Saturday, June 30, 2018

Future Hedge Completed

In a burst of early spring yard work, I managed to do some hard digging along the sidewalk by the back door, as shown in the above picture.

It took me until last week to finally plant a future hedge there. It's another "low-profile" project that needed to be done!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sumner's DNA Report

If the Wisdom Panel from MARS Veterinary can be trusted, it seems that sweet Sumner has a great deal more in common with his "sister" Cyprus than was previously assumed. The results of his DNA test came back in August, and their finding was that he was 50% American Staffordshire Terrier (Cyprus was found to be a Staffordshire Terrier/Chow -- and then some!). It also says he's about one-eighth Labrador Retriever and one-eighth Siberian Husky (!). The rest was a bunch of mix mishmash.

But I didn't like all that mixed mutt mishmash, so another better more detailed DNA panel was called for, and this time I went with Embark. They were able to trace it further, made a distinction between Labrador and Golden Retriever in his lineage, and even uncovered a surprising extra breed: cocker spaniel!

Here's what I do know, though: he's sweet and precious and adorable and a fine addition to the Roediger House.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

You Say Tomato, I Say Yay!

The novice tomato grower here is, understandably, getting rather excited about the ripening first fruits.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Simple Man's Simple Brick-Laying

Although I bought the Roediger House in 2003, I did essentially no new landscaping for the house until the Spring of 2012. I'm reasonably pleased with my progress and with getting the yard to the place where it is mostly maintenance and refreshing instead of intensive development and planting. That means with my extra time at home even in the heat of this current summer, I'm getting to tackle some of what we might call lower-profile projects: things that really need to be done but that either won't make a splash or won't be noticed at all.

The picture at the top of this post is from 2012, when I had just built up a planter extension for the front wall as it curves around to accommodate the sizable parking area. On the left of that shot, you can see along the porch a white access door with grass bordered by lariope. This next photo is from the following winter:

Because I've now built up planting beds on either side of that door (bee balm and rosemary to the left, and azaleas to the right), I left myself with a clover-filled damp pad at that door. One task of late May was to prep, level at a slight draining angle, and then lay bricks to create a pad in front of it.

Looks like a simple job, but it took four days, and I was very happy with the outcome.

I also like that all the bricks I used were reclaimed from both the demolition of the rear retaining wall and the rehab of the south chimney.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ticked Off

Living downtown makes me feel somewhat insulated from some of the threats of wilder landscapes (like when it was incredibly surprising to find a snake near the rear wall last year). My walks with Sumner are mostly sidewalks and city streets. So finding a tick crawling on my shorts after last Sunday's hike around town was all the more surprising to me. Those are hateful little buggers.

Monday, June 25, 2018

June Flowers Update

As the academic school year moved into its final weeks, my work schedule also came to a close. As an educational consultant, I know that May and June are the time for schools to review for and then administer tests...and not the time for me to be all up in their business. I don't mind starting my summer vacation early. With the advance planting and prep work I was able to do in some nice spring break weather, I felt like the beauty of spring could get a head start at the Roediger House, and things are looking pretty good!

The petunias in the planters and in the front beds survived the April cold snaps and have filled in with rich color.

The May window for the peonies was short but brilliant.

The front hydrangea was bursting with blooms.

The dianthus blooms were a new twist.

The first daylily bloom appeared right at the end of May...

...and the second daylily showed its beauty by June 2nd.

In the petunia beds, they have spread and blossomed fruitfully, creating a fragrant purple blanket.

The small patch of astra blue balloon flower started bursting out about three weeks ago and it seems my photos seldom capture how really lovely they are.

The calla lily in the small strip of side yard on the north side is yet again healthy and rich.

The strutter's ball day lilies outside the back door are marvelous greeters and really full-bloomed.

The bee balm my sister gave me began doing their own strutting around the third week of June... did the berry dazzle dwarf crepe myrtle at the parking area sidewalk leading up to the front porch.

Soon thereafter the first of the giant blooms on the Cranberry Crush hibiscus unfolded.

Among my newer day lilies is this terrific orange variety.

And finally, with this being my first summer ever for trying to grow tomatoes, I'm wildly fascinated with how giant (now, just about 7 feet tall) my beefeater plant has grown. It looks like they're going to be incredibly productive, too, so let me know if you need any fresh garden-grown tomatoes!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Meal No. 2150: Baked Garlic Chicken Thighs

This afternoon, the heat and humidity were finally too much for me. Sumner and I did a 65-minute walk in the early morning hours and I was drenched when we got home. While I still got busy out in the yard for several hours, I did finally reach a reasonable stopping point where I could not fight it any more. There was plenty to do inside the house, though, so it was not an idle day. For the Sunday evening supper, I tried another new recipe: baked garlic chicken thighs. They were quite good, and I appreciated a reviewer's suggestion to add spinach to the dish in the latter portion of the cooking. Perhaps the best spinach greens I've ever had. I steamed another round of asparagus since there was still some delicious salad supreme dressing remaining from last night. And that mess of goodness at the front of the plate? I couldn't resist whipping up a small batch of Alabama great white sauce to dip those juicy chicken thigh pieces into.

