Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just Barely Cookin'

Just Barely Cookin' is a new segment I'm starting here on Just-Barely. Every week or so I hope to regale you with a tale from the kitchen and the recipe that goes with it. Bon appetit!

Mom's Flying Meatloaf
or, When Meat Becomes Airborne:I (yes, meat has become airborne more than once in my kitchen)

When my friends' parents came to visit while we were in college, they came bearing things like cookies and beer that cost more than 25 cents a can. My mom didn't visit often, but when she did she brought a cooler stuffed with freezer bags full of chicken chow mein, lentil soup, and meatloaves. These meals were all individually wrapped and affixed with an index card on which was written, in permanent marker, what the frozen item was, how much of it was in there, and directions on how to cook or reheat it. When Steve and I first started dating I decided to wow him by "making" him dinner using one of the meatloaves. All I had to do was take it out of the freezer, put it in a pan, put that pan in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, then dump a can of tomato sauce on it before returning it to the oven for another half an hour. That was it. Yet I managed to screw it up.

I got it in the oven just fine and, when two and a half hours were up, I got my potholders, slid the meatloaf pan out of the oven, and poured the can of tomato sauce (which I had opened all by myself) on top of our dinner. I didn't return the pan directly to the oven, though--I dropped it along the way. As if in slow motion, I saw the pan slip from my hand. The meat loaf disengaged from the pan and gracefully back flipped through the air, spraying it's glossy new coat of tomato sauce in all directions.

For the first, and likely last, time in my life my reflexes were cat like. Softballs, footballs, flying keys, falling children, wads of paper, when thrown, either whiz right by or clock me upside the head. NEVER do these items end up in my hand. Yet somehow that loaf of meat did. My hand shot out and caught our dinner, and I had just enough time to register the fact that I was holding a scalding hunk of meat before I slapped it right back in the pan. I hadn't closed the oven door when I took the meat loaf out (there's no room or time for caution in my kitchen), so it was dowsed in sauce, but I didn't care--that meatloaf had a half an hour left and by god it was going back in there. I slammed the saucey door shut and turned to find my date standing there with his mouth agape, still in shock.

We had just enough time to mop the sauce off the walls before the timer went off. Dinner was delicious. When we finished, we got out our chisels and went to work scraping the baked-on aftermath off the oven door.

I've tried throwing meatloaves since, but they've never turned out as well as that one did. I'm entrusting you with the recipe so you can try your hand at it. Let me know how it goes.

Mom's Flying Meat Loaf:

1) Remove from freezer
2) Place in pan
3) Bake at 300 for an hour and a half
4) Remove meatloaf from the oven and dump a can of sauce on it
5) Throw meatloaf all over the place
6) Collect meatloaf and stuff it back in the pan to bake for another half an hour

or, if my mom hasn't put a meatloaf in your freezer lately, you can use this recipe:

1 onion chopped
2 T. butter
1 egg
1/2 half c milk
1/2 c Peppridge Farm stuffing
1 t.salt
2 fresh chopped parsley
1 # lean ground beef ( "I like meatloaf mix. You can get this right at the meat counter."-mom)
1 can (6 oz.size) tomato sauce
1/4 t oregano

Saute onion in butter till translucent and cool. Mix all ingredients together except the meat. When thoroughly mixed, add meat and combining well but not over mixing (meatloaf will be tough if over mixed). Put in loaf pan or shape in loaf. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 min. Remove from oven pour sauce over, sprinkle with oregano and continue baking for 20 min. longer. If frozen, put the meatloaf in a pan and make a foil tent for it. Bake meatloaf at 300 for about two and a half hours, take the foil off, and bake for another half an hour. Check with meat thermometer to make sure it's done.

Author's note: I've stepped it up a notch since my tomato sauce days. Before I put it in the oven the first time, I pour beer over the meatloaf, douse it with a little worcestershire, then cover the top with ketchup (instead of using tomato sauce at the end). This keeps the meatloaf really moist (and drunk). Bake same as above.

If you have a recipe with a story you'd like to share, send it to and I'll post it in next week's edition of "Just Barely Cookin'."

Note: Some people have written to tell me how funny it was picturing the kids on the bat hunt in "When the Outside Comes In". While I greatly appreciate the comments, I feel I must make a clarification--it was not two little kids underneath those helmets and laundry baskets, it was two adults. The story took place just a few years ago. I hope I haven't ruined any of the magic and that the truth only makes your mental image that much funnier.


  1. How funny, I was planning on making a meatloaf tonight and almost had myself talked out of it. Now I'll make mine drunk and see how it turns out! Do you do that at the top of the meal or after it has cooked for a while?

  2. At the top of the meal. Get it good and drunk before you even start.

  3. Bravo Amy....just couldn't be any better...picture and all...I loved it!!! Keep'm comin-xo, A.K.

  4. I think the best thing to do instead of getting the meat drunk, I will try to get drunk first then try making the meat loaf. I am a retired Sailor and if my mind is correct I have cooked better that way.