Friday, June 22, 2012

day 10: why simplify?

I'd like to dedicate this post to the mother and child you see in the two photos below. First, a wide shot of their living environment in the slums of Manila, Philippines. Then a close-up reveals a mother's love cutting through all despair. I pondered, what will the future hold for that little girl? I took this photo about 4 weeks ago--it's one of the scenes that motivated me to do this challenge, to raise awareness of the living conditions of the world's poorest. Thanks for having the courage to peer in to what I've seen.

The people of this slum colony were certainly innovative in how they pieced together their dwellings. They're forced to make do with whatever they can get their hands on. So they certainly inspired me today. I tried out some new improvised recipes, innovating to achieve some more variety from what little I have to work with.

Before reading on, please note that a big goal of this blog is to help us realize that living the simplified life does not mean it must be bland and boring. That's the reason I'm celebrating each meal complete with its own little photo shoot. It's not because I think I'm really cool how I can make a pretty photograph of my food. I'll leave that up to the real culinary photographers like my friend Gabriella from Budapest; now she can make food look stunning.

I'm suggesting that you observe what I'm already achieving at $1/day, then consider what you might do with $2/day or $3/day or whatever your simplification goal looks like. Hopefully the inspiration is that you could easily cut what you spend on food in half and still eat like a king.

And why simplify? Great question. Maybe some existing wisdom on this could help us. "Live simply, so that others may simply live." -Gandhi. As we gain control over our appetites, learn to eat reasonable portions, we free up part of our income to be more generous to the poor. Think if this was a widespread awakening and millions decided to eat with less extravagance, and give even just a portion of the money they saved to sustainable hunger solutions being implemented among the poor. It would end world hunger. I know this is a rosy vision, but my point is again, in order to make a difference, we must overcome indifference. We must do something, no matter how small of an impact your personal contribution would seem to make alone. And it all starts with me, with you, with us. We can't wait on someone else to solve the world's problems. Got it? Ok, let's do this! I kind of like that as our little mantra...

Got it? Ok, let's do this! Together we can change the world! Why not!?

Breakfast. Well, this was fun, honestly. I was thinking back to my potato pancake from day 8 and how much I enjoyed that, and just tried to think of what variation I might put on that. So I considered my oatmeal stock and thought that there's probably some recipe out there for oatmeal pancakes (who's ever heard of such a thing?) but sure enough, it was there. So I whipped one egg with about 1/8 to 1/4 cup oatmeal. (I'm working with quick approximations as I'm throwing things together--sorry, my scientific friends, I'm hungry when making this stuff). I bought a couple tablespoons of flour from my existing stock, mixed that in along with a little splash of vegetable oil. I made the raisin syrup again just like on day 8, strained the syrup out and threw the raisins into the mix. It made a delicious and thick pancake with a lot of substance to it. And the raisin syrup, divine!

Lunch. Borrowing from my experience documented on my previous blog, I pulled out the re-fried bean chimichanga recipe, baked in the oven at 500 F / 260 C for eight minutes. It makes for a delicious variation on beans and corn tortillas. With a side of seasoned brown rice, this was a very simple, but very delicious meal.

Dinner. The innovation here came from my friend Alison who is courageously following in my footsteps on this challenge. She had the thought to grill some potato slices, and I thought that was a great idea, so I fried some in a light amount of vegetable oil I bought from my existing stock. Coupled with my standard pasta/ramen primavera, it was a welcome variation to the usual arrangement!

Take Action!

1) Please consider giving toward my goal of 10 scholarships for children of the Indian slums. So far we've raised $1,450 of my $5,000 goal to cover 10 scholarships. We're just $50 shy of 3 scholarships covered! Every little bit helps!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to Peace Gospel. If you're in the UK, use this link.

3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. The main goal is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!


  1. Your testimony is inspiring and the awareness that you are spreading is painful but yet eye-opening. I can't turn my head or pretend. I plan on making a contribution tomorrow and try to spread the words to my friends and family. You are truly a wonderful person.

    1. Thank you so much, Jill. I'm humbled by your comment and deeply appreciate your desire to help.

  2. Kirby, I completely agree with what you've said here. For example, I recently ate at a Japanese steak house and the amount of food served was ridiculous. We couldn't eat it all in one sitting and sadly most of the left overs went in the trash. It made me think about what you've been doing and how it is possible to get by with much less. Now getting my family to see this is another story... But I thank you for helping us to be more "aware" in our daily lives.