Friday, October 13, 2017

Nacho Cheese Sauce + FREE BONUS RANT (and a give-away)

Photo by Linda Schneider, although everything in my house looks just exactly this perfect too, natch.
I know I've linked to this nacho cheese sauce before but a) the link seems to be broken, b) we've been making a lot of this lately, served both as full-on dinner nachos with pickled radishes, black beans, and sour cream, and also just in a bowl with a bag of chips for dipping, and c) the apocalypse does seem to call for orange and unctuous melty comfort.

This one's mine.
There was, originally, a different (b) up there, and then I deleted it, because I'd referred to one of my editors as a mansplaining a-hole, and I live in fear of never being hired again. But then I so fucking HATE colluding in the same culture of fear and silence that is all over the news at this moment. Not, to be clear, that this guy took me out to Junior's and jerked off into my red velvet cheesecake or anything. Just that he e-bullied me half to death, and had a lot to say about how I should write, which turned out to be more like him. Like, picture yourself with a waxed handlebar mustache and a monocle, drinking sour beer in a Brooklyn bar, and then write like that, after first deodorizing your vagina. Sigh. Anyhoo, I'm still glad I deleted that comment, because of not wanting to make myself unhire-able. Ha ha ha! Note to potential editors: I swear I'm super-pliant and easy to work with! Ha ha ha. Sigh.

Photo by David Van Taylor
Are you safe? I hate this moment so much. The shooting and fires and floods and hurricanes on top of the constant threats to our sanity and liberty and personhood. I'm so sorry. I wish I could offer more than cheese sauce and books but, as you know, that is what I have to offer.


FREE BOOKS, though, at least! Comment here, in any way you like, by noon EST on Friday 10/20, to enter the give-away. I'm going to give away 1 or 2 copies each of One Mixed-Up Night and Stitch Camp, which is already shipping from Amazon, although the pub date isn't until the 17th. It is the most beautiful book, thanks to my brilliant friend Nicole, who made all the crafts, and my brilliant friend Carolyn, who designed all the pages. You will love it, I promise.

Wait, who's that? Yes! Free Birdy sightings in every book. Shown here with one of her real-life besties.
Also, if you get a chance to review either or both books on Amazon and/or Good Reads, I'd be so grateful. As you know, the world is filled with people who take precious time away from damning us to hell to offer a lot of 1-star ratings to books that don't share their values. If you know what I'm saying.

#resist
And what I'm saying is: Have a lovely weekend! Forgive me my darkness. I will be sunnily back next time! I really will. Life is beautiful, I know it is. Make some nachos and enter the give-away. We will solace each other into the light.

In love and hope. xo

Perfect Nacho Cheese Sauce
The cheese sauce is easy and almost fool-proof (as long as you don’t use pre-shredded cheese, which will make it inclined to solidify), and there’s none of that disappointing lack of cheesiness you can experience when you make the classic kind of cheese sauce that starts with a béchamel and ends with your own feeling that there’s not enough cheddar in the world to make it taste the way you want it to. This one is sharp and tangy, smooth and rich and, in a word, perfect. Stirred into cooked noodles, it makes a wonderful mac and cheese. Or skip the hot sauce, serve it with cubed bread, and call it fondue.

One last thing? You don’t strictly need to use orange cheddar in the sauce. But if you don’t, it won’t taste quite as cheesy. Don’t ask why. Just trust me.

8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated by you (not pre-grated)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup evaporated whole milk (but keep the rest of the 12-ounce can handy)
A dash or 2 of hot sauce

1. In a large bowl, toss the cheese with the cornstarch.
2. Put the cornstarchy cheese, evaporated milk, and hot sauce in a medium-sized pot over low heat.
3. Heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and not quite as thick as you want it to be, since it will thicken as it cools. This will take around 5 minutes, and it will go through different phases as it heats: clumpy, grainy and thin, then glossy and gorgeous. If it gets too thick, you can thin it with additional evaporated milk.

