Saturday, July 22, 2006

Turtle Blogging

Over at Farmgirl Fare. So cute!

Meat Loaf

Meatloaf - before baking

Master Chow loves meat loaf.

A few years ago, I started experimenting with meat loaf recipes. My father despised the dish, so it was not something that my mother cooked, and I was not sure what made a good one or a bad one. Twenty years of vegetarianism didn't enlighten me (I now occasionally eat fish, and will take a bite of the charred bits on Master Chow's chicken or beef).

I finally settled on a "recipe" that is very forgiving, and according to Master Chow, moist and flavorful. By "forgiving," I mean that the recipe is adaptable to what you may have on hand. No parsley? Not a problem. Green onions in the fridge, but no Spanish onions? Throw 'em in. I have even made an all-turkey meat loaf, and flavored it with Sambal Olek, a hot chili paste. The turkey meat loaf turned out to be the dryest, so now I try to add some ground pork or beef to the turkey.

So here is the "recipe" - which means it is an estimate of amounts. Use your own judgment and taste, and don't be afraid to experiment.

Meat Loaf
3 pounds of ground meat - I have made up mixtures that included beef, pork, veal, turkey, or buffalo
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 baseball-sized onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 handful fresh parsley
8 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs - I use Progresso brand
2 eggs
Kosher salt - as always, be careful with this. The ketchup, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire Sauce all have salt, and you should take that into account.
pepper, freshly ground

3/4 -1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar (does not have to be firmly packed)
1-2 Tablespoons dried mustard powder
5 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Pull out ingredients about 30 minutes before you plan to use them so that the meat warms up a bit (it will cook more evenly if you do so).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Throw the carrot into a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the celery, onion, and garlic, and pulse until finely minced. Don't be tempted to throw everything in at the same time, or you will end up with large chunks of carrot or onion.
Add the parsley, Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, breadcrumbs, egg, and pepper. Pulse until you have a well blend mixture.
Add the veggie mixture to the meat, and lightly blend until well mixed. Don't overdo the mixing - it's a great way to get tough, dry meatloaf!
I place a flat baking rack, covered with foil, in the bottom of a roasting pan. I then shape the meat mixture into a "loaf" on top of the rack. Why? So that the grease drains off the loaf. Other people put stale bread on the bottom of the pan to soak up the grease.
Mix all the sauce ingredients together, and spread generously over the meatloaf.
Bake at 325 for about an hour. Raise the temperature to 350, and continue baking until an oven thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reads about 145-150. Depending on your oven and the meat mixture that you used, this additional time could vary considerably: from as little as 20 minutes, to as long as 60 minutes. Once you pull the meatloaf out of the oven, residual heat will continue the cooking process until it reaches a food-safe 160-165 degrees for ground meats. This is what I do, but use your own judgment. The USDA guidelines are here and here.
As with all such dishes, it's better the next day!

Meatloaf - after

What Is Wrong with People?

From Diary of a Food Whore:

July 16, 2006

This is the very basic principle of why people - dumb people - make me crazy.

We lost a friend this week. And Friday we attended his funeral. The darling church ladies provided a lovely church luncheon - ham buns, potato salad, vegies, fruit, and an amazing array of home-baked sweets and cookies. They were sweet and helpful and honored to be a part of it all.

While standing outside in the fresh air talking with friends, I overheard a gentleman bitching about the "lack of good food". Apparently, "He's hungry, and a bun is the best they could do??"

Seriously, someone's dead.

Go to damn Ihop.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Out-of-this-World Potatoes

From Wood Prairie Farm, an organic family farm.

When I was a child, we grew potatoes once in our backyard. I don't remember much about the taste, just the joy of turning over the earth and discovering the buried treasure.

So, a few years ago, after reading a review, I decided to order some organic potatoes from Wood Prairie Farms. I over-ordered, so I was eating potatoes for quite a while. Which was not a bad thing, considering the taste.

Yes, organic potatoes grown on a small family farm are in a taste class all by themselves. Think vine-ripened tomatoes versus the mass-produced "pink" grocery store variety. Taste these, and you'll be spoiled. The Farm is taking orders now for the fall harvest.

I Am A Glazed Donut

Funny thing is, that's my favorite kind! Via Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Our Adventures in Japan.

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.
You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.
Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone digs you.
And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Seventh Case of Mad Cow in Canada?

Another reason to avoid beef, or at least choose beef that is raised and slaughtered humanely.

Canada said it may have found its seventh case of mad cow disease, in a 50-month-old Alberta dairy animal born long after 1997 feed restrictions were imposed to curb the spread of the livestock ailment.

Authorities identified the cow through preliminary screenings. Confirmatory tests are being performed on tissue samples and results will be made public by the end of the week, said George Luterbach, a senior veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. No part of the animal entered the human or animal food or feed chain, the agency said.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ina Garten's Smoked Salmon Spread

I recently made this for a birthday party - it was well liked by all, including Master Chow, who is not a big fan of salmon. I didn't have the prepared horseradish, so I used the prepared wasabi that comes in those little packets that you get with sushi.

The first time you make this, don't be tempted to leave out the horseradish; the amount is so small that you don't get any heat, but it definitely adds depth to the spread. I've also substituted low fat sour cream, with no decrease in quality.

Smoked Salmon Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared wasabi
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (be careful with this - if you have very salty salmon, you may want to cut back or even eliminate the salt, according to your preference)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites,crackers, or crostini.

Ina Garten notes: "If you can find it, I prefer Norwegian salmon; it's drier and less salty than other smoked salmon. "
* Update: It is best to make this dip several hours before you plan to serve it, so that the flavors can fully develop.*