Hungry Critters Open Thread

Here are a couple of beautiful, voracious birds I saw hunting for dinner yesterday evening. First up, an osprey perched in a tree looking for fish:

The same osprey giving the wings a stretch:

I had hoped to capture video of it diving for fish. It perches nearby and dive-bombs fish just about every day. But after training my camera on it for several minutes, I got distracted by other things. Immediately afterward, I heard the splash (which sounds like a small child doing a cannonball into a pool) and knew I’d missed the shot.

Also, this gorgeous woodpecker was in a nearby tree pecking for bugs:

Speaking of dinner, I tried something new for our’s yesterday evening. Our local grocery chain (Publix) sells packets of “skillet gnocchi” in the dairy aisle near the fresh pastas. I’d never noticed it before but thought it would make a relatively cheap and quick weeknight dinner — instructions said to sautée it in a couple of tablespoons of butter for five minutes and serve it with sauce.

Instead, I sautéed it with butter and a drizzle of olive oil and added a handful of mushrooms and a couple of julienned sage leaves, then threw in some minced garlic for the last couple of minutes (so many recipes instruct people to burn garlic!). Then I squeezed a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice on it and topped it with grated Parmesan.

My husband put red sauce and yet another sprinkling of Parm on his because that’s how he rolls, but I had it as described above, unadorned. We both agreed it was fantastic. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but so easy and tasty!

Got any cheap, fast dinner hacks to share? Feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!






122 replies
  1. 1
    dnfree says:

    I love your nature pictures!

    Foodwise, we often have just a big salad for dinner, especially in the summer. I’ve found that if you buy the Dole chopped Greek salad mix, which comes with little packets of dressing, Feta cheese, and some kind of herb sprinkle, and add things like cherry tomatoes, green onions, chopped cucumber, and Greek olives, it’s pretty tasty and pretty quick to fix.

  2. 2
    A Ghost To Most says:

    One of my sons loves Noodles & Co Udon noodle bowl, so I’ve been working on a better version at home.
    The version I have now is much better, per son.

  3. 3
    satby says:

    I threw together a pasta-bean combo the other night based loosely on a chicken livornese: garlic, olive oil, diced tomatoes instead of sauce, cannellini beans and chopped kale over pasta. Fast, good, nutritious.

  4. 4
    mad citizen says:

    Last night, since I was at Costco, my hack was a chicken ceasar salad and slice of cheese pizza–$6.50. Ha!

    More on point, we’ve tried a few of the costco frozen dinner items (fried rice, tikka chicken, etc.) and never been happy enough to re-buy. Recently I noticed the P F Chang’s stuff at Target. We’ve had 2-3 of these, and they are decent for a 15 minute, frozen to eating meal. Decent, not outstanding.

  5. 5
    jacy says:

    The kid has been cooking dinner lots — often it’s salmon fillets marinated in soy sauce and ginger, seared and finished in the oven, broiled skin-side up. Or sausage and pasta, which just means slicing the sausage into bite-size pieces then sauteing it with a package of grape tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic — which makes a nice sauce that’s not very heavy. then you toss it with pasta and throw in a cup of grated mozzarella.

    And an update: I’ve been absent for a month. When the ex promised he was not going to fight me in court, it was a feint to get me to drop my guard so he could fight me in court. No one knows every vulnerable spot you have like somebody who was your best friend/confidant for 20 years, and he used them all – both legally and personally. As a result, I have been in constant PTSD panic attack – unable to breath, unable to leave the house, unable to open emails, unable to sleep or sleeping for 30 hours straight. And my insurance made me put in a written request for more therapy, so three weeks without seeing my therapist. I could either pay my therapist out of pocket or pay my lawyer. Had to choose the lawyer.
    So I have been a deer in headlights for what seems like an eternity. Luckily, my lawyer was not. Monday was the final court hearing. After a contentious meeting in chambers between the attorneys and the judge, I have been awarded domiciliary custody with no restrictions and every counter attack by my ex and his attorney was dismissed. My lawyer made them sign the papers right there and we marched down and watched them file it, then I came home and slept for 16 hours, and woke up and found I could breathe without feeling like I was drowning. May 15th, a week after his 14th birthday, Nick comes home for good. After five years of constant warfare, it’s over. Today, life starts again.

  6. 6
    meander says:

    My neighborhood and backyard has been blessed by birds lately. A handful of Tufted Titmice are singing like crazy from treetops and power poles (“Teeter Teeter Teeter”, “Sweet Sweet”, and one other song) — probably males staking out their territory. Cedar Waxwings are in the area, and a flock has taken to hang out in trees behind my house, as they eat the red berries on one of my trees. They have such a lovely way of chattering within the flock.

    One of my quick dinner hacks is potato + leek + other vegetables (cauliflower and carrot are good). Leeks are often in the fridge, potatoes in the pantry. After carefully washing the leeks (sand and grit is common), cook the leeks in a bit of oil, then toss in chopped potatoes, and pour in water. Let it cook for a while. Puree or mash if you like.

