Saturday, May 14, 2022

Black Diamond Cheddar Cheese Slices


Black Diamond Cheddar Cheese Slices are on sale at Walmart this week, at the very low price of $1.97 per 410g pack (normally $3.88). You can get regular thickness at 22 slices per pack, or extra thick at 14 slices per pack.

At this price, it is amazingly cheap compared to basically every other type of cheese you can get at Walmart. I bought two packs of the regular Cheddar, and immediately regretted it as soon as I ate a slice.

The problem is the flavour is so very weak as to barely be present -- especially for a cheese that claims to be cheddar, normally a stronger-flavoured cheese. It is so weak as to be easily overpowered by pretty much anything else you are having it with, thus making it pointless to add.
Even eaten on its own, the cheddar flavour is disappointingly feeble.

Too bad I had discarded my receipt already. Otherwise I'd go back for a refund on the unopened pack.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Budget Cheesy Rice TV Dinners

This is a simple recipe to make simple yet delicious meals, on a budget, and in batches ready to heat up and serve for busy people -- whether you are single or preparing meals for the family they can just grab from the fridge and prepare themselves.


  1. Prepare rice.
    • I use a parboiled rice that recommends 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, but I found that you can get away with as little as 1 cup of water per cup of rice.
    • You can throw virtually anything in here to flavour it a bit and make it more interesting, such as diced potatoes and carrots which will cook while the rice is cooking.
    • In the worst case, if you are on a strict budget, just add some salt. 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of raw rice is more than enough.
    • A useful product is Knorr Chicken Broth Mix, which you can use to make broth / soup of course but you can also add about 1 tablespoon per cup of raw rice to make somewhat flavourful rice. Look around for the bulk-sized 1 kilogram container for more savings instead of buying smaller quantities.
  2. Get some bowls and cut some cheese.
  3. Start with a layer of rice on the bottom and add a layer of cheese (slide 1). You really don't need quite that much cheese, but if you want it super cheesy, go ahead and add more.
  4. Top with more rice.
  5. Top with something to go with the rice if you have it. In the slide above I added some frozen Great Value brand perogies from Walmart (slide 2); they'll be cooked when I steam the rice bowl later.
  6. Put these "TV dinner" portions in the fridge for use later.
When you need a meal, you just steam it briefly to rehydrate the rice, melt the cheese, and heat up the meal. I use an InstantPot, so it's really easy and low-attention.
  • I set it to Steam with a 1 minute timer and without the Keep Warm setting.
  • Then when the steam has cooled enough for the lid to be safely opened (the red float valve drops down), everything is heated through. Probably very hot, in fact.
  • Or if I'm in the middle of something, I don't have to run over and turn it off because the residual hot air / steam inside the InstantPot will keep it hot for a good while until I'm ready to eat.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

All About Pho


My friend treated me to lunch and All About Pho was her choice. It was the first time for both of us, and for me it was also the first time basically since Covid was a big deal that I'd gone out for lunch.

I'm tempted to say the price for portion is terrible, but sadly this is what you can expect nowadays, so it is probably hovering around average. My order of regular sized Vegetarian Pho was definitely not a filling meal except that it had a lot of soup.

41. Grilled shrimp & grilled chicken on vermicelli / Bún tôm gà nướng ($15.50)

  • Slides 1 & 2
  • This was my friend's order and she was very happy with the chicken and the plate overall, enough to want to come back. I'm currently on a no-shellfish low-meat diet because of my gout, so I declined to give it a taste.

62. Vegetarian Phở - served with rice noodle, bean sprout, basil, lemon & pepper, tofu, vegetarian ham, 
baby corn, veggie, carrot ($12.50 Large: $13.50)
  • Slides 3 & 4
  • Where's my baby corn? Fail.
  • Bean sprout, lemon (one wedge), pepper (actually slices of fresh green chili), and basil came on a separate plate for you to add
  • Having had "non-vegetarian" pho, this felt bland and boring, and the soup wasn't especially flavourful either. I ended up added a couple of tablespoons worth of chili paste (available at each table) and some hoisin to try to make the soup more tasty.
  • The vegetarian ham didn't taste like ham per se, closer to a bland luncheon meat. The texture and slight chewiness made it a rather good imitation of meat though.
  • Overall, I can't recommend this bowl. There isn't anything "wrong" about it, but it's just boring and not worth your money. If you are vegetarian, just try something else.

Pretty busy place for a late Saturday afternoon (around 2.30pm) but no problem getting a table. Place seemed clean, staff very reserved and efficient but didn't check on our meal though.

I would give them an average but passing score except they indicated baby corn but I didn't find any in my bowl. That's a fail right away. If you run out of an ingredient, say so up front. If you actually forgot an ingredient, that's also a fail -- especially when you're just throwing ingredients in a bowl and pouring in soup.