Sunday, October 24, 2021

Meal No. 2953: Creamy Chicken Marsala

After a couple of days of work in northern Virginia, it was nice to once again be home and in my kitchen. This past Wednesday night, those efforts resulted in plates of not-so-creamy chicken marsala (I rushed the sauce a bit, I think) with pan-seared chicken breast cutlets, delicious sautéed mushrooms with garlic, on a bed of linguine and accompanied by roasted garlicky whole green beans. It was a necessarily-filling meal after limited eating while out of town.

Based on "Chicken Marsala with Gorgonzola," by Jill Anderson (Sleepy Eye, MN). In Taste of Home, February/March 2012, p. 34-35.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Meal No. 2952: Southwestern Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken

I had to head up to Virginia for a couple of days of work to start off this past week. Before leaving Sunday, I made a mid-day meal that was pretty delicious: southwestern Caesar salad with grilled sliced chicken breasts. Topped with corn, onion, and black beans, it was a bowl of satisfying goodness and held me in good stead when I had to take off on my nearly six-hour journey up to northern Virginia.

And can I mention that I'm pretty glad that I've mostly figured out how to properly grill chicken breasts so that they are flavorful, juicy, and cooked just to the right temperature?

Southwestern Caesar Dressing was my creation but was based on:

Friday, October 22, 2021

Death and Dying Are My Yard Mysteries of Autumn

It was a brisk 44°F in the bright sunshine of early morning this past Sunday, with coffee in hand and an amazing pooch starting his day with his typical sniffing excursions. I paused at the front of the house to take in how gorgeous a morning it was, with a brilliant blue sky and still a most marvelous house to call my own.

Ah, but it seems also to be a season of death and dying around the yard. On either side of the front steps, both of my dwarf mugo pine bushes are giving up the ghost.

One has lost all its needles, and the other is about half-way there.

Before summer was quite over, I saw my japonica bush had also expired, although I'm suspicious that it lost the fight for water and nutrients with the monkey grass that had crowded around it.

Over on the south property line, in the narrow region beside the driveway that I simply call "The Azaleas," three of those shrubs down towards the front have all perished. I'm pretty sure it's the continuing issue of some pesky invasive root system that I've not yet dug up enough of.

And I don't think I can prevent it from coming back so I'll have to come up with an alternative plan next spring for a best use of that small sloped area so close to the sidewalk and passersby.

Finally, I'm utterly flummoxed about the new yard that I worked so hard to establish, because most of the grass I had planted has died off and disappeared and in its place is a clumping invasive grass. I mean: all of my expensive mail-order-seeded grass that was so lush in the spring is completely gone! I've got sizable bare spots on each side of the front lawn. It's a bit late in the season now, but I have spread fresh grass seed and reset the regular irrigation routine in hopes I can get new grass established before winter invades. It's as much to control for clover and weeds as it is to be sure that I don't end up having washed out topsoil and such.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Giant Sugar Cookies

For the last little while I've been trying to operate with a measure of discipline in the sweets realm. I'm able to be only so good about that but there has been a recent stretch of heightened restrictive success. Last Saturday night, though, following a late lunch of salmon and cauliflower, I felt like I'd created a good opening for a batch of amazing large sugar cookies for an evening sweet treat. Oh, lordy, were they buttery and tender and all three I ate that night were incomparable.

"Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies," from Kelly of [Published 20 February 2012]

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Meal No. 2951: Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon

Confession: I'm a fan of farm-raised salmon, over and above wild-caught Atlantic or Alaskan salmon. But when the sale price and the slab of fillet that looked good combine, it can tilt my grocery decision-making in an occasionally varied direction. But then I eat it and regret it because it does not suit my palate as well. That's what happened last Saturday, frankly. I enjoyed the spiced roasted cauliflower but the salmon? Not so much.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Meal No. 2950: Sheet Pan Beef Nachos

Quite a while back, I took a package of ground beef and turned it into a hearty batch of taco meat, that I then prepped and vacuum-sealed to toss into the freezer for later use. That particular slip was finally drawn last Thursday morning, from the lottery jar, so I used it to make sheet pan beef nachos that night. And they were all the better for having a fresh batch of lime crema, extra garlicky, to go with it.

