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Good food on the cheap

Curse you, Cliff Bostock, and your appetizing pictures. Now I could really go for a banh mi.

Like many people, we've been eating out less frequently due to the recession, and when we do, I look for deals. Coupons or early bird specials are a plus. I've been cooking more. I went retro and made these beans and franks about a week ago. They didn't turn out very well, but I know what went wrong, so I don't blame the recipe. Note to self: Get Nathan's hot dogs next time, even if they do cost twice as much as the others; the Ball Park fat-free franks had an unpleasantly weird texture, and don't even get me started on the beans that soaked more than eight hours, got a two-hour boil, and cooked for over 12 hours in the crock-pot but still ended up crunchy.

My husband likes Steak-n-Shake's chili, so I made this supposed clone on Monday night. I took most of it to the potluck we had at work yesterday. People seemed to enjoy it -- it got devoured, and one person told me that she thought I should submit it to next year's chili cook-off -- but it didn't taste like Steak-n-Shake's to me. It was tasty, but not quite what I sought. I also really disliked the amount of sodium it contained. I've never been one to cook with salt unless it was truly necessary, but I didn't have too many options since I couldn't find an easy reduced sodium solution for the soup. It's not a dietary restriction for me at this point in my life; I just don't like the real flavor of the food to be obscured by what I consider to be excessive salt. However, it's a good practice. Both of my parents are on blood pressure medication, so watching the sodium now makes sense for the future.

One of the bright sides of cooking at home is the fact that I really love my kitchen. It's also a pleasure to get out my cookware and use it. My sweetie gave me a wonderful Le Creuset dutch oven several years ago as a Christmas present, and it is truly one of the finest pots I own. It cooks evenly and it's easy to clean. No, they aren't cheap, but they last a lifetime. Indeed, the other LC pot I own is one I inherited from my grandmother, and it's as good now as when she used it.

Speaking of food, I need to call my mother and finalize food plans for Thanksgiving. I know we're bringing the turkey, and I'm probably making dressing. She'd also mentioned me making a dessert.

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Twin Peaks: Snoqualmie
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