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Monday, May 29, 2023

Boston Cream Pie

Although Memorial Day Weekend was full of chill and drear, the week leading up to it was marked by a drier weather pattern but enough cloud cover remained that we enjoyed but partial sun, all the while feeling the almost chilly stiff breezes that remained constant. It knocked some of the sheen off of spring's joyous outside time, and last Wednesday I let that redirect some of my energies to an indulgent kitchen endeavor: Boston Cream Pie.

I'm definitely a fan, but its rare appearance as a featured dessert here might suggest otherwise. (You know that I just searched the entries here, and I see a blog post from September 2017, and another all the way back to Meal No. 72 in 2010...and that is it.) Perhaps my memory of making it more often comes from the days with the old/original kitchen, pre-2008, which is also before I started the house blog (and making such a thorough and specific record here!).

This is not only the third recorded time I've made it, since the kitchen replacement was completed in 2009, but it's now also the third recipe I've used for it. The folks at King Arthur Baking offer an approach to a tasty single-layer classic yellow cake, with a wonderful fudgy frosting, that I made just once before, not quite four years ago. The notes at the bottom of the King Arthur recipe suggest it can be easily turned into a Boston Cream Pie, with either pastry cream or vanilla pudding.

Well, since the historical record contained within this blog also indicated that I had gone about 10 months without making a batch of vanilla pudding, it was obviously time to break the dry spell, especially since the preceding Monday was National Vanilla Pudding Day. I had heavy cream to use up and thought I'd give that a go as a primary ingredient, which is how I learned what a problem its high fat content presents for a sweet cooked concoction like this...but with enough whisking while it was cooling down, I mostly reincoporated it all into a tasty smoothness. I included a boost of tapioca starch to increase its sturdiness, just so it might work more favorably as the filling in this special cake.

This was a dessert that violated my normal sharing norms: all of it was kept for the enjoyment strictly of the household, except for two pieces for the ladies when they came to clean...and that included the final oversized piece that stood in place of supper Friday night, strategically positioned so that the full measure cannot be taken of the huge extra dollop of the last of the vanilla bean pudding.

"Classic Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting," from the bakers at King Arthur Flour.

"Vanilla Pudding," from the Food Network Kitchens.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Meal No. 3366: Boogaloo Wonderland Open-Faced Sandwiches

With two homemade burger buns still kickin' it on the counter, and some ground beef with a use-by date approaching, I figured it might just be time for some excellent open-faced Boogaloo Wonderland sandwiches. I'm glad the recipe is pretty quick and easy, because I got sort of a late start. But grand and filling, savory and satisfying, these sandwiches were right on target for this past Wednesday evening's supper.

And arriving just a bit earlier than seems normal, the first of the Strutter's Ball daylilies busted out a gorgeous bloom, waiting for me to spot it when Sumner and I took his first bathroom break early that Wednesday morning. Over the years, I feel like these daylilies have pretty consistently arrived right at the first of June. And they look to be teeming with blossoms-in-waiting so it ought to be a lovely week or so around that back door.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Meal No. 3365: Not So Cajun Chicken

Last Tuesday’s terrific dinner guest was the longtime faithful friend we call Mookie. Always upbeat and full of wit, he’s also quick to offer kind words about whatever’s on the menu, which the resident kitchen meddler happily receives. That evening we had the longtime Roediger House favorite Not So Cajun Chicken, served over fresh-steamed white rice in bowls, for keeping it all awash in that ridiculous sauce. We scarfed it down, perhaps because it was tasty, or perhaps so we could launch our movie-watching endeavor: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (notably directed by my classmate from the UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 1987, Peyton Reed).

I had some dessert for us, though: Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. Oooh, that's good stuff.

"Not So Cajun Chicken," a dish I regularly enjoyed at Crowley's Old Time Favorites restaurant and bar on Medlin Drive in Raleigh, NC. (Another version of the recipe can be found here.) A heap of thanks is due to Jimmy Randolph for tracking down the recipe for me.

"Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream," by David Lebovitz. In The Perfect Scoop. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2007), p. 35.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Meal No. 3364: Juicy Burgers on Homemade Burger Buns

Last Sunday’s supper at the Roediger House brought dear friends Amy and Gern to the table, another wonderful night of food and laughter and hanging out. Ever since I learned I was capable of making hamburger buns, I have battled their ongoing temptation, but this meal made clear the futility of resistance. With hand-patted grilled cheeseburgers and special burger sauce, along with one’s choice of chips, we had us a fine time with this harbinger of summer sustenance.

With eight of those fluffy buns in the batch, and therefore four leftover, I was glad that the burger patty prep left me with two extra slabs to grill on Monday night. When it's a swinging spring with sunshine in abundance on a leisurely Monday in these downtown digs, homemade buns ought not to go to waste and cheeseburgers are always a delight even if it's for a second day in a row.

We'd endured a stretch of almost totally cloudy days, with bits of short-lived annoying rain showers popping up, so Sumner and I were both very, very happy to be able to bask in some sunshine that day!

"Juicy Burgers," originally from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks recipe magazine, July 2003, p. 52-53. After Pillsbury was purchased in 2001 by General Mills, home of Betty Crocker (founded in 1921, mind you!), it basically ceased to exist as a company and lives on just as a brand. I guess that's why a Pillsbury cookbook recipe from 2003 is now only found on the Betty Crocker website.

"Beautiful Burger Buns," from Ellen "Moomie" Dorsey of King Arthur Baking. See also the accompanying blog post, "Burger Buns with a Beautiful Backstory," by PJ Hamel. [Published 28 June 2021]

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

The wonderful evening with longtime friends Ronnie and Tina last Saturday night had a sweet pair of treats for our post-supper conversation: a devil’s food layer cake with chocolate fudge frosting and a fresh batch of homemade vanilla ice milk. While I was a day off from matching my kitchen endeavors to it, Friday was noted as National Devil’s Food Cake Day, so that put me on the trail of a new recipe to try. The fudge frosting was fussy so my lousy decorating skills were even more insufficient but at least all the fine feels of a scrumptious cake still came through.

"The Best Devil's Food Cake Recipe" [Published 09 May 2021], and "Chocolate Fudge Frosting" [Published 13 May 2021], from Sam Merritt of

"Classic Vanilla Ice Milk," by Stella Parks, Pastry Wizard of [Published 22 August 2018 / Updated 15 April 2020]

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Meal No. 3363: Savory Garlic Beef & Broccoli Strudel

Oh, the joys of a rewarding recipe, and the special occasions that call for it! Last Saturday night, my UNC suitemate Ronnie and his wife Tina were here for supper. (Missing that evening were my college roommate Jimmy and his wife and fellow Avery Dorm-dweller Julie, as they were befelled by untimely sickness!) An easy shift in the menu, accounting for the reduced size of the group, elevated savory garlic beef and broccoli strudel to the evening's agenda, with pleasing results. The homemade version of the discontinued Philadelphia Cooking Creme product always seems to be a winner, both to help constitute the filling in the strudels and with extra reserved for ladling on top. I roasted the rest of the broccoli as a side, and had garden salads with either Thousand Island or ranch dressing (all comers preferred that tasty Thousand Island, it seems!). We didn't want to overdo it quite so much, so that the dessert might find accommodation in our satisfied bellies (more on that in tomorrow's blog post). The conversation-focused party moved up to the third floor and went late into the night, to the suprise and delight of all.

Adapted to puff pastry from "Savory Garlic Beef & Broccoli Turnovers," by Kirsten Renee Shabaz of Minneapolis, MN. Taste of Home, November 2011, p. 31. (Go to for a copy of the original recipe.)

