But the grand clean-up does offer some rewards. For example, I found my mother's recipe cards, and among them were a couple of recipes from my grandmother.
No big deal, you say? You have to bear in mind that my grandmother never learned to cook. How she managed this I do not know, but she lived to be 94 with all her faculties and all her teeth. Tough Yankee stock. When she used to babysit for my sister and me, when we were young, we lived on cereal and ice cream. She was, however, very good at restaurants, and was happy to take her granddaughters alongBas long as we promised to behave ourselves. And we did.
There were only a few dishes she would ever attempt: fudge, gravy, and meatloaf. Herewith I present you with My Grandmother's Meatloaf.
Frankly I was curious to see how it stood up to the test of time. No doubt we all make meatloaf (and I'm sure several of us have posted recipes here), and this was a staple of my childhood. I've been making meatloaf for years myself, but over time the recipe has strayed. My husband has his own version, which includes barbecue sauce and ground bacon. So how did the 1950s version hold up?
My Grandmother's Meatloaf
2 lbs ground beef (should be lean)
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp ground sage
1 small onion, minced
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients, being careful not to overwork (makes the meatloaf dense).
Shape the meatloaf and place it in a baking pan with space around it. Lay strips of bacon over the top. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, basting every ten minutes (you may need to add more water).
Of course, I doubt my grandmother or my mother would have used fresh sage. I cheated and chopped the onion fine in my trusty Cuisinart (which didn't exist back then), as well as the bread crumbs (homemade, of course!).
The element that surprised me, and which I did not remember, was basting with water. You'd be surprised how much of the water disappears during the cooking process, although whether it is absorbed into the meatloaf or vaporizes isn't clear to me. But I think it makes a difference and helps keep the meatloaf moist.
I made the full recipe because in our household we love leftover meatloaf (with mashed potatoes and my grandmother's gravy), but it works just as well halved (use two eggs instead of three).