  7. 7
    Emma says:

    Buitoni three-cheese tortellini with ripe cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives with either basil or spinach chiffonade and a drizzle of really good olive oil.
    Also, fattoush.

  8. 8
    gene108 says:

    I have not been able to remember dreams for the last 2-3 years.

    I used to be able to remember some of more vivid dreams, but that power has been lost, until today.

    I had a dream last night, which some how involved grocery shopping at Macy’s, getting gas at the Macy’s gas station, and getting out of the store before it closed. And then debating with my mom, brother, aunt, and cousin about watching a movie on the giant flat screen TV Macy’s had hanging from the sealing. We had to rotate the giant, extra long sofa, to face the T.V., then my aunt complained we were sitting too close to the TV and then I woke up.

    I am not sure what problem I was resolving by this dream, but I sure something has been resolved in my subconscious.

  9. 9

    I saw an owl last night as I was driving home, diving into the shadows for a target.

    There are ospreys living around my library, feeding off the fish in the nearby lake.

    We occasionally get migratory pelicans at that lake. One year we had enough to FILL the entire lake from shore to shore. Man look at them pelicans fly!

  10. 10
    WaterGirl says:

    I have never heard of “skillet gnocchi” but I LOVE good gnocchi. You said it was near the fresh pasta – does that mean it was actually fresh and not frozen? I have not had good experience with the frozen variety.

    I am so jealous.

  11. 11
    mad citizen says:

    For those Van the Man fans with amazon unlimited music (I bought a 3 month trial on Dec 31 so need to decide what to do soon), there’s a deluxe, 3 disc version of The Healing Game that came out in Feb. Disc 2 has great outtakes with guests (John Lee Hooker, Carl Perkins), and Disc 3 is a set from the Montreaux Jazz Fest. Came upon this this morning. Got to love Van, that sonofabitch can sing.

    I also highly recommend his latest release, The Prophet Speaks (2018).

  12. 12
    Wapiti says:

    @jacy: Sweet success.

  13. 13
    satby says:

    @jacy: so happy for you!

  14. 14
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @jacy: Congratulations. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  15. 15
    WaterGirl says:

    @jacy: I got goosebumps reading your last sentence, and then I burst into tears.

    I am so happy that your long legal nightmares are over! Please let us know if the latest legal battle has eaten up any cushion you might have had after you saved your house. It’s much easier to nip something like that in the bud than to wait until it can’t be ignored anymore.

    Peace, jacy, and lots of hugs.

  16. 16
    Mike in Pasadena says:

    Wow! Great photos.

  17. 17
    rikyrah says:

    @jacy:

    YEAH JACY!!!!!
    CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP

  18. 18
    Betty Cracker says:

    @jacy: That is fantastic news.

  19. 19
    rikyrah says:

    McConnell blocks resolution calling for release of Mueller report for second time
    BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 03/27/19 10:09 AM EDT

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution that called for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election to be publicly released for the second time this week.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and a member of the Intelligence Committee, tried to get unanimous consent for the Senate to pass the resolution, which cleared the House in a 420-0 vote.

    “The fact is that a four-page summary cannot possibly illuminate what this thorough of an investigation uncovered. I find it so disappointing that so many are rushing to judgement without being able to see the full report or all of the underlying facts,” Feinstein said from the Senate floor.

    But McConnell objected to her request to pass the non-binding resolution, noting that Attorney General William Barr is currently working with Mueller to determine what in the report should or should not be released.

  20. 20
    dnfree says:

    @Emma: You are missing the colon after https in your fatoush link.

  21. 21
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @mad citizen:
    Big fan. I’ll even listen to his god-bothering songs.

  22. 22
    Wapiti says:

    @gene108: I’m a big believer that dreams – some dreams – are wake-up calls to fix something in one’s life. Or like yours seems to be, a validation that things are good now.

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    I saw hunting for dinner yesterday evening.

    I read that as YOU hunting for dinner- I wasn’t going to judge :)

    She’s eating those colorful..animals we see. To each his own!

  24. 24
    MelissaM says:

    I love seeing your bird photos.

    We tried Blue Apron for a bit, my thinking being “hey, if someone else sends us dinner, maybe everyone will eat it!” I was naive, but the best recipe I got from there was Caprese Gnocchi. Into a skilled with a healthy dollop of olive oil, put about 8 minced garlic cloves. Saute for about a minute, then throw in a can of whole peeled tomatoes which you have hand-smooshed into pieces. Let that cook for a bit while the water comes to a boil. Toss in a healthy bit of sliced fresh basil, but hold back some to put on top. Cook your gnocchi, then toss into the tomato sauce, then toss in about 8 oz of fresh mozzarella, (I buy the “pearls” ’cause it’s easy.) Serve with crusty bread and salad. Oh, there’s salt in there, too.

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rikyrah: Mitch McConnell makes replicants of us all.

  26. 26
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @gene108: You really like Macy’s but wish it were more of a one-stop shop? Designer gasoline must cost a fortune.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jacy: I cannot express in words how happy I am for you.

    Time to get back into the game!

  28. 28
    Emma says:

    @dnfree: Gah. Thanks. Here it is: Fattoush.

