Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 26

Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 26

Table of Contents: 9/29/15 – Day 29 9/28/15 – Day 28 9/27/15 – Day 27 Day 26 – 9/26/15 Today, I got up early and made my way to Central Park, sun hat, shovel, and tupperware in tow. I signed up for a tour led by Wildman Steve Brill to forage for wild edibles! Foraging is not a common practice in the United States, and especially rare in Manhattan (blame the “Concrete Jungle” moniker). But growing up, foraging was not only normal, it was fun! I grew up in a medium-sized city in China. Though we didn’t forage often, each spring, my grandparents would bring home bundles of young dandelion leaves, foraged from a nearby park  or schoolyard. We’d blanch the bitter green leaves and eat them with jiang. Dandelion is supposedly good for cleansing the body and reducing the inflammation. But as a kid, I just thought of it as a yucky vegetable. Back to present day, I was really excited to harvest some greens right from Manhattan’s own backyard. Steve was fantastic and amazingly knowledgeable about botany. Our tour group of twenty or so trekked our way through grassy fields, drier dirt patches, and woodlands. For three hours, Steve taught us how to identify, harvest, and cook wild edibles. Our lucky finds today include but are not limited to: Wood Sorrel – heart-shaped clovers that taste like lemonade Common Plantain – edible seeds and leaves, but not amazingly delish (not pictured) Burdock – Root vegetable commonly used in Japanese cuisine (not pictured) Tupelo Berries – Little blue-black berries that grow on trees, tart! Epazote – “Mexican Oregano”...
Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 25

Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 25

Table of Contents: 9/27/15 – Day 27 9/26/15 – Day 26 Day 25 – 9/25/15 Happy Friday! Today, I went to a happy hour with my lovely coworkers, who were amazing and supportive and kind enough to offer to pay for my drinks! The waitress ended up splitting our checks evenly by mistake, so I did pay for my own drinks. But the “pay you back for drinks” rule was silly, and silly rules are made to be broken. Anyways, 3 drinks later…here I am, almost too inebriated to update everyone on my day and thankful for/bloated on the extra calories. I was concerned about getting enough food in my stomach to counter the alcohol at happy hour, and I didn’t think the potatoes strings from lunch were going to hold up. Carbs digest way fast. But it ended up all being okay. Back at home in a tipsy haze, I ended up cooking up another batch of borscht. Other people get the drunchies, but I have a even more advanced form of the drunchies called the cook-ies (does that work?). I seem to cook most of the times I get home from drinking. I make wonders with potatoes and flour and eggs. My creations range from a simple packet of ramen, to the complex brownies and channa masala (not at the same time). It’s probably slightly dangerous to be around sharp objects and fire in this state now that I think about it. I took stock of the fridge again tonight. Turns out I forgot to account for the last two days in September (Silly me assumed 4*7=28...

Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 24

Table of Contents: 9/27/15 – Day 27 9/26/15 – Day 26 9/25/15 – Day 25   Day 24 – 9/24/15 “The longest distance in the world isn’t between life and death. It’s me, standing in front of you a free catered lunch buffet, and you don’t know that I love youI can’t eat any of it” This badly edited sappy Asian (?) quote about love is exactly how I felt today. Why? Read on to find out. I wasn’t good about keeping to my budget today, and I certainly did not eat healthily. I feel bad for having failed. It was a 12+ hour day at work with no breaks in between! What’s a hungry girl to do? Here is a walk through of my hungry Thursday. I got to work at 6:40 am, which means I woke up at 5:45 am. I was too groggy to eat breakfast (mistake!). Once I got to work, it was none stop go! go! go! for the next 12 hours. We were running a client workshop, and I had to be on site at all times to answer questions, troubleshoot the technology, play music, set up instruction sheets…you get the gist. There was no way I could leave the room for even more than 5 minutes, so leaving for 20 minutes to heat up and eat my lunch was out of the question. Our lovely and kind IT person brought Dunkin Donut’s munchkins, and I had two of those before my rational could say “NOOOOOOOOO!” “They probably cost like…10c each, right?” I then rationalize guiltily. The morning passed in a blur of...
Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 23

Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 23

Table of Contents: 9/27/15 – Day 27 9/26/15 – Day 26 9/25/15 – Day 25 9/24/15 – Day 24 Day 23 – 9/23/15 T-minus 7 days until the end of the Mini Budget in Manhattan challenge! The last week of the challenge is certainly…well, challenging. I’m really starting to miss foods like…shrimp! Or steak! Or iceeee creeeeeammmmmm. But what keeps my chin up and my stomach less rumbly during the looooong days is this amazing Coke Chicken recipe, which I share with you all now. Ingredients: 1.5-2 pounds Chicken (ideally wings, I made do with drumsticks and random Chicken pieces) 1 can Coke 2-3 tbsp soysauce 6-7 cloves garlic 1 tbsp canola oil Directions Heat up oil in pan and fry garlic Add chicken and get a slight brown on both sides Add coke and soysauce Let the mixture come to a boil, then slowly simmer for 15-20 minutes If the sauce is still watery, turn up the heat again until the sauce becomes thicker (almost sticky because of the sugar in Coke) Enjoy! Daily Meals/Costs: Congee (皮蛋粥) – $0.28 Banana – $0.19 Coke Chicken over Rice – $0.51 Potato Pancake slice – $0.22 Total: $1.20 If you think what we are doing is interesting, impactful, or maybe kind of insane, please consider donating to our efforts here. 100% of the proceeds will go towards Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a non-profit that works to eliminate food waste and redirect food waste into solving urban hunger. Donation Total:...
Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 22

Mini Budget in Manhattan: An Experiment in Eating on $50/Mo. – Day 22

Table of Contents: 9/25/15 – Day 25 9/24/15 – Day 24 9/23/15 – Day 23   Day 22 – 9/22/15 Work was so busy today that I barely remember eating. It was more like inhaling and then food was gone and I miss it. I ate my banana while pounding away at my laptop, so highly focused on work that 20 minutes later I actually looked for my banana again because I forgot that I had eaten it. Thank goodness for tea and coffee. On such a busy day, I relied on my stash of food I cooked up over the weekend. #PreparednessWin I work up early for work (hi 8am meeting) and only had 1/2 a bowl of congee for breakfast because I didn’t have much of an appetite. Lunch was Coke Chicken and rice that I packed into a lunchbox, grabbed out of the freezer and thawed over the morning in the office fridge. By the time dinner came around, I was stressed and starving! I needed comfort food. Something hot and greasy and super satisfying. Normally I’d say Domino’s, but hey, limited budge! So I opted for garlic fried rice. Fried rice is best done with day-old rice. Since the rice was already cooked, I whipped up a batch of garlic fried rice in 15 minutes. It’s faster AND cheaper than take-out! Yum. Comfort food on a budget. Daily Meals/Costs: Congee (皮蛋粥) – $0.14 Banana – $0.19 Coke Chicken over Rice – $0.51 Garlic Fried Rice ~$0.33 (different price due to more rice) Total: $1.17 If you think what we are doing is interesting, impactful, or maybe kind of...