. A regular crowd-pleaser, according to past experience, is deviled beef short ribs, so that's what I put on the menu. Some rosemary roasted baby Dutch potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli went well with it all.

"Deviled Beef Short Ribs," by Jeremy Sauer. In Cook's Country, April/May 2014, p. 12-13.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Meal No. 1868: Featherweight Pancakes and Bacon

Saturday night rolled around and I'd had a busy enough day that I still hadn't gotten Friday night's dinner dishes all cleaned I figured I'd take an easier route for supper: featherweight pancakes and bacon, with a tall glass of cold milk. It hit the spot, and then I managed to enjoy the light breezes of the evening sitting out on the porch while a full moon rose behind the cloud cover.

"Featherweight Pancakes," from Cook's Illustrated. Published January 1, 1996. [Accessed via]

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Meal No. 1867: Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Crust

When Amy and Gern were over last night for hanging out and for dinner, it seemed a good opportunity to bring back the incredible chicken potpie with a cheddar crust that has tended to turn out pretty well the few times I've made it before. And it did not disappoint! I also made a fresh batch of applesauce yesterday morning to be chilled and ready for suppertime, and the standard staple of seasoned green beans filled the remaining slot on our plates.

"Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Crust," from Food Network Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 8 (October 2011), p. 132-133.

Inspiration for Homemade Applesauce came from Evelyn Coulson of Cana, VA. Guidance for Homemade Applesauce came from:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Meal No. 1866: Hamburger Supreme

Last night's dinner, for the four of us: hamburger supreme, corn, and the last bit of homemade applesauce, to go with watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

"Hamburger Supreme," from the late Mrs. John T. (Glynn) Johnson of Buies Creek, North Carolina, via Janice Jones Bodenhamer.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Meal No. 1865: Slow-Roasted Boston Butt Pork Roast

The Fourth of July holiday called for something holiday-ish for mealtime, so I aimed for just short of pork barbecue, opting instead for the low-and-slow spice-rubbed roasting of the Boston Butt I'd grabbed at Publix a few days ago. With a fresh-made batch of Virginia Pruitt's Perfect Barbecue Sauce, rosemary-roasted baby Dutch potatoes, hot buttered peas, and more of my homemade applesauce, it was quite a feast. When the fireworks started up at the BB&T Ballpark following the Winston-Salem Dash game, I broke out the last of Monday night's red-white-and-blue velvet ice cream and we all reached for at least one more Doubletree chocolate chip cookie. This side of downtown was packed, by the way, with so many people coming to the fireworks! I've never seen a Spring Street traffic jam quite like that.

"Low and Slow Boston Butt Pork BBQ," by Chef Shapeweaver on

"Virginia Pruitt's Perfect Barbecue Sauce," by Fred Thompson of Grillin' with Gas. Recipe found on

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Meal No. 1864: Hearty Independence Day Breakfast

With friend and colleague Jeremy visiting from Virginia over the Independence Day holiday, I thought I ought to make us all some breakfast Tuesday morning. And that meant my favorite standby of sausage patties, fried eggs, toast, and grits...which led almost immediately to a nap.

Guidance for making the creamy grits: Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red Velvet Ice Cream with (White & Blue) Cream Cheese Swirl

The celebratory Fourth of July dinner with a table filled with friends occurred on Monday night (strategically scheduled since everyone had Tuesday off). The dessert that followed was a return to red velvet ice cream, which is utterly delicious in all the best possible ways, and I dressed it up a bit by making the cream cheese swirl both blue and white to go with the festive patriotic holiday. Just to make sure we overdid it once we dove into post-dinner sweet treats, I also had Doubletree Hotel-style chocolate chip cookies, fresh made that afternoon...

"Red Velvet Ice Cream with Cream Cheese Frosting Swirl," from Annie's Eats, a food blog. Accessed May 2015.