  29. 29
    chopper says:

    dang, it’s my birthday and wouldn’t you know it one of my kids gave me a nasty-ass cold. fuckin’ mobile germ warfare factories.

  30. 30
    Emma says:

    @chopper: Happy coughing and sneezing day!

  31. 31
    WaterGirl says:

    @gene108: That’s a good one!

    Nearly a year to the day that I broke my ankle last spring — I dreamed that my ankle was still broken and I looked out my window to the back yard and found John Cole and Dad Cole cleaning up my garden for me. When they finished, I called them in for breakfast — where I served them half rice krispies and half cocoa krispies — and then they went back home to WV.

  32. 32
    Betty Cracker says:

    @PaulWartenberg: Are they the ginormous white pelicans? They’re so cool.

    @WaterGirl: Yep, these are not frozen but kept in the refrigerated section near the Buitoni tortellini, etc. Maybe they’ve been there for years, but I just noticed them this week!

    I’ll definitely make that again — it was done in 10 minutes flat and was so good! I bet the skillet gnocchi would make a good app for a party — you could make sauces like gorgonzola alfredo, red, etc., for dipping. (I swear the gnocchi people are not paying me!)

  33. 33
    hedgehog the occasional commenter says:

    @jacy: Wonderful news! So happy for you.

  34. 34
    chopper says:

    @jacy:

    oh man, good news! and you watched it get signed and delivered and everything. glorious. now take a fucking break!

  35. 35
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @jacy: Wow, sounds like a hell of an ordeal. I’m very happy for you.

  36. 36
    Kay says:

    Glenn Greenwald
    ‏Verified account
    @ggreenwald
    Follow Follow @ggreenwald
    More
    I’ll be on Fox both tonight & tomorrow night talking about the fraud that was finally exposed by the Mueller Report –>
    * But why would you go on Fox to talk about it?
    * Because MSNBC, to protect its profitable scam, purposely banned & still bans all dissenters from its airwaves

    Greenwald is perfect for the Right. He too believes he has a constitutional right to make a living on media appearances. Silenced! Pay me! You have a DUTY to buy my books! What if they just don’t think he’s interesting or valuable? Not a grand conspiracy but instead an ordinary rejection?

    Also- there’s a lot of crappy and mediocre lawyers out there but not many of them would make such a bold claim, to base something on the “Mueller Report” which everyone knows they haven’t read. It’s just an inaccurate claim and it’s widely and immediately recognized as inaccurate.

  37. 37
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay: Hahaha! My fault — it is an ambiguously constructed sentence! Truth is, if I had to hunt for dinner, we’d be full-time vegetarians. I won’t even fish, though I will attempt to cook all fillets presented.

    ETA: Oh, except scalloping — I will hunt and eat scallops!

  38. 38
    hitchhiker says:

    I invented this way of cooking brussells sprouts: cut the nasty end off, cut them in half, throw them in a frying pan with some spray on oil stuff, let them get a little seared, add a cup or two of chicken stock and maybe 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

    We like to have this with grilled sausage and some kind of good bread for dipping in the liquid, but grilled anything would work. The sprouts cook very fast in a regular frying pan with a lid in that liquid, and the sugar cuts the bitter taste they sometimes have nicely.

    (I have read no stories based in Washington DC for almost a week. Surprisingly easy, and I have the feeling that no matter what the churn has been, I’ve missing nothing.)

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    Trump seeks to take health care from tens of millions via courts
    Rachel Maddow looks at how many people will lose their health care if Donald Trump is successful in going around Congress and instead using the courts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

  40. 40
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    No, you’re right. I inserted “while” – perhaps hopefully? I would actually love that, if you were bagging pelican eggs or something. Gigging teeny little frogs.

  41. 41
    mrmoshpotato says:

    Gordon Ramsey’s Spicy Sausage Rice is a nice one pot (skillet) recipe. I’ve made it a couple times substituting chorizo. Pretty good rolled into a tortilla with some salsa.

  42. 42
    bystander says:

    I looked up a Jacques Pepin recipe using packaged gnocchi and came up empty handed. I did find, however, this carb fest.

  43. 43
    jacy says:

    @chopper:

    Loch has a killer cold — I’m just waiting to get it. Luckily for me, he’s a typical teenager and I never see him unless I go looking for him, and dog forbid I should make physical contact!. Pollen down here has been hella bad, and everybody is miserable and sneezy too.

  44. 44
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @rikyrah: Shorter and more catch-all headline: Trump is an asshole.

    ETA: Clicked the MSNBC link and MITCH MCCONNELL’S FACE!

    WARNING!

  45. 45
    jacy says:

    @chopper:

    Someday I will write up the events in the courtroom. My lawyer was glorious. They never knew what hit them. And when his lawyer said he’d file it later, she told him, “You’ll file it now. Don’t make me go back to the judge and make him make you.” I think I was a little giddy at that point.

  46. 46
    mad citizen says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Ha! Me too–excellent phrase “god-bothering songs”

  47. 47
    gene108 says:

    @mrmoshpotato:

    Maybe, I still like Macy’s? Could be. I used to shop their, when I was in my 20’s.