Strudel version inspired by "Chicken Mushroom Strudel," from Chef John Mitzewich of and [Published 28 October 2022[

Adapted from "Make Your Own Cooking Creme," from CKolden on [Published 24 September 2015]

Adapted from "Thousand Island Dressing," from Graybert on

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Meal No. 3362: Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger-Soy-Scallion Cream Sauce

As the end of the day approached this past Friday, my kitchen endeavors stepped into the less trodden path, and on the supper plates that evening was a pretty smashing result: pan-seared wild-caught tuna steaks with a ginger-soy-scallion cream sauce, with spiced quinoa and simmered zucchini discs, all coming together for a rather delightful dinner!

Based on "Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce," from The Bon Appétit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, 2006, p. 398-399.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Meal No. 3361: Pork Rib Barbecue Puff Pastry Pizza

Thursday's supper was an easy use of the three leftover baby back pork ribs from Tuesday evening, together with sliced red onion, some crumbled bacon, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, all on a barbecue sauce base on store-bought puff pastry. As shortcut pizzas go when quick-and-simple is the right call, this was darned good.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Meal No. 3360: Baby Back Pork Ribs

Promised to the Camel City this most recent Tuesday was that ol’ grey and drizzly weather pattern, fully expected for the time of year and generally helpful to the spring plant growth, no doubt. I started out redirecting my energies to tasks indoors (i. e., laundering bird poop out of my jeans), but ultimately clearer skies and even some sunshine ruled the daytime schedule. I revised my to-do list. I may have mentioned there’s been a significant reduction in frequency of grocery runs, previously an enjoyable near-daily longtime habit and which is now much diminished in no small part thanks to the tragic decline in my once-favored Harris Teeter at Cloverdale. But out for provisions I dashed when the rains failed to appear, obtaining a small collection of essentials and a bigger haul of unplanned goods, and then it was back to relishing the sanctuary of the Roediger House. As a near-miss but still appropriate acknowledgment of it being National Barbecue Day, a concept muddied by regional divisions and divergent traditions, I exploited the definitional laxity to celebrate with oven-roasted baby back pork ribs.

Joining those tender and succulent meaty bones was another go at modernist mac-n-cheese, which this time was rather excellent. I also brought back the Michie Tavern recipe for stewed tomatoes; it allowed me to use the leftover buttermilk biscuits from Sunday’s batch…but they did not measure up to the rest of that stunning meal. (They were better the other two times I've made them: in 2017 as part of a meal for a visiting vegetarian; and all the way back in 2009 for Meal No. 6 in the new kitchen!)

Let's hit three items of note from the day prior, a fine Monday in mid-May that involved my final scheduled work for the year, an excellent last session with educators down in Montgomery County. First, just to refresh things after 12 years using the same template, I updated the design of the blog, as you may have noticed. I’d been messing around with a new Roediger House “seal” during evening chill time and confess that I’m not sad about the final version.

The second key element of shifting to Ray’s Pest Control was to resume termite monitoring. Dillon came for the installation and mapping of those stations last Monday morning. It ain’t cheap, but that’s often the case with necessary things, no?

Whether related to Mother’s Day Sunday, or National Bring Someone Flowers Day on Monday, I see that someone swiped two of my pansies closest to the sidewalk and easiest to snag. Ah, downtown living!!

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

"Modern Baked Mac and Cheese with Cheddar and Gruyère," by Daniel Gritzer, Senior Culinary Director of [Updated 21 November 2022]

"Jefferson Stewed Tomatoes," from the Michie Tavern [Charlottesville, VA].

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Meal No. 3359: Bacon Egg & Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits

Arising on Mother’s Day Sunday to a grey fresh-washed city, thanks to a flash dump of a half-inch of rain right at bedtime the night before, meant encountering the slightest wet nip in the air and an easy decision to start the day upstairs writing instead of out in a camp chair on the driveway, as I’d done almost all week. This month my article draft is driven by ruminations on randomized calling tactics in classrooms, epitomized by the cutely decorated can of popsicle sticks on many teachers’ front tables. I have thoughts.

