Oct 14: Bahn Mi; Tomato, Mozzarella, Salami and Black Olive Salad


As an adjunct to a shopping trip Greg picked up two Bahn Mi sandwiches from Pho Saigon 1. This is a seriously good sandwich, with a great balance of meat and vegetable on a perfect baguette. A very generous size for $8.50 with tax and tip.


While the days are warm, the nights cool off quickly and we’re eating more inside, where it’s still warm, so a salad was on tonight’s agenda. Plus a meat-light meal is appropriate after the generous serve of pork in the bahn mi at lunch.

The tomato was chopped and soaked in balsamic vinegar for about an hour before the other ingredients were added.

  • The heirloom tomatoes are $4.99 for two pound, and we used about 3/4 lb today, or 94c per serve
  • The salami was $4.49 and we used half, or $1.25 per serve
  • The mozzarella was also $4.49 and used all or $2.50 per serve
  • Black olives are $6.99 for the jar, but we used about 1/4 or 88c per serve
  • Add 25c per serve for balsamic and seasonings.

The balsamic vinegar redeemed the somewhat bland heirloom tomatoes (thanks Trader Joe’s) and their sharp fresh flavor helped balance the fresh mozzarella balls while the salami added a little meatiness. A great dish for $5.82 per serve.

Oct 13: Tomato & Mayo, Ham, Cheese & Mustard Sandwiches; Sauerkraut Sausage Paprikash


Returning to a couple of good sandwiches, we used more of the (less flavorsome) heirloom tomato from Trader Joe’s.

  • Two slices of bread are 32c per serve
  • The ham was $3.69 for and we used about 1/4 in this sandwich, or 49c per serve
  • The cheese is 40c per slice or 20c per serve
  • Add 25c for spicy mustard
  • The heirloom tomato was $1.30 and we use half, or 33c per serve
  • Add 20c for mayo.

Lunch today was ok for $1.79 per serve, but would be better if the tomato had more flavor.


A new recipe for us, Sauerkraut Sausage Paprikash, is both reminiscent of a choucroute garnie because of the sauerkraut and pork sausage aspect, and completely different because of the paprika and cream.

The recipe makes four serves.

  • The bratwurst are $3.49 for the pack, or 88c per serve
  • The Bubbies (natural) Sauerkraut is expensive at $6.99 or $1.75 per serve, but it is a very superior sauerkraut without the bad odor of most sauerkraut
  • Sour cream cost $3.99 but we used 1/4, or 25c per serve
  • The butter is $3.99 per block, and we used about 1/41/4, or 25c per serve
  • Add 50c per serve for seasoning, although we added 3 times the paprika than the recipe called for.

The sauerkraut still had some crunch, which gave good textural variation, and the flavor combinations worked really well with the bratwurst. All in all a satisfying meal for $3.63 per serve.

Oct 12: Avocado and Sardine Sandwich; Sirloin with Slow Cooked Broccoli


A return to a favorite sandwich: avocado and sardine. Today’s sardines were in oil that was drained off.

  • Two slices of bread are 32c per serve
  • The avocado is $1.89 or 95c per serve
  • Sardines in olive oil are $1.69 per can or  85c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.12 per serve.


Although the weather is closing in, it’s still possible to grill and some sirloin tip steak from our Prather Ranch delivery went on the grill.

Two hours before the grill was warmed onion, garlic, spice and broccoli went into the oven to make slow cooked broccoli, which totally transforms the flavor of broccoli and caramelizes the onion. The recipe makes four serves. In a brilliant addition, Greg added in some pickled beets for a sharp tang.

  • The steak averages $5.93 per serve
  • The Valpresso feta was $9.99 for the tin, but we used 1/6, or 42c per serve
  • The broccoli was $2.79 or 70c per serve
  • 2lb of sweet organic onions were $2.79 and we used about 1/4 or 18c per serve
  • The beets are $1.69 and we used 1/4 or 22c per serve.
  • Add 15c per serve for red pepper flakes and other spices.

Tonight’s steak had good beef flavor and was more tender than we would have expected for sirloin, probably due to the dry aging. The slow cooked broccoli is a great side dish to create a great meal for $7.60 per serve.

Oct 11: Popeye’s Fried Chicken; Pea Soup


Time to use the remaining chicken.

  • Eight pieces are $16.26 including tax and we served two each, or $4.07 per serve
  • Trader Joe’s Black Beans Cuban Style are 99c for the can or 50c per serve.

The chicken reheated well and the beans were pretty good for the price. All up $4.57 per serve.


Home made pea soup built on the stock remaining from our ham bone is a joy and tonight was no exception.

The bone is pressure cooked with some aromatics and water, including a bay leaf because it’s easy to find in the clear stock, but much harder to remove from the resulting soup. Since this stock is destined for the soup, it makes life a little easier.

The soup is prepared by adding split peas to the stock and pressure cooking again. Our innovation is to blend in one pound of fresh (frozen) peas at the end. It lifts the texture and provides a bright note to the flavor.

The addition of liquid smoke creates the illusion of ham even though there was no meat in this dish (other than via the meat stock, of course).

The soup recipe makes four serves.

  • The stock has no real cost
  • The pack of split peas was $1.59 or 27c per serve
  • The frozen peas is 99c a pack, or 16c per serve.

