Monday, February 29, 2016

Meal No. 1493: Smothered Pork Chops with Seasoned Buttermilk Gravy

Although I'd just made it for the first time earlier in February, I was ready to have these smothered pork chops again. I needed to give the buttermilk gravy a bit more seasoning but the pork chops cooked up just right. Peas and sweet potatoes finished out the plate for our gang of three this past Friday night.

"Smothered Pork Chops," from Tyler Florence and The Food Network.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Meal No. 1492: Shrimp and Goat Cheese Grits with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Last Tuesday night, before the Wednesday storms that knocked out power and before the sad, sad day this weekend when Cyprus was sent to her final rest, I returned to this enticing take on shrimp and grits from the Tupelo Honey Cafe. It depends on Creole seasoning and roasted red pepper strips for a great burst of flavor, and it fed our small crew more than sufficiently for a weeknight meal.

"Shrimp and Goat Cheese Grits with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce," 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), p. 100-101, 179.

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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Three Needles

The first needle contains a mild sedative, enough to make Cyprus sleepy and to slip into slumber. Initially, she's still got her head up, turning her chin up for kisses, but then come the larger-than-life yawns that she's always been afflicted by. (Hence, one of her nicknames: "Sleepy Pot Pie.") She finally lowers her head, nestled between her extended front paws, in that most typical of Cyprus sleeping stances.

A few minutes pass, and now comes the second needle, a general anesthetic to guard against any chance of pain or discomfort. Her sleepful repose is uninterrupted by this venous intrusion. She slumbers on, her most favorite of pastimes.

The third needle is the sealer of fates. Dr. Gessner eases it gently into her slowly pulsating vein, first in her forepaw and then in her muscled rear leg. It does not take long. She undeliberately settles or shifts over on her side now, and with little ceremony has ceased her breathing. Her heart is strong, though, and does not as quickly surrender, but then she lets go.

Cyprus arrived at the Roediger House not quite five years ago, a rescued young adult who'd been saved from the pound because she arrived there full-bellied with three puppies and AARF took them all. Once her litter was weaned, she was made available for adoption on the very Saturday that I went looking for a pet. It was easy to fall in love with her.

But it turns out that she was not the healthiest of creatures. First came the thyroid troubles, then the massive weight gain, then the rapid weight loss and blindness in one eye that led to the diagnosis of diabetes just over a year ago. Then she lost vision in her other eye. We never got her sugar under control and ketoacidosis loomed as a likely killer.

Her regular bouts with diarrhea were mostly controlled, although she did have two episodes of explosive outputs when locked in her crate during the day. After that, she became frantic and highly anxious about being confined there and, somehow, managed to claw and force her way out of the crate in a way that to this day I still do not understand. I tried using child safety gates after that to secure her in an upstairs shower stall, but she clawed and pushed until she broke out of those holding cells, even losing toenails and bleeding in the process.

A few weeks ago, she busted out of the shower stall but also began clawing at the bathroom door, something she's never ever done.

This led me to create a pretty hardcore barricade from a washing machine drain basin, the child safety gate, an old closet rod, and a mess of zip ties.

She initially fought it as well, rubbing the hair and skin off her front leg and leaving blood across the top of the enclosure, but it finally defeated her prison break mentality.

That did not lessen the degree to which this blind diabetic hypothyroidic bundle of snug continued to feel miserable, though. Within the last two or three weeks, it appeared as though she might also have had a mild stroke. One of today's hard realizations is that she has not felt good in a very long time, but she was always a trooper and was sweet and loving and precious and adorable, and now that girl is gone.

I will not be alone in missing her, for she had many indulgent fans among the Roediger House regulars:

It has been a sad, sad day at the Roediger House.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Meal No. 1491: Poached Wild-Caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

The Monday night meal at the Roediger House was a welcome return to some seafood, and it was one of my older recipes: poached salmon. With the overly-salty pearl couscous and some tasty baby Brussels sprouts, along with chilled rosemary dijon cream sauce, it was a most suitable supper.

"Poached Salmon," in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 216.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Serious Storming and a Powerless RoHo

Quite a stormfront passed through Winston-Salem yesterday, taking the temperatures up as high as 70°F but also bringing torrential rains and serious straightline winds that wreaked havoc on trees and powerlines. This time, the Roediger House was unable to escape consequence, and power was lost around 1:30 pm.

Above is a rare sight indeed: a nighttime shot of the house with absolutely no lights on inside or out. But you might notice that the neighbors beyond are enjoying power: the outage here was localized to about 75 percent of this block, as well as around the corner along Fourth Street at least up to Foothills Brewery.