    If you looked for stuff on sale or the store brand goods, the prices weren’t unreasonable.

  48. 48
    Tazj says:

    @jacy: Hooray! Great news!
    That’s a beautiful picture of a woodpecker. I heard one this morning, while headed out to my car, but I couldn’t see where it was.

  49. 49
    gene108 says:

    For lazy dinners, any frozen vegetable sitting in your freezer. Take out enough for one serving. Nuke it, until hot. Add salt and black pepper. Cook rice. Mix yogurt and rice. Eat rice, yogurt and vegetable.

  50. 50
    chopper says:

    @hitchhiker:

    i make sprouts like that all the time, tho usually i throw in some cooked-down stock so it finishes faster. also, sugar isn’t needed if the sprouts are in season, especially after a frost sweetens them up a touch.

  51. 51
    gene108 says:

    @Wapiti:

    I’m a big believer that dreams – some dreams – are wake-up calls to fix something in one’s life. Or like yours seems to be, a validation that things are good now.

    I believe that too. Your brain sorts stuff out, while you sleep and with dreams.

  52. 52
    cleek says:

    Butoni pesto + cooked gemelli + chopped grilled chicken + chopped, steamed asparagus

  53. 53
    Salty Sam says:

    Love the osprey pics- I’ve enjoyed watching the local ospreys hunt. Several times been blessed with seeing them pluck a good sized trout just under the surface without wetting more than their lower legs, and then swooping off to dine. Beautiful!

  54. 54
    J R in WV says:

    @jacy:

    So glad that’s all over with and behind you — hope everything flows for you going forward. Terrified is no way to make a living!! Props to you for fighting you way through for your kid, who has to have been scared as well. Hang in there and keep us posted!!!

  55. 55
    Wapiti says:

    butter + pine nuts until butter is brown; + garlic + baby spinach + drained gnocchi.

  56. 56
    J R in WV says:

    Also, Betty C — awesome bird photos !!! I have a very few really good bird photos, we have the birds, but they’re pretty scarce. Your new CoolPix really does the trick, those suprezoom lenses are the berries for carrying on a walk!

    Congrats and thanks for all the beauty you’re sharing with us!

  57. 57
    rikyrah says:

    Democrats mobilize as Trump tries to take insurance from millions
    Rep. Lauren Underwood talks with Rachel Maddow about Democratic efforts to strengthen and broaden health care coverage for Americans even as Donald Trump tries to use the courts to go around Congress and take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

  58. 58

    For a quick dinner, I always have frozen shrimp in my fridge. I make a filled omelet with shrimp and veggies (onions, tomatoes, mushrooms) whatever I have on hand and toast. Or shrimp stirfry with rice noodles and eggs, a quick pad Thai of sorts. Or couscous and shrimp, rice and shrimp and a salad.

  59. 59
    Ohio Mom says:

    @jacy: Whew! What an ordeal. Very glad for you that it’s over, and hope that whatever loose ends are tied up easily and quickly (there are always loose ends).

  60. 60
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @mad citizen:
    Anyone who created “Into The Mystic” is worth listening to. Sometimes I just tune out the lyrics.

  61. 61
    J R in WV says:

    @Emma:

    Your fatoush recipe looks something like tabbouleh I make, but with the toasted bread instead of the bulgar.

    One note of warning, some people (like a close friend) have violent allergies to sumac in any amount, I use it when it’s just the two of us, but wouldn’t serve it to a big crowd. On the other hand, I know people who make a lemonade-like drink with big sumac blooms in the fall.

  62. 62
    delk says:

    FOR INSTANT POT
    A pound of stew meat cut smaller, any of Rick Bayless sauce pouches (seriously. Chicken pork beef slow cook or skillet. Any kind will do).
    Brown meat in either skillet or Instant Pot, add sauce, 1/2 cup water and cook for 30 minutes.
    Use for any Mexican dish—tacos, enchiladas, burritos etc. or over rice or mashed potatoes or baked potatoes.

  63. 63
    J R in WV says:

    @hitchhiker:

    I invented this way of cooking brussells sprouts: cut the nasty end off,

    Some people would say that after you cut the nasty end off a brussells sprout, there’s nothing left to slice in half! ;-)

    Maybe the secret is that we never knew there was a nasty end to cut off, we just assumed that a veg for sale was prepped for consumption? May try your technique some day. Or not…

  64. 64
    KSinMA says:

    @jacy: That’s great!

  65. 65

    @jacy:
    Thank the sun pony.

    No one knows every vulnerable spot you have like somebody who was your best friend/confidant for 20 years

    Yes. Oh, yes. It was more like 10 years than 20 for me, but yes. She knew exactly what to hit and how to hit it to damage me the most. I stopped writing for five years because the only person whose opinion on my writing mattered had waged a campaign to convince me I didn’t have what it takes. When someone you’ve been in a deep relationship with for a long time turns around and tries to destroy you, it is a living nightmare.

    @gene108:

    I have not been able to remember dreams for the last 2-3 years.

