This is the reason that I decided to sleep as late as I possibly could on the first day of the Hunger Challenge. I had a 12:30 p.m. ticket to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (which, I should note, cost me almost as much as my entire food budget for the week, so I guess there are not many people on food stamps getting the chance to see Ms. Kahlo’s masterpieces…), so I slept until almost 11, figuring that would give me just enough time for a quick egg and a packed peanut butter sandwich for later.
I ended up making an egg-in-a-basket for breakfast, using just a touch of the butter, a slice of bread and one egg. It was satisfying, fairly filling, and I made sure to soak up as much yolk as I could with the toast, getting every bit of nutritional value out of that plate of food as possible.
Post-exhibit, I wandered out to Yerba Buena Gardens to sit in the shade and eat my sandwich, pondering the fact that, when one is particularly hungry, one’s dislike for plain peanut butter sandwiches seems to disappear out some window. I did notice, though, that even though the bread purported to be 100 percent whole wheat, it had the most vanilla-processed flavor and creepy smoothness of any bread I’ve eaten in years.
Sandwich gone, I sat and people-watched for a bit, trying to ignore the headache that was creeping up on me. I knew the caffeine withdrawal would be (literally) a pain, but it was already beginning and settling in with full force.
I drank some more water and willed the headache to go away.
I had put some black beans in water to soak when I left the house, so my plan was to return home and start cooking them. Instead, I ended up coming home and taking a nap (see above, where I discuss not eating or needing caffeine while asleep).
Post-nap, it was time to cook. On the docket was a pot of split-pea soup (where I particularly expected to miss that unpurchased ham hock), and a pot of black beans.
The soup turned out well, and became dinner, with a side of two slices of the Very Smooth Bread with a little bit of butter on each. I had, however, cooked the black beans with a little too much water, and since I had also used some cumin and taco seasoning and garlic to flavor the broth, I decided I’d go ahead and convert them into black bean soup so I could keep the broth and not pour it off.
A note, here, about the rules of my own personal challenge. I decided, going in, that spices and condiments, and my bottle of Canola oil and my cooking spray were all within bounds of the experiment. That doesn’t mean I can go wild: soy sauce, for example, is fine. Mango chutney? Not so much. Now, if I run out of soy sauce over the course of the week, I’m not allowed to go buy more…unless it costs less than the $1.08 I have left after my shopping trip.
I also decided I can’t use the free coffee and tea at the office, no matter how much I would like to do so. If I were actually on food stamps, after all, with this maximum benefit (if $21/week can actually be called much of a benefit), I would probably not be working in an office, or at least not one that serves decent tea and coffee. Hence, the abstention. The miserable, miserable abstention.
I did mean to get a workout in on Sunday, but between the caffeine headache and a general uncaffeinated wooziness, decided not to push it.
I packaged up my leftover soups, and packed myself some of the black bean soup and a peanut butter sandwich to take to work. The plan in the morning was to kick the Oatmeal Machine into high gear. Thanks to the bulk bins, I had brown sugar and raisins—two items I would never have been able to incorporate if I had bought full-sized containers of either—ready to mix in, and I was excited about the breakfast prospects.