As we made a recent trip to Sam’s and bought a “tube” of hamburger, the hunk of meats fate had already been decided. One-third of the meat was for a meatloaf, and the rest of it was going to be browned and frozen to make a rapid appearance in some other meal. (A “rapid” meal might be tacos, Hamburger Helper, or a meat-enriched spaghetti sauce.) Since I am the one who prepares the meat “best” and has the time (Best is generally in reference to browning the meat–I don’t like the chunks very big. My wife’s tolerance are not quite as stringent.), I spent part of my morning dividing and conquering the meat.
It is my contention that meatloaf cannot be made by using a spoon to mix the ingredients. (Simple ingredients of meat [80/20 is best – 90/10 is to dry], onion soup mix, a couple of eggs, and a couple handfuls of quick oats) I suppose a glass cooking dish could also be used to do the mixing, but I really need to have the sides of the bowl to allow the meat and ingredients to be more successfully mixed. If you insist on mixing your meat while using a spoon, I suppose it may taste okay, but your fingers will never achieve the nirvana that is “meatloaf fingers”. When mixing the meat with your fingers, a chill starts in the fingers and work its way almost to the elbows. As frostbite nears and the fingers are approaching unresponsiveness, the fingers are allowed a couple of brief breaks from the meatloaf. After two such breaks, the eyes and fingers typically agree-the meatloaf can now be handed off to the oven.
Prior to sticking the meatloaf into the over and after it was chilled for a few hours (the chilling may or may not be necessary, but making it ahead always seems to be a good idea.), the loaf is divided into thirds-1/3 is plain, 1/3 gets covered in ketchup, and 1/3 gets deluged in barbecue sauce. About an hour an a half later at 350, we are eating.
I am proud that we make the effort to eat meals together frequently. I feel so very blessed my kids have their favorite meals and make special effort to make sure they are home for those meals (and sometimes making an effort when it is not their favorite meals). As my wife and I watched a “family-ish” commercial the other day, I commented, “We may not be perfect parents, but we have tried really hard to eat meals together.” If we had it all to do over again, the only thing I might change is finding some way to put a little more love in each meal we sat down and ate together.