Author Archives for theRaggedys

Cold-hearted Sociopaths

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It’s been rough around here lately.  The rainfall in Sonoma County this spring has been crazy heavy.  Oakley hasn’t been to the dog park in weeks (see Andy’s Corner) and our Siamese cats have been inside with us an inordinate amount of time.  Our house is small for a 50-pound dog, two humans, and two cats – who happen to dislike each other – the cats, that is.  The humans do relatively okay together, especially when it’s NOT raining.  Whether the humans dislike the cats and/or the cats dislike the humans is a part of this little blog.

We’ve had nine cats in our 52 years of marriage, and I’d say six of them were real winners….the kind of kitties who snuggle up to you, rub against your legs, get on your lap, purr when petted, eat what’s given to them without complaining, are amicable with visitors, play well with others, don’t bite or scratch – and only catch mice and rats, not birds.  We loved them dearly and I’d like to think they loved us.

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Trace – who came after Zero and Minus  – all good, kind,  and loving cats

Then a few years ago we picked up a little kitten at the Sonoma Humane Society (Andy says “thanks, Chris!” :).  The folks there had named her Feisty, which should have been a red flag.  I’d lived about 70 years with cats and I had no idea a cat could be a cold-hearted sociopath.

It’s shocking how much comes up when you google “cat” and “sociopath.”  Perhaps my favorite comes from a funny little essay in London’s Telegraph.

What is there to like? What is the point of them?  Cats I mean. They torment, torture and kill smaller animals for fun, meow incessantly until they get fed or let out, sleep and bring absolutely nothing to the party. If a burglar breaks-in the first the thing out of the door, even before the TV, is the cat. A dog will not only let you know somebody is trying to gain access to your property but stand by your side to protect you.



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The cold-hearted sociopath as a youngster

OnoMoore – FKA Feisty – whom Andy wrote about and videotaped earlier – is our psychotic cat.  Andy thinks we’re being cruel dissing her in this very public way, but I think it’s all justified.  When asked to describe her, our SF family uses words such as “evil,” “terrifying,” and “demented.”  Andy and I take pains not to walk by her when she’s in a bad mood.  Oakley, our dog, won’t leave our bedroom if Ono is in the doorway.  God forbid that she’s in a chair you’d like to sit in.  Blood has been drawn more times than we can count.

I just wish Ono could read this and take note.

I’m no psychologist, but it’s pretty easy to find out what symptoms of sociopathy are.  Please note: there is no hidden political agenda here.  I’m just talking about certain cats, not certain people.

  • Arrogance
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Grandiose estimation of self
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Serious violation of rules
  • Easily bored
  • Poor or abusive relationships

But maybe pictures are worth a thousand words?

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Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure


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Grandiose estimation of self


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Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others


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Serious violation of rules


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Easily bored


Ono and Choco duking it out

Poor or abusive relationships

I’m not sure if “unusually picky eater” is a symptom of a sociopath, but it applies to Ono.  As parents we are generally advised to offer our children a wide variety of foods so that they never become too persnickety.  The same is supposed to apply to dogs and cats.  Accordingly,  we’ve tried to feed Ono endless variations of canned chicken, chicken liver, turkey, beef, and shrimp, all from very pricey and gourmet cat food brands such as “Fussie Cat,” “I and Love and You,” and “Chicken Soup.”   Yet it’s been met with total disgust on her part (like pawing as if she wants to bury it).  But Ono will eat tuna, salmon, and crab, if offered from a few select brands, so here are some fitting  recipes – for humans – all dedicated to the weirdest, craziest, wildest, most psychotic – and possibly the most fun – cat we’ve ever had. Continue reading

Lagniappe: A Bicycle Adventure and the Papi Hemingway Cocktail

Because this Lagniappe edition of our blog deals with cycling (in addition to a fantastic cocktail) Ann has allowed me to take the lead.  I will be brief.

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The official Tacolicious photo of Jared’s Papi Hemingway cocktail

The folks I ride with in the Santa Rosa Cycling Club represent all walks of life –  engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, building contractors, lawyers, sheriffs, plumbers, teachers – we even have a rocket scientist and a renowned mountain climber.  But none of them, to my knowledge, has ridden a bike to Oaxaca and back nor created a world class cocktail. 

