I got to thinking that perhaps people land here and wonder, why Give Me Meatloaf? In all honesty, I thought I had selected the name simply because I really do love Meatloaf and I thought it represented my beer drinkin’, Midwestern, meat-eating attitude. But as I started to get all Oprah-philosophical on myself and really think about when I fell in love with the idea of food and cooking – it hit me. It was freaking meatloaf.
First, let’s go back – like, way, way back. I’ve always loved to eat. See exhibit A & B below.
And as I’ve said before, I grew up with home-cooked meals pretty much every day (thanks Ma!) and I now realize how lucky I was that my mom could say, “Go out to the garden and pick some chives for the baked potatoes tonight.” My city dwelling self would do almost ANYTHING to have a fresh herb garden nowadays! But I didn’t really grow up cooking. It seemed like WORK. Ew.
So I grew up eating great, then went to college. Some of my favorite delicacies to indulge in through college were bagels dipped in nacho cheese, bags of cheetos, ramen, grilled cheeses, pizza puffs, and beer. Lots and lots of beer. Still, no cooking.
So fast forward to just after graduating college when Sir Dave, his band and I moved to Los Angeles – why not – young, crazy, rock n’ roll kids, right? Well, it didn’t last long. This picture of me on our apartment roof sums up my feeling of LA. My Midwestern roots run strong and they run deep, so my longing for pine trees, cold and gloomy days and hearty platters of meat and potatoes just kept me longing for home.
The story goes that about four months into this wild adventure we decided LA was not for us, so we all planned to move home in January. But due to unforeseen circumstances I ended up alone…in LA…on Christmas.
I remember thinking long and hard about how I could at least make Christmas day feel like home, which was no easy task given that stinkin’ California sunshine wouldn’t let up – not even for Christmas, darn it. I thought the least I could do was to make a home-cooked meal, and the only thing I wanted was my Grandpa’s/Mom’s meatloaf, creamy mashed potatoes and a side of canned corn with a big slab of butter. There was something so comforting to me about this exact meal that I had eaten countless times at my Grandma and Grandpa’s table and at home. It wasn’t fancy, but it sure was good.
So I put on my big girl pants and attempted what to me at the time, was en epic undertaking. I’m laughing even typing this right now as I could currently make meatloaf in my sleep. But the anticipation of hoping this meal, and this meal alone, would save my Christmas was terrifying. Regardless, I went forth.
As I peeled the potatoes, softened the butter, chopped the onions and began assembling and cooking this very important feast, a strange calming jedi-like-foodie force came over me. Somehow, it was all actually quite relaxing. Going through all the motions of making this meal made me feel close to home. And as I completed each task on the recipe card, I became more confident and happy. Despite many other things in my life not going according to plan, this was working.
As the aromas filled our big empty apartment I set up a single place setting on the coffee table in front of the TV. I pulled out the meatloaf, mashed the potatoes with tons of butter and heated up my little can of corn. I filled my plate with huge helpings of each of my accomplishments and took a seat. It was go time.
I truly do remember taking the first bite.
It was perfect.
This is going to sound cheesy as hell, but this super simple, comforting meal made that Christmas one of my most memorable.
So, why Give Me Meatloaf? Because meatloaf was one of the first things I ever prepared that taught me that food can be much more. It comforted me when I needed it, challenged what I thought I was capable of and taught me that a good home-cooked meal really can set a tone, change a mood and make me smile.
And here we are, 12 years later.
Happy eating y’all!