Monday, April 30, 2018

April Yard Update

The petunias I planted over spring break are bursting out in bloom, and they look good both in the planters and in the annuals beds.

Most of the azaleas are producing ample blooms, too:

And the irises are finally coming into their own, with a nice mix of varieties in the sideyard outside the rear kitchen door:

The carpet phlox has rebounded from the damage done with last year's house-washing:

And I don't remember seeing these before...are they a kind of crocus that blooms later...?

This year a new bulb I planted a couple of years ago has really come out in full force. I wish I could remember what it is:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Television Troubles: Goodbye, Panasonic; Hello, LG!

Just over six years ago, I was pleased to report that a fine new flat screen plasma 3D television had arrived at the Roediger House. It was highly rated in Consumer Reports and both 3D and plasma were supposed to be the new thing, with a remarkably long life. Of course, the last of the Panasonic Viera plasma TVs were made in 2014, Panasonic pulled out of the US television market in 2016, and mine died the middle of April, quite short of its promised life expectancy. I can promise you I lacked great desire to have to invest in an expensive replacement right after filing and paying taxes...but I guess we gotta do what we gotta do.

With Monday, April 16th clear on my schedule in case I needed the extra time to finish those taxes, I was able to knock out this round of Consumer Reports research and settle on a new TV choice: an LG OLED. Fortunately, it was available at Costco at a special price and before lunchtime that day I brought that sucker home. It is blade thin and bigger than the TV it replaces, and the picture is amazing.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Meal No. 2098: Bacon Grilled Cheese

It's been quite a busy week and at dinnertime last night, I was lucky to eke out these simple bacon grilled cheese sandwiches. And they were still darned good for such a simple supper.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Meal No. 2097: Bourbon Chicken Thighs

Last night's dinner-in-a-hurry was possible because I have an Instant Pot and a rice cooker. That led me serve up bourbon chicken thighs in no time flat.

"Bourbon Chicken Thighs," from Bob Warden. In Great Food Fast, Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge Press (2012), p. 68-69.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Meal No. 2096: Baked Spaghetti for a Crowd

I reached back in the archives for last Saturday night's dinner, with a full table of seven folks: baked spaghetti, with garlic bread and salad. I got this recipe over 20 years ago from my friend Cindy when she lived in Winchester. I made it regularly when it was my turn to provide dinner on family beach vacations, and I'd make it pretty often for my students at Wake Forest when I was on faculty there. According the blog, which has been my faithful chronicle of nearly every single meal made in the new kitchen since 2009, this dish showed up once in 2010; twice in 2012 and 2014; and once each in 2016 and 2017. It's really good, though, so I can't explain why I'm not bringing it out more often.

"Baked Spaghetti," by Margaret Coalson via Stick Coulson, 13 July 1997.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meal No. 2095: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

In between yard work activities on another picture-perfect spring day last Saturday, I made a mid-day meal of buttermilk pancakes...and they were really amazing yet again. I don't know why I would ever try a different recipe than this one.

"Best Tips for Making Pancakes: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes," by Joanne on the Pioneer Woman website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Meal No. 2094: St. Louis-Style Spareribs

Last Friday, I finished out my work week with the fine folks of Mount Airy City Schools, doing instructional rounds in two different schools. It still allowed me to get home early enough to enjoy a perfect spring afternoon while, inside, a rack of St. Louis-style spareribs slow-roasted in anticipation of a great beginning-of-weekend dinner. All that was needed alongside was a batch of gouda mac-n-cheese casserole.

"How to Make Great Ribs in the Oven," by Emma Christensen. From The Kitchn. [Published 01 July 2017]

"Macaroni and Cheese Casserole," by Sarah Gabriel. In Cook's Country, June/July 2012, p. 17.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meal No. 2093: Mexican Chicken & Rice

When longtime Wake Forest chum Chris Burris came for dinner last Thursday night, I think he was glad I was ready to so quickly repeat a recent meal: arroz con pollo with a homemade white cheese dip. It did really turn out great, if it's all right for the cook to say so himself.

"Mexican Chicken & Rice," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 115 (January/February 2016), p. 10-11.

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Meal No. 2092: Honey-Mustard Chicken Thighs

It's a long drive to Vance County and back, which is what I did last Wednesday in order to work another day with members of the High Point University Leadership Academy cohort. The gorgeous spring evening that I returned to in Winston-Salem led me to enjoy porch time in the early evening hours before turning my attention to a hearty dinner: honey-mustard baked chicken thighs with stuffing, homemade slaw, and some leftover sweet potato casserole.

