Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Day 2011

I fell for it again.  Curse you, Food and Wine photographer, for making every dish look delicious and oh-so-attainable.  I'm talking about November's Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy.  I don't know what I was thinking.  The kids have never liked my experiments, let alone ones swimming in creamy onion gravy.  But it sounded so good.  Onions, celery, garlic, and carrots, softly cooked and stirred into a ketchup, worcestershire, and dijon sauce, before hand-mixing into a mix of meats and bread crumbs.  And the secret ingredient:  Monterey Jack cheese cubes!

But wait, I don't really like mustard.  And will the family be receptive to gooey cheese pockets inside their meatloaf?  There's also the onion sauce that I'll need to sell them on.  But it looked so good in the picture.  So I threw caution to the wind and made 6 pounds of meatloaf for my unsuspecting family.

As I began mixing the worcestershire/ketchup/dijon sauce, the smell that floated up was slightly repulsive, and I had to hold my breath.  But there was no turning back, the money had been spent.  And if you know anything about me, you know that I'm cheap; so this meal was going to happen, whether we wanted it to or not.  I forged ahead, hoping the baking process would magically transform the stink into aroma.  And it did.  About 40 minutes into my bake time, the house started smelling divine, almost Christmas-like.  I began having fantasies about re-engerineering this recipe into turkey stuffing.  How decadent and completely genius.  I could hear the raves now.

While the turkey meatloaf baked, I got started on the onion gravy.  It was about this time when my better half came downstairs and said to me, "I'm not feeling too good, and the smell is making me want to throw up."

I cut him some slack, since, in all fairness, he was nauseous before I started cooking.  Unfortunately, this now meant that it was me against the 3 kids in what was sure to be a dinner battle.  And then it happened.  I blew it on the very last step:  Season with salt and black pepper.  Why couldn't they just give a measurement?  I don't want to season to my taste, I want to season to the way it was intended to taste.  So, of course, I over-salted the onion gravy.  Why, oh why did I have such a heavy hand?  I knew that gravy had been one step away from spectacular until I screwed it up.  Again, why couldn't they have just provided a measurement?  I work best with numbers!

Resigned, I called the kids to the table.  Here are their initial reactions to what they saw on the plate.

L:  Do you know what that looks like?
M:  I'm not eating that.
P:  Mom, I can't do it.  Can I just eat the green beans?

My kids are really good about eating their food, so after some mild threatening, I gave them fresh servings, sans creamy onion gravy.  Surprisingly,  L went back for seconds, and M ate his entire serving.  P, well, he still had to choke it down.

And here's where I wish the story could end.  But it can't, because I have over four pounds of meatloaf left to consume.  Curse that Food and Wine photographer...

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