Mom's Meatloaf–Sort of

As so often happens around my house, I take a trusted recipe from the box, look around the kitchen, and start to improvise.

Tonight I decided meatloaf sounded good.  I had a pound of grassfed ground beef in the freezer, so I thawed that in the sink.  My mom’s recipe calls for two pounds of ground chuck, but, well–I didn’t have that.

I also didn’t have the cup of dried Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs my mom’s recipe calls for.  It seems every time I put some bread up on the rack on top of the fridge to dry out, it mysteriously disappears.  It’s not mice, either; it’s H and his Dutch delight in dried-out bread.

However, I did have some of those tasty thyme and rosemary-seasoned olive oil tortas–that helps a little with the lower fat content of the meat and with part of the Italian seasoning component.  I threw a few not-so-crisp Rye Crisp crackers in the mix, rolled them all into crumbs with my rolling pin, and set them to soak with egg and milk.

To the meat-and-soaked crumb mixture, I also added a few chopped-up dried tomatoes and leeks and garlic greens from the freezer, a little minced onion and some herbs from the cupboard–sweet basil from the garden, a little oregano, a few hot pepper flakes.

I’m almost out of red pepper, so I’ll have to grind more flakes from my dried peppers soon, but that task usually ends up giving me a burning throat from the dust, so I’ve been putting it off.

The traditional topping for meatloaf in my family is ketchup, but I only had a little left in the bottle (I use Heinz, I’ll admit, for that perfect umami flavor).  So, I squeezed out the rest of that and cast about the fridge for something else thick and red–deciding on a little taco sauce to mix with the ketchup.

Despite all my additions and substitutions, it sure smells good baking in the oven.  I s’pose I’ll serve it with a little organic broccoli steamed on the stovetop and maybe a few brandied peaches on the side.

Just don’t tell my mom what I did with her recipe.

Local ingredients: ground beef, egg, milk, dried tomatoes, leeks, garlic greens, sweet basil, red pepper flakes.  Maybe some brandied peaches, too.

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