Leftovers are easily microwaveable, and it is weirdly delicious if you just slightly over-microwave it so that the edges get brown.

71 comments:

  1. "We will solace each other into the light." - Just what I needed today. Thanks as always for your words Catherine! And YAY for the potential of a free book :)

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  2. <3 and I can't wait to try this nacho cheese.

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  3. Oh my goodness, my little guy would love Stitch camp and my big guy could probably use a break from dystopian novels. :) And, boy could I use some nachos! Thanks for the recipe! Have a good weekend!

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  4. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Omg, yes to nacho cheese sauce! We must take back the color orange from the little man who has sullied it.
    (Sorry if i’ve posted this 500 Times...)

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  5. Craft books make me giddy...so does nacho cheese.

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  6. I'm totally making that cheese soon. And I loved this ranty post. Feels real.

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  7. Life *is* beautiful, and painful, and nachos help. Thanks for writing and creating and complaining in a loving way!

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  8. Is it weird that your “darkness” brightened my day? And that picture of the glove? Perfect!!! Thanks for a laugh (and duh, nachos!)

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  9. I might have to get a copy of the Stitch Camp book to host a little stitch camp for my daughter and neighbors. They have been asking for crochet lessons and I'm about to teach them to sew in order that they can fix their own stuffed animals. Knowing people who sew is good, knowing how to sew yourself is better, my little seven-year-olds.

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  10. You and Nicole Blum wrote a stitchery book together - worlds colliding! PS: Sorry about the mansplaining editor.

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  11. Oh, Catherine. Please don't ever deodorize your vagina — or your writing — for a man/splainer!
    I would so love to win a copy of Stitch Camp, I think all three of mine would enjoy it!

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  12. Would love a copy of Stitch Camp for my lovely granddaughter and since I never win anything, I will probably buy it. Love who you are. At least what comes across in your blogs. Would love to see more of you.

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  13. Thanks for being some light in the darkness and while we all wish their was more solace free books and nachos is surely better than nothing!

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  14. Nacho cheese, mmmmm. We are big proponents of eating your feelings over here. Sigh.

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  15. One mixed up night was loved by me, my 12, 13 & 15 yr olds. Thanks so much for writing it!

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  16. I realize there is something wrong with me when, instead of sympathizing with your asshole editor plight, I just feel comforted knowing that I'm not the only person who deals with this shit. It's 1:00 am Friday night-ish, and I've just finished grading papers before checking my email a final time to see which AP parents are pissed off at me today because their darlings are getting a B+ in my class. Sigh. It wouldn't be a Monday morning if I didn't have an angry-parent meeting already lined up. Anyway, cheer up, Catherine. Hug your babies and keep fighting the fight.

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  17. Mmmm, I am going to have nachos for lunch today, thanks! The book looks awesome, we all need some crafting time with like minded friends to be kept sane. Maybe crafting while eating nachos with cheese!?!

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  18. Stitch Camp looks fantastic. I'd love to read through it, or One Mixed-Up Night, while enjoying some super cheesy nacho cheese sauce.

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  19. Stitch Camp! My crafty 9 year old would disappear with that for days. And we already own and love One Mixed-Up Night, but I'm an elementary school librarian and would add a copy to the school's collection, if chosen. And obviously I'm making nacho cheese sauce tonight. My husband tracked down takeout nachos for me last night, but if someone ever said you can't eat nachos two nights in a row, they were probably a mansplaining a-hole. :)

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  20. I love that sauce, I've been making it since you posted it before. It makes nachos that are 1000% better than shredded cheese+chips+microwave. And I feel like I "cooked" after I make it, so guilt assuaged! Would love either book for my not-so-little. We'll get through this, hopefully, with cheese and books.

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  21. "Like, picture yourself with a waxed handlebar mustache and a monocle, drinking sour beer in a Brooklyn bar, and then write like that, after first deodorizing your vagina." This sentence was so good that I read it aloud to Eli.

