I’ll be honest with you. It’s summertime and I don’t want to cook anymore. In fact, I want to settle down into beach bum mode. I’m tired. I need a break. I’m sick of the news. I’m sick of inflation. I need to just get away from all responsibility right now. So, not much has been cooking lately. In fact, I’ve gone a bit vegan. Aldi had a great sale on pre-made falafel ($3.99 for 12, which comes out to .33 cents per falafel ball) I popped two falafel in my air fryer. I made fresh tahini sauce (for recipe click here). Topped each whole wheat pita with cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion and I was in vegan heaven.

Note: I could have made 12 falafel from scratch for a total cost of perhaps a dollar BUT I’m taking a break this summer and I welcomed a bit of kitchen relief. At .33 each per pre-made ball, I limited my sandwiches to 2 falafel for a total cost of .66 cents.

Other than the falafel, not much else came on to the dinner table. My garden is starting to produce. First up were pea pods, then peas and now green beans. I’m still waiting on the cucumbers and only 1 zucchini plant survived the ground hog attack. All my herbs are doing quite well (basil, parsley, rosemary and mint). The only calamity I have had this season is my peach tree. Oh, my tree is doing just fine for her 3rd year. I counted over 50 peaches on her (last year was just one). So, there’s been a def improvement AND anticipation. I had visions of peach pies, peach crumble, peach preserves dancing in my head. TILL THE SQUIRRELS ATTACKED MY TREE AND ATE EVERY SINGLE PEACH!!!

After shedding a few tears for a few days, I vowed next year I’d take extra precautions (I had no idea squirrels attack fruit trees!) In the interim, Shop Rite had southern peaches on sale for .99 cents a pound. I bought a few pounds and will continue on my merry way to make peach pies, peach crumble and peach preserves. Here’s my first crumb peach pie:

Here is the rest of my garden harvest (plus one pasta n peas dish) to date:

Other food choices over the past week were salmon with tzatziki sauce, Greek grilled chicken tenders with leftover tahini sauce and leftover tzatziki sauce. Note: the new black/white dishes!

Lastly, I had a 3/4 loaf of whole honey-wheat bread going bad. I had it in the freezer for a while but I needed the room for other things. So, what did I do? I made French Toast and whatever was left over, got put back into the store brand bag and I re-froze it again. You only have to pull out a slice, pop it in the toaster and viola’ you have instant French Toast. I made bread crumbs out of the remaining end bread pieces.

Next to lastly, I made a super large portion of granola. I use it on my daily ice-cold yogurts. My granola is only sweetened with honey, flaked coconut and dried cranberries. I like sliced almonds too.

And now a word about food prices. We all have felt the rise in our food costs. The lines at Food Banks are back and I’ve been hearing stories about how people are skipping meals, going without or just outright scared. I thought I was ‘safe’ shopping at Aldi because you didn’t see so many prices go up like you did in other stores. But shrinkflation has hit Aldi too. Box sizes are the same but the contents are less and the price is a bit higher, so you’re hit with a double whammy. We could console ourselves and justify the raises by saying at least Aldi is still cheaper than all those other grocery stores. Are they? Eggs have tripled. Bread has doubled and here’s the real kicker…….when I went to purchase a few cartons of ice cream for July I noticed the price per 1.5 liters increased from $1.89 to $2.19. That’s a price hike of 16% more for the very same thing. It wasn’t until this point that I took a step back and realized bread was 11% more, chicken cutlets had gone from $1.99 a pound to $2.39 a pound (still cheaper than the other grocers who have been charging $2.99 to $4.99 a pound!). And the list goes on and on till I realized every.single.food.item.had.gone.up.in.price!!! For arguments sake, lets say everything increased by 10%. That would mean that I now need $550 to buy the same things I purchased for $500 per month. Or better yet, to understand food inflation a bit further, I now had to spend $450 a month to equal the $500 I used to spend. That means we are purchasing less food than before. Not more.

I no longer buy anything frozen or pre-prepared, snacks, cakes, rice puddings, chips, red meat, any specialty item, salad dressings, panko or bread crumbs, pre-made sauces………..well, you get the idea. It’s just essentials and necessities now. Those falafel really were the last “luxury” item. I can assure you, the next batch I will be making, I will be making from scratch.

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