Giant Chocolate Almond Butter Cups {etc!}, Nov 27-Dec 3, 2020

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Quick Bites – I’ve definitely upped my French fry intake since reading that they’re a regular part of Betty White’s diet. And while I’m fine with then as is, there are some intriguing ideas in the Chelsea Davis story, “I tried 10 ways to make frozen fries better, and there are 9 hacks I’d definitely do again,”  on insider.com via google news. You’ll find seasonings, toppings and cooking techniques.   Food & Wine checks in with Recipes for Two, and start to finish they do look quite satisfying, with a nice spectrum of pasta, vegetable entrees, seafood, steak & other meat, and a”supersilky” no-bake chocolate custard.    Wait! Don’t throw out that muffin pan just yet. This tip, also from F&W, may salvage it. See the step-by-steps at “How to clean grimy muffin pans the easy way.” Could this also work with regular baking pans?

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Shopping Finds – Here’s a timely present for yourself or any food lovers. These cook-friendly calendars on Amazon feature all kinds of edibles, drinkables, and interests. Just some examples – fruits & veggies, herbs, cupcakes, baking, coffee, cocktails, and the chocolate one shown.    Know anybody that needs to keep bandaids in the kitchen? This could be just the solution. Finger guards! Fingies hide behind the metal barrier as the knife goes to work. I’m wondering if it could also help in creating more uniform slices.

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Kitchen Talk – So now, armed with a good cooking method for quinoa {in Alexa section, 11.20.20 Salon}, I’m reaching beyond the Mex bowl {11.06.20 Salon} to another savory app, using it as a substitute for rice in a now inaptly named “fried rice.” But here’s what’s nice about quinoa – it’s every bit at home in sweet versions. And here’s one little kids, big kids, really big kids, just may like – for each cup of cooked quinoa, 1 T ea {or more to taste} peanut butter and jelly. Here I used apricot preserves and topped it all with swirls of syrup and chopped peanuts.

   On the Table  

Feature – Giant Chocolate Almond Butter Cups – and tasty variations 

I don’t necessarily make the recipes from “Alexa’s room.” But in this case . . . resistance was futile. We first mentioned this confection from AllRecipes in our 11.06.20 Salon.

They’re a take off on the Reese’s classic, but made in muffin cup liners, and with almond butter. You could put them in an actual muffin tin but since it helps to give them a little room to spread out a little I arranged them in a baking pan.

The recipe calls for dark chocolate chips {I used 60%}. You may be tempted to go with a sweeter chip, but this really is a good foil for the richness of the filling.

One change I did make for the second batch was to melt the entire 12 oz bag. So, those variations . . .

First it’s very easy to cut down the almond butter recipe to use it in just four of the cups. The others? As shown here, along with the almond butter, marshmallow cream just as it comes from the jar, and hazelnut spread mixed with powdered sugar as for the almond butter.

Recipe Notes – maybe my house is too warm, but these really didn’t fully set up until I refrigerated them {and btw, according to the label almond butter needs to be in the fridge}. It is a good idea to let them sit out a while before serving. As long as you can stand the wait, anyway.

Next week – Our fave cook-loving gifts from 2020

Recipe

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

Just pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How do I make Come ‘ere Puddin’ Pie? OK, when Alexa pops a recipe like this up on the screen you sorta just have to have a look. Turns of the more formal name is Chocolate-Ginger Pudding Pie, and it tucks in the title ingredients twice. First, chocolate wafers and ginger snaps in the crust. Then, bittersweet chocolate and – this is interesting – candied ginger joining cream, powdered sugar and more in the filling. It’s the creation of celeb chef Aarti Sequeira on the Food Network site.

Alexa says request: How do I make curried chicken & apple wraps? Food Network steps forward with another celeb chef for this recipe. Credit Giada for a mix that goes so far beyond chicken and apples it could threaten flavor overload {that’s a good thing}. Think mango, raisins, goat cheese, hot sauce – ahhhh, maybe you’d just like to take a look.

My request: Alexa, what spices go well with sweet potatoes? So, thinking the sweet potato casserole in last week’s Salon {11.20.20} would be good for Christmas too. One thing I had mentioned in the recipe notes is that if you think you might not like the thyme specified in the prep you might substitute nutmeg. But then just thought I’d see what Alexa thought and she replied, in addition to nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or baking spice, the latter being kind of an interesting possibility.

