May 21st

theresa albert - my friend in food


We breathe clean air


In my house we have never used an air freshener. I totally loathe the smell. Call it too many years living in a communal setting – but every time I catch a whiff of an air freshener, I want to gag. So, if nice smelling air is what we are craving, I fling open the windows and let good ole Mother Nature do her work.

And then there is the fact that I hate non-stick pans. Long before I met Theresa Albert, I read a tweet of hers telling someone to stop using a non-stick pan. I had no idea who this Theresa Albert was, but I did read and do some research. What I read scared me and I have since stopped using them. I now use either stainless steel or cast iron.

Below is my classic Cast Iron Quinoa dish.

This recipe is a mashup of Ina Garten’s Cous cous recipe (from How Easy is That) and Mark Bittman’s Quinoa Pilaf (from How to Cook Everything). It’s got a deep, nutty flavour and is perfect alongside roasted chicken or even on its own. Quinoa packs lots of protein, so it’s virtuous, too. Slivered almonds can be toasted in advance.

3 tbsp. olive oil or butter

1cup chopped onion or leek

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in several changes of water

Kosher salt, to taste

½ tsp Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1-3/4 cup chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, warmed

½ cup slivered onions

1/4 cup tomatoes

1/4 cup cucumbers

¼ to ½  cup cilantro

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chick peas

Place the oil or butter in a large saucepan and turn heat to medium. A minute later, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Rinse and drain the quinoa. Add to onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the liquid all at once.

Cover and cook until the quinoa is quite tender, about 15 minutes. If all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is not tender, add 1/4 cup water and continue to cook until tender. If any liquid remains, remove the lid and raise the heat a bit; cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates.

While quinoa is cooking, place almonds in a dry skillet over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until toasted. Once toasted, remove from heat and transfer to a plate so they don’t continue to cook.

Lightly saute the tomatoes, chickpeas.

Let cool.

Mix all ingredients together except the cilantro and almonds – including the cucumbers and feta cheese.

Sprinkle cilantro and almonds over quinoa and serve.



Heather Lochner is a mother to two wonderful and energetic children and a freelance writer. Together with her children, husband and dog, she has recently relocated to Toronto after spending 15 years on the West Coast – many of which were spent living aboard her sailboat. Heather loves to exercise but always finds a reason to sit on the couch. While she knows carrots, whole wheat pasta and lean meat are good to eat, Heather loves to munch on a burger, chicken wings and poutine. Heather loves to cook, but is notorious for ruining every batch of chocolate chip cookies. She looks forward to seeing what’s in the cards during this Ace


One Response

    November 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm Reply

    I’m with you on the air freshener thing; they make me gag too. I can’t understand why there’s such a market for them! If I need to get rid of an unpleasant smell and opening the window isn’t an option (because of weather), I bake apples or just boil a cinnamon stick on the stove.

    The Quinoa recipe sounds delish… I’ll be trying that one out for sure!


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