Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog: Ready, Set, Blog! a.k.a, Meet the "Girl" Behind PGEW

I'll never forget the first time I realized I wasn't just writing to read the internet "sound" of my own words.  It was when I received a truly moving email from a single mom who had read my blog shortly after an iReport I'd written was featured on CNN.com in early 2009.
"I was @ work looking at cnn.com and stressing because I was just denied food stamps and worrying how I was going to feed a family of 4.  I happen to have a few bags of lentils and lots of rice and a tomato plant - today I am going home to make the rice, lentil, and feta salad - love your site, and thanks."
Oh wow... even now, more than a year and a half later, that email still makes me cry. Not only because I'm moved by the fact that something as simple as a lunch I'd thrown together in my office break room had saved a mom from having to either A) watch her kids go hungry, or B) feed them some junk from the nearest fast food joint, but because I've BEEN there. I know firsthand what it's like to be in her same situation, with or without the kids factoring in to the equation.

Hello, I'm Kimberly, also known as the "girl" behind Poor Girl Eats Well, and this is my first entry for Foodbuzz.com's Project Food Blog.


I started Poor Girl Eats Well in the summer of 2008 as a way to quit being so bored and to show folks who marveled at my flavorful, aesthetically pleasing meals - fully knowing I was about $2 away from an eviction notice, mind you - that it is totally possible to have wonderful, beautiful, nutritious food even if you're in the most dire of financial straits.  There was once a time when I used to live off the Big Texas Cinnamon Roll from the vending machine at work: $1 and 410 calories of carbs and fat - just enough to get you through the day without wilting into a complete faint.  When people started to notice I was painfully thin and I, myself, noticed I felt like absolute hell, I decided to do something about it: I got back into the kitchen, reminded myself that every boyfriend or random guest I'd ever cooked for always raved about my mad cooking skills, and got to work.

I never expected that it would lead to this: this accidental, almost career that seems to be growing slowly, but surely, into something that folks all over the world not only find entertaining & enjoyable, but that actually teaches people, too.  I get to help people with what I do, and that's so amazing to me!  Comments that tell me  I've "revolutionized" readers' lives and that I'm a "complete inspiration" both flatter and humble me.  Often times I have no idea how to respond to such accolades because all I'm doing is sharing exactly what I go through on a day-to-day basis.  But I think that's why people keep stopping by.

I strongly believe that the most important thing that defines me as a food blogger and why I feel I should be the Next Food Blog Star is that people can relate to me.  Sure, there are other formidable food bloggers who know all about spherification, or growing their own foods, or baking incredible cakes & pastries that would put many TV food personalities to shame, things I only dare dream of doing because of my extremely limited means and thumbtack-sized kitchen.  But I'm the type of food blogger that invites you into her real life, tells it like it is, and makes the most of what she has.  As difficult as it can be to admit to things like forgetting to pay my gas bill or having to go on SNAP, I am putting a human face on the issues that so many folks are struggling with right now.  And I have no problem sharing my kitchen mistakes, either!  At times it's embarrassing to do so, but I've noticed that it makes even the most novice cook feel like it's okay to screw up here & there.  And sometimes those mistakes end up turning into the best recipes!

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Shots: One of the greatest mistakes ever made...

Speaking of recipes, it bears noting that most of the recipes on my site are not only of my own creation but made from the last few things I had available in my kitchen because I couldn't afford to go shopping for more.  I'm probably the most resourceful food blogger you'll ever meet, making rice and beans sexy in 18 different ways and turning little packets of soy sauce into a base for a killer steak marinade.  Sure, I glean inspiration from other cooks & bloggers, but a lot of times all I have to work with is a couple of main ingredients and a well-stocked spice pantry.  It's not always possible for me to make things like roasted duck with some sort of incredible chutney or some crazy Iberico ham recipe, but I still manage to create what many folks have called "restaurant-quality" meals out of the most ordinary ingredients.  And in doing so, I've been able to help folks look at food differently and learn a few cooking skills they might not have thought they had.