And an unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – tell you the time or temp in locations around the world

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, health tips & news, entertainment news, national news, local news, sports news & recaps, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, Amazon delivery notifications, alerts, security camera connection . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the Echo styles here on this Amazon page

   Cocktail Hour Buzz   

Sundowner snacks, drinks, talk – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

   Oh, what a joy it is to bring into the Salon for you some fine words from celebrated chef Daniel Boulud, one of my top faves of the chefs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. This interview comes to us from epicurious, and the impetus for it is Boulud’s new book, “Daniel: My French Cuisine”, 4 1/2 stars on Amazon. In the interview he notes that while his other cookbooks made French cuisine quite approachable, this one is more complicated, then revealing how we can actually have fun with serious recipes. Paraphrasing my favorite takeaway, Just cook, don’t worry how wrong or right you are. I have his “Chef Daniel Boulud, Cooking in New York City” which I love, and here is a full list of his books on Amazon.

  Highlight, print, and save for Jan 1. The beauty of these 23 Best Hangover Foods, is that for the most part they are indeed foods, not drink concoctions or say exercises that are the last thing in the world you feel like doing. Even better, they’re likely already on hand, in your household. Neener, neener New Year’s Eve excesses! From Healthline.

   Let’s hear it for Science – and red wine! Victor Marchione on the LifeHack site {shows lock icon} headlines his tale about a new study as follows – “A glass of red wine can replace 1 hour of exercising.” Did I just hear some early New Year’s resolutions going back to the drawing board? Read all about it. Sent to CS by BLV.

♦  “Your recipes are incredible” – Linda Faso, Las Vegas. Well thank you so much and what a nice way to end our last regular Salon until next year. Happy cooking, Linda!

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Bobby Flay’s Bacon/Tater Quesadillas w/Salsa & Eggs, Oct 23-Oct 29, 2020

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Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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Quick Bites – Squash season! While I like mine with just a bit of butter and brown sugar, I have to say there are some good looking renditions in Food & Wines offering of Our 36 Best Squash Recipes, such as mashed winter squash with Indian spices, baked butternut squash with cheese polenta, winter squash with gruyere gratin, savory ricotta squash tart, acorn squash saltimbocca. {thanks to Jeffery Martin at Wikimedia Commons for the photo}    We like to share stories on avoiding waste whenever we see them so hoping you’ll take a look at this one on storing sweet potatoes from Extra Crispy. Love sweet potatoes!    So, Well Done sent us to MyRecipes sent us to Reddit for this hack on heating two bowls of food at once in the nuker. I have not tried this.

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Shopping Finds – I know flavored syrups have been around for a long time, but was sort of surprised to discover how many infused maple syrups are available, and so many sound so good.  The link takes you to the page I saw on Amazon.    MyRecipes, especially as a protégé of AllRecipes, I think is a pretty trusted source. So I paid attention when they posted their pick for favorite pie filling. The winner: Duncan Hines Simply Pie Fillings & Toppings, available in apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, raspberry & strawberry.    Could help avoid waste? Amazon identifies this Automatic Food Sealer with starter kit as one of its current “Hot Releases.” Four and a half stars, Prime Eligible.

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Kitchen Talk – I’m inspired by the current Better Homes & Gardens to “put down the carving knife” and instead turn the surface of pumpkins, real or craft, into pop art. The cover punkin gets its festive look from tissue paper, Better Homes And Gardens Magazine October 2020while others in the story call upon electrical tape, cording, yarn, and paint – brushed on, splattered on, or a fun trick where you blow bubbles into it {don’t inhale}.    The other pic? Popcorn balls? Nope, but first, in our 09.25.20 Salon we linked a story on foods other than muffins you can make in your muffin tin. I have another way I like to use that pan, and that’s to freeze {covered} individual portions of various items, in the case here cooked macaroni. Also good for rice, cooked shrimp, stuffing, frozen veggies, cooked veggies, e.g. Just be sure to treat the cups with non-stick spray so the food can be popped out and into a freezer bag.    Another good use for the ginger syrup {09.18.20 Salon} – in a spicy stir-fry, a tasty offset to the peppers.

   On the Table 

Feature – Bobby Flay’s Bacon & Hash Brown Quesadillas with Salsa & Eggs

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Flay – briefly – and enjoying dinner at his Mesa Grill – not so brief!. No, you want to linger over this fiesta of flavors, a showcase for his passionate take on southwest cuisine.

