Monday, July 31, 2017

Meal No. 1880: Chicken with Coronation Sauce

One of the popular dishes at the Roediger House is chicken with coronation sauce, and it gets made with some frequency because it is simple to make, simple to serve, and simple to eat...but also simply delicious. With another packed day of to-do list items this past Friday and a late start on supper prep, it's the meal that made sense to me that night.

"Coronation Sauce for Chicken," from 400 Sauces, by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 155.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Meal No. 1879: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

When I was out in Oklahoma last week, my father-in-law made Ree Drummond's meatloaf, and I thought it was pretty amazing. So I've been itching to give it a try, which happened on Thursday night. I must've molded the loaf much too plumply, because it actually took twice as long as the stated baking time for it to be cooked through. Once it was served up on the four plates, though, it seemed to be quickly devoured. To go with it, I had a meatloaf sauce, creamy homemade mashed potatoes, and seasoned green beans.

"My Favorite Meatloaf," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. Posted 20 September 2010.

"Creamy Mashed Potatoes," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. Published online 03 November 2007.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Exterior House Washing

It's painfully self-indulgent to make note of this, but the Roediger House really is a beautiful old place. When I'd been too lazy to take down the Christmas decorations this past December, it had the positive benefit that the house was seasonally jazzy when an early January snowfall hit, as shown above. Wouldn't that make a great Christmas card? Except on closer inspection, you see how dirty the house is, dingy and dark and mildew-stained. Beautiful structure, lovely snowfall, festive lights and decorations...and mildew.

It's gotten pretty bad over the last couple of years:

Fortunately, on my way down Robinhood Road last August, as I returned from the grocery store, I spotted a Crystal Clear pressure washing van and snapped a quick cell phone photo of it to get their number...and then finally followed up with them in late May. The earliest appointment was about nine weeks out, but that day finally arrived this past Wednesday and the house has now been beautifully cleaned and refreshed and all the exterior windows washed.

The dark nasty stuff under the eaves washed away easily, but Wes and the crew had to do a double-scrub of the clapboard siding on the east-facing front walls on the first floor. All in all, I'd say they did a fine job of it:

It does reveal how much peeling paint I've got, too, and presses me even more to think about the desperate need for a full painting of the house's exterior.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Meal No. 1878: Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

On the steady march to get things done around here, this past Wednesday proved to be another productive and full day. The great thing from that day will get its own blog entry tomorrow: a full exterior washing of the house. But I also finally got around to replacing the cracked windshield on the Volkswagen CC. And late afternoon, my boy Brian was finally able to come and try to figure out what's going on lately with the beer cooler in the mancave in the attic. He was here for a good while, and we even got in a couple of rounds of pool while waiting for the cooler to come back down to temp.

But it meant a late start on dinner (Amy was also here!) and no time to run to the grocery store. I had the fixings for biscuits and sausage gravy and dinner was served by 8:25 pm to the great satisfaction of the whole table.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Meal No. 1877: Chicken Stroganoff

Tuesday was another incredibly busy day with a huge list of must-do items...and a darned good success rate on completing them. By the time I'd showered after cutting the grass late afternoon, the grocery run was a bit rushed and I didn't get to start on dinner till about 7:40 pm. Still, though, I beat the usual deadline of 8:30 and served up some savory chicken stroganoff. This was a new experiment for me, and it was pretty good.

"Chicken Stroganoff," from the Food Network Kitchens.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sumner's Summer Kill

Last week's excursion to Oklahoma meant that the precious pup Sumner had a huge country setting to run and play to his heart's content. He was great about responding to the boundaries at the yard's edge and only once (thanks to a darned cat) did he take off and completely not respond to the summons to stop.

There was tons of playtime with his cousin Jo:

Or he'd make his own amusements:

He really is a fine and awesome dog...

All that exercise and training must've upped his skills, because on the second full day back in Winston-Salem, Sumner scored his first squirrel kill when he tore out after five of those little buggers that were raiding the birdseed in the back yard:

I'm a little torn on this one...there's the proud papa who appreciates Sumner's swift execution of this execution, but I'm not thrilled for him to now have the taste of bloody conquest. Then, too, the squirrels have been running us over here at the Roediger House, and when I was gone for a week and didn't resupply the bird feeders, they certainly made a mess of my storage bucket where the extra was kept:

And they played heck in early spring with the cushions of the furniture on the upstairs balcony, raiding them for the stuffing to line their nests:

And also they created a nasty hole in the porch gable vent in order to set up house where I really don't need them to be:

So, no...I'm not really weeping about one less squirrel.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meal No. 1876: Smothered Pork Chops with Onion-Thyme Gravy

Monday: the first full day back from a week on the road to Oklahoma. It was a day full of appointments: looking at a pump organ across the street at Radar Security Alarm, Inc.; checking in with Lisa at 1502 Fabrics about progress on window treatments; Toma K. Banner from Wash Me Auto Detailing came to clean the car up after a week with a dog traveling along; Mike Sink was here late afternoon to show me samples for fixing the broken tile in the landing bathroom; and (unfortunately) Brian from my commercial refrigerator service company wasn't able to show up to see why the third floor beer cooler is acting up again. Then, it was six folks at dinner! That meant going for a meal that would have longer cook times to allow for some pool playing and visiting, so I chose smothered pork chops with onion-thyme gravy together with slow-cooker scalloped potatoes and garden peas. Fortunately, I still had some homemade applesauce ready to serve up too!

"Smothered Pork Chops," by Erika Bruce. In Cook's Country, April/May 2011, p. 22-23.

"Slow-Cooker Scalloped Potatoes," by Kelly Price. In Cook's Country, January 2011, p. 6.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Meal No. 1875: Grilled Bacon & Cheese Sandwiches

After finishing the long drive home yesterday from a week's vacation with family in Oklahoma, the time spent unpacking and making an evening-time run to the grocery store led me to throw together the simplest of suppers: grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches with a tall cold glass of orange juice.

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.