Sunday also was National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, and who doesn’t love an excuse to make a batch of that southern goodness, even if the morning weigh-in was less than encouraging? I decided it was time to take another stab at bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, that regular drive-thru grab from a convenient Hardee’s on my way to Carnage Middle School in Raleigh, back in my teaching days. (In the early 90s, it was 99 cents on an ongoing special; my last check today shows it's priced at $3.67.) My own version on biscuits has now been made twice, equal to the number of versions I've made on brioche hamburger buns.

With a few unnecessary flourishes and driven by a grandness of purpose, I made the biscuits bonus width, ready to receive the oven-baked center-cut bacon, plus the fluffy baked scrambled eggs that could be cut out with biscuit cutters for a professional roundness. Classic American cheese too, and a tall glass of water so as to increase the chances of survival: this was the Mother of Immodest Breakfasts. And those biscuits were the bomb.

These are, of course, not especially good for you. The guilt drove me to undertake an 8.2 mile walk that afternoon.

"The Food Lab's Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe," from J. Kenji López-Alt, Culinary Consultant for [Published 07 August 2015 / Updated 10 April 2019]

"Baked Scrambled Eggs," from Heather Johnson of [Published 09 September 2019]

Friday, May 19, 2023

Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

Last Saturday was said to be National Apple Pie Day, so I figured it was an excuse to try yet another approach to said pie. I trust Serious Eats, and especially the guidance found in articles by Stella Parks. To get this right required an earlier start than I managed, so it was 9 pm that night before it was ready to be sliced and served.

The flavors were all great, and it was sweet enough to satisfy my tastes and the apples were really tender but still had integrity. I fear that the thickening power of the tapioca starch was compromised by not being well enough mixed in, so there was a bit of soupiness to the finished product.

When regular old National Pie Day rolled around back in January, it is true that I made an apple pie then, although it wasn't one that thrilled me. Guess this is why I keep trying.

"Easy, Old-Fashioned Apple Pie," from Stella Parks, former Pastry Wizard and Editor Emeritus at [Originally Published September 2017 / Updated 07 September 2022]

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodle Skillet Cookie

Enough days had passed without a sweet temptation for the evening, so Friday night I put together the wonderful treat known as a chai-spiced snickerdoodle skillet cookie. In a well-buttered cast iron skillet, with a warm sweet mix of spices, and still warm as slices are wedged onto plates, it's standard practice that each participant will partake of two servings.

That evening, I was moving about the house and caught sight of its featured placement in a happy graduate's evening photo shoot...I did not want to interrupt or intrude so I grabbed a quick photo of that celebratory moment from inside the front entryway before leaving them to their joy.

"Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodle Skillet Cookie," from Heather Baird of [Published 06 July 2020]

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Meal No. 3358: Sausage & Mushroom Pan Pizza

Last Thursday featured a delayed return to faithful pan pizza in the cast iron skillet, this time with my first trial of a New York-style pizza sauce. For a change of pace, I also cooked and crumbled sweet Italian sausage and sautéed some mushrooms...the cheese was still piled on but with unserious caution so as not to overload or weigh down the cooking pizza dough. I'll tell ya: on those days when I can be at home and have time in the afternoon, this is a great approach to more traditional pan pizzas...I've been shy about taking the time to make a pizza sauce, for instance, or to do additional prep for toppings (like cooking sausage and such). The outcome makes it exceedingly worth it, without really asking all that much of me at any one moment.

May continued offering up glorious temps under wonderful sunny skies, not as much breeze but also not too warm at all. The outside time was appreciated even though I wish I'd been more intentional about some of the work to be done in the yard. But hanging out and catching friendly waves or quick conversations with neighbors was still a solid plan of action.

