Sunday, August 1, 2010

I write my first PENNY PINCHERS column

At my publisher's suggestion, we used those first half dozen sample columns to launch my career into journalism -- yes, including those bogus letters purporting to be from eager readers. (I promise you that after these initial articles ran, I used only genuine letters received from REAL readers -- and there were lots of those!)

My publisher informed me that he wanted at least six new columns from me on his desk at all times, so that he'd always have a ready PENNY PINCHERS article to run, just in case -- God forbid! I should come down with the Black Plague or some other debilitating illness. In my zeal to prove my worth and professionalism, I provided him with a dozen. Thankfully, before I could run out of ideas, letters from readers began to pour in. It seems I really had stumbled upon a vein worth mining!

The initial PENNY PINCHER articles focused on subjects such as planning meals before shopping, tips on buying fresh vegetables, fruit and meat, the soup pot, what to pack in your child's lunch bag, and how to entertain on a budget. Turning my kitchen into a research center, I began trying out every low budget, yet hopefully tasty and nutritious, recipe I could find. Unfortunately, the results were not always a success -- especially in my kids' eyes, or perhaps I should say their stomachs. The first time I served homemade soup, salad and French bread for an evening meal, my oldest son demanded to know when the main course was going to arrive. My answer was to begin making my soups very nearly as thick as stew, and adding good, filling deserts such as homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, rice pudding, and low-sugar carrot cake. Every recipe that passed the "cranky kid test" made it into my next PENNY PINCHERS column.

(Coming Friday: PENNY PINCHERS becomes a full-time job with very little pay)


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