Mike (our resident carnivore) has a hard time adjusting to alternative protein sources and loves comfort food like traditional meat loaf so, I sometimes make a small batch, just for him, using mini-loaf tins, as a treat.
Simple Protein Substitutes

I used a small amount (1/2 lb) of organic, local beef for this recipe (as well as an egg) and added about 1 cup of finely cut oatmeal (any whole grain, finely cut, will work) to stretch the beef; but for those members of the family who minimize their consumption of animal proteins, you may want to try the following substitutions:

For a Vegetarian meal, follow the recipe below, instead of beef, use crumbled tofu with oats & eggs. For a Vegan meal, use crumbled tofu with oats, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil as a light binder. These alternatives are easy, tasty, and often more budget friendly than beef.


I rubbed the mini loaf pans lightly with olive oil . To stretch the beef, I combine it with about 1 cup steel rolled Irish oats~adding one egg; salt, pepper; 1 small onion (very finely chopped or grated) or substitude with 1/4 cup or so dehydrated onions; 1 small clove garlic finely minced; quarter cup tomato sauce, or catsup, or 3 or 4 TBS of tomato paste, whatever you have on hand; a dash of cumin (my dash is about 1/2 tsp); a dash of dried thyme; a dash of dried oregano; 1 TBS soy sauce. Cook in a 350% oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.


Ingredients are in the bowl, the pans oiled and ready.


Out of the oven, I carefully take it from the pans
(loosening the sides first). Then I plate it next to home-made mashed potatoes and then top it with a simple brown gravy. It'll be served with marinated Persian cucumber slices
and a side salad.
Home Made Take-Out!

Working Ahead of Need tm

Often times, while I prepare a plate for Mike's dinner, I serve up another plate or two for the freezer (using recycled take-out containers from our favorite Chinese restaurant--a frugal luxury!). This is part of my working ahead of need philosophy. This way I have only one prep and one clean up for four meals! As well , knowing there are a few pre-made dinners in the freezer for Mike, helps on those nights when Rosie and I are busy.
Oh, did I mention the money saving aspect of this simple tactic?



A Humble Cook
“We brought back these reliefs of a humble art.”
—George Seferis

I cannot pretend to be a gourmet chef. I am but a humble cook, capable enough to produce simple dishes that celebrate the transformation of nourishing, wholesome foods into attractive and tasty meals for myself, my family, my friends. Therefore, I choose to write about feasts in much the same manner that I prepare them: using a good amount of simple, wholesome, nourishing ingredients (including information), seasoned with simple touches of artfulness, elegance, and beauty.

The art of cookery need not be complicated, as some people assume. Cooking is simply a question of mastering small bits of skill and building on them. These simple basics are the essence of the art.

Taken from Frugal Luxuries, Bantam Books, NY, 1997.