    I stopped dreaming in the conventional sense when I started writing novels. My brain keeps writing whatever story I was thinking about when I fell asleep, all night. When I need to plan a chapter or book outline, I go take a nap. If I do have a conventional dream, I know it’s because I haven’t written recently enough and my brain is getting desperate.

  66. 66
    R-Jud says:

    @jacy: Congratulations, and welcome to a new and brighter chapter. You and Nick deserve it. Xxx

  67. 67
    chopper says:

    trader joe’s makes a pretty decent frozen gnocchi out of cauliflower. it’s a bit harder to cook in a skillet cause it likes to stick more, but if you use a good cast iron one and cook em like you would potstickers they come out pretty good.

  68. 68
    Kay says:

    Lisa Desjardins
    ‏Verified account
    @LisaDNews
    37m37 minutes ago
    More
    NOW — FAMILY LEAVE on the right: Republicans Sens Rubio, Romney and Reps Wagner, Crenshaw unveil their proposal to allow new parents leave time – by borrowing from future Social Security.

    This is nepotism hire Ivanka Trump’s idea, and she got it from the Goldman Sachs consultant she hired to do her “work”.

    Really bad for the GOP that the low quality Trump hires are now where conservative policy comes from. Is there any dumber idea than “borrowing” from Social Security to pay for your own leave time?

    Who raises these fucking people? Did they learn nothing in their lives? It’s literally borrowing from peter to pay paul. Spend the money for your old age now, when you’re working and earning? It’s amazing they can handle their personal finances, let alone write laws.

    Reckless, dumb and irresponsible. And a scam. Just like the Trump Family from whence it came. They’re taking a problem and making it worse.

  69. 69
    WaterGirl says:

    @Betty Cracker: I will look for the fresh gnocchi in that section next time I am at the store. Good gnocchi is highly underrated! My love for gnocchi is almost enough to make me stop what I’m doing and figure out where to find a heart emoticon on my laptop and figure out how to insert it. Almost!

  70. 70
    MomSense says:

    @jacy:

    Brave, Jacy! I hope you got that bastard for attorney’s fees while you were at it.

  71. 71
    Leto says:

    @jacy: Our teen was the same way. That’s why I made sure to give him extra hugs/kisses, even as he raised a fuss, every time. I don’t know if you saw Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse but I’m similar to Miles Morales cop father: I totally would’ve used a PA system to make my kid say I love you in front of all his friends. :p

    Edit: also meant to say congratulations on the legal proceedings :)

  72. 72
    WaterGirl says:

    @jacy: But he apparently cooks — and bakes! — so he’s a keeper. :-)

  73. 73
    NY Robbin says:

    @jacy:

    Congratulations! So happy that it’s finally over!

  74. 74
    MattF says:

    I’ve been doing fried rice lately. The basic trick is to double the portion you cook then use the ‘leftover’ out of the refrigerator as the base for fried rice plus whatever the next day. I use peanut oil for nearly all my frying needs and it works nicely.

    The good thing is that you can toss nearly anything into a fried rice mixture– diced meats, vegetables, sauces, an egg, whatever.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    Republicans would LOVE if they could burn through Social Security funds right now. They’ll have it all spent in 6 months.

    DO NOT allow them access to any more public funds. All these clowns will be dead by the time the bill comes due.

    It is absolutely amazing that this Party EVER managed to bamboozle people into thinking they were good with money.

    Never. Not in my lifetime. They borrow and spend. It’s ALL short term thinking. They will bankrupt us if we don’t get some adults elected to the Senate. It won’t be a deficit “scare”. It will be real insolvency. We are going to PAY, and pay dearly, for this drunken bender they’re on.

  76. 76
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay: Ugh, what a worthless twit. Excuse me while I pop off to Twitter to roast Lil’ Marco’s nuts about this…

  77. 77

    @hitchhiker: I’ve come to this thread late but felt I needed to share the surefire brussel sprouts fix. I learned this from an Irish friend, after washing and pulling off the tough outer leaves, either cut the sprouts in half or cut a deep X across the stem, them put them in a bowl of water with some (doesn’t matter how much) baking soda. Let them soak for 10 minutes, rinse them and then cook anyway you like. The sprouts are always sweet and taste like the best cabbage.

  78. 78
    AnotherBruce says:

    I woke up today and turned on the radio. KEXP was playing English Beat songs. It made me nervous. And sure enough, I found out that founding member of the Beat, Ranking Roger Charlery had passed at the age of 56, . He was the lead vocalist along with Dave Wakeling. I’ve been to see them perform 3 times Once back in my college days when they were the backup for the Police. Me and my girlfriend at the time went to see the Beat. And we danced like crazy, because that’s the kind of band it was/Is. Two times in Seattle. Obviously one of my favorite bands. He had brain tumors. 56 is way too young.

  79. 79
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Faithful Lurker: The bitterness is part of the charm. I’ll eat brussels any way, but roasted with bacon fat, and a splash of balsamic vinegar is a standard in our house.

  80. 80
    J R in WV says:

    OK, now my turn in the recipe barrel:

    Many years ago I heard Luciano Pavarotti interviewed on an NPR cooking show. He told us a quick and easy pasta dish he enjoyed.

