Monday, July 21, 2008

Green Cow Is Destruction: Have The Black Light Poster!!

Yeah, there will eventually be a recipe-several, in fact!- and yeah, I'll give the link for the conversion table thingie so that people who aren't American can cook it too and learn how to eat like normal people.

Middle of summer? Check!
Hotter than Kilauea? Check!


You know you want to. In fact, mix up a basic batch of this and then use the handy variations to make Albondigas and Italian Meatballs!


I grew up with the worlds worst cook. Basic dysfunction aside, this woman made the same mistake many women in that era made: they relied on the recipe booklets handed out by the modern convenience food industry for new ideas. This is the same source which gave us American classics like Tuna Wiggle with Green Peas. I've talked with friends who grew up in the same era and compared notes... we all grew up eating the same horrific dishes, in fact, prepared in exactly the same ways, no matter what the region.

The two main malefactors in the horror story that was American home cooking in the early 60's were the Hunts Corporation and the Campbells Soup Company. Their evil minions were the church/school fundraiser cookbook...where these 'recipes' were re-printed and handed along by the type of woman who insists that everyone loooooooooves her food, and who thought that topping something with miniature marshmallows represented the pinnacle of fine dining. I have proof of this too...I collect old cookbooks. They tell a sad, sad tale.

Anyway, this was eventually going to lead to meatloaf. OK. So.

The archetypal recipe for bad meatloaf was perpetrated by the Hunts corporation. The things that made it so very, very bad were the use of CUBED WHITE BREAD, COARSELY CHOPPED RAW VEGETABLES; SPECIFICALLY GREEN BELL PEPPER AND YELLOW ONION, and a topping of either CATSUP or TOMATO SAUCE. * You can see that the entire thrust of the recipe is toward the 'sweet' setting on the taste-o-meter.

By following the recipe to the letter, which meant using a medium-grade ground beef and baking it under a covering of tinfoil at 375 for 50 minutes, you ended up with something that was very soft and had a distinctly stewed flavor, as the loaf essentially spent all that time boiling in its own copious juices.

Now I'd had this prepared by people who actually cared about what they cooked and who followed the recipe, and at best its edible. Barely. In the hands of an enraged 4-pack a day smoker who used food as I cannot adequately describe the fear and loathing that rose in my throat when, opening the door to my room, I smelled the distinctive aroma of DEATHLOAF shambling down the hall like a victim of wet leprosy. **

Folks, meatloaf CAN BE delicious. It doesn't have to be frightening.

I figured there had to be a way to make this stuff edible. The idea was to stretch a given amount of minced meat economically, without killing members of the immediate family. And really, there was nothing particularly wrong with the ingredients; just the combination.

The tomato topping, the cubed white bread, the green pepper and the yellow onion were the first things to go. There is no reason in the world to have all that 'sweet' in there.*** The idea I came up with was to simply add in the most emame (savory, meaty flavored) ingredients I could, things that harmonize with cooked meat, things that you'd be making a sauce out of anyway if you were serving a bland cut.

Once the main ingredient was treated with a little respect, flavor wise, I twiddled with the cooking method in order to eliminate the 'soupy' flavor. The idea here is that you're eating meat, not drinking it. You want some browning to occur. That caramelizing is what makes meat delicious.

Here's what I came up with. It's pretty simple, and it's not 'fine dining' chow, but I promise that nobody will be traumatized by it. Really.

Yes, you have to use your hands to mix this up. Pull on your big girl panties and deal with it.


I lb ground beef, room temperature
1/2 cup dry, toasted bread crumbs
combine in a large bowl, set aside.

now, this is important:
Minced-yes, MINCED. The same size as the bits of ground beef. Not chopped coarsely. Not LIQUIFIED either or put through the Cuisinart....just MINCED....

1/2 cup each:
carrot, celery, WHITE onion, mushrooms
Saute in a little oil - in batches so that the pan isn't crowded- until soft and liquids are reduced. A nonstick pan is good for this since you aren't looking to create a fond.

Cool, then add to ingredients in bowl, combine.