And so I was drawn magnet-style to this quesadilla {OK, the bacon helped}. That bacon plus homemade hash browns join onion and peppers and cheese in a tasty tortilla stack, topped with a nice fried egg, fresh tomato salsa, and chopped chives.

A perfect way to start the day. Especially a day with a late and lazy start. Bloody marys anyone?

The recipe is on the Food Network site. If the same page comes up that I saw, you should be able to also scroll down for a demo showing pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Recipe   Flay’s cookbooks, Amazon     Flay items & other celeb chef items on our CS page

Recipe Notes – The recipe makes four very generous servings, and if there will likely be leftovers, just leave the eggs and salsa off the extra stacks and and freeze them. I diced the potatoes instead of grating and cooked them together with the onions, par-fried bacon, pepper and chile powder in the oil. The salsa has the unusual addition of honey and truth be told I was kind of skeptical about it, but in fact it brings a nice touch of richness to the party. Possibilities in advance: make salsa, cook potatoes, lightly fry bacon, chop onions & chives.

Substitutions if needed – while it won’t be the same intense flavor you could probably use chile powder in place of ancho powder.

Next week – Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream Bread – sooooooo easy

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

Just pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How to make French style beef? Oh my, a winner emerged in short order, a slow cooker treatment of a beef chuck roast, rich with broth, veggies, herbs, and a sun dried tomato tapenade. It’s Beef Provençale, from Food Network Kitchen.

Alexa says request: How to make cheese waffles? Among the results was an interesting take that went one better. Ham & Cheese Waffles, with those two guest ingredients going right into the batter. Served warm with butter and maple syrup. From Epicurious.

My request: Do you have a good Bolognese sauce recipe? I’m guessing a good many of you have had this experience too. You throw together an impromptu version of a known dish and it turns out great. But then somehow you just can’t re-create it and nor do any of the recipes you find. For me, that’s a Bolognese sauce. and under the banner of hope springs eternal going to try a 5-star one Alexa found from Side Chef, a site we just recently discovered. If it’s what I’m looking for, you’ll be the first to know.

And this unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – flip a coin {make your choice before you ask}

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, health tips & news, entertainment news, national news, local news, sports news & recaps, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, Amazon delivery notifications, alerts, security camera connection . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the Echo styles here on this Amazon page

   Cocktail Hour Buzz  

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

  Big kids tap into their inner little kids with, say, jelly glasses of . . . peanut butter whiskey. Called, and with good reason, Skrewball, it’s just as it sounds, whiskey and peanut butter which, as the maker says, “go together so well the make pb&j jealous.”  Those folks, the husband and wife creators and their team, have lots of fun on their website with the name and while there you’ll also see their hashtag, and meanwhile will leave it to your imagination.

  Good thought, broaden your sipping horizons even further! One thing may be of interest regarding cocktails — cocktails from around the world.  Sure, most everyone knows about margaritas and mojitos, but how about the lesser known cocktails like Pimm’s Cup (UK), Aperol Spritz (Italy),  Caipirinha (Brazil), Kir Royale (France)” – Linda K-P, Orlando

  Guessing there are some folks that can defy this promise, but for the most part this is a very welcome prospect – “spill-proof wine glasses!” They’re 12 oz and “naturally aerating.” Four and a half stars and an “Amazon’s Choice.”

   Btw, just as with the rye croutons, the bacon croutons in Kitchen Talk in last week’s Salon also make a mighty fine cocktail snack. Hot, warm, or cold.

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Cobbler – Peach, Pecan & a Touch of Caramel, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Help end the animosity – “Make America Decent Again”

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Alexa has been promoted! Now find her every week right here on the main Salon page

   Let’s Chat   

Quick Bites – Is your muffin tin phoning it in, just showing up for . . . muffins??? Let Food & Wine expand its job description with these 10 Spectacular Non-Muffin Recipes to Make in Your Muffin Tin. You can run the slide show or just scroll down on their page to find crustless quiche bites, mini black bottom cheesecakes, open face egg and ham sandwiches, maple-bacon popovers, brownie bites and the rest    Takeout is a nice indulgence, but if it’s a little more prevalent these days you might want to take a look at this nutritionist’s take on making your order a bit healthier with these 7 Simple Swaps on the Clean Plates site.     Indulgence meets healthy in this Cheeseburger Salad from MyRecipes.