    Four-taste linguini:

    Clean mash and mince a big bunch of garlic, while bringing a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
    Clean and mince a bunch of parsley.
    Open a can of tomato paste or thick sauce — I’ve tried both, either is good,
    Find your red pepper

    Just before the pasta is done, add the garlic to hot olive oil, being careful not to brown it at all. Then add the pasta, parsley, tomatoes and cayenne pepper, and stir. Sometimes I’ll use a couple of jalapenos with this instead of the cayenne.

    You can also do it with just the olive oil and garlic (and fresh parsley if you have some), which has a name in Italian which I can’t spel and won’t butcher.

    Eat with red wine.

    I also do this with with fresh scallops, which go in with the garlic, also diced up a little bit. And really, you don’t need the tomatoes with the scallops, just the olive oil… The tomatoes kinda drown the taste of the scallops. Don’t over cook the seafood, they turn into rubber pretty quickly.

    Many others quick and easy… we should have a regular post for that kind of thing!!! Adam is great for big meat things.

    Last night I did a rack of ribs.

    Wrapped in foil and baked in the oven for about 3 hours at 300 degrees, rubbed with salt and pepper and curry powder and worchestershire sauce before wrapping. Would have used garlic powder, but am running way low, would recommend, any spice combo you like as a rub.

    Then open very carefully and cover with BBQ sauce, rewrap and bake for a while longer, like another hour. Then broil for 3 minutes while open. Not quick in clock time, but hands on was less than 15 minutes!

    We couldn’t eat the whole thing, I’m going to make beans with pork leftovers. When I was serving the ribs, I used tongs to grab them, picked up a portion, it fell in half. No meat left on those bones, fell off with just the fork, use the knife to lift the bare bone into the bone bowl.

    Best rack of ribs I think we’ve had, and we’ve done ribs from NC to MO to TX… best before was Arkansas just off I-40 near the University.

  81. 81
    spudgun says:

    @jacy: This. Is. FANTASTIC!! Congratulations!

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    A Ghost To Most says:

    @MattF: Fried rice is great for close to the edge veggies. I am now doing Udon noodles instead of rice. Tasty.

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    @A Ghost To Most: I agree. We eat them that way too. Love my sprouts.

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    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Faithful Lurker: You got me thinking about brussels slaw.
    Next experiment.

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    jacy says:

    @WaterGirl: the younger one is the chef. It’s the college kid who lurks in his room and manages to skitter away every time I try to hug him. :)

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    hitchhiker says:

    @Faithful Lurker:

    thank you!

    for years I used to buy brussels sprouts and end up unable to get the little hikers to eat any .. last night the (now grownup) hikerdaughters + their spouses were over for dinner.

    sprouts and sausage, homemade foccacia, pineapple upside down cake, all devoured.

    there’s nothing quite like feeding people.

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    rikyrah says:

    @Faithful Lurker:

    Will take this helpful hint :)

  88. 88
    frosty says:

    Your bird pix are amazing*. Keep ‘em coming.

    * Almost makes me want to live in a swamp in Florida. But I’ll stick with camping in state parks in February for now. We’re currently making our reservations for next year.

  89. 89
    J R in WV says:

    @Kay:

    This is nepotism hire Ivanka Trump’s idea, and she got it from the Goldman Sachs consultant she hired to do her “work”.

    Really bad for the GOP that the low quality Trump hires are now where conservative policy comes from. Is there any dumber idea than “borrowing” from Social Security to pay for your own leave time?

    Who raises these fucking people? Did they learn nothing in their lives? It’s literally borrowing from peter to pay paul. Spend the money for your old age now, when you’re working and earning? It’s amazing they can handle their personal finances, let alone write laws.

    This, quoited for truth. Wife said after I read the descriptive phrase “They are determined to create a permanent underclass in the nation!” which is so true. They want to be permanently on top, and the vast majority of us to be their life-long serfs. They dream of being Feudal Lords with Droit du seigneur for all the little girls (well, maybe Ivanka has a different dream, but all the rest of the men…)!

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    WereBear says:

    @jacy: Nothing sucks quite the way a custody battle with an asshole sucks. Glad for the finality and happiness!

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    dexwood says:

    @jacy:
    Congratulations. Your lawyer, and you, kicked ass. And, it’s great to have a kid who cooks. When our son was in high school many years ago, we insisted he prepare dinner one night a week. He protested at first, but then he really got into it. He is an excellent cook now and his wife rarely prepares dinner. Speaking of our daughter-in-law, we gave her a framed print of your The One That Got Away yesterday. She loved it. It was a reward for passing a difficult math exam she sweated and worried about intensely.

  92. 92
    dnfree says:

    I have a cookbook called “While the Pasta Cooks”, by someone named Andrew Schloss with Ken Bookman. No idea who either of them are, but it’s “100 recipes so easy you can prepare the sauce in the time it takes to cook the pasta”. One of my favorites involves a container of herb-garlic cream cheese, fresh spinach, and onions, and that’s about it. There are a lot of options, vegetarian and otherwise.

  93. 93
    jacy says:

    @dexwood:

    Aw, that’s so nice to hear. That one is my favorite.