Mix together: 1 egg
Sprig oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil
Soy sauce
(or Braggs liquid amino...same ingredient, no 'boozy' taste) used judiciously; it's salty
...this stuff. yeah, i know, the packaging makes it look like plant fertilizer but it's not. maybe they use the same advertising firm that Dr. Bronner does. anyway, its delicious. tastes like soy sauce but not fermented.

combine using a hand blender (Bamix), add to ingredients in bowl, blend.

Let mixture sit for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425

Mush the mixture around a little bit...what you want is a material that you can form a ball out of, one that holds its shape. If it feels too soft, add some bread crumbs....too stiff and dry, add water, maybe a little more soy sauce, stock, milk, red wine..whatever. If you've never made this before, play it safe and just use water. ( can always season something UP once its done; but once seasoned, it can never be seasoned DOWN.)

Now plop it into a loaf pan. Don't bother greasing it. Just plop that sucker right in there. Dome the top all nice and make it look pretty. I smooth it so that it makes a nice brown, shiny appearance when its cooked. I do not require that you emulate my dorkiness, however.




Just put it in the nice oven.

At about 15 minutes, take out and dump off juices. Most of it will be fat. (Save these aside for your dog or cat.)

Replace in oven and finish cooking. This will take about 15-20 more minutes, or until the interior temp is 160f.

The top should be nice and browned and not cracked. The loaf will be shrunken away from the sides of the pan a little, and have a little juice in the bottom. That's fine. Leave it there; it will soak back in. You've already gotten rid of most of the fat.

Let loaf rest for 20 minutes

Serve! I like it sliced, with cream gravy over the top, and mashed potatoes with. Oh yeah!


Now, you could mix that all up to the point just before you correct the texture, plop it in the pan and put it in the oven...and make instead

by simply adding...

1/2 cup leftover white rice
1 tsp sambal oelek (oh you do TOO have it, Brits; sheesh, look in the 'oriental foods' section.)
Quite a bit of fresh mint, chopped finely. I use about 1/4 cup of strong, rank old field mint and it's perfect.

Combine and let set for 1 hour
Form into balls the size of a walnut
Place on a flat, ungreased pan
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, giving the meatballs a shake to roll them around about halfway through.
Turn off the heat, open the door, and let them cool in the oven until you can reach in with your bare hands and pick up the pan.

Drop them carefully into soup that is just at a bare, bare simmer...not even tiny bubbles. Leave them for about 1 hour, checking them occasionally and 'sinking' them. When they stay sunk, the soup is done.

(the soup is a basic, regular soup stock...carrots, onion, celery and parsley with a chicken base, with a can of chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup of refries added to it. Easy!)

you could make ITALIAN MEATBALLS instead!

Just add twice the amount of rosemary and oregano-fresh, please
and 2 tbls -yeah, get over it- of garlic confit (a paste of olive oil and ground fresh garlic)
mixed with the egg and soy sauce (or Braggs, which I prefer)

Form and bake as for Albondigas
Place into marinara, same temp, and hold for 1 hour (or place in cooled marinara and hold overnight in the fridge. Bring up to serving temp and droooooooooooooooool all over the place because it smells so good!)

Eat it all up and don't share any of it.



* Later 'improvements' also call for barbecue sauce, something called 'chili sauce' (that I recall as kind of a chunky catsup with a little extra ascorbic acid thrown in), chopped sweet pickle, lima beans and white rice.
No no no no no no no no no. No. Just NO.

**Second only to PRESSURE COOKED STEW. I've been to the dump and smelled things that didn't arouse that kind of nausea. I think it was the combination of the smell, knowing that I'd have to sit at the table until I was actually seen to put some of it in my mouth, and the....visual. Stew isn't an attractive dish at its very best. After spending over an hour in the pressure cooker it resembles what must have poured out of the rum cask that Admiral Nelson was stored in.

***ever notice that about American cooking from the old days? Everyfucking thing was sweet. Everything. They put sugar in GREEN BEANS for heavens sake. What the hell? Just because you can, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
I also blame this on Germans. At least the ones I knew. Man, if you could put sugar or caraway in it, there it was. When I caught my husband (German, taught to cook by Germans) putting BROWN SUGAR into spaghetti sauce and chili we had several long, long talks about who should do the cooking and who should stay the fuck out of my kitchen if he was going to go dumping all brown sugar into shit.


