My PhD is not in food science, so what authority do I have to write a blog called Creative Economy in the Kitchen? A lifetime of experience!

First, my parents had both been raised on farms, and they carried over the ‘waste not, want not’ ethos into our Midwestern US home.  My sisters and I always helped in the family vegetable garden, and grew up knowing that food was the result of hard work.  We had plenty, but you used what was available, and you made the most of it. 

In contrast, my first husband had what his mother referred to as ‘champagne tastes and beer wages’.  No matter how low the pay check, he expected interesting food. He was himself a good cook, and liked to make big, showy dishes.  However, he also refused to eat leftovers, unless he didn’t know they were leftovers!  This didn’t fit well with my own relationship with food, but I rose to the creative challenge.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was a single parent for 13 years (and full time student for 10 of them). For some of that time, my kids and I lived on student financial aid and food stamps.  I discovered the world of government surplus ‘Food Commodities’: occasional parcels of large quantities of sometimes obscure ingredients, such as a sack of powdered eggs or a crate of chocolate cookie wafers, along with 5 pound bags of flour and maybe some butter. Gifts from my home were often edibles made from such bounty, with the help of my large collection of cookbooks.

Over the years, I was also the grateful recipient of seasonal garden gluts from friends and family. Repayment was in the form of helping whenever I could in their garden or kitchen, especially during canning season.  In the meantime, I had to find as many ways as possible to use a bushel of football-sized parsnips before they went bad, or a grocery sack of zucchini or rhubarb.

Thanks to student loans, I was able to take my little family to France for a year as part of my studies.  There, we explored new kinds of food, but the biggest challenge was the under-furnished kitchen in our cheap apartment.  Cooking equipment consisted of a two-burner hotplate and a toaster oven. Somehow, I managed to make a Thanksgiving dinner for five with all the trimmings.  Admittedly, the turkey wasn’t very pretty, but it was tasty.

Eventually, my personal finances improved, but my economical attitude has never changed: food is to be respected. So when I was faced with a cupboard full of exotic spices left behind by my new husband’s former lodger, I saw an opportunity to practise cooking with them, and decide which ones I liked enough to buy more of.

These days, we have our own vegetable garden, and we share the seasonal glut with friends and family, but I also still enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and interesting ways to use what we keep.  Hopefully, you’ll find the ideas and recipes here helpful in your own efforts at Creative Economy in the Kitchen.

20 comments on “About
  1. pennyplant says:

    Julie, this is a really good blog! You have always been thrifty in every way and I do see you writing an actual book someday–about food or any topic you are good at!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie, I love your “About” story – it’s totally you, totally true, and it makes me smile! -Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. fiona hardy says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your ethos and with your approach to using food and maximising what we have in our fridge and store cupboard. I’ll follow your blog with interest, the ideas are an inspiration…look forward to more! Fiona

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fairy says:

    Hi Julia

    I have just discovered your blog and read a couple of posts which look really interesting. I will definitely be following from now on. Thanks xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. reneeliamrhys says:

    Hi there, I come a visiting via Fairy’s blog….I’m so glad I found you. Simple, down to earth and involving the family is a great way to go.
    Also the way you were raised on a farm with its hard work has remained with you 🙂

    Alexa from Sydney, Australia

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Julia…I was checking to see why I haven’t been getting your posts! Not sure what happened as I followed it a while ago but it doesn’t show. Trying again! Really enjoy your blog and posts!! Tina

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ellen Hawley says:

    I have a feeling I Liked this before, but I still like it, so if I didn’t hit the button before, I’ve Liked it now. And if I did–well, I still like (and Like) it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey, I stumbled upon your blog today and absolutely love the concept!! You should write/ make a book out of this. In any case, I took the liberty of nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award; for more infos check out my latest post. Feel free to accept or reject 🙂 In any case, all the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JC says:

    Thanks for the visit to my blog and liking my ‘About’ page. Sorry, it took so long to answer you back, I’ve been out of town. Well, I’m not a cook but I could learn from your blog! Hum, what do you recommend for beginners?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The pleasure’s all mine. So you want to start cooking? I recommend you start with what you know you like, followed closely by foods that are in season/readily accessible, always bearing in mind whether any foods might be counter-indicated by your Parkinson’s. (I’m completely in the dark on that aspect.)… I try to make my recipes beginner-friendly, so do try some of them. Click on an ingredient tag in my ‘site index’ for ideas. If you feel uncomfortable following recipes from scratch, you could start with ‘kits’ of pre-packaged dinners until you get the hang of things. After that, you’re only limited by your imagination. Let me know how you get along. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Love your pictures and your blog is very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

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What’s Creative Economy in the Kitchen about?
Sharing a lifetime of experience of kitchen challenges. Respecting food and making the most of what's available. Read more on my About page.
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March 2015
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© Julia Davis-Coombs and Creative Economy in the Kitchen, 2014-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julia Davis-Coombs and Creative Economy in the Kitchen with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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