    Yeah, Nick loves to cook. He told me the other day, “No offense, Mom, but I think my crispy potatoes are slightly better than yours. You see, you have to toss them with the seasoning first. That makes the difference.” I told him that was great, from now on he was in charge of crispy potatoes. :)

  94. 94
    trollhattan says:

    Because we almost wiped out osprey and their raptor cousins with DDT I did not see one until well into adulthood. Maybe the most impressive bird ‘o prey in the land, and one I sure as hell don’t have living in my neighborhood (officially jealous).

  95. 95
    Emma says:

    @J R in WV: It’s from the same neck of the globe. the only bah-humbug about making fattoush is that you really need to make the pitas at home; pita chips will NOT NOT NOT do. I did not know about the allergy (thanks for the info) but when I make it for a crowd I use the tabbouleh dressing. Less likely somebody will complain about the “strange” taste.

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    Emma says:

    @J R in WV: Aglio e olio. YUM!!!

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    JPL says:

    @jacy: It’s unfortunate that you had to go through that, but you made it to the other side. I was wondering what was going on.

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    Marigold says:

    @jacy: Congratulations, jacy! I’m so glad for you.

    This time of year, now that I’m walking the dog at dawn instead of in the dark, I get to see the bald eagles on their morning commute to the lake. It used to be just one, but now there’s three that fly in together. Between them, the red-winged blackbirds calling, and the milder temperatures, I’m feeling a lot of the winter blues fading. Finally!

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    Shantanu Saha says:

    A few months ago I discovered that Trader Joes sells bags of frozen chicken gyoza at about half the price of the local Asian market, so we have several bags in the freezer. Takes about 15 minutes to prepare — put in a large pan or wok with jigger of peanut oil, sautee for 5-6 minutes until the bottom is golden brown, then put a half cup of water and cover to steam it. I found that I could take a few cut veggies (either fresh or frozen) and throw them in with the gyoza. Double up on the oil and water and voila! a full meal that even my veggie-phobic son would eat.

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    MazeDancer says:

    @jacy:

    Wonderful news!! So happy for you and kids.

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    MazeDancer says:

    Dinner hacks:

    The Freezer is your Friend.

    Do not put leftovers in fridge so they can become a science project. (Some of us can’t eat refrigerated leftovers because of mold and mast cells but that’s another story.)

    No matter how small the leftover, freeze it.

    Buy fresh organic veg when on sale, cook, freeze it in smaller portions. Or buy frozen organic veg on sale. If in bags, you can open, pour out some, rubber band bag back closed.

    Also roast free-range chickens every time the go on sale. Chop up, take meat off the bone, freeze in smaller portions. If you have shredded off meat, you can often pop off a bit without unfreezing.

    Then, with every roast chicken make rice in the pot. Take the chicken out of the pot, put in the rice. All the seasonings and juice will make yummy rice. But do not hesitate to add more.

    Again, divvy up cooled rice into smaller portions, put in freezer.

    Eventually, you will be able to unfreeze/microwave chicken,veg, and rice in minutes. Cheaper and more nutritious than prefab versions. Or if you run out of rice, you can always make a sauce for pasta.

    Also, check out the bargain bin in the produce section. When lemons are available for a buck a two a bag instead of a buck a lemon, load up. A squeeze of lemon perks up everything. If you can’t use them up, freeze the juice.

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    Bex says:

    @jacy: So glad everything worked out. And I love the Mardi Gras print I bought from you!

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    Lymie says:

    I poach several boneless chicken breasts at a time then use them later in pesto sauce or to top salads. I hate when they get dry, this is pretty fool proof:

    Place 3 or 4 in a saucepan. Cover with cool water. Add a cup of white wine if you wish. Add herbs and spices of your choice (garlic, pepper corns, bay leaf, tarragon, etc). Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Cover and leave to cool. The chicken broth is also pretty good for soup or anything that requires broth and freezes.

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    Brachiator says:

    @jacy: Coming late to the thread. This is great news. Sounds like you had a fantastic attorney helping you get things straightened out.

    ETA: Very cool photos.

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    karen marie says:

    @MelissaM: Speaking of mozzarella, did you know Trader Joe’s now sells Burrata? I am in 7th heaven. The tub comes with two billiard ball size Burratas. Lovely ripe tomatoes, sliced and drizzled with Balsamic vinegar (or, better, a Balsamic reduction) and, if you have any basil, a chiffonade of that, plated with the cheese. O.M.G.

    My fast, easy (and pretty cheap) pasta dish is a 4 oz package of goat cheese softened and made saucy with pasta cooking water, lemon zest, juice of half a lemon (or whole if the lemon is small), and about a cup of grated parm, with your choice of pasta. If you’ve got basil or parsley, that makes a nice addition but not necessary. Incredibly delicious. After I dump the pasta in and make sure it’s plenty saucy, adding more pasta water if necessary, I let it sit for a couple minutes to let the pasta soak up some of the liquid. If there are leftovers, before putting in the fridge, stir in a bit more pasta water in to loosen it up as once it is cold overnight it can turn into a solid lump if the sauce is tight. I love it leftover for breakfast. That lemon brightens my day.