Pizza Crust based on "Fool-Proof Pan Pizza," by J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary consultant for [Updated 30 March 2023]

"Homemade NY-Style Pizza Sauce," by J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary consultant for [Updated 17 February 2023]

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Meal No. 3357: Sheet Pan Chipotle Pulled Pork Nachos

One might come to believe that the recent pork shoulder that I slow cooked for street tacos over the previous weekend has certainly been a gift that keeps on giving. The last of it was the featured topping for the latest batch of sheet pan nachos on Wednesday night, made all the better since I'd really souped up the pork with my newly-invented chipotle barbecue sauce. Plenty of cheese, some diced onion, the last of the black beans, all on a bed of deli-fresh tortilla chips...these were about the best nachos I've ever made. And lime crema that had time to set up and really kick up and also mellow the garlic? Heck to the yeah!

This was the mid-day meal, on another phenomenal spring day, with awesome sunshine and nice breezes and plenty of reasons to be outside. By late afternoon those reasons turned to cutting the grass and pulling more weeds but that meant I was out front when very nice people who were leaving Quanto Basta stopped to say very encouraging and complimentary things about the house and yard.

Sheet Pan Nachos based on "Loaded Sweet Pork Sheet Pan Nachos," from Elyse of Six Sisters Stuff. [Published 14 March 2018]

"Easy Lime Crema," from Lisa Bryan of [Published 22 April 2020]

Monday, May 15, 2023

Meal No. 3356: Potato-Onion Hash with Hot Breakfast Sausage

Man, what a gorgeous day this past Tuesday turned out to be after the morning half-hearted sprinkles moved out. Although it hit the mid-80s, a steady breeze kept it invitingly pleasant for outside time. While my body did not yet feel ready for the next round of yard labors, I still attacked dinner with a workman’s appetite, and it was ready to rise to those demands: a potato-onion hash with hot crumbled Neese’s breakfast sausage. I like to spice and roast the potatoes first, and while they cook in the oven, I can sauté the diced onion in butter before browning that sausage meat. Then it’s all mixed together and scooped in generous portions into waiting bowls.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Mother's Day 2023

Above is a picture of my mother with her mother, from May 1954...long before I was born.

One of the many quiet and consistent stand-out memories I have of my mother is the pleasure she took from her long sits on our front porch. Our small neighborhood of 17 houses was a square block tucked up against woods on three sides, so we were not a pass-through to anywhere. Traffic was minimal, the comings and goings of neighbors regular and predictable, and she found special joy in the activity of birds. She had a couple of feeders that she kept well-stocked, and for a while there was a homemade platform at the kitchen sink window for tossing out bread and nuts and getting a good closeup of feathered friends.

The bluebird house delighted her as it was a nesting home for many successive generations of those beautiful creatures. Finally having a sporadically inhabited house of my own in this busy downtown spot is a selfish pleasure but a small tribute to her as well. The photo above, from this past March, captures the exploring bluebird when he took a lunch break at the suet pellet feeder.

At the peak, I had around a dozen active feeders of varying types: wild bird seed, suet bricks, suet nuggets, hummingbird nectar, and a platform (which also is quite comfortable for squirrels). Those hungry consumers had me refilling the seed feeders a heckuva lot, and I was coming home from Costco with three or more 40-pound bags at the time.

Alas, with those bulk bags having jumped from $16.99 to $27.99, I have gotten out of the game for now. There’s still a supply of suet nuggets stored up but the evil invasive starlings find them much too attractive. The birds remain active here even without the plentiful feeders, with robins nesting in the corner of the porch again, finches setting up a home in the crepe myrtles, and bluebirds popping in and out without definite signs yet of commitment.

(Photo Actually From May 2020)

And the running count this spring of getting splattered by bird poop out on the driveway from the overhead flight path now stands at two. I think that equals the grand total of shithits from the entire preceding 19 years. I count myself fortunate that we are not yet in a season of juicy berries.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Meal No. 3355: Shredded Pork Street Tacos Redux

With a night of other leftovers in between, Monday's meal was a mix of new and old, thanks to the abundance remaining from the Saturday night supper. I griddled up more homemade tortillas, reheated the pork, and brought out the saved containers of Mexican coleslaw and creamy avocado-lime sauce. But I also made up a Mexican-style chipotle barbecue sauce to boost the pork's flavors. And I mean: made up, not just's a rarity for me to invent anything but this was darned delicious. Fortunately, I made quick notes of the recipe that I'd tossed together on the fly and hope to like it as much when I give it another trial.

