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Finding Harmony Recipe of the Week: My Mother’s Meatloaf

November 22, 2013

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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
1 egg
¾ cup milk
½ – ¾ tsp salt or to your preference
¼ tsp pepper
Garlic powder or onion powder or flakes if desired

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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.

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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.

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You can buy a copy of my book Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Mealtime here.

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From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

10 Comments
  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    My mom too made a good meatloaf and I guess I more or less followed in her footsteps
    Very basic recipe… Not exactly like yours but close enough .
    I continued to make it when our grand kids came to stay in the summer and it was always a favorite with them too.
    To quote one of the boys “Nana’s meatloaf is the best!”
    I let our granddaughter make it one time when they were her and she said she better now tell big brother that she made it or he would say it was “Yucky!”
    So we just kept quiet and said nothing and once again he said it was the best!

    We just call it comfort food!

    • Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

      Typo in the above should read “When they were here.

  2. Neat story about fooling the big brother. That works! Now just so he doesn’t read your comment! Ha.

    • Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

      That was a few years ago that she fooled him but they have both grown up now and I think he would be all right about it now! LOL

  3. Athanasia permalink

    I make my mother’s recipe which has sauteed onion, green pepper and celery, bread crumb, and an egg and Worchestershire sauce. She tops with catsup that makes a glaze as cooks.

    When my son was in college his MUN team was having a big practice session and he asked me if we could make meatloaf for the group for dinner. My mother and I brought them over 4 meatloaves, mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole. They ate pretty much all of it.

    • Someone else on Facebook responded with much the same recipe/approach as your mom’s. Their menu sounds like they were hungry for a touch of home. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Margaret permalink

    Mum has never been much of a cook, but meatloaf, she could handle. I have made it many ways, but a basic recipe is still the family favourite. Comfort food, to be sure, Caro. A pound of ground beef, 1 egg, 1 pack of dried onion soup mix, ketchup, Keen’s dry mustard, and you have a simple, satisfying dish. You could put in fresh diced onions, if you like, and switch up the ketchup for some other sauce, or add multiple sauces that you like. And, you can cook it in 15 minutes in the microwave, on level 6. Just make sure it’s got a hole in the centre of it.

    • I love all these variations on the basic recipe. Keen’s dry mustard (is this Canadian?). I’ve never tried cooking meatloaf in the center. Is it as good that way as the oven?

    • Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

      This sounds very similar to how I make mine Margaret. . I often put Kellogg’s All Bran or Bran Buds in mine to bind it and even better is when you get to the end of the box there are fine crumbs which work quite well.
      I do not us the Keen’s mustard but it is available in Canada where I live.
      I have often cooked it in the microwave in these later years but the oven method is a bit nice I think

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