Please include the people of Paradise, California in your #Thanksgiving prayers.

I lived in Paradise from 1996 – 2001, and I’ve seen that many beautiful custom homes had been built in the some of the available land around town since I left. But now the Safeway and Albertsons I shopped are gone, gas stations are gone, elementary and high schools gone, police station gone, city hall gone, antique shops gone, theatre playhouse gone, library gone, whole neighborhoods both modest and wealthy – – all gone.

These ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos just provide a small taste of the devastation. It is tragic enough to have your house burn down, and another to have your livelihood and your whole town gone. When you have your Thanksgiving meal, please say a prayer for these people and the children who have had all images of their childhood erased literally overnight. The count for lives lost is currently 79, but estimates are that it will be over 100 as they continue to sift through the ashes for the nearly 700 missing.

A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight!

bread-and-porridgeI had the great opportunity to review Bread & Porridge, a breakfast & lunch restaurant recently in Santa Monica, and I was blown away by the incredible value this place offers. As THE Frugal Foodie, I am not into the latest trendy restaurants that charge an arm and a leg. I look for places that offer great quality at fair prices, and Bread & Porridge totally KILLS it with their generous portions!  Bread & Porridge has been in business since 1994, and how they have flown under the radar for 23 years is beyond me. Their menu proudly proclaims they serve the “World’s Greatest Breakfast” and this is why:

First, Bread & Porridge only uses local California Certified Organic eggs cooked in real butter. Since they are not just organic but also local – – they are VERY fresh natural eggs unlike the ones used at hotel or restaurant chains (cheap mass-produced eggs from stressed chickens in crowded cages) fried in cheap unhealthy oils. There are places all over LA that charge a lot more to make this claim.

20161214_111503Second, Bread & Porridge serves Jody Maroni sausages. In case you are not familiar with Jody Maroni, he is the son of the most esteemed butcher in the Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Jody’s father was renowned for his commitment to his customers, fair pricing, and selling only the highest quality cuts of meat. He instilled those same values in his son, and Jody’s goumet sausages:

• Are made with all-natural ingredients from homemade recipes.
• Jody himself deftly combines the finest cuts of meat and poultry with wines, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and spices.
• His sausages are naturally low in sodium and fat.
• Many ofhis sausages have no nitrates, preservatives, or MSG.
• His sausages are coarsely ground to reveal each individual ingredient.
• Each sausage is prepared using a natural pork casing (unless otherwise noted).

Pictured below are the sausages served at the restaurant starting at the top and going around clockwise:
Spicy Portuguese – Made with pork
Spicy Cajun Andouille – Chicken & authentic Cajun spices
Cilantro Verdi – Made with turkey & chicken *
Maple Breakfast – A sweet & savory, mild pork sausage
Italian Breakfast – Made with chicken
Mild Chicken Apple – Chicken with a touch of sherry
Little Links – A handful (5) of classically spicy pork sausages (center)

20161214_111443Third, they have awesome service by people who truly enjoy where they work and work as a team! Virtually all “Team Members” (dishwashers, busboys, servers, cashiers and cooks) have been at Bread & Porridge for more than seven years and most since they opened in 1994. I believe that when people are passionate about their work with food, it shows in the quality of what they serve. This kind of retention in the food industry is rarely found.

And most important, Bread & Porridge provides generous portions of this top quality food at prices much lower than the “trendy” restaurants around LA. In fact, their prices are about the same, or just a dollar or two more than Denny’s! To be honest, I haven’t eaten at Denny’s in a few years, but I remember what I was served at Denny’s was a lot smaller and using cheaper (less healthful) ingredients! (To make sure I was making a proper comparison, I even stopped by my local Denny’s today just to check their prices.)

20161214_111434My cousin and I had the Omelet Fresco and a full order of the French Toast. The omelet was an 3-egg omelet full of nicely sauteed fresh meaty Roma tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, and fresh basil. The roasted red potatoes were flavorful and a wonderful creamy-textured complement to the omelet. The huge portion of French Toast was made with a brioche-like egg bread that lended a tender yet toothsome texture that I only find in French Toast made with good quality bread.It was accompanied with fresh strawberries and banana slices. We splurged with the option of 100% pure, non-GMO Vermont Maple Syrup for $3.10. Otherwise, they serve Log Cabin syrup which uses NO high fructose corn syrup.