Who says you can't bring a little Thomas Keller into your own kitchen?  The "Spanglish" Sandwich

Which brings me to the next point that I feel defines me as a food blogger: I help people learn.  As food bloggers we all do this in some way, bringing recipes, information and skills to our readers, whether it's on sustainable farming, food photography, or how to make your own buttermilk.  On PGEW, I teach people...
  • That eating on a budget does not have to mean living on a perpetual diet of Cup o' Noodles or Chef Boyardee; you can have salads, steaks, and desserts, too.
  • That it's okay to let go of shopping shame and buy store brand if that's all you can afford.
  • That it's completely possible to spend a small amount of money on good groceries that'll last for a couple of weeks.
  • That anyone - regardless of skill level - can cook a delicious meal (I can't tell you how many folks have written in saying they've learned how to cook through my recipes - how cool is that?).
  • And that eating well means eating food that is tasty, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing, so that one can nurture one's body and soul.  The fact that I teach folks how to do this affordably helps to nurture one's ailing bank account as well.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette. Cost per serving: $3

I may not have the best knife technique (in fact, it's rather horrible considering how much time I spend chopping & grating things so I avoid the convenience food trap), and sometimes I cook things at higher temperatures than I should because I can get impatient.  I don't post daily or quickly like some power-bloggers because I am too wrapped up in telling the right story in just the right way, or because I'll forget to take a picture of what I made because it was too good not to eat first, causing my entire blog post to wait for the next time I can make the recipe.  I may not have the most gorgeous food photos out there; not because I don't have the artistic eye for it, but because I'm lacking the funds for the right equipment (though I think I do pretty well with my little point-and-shoot and horrible lighting issues).  I'm wordy, silly, quirky and brutally honest, and sometimes I use entirely too many commas and parentheticals in my posts.  In short, I am not perfect.  But I love what I do and think I'm pretty darned good at it.  I share a lot of myself when I cook and write, and love that my little blog has helped college kids learn how to cook and single moms stretch their food budgets so they can feed their families; brought former cooks back into the kitchen after years of dining out; and inspired folks to find their own, uber-resourceful inner Poor Girl to make fantastic creations of their own.

Regardless of who wins this thing (though Lord knows I could really use those $10,000 to get out of this rut!), I'm incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to share more of who I am as a person, cook, and food blogger through Project Food Blog.  I would sincerely appreciate your vote so that I may advance to the next round and if I'm lucky enough to do so, I look forward to wowing you with my next awesome entry.

Thanks for reading!

:) Kimberly 

28 comments:

  1. Isn't it so inspiring to know that we have the ability to teach people about cooking and to show them how simple it can be? Love this post... a great first entry for the competition

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  2. I love your blog and your honesty! It was great meeting you in person at IFBC. Looking forward to continuing to read your fabulous PFB entries because I can't imagine you getting cut any time soon! Good luck!

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  3. You are incredible and it is true that you are "putting a human face on the issues that so many folks are struggling with right now." You are amazing and real. I love your blog. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with the world. You are making a difference.
    - Butter

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  4. Best of luck, Kimberly. Such a wonderful post about you and your wonderful style as a cook and as a writer. Looking forward to your posts!

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  5. Fantastic entry! Definitely one of the nest ones I've read. I love the honesty in your story and how well you connect with your readers. It's true that you can eat well on a small budget (which I have to do ad well!) so it's great to see the recipes you share showing people all the variety in homemade dishes. Best of luck in the competition!

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  6. love your post, glad to have found you through FBP.

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  7. Even if I'm out after this round, I'm loving PFB for allowing me to discover awesome blogs like yours. I really like your cooking and blogging philosophy, especially since I also prefer to leave the fancy-ingredients-and-techniques stuff to other, more-abled folks. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! Good luck in PFB!

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  8. A nice post. What an inspiring letter! Best of luck with the competition.