Jared Crabtree, the Tacolicious Beverage Director, has done both of these things.  His epic four-and-a-half month, 4,488 mile ride to Oaxaca and back in 2013 on his Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle is an amazing saga. To give you a feel for it I am including a couple of snippets from the account posted on the Tacolicious web  page.  It is worth checking out for both cycling and culinary fans.

Setting out in early September, [Jared] made his way to La Paz (just that leg is 1,492 miles) where he got on a ferry to Mazatlán, and rode his way down the coast to Colima, turned north towards Guadalajara, then on to Mexico City, Puebla, and finally Oaxaca. In each place he stayed as short as a night or two or as long as a few weeks.

Jared bike on beach

… Being his own tour guide definitely came with its hiccups. When he set out from Mexico City to Puebla, he unwittingly set out over a mountain pass where, as the sun set, he found himself at 13,000 feet. That night he spent in frigid temperatures, tucking himself in as tightly as he could in his sleeping bag. His bike took quite a beating too. A spoke that ripped through his tire landed him at Casa Ciclista in Guadalajara—a community project set up for traveling bike tourists. There he got his frame re-welded and his back wheel rebuilt, so he could finish his journey.


Jared took some amazing photos and kept a blog (see it here; and be sure to scroll down to see the commentary, in addition to the great photos).  I love his description of his experience when he arrived at Valle de los Cirios which is near Ensenada:

I spotted a dozen different species of cactus, Joshua trees, and countless other thorny shrubs and bushes (sorry inner tubes!).  My campsite tonight is incredible.  Even just a short jaunt off the highway down a dirt road, I’m the only one around.  My legs are exhausted, I’m totally filthy, covered in 7 layers of sunblock and dried perspiration, but none of that matters.  This is the absolute freedom I have been searching for.. and I’m thrilled.

“Jared’s “absolute freedom” has been somewhat altered since that epic ride in 2013.  He is now married and has a one-year old.  He just emailed me this:

I still have the original bike frame I took to Mexico!  After being welded twice in Mexico and once by a frame builder in Alameda, it’s been decommissioned from touring and now acts as my errand bike and grocery runner, complete with flat handlebars and a big basket on front.
… As far as any more epic trips planned – my wife and I now have a 1 year old boy Rocco who is forcing us to focus on “less epic” trips – some camping in Marin is definitely in our future.  We built up a Rivendell custom “Hubbahubba” as a wedding gift to ourselves with the idea of braving the great divide.  Maybe one day!   
Jared on bike with 1-year old (1)

Jared with his one-year-old Rocco

Although perhaps not as thrilling as that historic ride, to my mind creating the Papi Hemingway cocktail was in itself an amazing achievement.  Who would have thought that rum, mezcal and maraschino liqueur along with lime juice, agave nectar, and a splash of bitters could be so delicious.  It has become such a popular cocktail at Tacolicious that customers demand it whenever it rotates off the drink menu.

Papi Hemingway Cocktail

Ann and Andy’s version of the Papi Hemingway cocktail

Ann and I recently tried to make our own Papi Hemingway based on the recipe below.

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Official Tacolicious recipe

Because we do not have the arsenal of sophisticated cocktail ingredients available to bartenders at Tacolicious, we tweaked Jared’s recipe a bit to go with what we had on hand.  The result was fantastic, although undoubtedly not up to snuff with what Jared would put together.  So, if you are unable to make it to Tacolicious to get Jared’s personal touch, please accept this recipe as our lagniappe gift to you.  Cheers.

Papi Hemingway Cocktail

  • Servings: 1 cocktail
  • Print
Slightly modified from Jared Crabtree’s recipe.  We doubled this recipe to make two cocktails. 

  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 3/4  oz mezcal
  • 3/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 two inch orange peel for garnish.
  1. Add ingredients to a shaker. Top with ice and shake.  Strain into a chilled coupe (or cocktail glass) .  Garnish with orange peel.