Power was restored around 3:30 pm on this afternoon, which was long enough without electricity that I pretty much tossed everything from the fridge and freezer. And that meant I was able to give the shelves and drawers an overdue cleaning.

And at the same time, I tried to make a new shopping list to replace what was lost. It seems to me it's a pretty ridiculous amount of stuff that I try to keep on hand.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Meal No. 1490: World's Best Lasagna

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, I believe, when home chef John Chandler uploaded his recipe for lasagna to and titled it "World's Best Lasagna." Turns out, if downloads and favorites and ratings and likes and media attention are any indication, he wasn't really very far off. If you consider the tens of thousands of recipes on that site alone, and the fact that this was the Number One recipe for at least 12 years...well, you do the math!

This past Sunday night was a chance to bring this dish back to the Roediger House table, and I think the gathered crew was okay with it. They tackled it with enthusiasm. I confess to secret pleasure that, when Kristen took a plate of leftovers home, she noted it would make her teaching colleagues jealous when she whipped it out at lunchtime Monday.

"World's Best Lasagna," by John Chandler (Dallas, TX). Found online at

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Meal No. 1489: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Good heavens, folks: the Saturday night meal at the Roediger House was one of those wowsers that makes me happy that I get to put some time into the kitchen. It was pretty darned delicious.

On the menu for yet another boys' night for the most regular regulars: chicken cordon bleu with a creamy dijon Gruyère sauce, along with lima beans and stuffing. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever made this wonderful chicken concoction, and it turned out just right. I expect it will make subsequent appearances.

"Chicken Cordon Bleu," by Tyler Florence from the Food Network.

Gruyère Sauce based on "Le Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan Dijon Sauce," by Ben Rayl from

Monday, February 22, 2016

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Not too long ago, I roasted some pecan pieces in anticipation of incorporating them into this recipe for brown butter pecan ice cream. I finally got around to making a batch several days back and then put it in the freezer for the Thursday night dessert. The others thought it was pretty decent but I thought it was merely okay.

"Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream," from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012), p. 124-125.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Meal No. 1488: Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Glaze

It was yet another boys' night at the Roediger House on Thursday, but I had to work pretty late and needed to be able to make a decent dinner for the four in the crew that could be prepared reasonably quickly. That led me to this roasted pork tenderloin recipe that gets a big flavor boost from the honey dijon mustard glaze. We decided it was darned good. The sides included company mashed potatoes and buttered corn.

"Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Glaze," from Diana Rattray. Recipe found on

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meal No. 1487: Simple Beef Chili with Beans

The boys were here for dinner this past Tuesday night, and I had a chub of ground beef that needed to be used. After the long stretch of cold temps and wintry weather, the idea of chili seemed pretty perfect.

The cornbread (now my second go at this recipe) was also rather delicious.

"Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans," from Cook's Illustrated, Number Sixty-One [March-April 2003], p. 10-11.

"Golden Sweet Cornbread," from bluegirl on

Friday, February 19, 2016

Meal No. 1486: Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits

Oh my gosh. Last Monday night. The Roediger House dinner table. Amazing fried chicken and unbelievably heavenly buttermilk biscuits, made from scratch. Oh, and some mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, too.

But that chicken! And those biscuits! Whoa!

"Easier Fried Chicken," by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 106, September & October 2010, p. 6-7. [Subscription Required to access online recipe.]

"Buttermilk Biscuits," by Kate Selfridge of the Kate Bakes Things blog. Adapted from "Touch of Grace Biscuits," by Shirley Corriher.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Creamy Triple Lemon Pie

Over the weekend, I made a concerted effort to get caught up on quite a few lingering tasks...without getting to all of them, unfortunately.

But I also wanted to get at least one dessert made. My first choice wasn't doable because I'd let myself run out of cream cheese, somehow, so I made an alternative creation that was in the same vein: creamy triple lemon pie.

It's been quite a while since I made this, which means I'd not yet put together how close this is to the awesome Atlantic Beach Pie that is well-loved amongst the Roediger House patrons. The key difference here is the crust, made with lemon wafers, a bit of sugar, and some lemon zest. (Atlantic Beach Pie's unique flavor depends in no small measure on the use of pulverized Ritz crackers in its crust.)

I might have boosted the lemon flavor beyond the sweet-and-tart balance, but the crew on hand last Sunday night didn't seem to let that affect the speed or rate of consumption.