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  9. Fantastic post. I love reading your blog and you do have some great ideas for recipes as well as your posts of which it is clear that you pour a lot of your heart and soul into.

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  10. Kimberly, I love your posts - the pics are amazing, and I love your honesty. And I love thinking of ingredients in new ways. I am a faithful reader, and now a faithful voter....you can win.

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  11. I just found your blog and am so excited to read more! I think it is a common misconception that if you don't have a lot of money, you should just buy a lot of junk food/processed food since it is cheaper. You can definitely eat well on a budget, especially if you eat beans! A can of beans is pretty cheap, but it's even cheaper if you buy a bag of dried beans and make them yourself (which I still need to try!) Rice and beans is an example of a healthy yet inexpensive meal!

    Besides food blogs, I also read personal finance blogs, so your blog fits right in! I love reading personal finance blogs for tips on frugal living and meals on a budget. I was just saying on my blog the other day that I would like to start featuring ideas for inexpensive yet healthful meals! I am sure that I'll also be making a lot of your recipes, which should be a lot of fun, and I can't wait to review them!

    Best of luck with PFB!


    P.S. If you like, you can check out my PFB post here:

    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/502

    Thanks!

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  12. Great post! I voted for you! =) Good luck!

    Check out my post: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/503

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  13. Love your story! I think it's always great to get to know the writers behind the blogs! I will definitely cast my vote your way..good luck!!

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  14. Awesome entry and very touching thoughts. I couldn't agree more regarding your thoughts about how we can still eat delicious food even on a limited budget. I've voted for you. Have a look at mine and if you like it, do vote for me.
    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/667

    Good luck!
    Thas

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  15. Totally inspired by you! Keep it up :)

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  16. How do we vote? Oh, just saw the site above! I hope you win! :)

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  17. I have been with Kimberly for awhile and I want the 'newbies' to know that donating to her website is a great way to support her. I would read some of the heartfelt trials and tribulations that she would endure, and, being a blogger myself, knows what it is like to remain true to your 'passion'.

    So, newbie readers and long time ones as well, make sure that you practice the Universal Law of supporting one another and maybe just consider donating a few bucks to Kimberly's site. She then can continue to pay for the 'technical' part of a website without breaking her budget!

    Just 'spreadin' the love', so to speak...

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  18. WOW, you guys... way to make a girl tear up throughout the day! There are so many amazing bloggers competing, so it's awesome to know I've gotten so much support for my first entry!

    And Jacqueline... if I was just teary-eyed before, you just help unleashed a big bucket of tears! Good ones, of course. :) I hate having to ask for help and keep shoving that "donate" button lower & lower, but you're right... any little bit does help me. Reader donations really helped get me through my unemployed period, which is coming up again in just 10 days, so having you ask on my behalf means the world to me.

    Regardless, if all you can give is your vote, that works, too! As long as you guys keep voting & get me through to the very end, maybe I'll have the chance at the coveted title and the prize money that can help me get ahead and make PGEW even better for all of you.

    Okay, I need a Kleenex now... :)

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  19. Love those shots! Great post! I just gave you a vote! You can check out my entry here: http://tinyurl.com/2ec2hlq Thanks and Good Luck!

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  20. Good luck! I'll vote for you because I like what you have to write about and it was nice sharing a lunch table with you at IFBC :)

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  21. Seriously. You had me at that first quote from that email. I started tearing up for you! I love what you're doing. Good food doesn't have to cost a fortune. You can do a lot with what you have right at home. I'm seriously humbled by your post (as compared to my own!) Good luck and keep inspiring people!

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  22. love it! your post is very timely, especially in this economy and the issues in health we are facing. you got my vote :)

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  23. You had me at cookies & cream cheesecake shots! :) Great post, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts. Since I'm unemployed, I can use a little inspiration for some low budget meals!

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  24. It's so inspiring to see someone like you make amazing meals! Defintley agree that "too busy to eat healthy" shouldn't be used as an excuse.

    Good luck!!!

    Vivian

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