"Mexican Chipotle Street Taco BBQ Sauce," a Roediger House original recipe. [First Made 08 May 2023]

Friday, May 12, 2023

Meal No. 3354: Shredded Pork Street Tacos

Continuing Saturday night with a Mexican culinary flare, and with Mookie over for an evening hang and movie-watching, we sat down at dinnertime to a grand spread: shredded pork street tacos on homemade flour tortillas, with diced onion and tomato, plus a creamy avocado-lime sauce...and a nice pile of Mexican coleslaw to boot.

Meanwhile, in Allen, Texas, there was yet another mass shooting and massacre, this time at an outlet mall. The other night, when I was retuning home from dropping off cookies at the home of much-missed friends up near Wake Forest University, a car pulled onto Reynolda Road up ahead of me without their lights on. Instinctively, I flashed my lights at them as a heads-up...and then when the car pulled off onto a parking lot, I had a moment of panic: in this day, in this time, it feels like drivers looking out for other drivers will instead mutate into getting shot or shot at for that harmless gesture. The days of looking out for one another now seem gone; thinking twice about the smallest things (ringing a doorbell, pulling into the wrong driveway, shopping at an outlet, going to a music festival, going to school) is the fear-and-gunning life in modern day America.

Based on "Easy Crockpot Carnitas," by Lindsay Ostrom of [Published 04 May 2021]

"How to Make Flour Tortillas (Tortillas de Harina)," from Alex Cardenas of [Published 20 February 2023]

"Cilantro Lime Sauce," from Alexa Blay of Key to My Lime. [Published 04 September 2019]

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

"Taco Seasoning I," from Bill Echols on

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Tres Leches Cake

When Amy and Gern were here last Friday night, on Cinco de Mayo, we kept the Latin American culinary theme going right on through dessert, when I brought out the Hilah Johnson version of Tres Leches Cake...its first appearance here in about three-and-a-half years. (More common, and making regular appearances over the holidays, is the eggnog tres leches cake...which is amazing.) Anyway: after stuffing ourselves with the housemade version of arroz con pollo, we waited a respectable interval before diving into sizable squares of this sweet milky spongecake goodness, adorned with fresh-made sweetened whipped cream. While we probably could not have physically ingested it, I think we all fantasized about the idea of taking on a second slice, frankly, but our better angels prevailed and we returned to our senses.

"Tres Leches Cake," by Hilah Johnson of [Published 18 June 2013]

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Meal No. 3353: Mexican Chicken and Rice

On a stellar, gorgeous, picture-perfect Friday Cinco de Mayo, Amy and Gern came over for dinner and a hang, and befitting the occasion I had us Mexican chicken and rice with white cheese dip to fill our bowls and bellies. Enough spice and heat to keep us on our toes, bathed in varying degrees with that chile queso, washed down with libations of individual preferences, it was a delicious dinner with dear friends.

The cooperating favorable weather has permitted a good bit of outside time for yardwork, weeding, and irrigation system maintenance. My age is manifesting itself primarily in my back and I'm struggling a bit, frankly...but progress continues to be made. And speaking of progress: yet another set of apartments is coming to the area close to the house, at the corner of Fourth and Green, on the other side of the West End Village condos that were built on the former Modern Chevrolet lot. It was entertaining to watch the assembly of the tower crane now installed on that site.

Shot either from down in the backyard while I was working, or from the third floor gable window that looks west out of the back of the house, these photos give a small spaced capturing of the process.

For the next year or so, it'll be a temporary entertainment for training my periodic eye on.

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

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from