Jan 16: Baked beans; Sous vide pork chops with Waldorf salad


The leftover baked beans from January 9th were calling to be eaten. So we did. Served on an English muffin with two organic eggs. That’s just $2.38 a serve.


We had extra thick cut pork loin chops in this month’s meat order, and sous vide, followed by a quick sear, is the best way to cook pork to perfection.

  • 12 oz pork chop $9.50 each/per serve. Bone in so the meat is about 10 oz – a generous serve.

For the salad:

  • Celery 99c or 50c a serve
  • Apple $1.10 or 55c a serve
  • Walnut pieces $2.00 or $1.00 a serve
  • Mayo – let’s say 1/5 th of the container, 50c or 25c each
  • Labne – to mix with the mayo – again 1/5 of the container, 50c or 25c each

Dinner tonight cost $9.50 for a very generous serve of farm raised heritage pork and $2.55 for the salad each.

Without a doubt this was the best pork chop I’ve ever had. Way better cooked than at Gallagher’s New York New York in Las Vegas, where it would be $36 for the chop, plus sides. This is the benefit of cooking: the best quality food without breaking the bank.

About sous vide: The times we cook this way we use a very large cast iron pot filled with water. This provides enough thermal inertia to keep the temperature relatively stable. This time round, Greg tried the (to us new) induction cooktop. Temperature mode on the cooktop proved to be quite stable and excellent for the sous vide.

Jan 15: Smoked salmon and eggs; Lemon soup with lamb


Another indulgent Friday: wild caught smoked salmon on an English muffin with a poached egg on top. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to fake a ‘hollandaise’ taste with the egg and it was delicious.

  • Smoked salmon – normally $6.99 but Greg bought it for $5.99 on special or $3.00 a serve
  • The English muffin is 50c a serve
  • Our organic eggs are 50c each, and we had two for $1 per serve.
Wild caught smoked salmon with organic eggs on an english muffin.
Wild caught smoked salmon with organic eggs on an english muffin.

Lunch cost $4.50 a serve for smoked salmon.


We went back to a recipe we haven’t had for about two years: Lemon soup with Lamb. Initially we tried this soup because of the unusual way it is thickened: with eggs.

Greg used meyer lemons – give to us by a friend – instead of regular lemons and they are perfect for this recipe. The slight sweetness and reduced tartness of the meyer lemon really works in the recipe. We also used spinach off the balcony garden which was sliced and placed in the bottom of the bowl. We also used orzo instead of larger pasta and dropped the cream. It’s not needed.

  • Lamb shoulder $8.57 or $4.29 a serve
  • Onion, carrot and celery about 30c a serve
  • Organic chicken stock $2.30 or $1.15 a serve
  • Lemons and spinach – zero
  • Orzo pasta is $2 a 16 oz box, and 1/4 was used or 25c a serve
  • Three large organic eggs are $1.50 or 75c a serve
  • Add 10c a serve for herbs.

Tonight’s dinner cost $5.75 a serve.

The dish comes from a cookbook we brought with us from Australia: Reader’s Digest One-Dish Meals, the easy way. ©1995

Jan 14: Sushi; Marinated steak, wild rice and bok choy


Grabbing lunch between a Home Depot visit and going to do some yard work on our house, we picked up sushi again. $6.50 a serve, but convenient.


Filipino-style marinated steak, wild rice mix and bok choy. We’re starting with a cross-rib steak so marinating and a fast cook, will be the secret to getting the best from this piece of meat.

The interplay of salty, sweet, and sour is pure Filipino, and the lemon rind adds an intense blast of citrus flavor.

  •  The cross-rib steaks are part of our monthly meat delivery: 10.4 oz each – $5.85 per serve
  • The bok choy cost $1.08 or 54c a serve
  • The country rice blend was $2.63 for the packet but that will make four serves, so 66c serve.

Dinner tonight cost $7.05. While that’s not the absolute best cut of beef, it is tasty, enhanced by the marinade and the beef we’re getting in our meat box has a more ‘beefy’ flavor than more conventional beef.