"Creamy Triple Lemon Pie," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 86 (April 2011), p. 36-37.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Meal No. 1485: Navajo Tacos on Frybread

Every once in a while, it's good to bring back this fun take on tacos, another winning recipe from that hellcat Hilah Johnson. That was the special Valentine's Day dinner this past Sunday night. Please note that I didn't go to the trouble to make the frybread in the shape of a heart.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Meal No. 1484: Iron Skillet Ribeyes

Another good use of my new cast iron skillet is for pan-frying steaks, but I only got around to trying that last Saturday night. I was actually intending to grill the steaks but the cold weather had my grill cover shrunk so tight I couldn't get it off the Weber!

And they turned out great, along with big baked potatoes and some passable asparagus. This helps explain the early bedtime for a weekend night.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Meal No. 1483: Fried Eggs on Toast

Here's what the Valentine's Day sunrise looked like from the upstairs porch yesterday morning:

And then, just as it got dark, the snow started and looked so lovely coming down for a while. We were not forecast to get much, an inch or so at best, before it was to convert over to a wintry messy mix.

The Morning After

And no, there wasn't a huge accumulation, and by mid-day on Monday, it did indeed turn into a mix of sleet and freezing rain. That's pretty yucky, but it led to a day off from work since the schools were closed.

Ah: but I must catch up on my blog posts regarding a previous day's meal:

When lunchtime rolled around on Saturday, I indulged my recent preoccupation with fried eggs and served up a couple on delicious buttered toast, with a tall glass of whole milk.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Meal No. 1482: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Paninis

Thanks to the promise of some inbound snow in Virginia Beach Friday, I was sent home early and relieved of my scheduled duties with the team of administrators at Salem High School. I hit the road around 9 am.

After four hours of driving, I casually stopped off in Kernersville to stock up on groceries for the coming stretch of days at home working locally, and then I hit the road for the final few miles of the trip to Winston-Salem.

Alas, about 4 miles from home, I had my first experience not just of a traffic jam, but of an interstate shut-down resulting from a multi-vehicle crash. I've been in jams before, of course, and I continue to consider myself lucky with all my driving that it doesn't occur more often.

While at a standstill, I was checking my Twitter feed to see what news there was and to get updates on how bad the wreck was and how long the shut-down was expected to last. The initial word wasn't good: possibly 2-3 hours!

So close to home, having driven about four-and-a-half hours, and with groceries in the trunk! But what about the folks caught in that accident? It sounded bad, and I know too well how everything can change in an instant.  After about a 70-minute standstill just inside the Winston-Salem city limits, the left lane opened up again. I quickly reached the scene of the wreck and it looked like two cars and a tractor-trailer, and the one Volvo looked like it was half of its former self.

In spite of all those good groceries I'd bought, I contented myself with a regularly-appearing Roediger House meal made from staples on hand, instead of getting all fancy with it. On that chilly Friday night, it was ultimate cream of tomato soup with grilled cheese paninis, and it was all most satisfying.

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

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Meal No. 1481: Hamburger Supreme

In advance of a weeklong trip to Virginia Beach as part of administrator coaching training I've been doing, I made up a comforting casserole of hamburger supreme for the mid-day meal last Sunday. Along with corn and (unfortunately) store-bought apple sauce, it was just right on a day where the chill cuts right through you.

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

Meal No. 1480: Lamb and Mushroom Meatloaf

Last Saturday night, with my departure for a week on the horizon and a package of ground lamb in the fridge, I figured it'd been long enough since I'd last made the Tupelo Honey Cafe lamb and mushroom meatloaf that is so well liked at the Roediger House.

Along with it, I contrived some sweet potato casserole loosely based on the recipe passed on to me from my mother, along with early young peas.

"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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cookies for Coaches

...and mentors and curriculum coordinators.

Last Friday I had my second day of training for a local group of teacher mentors, coaches for first-year teachers, and curriculum coordinators, so I baked up a batch of caramel popcorn Cap'n Crunch cookies for them to snack on. They seemed to like them reasonably well!

By the way, on my way to this training day, I spotted this familiar rascal in the lower parking lot of the Benton Convention Center:

"Cap'n Crunch Cookies," found online at The Capitol Baker, with credit going to The Sugar Plum Blog for inspiration and the source of the adapted recipe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Meal No. 1479: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

If my count is correct, peanut butter bacon burgers have now been made at the Roediger House for the 21st time since their first appearance here around Thanksgiving 2010. Last Friday night, when these were made, it was by special request. Regular guests of the Roediger House know they can make a birthday meal request and I'll try to accommodate them, and this is what Mookie said he wanted.

I do dig the bacon braid/weave that I learned about in the last year or so:

A review of key points about the Roediger House peanut butter bacon burgers:
  • Inspired by Yo Mama's in the French Quarter of New Orleans
  • First Made: Meal No. 180
  • Last Made: Meal No. 1424
  • Fresh Home-Ground Beef, typically from boneless beef short ribs and top sirloin
  • Homemade Peanut Butter
  • Homemade Classic Burger Sauce (recipe below)
  • Labeled Sample "Final Product" Burger: Guide to Meal No. 234
  • Some guidance, inspiration, and tips are based on Cook's Illustrated, No. 93 (July/August 2008), p. 10.