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  22. Love and hope, indeed. We need a lot more of that (and books, and nachos). You (we) are not alone!!

    N

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  23. I love you so much. Currently reading One Mixed-Up Night in between frantic calming baths and oversharing deeply painful experiences on FB because I just have this feeling of not being able to live in silence any more. I will buy Stitch Camp even if I don't win it and make everything in it for my fierce, lovely daughter, whose presence both gives me hope but also fuels my rage about what a shitty world we live in at times. Fuck the mansplaining editor. Also fuck Trump. And Harvey Weinstein. SIGH. Anyway, you are a hilarious, comforting bright light for me, so thank you <3

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  24. Hi Catherine. I just love touching base with you; Thanks for your honesty and perspective - it does help. I'll be getting the stitch camp book; I have an after-school craft club once a week; I've managed to convince four lovely girls (ages 8-12) to come craft with me every Wednesday - they will eat it up!

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  25. Allyson1:20 AM

    Catherine, I love this post so much. Cheese, and your general crankiness at the patriarchy. What could be better? Well, I guess winning a copy of Stitch Camp (I already own One Mixed-Up Night) could be better, but this post is pretty awesome regardless.

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  26. You are wonderful and amazing, and I appreciate you and your writing (and recipes!) so much. Here in N. California it's been apocalyptic lately, and your words encourage me. Keep it up. As J. William Ward, the late one-time president of the college on the hill, once said, "Keep the Faith." I believe he meant it at the time, but then he went and took his own life, so it felt a little confusing. But I still value the sentiment. Take care.

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  27. Ooh, yum! I have a kid who became obsessed with queso on our trips to Mexican restaurants in between long weeks of hiking last summer in Colorado, but I can't bring myself to buy the crap in the store, and this is Maine, so queso not so mucho, you know. So I will make this!!! Also, hugs in this really discouraging time. And cheese. And books!!! Thank you for being you.

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  28. Marina in WV3:11 PM

    Oh Catherine
    Pick us for Stitch Camp!
    Anything to get the girlie off her iPad !!!

    And we use your recipes whenever we don't know what to cook -- the kids say "does Ben and Birdy have a version?" Usually you do'

    Your crankiness allows me to go on, even in poverty - stricken , opiste addicted West Virginia (that oddly continues to have a 60% approval rating for his Trumpness. WTF!?!?)

    Always love reading your posts !!!

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  29. Anonymous7:54 PM

    I love your writing...never change! My two daughters, 8 and 13, just finished listening to me read One Mixed-Up Night and we all loved it. I cant wait to order Stitch Camp for the older one. And we are in a queso feeding frenzy over here, so the cheese sauce is especially timely.

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  30. I’ve already ordered both books so I don’t need to be entered in the drawing....just wanted to thank you for your writing, and for that nacho cheese recipe. 😉

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  31. We just burned dinner nachos over a fire while camping this weekend. I will redeem myself by making them again this week with this cheese recipe!

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  32. I pretty much read for the rants. Thanks for sharing your voice.

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  33. weird, I thought I commented. I must have been too enraged by the unending mansplaining in our lives. Would love either book, and now I want nachos. :)

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  34. I am going to make this cheese for my fondue loving daughter!!

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  35. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Dear Catherine, thankyou for being a voice of sanity! Watching from Germany in horror, as the welcoming America I once lived in gets swallowed by this Fog of Darkness, and justice and fairness and compassion are inexplicably turned into swearwords... Last November I said something like "don't let America be run like a business". This was totally unfair to all decent businessfolk! What I should have said is: don't let the country be turned over to a conman... Hang in there, one day this too shall (must?) pass!
    Angela
    PS. Cheese may not solve all problems, but it helps.