Jan 13: Chicken Wrap; Cioppino


A repeat of yesterday’s roast chicken breast and salad wraps.

  • For lunch a breast was divided for 87c each serve.
  • Hummus adds around 30c;
  • Tabouli salad 79c a serve
  • A flatbread is 50c.

Today’s lunch wrap cost us $2.46 a serve.


We first encountered cioppino at Gordon Birsch, but it’s off the menu now! (That happens to pretty much all our favorites there.) It’s a simple seafood stew that’s extremely tasty but also very easy to make.

We left our the shrimp because our dinner guest is allergic. Tonight’s meal served three with several cups of the stock left as a snack or the basis of something else later.

  • Olive oil – less than 5c serve
  • Fennel bulb at $2 makes for 67c serve
  • Onion at 50c makes it 17c serve
  • Four large garlic cloves are about 1/4 of the 50c garlic – 17c serve
  • Tomato paste 90c can but only half was used, for 15c serve
  • Diced tomatoes in juice – $3.99 or $1.33 serve
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine – about $1 or 33c serve
  • 5 cups fish stock $6.20 or $2.07 serve
  • 16 oz of White Wine and Garlic Mussels are $4 or $1.33 serve
  • For the firm fleshed fish, Greg used Kroger Wild Caught Pacific Cod. The 40z pack costs $16.89 but only 8 oz was used (two filets). $1.13 a serve.

Served with Simple Truth Ready to bake garlic bread – $3.99 for the loaf (expensive for bread but delicious) or $1.33 per serve.

Total for tonight’s dinner: $8.60. When it was at Gordon Birsch it was $16.99 but with tax and tip that would be closer to a $22 meal out.

Healthyish and the value of home-cooked meals.

A couple of blog posts that caught our eye – because we mostly agree with them!

From the Huffington Post: The Undeniable Health And Social Benefits Of Eating Home-Cooked Meals which is one huge infograph on the benefits of home cooking and how to go about making it happen for yourself.

The other article that caught our eye was In Defense of Food and the Rise of ‘Healthy-ish’ which summarizes a new PBS documentary and Bon Appetit’s January issue which tackle the question of “healthy eating.” That’s essentially our approach: real food (minimally processed), a good variety of food and not worrying too much.

Jan 12: Chicken wrap; Roast Cauliflower and Roast Chicken Leg


A return to one of our regular lunch meals: store bought, roast chicken breast wraps.

  • Today’s chicken was $6.99 and I divide it by 4 for $1.75 a serve for two breasts and two legs. For lunch a breast was divided for 87c each serve.
  • Hummus adds around 30c;
  • Tabouli salad 79c a serve
  • A flatbread is 50c.

Today’s lunch wrap cost us $2.46 a serve.


  • The chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) are from the roast chicken , so $1.75 a serve

Tonight’s roasted cauliflower recipe comes from Rouxbe.com – one of my favorite cooking school sites. Roasting cauliflower completely changes the flavor and texture. It was really good.

  • Just over 1 lb of cauliflower cost $2.13 and we used it all over two serves: $1.07 each.
  • The arugula, meyer lemon, capers (a Greg addition to the recipe), and seasonings might run 75c per serve.

Total cost for dinner: $3.57 per serve.


Jan 11: Scotch Broth; Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros


Even after four serves there was Scotch Broth left over: enough for two very large cups today. So, because I’d apportioned all the cost to four serves, today’s lunch is free!


Is it a Quesadilla? Is it a grilled cheese sandwich? Not really Huevos Rancheros… Here’s the original recipe, and here’s what we did:

Take a flatbread and spread with refried black beans. Cover with grated cheese: ours is a mix of about 3 oz gouda and 1 oz of parmesan. A little organic salsa – frontera chipotle salsa – and fry in a little bacon fat (or oil if you don’t keep bacon fat.)