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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

Meal No. 2949: Roasted Salmon and Broccoli

Last Wednesday night I took great delight in returning yet again to my beloved roasted salmon and roasted broccoli meal. I have become very dependent on this specific menu to help me eat healthy and to be able to do so with incredibly easy and convenient preparation. The result proves consistently satisfying even if it makes for ridiculously repetitive blog entries.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

An Unexpected Guest for Morning Coffee

Last Wednesday morning, as I returned from setting up the coffee pot in the kitchen upon first rising, I had a bit of a start—as in, a moment of being startled. On the front porch sat a hooded stranger in the dark of the pre-dawn hour.

One option in that situation is to storm out there and tell him to get off my porch, to point out that he had to pass the No Trespassing sign in order to reach that chair. Another option is to share some of the coffee with him that I'd just made...along with two sugars.

After I set up another chair beside him, I warned him I'd be coming back out with a very friendly pooch who would take great sniffing interest in him.

His name is Alonso, and he told me from glancing in the windows of this fine house that he thought it was a museum or something and that he did not think he would be bothering anyone while he waited for the cab that he had called. He told me he'd been working the bottle ring toss game at the local Carolina Classic Fair and was preparing to head over to Raleigh for the NC State Fair. He showed me his ankle monitoring bracelet, worn as a condition for his parole from a prison term. He talked about his distrust of the COVID-19 vaccine but he'd gotten the Johnson & Johnson jab anyway before starting to work the fair. He told me of his Trinidadian lineage and we did not resolve the debate between whether all women were dangerous or if he was only interested in dangerous women.

Eventually it became the brighter light of dawn and Alonso said he'd best be heading out and letting Sumner and me get our day started.

He gave me his empty Four Loko can but kept the plastic sack and headed out into the morning, but not before asking me to make sure he had my cell number.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Meal No. 2948: Pan-Seared Bone-In Pork Chop

Following my longest ever work trip that took me out of town October 2-11, it sure was a fine thing to return to the wonderful Roediger House and begin getting back to the delightful normal routines that are so comforting on Tuesday, the next night. You know, like drawing a slip from the freezer overstock lottery jar and finding that it's time for one of the final rounds of vacuum-sealed prepped pork chops to drop into the sous vide immersion bath for about 2.5 hours. I didn't go to the store yet so I had to break out a couple of cans of green beans to go with the chop and the cubed roasted spiced roasted potatoes. I was starving again and ate the heck out of that stuff, much to my delight.

Earlier that same afternoon, when enjoying a little sitting time out in the grove, I spotted the first camelia bloom on the bush at the front wall, a gorgeous bright pink and a harbinger of things coming from that healthy bush.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

As we wrapped up September, I was on another ice cream tear, and the last batch I made before departing town for an extended trip occurred Friday, October 1st. This time around it was a return to the wonderful vanilla bean ice cream that one cannot help but love.

"Vanilla Ice Cream" (p. 35-36), from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012).

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Meal No. 2947: Roasted Vegetables

In advance of leaving town for a 10-day trip to Africa, I wanted to use up some of the vegetables I had on hand. That included some delicios home-grown sweet potatoes gifted to the Roediger House from the garden of the Pilons down the street. Those I used to make cubed spiced roasted sweet potatoes, which were awesome. I also had Brussels sprouts from Costco that I'd not done anything with. Together they were just what I needed for supper on October 1st, as I checked off the last few items on my very long trip preparation list.

"Roasted Sweet Potatoes," from Chelsea Lords of [Published 04 March 2019]

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Sumner and the Hawk

Here's a fun photo from the morning coffee time on the driveway back on September 14th: a hawk flew first into the Bradford pear tree, then jumped over to the dying cherry tree, and then perched atop the outdoor movie screen frame. His movements caught Sumner's attention, and I tried to capture that moment with my iPhone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Don't Eat the Yellow Grass

This is a photo of me having a brief conversation with the gentleman who'd just engaged in public urination behind the ornamental grass behind the house, back on 17 September. Ah, downtown living!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Eggnog Ice Cream

Back on September 27th, I worked quickly to put together two different bases for ice creams. The first of those was brown sugar cinnamon, which was delicious, and the other was eggnog ice cream. You know what it was? Also delicious. Most of my batches of eggnog ice cream have followed the David Lebovitz Perfect Scoop recipe, but as September wrapped up I instead made this batch according to the directions from another awesome source: the Bi-Rite Creamery recipe book. This is now the third time making the Bi-Rite version (and the first time in four years!)

