Stuffed Meatloaf for my Brother’s Birthday

Today is my only brother’s birthday, and he adores meatloaf. He makes a fab meatloaf himself, but since it is his birthday I suggested that the family surprise him with a “Meatloaf Off.” That is, we siblings would all cook meatloaves and let him choose his favorite loaf.

Meatloaf may not be elegant, but sometimes you just want a hearty meal. And birthdays are for favorites, so who cares if a dish isn’t fancy? (Take that, culinary snobs!)

Strolling along on my evening walk yesterday to the startlingly clear sounds of Jack Johnson’s All At Once as heard through the lovely earbuds my dearest bought me for Christmas, I allowed myself to not think of the recipe I wanted to create. So naturally it came right to me.

Here’s my recipe…it was not the winner of the day (except to my husband, who says he had three pieces but then again he has to live with me, so I’m not sure I totally trust his assessment as being wholly unbiased even though it was quite welcome to hear).

Everyone at the party was interested in my typically odd creation and seemed to enjoy it. So naturally I immediately spilled the recipe. (My niece won with her mini-muffin meatloaves, a justified win. The “muffins” were topped with mashed potatoes and were both cute and yummy!)

If you want to give my recipe a try sometime, have at it. And let me know how you like it. Note: it is keto and low-carb eating friendly, so it is likely to reappear in our house again soon.

Stuffed Birthday Meatloaf for Rod:

Ingredients:

Four pounds 73% fat ground beef (for extra flavor)

One pound HOT ground sausage (choose your favorite brand)

Salt and pepper to taste

A dash of garlic salt

A dash of Italian seasoning

Two eggs

One eight-ounce package of cream cheese

Twenty pepperoni slices

Combine all of the above ingredients except for the last two in a large bowl and fill two loaf pans about 3/4 of the way with the meat mixture.  I used my husband’s Depression-era Fireking glass pans. Lovely and uniform!

Then take a spoon and make a trench of sort in the meat, maybe two inches deep. Fill the first loaf with about half of the package of cream cheese, dropping the cheese by the tablespoonful into the crater.

Next cover the cream cheese with half of the pepperoni slices for each loaf.

Use the reserved ground beef mixture to cover both loaves evenly, pinching the sides together, patting the top and smoothing it away from the sides of the pan.

Put it in a 350 degree oven and bake for one hour or until an inserted thermometer reads 155 degrees.  Always check your meatloaf to be sure it doesn’t overcook. Your oven may well be different than mine.

I will add photos as soon as I am able…for some reason I cannot get them to load on this computer. Look for an updated version soon.

(And P.S. — I did not sleep well last night so I can’t swear I wrote this recipe up properly. But I tried.)

My brother was delighted with the surprise meatloaves and hesitated in choosing a winner at all. I think we siblings and family can all agree, however, that we are the winners to have such a cool guy in our lives.

My Story, “Hunger Pangs,” is Now Online at Under the Fable!

maggot cheese

I promised a link to my short story, “Hunger Pangs.  Read it here.

(My story begins on page 29.)

Hunger Pangs is the quirky story of a lonely young woman who meets a group of food enthusiasts. Claire is quickly fascinated by her education and initiation.

Let me answer a frequently asked question: To my knowledge, no such club exists. But maybe it will after people read my story. 🙂 Not that I would join…writing about such things means I don’t have to live them!

Part (debatably) titillating, part grotesque, the story comes from who knows where. I’m just the midwife and, just for the record, while I do have an apron, I am properly attired beneath it at all times when I cook. Okay, most times.

I can tell you where I was when inspiration struck.

My writing location of choice is a local café, a cute place with fresh, local food and friendly baristas who treat me almost like family. One day I was writing there with no assignments for once and no interest in working on my novel. I overheard some slightly naughty conversation as the baker (this was probably three years ago) brought out bread from the kitchen. The purloined tidbit was NOTHING like what’s in the story, but it made me start wondering: what if. That’s the writer’s best, most imaginative tool: what if.

My story, then, is my answer to that “what if.”

During the residency in which I had the piece workshopped I often heard people who were in the workshop discussing it with those who were not. Though technically that wasn’t allowed, I took it as a compliment.

Note: I have unintentionally amassed a collection of what I call my “weird food stories.” This is the latest to be published. I also had one published last year about a young man who dumpster dives for food. Again, I have no clue where these come from, though I am obsessed with food and I feel guilty about that obsession. I’m guessing that has something to do with it.

While you’re over at Under the Fable, please don’t read just my story, though. Take a moment or two to look at the other fine poems and stories in this premier issue! I applaud any and all literary efforts and this new UK-based literary magazine is another fine one.

Maybe reading the other material over there will make you shake the image of a certain cheese in my story…after you read it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Warning: not for the faint of heart…or stomach! (If you look very closely at the above photo after reading the story, the cheese will look much different to you.)

Publication News: Under the Fable, Grief Eating, and Other Tidbits

NYC and DC April 2015 252

I’m delighted to announce that my story, “Hunger Pangs,” will be published in the premier issue of Under the Fable, a UK-based literary journal. It will come out in four days! (I’ll link to it then.)