  1. OMG I know EXACTLY what you mean. That 1950s cafeteria cooking is alive and well in Catholic grade schools in Michigan. I had one friend in particular who's mom LIVED by those recipes, and I never ate over at her house because every night there was at least 1 vegetable dish with little marshmallows on it.

    Are you familiar with Catholic Casserole, that horrible green bean concoction made with cream of mushroom soup and crunchy canned onions??? That's another one we can blame on the good people at Campbell's.

    I make my meatloaf with lean ground beef, 1 egg, a bit of Worchestershire Sauce (damnit just because I live in England doesn't mean I can spell the damn thing!) or A1, and a handfull of stuffing croutons with all the sage and onion seasoning. It's pretty tasty.

    I like your idea of pouring the fat off. I will do that from now on. I can probably get away with using slightly less expensive meat if I do that.

  2. Oh man, fricken GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. hell yes, thats pure d white people food, man. they called it Catholic Casserole out your way? I love it!
    to this day we go to the annual German picnic, and you look down the table and its all corningware dishes with those onions, or potato chips, corn flakes, or crushed up chow mein noodles all over the top of them...and the mushroom soup fumes just rising. lord. my brain just instantly registers 'PASS!'

    I like the worchestershire sauce too. thats also good in hamburgers!

  3. Where I am, they put monsterous amounts of sugar in their sweet food. They have a thing called the deep-fried Mars bar, covered in sugar, and the entire country adds sugar to drinking chocolate. And then there's salt, which my immediate group of friends use like an ingredient, rather than a seasoning. I have to stand over them to avoid them turning a perfectly good meal into Salty McSalt's Salt Surprise. >.>

  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    I was JUST day dreaming about making a meat loaf...not my mother's meat loaf but mine, all mine. I don't have a set recipe other than ground meat, onions, eggs, binder and I will try yours out. I have always made a well in the middle of the meat for the fat to migrate to so I could suck it out with a turkey baster. It must cook firmly enough to slice for sandwiches when cool. Retro

  5. noshit: what the hell is it with people? NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE SWEET. someone once told me that this is how smokers cook...their trademark is oversugaring and oversalting. and I've had the deep fried mars bar. with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup on top. its a popular desert in mexican restaurants! once.....was enough, though. WAY more than enough.

    retro: mine slices up neat as you please. you can even fry it in a pan when it's cold like a piece of ham for breakfast!

  6. My mother learned to cook with Campbells soup - luckily she had the tastebuds and health consciousness to cut back the sweet!

    Worcestershire is in mine instead of the soy.

    Meatloaf is a fave - I can't believe people put foil over the top of it to cook? Stewie.

  7. Anonymous4:07 PM

    freaky!!! we had meatload last night. tonight is roast and potatoes. not fixed my way b/c i spent all afternoon putting up peas. 36 bags of fresh peas. and that's just from the first batch!! we've got a whole bunch more to shell and put up.

    my way of fixing roast is to boil it on top of the stove for 3 hours...after rubbing in every spice in my cabinet on the roast, of course. when the roast is almost done i put in the chopped potatoes and let them cook for 30 minutes or so. talk about yummy.

  8. Anonymous4:07 PM

    i despise green bean casserole.

  9. jeannie: welcome welcome!
    I'm convinced that Campbells cream soups are something you should have to buy a permit to use. sometimes it can get....ugly.

    pink: girl, how many acres did you folks put in peas? mine turned up their toes early in the season; we didn't get enough sun or dry. SEND ME PEAS.
    now...we need to talk about this 'boiling a roast' situation. just what precisely do you mean when you say you be boiling no roast?????

  10. if your knife skills blow (such as ol' SSA's here), grated veggies work beautifully and you are less likely to lop a fingertip off. Also, this way little children cheflings can help out, which makes them happy and they are MUCH more likely to eat their dinner this way.
    also HELL YES to Bragg's in meatloaf. Whatwhat, w00t, etc.
    I also like to top it mid-way thru with Annie's wor...worche...worsh...uhhh. Steak sauce. that.