Classic Burger Sauce
from Cook's Illustrated, July-August 2008, p. 11.
4 T mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
1 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

"Bacon Sheets," from

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Meal No. 1478: Smothered Pork Chops with Buttermilk Gravy

It is Shrove Tuesday, and I have scheduled myself on the road all this week, which means I cannot be at home making another King Cake like I did last year. That's too bad because, well, even though I didn't really dig it all that much, I'd love to undertake the endeavor again.

I didn't even remember to grab one of the funky but strangely compelling Abita King Cake sodas that I grabbed on a whim on my last trip to Total Wine. I reckon it'll still be waiting for me in the grand beer cooler in the rehabbed attic once I get home again.

As for the Thursday night meal at the Roediger House last week, it was a terrifically southern concoction: smothered pork chops with buttermilk gravy. I stumbled across this when passing the time looking at the Food Network's list of most downloaded recipes for 2015. It's a great find, my friends: this was incredibly delicious.

It cooked up nicely in my cast iron skillet and paired well with mashed potatoes and some sugar snap peas.

"Smothered Pork Chops," from Tyler Florence and The Food Network.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Meal No. 1477: Capo's Chicken Diablo

After a great day of training with outstanding teacher leaders here in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, I came home last Wednesday and reached for a dish that hadn't been made here since 2010. This is another fine recipe that was inspired by visits to see my dear long-time friend Cindy Coulson and her husband Harley. From my web searching, I've discovered that it's sort of a famous dish known as Capo's Chicken Diablo, and it's pretty good.

Generally made with pounded chicken breasts, rolled around a savory mushroom, garlic, and cream cheese mixture, it's topped with a dijon-brown sugar-pecan topping that balances out the flavors. I made it that night with chicken thighs, since it's what I had on hand, but was surprised when it needed to cook about an hour to reach the proper temperature.

With Caesar salad and quick stovetop stuffing, I was pretty full by the time I pushed the plate away.

A Sad Note: When I purchased the Roediger House from the Forsyth Initiative for Residential Self-Help Treatment back in 2003, the executive director was a retired dynamo with a long track record of successful non-profit management in Winston-Salem. I just saw the article from the local paper that she passed away at the end of last week. Godspeed, Bonnie Poindexter.

"Capo's Chicken Diablo," shared by Princess Pea on Food.Com.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Meal No. 1476: Kung Pao Chicken

For dinner this past Tuesday, I reached for my wok and the excellent stir fry cookbook that was a very sweet birthday present 10 years ago. What emerged for the small crew that was present was a take on kung pao chicken, with terrific full flavors and just enough heat to make it interesting. A leftover plate went with me the following day and served as lunch during a Project CRISS training for teacher leaders here in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

The previous day was the first day of February, and the work I was scheduled to do got shifted to later in the spring, which gave me an unexpected day off. I took advantage of the gorgeous warm day (it was pushing 70°F!) and got a good bit of winter yardwork done. It was awesome.

"Kung Pao [Chicken]" (p. 80) with Szechwan Marinade (p. 28) and Spicy Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce (p. 27). In Wok Fast, by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison. Ten Speed Press (Berkeley/Toronto), 2002.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Meal No. 1475: Sausage & Beef Manicotti with Homemade Marinara

Last Sunday night, with three of us around the table and a casserole dish full of sausage and beef manicotti, we ate well. A mess of salad and some warm buttery garlic bread were all the additions we needed to make the most of this meal.

By the way, for it being the last day of January that Sunday, it was rather lovely out:

"Sausage & Beef Manicotti with Homemade Marinara," from Celebrate the Seasons: Autumn Classics from Cuisine at Home. Issue No. 6, October/November 2015, p. 18.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Meal No. 1474: Grilled Pork Kebabs

Last Saturday night was a chance for a long overdue visit from dear friends The Jens, along with their precious toddler Eliza B. They have been much missed here and the evening was just delightful.

On the menu, grilled pork kebabs with barbecue glaze, along with terrifically cheesy potluck macaroni and cheese and some green beans. We feasted, and there were ample trips back for seconds.

"Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze," an online extra from Cook's Illustrated and based on "The Best Way to Grill Pork Tenderloin," Issue No. 134, May & June 2015, p. 6.

"Best Potluck Macaroni and Cheese," by Cali Rich and published in Cook's Country, April/May 2007, p. 11.