"Honey Mustard Chicken," by Elise Bauer of

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Doubletree-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last Wednesday, when I journeyed to Vance County for another day of coaching conversations with teachers as part of the Leadership Academy of High Point University, I took with me a batch of freshly-made Doubletree-style chocolate chip cookies. But I also managed to have some ready and hot the night before to follow our dinner. It's hard to beat those cookies coming straight out of the oven.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Meal No. 2091: Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwiches

Tuesday night's dinner at the Roediger House was a second go at Boogaloo Wonderland sandwiches, a Detroit specialty, and yet again they were pretty darned amazing. I added a batch of coleslaw to our plates, made with my mother's recipe in mind.

"Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwiches," by Bryan Roof. In Cook's Country, April/May 2018, p. 4-5.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Meal No. 2090: Indiana Chicken & Corn Chowder

The rough storm system that blew through the area on Sunday left us with very chilly and gusty weather here in Winston on Monday. That put me in a mind to have a soup or chowder. Because I was off work (for taxes!), I had time to go to Costco to stock up on things, and I came home with a rotisserie chicken that was perfect for making Indiana chicken and corn chowder happen for supper with Amy and Gern.

"Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder," by Brannon Soileau from his restaurant Maize, An American Grill (formerly of Lafayette, IN). In Indiana Cooks!, by Christine Barbour and Scott Feickert with photographs by Tom Stio. Bloomington, IN: Quarry Books (2005), p. 64-65. Recipe originally shared with me by my sister Allison on December 31, 2006. You can find this, and quite a few other Indiana recipes, if you scroll to the bottom of this article: "Indiana Can Cook." Update: Brannon Soileau's latest adventure is Boss Bagels in San Antonio, Texas.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Meal No. 2089: Chicken Tikka Masala

Sunday night, the Roediger House was delighted to welcome back dear friends Kristen and Mookie after their week away in Asheville. I thought I'd finally try out an Instant Pot recipe for chicken tikka masala, so that there'd be plenty of time to hang out up on the third floor.

We all had some catching up to do, since the last time I saw Kristen and Mookie, we were doing this:

As for dinner, let me exclaim that surely this was not the instant pot chicken tikka masala recipe that supposedly took the internet by storm. I thought it was horrible, and my other three versions (original, slow cooker, weeknight version) of this dish will always take precedence over this one. Which is why this recipe has been sent to the dungheap of kitchen history:

"Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala," from Julia of

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Meal No. 2088: Biscuits 'N Sausage Gravy

Listen: I'm in hardcore yardwork mode, and Saturday was another ideal spring sunny day with nice breezes. So I worked until almost 7, and then by the time I'd come in from a beer on the porch, there was not much time for much dinner prep. A block of Neese's hot breakfast sausage was chilling in the fridge, and frozen biscuits waited in the freezer. The Saturday night special at the Roediger House, then, was biscuits and sausage gravy. Easy and filling, and also not shabby.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Meal No. 2087: Faux-tisserie Whole Chicken

It's Tax Weekend. I am a last-minute guy. I have to block off a few days around April 15th every year because I usually need a full day to organize and tally up all my receipts and records, and then I need another day just to fill out and double-check the forms and documents. And it helps to have a day's cushion given that all kinds of things could go awry. But last Friday night saw me get it all completed, including a midnight run (with Sumner in the truck) to drop it all in the mailbox and be done with it.

And that's even with having a nice dinner together with Amy and Gern, which featured whole chicken with Alabama great white sauce, sweet potato casserole, and seasoned green beans. It sure was good eating.

"How to Cook Instant Pot Whole Chicken - Rotisserie Style," by Sheena from

"Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning," by Judith Hanneman, The Midnight Baker.

"Alabama Great White Sauce" (p. 362), in Smoke & Spice, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2003.

"Sweet Potato Casserole," by Ella Rae Roberts of Hendersonville, NC. Published in Foundation Family Favorites. Cary, NC: North Carolina Baptist Foundation (1993), p. 204.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Meal No. 2086: Grilled Porterhouse Steaks

My work week was short but involved a lot of time driving in the car: four hours to Shenandoah County for a day, and then a four-and-a-half hour drive across the state to Virginia Beach (at least I stayed on the oceanfront!) for another day's work, and then the four-and-a-half hour drive back home to Winston-Salem. I was glad to try take-out from the new Dynasty Asian Fusion restaurant a few blocks away on Wednesday night. But Thursday was just another one of those picture-perfect spring days and I put in a lot of time out in the yard. With that kind of weather, and that kind of weariness, I just wanted to grill steaks at dinnertime. With french fries, of course.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Meal No. 2085: Hamburger Supreme

On Sunday night, before I was to depart for several days of work in Virginia, I made a soothing comforting dinner of hamburger supreme, together with hot buttered corn that was exceptionally delicious.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Meal No. 2084: French Toast

When I got up last Sunday morning around 6:30 am, the temperature gauge at the house showed 29.5°F, and the plants and car were covered with a sheen of ice from freezing rain overnight. Time will tell how much damage that last freeze will do to the plants and shrubs and herbs I had planted while I was home over spring break, but I knew that was a risk.