  11. also i write also a lot.
    also, apparently, also.

  12. Anonymous8:16 PM

    fn - we only planted 6 short rows. my dad mulched the mini-garden really well before planting anything. you should see the size of the cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. we plant a strain of peas called mississippi pink purple hull peas. i swear i'm not making that up.

    as far as the roast goes...i put it in a big boiler or pasta pot (the one with the holey lid so the steam can escape) and cover the roast with water. as it cooks on top of the stove, it locks in all the spices and tastes quite good. i cook it til' it's tender. there's not a time limit, really.

    ssa - honey, i can't peel anything without my veggie peeler. just a couple of swipes and the cucumber doesn't look like a piece of whittled wood.

  13. Do you have to remove your tinfoil hat to cook it?

  14. I like worcestershire sauce and soy in mine , and a touch of garlic and a couple of tablespoons of strong coffee (really brings out the meaty flavour) . Luckily we escaped the 'sweet' in the uk , marshmallows on vegetables is just 'WRONG'

  15. Look! Look!

    I'm above Beast and below him.

    A Beast sandwich!

  16. I want to see Beast "mincing"

  17. Yep, I can confirm the thing about Germans, caraway and sugar. Gack.

    Here's another variation, if you're brave enough: Swedish meatballs. Swap out the basil, rosemary and oregano for a very little bit of nutmeg and allspice. Serve with cream gravy and steamed potatoes.

    If you like that sort of thing.

  18. The "Catholic Casserole" moniker actually came from an old priest friend of mine. We used to have him over for dinner (friendly little Oirish chap, told great stories), and he loved to come because he said we were the only family in his parish that didn't serve green bean casserole. He was the one who named it Catholic Casserole because so many of his parishners made him eat it.

  19. How can you take a nation seriously that measures in cups?

    teacup? eggcup? chipped coffee cup?

    *laughs condescendingly at silly colonials*

  20. SSA:oh far out! the goonybird helps too! thats a good idea, lady! AND HEY, you're the one who turned me on to Braggs, too. LISTEN TO HER, FOLKS.

    PINK: you mean, at a rolling boil, or a simmer, or what? im serious; ive never had something like that. what cut are you supposed to use? does it come out like pulled barbecue? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!!! shit, just write me the recipe.

    mj: what tinfoil hat? *quickly hides tinfoil hat behind back*

    beast: oho, coffee! hell yes, son, there you go! sometimes i heave a little in with my bolognaise to up the red meat factor. i'm gonna be trying that!! XX!

    mj: no uterus flinging, now. calm down. 'excitable girl', they all said. goodness.

    alala: im way ahead of you, lady! please explain to me if you can what is the damn deal with Germans and caraway already.

    cb: my mom always used to have the priest over too. let me tell you, i grudge him not my share of the inheritance: that poor man SUFFERED for his religion. WORD.

    frobi: 8-oz cup, thenkew. which beats the alternative; I've got a couple of books old enough so that the standard measurements were expressed in walnuts, knobs, wineglass-fulls, and handfuls. wanna know how to make syllabub under the cow? I gotcha covered. (this is why cows fear me, btw.)

  21. I get totally freaked out by cup seems so inexact , if they mean 8 oz why dont they just say so.
    Stoopid cups

  22. Has MJ calmed down yet

    ****peeps round door****

  23. fucking love meatloaf!!!! its good for days and days in a row... and fucking hate anything with marshmellows... who the hell still does that?!?!?!

  24. There was a time, remember, in America, when refined white sugar was believed to be the most highly nutritious food available. Add to that the snob appeal because only people with disposable income could initially afford it, and sugar rolled along like that for many years after we should have known better. The one that gets me is Peanut butter. There are still manufacturers that load up peanut butter with sugar. After you've eaten a jar or two of Adams (or the like), sugary peanut butter is enough to make you hurl.

  25. inner voices: Minnesotans.