Since I’ve been concentrating so much on my novel(s) this year, I haven’t been publishing as much fiction. I kinda forgot how good it feels. (Note: it feels great!)

I’ll talk more about the story when it comes out. Until then, some housekeeping:

— I decided to keep my blog, and to rename it. While I feel in some ways  as if I am a self-centered beastie to use my name as the blog’s name, for now it just makes sense. I don’t want to have to choose between all of my interests. And since those interests are housed in me, well, maybe my name is most fitting for the blog’s name.

— That said, I will be mixing up what I talk about. I LOVE writing, adore it, but I think I’d like to include some of my other interests as well. (Such as cooking!)

— I will be updating and overhauling my blog, too.  More on that later.

Though we are five months into this year, in some ways it feels to me as if it has just begun. The end of last year was a blur — I lost my dad and submerged myself in a months’ long grief eating fest from which I am just now beginning to emerge. Two days after we buried my dad was our first Christmas without him, followed in February by his birthday. I’m holding my breath for next month  — Father’s Day. I know he would want — does want — me to get back to all of those things I love most and to take care of myself. Part of that is getting back to my blog, back to plotting out my writing course.

Getting this story published seems a good place to start. Happy New Year to me!

Creative or Rule Follower?

My first conscious act of creating was in response to my elementary school principal’s command. She gave us a sheet of paper covered in circles and told us to come up with ONLY things that did not exist.

I was in the fifth grade. This principal was the strongest woman I knew — she was probably close to six feet tall, a large, craggy woman with a deep voice and half a dozen children if I remember correctly. She had only to look sideways at a student for that student obey. I both feared and adored her.

Now, here’s the thing: when she gave me that paper, I knew I HAD to do what she asked, because she was the principal. Because I was afraid her eyes could melt me. And because I had already incurred her ire two years before by wearing shorts and a strappy top to school, not having ever been told it was against the rules until she announced over the intercom that such attire was inappropriate. (I was not the only offender). I was mortified and spent the rest of the (very) hot day wearing my jacket, though my teacher begged me to take my jacket off. I refused, preferring to at least cover up my arms.

This principal, all eyes, glasses on a chain, and moles, now wanted me to lie, as it were. So I learned to create on command.

It turned out that I was the only one who obeyed — everyone else came up with basketballs and such, things that already existed. I had no idea that my worksheet would land me in the principal’s office for further questioning. She was taking, she told me later, a class on child development and because of that she asked me more questions based on what I had drawn. Why had I made an electric soccer ball? Why had I come up with a cheesy rat tunnel?

I have no idea if my answers satisfied her, but they did make me realize I was different, and that was invaluable. And better yet, she let me leave her office alive.

Recently I asked my husband this, though: was I creative because I did what she asked or was I more rigid than the others  because I felt compelled to follow her directions? Perhaps she scared me into creativity. Barry’s opinion is that she inadvertently helped me free my creativity. I suppose either way it doesn’t matter, but I am grateful, and I kinda miss her.  Go figure.

The Yearly “What to do with the blog” Post, Reading Woolf, and More

Dear Readers,

Yup, it’s time for my yearly wrestling of what to do with my blog NOW. This happens every time WordPress tells me it’s time to renew my domain name. I must confess to being envious of those who just blog. They seem to blog about anything that interests them. They may blog about blogging one day, and about eating pizza the next. I considered doing that, and I might someday. But.

If you have been following me, you may notice that I have taken down some earlier posts. I decided to prune my posts for privacy’s sake. I’m not being mysterious (I’m pretty open, and certainly not that interesting), but I decided that if I write something that I wouldn’t want mentioned to me by a stranger in public, I should probably take it down. (I’ve pretty much had that happen, too. Yikes!)

Am I still really into writing about art? Oh yes. I can’t see that changing any time soon. The novel I am working on novel does involve art, although to a lesser degree. But I really do write about more than art. As a matter of fact, I spent most of February revising a MG novel, although I had to abandon it temporarily. I intend to finish it this summer. Or at least I hope to. So now I need to reconsider what this space is for.

I say all of this to say that what I’d really like this to become would be a corner for those who write to talk about writing and for those who read to talk about that. I especially enjoy conversations with writers who read and chat. (Maybe that should be my new blog title: Writers Who Read!) And I hope it doesn’t sound snobbish to say so but I particularly enjoy literary fiction, although I have been known to enjoy a YA novel now and again. Just as I like physical exercise that challenges me, that’s what I expect from a novel.

I’ll get us started.

As part of the writing process I make sure to read a really great book by an inspiring author. For me that author right now is Virginia Woolf. When I read her work, I aspire to meet her excellence. I’m not saying I will or that her modernist bent is even called for today, but her To the Lighthouse is a book I could read endlessly.

I don’t want to seem sacrilegious but with Lighthouse I have the same experience that I had when I read the Bible as a young person: I always see a fresh image, something I missed, a thought-provoking passage. It’s always new.

You likely have a book you feel the same about. While I figure out what (if anything) to do with my blog, care to share? Or feel free to talk about your writing, if you write.

Thoughts?