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  36. Thank you for being a glimmer of joy out there - I love your posts
    Cheers to the cheese sauce, Angela

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  37. I am in a constant state of oscillation between fiery rage and weeping gratitude. Nacho cheese sauce is the perfect accompaniment to both. Also, I hope I win either book. Love you!!!

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  38. Would LOVE a copy of One Mixed-Up Night for the kiddos. It's already on the mom-written Christmas list, so what a delight to win it! :) And nacho cheese sauce sounds lovely on this gray day (Although it's been ages since I've had a block of cheese (or the five extra minutes to grate it) in my house, lol. Will have to go buy some, since my pre-grated stuff is too stubborn to melt.)

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  39. Wow, expletives in action. . . love those rants and ravings and not the political atmosphere . But fortitude and strength to us!
    Thanks (again) for the nacho cheeses, your recipe has saved this Grandma on many eating moments.

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  40. I love that you try, but we will love you even if you're not sunny next time. It's shitty out there sometimes and it's ok to say so. Now, it's your turn to tell me it's ok to stress eat everything but the pantry shelves.

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  41. I already have your book, but I'd love to win Stitch Camp for my daughter who is crafty... and very restless.

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  42. ...Also, my kids are loving your book!

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  43. I love that Stitch Camp one, and I will dutifully add it to my Christmas shopping list if I do not win it. xoxo

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  44. I cannot wait to make the nachos. And thank you for the free book offer! Seeing Stitch Camp made me remember that I need to slip in and take Cat away from my sleeping toddler to do some repair work on his tummy, which has an alarming hole.

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  45. Catherine, I love you and your writing. My son is Birdy's age and I have always loved reading what Ben is doing, too, so I know what to expect in a year or so. I have followed you since babycenter days, through all of the Family Fun incarnations, online, and now at Real Simple, too. Don't let some mansplainer dictate to you what to do! I loved 'One Mixed-Up Night' and added it to my elementary school library. Looking forward to Stitch Camp! :) xoxox

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  46. LauraB11:36 PM

    Why would you ever need to write like someone else? You’re awesome! And I am along the lucky who had to evacuate from the fires but am safe. However, driving through the smoke and ash to go get my mom and kids and seeing actual flames took years off my life. I could do with a good read!

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  47. Sending you and your family lots of love, and hope. My favourite part of a weekend that was a mix of rage and joy and despair and hope was marching at an anti-white-racism thing here in Toronto and hearing my 5- and 9-year-old chant "this is what community looks like." I'm impatient for us to plow through the Rick Riordan book we're currently reading at bedtime so that we can read 'One Mixed-Up Night' (and then maybe I can finally get the kids to agree to have our next bedtime read involve Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I've been wanting to read with my progeny since I was pregnant with the first), and in impatience I just now bought the ebook. So our photo of us reading it won't be as aesthetically pleasing unless we win a paper copy, but the one I really hope to win is Stitch Camp. And if I don't win, I'll buy it soon too.

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  48. Stitch camp looks very cool! I've got to start thinking about holiday books for my kiddos (9 & 4)...

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  49. Oh man. These times. Coping can be.. um.. difficult. But your bits of brightness do help: the humor, writing, recipes, wisdom, book suggestions etc etc. This newest book looks right up my alley, esp for my anxious yet crafty kiddos.

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  50. I'm so with you. I feel like my days are constant roller coasters of anger, fear, sadness, rage, and ordinary joy.

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  51. The leftover evaporated milk can go in my coffee and take me straight back to my childhood.

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  52. I've been wanting to order One Mixed Up Night but I refuse to let my daughter read it until she reads From the Mixed Up.... Which I know she'll love but she's in series mode plus apparently at 11 the person who has suggested almost everything she's ever read is now a moron. (I'm not taking it personally. Most of the time.)

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  53. If I show up twice later, I am not trying to cheat with multiple entries! I think the internets ate my first one.

    Kristen, I have been a moron for a while (mine is almost 12, so about 11 months...) but my child-who-can't-be-told read and devoured One Mixed Up Night because I told him not to touch it - that it was MINE. Good luck.

