Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I need a new blog!

Lately, in case you have not noticed, it has become trendy to be frugal. Living within one's means, or at least desiring to do so, is now chic. It's no longer cool to throw money around; it implies that one does not care about the suffering of one's neighbors and fellow countrymen. (Like about 10 years ago it suddenly became trendy to pretend to care about the environment.) So all kinds of blogs and websites are suddenly springing up around frugality, simplifying, living well under reduced circumstances, becoming debt free, repurposing, etc. I like to think I have been on this bandwagon since long before it was a bandwagon. I have long been a subscriber to Cheapskate Monthly and am even in one of Mary Hunt's books.

But I have put aside my snit over these johnny-come-latelies and am just trying to glean what goodness I can from the sudden wealth of words out there on the subject.

Many of these sources of words center around food. Eating well on a budget. Eating healthily on a budget. Eating well on food stamps. Gardening on the cheap. That sort of thing. And while I enjoy reading these and pick up good ideas, one thing that I notice is that they all seem to be aimed at an urban readership.

Take Poor Girl Eats Well, for example. Now I really like this blog. She does very interesting things with simple ingredients. Her goal is to give examples of meals that can be made for $8-$10 each, for a family of 4. This is a great idea, and I do find some goodies here. However, she is also an excellent example of my complaint. Her recipes count on two things: That you live near to a) a farmer's market that is in operation year round, and b) a Trader Joe's.

First of all, we don't live near ANYTHING. We are in the back of beyond. We drive at least half an hour to get to just about anywhere one can procure food.

Secondly, we do have a little farmer's market here in the New Albin town square, but at this time of year the farmers are all sensibly hunkered down inside nice warm farmhouses, not setting up veggie stands. The only thing they would have to sell would be wrinkly last-year's root vegetables, anyway. Our markets don't really get going until the middle of July, at least. And even then, they are, like, 5 people, max, each with a few examples of whatever is in season at the moment, which is exactly the same as everybody else at the market has. So one week, it's tomatoes and green beans, and the next week it's tomatoes and zucchini, and the next week it's zucchini and zucchini, and the next week it's tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and zucchini. And tomatoes.

And thirdly, while I would love to pop over to TJ's any old time, the nearest one I know of is in Woodbury, Minnesota. It's a nice one, I've been there, but it's about 3 hours' drive away. And up until a few years ago, most of the United States would say "Trader who?" when we mentioned Trader Joe's, and had no idea how amazing the chain is. There still aren't that many of them out there. Yet. For most of the country.

So what I need is for someone to start a blog on living well, within one's means, in the heartland, in the countryside, starting from scratch. Start with the premise that there are no upscale grocers within reach, that there are no downscale grocers within reach for that matter, and that it's not growing season so starting a garden this very instant is not an option. Teach me to make wonderful, inexpensive, healthy meals from what I can buy in bulk at Sam's Club and keep in the basement for weeks between shopping expeditions. Teach me to use the limited number of green things that I can buy, and in the limited time that I have before they go bad in the fridge. Teach me to be imaginative with dried herbs that keep, rather than assuming that I will be buying fresh herbs every few days.

My friend Lisa said I should just start this blog for myself, but I want someone else to teach ME. :o)


Connie said...

After reading this post, I realize that I have an embarrasment of riches in terms of what I have access to. Year round farm stands and Trader Joe's opening in town later this year. It's easy to forget that not everyone has these things available to them, although for many years I didn't have them, either. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful.

WV: Zings? What kind of WV is that? It's a word with a meaning, so I don't feel right making something up.

Aaron said...

I haven't got a link for the blog that Will Solve All Your Problems, but here's one you should visit anyway:

http:// humble musings . com/

I don't know these people, and their kids are younger than yours, and blah blah blah, but she writes very well about their move from suburban FL to a former Amish farm in KY. Self sufficiency, or almost. Making friends with neighbors, learning country ways, coping with seeing animals as livestock instead of pets, and so forth.

Sweet Annabelle said...

I'm with Lisa. I think you should start the blog! A new ministry for you!


Team Lee said...

Wow - great post! And, it brought back memories!

I found your blog towards end of January and have been reading off/on - loved the post of the interview, fascinating to read about your job!

I grew up in Northeast Iowa (Farmersburg), although not as north as you are located! So I can relate to what you are saying.

My family lived in town (300 pop.) and had 3 gardens all around - we spent weeks and weeks all throughout the summer "putting up" food -> freezing and canning fruits and vegetables and also storing potatoes, onions, carrots, etc. in a root cellar. We also purchased 1/2 pig and 1/2 cow every year too - our house had 2 stoves (1 in basement), 2 refrig. and 3 freezers! Then we had to cut enough wood for our heat during winter as my dad purchased a wood burning stove for the house. (By the way, my mom was an amazing cook as I was growing up, she works tons now, so my dad has become even more amazing in the kitchen! We keep kidding him that he needs to write a book.)

Now I live in suburb of city and have gourmet grocery store within walking distance. But, often, especially for my kids, I miss the gardens, work ethic it taught me and rhythm of the seasons and growing our own food.

Mrs. Mac said...

I have a blog started called: The Thrifty Garden/Home ... but have been so preoccupied reading a blog in my sidebar (at tgh) called Down to Earth ... this gal is writing a book about simple living ... she has chickens ... doesn't make extravagant meals ... uses what she has on hand and in bulk ... changed from a consumer to a conserver. She knits, makes vinegar, soap, grows an awesome garden, air drys clothes, etc, etc and gives her readers challenges to conserve everything from electricity to plastic bags. Her 'wheel' is so good, it doesn't need to be 'reinvented' ... You have lots to offer ... and your humor is a riot at times. BTW ... Sean Patrick said to tell you he remembers you>

Kimberly Alexandra said...

First of all, thanks for the kudos on my blog; always good to know people are enjoying what I'm posting.

I do hear what you're saying about Trader Joe's and farmer's markets (I guess we're spoiled here in CA when it comes to the latter; I thought more places had farmer's markets!). However, I want to stress that just because I shop at TJ's a lot doesn't mean everyone has to! I just like going there because it's easy for me to buy stuff on the cheap, but you can find good deals almost anywhere if you look hard enough. And you CAN make incredible cheap meals buying in bulk at Sam's Club! What I hope to be doing in my blog is not only sharing my recipes but inspiring people to get creative with whatever they might have lying around. Everything I use in my recipes can be found at most grocery stores, too. I don't shop in bulk because it's not convenient for me, but I can just imagine the crazy meal possibilities!

Anyway, be on the look out for $25 Shopping Cart posts from different stores and other great features. And your wish about a blog catered towards living well in general is already in the works. That was something I was asked during my CNN interviews and it'll be coming sometime soon!

:) Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well