Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama's Marvelous Meatloaf

I've noticed that my recipe posts are, by far, the most popular, so here's another for y'all. This one is a big hit around here, and I think it's one of my favorites. There's just something about meatloaf that makes me happy. If you're wondering about the name, just know that my kids are big fans of alliteration...

Mama's Marvelous Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 stale hot dog buns (or any other bread)
  • 1 whole onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried summer savory
  • Dried parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put ground beef and ground pork in a very large bowl.
  3. Puree the onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor. Dump into bowl with meat.
  4. Process hot dog buns in the food processor until you have crumbs. Dump crumbs in with meat and veggies. (I use hot dog buns because I always have a few extras in the pantry, feel free to use whatever bread you have on hand.)
  5. Add about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs to taste.
  7. Add egg and mix with your hands until everything is well combined.
  8. Shape into two large loaves and place on your broiler pan (this allows the grease to drip through, away from your meatloaves.)
  9. Bake for about an hour and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

    Here it is with some mashed potatoes and onion gravy, green beans, and homemade dinner rolls

This will make a LOT of meatloaf. It's enough for 12 people (or 6 people twice, which is the way we do it) with leftovers. It also holds together very well when you cut it, so it's great for meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day.
 I often sneak other veggies in this. Grated squash or carrots are good, but any veggies (grated or finely chopped) will work. I've added up to a cup more veggies without having to add more breadcrumbs or egg.
This recipe also makes great meatballs with just a few substitutions. Replace the summer savory with basil, and add a bit more garlic, roll them up into 2 inch balls and bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, and they are great with spaghetti.
Have a great weekend everyone. Blessed Be...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spicy Pickled Carrots

 This week I made a batch (6 quarts) of spicy pickled carrots and half a batch (3 quarts) of pickled jalapeno slices for Mike. He has been missing the carrots that we used to get at the taco shops in San Diego, so I thought I would see if I can make him some.
 Since all the carrots in the garden have been eaten by...something, I told Mike to get me some from the grocery store. He got me 10 pounds, plus some onions and jalapenos. I don't know if they're exactly like the ones from the taco shop, but they are yummy, so I'll share the recipe.

Spicy Pickled Carrots

  • 10 pounds carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 12 jalapenos
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 24 peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 cups 5% vinegar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup sea salt
        Wash and prepare the veggies. Slice carrots into 1/4 inch rounds. cut onions into 1/4 inch slices, cut each jalapeno in half, peel the garlic. Wash your canning jars and then pack 1/3 of an onion, 2 jalapenos, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 peppercorns, 1/2 tablespoon of oregano, and as many carrot slices as you can fit, leaving 1/2 inch head space in the jar.
       Add the water, vinegar, and salt to a large, non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then pour into the jars, covering the veggies, making sure to leave 1/2 space.
      These can go directly into the fridge or they can be canned in a water bath canner for 15 minutes to be stored at room temperature. For best flavor, wait at least a week before eating.
      Here's a picture of the finished product, cooling on my counter after coming out of the canner.

Pickled carrots and jalapeno slices
      Hope everyone has a great week...Blessed Be