"Eggnog Ice Cream," from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012), p. 186-187.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Latest Firewood Delivery

I'm trying to get a jump on the onset of winter, for a change, with a couple of key moves. One of those was to go ahead and order a load of firewood, which was delivered on the final day of September.

I had the fellas just toss it all into a pile in the corner of the driveway. Then I was able to sort all the different cuts and qualities.

And eighteen wheelbarrow loads later, I had it all nicely and highly stacked on the firewood rack behind the chimney:

It had been three years since I last ordered firewood. A comparison of the photos from 2018 and last week suggests that the increased price was accompanied by a smaller load!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Meal No. 2946: Protein and Vegetables

On the final day of September, with a lot going on all day, I was glad for the simplicity of the sous vide set-up for a prepped frozen protein, plus the ease with which I can roast vegetables in the oven, to make dinner happen around 5:30 pm that afternoon. One plate had a sous vide sage and garlic pork chop; the other had the last of the salmon from a couple of nights before. The vegetables were asparagus cuts and spiced cauliflower florets, and it was all pretty skipping good.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream

All too often of late, it seems likely that if I'm posting about having made either pudding or ice cream, you can be sure there was milk or heavy cream that needed to be used up. That's how I found myself making the bases for two different ice creams at the start of the final week of September, one of which was brown sugar cinnamon ice cream. It's a pretty delicious frozen dairy treat that, best I can tell, I've only made once before: to accompany a blue velvet layer cake. It needed no cake this time to make it amazing: it stood on its own two feet (?) quite well, disappearing rapidly from its serving cups.

"Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream," from Heather Tullos of [Published 11 September 2015]

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Meal No. 2945: Sous Vide Baby Back Pork Ribs

Once more to the lottery drawing jar to figure out what next is to be brought out of the well-stocked freezer, leading to the reappearance of baby back pork ribs on the penultimate day of September. Because I had stocked up, and then prepped and vacuum-sealed lots of different proteins, the goal has been to whittle down that abundance in a random and fun manner. Now that we're getting to the bottom of the jar, I know there's a concentration especially of slips for pork chops and pork ribs...and I'll note that over the nearly two months that this method has been employed, only one of the ribs slips has come out.

With a rub applied before vacuum-sealing and freezing these, they were all ready to be tossed straight into the 152°F sous vide bath on Tuesday afternoon, for a good long 24-hour cook. Then they were ready to be finished off Wednesday with a nice smear of homemade barbecue sauce and slid for a few minutes under the broiler...but not too long, because I wanted that precious tenderness to be maintained!

Guidance for Pork Ribs from "Sous Vide Barbecue Pork Ribs," from J. Kenji López-Alt, former Culinary Director and current Culinary Consultant of [Updated 27 May 2021]

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Meal No. 2944: Caesar Salad with Roasted Salmon

Yet again the dinner feature for a recent Roediger House meal was a Caesar salad topped with roasted salmon fillet. The honest explanation for recurring appearances depends both on my love of salmon but also on a current battle to get back to my preferred weight class after an unexpected spike (which I attribute to an anti-inflammatory prescription). For a glorious final Tuesday in September, this salmon salad was the serious shizzle.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Earlier in September, for a dinner gathering, I had tried my hand for a second time at a fancied up version of the house favorite Chocolate Eclair Cake. It was a bit of a bust that evening so, when folks were over for burgers on the final Monday of September, I was strongly encouraged to return to the easy version so as to get it right this time. And I did. Yum.

"Chocolate Éclair Cake," a common and popular recipe.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Meal No. 2943: Juicy Burgers on the Grill

The final Monday of September, with pretty glorious weather hanging about, offered a terrific chance for another Roediger House regulars' gathering. A while back, Gern had expressed a hope for a return of juicy burgers, so that's what we had. I prepped them early in the day so that it would be a simple matter to toss them on the grill at the appropriate time, and that allowed for the fun and joy of pool playing and hanging out before and after supper.

Adapted from "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 100 years ago this year, 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.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Meal No. 2942: Sous Vide Pork Chops

The ongoing effort to cook down what I'd sealed and stored away in the freezer continues, and on the final Sunday in September the slip drawn from the lottery jar was for pork chops. All that was needed to make it a complete meal was a small smattering of chopped romaine with more of my homemade Caesar dressing on it, plus the last of the homemade croutons I had on hand. The pork chops were large enough to carry the meal and other sides were unnecessary.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Ina Garten's Lemon Bars

Last Saturday night's small dinner gathering would have seemed incomplete to me without a sweet something to help us round out our night. Perhaps because I'd recently made key lime shortbread bars, I was of a mind to return to the deliciousness of Ina Garten's lemon bars recipe.