    Catherine, we would love to enter the fray for Stitch Camp. Everyone I know and love needs a pom-pom (pom-pon?) hat!

    Love and hope. xo

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  54. Love that you wrote about that asshole anyway. Maybe (Hopefully) there are some editors out there who can read the fucking room and know that giving you the mic right now is a smart thing. We're hungry for it (double pun).

    You are my favorite internet stranger aunt. Thanks for always speaking out.

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  55. I would love a free book to lighten up what is a very crappy period in my and my kids' lives.

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  56. I need dinner nachos! And books!

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  57. My daughter is reading One Mixed Up Night right now. She gives it two thumbs up. If we won another copy, she would happily share it with a friend or give it to her middle school library. Stitch Camp looks like fun!

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  58. Caroline8:35 AM

    We'd love either book here! As an aside, your breakfast burritos are saving me these days with my hungry kids, especially my rather picky 12 year old. I am too lazy to clean all the pans so I have started making the filling in the slow cooker overnight. I layer the still-frozen hash browns and vegetarian fake sausage and then pour the egg mix over and cook on low overnight. It smells awesome in the morning and then I scoop it into tortillas and freeze as you described. I make some smaller ones for snacks and bigger ones for breakfasts and sometimes use them for quick dinners. Thanks so much for the recipe!

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  59. Thank you for the cheese sauce. It has made otherwise sad dinner better three nights in a row! I'd love to be entered for the craft book.

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  60. alison12:36 PM

    I would be devastated if your writing style changed! You are perfect and the light of my weeks for the past 16+ years. I can’t even believe that that editor would have suggested you change. Has he not ever seen any of the complete support from any of your loyal readers over all of these years?!?!? Sounds like HE isn’t very good at his job :-/
    Love you… Be Exactly who you are!

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  61. Oh jeez I want both books!

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  62. Tabatha8:45 PM

    We already have a copy of Mixed-Up Night, so my daughter would LOVE to receive Stitch Camp. Thanks!

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  63. You make me laugh and cry in all the best ways. Thank you!

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  64. We would love to enter the giveaway for Stitch Camp. We have a copy of Mixed-Up Night already but if we did win it then we would donate it to the middle school library, so... win-win? :)

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    1. Why am I showing up as unknown??? I logged in with my Google account.

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  65. Katie6:25 PM

    Catherine, you're amazing. Your writing speaks to so many, exactly as it is, and it would be shameful if some fucker changed it. I'm so done with mansplaining.

    I teach fifth graders, which might be a bit young for One Mixed Up Night, but I want it for me anyway, so...

    Also I just taught myself to crochet last spring, so Stitch Camp might be at just my level :)

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  66. I love books, especially free books, and I love you (and your writing) just the way you are. No Mansplaining necessary. Stay the course in darkness or light. It's your course, of course, and I'm just grateful to get a glimpse of it.

    Kathy A. (Just incase I show up as anonymous.)

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  67. Margaret R.11:04 AM

    Hey Catherine, consider going on Patreon and writing for yourself, supported by those of us who love your stuff because, you. Let's cut out the mansplaining a-holes. I'd follow you there. Who's with me on this? Do not give me free books, because I am buying extras of both books and giving them away, since I want you to stay hired and writing.

    On that note, here's a pointer for editors: I buy Real Simple SOLELY because Catherine is writing for it. I will buy and read anything she writes, as herself. If I wanted to read your shit, you'd be writing, wouldn't you?

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  68. I made the weirdest but best nachos last week thanks to this sauce. I had leftover nacho sauce and leftover Indian saag, mixed them together and spooned on top of crispy roast potato nuggets along with sauerkraut and some leftover dribbles of tomatillo sauce. Uh and some leftover bacon too. And it was delicious, if you can believe. Plus I used all those leftovers so I felt smug about that too. Thanks!

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    1. That sounds delicious!

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