Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meal No. 1055: Lamb Meatloaf and Smashed Sweet Potatoes

It's been quite a while since I reached for this fine, fine pair of recipes from the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook, which my sister Allison very thoughtfully got for me. I think tonight this lamb meatloaf was as good as it's ever been.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150) and "Smashed Sweet Potatoes" (p. 128), 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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meal No. 1054: Hamburger Supreme

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meal No. 1053: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A pretty rapid repeat of a recent meal but too good to avoid the temptation:

"Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup," from Cook's Illustrated, November 1999. Recipe can also be found online at

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meal No. 1052: Chicken Caesar Salad with Restored AC

This was dinner this evening, and it was really, really good. I'm glad it was a simple meal tonight because I had a frantic late afternoon combo of meeting with an engineer to look at the attic space at the same time I had to have Webb HVAC return because the downstairs system had shut itself down again. Not sure what's going on, completely, but the technician this time wanted to say it was simply all the dust from the renovation work in the house at present.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meal No. 1051: Smoked Gouda Linguine

Tried this recipe for the first time at the beginning of the month, and it wasn't hard to make the call to return to it again so soon. I like to dress it up with diced andouille and I prefer sweet orange or yellow bell peppers to the green peppers called for in the ingredients list. I wonder what it will taste like if I remember to buy mushrooms for it, at least one time?

"Linguine with Smoked Gouda and Wine Sauce," from The Grit Restaurant Vegetarian Cookbook, by Jessica Greene and Ted Hafer. Athens, GA: Hill Street Press (2001), p. 64.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Meal No. 1050: Braised Chicken & Brussels Sprouts

I see it's been quite a while (September 2013, to be exact) since I last served up this wonderful meal of goodnesses. The credit goes to Donna Whitley-Smith for being kind enough to share it, and it is always well-received at the Roediger House. Even on a night like tonight, when dinner wasn't even served up until almost 10 pm!

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meal No. 1049: Pork Medallions with Ginger-Shiitake-Soy Cream Sauce

It was a long but good week in Virginia Beach, with five full days of teaching in three different schools. Still, even after five days of teaching and five hours of driving, I was anxious to fix a meal for myself back in the comfort of my own kitchen. It sure was tasty.

"Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce," The Bon Appétit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, 2006, p. 398-399.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stucco'd On You, North Chimney

Back in June, if you'd stood on the upstairs porch and looked up at the roof of the house, you would have been able to see the two chimneys that each serve four fireplaces on each side of the house. The south chimney was the one that was in such bad shape, and sometime in the past, it was dismantled down to a lower height, as you can see above.  This past Monday, I blogged about the rebuild of the south chimney, which as you can see here is the lesser of the two in this "before" photo. I do not use the fireplaces and don't have much of an idea about their condition within, although someday I hope to get them lined so that I can install, perhaps, a parlour stove or two.

In the picture below, taken from the hill behind the house, you can see the north chimney standing tall as well as the new chimney and fireplace that were built as part of the addition on the back of the house.

But the north chimney was also needing some cosmetic upgrading:

Right after the south chimney was finished, José Cruz tackled the refinishing of the north chimney, including patching where I'd lost some stucco and then giving the whole thing a base and then final coat.

As I noted when detailing the work on the south chimney, the final appearance was much, much whiter than I'd anticipated, but I think it still looks fine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What's Killing My Plants?

Last year, I planted a couple of mugo dwarf pines on either side of the front steps coming up from the sidewalk. But by summer's end, I'd lost one of them to some slow, brown death. I replaced it this past spring.

But now the other one looks like it's dying:

I'm also sad to see that, of my four ice plants, I've completely lost one, a second is well on its way to the graveyard, and a third one is beginning to be affected:

Here's where my landscaping ignorance is busting my chops.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

South Chimney Rebuild

This great old house has eight original fireplaces (I added a ninth in the kitchen addition, so that at least one could be wood-burning) and two original chimneys. So, each chimney serves four fireplaces that back up to each other on each level of the house. The south chimney has been a worry ever since I bought the house, as noted in this blog post from 2010. My fears about its weakness weren't driven only by the cracked, leaning appearance of it: sometimes I could hear it slowly self-destructing through the sound of bricks falling down from inside.

