Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meat loaf

When I go to a pot-luck dinner and see meat loaf, I'm never quite sure what to do:  Depending on the cook, meat loaf can be a wonderfully delicious comfort food, or it can be unpalatable.  You just never know.  
This morning when Cliff was lying in bed sipping his coffee, I said, "I have a pound-and-a-half of hamburger thawed.  I can make chili, or beef-and-bulgur casserole, or meat loaf.  You choose."  
He likes all the above, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't choose chili because we have it fairly often in the winter.  I was betting on the meat loaf.  
And that's what he started to say, until he remembered what beef-and-bulgur casserole is and began to waver.
"Cliff," I told him, "You don't have to decide this instant.  I won't be starting dinner for three hours."  
As I headed to the kitchen, he called after me, "Would we be having mashed potatoes with the meat loaf?"  
Silly man.  Don't we always?  
So he made the choice I knew he would: meat loaf.  
I was tearing up enough bread to make two cups of crumbs for the meat loaf when I suddenly recalled something I used to do when I was a kid.  
Growing up, I was never denied access to the kitchen.  Mother never told me, as I used to tell my children, "It isn't long till supper; you'll spoil your appetite."  
So sometimes I'd get a nice, fresh slice of bread,
  remove the crust from around it,

roll the crust up like a cinnamon roll, and pop it in my mouth, sucking on it until it disappeared. 
Then I'd take the soft, white bread that remained,

compress it into a dough-ball, and pop it in my mouth.  Sorry about the blurry pictures, but I'm not going to destroy a slice of bread just to redo the pictures.  The bread you see above is already incorporated into the meat loaf that's in the oven.   
I don't know why I'm telling you this; isn't it funny the random memories that are stirred up in the kitchen?  
The meat loaf recipe I use is not from my oldest Better Homes and Gardens cookbook; that version wasn't as good.  This is from a BHG cookbook I acquired in the late seventies, and I notice they've repeated it in the newest edition, too.  

(tested and approved by Cliff)

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, or two cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons snipped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
Sometimes, since my food processor already needs to be washed after making the crumbs, I'll throw a small carrot or sweet pepper in there and pulverize it, and add it to the mix.  Vitamins, you know.  I didn't do that today.  

1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard

Combine eggs and milk. Stir in crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, sage and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. bake in 350 degree oven for 1 1/4 hours. Spoon off excess fat, spread topping over meat and cook for 10 more minutes.


  1. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Memories..hee,hee. Wonderbread used to disappear to the size of a pea.

  2. Anonymous2:22 PM

    I like that Cliff gets to choose dinner...and that you know exactly what he'll choose.

  3. I did that with bread also! I love meatloaf--but as you say, it's easy to ruin.

  4. I do like meatloaf. Some of the variations on a theme include adding a cup or so (per pound of ground beef) of either rice or bulghur. I almost always add chopped green peppers when using the rice, fresh garlic with the bulghur. Beets, particularly fresh ones, get finely cubed and added to a "spring loaf" of half beef, half pork. Just be sure to dry your bread crumbs first and increase the volume by half to account for the addition fat from the pork.

  5. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Donna, my husband also watches the fat content. I don't know if this might "ruin" your recipe for you, but I always put quick oats in for the bread crumbs. Just an even exchange 1/2 cup for 1/2 cup. Nobody in our family seems to notice, but it somehow seems healthier! Karen

  6. "Would we be having mashed potatoes with the meat loaf?"

    Decisions Decisions....
    Cliff's a man after my own heart.

  7. I'm with Cliff on this, I love meat loaf and mashed potatoes, and a veggie. I love reading your post, because it usually makes me smile. Have a great week.


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