Bread & Porridge is very busy on the weekends, and rightly so considering they don’t cut any corners on quality. The only drawback I can find is the parking, which is dependent on Wilshire and neighborhood side streets. If that is a problem for you, you might consider coming during the week for breakfast or lunch, when parking is easier to find.

**Best Value: I would recommend you try the Full order French Toast (only $1 more than a Half order) which is a LOT bigger and better in quality for the same price or less than what you would pay at a chain restaurant. (I found the leftover French Toast reheats well.)

Bread & Porridge Restaurant
2315 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 453-4941
Hours: Every day 7AM–2:30PM
Breakfast & Lunch

Why Are Total STRANGERS TAGGING Me on Facebook?

facebook-fraudThis is mainly a foodie blog for people who are looking to save money. Goodness knows the economy is worse than anyone is daring to talk about on TV. The networks think it’s better for their ratings to cover the latest embarrassing gaff by Donald Trump, than to talk about how bad it really is for our struggling middle class Americans. I know of LOTS of people who are hurting in this economy – – many of them are baby boomers used to earning six figures. Now, they’re struggling to make house payments and getting care through MediCal. On top of this, their children can’t find the higher paying jobs needed to pay off their student loans, so they are living with their parents. Many middle class families are trying to keep up appearances like Teresa Guidice, just not resorting to illegal means to achieve it. Forgive my digression, and I will get back to the point.

I know some people like myself who have turned to social media marketing to earn a living, and still more who network on social media in their job search. Many of us do regular daily posts on Facebook as part of our social media routine, and I’ve noticed a strange new trend.


How did they get my name? Why out of millions of people on Facebook, did they pick me? Did they see that I “Liked” and commented on a photo my friend shared with me?

 Why do they think I would want to see my friends’ photos AGAIN from a complete stranger? Do they go up to strangers on the street and show them photos of their friends??? So I thought I would give them a taste of their own medicine and tag them into a post I had written. Well, I found I wasn’t able to return the favor, which leads me to the following conclusion.

ANSWER: Why don’t we just say that strangers are paid by Facebook to tag photos to increase the popularity or social media ranking for a subscriber of this Facebook service? Really, isn’t that why THEY can TAG ME, but I can’t TAG THEM? You may be experiencing this too and you don’t know it. Go into your “Activity Log” and look under “Review.” You may discover that strangers have been tagging you into their re-posts of photos by your friends too. Currently, the only way to combat this is to consistently go through your “Review” folder and un-tag yourself which can take a LOT of time. I think we should petition Facebook to go back to the way it used to be – – where only your friends could tag you into a picture they posted. Or, give you the option where strangers can’t tag you. What do think?

WHO You Hire Directly Affects Your WORK LIFE & HOME LIFE

Many of us are/have been in a position to select people to work with/for us. You keep race, religion, gender, sexual preference, disability and age out of the equation. When you are hiring someone, you depend on their A) RESUME, B) an INTERVIEW, & C) REFERENCES.
Education – where did they go to college? do they have advanced degrees? does their course work or degree apply to the position? what was their GPA?
Work Experience – have they worked in positions that apply to the position they are interviewing for? what were their job duties? what skills or means were used to reach their achievements? what were the things done that lead to failures?
B) INTERVIEW – did this person provide the documents requested (if applicable)? does this person avoid making prejudicial comments about race, religion, sexual preference, gender, disability or age? do they speak intelligently? do they give direct answers to your questions or do they try to steer you to a different topic? are they pleasant or do they get upset or defensive?
C) REFERENCES – do they have favorable references beyond their family & in-laws? do past supervisors/coworkers have good things to say about this person?

I Have A Question About Taxing Marijuana…

Why bring up pot on a foodie page? Because several states will be voting to legalize it for recreational use this November, and this would allow many like me to pursue an interest in learning how to cook & bake with it. Please note that I am far from being considered a casual user. In fact, I’ve smoked pot less times than I’ve had a winning lottery ticket. (Yeah, that few.) There’s just too much control freak in me to use it as a recreational drug, so I go through life au naturel with an occasional glass of red wine. I’m not against other people using it, as long as they are not operating a vehicle or heavy equipment. As a matter of fact, I’ve looked into getting a prescription for my mom if she ever loses her appetite (like some seniors tend to do). But I have a question.

