Sunday, March 31, 2019

Meal No. 2329: Lamb and Mushroom Meat Loaf

This week's Roediger House guest has been dear friend Sheryl Cohen, an elementary principal in Los Angeles. We met during our respective PhD programs at the Curry School at the University of Virginia back in the late 90s and we've been fast and furious friends ever since. I've turned over control of the week's menu to her, and her first request was for the Tupelo Honey Cafe version of lamb and mushroom meat loaf, which we enjoyed Tuesday night along with smashed sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus. This is an incredibly tasty meal that isn't that hard to put together...and it is almost always well-received so it shows up here with some frequency!

(Because we were headed out to a 7 o'clock movie, we had our dinner a bit early...and the late afternoon sun played a bit of havoc with my dinner plate photography.)

"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 (2011).

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Meal No. 2328: Homemade Chicken Salad

With excellent leftover chicken from the previous night's meal and the fresh memory of how good a recent batch of chicken salad was, I thought a new round of it would be perfect for dinner last Sunday night. And there was enough to carry over into mid-day snacking to start the new week off. I do love me some chicken salad, and this was especially good with the fresh herbs and creamy Duke's mayo.

Sunday was also the first beautiful warm and sunny day of the new spring season, and Sumner and I journeyed out for a spirited downtown circuit walk. It makes me look forward to resuming our daily early-morning route to help us both get back into better shape.

Based on "California-Style Chicken Salad," by Cecelia Jenkins. In Cook's Country, April/May 2019, p. 7.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Old-Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream

Since it was sort of a belated birthday dinner for Amy last Saturday, a special birthday cake seemed in order. So I managed to make one late that afternoon and have it frosted and ready to serve up following our dinner: vanilla birthday cake with old-fashioned vanilla buttercream. This is always an outstanding cake with a velvety texture and sumptuous vanilla flavor throughout. It's also a terrible temptation to have lingering around, so I was grateful that the departing guests allowed me to press some to-go slices onto them as they left.

"Vanilla Birthday Cake with Old-Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream," by Jenn Segal of

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Meal No. 2327: Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken

Last Saturday night saw six around the table, partly as a late birthday dinner for Amy, and the menu was designed to meet her wishes for the evening: herb-roasted whole roaster chicken with Alabama great white sauce; smashed sweet potatoes; and roasted whole green beans. I also had spiced walnut and blue cheese salads to start us off, topped with sweet-and-sour vinaigrette.

There was also dessert, but that'll be the subject of tomorrow's blog post!

"Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette" from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 373. "Cinnamon Vanilla Glazed Walnuts" recipe from McCormick & Company.

"Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken with Savory Pan Gravy" (p. 136-137) 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).

Given that it was a nearly 8-pound chicken, I turned to "How to Roast Chicken: Tips and Times," from, for additional guidance.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Meal No. 2326: Spiced Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad

I still had some sweet and sour vinaigrette in the fridge, and that made it easy to put together another fine spiced walnut and blue cheese salad for last Friday night's supper. Eating in my old man's chair by the fireside created an irresistible temptation for the house lapdog, though, who just had to come up and sit with me. Preciously, I might add.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Meal No. 2325: Spiced Lamb Tacos

Thursday night's dinner ran a little late but by the time we sat down to it, I think that just made it taste that much better. On our plates: spiced lamb tacos in harissa and pomegranate molasses, with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers, topped with white cheddar cheese and adorned with lemon tahini yogurt sauce. I was inspired by the lamb köfte that I have been making over the years, but I confess that I sure do like this taco version even better.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Meal No. 2324: Roasted Salmon with Caesar on Greens

With the house somewhat back to a lonely normal after the departure of the week's visitors from Oklahoma, an easy supper was called for. Fitting the Wednesday evening bill was roasted seasoned salmon on a bed of power greens with more homemade Caesar dressing. I completely overdid it, but at least it was a mostly healthy overdoing.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Snazzy Snacks for Spring Break

When the house is full of folks ranging in age from 14 to 53, enjoying a spring break visit, wisdom dictates the provision of snackables to manage unpredictable appetites. With that in mind, I made a batch of creamy stuffed eggs as well as a container of pimento cheese. Turns out, though, that the sampling of ample leftovers from each night's meal (especially the baked spaghetti!) were what people reached for the most. Nonetheless, these goodies had their part to play!