Laid out in a 9 x 13 pan, this is a sizable dessert that depends on plenty of fresh lemon juice...although I ran just short and supplemented with a fresh squeeze of a single lime...the taste of which still came through!

Anyway: they were darned good, and I was glad that there was plenty to send home with Amy but also to share with the neighbors down the street.

"Lemon Bars," by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Published in Barefoot Contessa Parties!, Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2001.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Meal No. 2941: Caesar Salad with Roasted Salmon

Last Saturday night featured a wonderful evening visit from RoHo Regular Amy, while her better half was down in the Keys visiting his folks. It was such a nice casual hang. At suppertime, we settled in for fresh-chopped Romaine under diner's choice for amount of homemade Caesar dressing, plus homemade croutons and some shredded Asiago cheese. On top of all that I added portions of roasted salmon fillet. It filled us up enough but not too much to turn away from the evening's later offering of a sweet treat, to be noted in tomorrow's blog post.

Amy brought along the new pup from her household: Ziggy. A curly and cute bundle of sweetness is he, and it was a good chance for Sumner to have more socialization time with a fellow pooch. They did reasonably well together, although we had to help Sumner restrain his tendency toward playful aggression just a bit. Also, since both remained so much in motion, I gave up trying to get the perfect cute photo. Here's what I could muster.

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

"Croutons," by Marg CaymanDesigns on

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Meal No. 2940: Biscuits 'N' Sausage Gravy

The freezer-reduction lottery drawing came up with the slip that required me to use up cooked hot country sausage that I'd already browned and vacuum-sealed. The ideal use last Thursday: biscuits and sausage gravy. Boy howdy, was it especially good that night.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Meal No. 2939: Salmon Caesar Salad

I still had just enough homemade Caesar dressing to compel me last Thursday to roast some spiced salmon and put it atop power greens for an early evening supper. I love salmon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Meal No. 2938: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

An early afternoon meal last Wednesday was a fine opportunity to bring back one of the simple favorites of the house: Emeril's skillet beef stroganoff. I'd had to put this one aside for a few months because of making the household suffer through last winter's overreliance on it as a dependable way to use up ground beef. It made a triumphant return to the dinner table, delicious as always, simple to throw together, and large enough in quantity both for leftovers and to share with neighbors down the street.

Based on "Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Dinner in a Skillet," by Emeril Lagasse. Found online at The Food Network and also on

Monday, September 27, 2021

Milk Chocolate Sheet Cake with Chocolate Caramel Ganache

The Sunday night gathering for Cuban pork sandwiches a week ago would not have been a complete evening without some dessert. I managed to throw together a chocolate sheet cake with a chocolate-caramel ganache, based on a recipe I've had a while but had not gotten around to trying. 'Twas chocolatey and tasty and left us all just a bit extra-stuffed.

"One-Bowl Milk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Caramel Frosting," from Rhoda Boone. Published on 07 June 2016.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Meal No. 2937: Cuban Citrus Mojo Pork Sandwiches with Creamy Lime Green Sauce

The Roediger House regulars were back at the homestead last Sunday night for a gathering and hanging out...and, to my delight, some supper! I reached deep into the archives to bring back something most of them had had before (I think?), but it's been over five years since the last time I made it.

It seems the opinions around the table were favorable for the end result, piled onto ciabbatta rolls I'd picked up from Costco earlier in the day and adorned with a parley-substituted creamy lime sauce. I also made macaroni pasta salad and creamy stuffed eggs.

It was all messy as heck to eat but also incredibly scrumptious.

Adapted from "Pork Shoulder Roast with Citrus Mojo & Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce," by Alex Roberts of Brasa (Minneapolis, MN). Recipe in Food & Wine, May 2012, p. 152, 154.

Slow cooker version adapted from "Slow Cooker Cuban Mojo Pork," from Sabrina Snyder of Dinner then Dessert. [Published 08 February 2017 / Updated 16 January 2019]

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

Macaroni Salad based on "Classic Macaroni Salad," by Jaclyn of [Published 03 April 2018]

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