Eight states will vote to legalize marijuana either for recreational (Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, California) or medical (Florida, Missouri, Arkansas) purposes in November.* Many states considering it for recreational use figure if people are going to do it anyway, we might as well get some tax dollars out of them. (To me, that line of reasoning could open the doors for prostitution, but that is a different discussion.) So if the use of recreational marijuana is legalized in those (above) five states, I’m guessing the tax on marijuana would be on par with the tax on cigarettes or alcohol. So here’s my question: since Illinois and Georgia are the only states taxing prescription medicine,** will marijuana be tax free for people with a prescription card? I propose this may well be the case, if the states are to continue to recognize marijuana as a prescribable substance with medicinal benefits. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Works Cited

*Smith, Aaron. (2016, June 29). California among 8 states to vote on legal weed in November. CNN Money. Retrieved

**Dumler, James R. (2015,  December  11). Which States Tax Prescription and Over-The-Counter Medicine? Retrieved

Collaboration Kitchen Behind the Scenes

Amy Pinn

My friend Amy Pinn

For several years, I have volunteered down in San Diego with a great group of volunteer chefs and guest chefs at a monthly pop-up dinner called “Collaboration Kitchen,” with all proceeds going to children’s charities. Here is Amy Pinn’s write-up on the January pop-up. Source: Collaboration Kitchen Behind the Scenes

Easy 5-Ingredient Death-By-Chocolate Cake Uses Only One Tablespoon of Flour!

Chocolate Cake SliceIngredients:
7 oz Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
7 oz Best Quality Unsalted Butter (high butterfat European preferred), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Continue reading

Easy Banana Fritters Recipe

JONS Marketplace near me, currently has bananas at 3 lbs/$.99 until November 17th! So, why not make some Banana Fritters? 
Banana Fritters
Wet ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon margarine, melted
Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
* * *
1 quart oil for frying
1 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Mix Wet ingredients in one bowl, and Dry ingredents in another bowl. Stir dry ingredients into banana mixture.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil, and cook, turning once, until browned, 2 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Why McDonald’s Changing To “Cage-Free” Eggs Is Merely A Step In The Right Direction

NPR recently reported, “McDonald’s USA announced that in the near future, it will no longer buy eggs from chickens that live in cages. Those cages are still the industry standard, and 90 percent of America’s eggs come from chickens that live in them.”

For more on this story, see NPR’s “The Latest Scramble In The Egg Industry: McDonald’s Is Going Cage-Free

Cage-Free Eggs, Photo Credit - Dan Charles, NPR

Cage-free chickens in a barn near Hershey, Pa., get to roam and perch on steel rods, but they don’t go outside. This week, McDonald’s became the latest big buyer to demand cage-free eggs.

Also, see why “Cage-Free” isn’t really as humane as they promote it to be; and, why they should be shooting for “Free-Range” or “Pastured” chickens!

Custard Tarts, Chinese Bakeries, and a 178 Year Old Portugese Recipe

Eastern Bakery San FranciscoDahn Tat Eastern Bakery via Yelp
You may have tried the ubiquitous Custard Tart, or “Dahn Tat,” found in almost every Asian bakery. On the west coast of the U.S., they originally appeared in chinese bakeries like the Eastern Bakery, the oldest chinese bakery (1924) in North America located in San Francisco (above) and Phoenix Bakery, the oldest chinese bakery (1938) in Los Angeles (below). These pastries are much unlike the other baked and steamed delicacies from China, and no doubt were the result of influence by the portuguese bakeries in Macau. The chinese version has a delicate golden, flakey crust and custard so light it seems steamed rather than baked.
Phoenix BakeryDahn Tat from Phoenix Bakery Los Angeles Kimberly K. attributed
The portugese version is a bit different, and called Pasteis de Nata. The most famous bakery in Portugal is Pasteis De Belem in Lisbon. Their recipe is over 178 years old – – the bakery’s founder bought the recipe from a monastery in 1837! The pastry chef here (and founder’s son-in-law) started working here at age 15, and dedicated his life to making the “perfect custard tart.” He is now 76 years old, and people make a pilgrimage from around the world to eat his custard tarts – – as evidenced by the long lines every week. They sell 10,000 daily and 20,000 on bank holidays. In contrast to the chinese version, their crust has a light crispy crunch and a richer creamy custard. I hope you put this place on your bucket list and let me know when you try them!
Pasteis De Belem via ExpediaPasteis de Nata from Pasteis de Belem via Delphine Fortin
Watch this short video on the history and how they make (by hand!) the Pasteis de Nata at Pasteis De Belem!
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