Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bound for the Big Easy

This is the day that I jump in the rental car and head down to New Orleans for the week. I might post some things from there, or I might use this to catch up on some other random posts that need making. It's a fun city but my primary obligation while I am there will be providing staff development at New Orleans College Prep, where this year there's a mess of new teachers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rushed Grass-Cutting / Hair-Cutting

With plans to be gone all of next week, it was pretty crucial to get both the grass cut and my hair cut. I think I've made a habit of combining those chores on the same day, with some frequency.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meager Remains of the Monster Chip Cookies

While working this week with teachers in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and in the face of all the budget cuts that eliminate good things like snacks at professional development sessions, I went ahead and did a bit more baking. And I think they liked the result:

This was all that was left after taking in monster chip cookies to the session on Thursday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Master Eli in the Master Bath

When my sister and her family passed through quickly a couple of weeks ago, her son Eli seemed to enjoy the amenities of the master bathroom. The soaking tub probably seemed like a small swimming pool to him, and he thought the shower might just be big enough.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cinnamon Chip Cookies for the Teachers

I'm working all week with teachers from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Budget cutbacks mean there are no snacks. I like to bake. Therefore, this was my evening's endeavor:

These are very delicious cinnamon chip oatmeal cookies. The cinnamon chips come from King Arthur Flour, but the recipe was on the bag of Hershey's cinnamon morsels, which I can never find anymore.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meal No. 125: Bama Chicken

It is nice to be working in Winston-Salem this week. After the late hours of last night's movie night, it felt good to have a productive day working with teachers here in town, followed by the good but simple casserole known as Bama Chicken. Some sugar snap peas were a good side to this while watching another episode of the original Star Trek series.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Meal No. 124: Burgers ('cause it's summer)

It was a brutally hot day in Winston-Salem today. Here's a screenshot of the forecast from

The promise of storms was a bit nerve-wracking, because this was also to be another outdoor movie night at the Roediger Theatre, and there have been too few screenings so far this summer as it is. (This evening's fare: Return of the Jedi.)

As for the meal tonight: I'm not ashamed of the repetition of grilled burgers for a meal. I'm sure I'll get tired of them by the end of summer, but for now, it's just a summer thing. And having a movie night makes it seem like extra fun if a few people don't mind coming over early for a bite to eat. I decided it was time to have a go at making mac-n-cheese from scratch again, and the result was pretty pleasing.

It was also a good evening to break out the triple layer cheesecake I made yesterday, which proved to be dee-licious.

For the 13 people who came to the movie night, I also had some fresh-made butter rum toffee cappuccino chip cookies available for snacking.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Meal No. 123: Rosemary-Garlic Leg of Lamb

What a great night to have the Phillis brood over for dinner...

They've all been here the whole summer working at Governor's School West but this (the last day of their duties there) was the first chance to get them all over to the house for a visit and a meal. On the menu: rosemary and garlic leg of lamb with roasted vegetables, a wicked-good pan sauce, some green beans, and some yeast rolls.

Unfortunately, their schedule didn't permit them to hang out, so they had to miss out on the triple-layer cheesecake I made this afternoon. Guess I'll save it for tomorrow's burgers on the grill gathering before the movie night...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meal No. 122: Beef & Mushroom Stir Fry

This is what was happening in the Roediger House kitchen tonight:

After a multi-month hiatus, the wok was back in action, and the menu included morsels of beef tenderloin stir-fried with cremini mushrooms, onion, garlic, and sweet bell peppers. It was delicious.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Film Cut: Post-Inception Grass-Mowing

It is a heat wave here in Winston-Salem, by gosh. Upper 90s, as high as 99 forecast for Saturday. Blistering.

This afternoon proved to be just right for dashing up to the Steak-N-Shake on the north side of town, followed by the late-day matinee showing of Christopher Nolan's Inception. I'll tell you what: I really like Christopher Nolan, going all the way back to Memento, which is still one of my favorite movies of all time.

There was still just a hint of daylight when I got back to the house, and the grass has needed mowing but it's been too darned hot, so I thought I'd see if I could pull it off. I did, but it was still baking even in the evening dusk. I hustled and got it done, but I was drenched nonetheless and could get no relief afterwards when I tried sitting on the front porch to cool down.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stucco'd On You

Come to visit the Roediger House and drive up into the driveway, and you'll find yourself on the south side of the house. That's what this is a shot of:

Before the addition was put on over the last year, there was a mix of brick making up the foundation under the house, which you might be able to see in this close-up of the bay that is in the center of the above photo:

