But something he said to me about it got me thinking, and more than just about making it for dinner.
When I was growing up, every week we had meatloaf, pork chops (sometimes baked with cream of mushroom soup gravy, and, later, baked with sauerkraut), tuna casserole topped with potato chips, chicken (sometimes baked with rice), porcupine meatballs (a recipe I introduced from the Betty Crocker Kids' Cookbook, and a recipe my brother still makes), along with various casseroles. Saturday was leftovers night, and Sunday night was homemade potato soup and egg salad sandwiches.
We ate our meatloaf drowned in ketchup (no tomato sauce or brown gravy on this recipe!), and most often baked potatoes and canned green beans or carrots or scalloped corn. My mom baked it in an 8x8"pan, which seemed to make a pound of ground beef go a lot farther and easily feed five people with enough left over for sandwiches.
I loved meatloaf sandwiches, on white bread with Miracle Whip. We moved just before I entered the 3rd grade, and my elementary school didn't offer hot lunches; kids who had to eat at school brown bagged it, but there were only a few of them. Most of us walked to and from home for lunch, for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, or bologna sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. But every once in a while, it was meatloaf.
Eventually I started sharing the cooking, and I learned to make it. The recipe my mom taught me was one she had learned from the mother-in-law of one of my grandmother's brothers, who was, by all accounts, the world's best cook. (Just ask my aunt.) All the best recipes in the family seem to come from her, and meatloaf is no exception. It's a simple recipe, much simpler than most recipes you will find, but anyone who tries it likes it; even people who think they don't like meatloaf.
I have changed how I make it over the years. The original recipe called for equal parts of ground beef, veal and pork. Growing up, we used ground beef; I most often now make it with a blend of ground beef, turkey and, once in a while, pork. Instead of bread crumbs, we would use crumbled saltines, fat free milk instead of whole milk.
But yet, no matter how I tweak it, it still tastes as good as it would on those cold, rainy evenings in our big, warm kitchen. If I close my eyes, I can still see us, sitting around the table with its vinyl tablecloth, and I can feel the love and contentment.
I make no promises, but if you want to try my meatloaf, here's the recipe. The amount of seasonings & bread crumbs can be adjusted to personal preference; meat can be increased by 1/2 pound, without changing the rest of the recipe, for more servings.
(preheat oven to 350F)
1 lb ground beef, veal & pork
(substitute with: ground turkey or chicken)
1/4 cup milk (fat free is fine)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
(substitute with: 12 saltine squares, crushed finely)
1 small yellow onion, minced
(substitute with: dehydrated minced onion; add to milk to soften)
1 Tbsp. ground poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground mustard (optional)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Beat together egg & milk.
Add onion, breadcrumbs & seasonings. Blend.
Mix in meat until completely blended.
Spread evenly in loaf pan or casserole.
Cover pan with aluminum foil.
Bake 55 minutes.
Remove foil, bake 10 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Wrap leftovers tightly in aluminum foil and store refrigerated.