Grocery prices are rising, but don’t panic. You have more control over your wallet than you think.

A woman masked up at the grocery store.
A woman masked up at the grocery store.
Photo: Anna Shvets via Pexels

There they were in the grocery store: a perfectly shaped pile of cauliflower heads priced at $8 a pop. I took one look at them, rolled my eyes, and laughed out loud.

There was a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d ever pay that for a cauliflower. Especially one that’s been shipped 3,000 miles.

Recently the news is full of stories about grocery prices going up from the ripple effect of the pandemic — well, I’m sure it isn’t a surprise after your last visit to the grocery store.

Maybe you’ve lost your job or you’re worried you might in the months ahead. Or you’re trying to simplify your monthly expenses and stash some cash away. …

Bring out the picnic food and eat it inside

An indoor picnic spread.
An indoor picnic spread.
Photo: Theme Photos via Unsplash

I don’t care how much you love to cook — sometimes, you’re just having a crazy week and even a box of Kraft Dinner starts to look good. Many people make homemade pizzas and that certainly works too. I even know strange people who eat only volumes of popcorn on nights they don’t want to cook. Popcorn. But for my husband and me? Indoor Picnic Night is what happens when we are lazy and don’t feel like cooking.

I bring out a baguette, some creamy French brie, a jar of olives, a can of sardines, or smoked oysters. My husband may have picked up hummus from our favorite Lebanese deli. Our menu changes but three things stay the same: simple food, no cooking, and we don’t eat at the dining room table. …

Any of these 5 variations are worth your time

A hotel in a snowy valley with snow-covered evergreen trees in the foreground and snowy mountains in the background.
A hotel in a snowy valley with snow-covered evergreen trees in the foreground and snowy mountains in the background.
Chateau Lake Louise. Photo courtesy of Travel Alberta

Last year my friend Tina and I spent a weekend at the historic Chateau Lake Louise Hotel in the middle of February. The destination hotel was built as a vacation spot at the turn of the 19th century, where guests can enjoy stunning views and delicious food. On our visit, we accidentally discovered something else — the best damn hot chocolate in the world.

Tina and I went for a long walk on the frozen Lake Louise — it took us a few hours to walk the entire circumference of the lake. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by CuisineActuelle.fr

She didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak French. But she taught me how to make this luscious, classic dessert in only 15 minutes.

We both had wild curly hair held back with scarves while we stood in her hot kitchen deep in the Provence countryside. Her green eyes locked with mine over the large copper pot.

“You must whip zee whites. Zees high.”

Giselle held her hand about 4 inches from the egg whites I had just finished separating.

I nodded my head enthusiastically. “Oui! Oui!”

Where was I? My husband and I were taking a private cooking lesson with a local cook in a small village in Provence.

I could tell she admired his onion chopping skills, but she was less than impressed with the soufflé I’d screwed up the hour before. When she saw I had a smear of yellow egg yolk mixed in the foamy egg whites for the soufflé, her eyebrows went up and she shook her finger at me. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Emergingpayments.org

9 fun ideas to scale back without feeling like Scrooge.

I had coffee with my parents the other day — they’ve recently moved hundreds of miles to be closer to my sister, me, and grandkids. Normally for Christmas, we draw names for gifts and spend the day together. But certainly, the pandemic has thrown a wrench in our plans as no one ever anticipated a Covid Christmas.

Dad looked over at me and said, “Maybe we should rethink Christmas gifts this year. A lot of people are in hard times and if we donate what we each would have spent on our draw gift — that helps a lot of people. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kim Duke.

3 sneaky ingredients make this soup a lift-your-spirits rock star.

Confession. I’m a bit of a soup snob. It’s simple really. Homemade soup is comforting not only when you eat it but it nurtures you during the chopping, sautéing and cooking process as well. A can of soup doesn’t even come close — and let’s not talk about the wickedly high salt content it has. So this soup I will convince you to make? Once you discover the 3 ingredients that make such a huge difference — you’ll have them in your house too.

When the snow is falling, or I’m listening to NPR on a Sunday morning— I automatically drag out my beat-up old soup pot I bought in a garage sale 20 years ago, my French cleaver, and butter and onions too (because that’s where all good soup stock starts). And then I head to the pantry and freezer and find the 3 handy ingredients that make this soup such a rock star. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kim Duke.

People survived being apart for years during two world wars. I think we can survive one Christmas.

My husband shook his head last night and said, “There’s no way around it. We’ll probably have to celebrate Christmas alone this year.”

I couldn’t say anything for a minute. I went to the bookcase and held the wedding picture of my grandparents taken at the start of WWII.

Then I looked at him and smiled as I blinked back tears.

“If my grandparents were strong enough not to see each other for years during WWII — I guess I’m strong enough to not see my family and friends for one Christmas.”

If you heard a sonic boom in the sky, breaking all sound barriers — well, that was the sound of my heart. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by SpecialtyProduce.com

Cabbage, onions, egg noodles, and butter. It’s like a hug on a plate.

When I’m having a day where my feathers have been ruffled a bit, or when I’m sick of all the bad news on television— I find there’s nothing like peasant food to calm-the-sh*t down.

I reach for the beat-up French cleaver I bought from a farmer in rural Provence many years ago. Just holding it makes me think of the lovely elderly man who sold it to me.

And then I stretch waaaay into the back of my fridge and I drag out the ever-present wrinkly Savoy cabbage that resides there. (Honestly, I should charge it rent.) …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by BBC.co.uk

This simple French comfort dish works with all of them.

It lightly snowed for the first time a few days ago in my neck of the Canadian woods and strangely, the first thought that popped into my head was, “I need to stock up on root vegetables.”

What can I say? I root for root vegetables.

I always have potatoes, carrots, beets, and onions on hand but I wanted more of my earthy favorites. Sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, and turnips are delicious but are often overlooked in the grocery aisle.

Why? On the outside, vegetables that are grown deep in the dirt typically have muted, moody and mysterious colors like the still life paintings of the Dutch Old Masters. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by puglia.com

Get out your can opener. You won’t believe how good Pasta al Tonno is.

When my husband hunts with his buddies they have a special annual tradition. Each one of them takes a turn making gourmet food at the rundown motel they stay at for a week. So while they crank out the phyllo pastry and halibut in béchamel sauce in some 1970s motel kitchen? I am home, deliciously alone, cranking on a can opener to get my dinner ready.

Listen. I love to cook. I really do. But sometimes when I’m cooking and eating solo — I am lazy, or tired, or just want something fast and good. Maybe you know how that feels. And I also don’t have to listen to my husband say, “Tuna and spaghetti? C’mon that’s too weird!” …

About

Kim Duke

I happily write about food, quirks of life & the art of simple living. Heated. Mind Cafe. P.S. I Love You. Honest & funny. www.thecomplicatedsimple.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store