To get the new part to tie in with the old, my general contractor thought we should extend the stucco on the foundation all the way to the side steps coming up on the porch. While I liked the old brick being exposed, it was rather a mismatch and wasn't really sitting all that firmly, and the result is an aesthetic improvement:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gutter Drainpipe

I do like to make note of things that are on the eventual to-do list, and here's another relatively small one:

When the kitchen/bathrooms addition was put onto the house in 2009, the reworking of the gutters left me with one downspout that's not currently tied into the underground pipe/drainage system. The problem is the brick sidewalk from the parking area to the side porch; it will have to be torn up in order to run a drainline into the other drains that carry rainwater away from the house. In the meantime, I'm left with this black corrugated plastic pipe hooked (usually, or most of the time!) to the end of the drainspout. It doesn't quite get all the water to the parking lot to run out to the street, so I think this is creating more of an issue with my cellar flooding than should be the case. It is unfortunate that my general contractor, Peter LaRoque of LaRoque Construction in Mocksville, NC, thought this was a suitable way to leave things.

Because now, with the heavy rains of summer thunderstorms, I'm getting a lot of washing along the side of the porch, heading to the front of the property. Here are two pictures from a recent downpour, where you might be able to see how much water is flowing beside the porch:

What this is leading to is loss of my topsoil, and now the roots of the trees in the side yard are becoming increasingly exposed:

I'm going to have to rework the edges around that corner of the parking area to reduce the amount of run-off heading into and across the yard, at least in the meantime. Eventually, I hope to have this gutter draining into an underground pipe, connected with the other downspouts and channeled out the front retaining wall.

In the meantime, I've gotten a slightly longer plastic drainpipe (although it does not appear to be the 12-feet in length that was advertised on its packaging!) to route the water more directly to the parking lot itself. So far, this seems to have had a dramatic effect on how much water is coming into the cellar, though, which is excellent news.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meal No. 121: Pancakes

I sure do enjoy making pancakes and wonder why I don't have them more often.

And that habit in the Jones household, growing up in Buies Creek NC, of adding peanut butter to all kinds of things has never quite left me. It's still a mighty good accompaniment to pancakes and real maple syrup.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Visit with Byron Hoover

It was a weekend of visits with former students, starting last Thursday with lunch with Paula Wilkins (one of my grad students from WFU), then dinner Saturday night with former 7th grade student (1994-1995) Matt Stalnaker. On Sunday morning, former WFU education student Byron Hoover stopped in for coffee, followed by brunch at 6th & Vine. It's always good to see him, although he does give me a hard time for not writing enough.

Here he is pictured with his son Noah, who like his dad is known for quite a creative streak.

As I've probably said in past blog posts, one of the attractions of buying this house was that I thought it would be a great space for entertaining my groups of students each year from Wake Forest. Since I did not find WFU to be a good match for me, the house is more often populated by others, but it makes me happy that former students are still regulars here. They're always welcome.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meal No. 120: Not So Cajun Chicken

This evening turned out to be a great opportunity to have Matt Stalnaker and Bethany Chafin over for dinner, and the meal was Not So Cajun Chicken with rice, green beans, and rolls, and Vietnamese coffee ice cream for dessert. It was a great evening, and a delight to get to meet Bethany and spend time with her. Of course, I've known Matt quite a long time: he was one of my 7th grade students in Raleigh, back in 1994-1995.

Not So Cajun Chicken is a real favorite dish and it had been too long since I made it. It's almost exactly on target with a dish served at Crowley's in Raleigh, and many thanks continue to go to my UNC college roommate Jimmy Randolph for tracking down a suitable recipe for it several years ago.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Overnighter Over Too Quickly

Since normally they're living up in the northwestern quadrant of Indiana, my sister Allison and her family do not make it to Winston that often. Fortunately, as they begin their vacation to the North Carolina coast, it meant they were passing through town when I was home to host them for a short overnight stay.

We stayed up darned late last night visiting, and it was after 4 am before I went to sleep. I was up before 9 am and had some creamy cheese grits and pear cobbler for them to snack on when they got up.

And before they left, I put them in the master shower and got them to pose for this family portrait:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bed & Breakfast, Suddenly

A couple of hours ago, I got a text from my sister, who lives in Indiana. Turns out they are passing through Winston-Salem around 1 am on the way to a couple of weeks of vacation on the North Carolina coast, which makes it a perfect time to stop off and catch their breath and get a good night's sleep.

Beds are made, towels are put out, and general cleaning of the rest of the house is now done. It's a welcome surprise.

Here's a picture of the nephews, from my own visit up to their place last November:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby Mantis=New Back Door Neighbor

I've got a new back door neighbor. And I mean my back door, and what's been constantly lurking around it the last few days:

Somehow I've managed to go my entire life and never lay eyes on a baby praying mantis...they've always been full-grown. They are such amazing-looking creatures. I'm going to get kind of used to her being right outside whenever I come and go.

