November 27, 2000
Meatloaf Therapy!

[today's horoscope from the sf chron: "too much is up in the air for either you or a partner to guess how it will play out. follow life's lead with your customary good humor."]

That's right: we have another exciting new *therapy* to add to our burgeoning collection!

It proudly joins Mmmm-Bop Therapy, Tobler Chocolate Orange Therapy, Orgasm Therapy, Dishwashing Therapy, Nap Therapy and Pajama Therapy as surefire methods of banishing the blues ... especially on those sleepy/weepy Sunday afternoons.

We're going to call this one "Meatloaf Therapy."

I don't know about you, but almost immediately following any large holiday dinner involving turkey and relatives -- even if they're not my relatives -- I experience a huge, primal, uncontrollable hankering for red meat.

Specifically, I crave ground beef. 

Hamburgers. Tacos. Manwich. Hamburger Helper (but only if it's the Potato Stroganoff flavor). Spaghetti with meat sauce. Chili con carne. Shepherd's Pie.

And I most especially crave meatloaf.

Neither David nor I eat a lot of red meat these days. Actually, David eats even less of it than I do: when we go to our little Alameda taqueria on Saturday afternoons, I always order two ground beef tacos served on flat white-corn tortillas with cilantro and lime wedges (bliss), while he invariably orders a vegetarian burrito. We're not much for fast food: we do the occasional McDonald's drive-thru when we're pressed for time, maybe, but that's about it. (And even then, I prefer a Filet O'Fish, as long as they put enough ketchup on it to drown out the annoying 'fishy' taste.) We like an occasional deli sandwich from Dimitra's. We broil a steak about once or twice a month. Sometimes we cook a roast. 

But that's pretty much it for red meat consumption in the Ю僱êrvØ¡/SecraTerri household.

Part of that is because it's cheaper to eat pasta than a Porterhouse. Part of it is due to extremely limited freezer space. (Right now, for instance, there is a 20-fudking-pound turkey taking up most of our valuable HotPoint real estate. There's barely enough room left for our It's-It ice cream sandwiches.)

And part of it -- lately -- is because of David's mom.

Now that Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡ and I are bonding (read this: now that she has read portions of *FootNotes* and still considers me suitable daughter-in-law material), I feel a growing connection to the woman who gave birth to He With Whom I Share a Toothbrush Holder. Like me, she loves David very much. Like me, she wants him to be happy. And like me, she would like him to not die any time in the next 40-50 years. So we've both promised her we'll try to cut back on fats and junk food and red meat, and to exercise more, and to lose weight and to lower our cholesterol and to get healthy and to live to an obscenely ripe and self-satisfied old age.

So what do I do? I immediately turn around, three days after Thanksgiving, and I make my world-famous meatloaf.

(Or -- as my son somewhat irreverently refers to it -- my world-famous "meatload.")

My bad. My very, VERY bad.

I have no formal meatloaf "recipe," per se. I am a graduate of the Keep It Simple Stoopid School of Meatloaf Preparation:

  • Dump a bunch of stuff into the largest mixing bowl you own.
  • Squish it all together with your hands.
  • Pack the whole mess into a pan.
  • Toss it into a 400º oven for about an hour ... and vóila!
  • Meatloaf!

There are, however, a couple of *custom touches* that I like to add. I never use plain ground beef, for one thing: I mix half ground beef and half ground sausage. This gives it a more authentically meatloafy flavor, in my opinion. I add a ton of chopped onion and celery ... virtually any spices I can find in the cupboard, as long as they were packaged during the latter half of the twentieth century ... and my filler of choice, homemade bread crumbs made out of day-old sourdough. After I've smooshed everything into the pan, I lay two or three strips of uncooked bacon on top of the meatloaf, followed by a thick layer of ketchup-and-brown-sugar topping. The bacon cooks while the meatloaf cooks, and it drips bacony juices all over everything, and the tomato-and-brown-sugar sauce hardens and glazes and burns a little around the edges of the pan, and all of the ingredients sort of fuse together during that hour in the oven.

Trust me. It's like a little slice of heart attack heaven in a non-stick loaf pan.

(There is one other highly-confidential, swore-I'd-take-the-secret-to-my-grave ingredient, but if I tell you about adding two tablespoons of extra-crunchy peanut butter, Grandma is gonna kill me when I get to Heaven.)

Anyway. Here's what's therapeutic about the whole thing, and what qualifies Meatloaf Therapy as a legitimate addition to our list of Sunday Blues Remedies:

  • The pure visceral pleasure of plunging your hands into a bowlful of raw meat and raw eggs and squishing it through your fingers. One teeny-tiny caveat: those of you wearing lovely engagement and/or wedding rings might want to take them off first. (The rest of us don't have to worry about it, obviously. Grrr.)
  • The idea of taking all of these disparate, economical, commonplace ingredients and forming them into something solid.

    Something really solid.

    Something really, really, REALLY solid.

  • The heavenly smells emanating from your oven.

  • The incredibly gigantic disgusting greasy mess that the act of creating meatloaf generates ... which of course makes it possible for you to indulge in a little Dishwashing Therapy when you're done! (See how beautifully this all works together??)

Unfortunately, I went a little overboard yesterday afternoon and wound up making enough meatloaf for a small army ... or enough for a large FAMILY, depending on how you look at it. Neither of which exactly describes our household.

David and I each had two modest slices for dinner last night. It barely put a dent in the loaf. We'll most likely be having meatloaf again for dinner tonight. We'll probably have it for sandwiches tomorrow, too, and again the day after that, and again the day after that. (In fact, we might as well contact the landlord and ask to have the meatloaf added to our rental agreement, since it's clearly not going anywhere anytime soon.)

But at least some of that post-turkey/red meat craving has subsided a little ... for now. (Talk to me again next week, after we cook that turkey in our freezer.)

And at least it helped me avoid yet another case of the creepy/weepy Sunday Blues.

throw a rock