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Shopping Finds – I don’t know about you but it seemed I never had enough spatulas . . . until I found this festive set. Plus a food brush! Right now the 7-pc spatula set is $8.99, Prime eligible, 5 stars, and an “Amazon’s Choice.”    Want to decorate the kitchen for Halloween? And to cite the spirit of the Salon – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you – Amazon’s got you covered.    If you’re having trouble finding bouillon powder, as I have, you might try the jarred bases which I have found at the grocery store – have to be careful of the saltiness but quite the flavor whammy.

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Kitchen Talk – So, I finally took a look at the necktag that was on the ginger syrup {09.18.20 Salon}, and in   addition to a recipe for seasoned ginger party nuts, even more uses – ice cream, baked chicken, oatmeal {always like some help in that bowl}, yogurt parfait, chocolate cake, even cocktails . . . and roasted carrots to which I added a bit of butter, and mmm-mmm.    If you’re avoiding gluten, have I got a recipe for you. The title, Flourless Oat Banana Muffins, doesn’t do it justice given its flavor boosters of peanut butter, honey, spices and chocolate chips. Actually even better the next day.

      On the Table 

Peach cobbler – five ingredients – tons of yum

As this week’s title tells you, the peach filling has some company in the pan. Pecans for crunch, bits for extra richness.

About the bits. The recipe calls for toffee but once I spotted caramel chips, a substitution was immediately in play.

And this tasty dish couldn’t be easier. Layer, sprinkle x 2, stir briefly, sprinkle x 3. Ready to bake.

About the baking. This prep is actually designed for campfire cooking, buried in hot coals. It bakes in a parchment-lined Dutch Oven.

No problem. I used a 9 x 13 pan treated with baking spray. Then based on other cobbler recipes, baked at 350 for 50 minutes covered. Checking if it’s done all the way through can be dicey since the tester will be going through the fruit too. If you’re not sure, remove a scoop of the cobbler and use the tester on some of the cake that’s fallen to the bottom.

Recipe Notes – You could certainly still use parchment paper if you wanted. I think next time I would skip the brief stir, maybe instead just using the back of a spoon to press down a little bit of the cake mix. Sweetness is front and center here so if too much add a dollop of sour cream.

Next week – Knife & Fork Bacon Cheeseburger, savory sauce under and over

Recipe on the AllRecipes site    Cobbler cookbooks on Amazon

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

So, pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How do you make a French omelette? Of the four that immediately pop up on the screen, we’re going to link to Chef John’s prep on AllRecipes because he is more detailed on what makes it an authentic French omelette, also shunning extra ingredients because as he says, it’s “just eggs and butter, no filling . . . 10% ingredients, 90% technique.” Demo too.

Alexa says request: How do you make banana bread cake? But the option from Food Network Kitchen takes it a big step further. Called Banana Bread Lava Cake, it’s rich in spices and of course bananas, but the star of the show, the “lava,” the secret ingredient – here revealed – is ice cream bars! This one also has a demo.

My request: Alexa, how do you soften hard brown sugar? Wikihow is cited for two solutions, one that calls for imprisoning the sugar with a slice of bread or apple in a plastic bag, the other pressing the nuker into service. But if you go to the Wikihow site for this advice you’ll actually find six ways.

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, national & local news, sports, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, alerts, Amazon delivery notifications, most security camera connections . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the styles here on this Amazon page

{Echo owners, if you say Alexa play oldies {others too?} the lyrics scroll on the screen – let’s sing along!}

   Cocktail Hour Buzz  

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

♦ Perfect for the food-centric chat in our Salons. “Parsley, thyme and basil are typical savory herbs used to enhance the flavor of meat. But my favorite herb is rosemary. It’s great with chicken, beef or pork, great flavor and great fragrance as the meat cooks. You’ll find it in many Spanish recipes.” – Pld, Chicago

{Photo from Amazon, source of a variety of herb seeds}

  One of perhaps the best pieces of advice from the Playboy book featured in our 09.04.20 Salon: Take care of all  the preliminaries hours before or, if possible, the day before the event – e.g., amassing ice cubes, polishing brandy snifters, shopping, cooking, marinating, table setting, disks for the stereo, setting out cocktail napkin napkins, or if that’s the plan, hiring help. And then the real nugget: during the party Relax! – “. . . enjoy yourself at your own party.”