Recipe brought to you by Jared Crabtree,, and Andy and Ann


Everybody’s Doin’ It

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Irving Berlin was focused on dancing when he wrote his ragtime piece Everybody’s Doin’ It Now in 1911.  However, the title pretty much sums up a current obsession – and it’s not dance.

De-cluttering.  Downsizing.  Organizing.  Tidying-up.  Death-cleaning (yes, the Swedes may have a dark side to them).  Everyone we know seems to be doing it.  When my CC/GPB friends met last September and decided what we hoped to accomplish during the next year, getting rid of “stuff,” seemed to be #1 on many of our lists.

When I asked our Brooklyn Hannah where she kept their new food processor, she responded without hesitation, ” Oh, I’m trying to de-clutter so I keep it put away.”  Yikes.  Hannah will have nightmares when she sees our kitchen clutter when she and our son, Travis, and her mom visit here in April.

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Marie Kondo.

A little background info in case you haven’t kept up:  Marie Kondo, the 34-year-old wunderkind from Japan, wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when she was about 27.  Her method is entitled KonMari and there’s more about it online than you would ever need or want to know.   Margareta Magnusson from Sweden followed up in 2017 with her own Scandinavian-style approach in “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.”


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Margareta Magnusson

She’s WAY closer to my age than Marie Kondo, so I was amused that amidst her recommendations for städning – or cleaning – she suggests that you should be sure to “save your favorite dildo!”  Ha!

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Baking pans at our house…in serious need of KonMari or Death Cleaning

To honor these two really note-worthy women, we’re providing you with two great recipes – one Japanese and one Swedish.  How cool can we be?  But first we have to “KonMari” our frying pan situation.  Which can stay; which should go?

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Ceramic, carbon steel, stainless steel, and cast iron – they all bring me joy.  They all stay.

That big Lodge carbon steel pan (2nd from left) is great for pancakes.  But we’re fortunate and have a griddle on our Wolf range, so that’s where we normally fry our pancakes.   And, interestingly enough, that’s about all we do with the griddle part of the stove.  Should we KonMari it?

Enjoy the pancake recipes we’re offering up.  They’re different and they’re delicious.  And enjoy Andy’s Corner – where some cleaning up is not going to happen. 🙂

Continue reading

Lagniappe: Filé Gumbo


Laissez les bon temps rouler!  It’s Mardi Gras today, and to celebrate we’re offering up our favorite rendition of Chicken and Sausage Filé Gumbo.   We blogged last week about comfort foods.  For a Louisianan, gumbo is clearly comfort food.  You can read more about that in this beautifully done Saveur article.

After almost 2 years of blogging, it’s kind of shocking that we haven’t posted this recipe before, especially since we lived in Louisiana for 27 years.  However, gumbo is more labor intensive than what we generally like to cook.

We hosted our first BigLittleMeals Dining In party on Friday – a food tribute to New Orleans.  We want to practice – not just preach – what we write about, so we’re planning a series of dinner parties – sort of old-fashioned pot lucks, except we’re afraid the word “pot” has been compromised, so we’re calling them “dining ins” (see our blog on that subject).

I believed my thoughts about “pot” lucks to be so original and clever – that is until I read that Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg had a TV show called Potluck Dinner Parties – with episodes such as “Putting the Pot in Potluck” and with Snoop being high on every show.  Now Martha is exploring the possibility of some cannabis-related programs and sales.  Guess I need to watch more TV.  Or do some recipes with “weed edibles!” 🙂

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For our Mardi Gras-themed party our fabulous guests brought shrimp dip, chopped Italian salad (FKA Wop Salad), and bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  I made the gumbo and cornbread.  And we served Abita Springs (LA) beer.  Y’all really need to try this.  Have a dinner party!

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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This is adapted from the wonderful The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin, 1978.