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Meal No. 1863: Slow-Roasted Angus Beef Tenderloin

Sunday morning was a perfect time for me to knock out several kitchen prep tasks in anticipation of an out-of-town guest's arrival and a festive feast planned for Monday night. It's been quite some time since I made my South Carolina-style pimento cheese, but I managed to put together a batch so that it could be partaken of when needed for the next several days. I also got a fresh batch of applesauce made so that it would have time to chill and set-up before the Monday night to-do. Finally, I also made a terrific ice cream for Monday night's dessert (and that will be blogged about later).

With pretty much all of the attendees looking forward to having Tuesday off for Independence Day, it was a no-brainer to do a big dinner and some movies this evening. I had grabbed a whole Angus beef tenderloin on sale at the Harris Teeter, and I trimmed it down to a chateaubriand cut and tied it up and let it age in the open air of the fridge overnight. Then, once again guided by the folks at, I slow-roasted it into medium-rare perfection. I always like to have our spicy horseradish sauce to go with it. Stuffed twice-baked potatoes, that homemade applesauce, and the house favorite of layered green bean casserole also made an appearance.

"South Carolina-Style Pimento Cheese." Recipe worked out by me, based on Sharon's Palmetto Pimento Cheese.

"Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin," from J. Kenji López-Alt, Managing Culinary Director of

"Spicy Horseradish Sauce" from "Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce," from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Compiled and Edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Oxmoor Press (2006), p. 295, 296.

"Stuffed Potatoes: Good/Better/Best," in Cuisine at Home,  December 2006, p. 23-24 [Recipe Clipping]. Reminder about crispier potato skins from "Crispy Baked Potato," from The Kitchen on

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

Inspiration for Homemade Applesauce came from Evelyn Coulson of Cana, VA. Guidance for Homemade Applesauce came from:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Meal No. 1862: Beef Stir Fry

For dinner tonight, I wanted to use the delicious trimmings from a whole Angus beef tenderloin to make something decent, and that led me to consider stir-frying. What came together was beef-and-onion stir-fry in a Chinese marinade and an Asian garlic sauce, served over rice and to great satisfaction by the three of us at the table.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Meal No. 1860: Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf

Friday night was a gathering of the most regular regulars, although we're missing Gern while he's off on a fantastic summer study trip. For the rest of us, it was Alien Resurrection and lamb-and-mushroom meat loaf, a spreading mass of sweet sweet potato casserole, and our common seasoned green beans. I was late with dinner and the crew was not unkind about that.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150), in Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen, by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011.

"Sweet Potato Casserole," based in part on Wanda Byerly's recipe, found in Cooking with Grace, by the Women's Fellowship of Grace Moravian Church, Mount Airy, NC (2001), p. 39.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Shower Doors, At Last!

The first major renovation and addition project that I undertook after buying the Roediger House began five years after I moved in, and was completed in the late spring of 2009. That included four full bathrooms and I wanted some roomy and sizable showers in them. Only this summer have I finally gotten around to having shower doors installed!

Alas, thanks to what appears to be poor tile installation by that project's general contractor, Peter R. "Pete" LaRoque of Mocksville NC, the main upstairs bathroom shower door is still not yet installed, because the tile on the shower door jam was poorly mudded...and broke when the guys tried to drill for the door hinges.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Meal No. 1859: Grilled Filet Mignon Steaks

It was a fun gathering of four this evening, on an absolutely gorgeous June day (although I was teaching again today from 8 am to 5 pm!). Grilling seemed called for, as did a simpler dinner with limited clean-up. Filet mignon, baked potatoes, and roasted whole green you wish you'd been able to join us? I'll confess: my steak was one of the best I've ever cooked.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Meal No. 1858: Weeknight Chicken Tikka Masala

It's always a treat when neighbors Alaina and Deborah can come up to the house for a bit of evening grub, which was the case this evening. I'd taught a really full day down at High Point University and time was somewhat limited, but chicken tikka masala and roasted cumin-and-coriander cauliflower were a delightful and practical combo for the crew.

"Chicken Tikka Masala," from Cook's Country, October/November 2014, centerfold recipe cards.

"Roasted Cauliflower," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 85/February 2011, p. 15.