For dinner tonight the soup cost 43c. We chose not to do a roll or bread with the soup as it is very filling on its own.

Oct 10: Tomato & Mayo, Ham, Cheese & Mustard Sandwiches; Chili


Today’s heirloom tomato (from Trader Joe’s) was nowhere near as tasty as the less expensive one from Jon’s.

  • Two slices of bread are 32c per serve
  • The ham was $3.69 for and we used about 1/4 in this sandwich, or 49c per serve
  • The cheese is 40c per slice or 20c per serve
  • Add 25c for spicy mustard
  • The heirloom tomato was $1.30 and we use half, or 33c per serve
  • Add 20c for mayo.

Lunch today was ok for $1.79 per serve, but would be better if the tomato had more flavor.


We returned to the chili for $5.09 per serve, with the avocado and sour cream. We dropped the cheddar from the repeat as we didn’t think it added much flavor.

Oct 9: Popeye’s Fried Chicken; Gordon Biersch


A broken Monday had Foodie Philip returning home around lunch time, so a side trip to Popeyes secured lunch. A slight increase in cost from a sales tax increase, and the end of the 10 piece special.

  • Eight pieces are $16.26 including tax and we served two each, or $4.07 per serve
  • The red beans and rice are $2.17 per serve with tax.

Lunch today was $6.24 per serve.


A business meeting had us in Burbank at Gordon Biersch for dinner. Philip had the Gastro Burger while Greg had the blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich. Both were pretty good, although the fries were not up to standard.

Tonight’s meal was up to expectations for $18.73 per serve with tax and tip.

Oct 8: Heuvos Rancheros; Bacon Black Bean Chili with Avocado, Cheddar and Crème Fraîche


We noticed that a Mexican restaurant near our local Ralph’s was popular with the local Fire Department. That’s usually a good sign, so we decided to stop in for heuvos rancheros, which is a good measure of a Mexican restaurant.

The atmosphere was good, and the host welcoming. The food was well prepared but the red sauce was a little bland. Overall, not bad for $9.70 per serve.


A return to an old favorite: bacon and black bean chili with all the “fixin’s”: crème fraîche, cheddar and avocado. The recipe makes six serves.

  • The ground beef was $9.91 or $1.65 per serve
  • The beans are $1.00 per can and we used two, or 33c per serve
  • Canned tomatoes were $1.29 or 22c per serve
  • Tomato paste was 79c or 13c per serve
  • Bacon is $6.99 for the pack and we used half, or 39c per serve
  • Add 30c per serve for seasoning
  • The avocado was $3.79 (it was big) or $1.90 per serve
  • The crème fraîche was $2.69 or 17c per serve
  • The cheddar is $3.99 a block and we used 1/2 or $1.25 per serve.

This is a great recipe and we always enjoy it. The chili is $3.02 per serve and the toppings add $3.32 for a total of $6.34 per serve.

Oct 7: Smoked Salmon Sandwich; Pork Chops with Endive and Apple Salad


Since it’s the weekend, why not indulge in a smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, shallot sandwich. So we did.

  • Twos slice of bread are 32c per serve
  • Smoked salmon $5.99 for the 4oz pack or $3.00 a serve
  • The soft cheese of choice was Neufschatel at $2.99 for the block, of which we used 1/4 or 38c
  • Add 15c for capers and shallot.

Lunch today was – as expected – delicious for $3.85 per serve


Time for pork chops from our Prather Ranch meat delivery. Unlike modern pork these heritage breed chops are nicely marveled with fat, which – when cooked correctly – lubricates the meat making it more unctuous.

After tasting an endive and apple salad in Amsterdam, we decided to pair the pork with another variation, using a Waldorf dressing and adding nuts.

  • The pork was $11.16 per 12 oz serve, although truthfully, we’d have been satisfied with half that (if we’d known there were two chops per pack)
  • The endive was $2.49 or $1.25 per serve
  • A honeycrisp apple was $1.49 or 75c per serve
  • Add 30c for dressing ingredients.

Dinner tonight was exceptionally good, if a little expensive at $13.46 per serve. The pork may be expensive but it’s very good and was cooked slower than a normal grill, so the fat would render without the meat overcooking. The endive and apple salad was a sharp contrast to the pork and a perfect accompaniment.

Oct 6: Chicken & Tabouli in a Hot Roll; Thom Ka Moo Soup with Brown Rice Vermicelli


Coming to the end of the week and we have a chicken breast and some tabouli left over. Warm the chicken, stuff it in a hot rustic roll finished in the oven, season with some mustard aioli and that’s a pretty good lunch.

  • The chicken breast is $1.75 or 88c per serve
  • A pack of six par baked rustic rolls is $3.29 or 55c per serve
  • The Jon’s tabouli is $2.83 for the 8oz container, and we served the remaining 1/4 or 36c per serve
  • Add 25c for the mustard aioli.

Lunch today was $2.04 per serve and pretty tasty.


We revisited the balance of the Thom Ka Moo but with brown rice vermicelli instead of brown rice, because the rice and ground pork have textures that are two similar, whereas the vermicelli texture is completely different.

  • The thom ka moo is $5.62 per serve
  • The brown rice vermicelli is $2.39 per pack, and we used half, or 60c per serve.

Dinner tonight was even better than the original, for just $6.24 per serve.