Not only is the house over 100 years old, but the deterioration in the south chimney was likely accelerated by the fact that the old gas furnace was vented through it for a long time. I've also learned, within the last few weeks, that the north chimney has a cover but the south chimney has been open to the elements all this time. The mortar and the bricks have both been slowly turning to dust, and while the roof was replaced back in 2009, there were gaps around this chimney because the brick was too crumbled to make the flashing secure and sealed. Hence, leaking was a bad problem sometimes, as shown in this blog post about the Van Gogh bedroom.

José Cruz came on the scene to help me get this chimney rebuilt and get both original chimneys re-stuccoed. The layout of the house and the placement of these chimneys made scaffolding no option, and it required a lift instead. That was fun for me, but also enlightening: it was awesome to be able to actually see the chimneys upclose and from above:

It was intriguing to find that the chimney is quartered to serve each fireplace independently (or was originally, although at the top of the chimney, most of those bricks had fallen down).

Ernesto Lopez was the mason who disassembled the chimney from the top down into the attic, to find a point of reasonable stability:

I sure was glad to see the work completed on this, which Ernesto did through the picture-perfect weekend of the Fourth of July:

Then came time for the stucco part:

Unfortunately, the detailing at the top did not match what was there previously, nor did it match the historical look. So I did a quick design illustration with unused bricks, to illustrate what the design should be.

José had his stucco worker correct it, though, without hesitation.

The finished look is a much lighter/whiter stucco treatment, but I'm pretty pleased overall. Mostly, I'm just glad that strong winds no longer bring about a fear of chimney collapse!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Squirrel, Interrupted

Around the second week of July, when I was enjoying morning coffee on the front porch, I noticed a squirrel scampering on the other side of the driveway with one of his rear legs cocked up rather high. He was hustling on just three legs. It didn't seem to impair his mobility much but it certainly looked unfortunate and painful.

Fast forward to July 16, the afternoon I drove in from a principals' retreat being held in Chapel Hill. Cyprus managed to zero in quickly on this same squirrel, who was not doing as well as he had been. He kept her at bay by scurrying under bushes and climbing up under the tiller, and then heading into a drainpipe, and then perching on the struts under my car. But eventually he ran out of steam which allowed me to grab him with gloves.

Here's where I'm looking for Donna Whitley-Smith to allow me a bit back into her good graces: I called Wildlife Rehab, Inc., here in Winston-Salem, and they directed me to a vet they work with and told me to take the squirrel in. I did so that very afternoon, but I fear they probably had only one choice for it: to euthanize the poor little rascal. I think I was seeing raw exposed tendons and a hugely swollen rear leg. But the little guy's fighting spirit and will to live were most impressive.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meal No. 1048: Baked Spaghetti

Dinner last night, using a recipe that I got from my dear friend Cindy Coulson quite some years ago. I've been making quite a few "one-bowl" meals lately, it seems, and maybe one of these days I'll get back to my "meat-and-three" dinners. Maybe.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Sticky Buns: Batch No. 9

Four years ago, I finally decided to give my sister Allison's recipe for sticky buns a try, and then it took me about another two years to make them a second time. This morning, since I woke up mighty early, I put them into play once more, which was the first time in 14 months. With these being so amazingly delicious, why do I not make them more?!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meal No. 1047: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Paninis

"Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup," from Cook's Illustrated, November 1999. Recipe can also be found online at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meal No. 1046: Portuguese-Style Beef Curry

Not a very Indian kind of a dish, to use ribeye as I did tonight, but it sure turned out tasty for this Westerner.

Recipe based on "Portuguese-Style Chicken Curry," in Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking, with recipes by Raghavan Iyer. Wiley Publishing (2001), p. 104.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meal No. 1045: Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

After a few days working hard and well with principals from Guilford County Schools, I was happy to find myself home, a day early, even. There was a nice special on ground lamb and that's what I grabbed from the Harris Teeter on my way back into town. It led to a spare but delicious and filling dinner, served over warmed naan:

I used goat cheese in place of feta and I always leave out the mint in these recipes. The changes did not diminish how good this really was.

"Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon," by Deb Perelman, who blogs at The Smitten Kitchen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Fantastification of the Front Doors

Last week, I got the front doors refinished, thanks to the good work of Ricky and Nubee Sneed of Clemmons Flooring, LLC. Here's a quick history:

August 2003
(before I bought the house)

The original screen doors are still up in the attic.

Just before refinishing began, July 7, 2014

Before refinishing, July 7, 2014

Ricky & Nubee Sneed at work

Ricky Sneed at work

After sanding, the restaining

And finally: the beautiful finished product, which I think just looks stunning (after 10 years of dingy dirty doors to come home to):