Eating and economics

When people find out I have a baking blog, the conversation that follows goes something like this.

Curious person: So you must make a lot of stuff then. How often do you bake?

Me: It depends on my schedule, but usually anywhere from 2 to 4 times a week.

CP: That often?! How are you not a blimp?

At this point, I usually say something about sharing treats with friends or packing up a few slices for R.'s office. But let's pretend we're economists for a moment, and take a look at the bigger picture. It'll be painless, I promise.


Fact #1: Owning a car is expensive.

We don't own a car and I really like to walk. Even when it's raining, especially when it's raining. That's when public transit and the people who ride it are at their worst. Think foggy windows, slippery floors, damp coats and drippy umbrellas. Yes walking takes longer, but it clears my head and opens my eyes to things I'd never notice otherwise. Since I view walking as transportation and not exercise, I end up covering a lot of ground without even thinking about it. Before I left my most recent office job, for example, my daily commute was about 7 kilometres round trip on foot. What about exercise, you ask? Yeah, I do that too, in moderation.

Reality #1: I move around a lot.


Fact #2: Most food you buy at a grocery store is not taxed. Eating out at a restaurant is.

Which, as a friend's professor once said, makes cooking a state-subsidized hobby of sorts. I like to cook mostly because I enjoy time in the kitchen and think homemade usually tastes better, but also because I can determine what goes into my food. It's an important point, especially when you consider research like this. (And contrary to popular belief, I do make more than cookies and cakes. You just don't see it on The Casual Baker!) Don't get me wrong. I like to eat out and have been known to scarf down a few Cheezies in my day, but it's the exception not the norm.

Reality #2: I make most things I eat, whether meals or treats.


Fact #3: Food has a diminishing marginal utility.

Say what? Basically, your enjoyment of a food decreases with each bite. Think about a slice of cheesecake. The first forkful is incredible. The sour tang bursts on your taste buds and the velvety smoothness slides across your tongue. You reach eagerly for another bite, and the next. Now fast forward a few bites. You're about 2/3 through the slice and the pause between forkfuls is lengthening. The cheesecake still tastes good at this point, but it's considerably less revelatory. This is usually when I jam the rest in the fridge and take it out again the next day for a mid-afternoon snack so that I can have that first-bite experience all over again.

Reality #3: I eat to enjoy food.


I think it's this same principle that leads me to bake in half-batches quite often. Not only do I not need to eat 3 brownies a day for the next week, I don't really want to. I'd much rather be tasting something new.

Like Smitten Kitchen's Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies. Half the brownies, but equally as good.

Notes: A loaf pan is the perfect vessel for halving an 8-inch pan recipe. To avoid messy division, I used a full 2 ounces of chocolate in the brownie batter and an entire egg yolk in the cheesecake component with no ill effects.

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