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A great meat loaf — tonight and tomorrow

Of all the foods I might prepare for my son-in-law, Marshall, none pleases him more than the old-fashioned meat loaf that I prepare once in a great while. It takes a while to prepare, and a little longer to cook, but it is the basis for a satisfying meal at the end of a long day. In my mind’s eye I can see my mother’s meat loaf, topped with some of her canned tomatoes (she put up at last 30 pints every summer), and on the same plate, there is a serving of mashed potatoes with a small trench formed in the middle and filled with English peas. It is an unforgettable image of how one of her treasured meals appeared before us — trying to make those English peas attractive to country children who would much rather have black-eyed peas or butter beans! She fed us well, if simply, and that meat loaf dinner is one of many good memories of her cooking.
Alas, my meat loaf is not hers. I remember that she used white bread that had been dipped in milk and then squeezed into mush and added to the mixture. And over the years I tried to duplicate hers, but never did. Then several years ago, two recipes appeared in a Country Living article featuring Miranda Lambert and her mother Bev: Miranda’s recipe was low-fat; her mother’s was “old fashioned.” Of course, that’s the one I chose. I have adapted it to suit my own tastes. The only recipe for meat loaf that compared favorably with Bev Lambert’s was one I found in a Lizella Baptist Church Book from a very long time ago. That book disappeared in one of my moves, so I was pleased to find this one that sounded similar.
Meatloaf for Meat Lovers
2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean, hot)
18 saltine crackers, crushed
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Topping ingredients
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup yellow mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl just until blended. Place mixture in a lightly greased (spray with Pam) 11 x 7 inch baking dish and shape mixture into a l0 x 5 inch loaf. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour. Remove from oven and drain. Stir together topping ingredients and pour over meatloaf. Bake 15 to 20 more minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 160 degrees F. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Remove from baking dish and slice.

A nice and easy — and healthy — side dish to accompany this follows:
Roasted Snap Peas and Mushrooms
Roast 4 slices chopped bacon on a rimmed baking sheet in a 450 degree F. oven until crisp (watch closely; it can burn quickly). Add 8 oz. each trimmed snap peas and trimmed and halved mushrooms (whichever type may be currently available), 2 sliced garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; toss to coat. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until vegetables are golden. Recipe serves four and can be doubled easily.
The next day, cut a slice of leftover meatloaf, spread some mustard and ketchup on whatever bread you have available, and you have a great luncheon sandwich. Just like Mother’s.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net.