I am a relatively parsimonious gal who thinks that sharing good food with family and friends is one of the greatest joys in life. I refuse to let a recession keep me from eating (and drinking) well, and I hope you won't either.
In 2008, when my freelance broadcast production work disappeared, the loss of work forced me to do something that I never would have had the nerve to do otherwise - leave the job I loathed, and pursue my love of writing, food, and photography.
I began chronicling what my husband and I were eating on our newly restricted budget on my blog, Poor Girl Gourmet.
As big a criteria as being low-cost was that the food be high-quality and extremely flavorful. We had eaten well before the economy tanked, and we were determined to do so still.
I was fortunate to have good food role models growing up - my grandmother owned an Italian restaurant near my hometown, and my mother - who had inherited her mother's Italian knack for cooking, was a scratch cook and baker, so cooking, and looking at cooking as a creative endeavor - was second nature to me.
Creating recipes and sharing food with people I love had always been more facsinating and fulfilling to me than the television work that provided me a living.
Shortly after starting the blog, I was approached by a literary agent who asked if I thought I could put together a cookbook proposal. Understandably excited, I yelled "yes!" into the phone, followed by a pause, and then, "ummmm, what, exactly, goes into a cookbook proposal?"
Luckily, with no regular work, I had the time to do some research on that front.
With a little guidance (!), the proposal was completed in early 2009, a deal was signed in the spring of that year, and Andrews McMeel published Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-bones Budget in June of 2010.
The recipes in the book are in keeping with how my husband and I shop and eat. We eat in-season, locally as much as possible, and we avoid added hormones and GMOs.
The recipes in the book are estimated to cost $15 or less for four people, with the exception of a chapter of "splurges" - entrees for four for $15 to $30. There is also a chapter on lesser-known value wine varietals. Because who doesn't like an inexpensive, interesting wine?
We had grown and raised our own food for years before the economy tanked. My husband had Black Angus cattle when I first moved into the house, he had kept chickens and pigs (he had named the pigs Lunch and Dinner) before raising beef cattle.
We started keeping honeybees in 2000, hens in 2004, and we've now expanded to roosters and turkeys for meat. We also grow an assortment of commonplace and lesser-known vegetables in our garden - from asparagus to zucchini, Armenian cucumbers to Thelma Sanders squash, and all the usual salad-making suspects in between.
I still write about low-cost, high-quality meals on the blog, and incorporate posts about growing and raising food at our tiny farmhouse as well.