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    The Lodger says:

    @jacy: Congratulations! It sounds like you are really finished having to deal with the SOB. I’m happy for you.

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    zhena gogolia says:

    @jacy:

    Oh, good news. I’ve been looking for you to say that my husband absolutely loves his tuxedo cat T-shirt.

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    karen marie says:

    @rikyrah: Trump isn’t just taking healthcare from 20 million, he wants to make coverage worse and more expensive for everyone.

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    lurker dean says:

    @jacy: that’s great news. sorry you had to go through the process :(

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    Mart says:

    Big fan of no knead bread. Just need to remember to mix the flour, salt, water and yeast the night before baking, cover, and let rise at room temp. Lots of versions on the Google. Most famous is the Fck the NYT no knead bread recipe. A Danish bread whisk makes stirring ingredients a breeze. With the kids gone I make a big batch and after 18 hours store in fridge up to 6 or 7 days, baking in smaller chunks. Instead of dumping everything into a 450 F heated Dutch oven (need a lid ~ about 30 minutes on, 15 off), I will tear off 16 oz. and place a smaller ceramic bread baking bowl inside the Dutch oven. Fresh no additive bread usually only holds up for three days before it is croutons fodder. I tear off 12 ounces for an awesome pizza dough for two.

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    lurker dean says:

    @AnotherBruce: yeah, way too young. sucks seeing people from your youth, who are only a few years older than you, pass away.

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    TomatoQueen says:

    Eating includes a kitteh, Luca Take-Your-Hand-Off, who fooled me last week into thinking he was better but instead went slowly downhill. Several rounds of subQ fluids and antibiotics and appetite stimulant daily and no result other than me fearing the worst. Yesterday another dose of subQ, new antibiotic and new stimulant, and this morning, after cleaning his own nose instead of leaving me to it, he staggered off to the kitchen and consumed a bowl of Sheba turkey, followed by another. He’s been asleep ever since, We shall see what the afternoon brings.
    So pleased for jacy’s news, this is wonderful. If I am ever able to stand up long enough to cook again, it’ll be quick sauté of fresh chicken, with chopped Campari tomato, kalamata olives chopped fine, basil and garlic, over fresh angel hair pasta. Meanwhile, somebody at Meals on Wheels knows how to make Maryland Beaten Biscuit, and they brought me one today.

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    chopper says:

    @Mart:

    cook’s illustrated came up with a version of the no-knead that actually involves about 10 seconds of kneading, but the loaf comes out better. you add a bit of beer to it as well – i once decided to try a chocolate stout and the bread was a.mazing.

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    mrmoshpotato says:

    @chopper:

    i once decided to try a chocolate stout and the bread was a.mazing.

    !!!!!

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    Central Planning says:

    For quick chicken parmesan, we have taken frozen, pre-cooked chicken breasts (I don’t remember if we thaw them), put them in a baking dish, pour on some of our favorite red sauce (currently Rao’s), throw on some grated (or slices of fresh) mozzarella, and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover, and bake in the oven until the chickens are warm enough (remember, they are pre-cooked) and the cheese is melted, something like 300 or 350 for 20 minutes or so, depending on how frozen the chickens were.

    Also, has anyone else had the cherry cream cheese pie, where the filling is cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and some lemon juice? I was eating some Chobani vanilla yogurt the other day and decided to add a little home-made maple syrup to it. I swear it tasted just like that filling. If there was a way to thicken the yogurt/maple mixture I think it would make the perfect (and quicker) substitute.

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    WaterGirl says:

    @jacy: I was trying to make the ages work, but they didn’t. Now I know that’s because I was talking about the wrong boy! Great job fighting for your family.

    I have been thinking about you for a week or more, hoping you were okay, so I am especially glad to see an update from you. And what a happy update it was. (happy outcome, not the process)

  118. 118
    Mart says:

    @chopper: Thanks for the tip/reminder. I made this bread a few times a few years back and wandered off. Pinned to favorites to make again. The vinegar seems to do a good job of faking sour dough. Recall making this bread as a traditional loaf with a faux Dutch oven by clamping one loaf pan on top of the other.

  119. 119
    laura says:

    @jacy: Jacy ((((HUG))))! I wish you peace, deep exhalations and the calm that beats the shite out of anxiety. Move a little color around a canvas and some huggin’ and kissin’ on a 14 year old boy.
    Re: dinner hacks – when in trouble, when in doubt, make a big pot of beans. The big pot of beans on the back burner has been a source of comfort and sustenance in our family since the depression. My bean pot game will never equal my late mothers, but I strive.

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    leeleeFL says:

    @jacy: That is wonderful news. As an ex and the Mother of Daughter seeking to be an ex, I feel your relief! Glad you had a good lawyer and a good judge.

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    leeleeFL says:

    @Betty Cracker: Ms. Cracker, I love your birds. i have been home on disability for a few weeks and spending my time dabbling with drawing and watercolor. Mind if I use them for refernce photos

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    AnotherBruce says:

    @lurker dean: Hell, he was younger than me.

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