A meat loaf kinda day
January 14, 2017
Because, well, meat loaf is good stuff.
So I cooked meat loaf for 60 or so for lunch at the soup kitchen, then came home and had some leftover meatloaf on a sandwich with good, melty Brie and lots of mayo for dinner.
No complaints with either. No pictures, either, but hey, live with it.
I was contemplating last week what my team would cook at the soup kitchen today, because I knew our turn was coming up and one of my chores as team captain is to order the groceries. I contemplated beef stew, but quite honestly, didn’t want to have to peel that many potatoes. We’d done chili and hot dogs last time, and I hate to do soup-style meals every time we volunteer. (Granted, that’s only once every 10 weeks, but still.)
So I thought, meat loaf. Meat loaf is cheap, a factor when you’re a charitable endeavor feeding 50 or so. So I placed my order for 15 pounds of ground beef and some corn and green beans for sides (I like mashed potatoes with meat loaf, but see above about not wanting to peel potatoes).
I never made 15 pounds of meat loaf at a time before. The biggest one I think I’ve ever done was three pounds.
I was surprised, and pleased, to see the reaction. “Oh, wow, is that meat loaf?” Most everyone came back for seconds. About half the crowd took home carryouts.
We ran out of food. I worry about that most every week I work, but it’s always been a loaves-and-fishes kind of thing; we’d have enough. Today, we had to go to the pantry and finished out with two big cans of chicken and dumplings and two big cans of beef stew, hoarded against just such an eventuality.
Nobody left hungry, which, after all, is the point of the whole endeavor.
I can’t comprehend being hungry. Oh, I’ve been hungry — when I had to skip lunch, or when breakfast just didn’t hold out, or when I didn’t want dinner and then was starving to death by bedtime. I’ve been hungry because there was nothing in the house I wanted to eat — note I am not saying nothing in the house TO eat, but nothing that sounded good. But between my freezer, my canned garden veggies and my pantry, I can put dinner on the table any night of the week without having to go to the store. (The kids contend that, comes the apocalypse, they’re coming to my house; long as the gas bottle holds out on the grill, we’ll not starve at Chez Keyboard.)
But I cannot imagine what it is like to be hungry and not have SOMETHING I can eat, or cook to eat. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not know where my next meal was coming from. Or, a million times worse, where my KIDS’ next meal was coming from.
I pray to God I never know that feeling. And I’m determined I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that other people don’t know that feeling, either.
I’ve been volunteering at this ministry for a little more than two years. I look forward to every time our team’s Saturday rolls around. I see people I’ve come to count as friends, our “regulars.” I come home tired — and happy.
If there’s such an outreach in your community, I highly recommend you go out and take part in it. It will feed your heart.
And just in case you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wanted to know, here’s how you make meat loaf for 60.
- 15 pounds of ground beef
- a big loaf of white sandwich bread
- a quart of milk
- a dozen eggs
- a big bottle of ketchup
- Seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, parsley
First, tear the bread into chunks, put it in a mixing bowl, and pour milk over it. Set it aside.
I made three loaves, in the interest of ease of mixing everything up. Put five pounds of ground beef in another mixing bowl. Add four eggs and a third of the bread-and-milk panade. (You could use a pound box of Saltine crackers, if you wanted to, but bread’s easier.) Add about half a cup of ketchup, about three tsp of seasoned salt, a couple of teaspoons of garlic powder, a couple of tablespoons of onion powder, and a quarter-cup or so of dried parsley. (Measurements, as you know if you’ve read this blog very long, are approximate.)
Roll up your sleeves, take off your jewelry and dig in with both hands. This is the only way you’ll ever get this stuff mixed. Squish and squash it all together until it’s mixed well and there are no big lumps of bread remaining. Then dump it out onto a sheet pan (use one with at least inch-high sides) and form into a rectangular loaf. Squirt half the remaining ketchup on top, and smooth it out with your fingers. (Meat loaf is a very tactile experience.)
If you’re fortunate enough to have an oven, as I did, that’ll accommodate half-sheet pans at once, put one loaf on the bottom and two on the top, and bake for an hour and a half at 375. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
Oh, and a primo meat loaf sandwich? Good homemade bread. LOTS of mayo (Hellman’s, or homemade, of course.) Thin-sliced leftover meatloaf to cover the bread. Brie to cover the meat loaf. Either broil it openfaced or wrap it loosely in foil and put in the oven at 400 for 5 to 8 minutes to heat everything up and melt the cheese.
Food of the gods, I’m telling you. Trust me on this.