"South Carolina-Style Pimento Cheese." Recipe worked out by me, based on Sharon's Palmetto Pimento Cheese.

"Creamy Stuffed Eggs," a recipe shared with me by Barbara Huneycutt of Crozet, VA.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Lemon Curd Ice Cream and French Yogurt Cake

While enjoying the spring break visit by a vanload of Oklahomans this week, I didn't want to let them down on the dessert front. By Tuesday evening, we all seemed due for the special joy of homemade ice cream so I whipped up a batch of lemon curd ice cream that morning to be ready for us to drool over scoops that night. After dinner, so that it would be hot and fresh, I also made a French yogurt loaf and that warm cake and ice cream were pretty perfect together.

"Lemon Curd Ice Cream," by Rachel Currier of [Published 27 May 2016]

"French Yogurt Cake," by Andrew Knowlton. In Bon Appétit, May 2012, p. 30.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Meal No. 2323: Vegetarian Chili and 2 x 2 Soup

For the final night of the spring break visit by a crew of friends (plus a Norwegian exchange student!) from Oklahoma, I offered up two pots of hearty goodness: the household favorite of Two-by-Two Soup, and a vegan/vegetarian chili to satisfy, well, the vegan and the vegetarian in our group. Sweet Southern cornbread was a nice accompaniment.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

"Vegetarian Chili," from All About Vegetarian Cooking. By the editors of Joy of Cooking: Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. New York: Scribner (2000), p. 82-83. Cookbook was a gift from former student Alison Pomeroy.

Sweet Southern Cornbread adapted from "Golden Sweet Cornbread," from bluegirl on

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Meal No. 2322: Seasoned Chicken Leg Quarters

For the eight of us at the dinner table on Monday night, I baked up some seasoned chicken leg quarters and also roasted baby potatoes and cut asparagus spears. We started off the meal with salads this time around, including two different homemade dressing possibilities: sweet and sour vinaigrette or creamy Caesar. Those who were feeling adventurous could add toppings to their salads like hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, or spiced walnuts.

Based in part on "Baked Tender Chicken Thighs," from Valentina's Corner.

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

"Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette" from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 373. "Cinnamon Vanilla Glazed Walnuts" recipe from McCormick & Company.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Meal No. 2321: Braised New Mexico-Style Pork in Red Chile Sauce

Our Sunday night meal for eight (including one vegetarian and one vegan!) was braised New Mexico-style pork in a delicious red chile sauce, along with rice and Mexican coleslaw. I had an extra tub of vegan-appropriate coleslaw, too, and we were all glad there was still some Texas sheet cake to finish out the meal.

"Braised New Mexico-Style Pork in Red Chile Sauce (Carne Adovada)," by Annie Petito. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 154 (September/October 2018), p. 6-7.

"Mexican Coleslaw," from Christin of [Published 08 August 2017]

Vegan Coleslaw based in part on "Easy Vegan Coleslaw," from Dana of the

"Taco Seasoning I," from Bill Echols on

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Scotch Chocolate Cake

Following our dinner Saturday night of baked spaghetti, I also had a Texas sheet cake/Scotch chocolate cake to cap off our evening. I have to be careful about that darned dessert, because it absolutely obliterates all of my willpower. It's too darned delicious.

"Scotch Chocolate Cake," [in my world, also known as Texas sheet cake]. Credited to Susie Timmons. From "Popular: Cake Request Gets 22 Responses," by Michael Hastings, Food Editor of the Winston-Salem Journal. Published October 6, 2010.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Meal No. 2320: Baked Spaghetti

For the first meal with our visiting crew from Oklahoma over this spring break week, it was simple but abundant servings of baked spaghetti, in both meaty and meatless versions. Wouldn't it all have been better with salad and bread? Instead, I managed to serve up dessert to make up for it (see tomorrow's blog post).

