Dr. Praeger’s

I was recently asked to try out part of the Dr. Praeger’s line of frozen products. Information from My Magazine Sharing Network states:

“Dr. Praeger’s is a family-owned, natural products company founded by heart surgeons more than 20 years ago. All products are made from sensibly sourced ingredients that can be enjoyed by all ages and cater to a variety of lifestyles. You’ll find everything from veggie burgers to cakes, littles, puffs, hash browns, seafood and ready-to-heat bowls.

Look on the packaging for Non-GMO Project Verification, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Kosher, Vegan and Marine Stewardship Council Certified Sustainable seafood logos.”

My Magazine Sharing Network offered me some coupons including a free item. Of course, we had to try them out!

While not the easiest things to find in the spread out freezer section of my local grocery, find them we did. Making our selections wasn’t easy with all the tempting varieties, but we settle on three: Fish Bites (for me), Buffalo Fish Bites (for my partner), and Four Potato Hash Browns (for both of us). Each of the boxes seemed a bit small, but we found out quickly that the portion sizes were larger in our stomachs than they looked to our eyes.

We followed the directions as indicated, finding them to be simple and quick.  Then we started tossing ideas back and forth to come up with some fun ways to serve up the goodies.


My partner’s rather large taco, topped with the hashbrowns. No hot sauce needed. Flour tortilla, Romaine lettuce, sour cream, and Colby Jack cheese.



My own plate.  A “burger” of hash browns filled with Colby Jack cheese, sour cream, fish bites, and served with more fish bites, kosher pickle and Romaine lettuce. Delicious!

The Fish Bites surprised me by including jalapeno, but they were not hot. They were flavorful, crispy, and had a good balance of meat and breading for their size. They’ll make great fish tacos, would be good tumbled with other like sized seafood bites, and may be eaten with or without any sort of sauce.


The Buffalo Fish Bites were much warmer, being spicy but maintaining a fairly low heat.  They offered a good baseline buffalo flavor that might be added to for those who like their buffalo sauce to be hotter. They made a very tasty taco, and could be presented as a lighter alternative to traditional wings.



The Four Potato Hash Browns were a delightful surprise. They include red, gold, purple and sweet potatoes shredded and formed into lovely round patties. They have a sweetness natural to the potatoes, and crisp up on the outside very nicely when baked.



Any of these combinations would have been great with other additions such as avocado,  diced tomato and/or onion, yogurt in place of sour cream,  or salsa. Let your imagination take you away!

We plan on picking up a few other Dr. Praeger’s products in the future and seeing what we can do with those. I’m excited at the prospect.

— Ann Cathey


Bill Miller BBQ – Austin, Texas

Bill Miller’s BBQ in Austin looks like a nice place. The decor is Texas kitch – wood paneling, cow hides, and Texas shaped brands. Antlers, taxidermied critters, plow shares, and other bits of farm history are tastefully arrayed. Sadly, the main dining area has echoes. Conversation is difficult at best when the place is crowded. It’s difficult not to over hear conversations at other tables when there are fewer patrons.

The bathrooms are clean and tidy. The floors and tables are kept clean. That was a definite high point. I cannot abide nasty bathrooms or sticky tables.

When placing your order, you get to talk to a person over a counter while staring up at an uncomfortable angle to make sure you get it right. Our cashier had a sweet disposition and smile, but apparently no real brains or common sense. I applaud Mr. Miller for giving her a job and a chance.

We ordered, checked in at a table and took a look at what we’d paid for. This is why we try new places, right?

The sweet tea was mildly sweet, unlike the usual Southern Style sweet tea found in so many places. It was fresh and had a pleasant flavor.

I’d asked for lean brisket. I got juicy, tender, fat riddled meat smothered in a disguising sauce. The lovely smoked turkey right next to it was also swimming. The sauce itself wasn’t bad, but it was very strongly tomato flavored, thin, vinegary, sort of a Carolina style that separated solids form vinegar as it cooled on the plate. Frankly, I prefer to be able to taste my meat, and not be given a heart attack from consuming it. One of my table partners thriftily finished it for me.


To accompany the entree, a bar of sorts was set up offering pickles, onions and hot peppers. This seems typical, but the items were hard to reach as the bar was small and cramped.

The baked potatoes are more of a medium size than a large size. Today’s potato was not quite done all the way through, and we had to ask for the fixings. I don’t think they intended it that way, but our girl at the counter appeared to have been a bit sheltered in her youth. She had to be asked twice, “What comes on your spuds?” She didn’t know what a spud was.

If you like black pepper, this is your place. It’s in almost everything – the coleslaw, the meat rubs, the potato salad. The pepper rub on the turkey almost overpowers the smokey flavor, though the sauce tempers the pepper a bit.

The pinto beans were thankfully very mild. They were tender with a beefy flavor. There was no evidence of black pepper or any other kind of hot spicing. I really enjoyed them – enough to eat my own and another person’s helping.

The hash browns were just heavenly. A little soft, a little crunchy — and the white onion was in large, removable slices. The flavor combinations were quite tasty. There was no pepper apparent in my helping, nor was there a large amount of salt. These hash browns easily pair up with eggs for breakfast tacos, as a side for BBQ, or just on a plate by themselves. Since Bill Miller’s offers breakfast on weekends until noon, there’s always the pleasure of starting your day with these hash browns.

Sadly, not all the customers we encountered that day were enlightened by their dining experience. Our Chaplain, a Caucasian Hindu mind you, and who had the issue with the baked potato earlier, was verbally accosted while waiting for the rest of us to clear our checks. He was sitting on a bench outside when he heard, “Look! It’s a fucking Muslim!” coming from a 10 or 12 year old boy who was pointing directly at him. The boy’s parents didn’t have the grace to be embarrassed, much less apologize.

If this is the sort of people who patronize this location, I won’t be going back. The rude even outweighs the hash browns.

Sorry, Bill.


–Ann Cathey