Paradise by the kitchen light


‘Meatloaf again. Or maybe chili this time.’

It’s my darned fault it’s been so chilly here in the Northeast. Not only did I stow my chili (speaking of ‘chilly’) pot away, but I put my meatloaf pans in mothballs. Figuratively, that is. It’s sort of like what happened last week when I took our big fat comforter to the cleaners. It snowed.

But back to the kitchen. When the weather’s cold, there’s nothing we Henrys like better than a big ole batch of Anything Made With Ground Meat. Of course, my Oldest Younger Brother Scott, being a Californian, scorns chili made with ground meat. But the rest of us slurp it up like gangbusters. (I’m featuring a photo of a large pot of a late great batch right there at the top of this post.)

When I was growing up, my Mom made chili a lot. Her recipe for chili was the same as her recipe for spaghetti sauce — except that the chili had beans.

She’d start with onions. (Everything she made started with onions. She once told me she didn’t feel ‘right’ unless she had a whole bag of yellow onions in her kitchen. She felt the same way about potatoes. Oh, and bananas. There were always bananas in varying degrees of ripeness, even decomposition. The black ones were used for banana bread. Which, naturally, was the exception to the everything-starting-with-onions rule. But I digress.)

My Gramma Henry and my Uncle Mike. Looks like they’re enjoying some banana bread. Or maybe that’s a homemade pickle — could go either way

Anyway, she started with onions, chopped and sautéed. Then came some chopped green pepper. Then a can or two of tomatoes. If she added oregano, it was spaghetti sauce. If she added chili powder and beans, it was chili. Either way, it did not go unappreciated. Or uneaten.

Gosh, Roger. Not sure! That looks like scrambled eggs that Aunt M is whipping up. But what I’m chomping into? That’s a Peterson Kitchen, so it’s anybody’s guess. Maybe one of Gramma P’s rolls?

My chili is a tad more complex, if not Authentically Southwestern, or even Californian. It’s not a secret, but I’m keeping the recipe to myself for now. Because this story is about Meatloaf, for which I am going to give you my recipe. (Meatloaf the food, not Meatloaf The Singer of ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’, which I’m only mentioning because some of you, like The Dude, may not have heard of him and won’t ‘get’ my titular pun.)

So here you go: LutheranLiar’s Mom’s Meatloaf

Here’s what you’ll need to make ‘my’ meatloaf. Minus the meat. Raw ground meat looks pretty icky in a photo, so use your imagination

I highly recommend making meatloaf, and making it often. Not that many people do, at least not in the Younger Generation, or in my (ahem) ‘circle’. So it’s rather a treat. And if you serve it to anyone Not From Here, why, it’s downright exotic. I once ‘dinner-partied’ some meatloaf when a Frenchwoman was a guest. She’s still raving about it — and that was at least ten years ago.

Here’s the meatloaf, ready for the oven. All mixed up, that raw meat doesn’t look too icky. I hope

Oh — before I forget. When you make meatloaf — or chili for that matter — it’s a great idea to make an extra one (or for chili, a double batch) so you can stow it away in the freezer for a rainy (or chilly, er ‘chili’) day. Trust me, there’s been many a time I’ve been too rushed (or too lazy) to cook dinner, and I’ve just thawed us out a meatcicle of some sort.

Meatloaf — again. This was last week’s. Yup, there was already a chunk missing before I could ‘capture’ it with my iPhone

So anyway. It’s still cold, it’s still March, and I’m still mad about meatloaf. And chili. And, basically, anything you can throw together with some ground meat. Even The Dude’s Mother’s Pepperless Stuffed Peppers taste pretty darned good when it’s nippy out.

Champagne livens up any occasion. Even an Anniversary Staycation Dinner

And everything tastes good with champagne. Which reminds me. It’s The Dude’s and my wedding anniversary this weekend. I think I’ll get that big ole pot out of storage and whip up a batch of the Duchess of Devonshire’s Beef Bourguignon. Or maybe I’ll just thaw out a chilisicle.

New York City. March 2018



There is no ‘P’ in ‘Short Stack’


‘Who knew a pancake could be so Proustian?’

I was thinking a lot about pancakes this past weekend. For one thing, it was Father’s Day — a day, like Mother’s Day, when the ole pancake griddle (or frying pan, which is what was used when I was Growing Up Lutheran) can get a real workout.

I can remember a time, not that long ago, when, as a young(ish) mom myself, I would rustle up a batch of pancakes not just for Father’s-or-Mother’s Day, but almost every Sunday morning, winter and summer — pretty much all year ’round.

My Garland, all shined up at that. This is the same stove that Julia Child owned, I'll have you; the one that's in the Smithsonian. Not this exact one, of course

My Garland, all shiny and ready for pancake-making. This is the same stove that Julia Child owned, I’ll have you know; it’s in the Smithsonian. (Not this exact one, of course)

I’d man (woman?) the griddle on my impressive Garland six-burner-and-griddle-topped stove, spatula and coffee cup in hand(s) while The Child polished off an impressive number of pancakes (five? seven? ten?) without benefit of butter, syrup, or even fork. The experience was rather like watching my Oldest Younger Brother Scott polish off sweet corn. (His talent for this inspired my Swedish Grampa to give him the nickname Scott ‘Sweetcorn’ Henry.) Continue reading

Yup, Summer’s officially over


Toasted cheese









‘Farewell BLT. Welcome Toasted Cheese’

When I was a kid back in the Midwest the highlight of our summer was the Clinton County Fair. It was hot, it was dusty. It was noisy, it was crowded. But it had carnies and cotton candy and corn dogs. We loved getting sick on the rides and even sicker on the food. (We also used to have a blast arguing over which high school girl was going to be crowned Miss Clinton County Fair, but that’s another story.)

But the Fair always made my Mom sad. She said it was because Fair Time, even though it was right at the height of ‘calendar summer’ — July, for heavens’ sakes — meant, for her, that Summer Time was pretty much over. I never understood this until I got older and summer started lasting ten minutes.

Anyway. According to the calendar, today is the day Summer is officially over, the ‘end’ being September 21 (or is it 22 this year?) But I say ‘calendar schmalendar’. We all have our own, very personal, ways of deciding when Summer is over, or about to be. For some, it’s Labor Day. For others, it’s when Continue reading