"Baked Garlic Chicken Thighs," from Sooz Cooks and published on Genius Kitchen.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Meal No. 2149: Bacon-Wrapped Philly Cheesesteak Meatloaf Roll

Tonight's big Saturday night meal for four was yet another new recipe.  On our plates was bacon-wrapped Philly Cheesesteak meatloaf, but it was a different version from last December's.

I also had a fresh batch of asparagus salad supreme along with a cheesy cauliflower mash. We were all pretty stuffed, I'd say!

"Bacon Wrapped Philly Cheese Steak Meatloaf Roll," from Carl of 2 Keto Dudes. [Published 11 November 2017]

"Asparagus Salad Supreme," from Paula Bass [Washington, NC]. Originally published in Quick Cooking, March/April 2000, p. 37.

"Mashed Fauxtatoes," by Maria Emmerich. In Keto Comfort Foods, Victory Belt Publishing (2017), p. 129.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Meal No. 2148: Blackened Chicken Spinach Caesar Salad

In this heat, and with all the hard labors I've been putting into the yard, I must admit to a reduced appetite. The spinach salad with creamy Caesar dressing from last night was so good that I was happy to repeat it, but with the addition of some delicious blackened chicken tenders. It was perfect for the Friday evening supper before I went out and enjoyed the cooling breezes and perfect summer night
on the front porch for a while.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Meal No. 2147: Spinach Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing

After three absolutely fantastic days doing a Project CRISS training at Saint Christopher's School in Richmond, I drove home and was more than content to let dinner be a tasty bowl of spinach salad with a  homemade creamy Caesar dressing. This time, when I made it, I upped the garlic enough to startle you out of your reverie.

"Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.[Published 24 November 2014]

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meal No. 2146: Vegetable Casseroles

Before heading out of town to conduct a Project CRISS training in Richmond, VA, I had some vegetables I wanted to use up. What resulted on Monday night was two casseroles: broccoli-cauliflower casserole and another batch of squash casserole.

"Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.[Published 24 November 2014]

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Meal No. 2145: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Burgers on Cheese Waffles

It was another pretty full day in the yard last Saturday, even though it's turned mighty muggy and temps approached 90°F. I sweated buckets, but the pay-off was to now have six holes dug in the northwest corner of the back yard, which is tough clay and lots of broken bricks....oh, and there's also an old buried brick wall right where I needed those holes to be. I don't know the future of the adjoining parcels of land, but I finally decided I'd better plant some sort of screening there and this was my prep work. Then, at dinnertime, I tried out another new sort-of-involved recipe: goat cheese-stuffed burgers, topped with cheddar and caramelized onions, sitting on a cheese waffle. There was also fresh steamed broccoli with more of my basic cheddar cheese sauce. I could not finish all of it.

"Goat Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Caramelized Onion," from Martina Slajerova of

"Low-Carb Cheese Waffle Burgers," from Denise of [Published 20 April 2018]

Monday, June 18, 2018

Meal No. 2144: Pork Medallions in Dijon Cream Sauce

The Thursday night meal at the Roediger House featured an old favorite: pork medallions with dijon cream sauce. I also had received a kind offering of fresh garden squash from Margaret Staton and rushed to put some of it to use in a delicious squash casserole that came out great. There was still some of that tangy and tempting homemade creamy Caesar dressing to go atop another spinach salad, so it was all-in-all a pretty filling dinner.

"Pork Medallions with Dijon Mushroom Sauce," by Frank Hollands of Moorhead, Minnesota. Bake-Off Contest 37 (1996). Published in Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks' A Taste of the BAKE-OFF Issue from March 2001, p. 40-41.

"Squash Casserole," from Ruby Matthews of Buies Creek, NC.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Meal No. 2143: Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

After a couple of nights this past week of eating only salad at dinnertime, I got back to more serious kitchen work on Thursday night, spurred in part by the return visit of a Virginia friend and colleague. Jeremy had helped me tremendously in the yard that afternoon and I suppose we'd worked up a pretty good appetite. I tried out a new recipe for meatloaf and really liked the results. I also made another creative batch of cheesy riced cauliflower and another container of creamy Caesar dressing to put on spinach leaves. I ate too much, I'm afraid!

"Bacon-Wrapped Keto Meatloaf," by Anne Aobadia and Emma Shevtzoff.

Cauliflower was a variation of "Cheesy Cauliflower Rice," by Lisa of

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Meal No. 2142: Brie and Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

For the return of Kristen and Mookie last Monday night, I thought I'd try out another new dish: brie and spinach-stuffed chicken breasts. I took some liberties with the recipe that was guiding me, hoping in no small way to replicate the item that was on the menu at Fourth Street Filling Station long ago. I let it cook a bit longer than I should but overall this was an excellent meal. I also had feta-stuffed roasted peppers (based on an idea from UVA chum Sheryl Cohen) and broccoli with cheddar sauce. Another new addition to the Roediger House kitchen repertoire was homemade Caesar dressing on spinach leaves, which earned rave reviews.