But you know how the kids do tend to grow up and move on...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More New Showerheads

We homeowners can get excited about some small-fry things, I know.

But look: contractor-grade fixtures that are built into a project tend to be cheap, yucky, and barely capable of satisfying one's needs. Now, toilets don't matter much to me, and I can't imagine getting worked up about builder-grade potties. But things like faucets and showerheads, now, that's another matter entirely.

So the basic showerhead pictured at right has been in place in the three upstairs bathrooms since the project was completed (I quickly had better showerheads in place in the master bath, because that is not a matter for delay.) And they've been perfectly serviceable, but that's not the kind of shower experience I want for the long-term, and I want the same for my guests. Showers should feel good, cleansing, complete, perhaps even a bit invigorating.

That doesn't mean I went hog-wild or anything, but in early July I did finally get around to obtaining replacement showerheads and installed them while I was home for my vacation time. Here's the new rain can showerhead for the landing bathroom:

And this is the new showerhead in the Van Gogh shower/tub (I put the same kind in the Wyeth shower):

One of these days, I'll get around to publishing some blog entries that tell more about those bathrooms. For now, I think the house tour is incomplete for those of you who've not been here to see all this stuff I've done to this great old house.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meal No. 119: Burgers on the Grill

Hey. It's summer. There should be regular and frequent trips out to the grill on the front porch, and by golly, burgers are what I like to see grilling there.

That, plus I had a mess of ground beef left over from Saturday night's spaghetti pie and tonight's meal meant I didn't have to run to the grocery store.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meal No. 118: Baked Pork Chops & Hoecakes

Just had to give those baked pork chops another go, wonderfully and deliciously simple as they are. And this evening I decided to try making some hoecakes to go with them, and while they tasted good, I don't think this is how I ultimately want them to be. A bit greasy for my palate, so I'll have to tinker a bit with what I'm doing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Meal No. 117: Spaghetti Pie

Since returning from Maine, my menus have been noticeably influenced by my good friend Cindy Coulson, and over the years I have gotten from her no small number of good recipes. This evening was a great chance to enjoy the company of good friends and, more particularly, to celebrate the birthday of Jen Martin, and it was also a chance to try out another one of Cindy's recipes.

What you see here is a hearty dish called Spaghetti Pie, something that's more common in the Mid-West than around here. It was darned tasty, with some good white corn on the side and some fresh-baked maple whole-wheat bread. For dessert, I made white chocolate macadamia nut cookies earlier in the day, and there's still a little bit of fudge and some key lime frozen custard left, too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Solitary Con-dine-ment

It remains to me a beautiful kitchen, even when it is the site of a strangely solitary Friday night meal:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Plumbing Patterns = Concerns

Give me a pattern of events, and I'm considerably more likely to be drawn to a conclusion.

When the plumbers installed the fixtures in the master bath, the General Contractor (Peter LaRoque of LaRoque Construction of Mocksville, NC) told me that the kit was missing a top finial for the drain plunger:

So, plumbers who are trained and licensed and whose livelihood depends on pleased customers, versus a weary underpaid factory line worker in a Delta plant in rural Indiana...who is more likely to have been careless about such a small part as a finial? I knew I'd just need to get ahold of another one and be done with it. It arrived earlier this week, and now finally that faucet looks complete.

But back to the issue of patterns, and who now seems more likely to be at fault for the missing finial...
  1. Remember the shaky shower control?
  2. And more recently the kitchen faucet handle?

So I think the carelessness of someone working in my house is what cost me the ten bucks to get a new faucet finial.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meal No. 116: Beef Tenderloin & The Boys

Beef tenderloin remains on sale at Harris Teeter, and I'm a glutton for some tender red meat. So tonight's big dinner spread for a guys' night included roasted beef tenderloin in a port wine sauce, company mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts au gratin, fresh-baked golden potato bread, fresh sliced tomato, and a spicy horseradish sauce.

Here's the brussels sprouts au gratin getting prepped:

Here are three of the five of us just getting started on their dinners:

And here's my plate:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Meal No. 115: Baked Pork Chops

Thanks to the winning touch of Chef Cindy during last week's vacation to Maine, I came home with a new recipe for preparing baked pork chops. Tonight was the time to put it to the test, and while I think hers were better, it was still good. Baked potatoes, blue cheese coleslaw, and heartland sunflower bread made up the rest of the bill of fare.

Dessert: more of the key lime frozen custard from Sunday's movie night. There was a pile of it left over.