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I'm really into thrifty cooking. There are few things I love as much as stretching ingredients or using up the bits and pieces that usually get thrown away. This is less out of a desire to save money (although that's never a bad thing) than it is an almost hereditary urge.

Let’s face it: Buffalo wings are awesome, but dousing them with the same old butter-hot-sauce mixture gets a little old after awhile.

It's hard to even think about cooking when temperatures soar into the 90s (I know some of you are enduring even hotter weather, and you have my deepest sympathies). When these days hit, all I can focus on is a big, ice cold glass of coconut water and perhaps a bag of frozen peas tied to the back of my neck with a dishrag.

Guilty pleasures are things you grow into. As kids, most of us had no conception of "fear foods" or "sinful indulgences." We were more interested in the next time Mom would let us have ice cream or how many sour candies we could fit in our mouths.

A few days ago, in one of those rare moments of clarity, I realized that I have two very different ambitions inside myself. Ambitions is perhaps the wrong word. More like voices. Sometimes one voice is louder than the other, and sometimes one voice is completely silent. Sometimes, the voices speak in tandem, and that's when I feel this dichotomy most keenly.

How did Thanksgiving turn into such a scary holiday? Dry turkey, a stressed out hostess, overcomplicated family rituals, charts and timers and how-to guides popping up everywhere. You’d think we were planning a wedding or orchestrating a 10k charity run.

When you tell people you're from the South, they assume hot weather doesn't affect you. "Oh, you're from the South. You're used to it."

And while I do have a lot of experience dealing with hot, humid weather, I don't have a special gene that makes me impervious to unbearable temperatures. Some people thrive in hot weather. I am not one of those people.

Whoever invented the rule that you shouldn't try new things when entertaining probably wasn't an ambitious cook.

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