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Early Signs of Spring: Stage 2

From the original bit of landscaping in the area we call The Grove, two of the four cherry trees remain and they have been dwarfed and stunted by the massive growth and domination of the Bradford pear placed in the center of that square. Still, this is the week where they are strutting their spring stuff and, against the bit of blue sky that poked out yesterday, I grabbed a shot of their glory with my phone.

The yard is also newly adorned with the wonderful gift of daffodil bulbs from Donna Whitley-Smith, and they have emerged for the first time looking bold and beautiful in their various shades of yellow and gold.

The first wave of my previously-planted miniature daffodils are also dancing at the front of the yard above the sidewalk:

The second wave of crocus have also begun to bloom:

Overall, the crocus aren't putting on as much of a show this spring. I wonder if squirrels have run off with a number of the bulbs...?

The new leaves are also clearly out on most of the azalea bushes, too, and one small bud is showing red on one of them, although it's still early yet for them.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Meal No. 2319: Homemade Chicken Salad

It sure wasn't fancy, but Friday evening's supper of chicken salad sure did hit the spot. Since I'm not a fan of celery, I tried a substitution of chopped asparagus stalks and was delighted by the result. You still get some crunch but without that oddity of those other stalks.

Based on "California-Style Chicken Salad," by Cecelia Jenkins. In Cook's Country, April/May 2019, p. 7.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Alexa-Focused Attic Schematic

[CLICK on graphic to get a large version]

Starting tomorrow, the Roediger House is going to play host to a family troupe of six, which means a couple of people will be sleeping in the nook up in the attic. This is the first set of visitors who will be crashing up there since the conversion to smart switches and such. So I managed to whip up a schematic of sorts to help with identifying the various lights by the names that the Alexa voice assistant recognizes, along with a few of the basic commands. I'm rather proud of how it turned out and even more glad that it wasn't as time-consuming as it appears on first glance.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Shortbread Cheesecake

By special request/demand (but accompanied with a gift of several packages of Girl Scout cookies), I had us all a dessert following the Tuesday night meal: lemon shortbread cheesecake, made from actual Girl Scout cookies but not actual Girl Scouts.

"Lemon Shortbread Cheesecake," by Rosalia Roger of Lincoln, Nebraska. Originally published in Taste of Home, February/March, 2016, p. 64-65.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Meal No. 2318: Sheet Pan Beef Nachos

I enjoyed a good day working up in Mount Airy on Tuesday but also had a lot of prep work to do that night. So it seemed wise to bring back a simple dish for supper, and that ended up being a delicious pan of beef nachos. I overdid it on them and will try somehow to make up for that later.

Taco-Style Meat Based on "Crispy Beef Tacos," by Hilah Johnson. From

Seasoning was based on "Taco Seasoning I," from Bill Echols on

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Meal No. 2317: Smothered Pork Chops with Onion-Thyme Gravy

Monday evening's meal for four was a return to a comforting favorite: smothered pork chops with onion-thyme gravy. I went ahead and roasted some more new potatoes but this time I added fresh asparagus cuts to them, which were particularly delicious last evening.

It was a pretty fair weather day, which offered a chance to take Sumner for about a 45-minute walk, doing the circuit around downtown. He certainly enjoyed the heck out of that after being pent up most of this winter!

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Meal No. 2316: One-Pan Balsamic Chicken & Vegetables

With guests coming in yesterday afternoon from Lynchburg, I decided to try out a new one-pan dinner recipe that we all thought was pretty good: balsamic chicken with roasted new potatoes and broccoli. The super easy clean-up was an added bonus.

"Balsamic Chicken," from Sara Welch of [Published 07 March 2019]

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Meal No. 2315: Power Greens with Caesar Dressing

As I look ahead to the next three weeks, when the Roediger House will get to host a steady stream of company, I'm fairly certain that there's going to be a lot of cooking and eating. So I tried to play it smart and safe last night for the Saturday evening meal, using up the last of a container of power greens and whipping up a fresh batch of homemade Caesar dressing. It was more than enough to satisfy the day's hunger.

