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When I was growing up, every time my father made meatloaf it was different. He measured seasonings by hand. He’d dice onion and garlic to mix with the meat. Sometimes he would shred carrots into the mix. Some days he’d use ketchup and mustard. Others he would use A1 Sauce and orange juice. He experimented and tweaked and to this day I can’t say that he has perfected his recipe.
As much as I would love to be the foodie my father is, if the choice is between cooking and writing, I choose writing every time. My meatloaf recipe was born out of the need to use up the little bits of condiments left over in my refrigerator. Unless it’s the weekend, I rarely have time to dice or shred vegetables of any kind.
It’s surprising how well I remember the night I first made this dish almost ten years ago. Until then, the only meatloaf my family had experienced was a meat rock with ketchup over the top. (The cook will remain nameless for my protection.) Because of this, when I told my husband what was for dinner he groaned and announced he would eat cereal. It took much cajoling for him to try it. My children didn’t know what was for dinner until I set it in front of them (thank you, Casper!) and even then it took two bites before they asked in astonished little voices, “What is this?”
My husband said it’s the best meatloaf he’d ever had. Even now, my kids cheer when it’s meatloaf night.
But the test, the true test of my recipe, was if my father approved. Lucky for my ego, he made all of the yummy noises before asking which ingredients I used. Then the dinner conversation changed to how best to tweak it. Even so, he finished his plate and went back for that all important extra sliver. He liked it.
I’ve made this meatloaf the same ever since. My family wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you ever had a recipe that you endlessly tweaked?
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