I ordered meatloaf at a restaurant the other night, not that ordering meatloaf is such a startling event, but as I ate it, I reflected on my personal meatloaf odyssey and how it paralleled my own journey into adulthood.
Isn’t it amazing how a few glasses of a good Cabernet opens one’s mind to such revelations?
SPOILER: Meatloaf recipe included.
As a child, I disliked meatloaf. My mother, bless her heart, had zero imagination when it came to cooking. Meatloaf was ground beef, a can of cream of tomato soup, one egg, dried onion flakes, and fresh bread crumbs. Pasta sauces were a can of tomato sauce, half an onion, diced, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and a pound of ground beef. I won’t even tell you how dull the pot roast was that she made every Sunday.
When I took over the family kitchen during my senior year of high school (Mom went back to work so I could go to college) I started making small changes in her recipes. Small only because the family was conditioned to those tasteless meals. So I’d add a tiny bit of basil to the pasta sauce, a smidge of catsup to the meatloaf, always pushing the envelope until someone protested.
When I got married, I used my Better Homes and Garden cookbook to make dishes I’d never eaten before, and tried to convince my mom to try new recipes, too. But alas, she was too fixed in her ways. Meatloaf on Monday. Spaghetti on Tuesday. Mac and cheese on Wednesday. You know the drill.
As I read more about the Mediterranean diet, I incorporated those changes into my cooking, and my recipes really got really adventurous. I remember inviting my parents for a meatloaf dinner once, and anxiously watching their faces as they sampled my version. I also remember the glances they cast at one another across the table, as if to say, What is this and do I have to eat it?
Personally, I think I make one heck of a meatloaf. It’s healthy, tasty, and spicy. I know Mom would hate it, but then she wasn’t adventurous. She liked to play it safe. Whereas, I am all about adventure. (Which is why I write about a character who can’t resist new adventures.)
That’s why I see meatloaf as a metaphor for life. Are you the adventurous sort? The rebel in your family? If so, you might like my meatloaf. Or are you the kind to play it safe?
At any rate, here it is:
1 lb ground chuck (or turkey)
½ c. chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/3 c. chili sauce
½ tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to make it hotter)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
½ tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4- 1/3 cup ketsup (organic tastes best)
1/3 c. milk (can also be almond, coconut, or soy)
1 egg, beaten slightly
½ c. panko, whole wheat bread crumbs, or oatmeal, or whole grain unsweetened cereal, crushed
Preheat over to 350̊. Mix all ingredients lightly. Pour into shallow baking dish or meat loaf pan. Shape as desired. Bake 1 hr 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Can be frozen.