Late morning, when the feeling of peckishness hit, I returned yet again to the simple but really spot-on French toast from King Arthur Flour's recipe archive.

"French Toast," from King Arthur Flour online.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meal No. 2083: Mexican Chicken & Rice

After the rains and cold and gusts a week ago Wednesday, it sure was nice to wake up to bright sunshine and clear blue skies the next morning. It was cold (more about that in a moment), but also it was another fine day to be off work for spring break.

The weather had been reasonably cooperative, so last Thursday found me busting hump on yard work. But after planting 115 plants, flowers, and herbs over the preceding couple of days, it was a bummer to find that Forsyth County was on the western edge of a swath of counties that were under a freeze warning that morning:

We reached 32°F just for the briefest moment. It was cool all day but it was still another glorious one here in downtown Winston-Salem. I was happy to spy a bluebird near the bluebird house again, but still he gave no indication that he'd take up residence just yet. Sumner had managed to get ahold of a gorgeous butterfly that didn't seem to have taken well to the pup's playfulness:

Normally at this time of year, I'd be posting a shot of a gorgeous spread of my oldest patch of carpet phlox but I think it got damaged from last summer's house-washing. Still, a newer planting towards the front northeast corner of the yard is bringing out some delightful color:

More of the daffodils were busting out, so one could see the other two varieties I'd gotten and planted a couple of years ago:

It had been just over a month since I last made Mexican chicken and rice, but with neighbors Deborah and Alaina up for dinner, it turned out to be a well-received choice for the Thursday night meal. All of us returned for seconds on this tasty dish, and I don't think the presence of four more pieces of lemon chess pie was at all disappointing.

"Mexican Chicken & Rice," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 115 (January/February 2016), p. 10-11.

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Meal No. 2082: Pioneer Woman Meatloaf

The work I get to do in schools and school districts gives me the chance to get to know a lot of great people. Every once in a while, I manage to entice one or more of them out of the professional realm and rope them into an evening hang at the Roediger House. That was the case last Wednesday evening, when a local principal (also on spring break) took me up on the offer to come have dinner and beers, and it was a delightful time. For the meal, I made Ree Drummond's meatloaf, which I just really like, along with house favorite company mashed potatoes and a mess of seasoned green beans.

There was dessert as well: a lemon chess pie, which turned out especially good, I'd say. The texture was especially silky and creamy, and the lemon flavor popped nicely!

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

"Company Mashed Potatoes," shared with the Jones family by my sister Allison.

"Lemon Chess Pie," originally thought to be President Clinton's favorite version, but apparently it's not quite the same. My source is unknown but this link goes to the identical recipe.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Meal No. 2081: Easter Feaster - Roasted Beef Tenderloin

When I was off work for Spring Break around the Easter holiday, I got a massive headstart on spring yard work. At the front end of my vacation time, I completely weeded all planting beds and removed three dead shrubs. Holes were dug out and prepped for new shrubs to be planted. I ran up to Mitchell's Nursery in King and came home with flats of annuals, two tomato plants, and a mix of kitchen herbs to plant.

I broke out the tiller and ran through the annuals beds to get them ready.

Pope Sand & Gravel was able to make a same-day delivery of mulch and I immediately jumped on spreading it along the south property line, which is basically a long strip of azaleas.

Sumner loves being outside and soaked up some sunshine while I was working:

Then, that night, the Easter Monday meal was a chance to bring together Roediger House regulars Amy and Gern and Kristen and Mookie, and the dinner plates were graced with roasted beef tenderloin, company mashed potatoes, and roasted garlic-and-parmesan asparagus. It was a great feast and it was also a festive good time.

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a recipe originally from my sister Allison that quickly became a Jones family favorite.

"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.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Meal No. 2080: Fettuccine with Alfredo Sauce

I put so much time into yardwork on Easter Sunday that it left little time or energy to create a big meal that night, so I tried a new recipe for alfredo sauce and was pretty pleased with the resulting bowl of creamy goodness.

With it being a full week off, I was hoping against hope that the weather would allow me to make serious inroads on the yard. The forecast was a bit mixed at the front end of that week but I sure tried to take full advantage of it!

"The Best Homemade Alfredo Sauce Ever!" by Alyssa Rivers of The Recipe Critic.