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Twins' Birth

  On August 7th 2002 Mike and I went out to dinner with Gabe, who was 16 months old, and our good friend Ryan. I was 8 months pregnant with the twins and I was STARVING! I hadn't been able to eat more than a couple of bites at a time for months because all of the space that had been occupied by my internal organs was taken over by the insane amounts baby inside of me. If I took more than 3 bites of food I had the very worst heartburn. This night it didn't matter, I was going to eat! I ordered Fajitas with rice and beans, and I ate every bite, I even had some kind of chocolate cake for desert. I knew I would regret it later, but I didn't care.
 We came home from the restaurant and I put Gabe to bed and then got ready for bed myself while the guys sat in the living room and chatted. As I was climbing up onto the bed I felt (heard? sensed? I can't really explain it) this little POP. I just stood there for a second, thinking, "What the heck was that?" Then I felt a trickle of liquid and I became totally irrational.
 I walked into the living room and told Mike and Ryan something like, "I think my water just broke. But I refuse to have these babies tonight, so I'm going back to bed." Ryan went immediately into panicked, single guy mode. I think he thought babies were just going to start shooting out. Mike, on the other hand, had been dealing with my particular brand of crazy for years at this point so he knew how to handle me. "Honey, you don't have to have the babies tonight, just call the hospital and see what the nurses have to say," he told me. This seemed logical, so I did.
 I remember the conversation with the nurse on the labor and delivery floor very clearly. "Hi, this is Renee, I'm Dr. Stehly's patient. Well, I'm 36 weeks with breech twins and I think my water just broke. I don't need to come in right?" The nurse asked me where we lived. I thought it was an odd question, but I told her, "Just down the street." "Honey," she said to me, "I'll see you in 5 minutes, I'll be waiting for you." Damn, that wasn't the answer I wanted!
 I stomped around the house, collecting all of the things I didn't have ready yet, packing my bag and grumbling things like, "...NOT time yet!...I'm NOT doing this tonight!...I don't want to...can't make me...fuck, fuck, fuck!!!!!" , while Mike tried to get a hold of his dad to come get Gabe. Dad was unreachable, but Ryan agreed to stay with Gabe until his Uncle Matthew could come pick him up. I think Ryan was just glad to get the crazy, ranting, cussing, drippy, pregnant woman out of the house at that point.
 As we got out of the elevator on the labor and delivery floor (more like 20 minutes later than 5 minutes) I was sure that my water HADN'T broken, and that this was silly, and that I should just go home, but Mike said he was sure they would check me out and send me home (he's sneaky smart and wasn't about to be the bad guy, he'd leave that to the nurses.) The nurse was waiting for me, probably looking for the hugely pregnant neurotic woman with the long suffering husband, and led me to an exam room. Another nurse came in and did a litmus test and discovered that my water had, in fact, broken.
 At that point all hell broke loose. One nurse ran off to call  my doctor and an anesthesiologist the other nurse started prepping me for surgery. She shaved my belly with a dry razor, nicking every stretchmark I had in the process. Then I thought I should mention that I had just eaten a full meal. If you ever want to see a nurse turn funny colors just tell one that's prepping you for surgery that you just ate a pound of fajitas. There was a hurried consultation between the medical professionals, and it was decided that they would go ahead and do the section, and just hope I didn't vomit.
 I didn't get scared until they rolled me into the OR and told Mike he'd have to change and wait for the anesthesiologist to start my spinal. He told me later that they tried to keep him out of the room for as long as possible, because they were afraid of what would happen if such a big guy fainted in the OR. They had actually started the surgery before they let him in. He sat down next to my head and held my hand as best he could, since my arms were strapped down to the table. The doctor kept up a running dialogue of what he was doing, so that we would know when the babies were coming out. Mike stood up so that he could watch them be born.
 Aislyn was first, the doctor delivered her and held her up over the blue drape in front of my face so that I could see my tiny daughter before he handed her off to her to the neonatal team that was waiting for her. Ian came 2 minutes later, slightly bigger and crying as the doctor held him up for me to see before he too got checked out by his own team. Both babies were wrapped up and I was unstrapped so I could touch them for a moment before they went off to the NICU since they were tachycardic and had low blood sugar. I sent Mike with them, because I couldn't stand the idea of the babies being surrounded by strangers.
 While I was in recovery a nurse came back with their measurements. Aislyn was 5 pounds, 2 ounces and Ian was 6 pounds even. I was thrilled that they were so big and shocked that I had had 11 pounds of baby inside of me. My mom came by to see me a few hours later, and she had been in to see the babies and had taken pictures. It was the first I got to see them since they left the OR. It was hard to look at pictures of my babies with oxygen masks and tubes and wires attached to them, but they were beautiful.
 I was moved out of recovery and into my regular room. Another nurse brought me a few pictures of the babies. I had to wait until the spinal wore off before I could go see the babies myself. Finally, 12 hours later, I got wheeled into the NICU and saw my babies. They were already off of most of the machinery and monitors they had started out with. After just a minute in there I realized that they were the healthiest babies in the room. They just had to learn to control their body temperature. I sat and just touched them for as long as I could.
 I went back to my room and pumped so that they could get breast milk instead of the sugar water they were feeding them. I walked back and forth several times so that I could give them bottles and then start nursing them with some help from the lactation consultant. They only spent 2 days in there before they were ready to start rooming in with me and nursing full time. We spent a total of 4 days in the hospital and then were all able to come home, healthy and happy.
 So 10 years ago, today, my twins were born. I laugh now when I remember how I went from a normal, intelligent, fairly rational person into a raving maniac in the blink of an eye. That's pregnancy for you.

All grown up now

Blessed Be everyone...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Biscuits for Baking Dummies

 Tonight I made biscuits. They smelled good. They were beautiful. They tasted good. It was a first for me. Baking is not my strong suit, and I've ruined biscuits so badly that neither the dog nor the chickens would eat them. If you know any chickens you know that they must have been terrible. 
 My dear friend Mary is a baker and she finally made me realize that biscuits aren't bread (which I can bake if needs be) and the dough needs to be handled more gently. Tonight's advice was, "Just don't overmix, you can do it!!!" 
 So I looked up a recipe on the Betty Crocker website and got started. It was a really simple recipe and I made a few small changes. If I can make these anyone can. 

Tomato Basil Biscuits
  2 cups self rising flour
  1 stick butter
  3/4 cup milk
  1 tablespoon tomato powder (dried cherry tomatoes processed into powder)
  1 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 450. Put flour in a large bowl, cut in butter (I used 2 butter knives and then my fingers) until crumbly, add dried basil and tomato powder, and then stir in milk. Stir just until it sticks together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Then put it on a lightly floured surface, dust with flour and kneed 5 times. Roll out to 1/2 an inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter and place with sides touching on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. 

Here is what came out of the oven. I served these with a pea and lentil soup with ham, my dried tomatoes and my dried herbs. The only thing I will do differently in the future is to make a bigger batch. Everyone had seconds and wanted thirds.

Have a good night everyone, Blessed Be...

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