Finding Harmony Recipe of the Week: My Mother’s Meatloaf
I don’t know why meatloaf gets such a bad rap. Maybe it was school lunches. Maybe because it’s a fallback or go to when mom or dad (maybe?) doesn’t know what else to make.
My mother used to take her meatloaf to potlucks and it was a dish that always felt “safe” to me, but that was because it was MY mother’s. If I remember correctly, it was usually all taken, so others must have considered it safe too. She would put about 3 strips of bacon on top that added some flavor so maybe the bacon attracted takers too.
Other meatloaf might be loaded with big chunky onion and celery and green or red pepper bits and who knows, maybe some mashed potato to hold it together. I’ve even seen canned peas in meatloaf. No wonder it has a bad rep. I do remember going to the homes of friends (no, I can’t remember anyone specifically, really,) where the meatloaf might have some surprises in it. I had a hard time getting those surprises down.
Mom’s was safe. It was top quality ground beef (their own beef of raised by local farmers) mixed with crushed cornflakes, eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Very basic. That’s still how I prefer my meatloaf. In a pinch I’ve also used crushed saltine crackers as the “glue” that holds it together, but I think I prefer the slight addition of flavor cornflakes add. Corn makes everything better, right? (Ironic oops: I first wrote “slight addiction” there until I proofed it. Hmm.)
Throw a couple of baked potatoes in the oven for an hour along with the loaf, get a vegetable or salad ready, and go do something else until supper is ready.
There is something about the smell of meatloaf baking in the oven that says “home” as much as a whiff of ham or pot roast or fried chicken.
I don’t think I got much pushback from the kids on my meatloaf; it may have not been their favorite meal, but when I explained to them it was just hamburger in square pieces (think Wendy’s?) and they could put ketchup on it, they could deal with that.
Just don’t throw everything in the refrigerator into the meatloaf. Save that for your homemade vegetable soup.
Did you like your mother’s meatloaf?
What was there about it that you loved? Or didn’t?
What memories does it evoke for you, or not?
Mother’s Meatloaf – Serves 2-4
1 lb ground beef
1 cup corn flakes, crushed
¾ cup milk
½ – ¾ tsp salt or to your preference
¼ tsp pepper
Garlic powder or onion powder or flakes if desired
Throw everything into a mixing bowl, letting the cornflakes soften in the milk at the bottom of the bowl. After a minute or two, take your hand and mush it all together. “Knead” a minute or two to mix well. Make sure cornflakes are well distributed through mixture.
Place ball of meat in a baking dish or pie pan and form into loaf shape . Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Slice and serve.
You can buy a copy of my book Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Mealtime here.