Monday, June 21, 2010

Meatloaf – a Metaphor for Life

By Kate

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.

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.


Tonya Kappes said...

I'm definitely going to try this! We prefer turkey over chuck/beef!

Andrea C. said...

Love this post Kate - too funny! I remember those family meals as a kis - there would about 7 we would rotate and meatloaf was always one!As a child, I didn't like meatloaf either. I do now, but like you I have spiced it up a bit (using turkey or an exotic cheese) however, I would not say I am exactly adventurous - I do like trying new things, but am really a creature of habit who fears I guess that means my meatloaf has an interesting kick, but is not nearly as exciting as it could be! :)

Sheila Connolly said...

Sounds tasty--I'm intrigued by the smoked paprika, which I discovered only recently.

My grandmother, who never learned to cook (or couldn't be bothered to, which didn't slow her down much as she lived to be 94), could make only three things: meatloaf, fudge, and gravy. We wouldn't dare depart from her meatloaf recipe (except now my husband adds some chopped bacon). One thing she did say: don't overwork it, because it will make it too dense.

Annette said...

I love meatloaf. It is such a versatile dish.

caryn said...

I love meatloaf and always have. I think I have the world's best turkey based meatloaf recitpe ever, but I'm open to improvements so I'll give this one a go. Not only do I love meatloaf, I like it even better the next day cold in a sandwich.
Now about these set dinners...what did you all have WITH the meatloaf? With us it was corn and mashed potatoes. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. I only make meatloaf about once a month, but I find that I too tend to serive it with...corn and mashed potatoes.
Caryn in St.Louis

Kate Collins said...

Caryn, share your recipe!! And yes, we had corn -- or peas or green beans -- and mashed potatoes. Every. Night. And I didn't know lettuce came in any other form but a head.
One thing I am dying to try in my meatloaf is feta cheese. Is there anything that isn't made better with feta? It's the Greek sour cream -- good taste without the guilt. LOL.

Sheila, your grandma must have been a delight. I wonder how she got away with not cooking? I thought everyone of that generation knew how to cook, sew, and garden.

And sorry about the recipe being squashed together. It didn't look like that when I posted it.

Andrea, I'll bet if you spiced up your meatloaf, you'd start to see other things to spice up, too. LOL.

~ Babs ~ said...

I for one am definitely going to try this recipe. My great grandmother taught my mom how to cook and then myself and we always tried new things still do. I like variety not the same ole same ole. Now my parents till do some of the same things like roast and veggies, etc. I love to experiment just made coconut bread and was surprised how good it was.

Now my husband can not stand meat loaf his mom made it all time several times a week for years she still does. I hate to say it, but to her meatloaf is one big meatball she puts ketchup on there is no taste what so ever really bad lol.

Laineshots said...

Kate, your mom and mine must have learned to cook in the same place! There were so many things I'd never heard of by the time I'd left home. Everything, in fact, except what YOUR mom cooked! Like you, it bred in me a lifelong love of experimental cooking. Meatloaf, now - that's comfort food. I've experimented a lot, and hit on our favorite way to make it - with applesauce. Try it! What do we have with it? Um... well....corn and mashed potatoes. Or maybe mac and cheese and fresh veggies. Comfort food.

But I have GOT to try this one. Cinnamon is my favorite unexpected ingredient for savory foods. This looks great!

Caryn - Maybe we can change St. Louis food. :)

mary in MO said...

Meatloaf, yes ma'am! I love it but mine is full of salsa and cheese.
Those veggies - don't think I ever tasted brocolli til I was an adult, but I still find a big pot of pinto beans, fried potatoesand onions and hot sweet cornbread almost a gourmet treat!

Leann Sweeney said...

Mmmm. Love meatloaf. And love it the next day in sandwiches, too. Fortunately my mother was an excellent cook and I learned a lot. My secret meatloaf ingredient? Crushed saltines instead of bread crumbs. But I'm going to have to try this one. Cinnamon. Yum.

Kate Collins said...

My stomach is growling now, after reading all your delicious suggestions. Maybe the Cozy Chicks should have a meatloaf recipe day. Applesauce? Wow. Wouldn't have thought of it. Salsa and cheese -- yumm!
Laineshots, I wonder how many other moms are out there like ours? I don't think spices were as popular years back as they are now.

Seriously, we might need to do a meatloaf recipe exchange. Yes?

Lover of Books said...

I just do eggs and bread crumbs. I like it simple. I want to taste the hamburger. My mom made a lot of different things. Never had the same thing on the same night. I had to learn to cook at 13 but she always left me the recipe and told me when to have it in the oven to be done on time. lol


Linda Leszczuk said...

Greatest meatloaf recipe I ever stumbled across: banana meatloaf. Use any basic meatloaf recipe but substitute very ripe mashed banana's for whatever tomato base it calls for. Sounds bizarre, I know, but the flavor of the bananas combines with the beef (never tried it with turkey) and turns into a whole new taste. No one ever guesses my "secret" ingrediant but they always ask for more. For adventorous cooks only, of course.

Barbara said...

When my mother got engaged, Gram decided to teach her to cook. They made doughnuts. Period. End of lessons. Mom never could cook well. My mother-in-law was famous for her Wed. soup. She cleaned out the frig and everything - everything - went in the soup. She never could figure out why the whole family ate lunch out on Wed. :D

~ Babs ~ said...

I agree girls we need to have a meatloaf exchange ok or any food :)

Laineshots said...

I think we do need a meatloaf recipe exchange. I'm finding the various suggestions to be interesting insights.

Yes, Kate, our moms were spice-deprived. And remember those overcooked vegetables? Food is a lot more interesting and nutritious now, and much more fun to cook.

Kate Collins said...

Overcooked CANNED vegetables! The only veggies we ever ate fresh were tomatoes from the garden (is there anything better?) and that big ol' white head lettuce. I think there's an entire generation out there like us, Laineshots.

Banana meatloaf. Who knew? I'm always up for new experiences, so this is definitely one I'm going to make.

I just proposed a recipe exchange idea to the other cozy chicks. We could do a whole week of simple homestyle recipes "fancied up." Sound good?

Margy said...

my recipe calls for cheese crackers rather than bread crumbs. It also calls for chili sauce rather than ketchup. It is my great-aunt's recipe and when I've tried to change to something else my family says no way

Debra said...

I never tasted meatloaf until my hubby made it for me with delicious mashed potatoes. It was not something my parents made. My mom was an unenthusiastic weekday cook,I'm thinking because she had two jobs,six days a week for several years. My Dad started cooking when I was about 10,he only made Northern Italian dishes. All really good,but no meatloaf. I am going to try your recipe,it sounds good.

Heather Webber said...

Wow, my meatloaf is boring. LOLOL--what does that say about my life. I need to start incorporating some of these ingredients right away.

Valerie Consoer said...

I gotta admit that my meatloaf is the best around. I found a glorious recipe that includes barbecue sauce in it. My hubby is a barbecue fanatic and insisted I make it that way. Absolutely to die for! The smell fills the whole house and I swear I have to mop the floor when my hubby drools over the meatloaf. If anyone wants this recipe, let me know. I usually serve mashed potatoes with it and green beans. We always have a can of green beans in the house. But, I too, put crackers in the meatloaf. It's definitely not unheard of. I also have a recipe that I call "Robotini". Wonderful and quick italian dish served with homemade garlic bread. We definitely need to have a "share your recipe" day. Great post, Kate!

Kate Collins said...

Okay, let's do a meatloaf recipe day! Meet you back here next Monday.