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

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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 about 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 into 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 direst 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
Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Shots
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.
The “Spanglish” Sandwich
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
Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette

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

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