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Winter Holds On

Fire No. 69

While the last couple of weeks have given me hope and courage, as I've watched the earliest blooms appear and seen the shoots pushing their way up from their winter refuges, the winter has made it clear it's not yet ready to leave. With yesterday's snowflakes and scattering of sleet, to today's dreary upper-30s misty cold, I figured I was owed a day by the fireside with a roaring blaze to keep me toasty and comfortable.

I am so ready for the season to change.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Meal No. 2314: 2 x 2 Soup

It was another cold and rainy day in Winston-Salem that actually started off with a bit of light snow and the barest amount of sleet. Winter is not yet done with us, and it sure did leave me chilled for much of the day. When Mookie and Kristen came over for one of our usual hangs, the right supper offering seemed to be a steaming bowl of hearty, soothing, and just-slightly-spicy Two-by-Two soup.

When you read the recipe for it, perhaps the combination of ingredients seems odd. You'll have to trust me that it all fits together into a pot of winter goodness that'll lead you right back to the stovetop for some serious seconds.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Meal No. 2313: Baked Tender Chicken Thighs

Tonight's dinner might be called Thursday Thighs: seasoned boneless skinless chicken thighs with more roasted asparagus and another small salad with homemade Caesar dressing. With my work schedule today, I didn't get to eat until dinnertime so I pretty much scarfed it all down.

"Baked Tender Chicken Thighs," from Valentina's Corner.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Meal No. 2312: Pan-Seared Filet Mignon

The evening meal was oh-so-delicious tonight: filet mignon, lightly seasoned, seared in the cast iron skillet to a perfect rare temperature; then served with a pile of roasted asparagus and a small side salad topped with homemade Caesar dressing. For thems what wanted it, there was also a batch of air fryer french fries...and they are just not as good from that as they are when dumped to a sizzle in the deep fat fryer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Meal No. 2311: Pancake Tuesday!

Tonight, in honor of it being Shrove Tuesday, I made pancakes (and bacon!) for the first time since early last May. I've always loved pancakes and was pleased that I had finally found a perfect recipe for them just over a year ago. It was a treat but I decided I'm not missing anything for having pretty much cut them out of my diet.

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

Monday, March 4, 2019

Busting Out the Bradford Blooms

Thanks to a whole week on the road last week to Virginia Beach, I almost missed the glory of the Bradford pear's blooming this spring, which typically occurs around the last week of February. Of course, since I lost some major limbs from it last summer and had to have it pretty dramatically cut back, it is giving off an understandably limited show as my much-anticipated early promiser of spring. The blossoms are still lovely to behold, even still.

There are now two daffodils in bloom, from the generous donation of Donna Whitley-Smith last fall:

And the crocus are clearly on deck and ready to take over the next scene:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Meal No. 3210: Roasted Salmon

Last night's scrumptious and healthy meal at the Roediger House: lightly-spiced roasted salmon fillet with roasted garlic-and-parmesan asparagus and a small side salad topped with homemade Caesar dressing. After a week on the road with spotty eating, it was nice to sit again at my own dinner table.

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Window Treatments

Master Bedroom

One of the long-overdue projects for the Roediger House was to upgrade window treatments in the master bedroom and install them anew in the two guest bedrooms.

Wyeth Guest Room

That happened during the summer of 2017 and was completed with installation in early September of that year. I just hadn't gotten around to blogging about it.

All of these curtains were custom made except for those I put in the Van Gogh bedroom, where I'd already bought a set to match the bedding in there.

While I was at it, I figured I might as well add window treatments to the 3rd floor entertainment area, especially since the late afternoon sun regularly lit up the room—and washed out the television screen—as it poured in through the triple window in the west gable where the pool table is.

In addition to that large window, plus the window in the bar area (the third photo from the top of this blog entry), there is a center dormer window looking out from the front of the house, plus the window in the sleeping nook in the southeast corner of the 3rd floor (above and below this paragraph):