Run Fast. Eat Slow.

The uncensored musings of a part time runner and her endless adventures in sustainable eating.

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A Cost-Effective Luxury: The Bread Machine

As I mentioned, a few months ago (well, 12 weeks to be exact) I bought a bread machine and immediately fell in love with it and have not yet begun to take it for granted. I did, however, discover that amaranth flour is disgusting and that full on whole wheat pizza dough actually tastes like cardboard. Additionally, I finally did the math to realize that in addition to the many edible and time saving perks of the bread machine, there is definitely a monetary perk as well.

I watch my grocery budget like a hawk and I always go over, so upon discovering the local flour at the farmer’s market, assumed it wasn’t in my budget as its about twice as expensive as King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill. I mean, I bought the bread machine so I could spend less money on bread, not more.

Plus, I had to take a 40 minute subway ride to get this local flour anyway. Well, until yesterday when the flour stand showed up at the farmer’s market 7 blocks from my apartment. So now that this flour is convenient, I wanted to work out exactly how much I’m paying for bread now to see if an upgrade in flour is conceivable. Turns out, it is as homemade bread is extremely cheap.

Here’s the breakdown:

A loaf of 365 Whole Grain Bread at Whole Foods is $4.99

  • 5lbs of King Arthur Bread Flour is $4.69 and assuming 4 cups per pound, 23 cents per cup
  • 3lbs of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour is $3.79, or 32 cents per cup
  • A 4oz jar of Fleischmann’s active dry yeast is $7.39 or 21 cents per teaspoon
  • 2.5qts of honey was $27 or 17 cents a tablespoon
  • 16oz Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran is $2.39 or 60 cents a cup
  • 16oz Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats is $2.39 or 60 cents a cup

I did not include olive oil or salt because those are pantry staples I would have otherwise and buy in such bulk their costs would be extremely minimal.

Based on my whole grain recipe using the above ingredients, a loaf of whole grain bread comes to a mere $1.50, or a savings of $3.49. Even if I switch to the more expensive local flour, I’d still only be spending about $2.05 per loaf.

So, to sum up: a bread machine seems like an unnecessary appliance and actually is if you don’t use it, but if you use it exclusively (with the exception of that one week when you accidentally threw away the paddle in your fit of rage due to how disgusting amaranth flour is) for bread and combination of its other capabilites such as pizza dough (which costs 81 cents) its actually a useful investment. You can also consider the fact that homemade bread is almost always healthier to increase its relative worth. Additionally, it will take you less hands on time to make bread in the machine than it would to run to the store and buy some.

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Fried Barley

I do not like brown rice. I don’t know if it’s the association with my teenage dieting obsessions or the flavor texture combo, but I have to roll my eyes and cringe every time someone suggests swapping out white rice for brown (tell me eat salmon with brown rice and I’ll really flip out on you, but that’s for another time). Additionally, I am not in favor of these “swaps”; what you end up with is never as good as what you wanted so you end up annoyed and unsatisfied. I’m in the camp of eat white rice when you want white rice and eat quinoa as quinoa, not as a white rice substitute.

 But I digress. Recent events, such as the realization that I may need more iron and reading about the numerous benefits of eating actual whole grains whole (as opposed to the “whole grains” in Froot Loops), I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time reading about grains and how to cook them. The first grain outside of oatmeal and quinoa that I’m exploring is barley, which apparently you can serve in the same manner as risotto: cooked grains, with a sofritto and vegetable or meat mixed throughout. Now the thought process here gets a little muddled, but in thinking about what to put in my barley dish, it occurred to me that you could probably fry barley much as you fry rice. Turns out, you can.

The best part of fried rice is the depth of the saltiness. The rice is great, yes, but it’s merely a vehicle for everything else, which I why using barley works so well. Barley has much chewier texture and bolder grain flavor than rice, so the soy sauce and the fish sauce adhere to that and really bring forth a fuller tasting fried rice dish that’s more nutrient dense and, most importantly, void of that brown rice swap.

6 cups pearl barley, cooked

Canola or grape seed oil

3 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups leeks or scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablepoons soy sauce

 Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Pour in eggs and cook in a very thin layer. Once they’re mostly cooked, scramble to thoroughly cook and spread out to make sure pieces are a thin as possible. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat more oil in the same skillet. Add scallions or leeks. Saute until transparent. Add the barley, stirring constantly until the scallions are incorporated throughout.  Mix together the soy sauce and fish sauce. Taste. It will not taste good (it will taste good in the dish, I promise), but if you taste mostly soy sauce, add more fish sauce until its flavor comes through. Drizzle about half of the fish sauce mixture over the barley and stir until incorporated. Taste. If the flavor is bold enough for your liking, continue to stir and fry the barley for a few more minutes. If the flavor is not bold enough, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture in two parts, tasting in between additions. Once the flavor is to your liking, cook and stir for a few more minutes, serve hot.

This fried barley also makes a great lunch the next day.

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Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn is great snack. We’ve been told this by nutritionists, Pop Secret, Runner’s World etc. for year, but the truth is that despite how low cal or healthy it may be, its straight up delicious. The problem is that popcorn doesn’t travel well or hold well over time. So bringing leftover popcorn to office was just a stale, chewy let down.

Why not just buy microwaveable snack size packets? I never really thought about why I didn’t want to outside of the fact that I don’t have a microwave at home (which somehow clearly negates the possibility of purchasing made-for-the-microwave foods for work). Plus, I just don’t want any of the preservatives or excess sodium. I’d rather be in control of the ingredients.

Then I was reading Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, in which he discusses his habit of placing kernels, oil and salt in a paper bag and microwaving it at the office. Genious! However, I didn’t have any paper bags, but though maybe a Ziploc container would work. I quickly googled whether or not the lids were microwavable: they are. So I put about 2 tbsp of kernels in a 4 cup bowl-like container, tossed in some olive oil and sprinkled on some salt and totted it to work with me.

Now, I had absolutely no idea if this was the correct amount of kernels and got quite nervous while standing by the microwave alone (thankfully) and was picturing the excess of kernels making the largest possible mess. Turns out I shouldn’t underestimate my culinary aptitude: I was dead on. The container was full to the lid and not at all overflowing.

In order to be sure all the kernels popped, I set the microwave for 5 minutes and stood there and listened letting the popcorn pop until three seconds passed without a pop. All in all it took three and half minutes, but I’d set it for 5 and hang around the first time you try it as microwaves can differ.

Update: This is probably best done in a glass bowl or without oil, as the hot oil will melt your Ziploc container. My apologies to those who ran into this same problem. I likely should have waiting until I’d finished eating my popcorn and noticed the holes in the container before posting.

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Productive Sunday morning hit farmers market (much more abundant than I remember for Feb)Flipping through Alice Water’s cookbook Roast beef?

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For some reason, I just love this picture. I was in today’s NY Times alongside this article about larger airplane passengers. I understand why the more svelt passengers would be represented by fruits and vegetables, but am curious why the overweight one depicted by an acorn squash.

For some reason, I just love this picture. I was in today’s NY Times alongside this article about larger airplane passengers. I understand why the more svelt passengers would be represented by fruits and vegetables, but am curious why the overweight one depicted by an acorn squash.

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RT @seriouseatsny: PRT @robertsietsema: City’s new regs against homemade baked goods in schools is an outrage against common sense. http …