one man's ceiling
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
i learned to make meatloaf by not making meatloaf.

having survived walking pneumonia i found myself with a weakened immune system and the instructions from my doctor to avoid citric acids, dairy, wheat and red meat. hell, what's left? there goes my beloved pastas, my burritos, burgers and milkshakes. the horror, the horror. and when the horror wore off i set out to try and figure out how to eat to live.

i essentially became a vegan. fortunately this happened in vegan-friendly berkeley where gluten-free pastries could be found, where a request for a burrito in a bowl pre-dated the no-carb diet craze by nearly a decade and wasn't seen as unusual. the long life veggie house served up traditional chinese dishes made with tofu processed to sub for chicken in my kung pao. life didn't seem so impossible, just a little more limited.

but then i got a hankering for meatloaf. red meat, and lots of it. looking around i eventually found a recipe that consisted primarily of equal parts tofu, bread crumbs and mixed nuts held together with ground oatmeal and flavored with mushrooms and celery. it worked, and for a while i didn't really miss meat.

after a year and a half my body was strong and i slowly drifted back into the forbidden foods. my first pasta sauce was a revelation, tomatoes so tart i don't think i ever realy recuperated. meat -- all meat, not just red -- became so heavy in my system that instant food coma became a fact of life. still does occasionally. the weight i had lost on my reductive diet came back but i wasn't concerned enough to do anything about it.

finally i decided it was time to try a real-meat meatloaf.

it tasted horrible.

i tried a couple different recipes, some culled from 1950's magazines, some more modern, just to see if i could get back to a flavor i remembered. or liked. finally i looked back at the meatless loaf and the flavors that i liked, that worked, and tried to meld the recipes into something edible. the results are extremely edible.

loaf of meat
you mix it all together.
you form it into two equal sized loafs. put them on a baking sheet with a raised edge.
you bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 40 to 50 minutes until the meat thermometer says it's okay.

now, if you're like me, and you like a nice little "crust" of ketchup on top, you spread about half a cup per loaf on top and broil it for about 5 minutes until it starts to darken a little.

you'll notice i don't say to put them into a loaf pan. sometimes i do and sometimes i don't, but i've come to prefer them outside of loaf pans because you get more crust on the outside and more of the moisture cooks out. no, this is good, otherwise you get these loaves essentially boiling in their juices in the pans and while that makes it easy for removal later it's not as satisfying as a slice of meatloaf that is surrounded by a nice little crust. you know, like a loaf of bread.

except it's meat.

i think i'll go make some for my family. they love it.

i originally posted this with the wrong measurement for bread crumbs and minus the tofu. duh.
i also went to make the meatloaf after posting and found there weren't any mushrooms. no matter, i subbed a diced zucchini and it was fine.
i also forgot the cashews. i'm not feeling well today, scratchy throat and all. i think i'll blame that.
Ahh yes, a crust of ketchup. mm-MM!
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