When in the pan lay another flatbread across and wait until the bottom flatbread is cooked, and the cheese has started to soft.

Flip – I find getting the flipper under the long axis of the flatbread and flipping sideways works for me.

While it rests for five minutes, fry two eggs a serve and top with a little more salsa.

Not every day has to be a gourmet adventure, but it does have to taste good.

  • One flatbread (half of two) costs 50c a serve
  • Half a can of refried beans, shared across two halves: 33c
  • Fontera salsa is expensive (and tasty) at $4.69 a jar, but it breaks down to 16c a serve inside, and the same drizzled on top
  • The mix of cheese is about 78c per serve
  • Each egg adds 50c or $1 per serve

Dinner tonight cost $2.93.

Jan 10: Skirt Steak, eggs and home fries; Scallop with Mango Avocado salad


On the way to do some work on our newly purchased home, we stopped in at the Country Deli in Chatsworth for lunch. With coffee, tax and tip my $14.50 marinated skirt steak was just over $20. But it was very good. 10 oz of really good skirt steak cooked perfectly, three good eggs and crisp home fries. And a bagel. A hearty feed before heading off to dig a channel for a box drain!


Fortunately Greg planned a much lighter dinner: Pan seared scallops with butter ponzu sauce; mango, avocado and arugula salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette. The sharpness of the meyer lemon against the avocado is a perfect balance.

The scallops need to be dried before pan searing in a hot pan. One minute 30 seconds per side. And serve.

Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is tart, with a thin, watery consistency and a dark brown color. Like soy or tamari (a gluten free soy) it pair beautifully with butter in a simple, but delicious sauce. Three tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of butter. Mix over heat.

Chop the ripe Mango and avocado toss in meyer lemon juice. That also prevents the avocado growing.  Dress the arugula with a generous amount of olive oil (to taste). Toss together and serve.

  • The Kroger Wild-caught Scallops cost $14.99 or $7.50 a serve
  • Mango cost $1.49 or 75c a serve
  • The Hass avocado was $2.99 or $1.50 a serve
  • The pack of baby arugula cost $3 and we used less than 1/3 in total, or 50c each serve.
  • It’s hard to quantify the small amount of butter and ponzu sauce but let’s say 25c serve.

That’s $10.50 a serve: easily 2-3 times that in a restaurant. Good scallops are beyond delicious and the slightly sharp salad is a perfect balance for the butter ponzu sauce.

Jan 9: Sushi; Baked Beans


Once again Sushi from Ralph’s (Kroger) because that’s where we shopped for ingredients today. $6.50 a serve today.


Tonight’s dinner is Pioneer Woman’s Baked Beans recipe with a few minor changes:

  • Greg used dry mustard instead of dijon
  • Instead of barbecue sauce, he used organic ketchup
  • and the final change was molasses instead of brown sugar because it contributes more flavor and is less sweet than brown sugar. Brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses sprayed on it.
  • Only two cans of beans went in. Again organic.

Pioneer Woman says 18 serves, but that would be as a side dish. Served with a muffin as an entree (main) and a couple of eggs on top I’m going to assume 4 serves to keep the math simple.

Bacon was purchased on special: 24 oz for $8. Our four rashers are roughly 3 oz or about $1 split over four serves: 25c.

The onion is less than 50c and the bell pepper $1, or 38c a serve. The two cans of organic beans (Simple Truth) were on special at 99c each, or 50c per serve combined.

The other ingredients might add up to another 25c per serve: molasses, ketchup, dry mustard and vinegar.

Total price per serve (assuming 4): $1.38. Served with an English Muffin, adds 50c a serve, and two eggs are 50c each, adding another $1 per serve. (We choose free range eggs, which are somewhat more expensive than conventional. It also explains the deep golden color.) Add it all together and we had a delicious meal for $2.88 a serve.

While this has the most wonderful smell when its cooking, the special treat is the bacon that’s been macerating in the beans during the slow cook. Savor it.