  Well, we don’t know if Linus will see the Great Pumpkin for this first time ever this year. But what whiskey-sippin’ folks can see for the first time ever this year is Pumpking Pumpkin Whiskey, a sibling to the well-established Pumpking Imperial Ales by Southern Tier Brewing.  🍺  Cheers.  

  More foodie chat. The acronym DOP on such Italian treats as salumi, fromaggi, olive oil, balsamic vinegars, stands for “protected designation of origin” . . .  showing that it “is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be ‘authentic, or made in the original town or region with traditional ingredients'” (in other words: no mystery ingredients). This bit of instruction from Eately and thanks for making us smarter.

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Hearty Cheese Ravioli Soup, Sept 18-Sept 24, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

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Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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Let’s Chat

Quick Bites – Take a dog to lunch? Turns out quite a few restaurant chains will welcome Rover or Fifi  🐶  and maybe even sweeten the deal with water and treats. Often the pups and their moms & dads are seated outdoors which many places are now emphasizing anyway. Here are a lot of sources on google  Milk Street fans, Season 4 starts Sept 19. Now the team is going on the road, in fact around the world, where they’ll, as PBS says, “meet cooks who inspire a new style of home cooking.” In my time zone, Saturdays at noon.

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Shopping Finds – On a recent episode of Fieri’s GGG one of the contestants selected ginger syrup for his dish – and that was new to me so looked for at the grocery store but nope, but thank you Amazon, found it there.    I guess we had to know it would be coming – face masks with food themes! I found these on the well established Eat This Not That site but the masks they show come from various sources so you may want to do a pre-check. If you do go on those sites, maybe even more food you can “wear.”

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Kitchen Talk –  So far have used the ginger syrup on waffles and in tea. Much as I can’t abide ginger in baked goods, love it every other way and this joins that collection. How else might you use it? Here’s what google says.    Btw, did not waste that original caramel sauce from our 09.04.20 Salon, but instead mixed it with soba noodles, a little chicken bouillon, chicken, carrot shreds, topped with green onion & chopped peanuts. That worked.     My quest continues for a really good oven fried chicken recipe – you’ll be the first to know.

 

 On the Table

Cheese Ravioli Soup – just a big bowl of good

Such a satisfying dish, and thank you Taste of Home. Now, don’t be frightened by the long-ish ingredient list.

Step one, brown the ground beef, and then add and cook all the sauce ingredients.

Step two, cook the ravioli, combine with the sauce and heat through.

Step three, stir in parm, top with parsley. Done!

Even though I know this is a very tasty bowlful, I was curious why the recipe rated just 3 1/2 stars. Ha! we could have guessed this one – not like soup. The only other criticism was not enough ravioli for the sauce.

Commenters loved the taste and no one downgraded on this point. That’s all good in my book {bowl?}

Recipe    Taste of Home cookbooks on Amazon

Recipe Notes – I used frozen ravioli and worked fine. What else? just bring on the crusty bread.

Next week  – Peach Pecan Cobbler, a warm and satisfying fall dessert . . . or breakfast

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

Visit with Alexa on Amazon Echo right here in the Salon on our own CS page. In the chat this week . . .

Philly Cheese Steak Bread – three come up but we like the one “in a box,” crispy fried chicken, a wine joke {alert – groaner!}

Visit here with Alexa

Cocktail Hour Buzz 

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

  Jello takes its place among the very best party centerpieces. Whaaaaat? It’s true and to believe it you really have to see these jello cakes on the Food & Wine site and also recently featured in the magazine. High art worthy of a museum, and edible too. But don’t know who could bear to bite into these beauties.

♦  Love leftover makeovers! “My favorite way to use leftover mashed potatoes. Plop the potatoes in the middle of saran wrap. Using the wrap, roll into a 3″ log and seal. Refrigerate on a plate (it will leak). In the morning, slice into discs and fry in a sprayed pan for perfect hash browns.” – Bob & Colleen

This is probably more entertainment than research, but even so you might want to take a look at this brief video {X-rated for implied language} posted by Food & Wine. “Here’s What Bartenders Think of You Based on Your Drink Order.” I was watched it, was amused, then invoked that same implied language – OK, good, now just make my {darn} cocktail.

♦  “Never serve oysters in a month that has no paycheck in it.” – P J O’Rourke

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