Sunday, June 2, 2013

What's (Home School) Cooking?

I love food and I find pure joy in handling it and experimenting with it, and I rarely follow recipes-- except for delicacies that must be made in a precise way.

Most of the time the ingredients which happen to be on hand guide the final food design of the meal. That's right, design. Since I usually work from a unique palette of ingredients,  I don't consider myself a true cook/chef, as much as I consider myself a food designer or improviser. I'm lucky to have a great sense for food and a fondness of the kitchen. Thanks to my dear mother. Watching her in the kitchen throughout my life gave me the best foundation. Nothing I learned here from any school, folks, just at home.

My food preparation undertakings are often completely experimental, so admittedly, on rare occasions the results aren't that great. But today's meal came out pretty well, so I decided to share it. The objective was to make a meatloaf without using any bread or wheat products. After reading the best-selling book, Wheat Belly, we've seriously become scared of this grain and what it can do to our health.

I had in my fridge 10 stalks of asparagus, a yellow bell pepper, and a zucchini that needed cooking or they'd otherwise spoil soon.

Stocked in my kitchen, I always have yellow onions, and I usually have parsley. In the pantry, there's usually some quinoa.

And yesterday, I bought some of the best quality grass-fed ground beef you can ever find at the farmer's market. This meat came from Bill and Lucille Salatin's happy cows at Polyface Farms.  Oh, and by the way, there's also some phenomenal home-schooling magic going on at that heavenly farm.

I also have in my pantry more than our son's weight in Himalayan salt that I'm happy to share with readers if a mailing address is supplied. That's because we accidentally made a bulk-order twice. Aside from the salt, there's also never a shortage of spices, especially the very essential arabic "bharaat" also called "all spices" in English. Caution, this is NOT the same as allspice! It can be found at most Middle Eastern grocers, and of course, at Amazon. 

So with all this, I decided to experiment with an easy quinoa meatloaf.

I could have just as well made it without the zucchini and asparagus, but it was a good use for the aging veggies, and it gave the loaf a nice look when it was sliced.


1 lb grass-fed ground beef.
10 spears of asparagus
1 zucchini cut into 8 long strips
1 stalk celery
1 bell pepper, any color
1/3 medium yellow onion
1/3 cup dry quinoa
1 tsp bharaat or other pepper mix
4 tsp fresh ground Himalayan salt.

Pre-heat oven or mini-oven to 375.

Using one tsp of salt,  sprinkle the long strips of zucchini so that some of the moisture escapes while you do the other prep.

Paper-towel dry the zucchini strips and set aside with the asparagus.
In a mini-chopper, or by hand, finely chop the onion, parsley, celery, and bell pepper.

In a bowl, mix well the chopped vegetables with the beef, quinoa, remaining salt and all spices.

In a bread loaf pan, spread a half-inch layer of the meat mix, then add a layer of asparagus, followed by another half inch layer of the meat mix, followed by a layer of the zucchini. Add the remaining meat mix-- this should be just enough to cover everything up. Press down firmly on the 'cake' and ensure that the whole top layer is covered tightly with meat.

Cover the pan in tin foil and put it in mini-oven at 375 for an hour. Then uncover and cook for an additional 20 minutes until all the juice dries up.

Turn it over and pop it out of the pan. Slice it up and enjoy. It can be eaten hot, cold, or even in a sandwich with mustard and mayo. A wheat-free sandwich!

No comments: