My copy of The Silver Palette Cookbook is a disaster, but I've gotten a bit neater as time has gone on!
Rotel cheese dip, which can ONLY be made with the evil Velveeta, has been a staple in southern colleges and on beach vacations (with margaritas!) for years. Leftover dip, if any IS leftover, is terrific the next day drizzled over an omelet filled with ham, onions and peppers, or just a plain omelet...and a great hangover helper, too!
DG Jamaican (the original) and Maine Root Ginger Brew...deep, rich, cloudy, not too sweet and peppery delicious!
Thanks to all for your comments so far! Most helpful. Clearly a touchy subject, and your collective thoughts run the gamut of emotions I've had over this issue. I agree that $40 isn't that much money, especially considering that we live in a large city, so it would be the cost of a meal and drinks for the two of us at a very cheap restaurant. I usually treat this friend to a meal and/or drinks plus gift for birthday, anyway, to the extent that I can afford it at the time.
I think the $40 itself is less the issue for me than the way in which the "hosts" (including spouse) chose to approach guests in helping to cover the expense, but not with the option to participate in the planning/hosting. @ producestories, I'm sure my friend would have been so thrilled to know that all friends involved wanted to help throw a party, had it been handled that way. Since I believe my friend is unaware of the "donation" component to this, there are a number of reasons why I wouldn't want to punish the honoree and just not go to punish the "hosts" for committing what I do think is a big faux pas on their part. I may send the "prepay" as a cashiers check or money order, though!
Our CSA is very reasonable...$25 annual membership fee, minimum $20 order each time you order, and you don't have to order each week. They have a farmer's pick box at $20 and $30 levels, and you can customize for an additional $4, plus add cheeses, pastured meats, honey, nuts, etc. to your order as desired. I find it to be cheaper than any farmer's market and joined this one because of their high rating and flexibility. Having said that and realizing this isn't the usual CSA, I would consider finding a friend or neighbor to share the "share" and have recommended this to others who didn't feel they could use up the produce. You might also contact your CSA about the waste and see if they might consider an alternative structure similar to the one I enjoy, since sustainability and less waste is part and parcel of the concept.
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