Preparation and cooking times guided, in part, by "Chicken Stuffed with Brie, Spinach, & Cranberries," from [Published 07 December 2015]

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Friday, June 15, 2018

Meal No. 2141: Chicken-Stuffed Crêpes

I got a little creative on Monday night, finding some inspiration in a handful of recipes that I'd checked out over the last week or so. A pretty amazing dish emerged from those efforts: chicken-stuffed crêpes, with a nice Gruyère sauce on top.

The cheating move on the crêpes was to create them with a thinly-spread scrambled egg, and it really worked out well:

"Stuffed Chicken Crêpes," a Roediger House original recipe.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Meal No. 2140: Rotisserie-Style Whole Chicken

I put in a pretty full day doing yard work last Saturday, and as evening came on, I got a little worried about whether there'd be enough time to finish my task goals for the day and also to get dinner made. Guess that's where an Instant Pot comes in handy. The scrumptious dinner was rotisserie-style chicken with Alabama great white sauce along with broccoli and a simple cheese sauce. That was more than enough!

"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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Meal No. 2139: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce

It's been a long 10 days since dear friends Kristen and Mookie were over, so it was great to see them here last Thursday night for dinner. They let me try another new recipe on them: stuffed pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce. I also had a casserole dish of Brussels sprouts gratin and some cheesy riced cauliflower.

(Photo actually from May 2018)

Before coming inside for dinner prep, on that gorgeous afternoon, Sumner and I enjoyed some time on the front lawn, a sitting that turned into nearly an hour-and-a-half. I sat on the front wall, chatting with neighbor Ryan, and then we were joined briefly by Steve, another city dweller who is a fellow UNC alum. In the meantime, there was plenty of exchanged greetings with three other neighbors passing by, longtime friend Clark biking by, two of the guys who work across the street at Quanto Basta, two of the guys who work across the street at Radar Security Alarm, and friendly nods to strangers walking by or heading over to eat at QB. It's a reminder of what a small town feel is present in downtown Winston-Salem. I sure do love where I live.

"Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce," from Denise of [Published 06 December 2017]

"Brussels Sprouts Gratin," by Alison Roman. From Cooking on

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Meal No. 2138: Deviled Chicken Thighs

After a full and active day last Wednesday, it was nice to sit down to a great dinner spread, consisting of deviled chicken thighs, broccoli with cheese sauce, sliced avocado, and spinach salad with more of my homemade blue cheese dressing.

This is a gorgeous weather week in Winston-Salem, a nice change after the long stretch of rainy days, stormy afternoons, overcast skies, and general dreariness that persisted almost interrupted for three weeks. After a vigorous morning walk with Sumner, and a break for morning coffee, I was able to get in the yard for a good part of the day, cutting the grass and spreading mulch and weeding. I finally got around to putting up the hummingbird feeder, its placement this summer inspired by the example of Pat and John Lloyd. This downtown lot is not really a hummingbird haven but I did have one buzz past me once some time ago.

The unexpected twist of the late afternoon was to join in with my neighbor in taking hold of a stray pit bull that was wondering up and down Spring Street. He had a collar and a harness but no tags or identification on him.

It was easy to leash him but not so easy to get his slimy drool off my pants. I checked first with my vet, who told me the best thing was to let the Forsyth Humane Society scan him for a chip and then hold him so the owner can reclaim him.

"Deviled Chicken Drumsticks," by Ian Knauer. In Gourmet, August 2008.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, based on "Keto Cheese Sauce," by Martina Slajerova. [Published 23 December 2014]

Monday, June 11, 2018

Meal No. 2137: Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Sage & Garlic

Pan-seared pork chops bathed in a sage and garlic butter sauce? Sounds like a perfect item for the Tuesday evening plate. I also reached back into the archives to bring back asparagus salad supreme and tried a new recipe for cheesy cauliflower rice that I tinkered a great deal with. It proved to be a pretty fine dinner.

Not all readers will approve of the other relevant Tuesday item, the fact that Sumner managed to score his second squirrel kill in two days (and his third all-time):

We are overrun by them here on this downtown quarter-acre lot, and I've previously noted the problems they've caused (back when I wrote about Sumner's first successful squirrel kill). Sometimes I trap and relocate them but Sumner sure makes it a lot more efficient, if you don't mind the seamy underside of The Circle of Life.

"Your New Favorite Pork Chops," by Alison Roman, in Bon Appétit, March 2015, p. 35.

"Asparagus Salad Supreme," from Paula Bass [Washington, NC]. Originally published in Quick Cooking, March/April 2000, p. 37.

"Cheesy Cauliflower Rice," by Lisa of