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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. …

10 minutes is all you need to make it

Cranberries on the stove.

I recently spent a weekend foraging for low bush cranberries in the boreal forest. These delicious little cranberries have their name for a reason — they grow about an inch off the ground. My back hurt and I was sweaty but I had one thing in mind: wild cranberry sauce.

If you’re a lover of cranberries as I am, and you still haven’t made your own cranberry sauce — and the boreal forest isn’t handy, well, this is the year to do it. …

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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. …

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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. …

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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. …

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Photo by NomNomPaleo

Blistering heat, garlic, olive oil and salt take gnarly-end-of-season-tomatoes to new levels of delicious.

This year my little garden pumped out over 200 lbs of tomatoes. I confess that may be because I planted 20 plants in a pandemic panic. I’ve blanched, frozen and canned 80% of them and the rest we’ve eaten fresh. I’m a die-hard homegrown tomato snob but even I’ve hit the tomato wall.

I still have one large bowl of weird, gnarly tomatoes left on the counter. Look at this dude:

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Photo of alien tomato by Kim Duke.

A woman picking fruit from a tree in a city.
A woman picking fruit from a tree in a city.
Photo: BrendaLakemanPhotography

Mother Nature has free food up her sleeve, and it’s closer than you think

Three years ago, in a parking lot, I officially became an accidental urban forager. I had just completed my annual breast cancer survivor checkup and my results were all clear. There was only one thing to do on that wickedly hot summer day. I had to rejoice and decompress with a chocolate milkshake — but I was in for another unexpected treat.

I sat in my car in an unassuming strip mall parking lot and calmed my thoughts by looking at clouds while I sipped my milkshake. And then I saw it. …

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Photo taken by author.

Lettuce just isn’t for salads, people.

I called my friend last week and said,

“Why don’t you come for lunch on Tuesday? I will make something delicious!” I added, “And it will come from my garden.”

She was probably thinking it would be a tomato salad or boiled creamy baby potatoes with fresh dill or maybe even a souffle with pale onions.

Nope.

I already had something in mind. Lettuce soup.

When fall arrives with its chilly mornings, dappled Van Gogh sunlight, and my lettuce starts to grow long legs and weird looking leaves?

I know it is time for lettuce soup.

I first learned about lettuce soup from a beat-up 1971 copy of The Four Seasons Cookbook by Charlotte Adams — I found it in a thrift store years ago. Being the curious cat that I am — I had to try it. …

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Photo by Medical News Today.

This little powerhouse herb is so much more than pesto. And I plant it in a very strange place.

Years ago, my husband announced to me that he didn’t like basil. I asked him why. This was serious stuff as I am nuts about basil.

“Because I don’t like pesto.”

So I did what any good wife would do. I planted a pile of it and slowly and sneakily put it into all sorts of dishes. (Not one of them had pesto.)

When he raved about the lamb stew, soup, salad or sandwich — I said,

“I put basil in it.”

His eyebrows went up and he slowly admitted that it was pretty damn good.

Job well done, basil!

This lovely, clean-smelling and delicious thousands year old herb is absolutely stuck in pesto hell. …

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Photo by The Washington Post

Your rotisserie chicken has 21 servings if you do it right.

Years ago, people would roast a Sunday chicken, and then it reappeared as something else during the week. I still do that. BUT, sometimes we just don’t have a handy chicken kicking around in the freezer, or we’re too lazy or forgot to thaw it(me), or we just need to get something healthy on the dinner table tonight, fast.

Hello, rotisserie cooked chicken — savior of rushed, lazy and forgetful cooks.

I don’t know about you, but a rotisserie cooked chicken in my neck of the woods costs $9.00. …

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

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