  • 1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick (another sausage such as Kielbasa will work – but the flavor won’t be the same)
  • 1/2 lb baked ham, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 3-4 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or 1 thigh for each person you’re serving)
  • 2 c chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped green pepper
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 1/2 c thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 T minced parsley
  • 1 T finely minced garlic


  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour


  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1-3 tsp salt  (because the saltiness of ham and sausage varies so much, I would go light on the salt (1 tsp) until the gumbo has cooked for the hour – and then add additional salt to taste)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 T file powder

Heat the oil over high heat. Add chicken and brown evenly. Remove from the pan. Make the roux by adding the flour to the oil in the pot, stirring constantly over low heat until the color is milk chocolate brown.  Expect that to take 15-20 minutes.

When the roux reaches the right color, quickly add the onion, green pepper, celery, green onions, parsley and garlic. Continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, stir, and bring the mixture back to a simmer; add the browned chicken and all of the seasonings except the file powder and mix gently but thoroughly. Keeping the heat at low, gradually add the rest of the broth and bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring gently. When it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until the chicken is quite tender. Remove the pot from the stove and remove the chicken from the pot. Cool and then de-bone and shred the chicken.  Add the cooked chicken back into the pot.

At this point you can let the gumbo rest until the fat comes to the top and then skim it off – or you can refrigerate the gumbo to serve the next day.  By then the fat will have congealed and can be easily removed.  Plus, the flavors blend after a day or so, resulting in an even more delicious gumbo.

When you’re ready to serve the gumbo, bring back it to a simmer, add the file powder and stir. Turn off the heat and let the gumbo stand in the pot for about 5 minutes, then serve over boiled long grain rice.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Comfort When We Need It

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Green Bean Casserole made Wikipedia’s Comfort Food list

A long story made short:  I’m obsessing over what qualifies as comfort food.  I feel so comfort-needy!  Andy, meanwhile, is reminiscing about the foods he gagged on.

According to Wikipedia, “the term “comfort food” has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood…they are believed to be a great coping mechanism for rapidly soothing negative feelings.”

A more descriptive quote comes from a very academic and very detailed and interesting article on the subject, found in The International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science: “most of us are soothed by the soft, sweet, smooth, salty and unctuous.”

Another quote from that article: Comfort foods are often prepared in a simple or traditional style and may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, perhaps reminding us of home, family, and/or friends.”

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I found a list of comfort foods on Wikipedia (where else!?) and from (which sounded like a good place to find rankings).  Wikipedia’s list clearly masses all regions of the U.S. into one, which seems odd.  I seriously doubt that Grits – or Red Beans and Rice – are comfort foods for someone who grew up in Maine – or that Chili Mac (a Midwestern favorite) is comfort to an Oregonian.  The ones I marked with an “X” made Ranker’s list – which seems to be more relevant to all areas of this country.  And I linked the ones that we already have given you recipes for (because, obviously, we are SO on top of things – and SO in need of comfort! :).

When questioned about their notions of comfort foods, my family responded in varying ways.  Hannah in Brooklyn, my brother in Fort Collins, and I all find comfort in Angel Food Cake and our grandmothers’ Swedish and German pancakes.  Joe, our son-in-law, fondly remembers his dad fixing him “hamburger gravy” over mashed potatoes.  (Andy might dub that an offshoot of the dreaded SOS – but we’ll forgive him for that.)

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SOS – Here’s the official recipe from the Army Quartermaster Corps (which my brother was once a part of).  You might want to downsize it a little, since it calls for 18 pounds of ground beef and serves 100.  Maybe I’ll try it for one of our “Dining In” dinners.  Want to come? 🙂

Our son Travis remembers his Grandma Gladys’s simple spaghetti recipe – made with hamburger.  Sara – ever the odd one out (just teasing, Sara 🙂 )- finds anything with ground meat – broken up, definitely not in patty form – satisfying, though she prefers those ground meat dishes to have an Asian theme.  Andy and his sister, Helen, fondly remember their mom’s tamale pie.  If there’s any unifier at all here among main dishes, it has to be ground meat.

So the jump to our three new comforting recipes – all with ground meat – was a no-brainer: my mom’s Super Simple Spaghetti, Tamale Pie, and – just for Sara – “Not Your Mother’s Chili” (which is both different and d-lish!).  We’ll offer up our pancake and angel food cake recipes at a later date. Continue reading

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