I have created another blog to give updates on my writing efforts. You can find it here.

February 27, 2007

In which I got soul (food, that is)

We had "Soul Food Day" at work today. Each month, someone in my department chooses a theme and we all bring in a dish that matches the theme and we all eat and enjoy. Last month was the first month we tried it, and we did hot dogs. This month, the theme was more challenging: soul food. The menu was wonderful--smoked turkey, collard greens with pear relish, macaroni and cheese, yams, potato salad, cornbread, and banana pudding for dessert. My contribution was...meatloaf.

That's right. Meatloaf.

I made meatloaf.

All by myself.

Shut up, Ben.

I have never done anything this ambitious in the kitchen before (Marcel I am not (although I would love to have hair like that)). Yes, it's only meatloaf, but when your previous masterpieces are taquitas and Hamburger Helper, you take your ambition where it leads you.

Soul food was the theme, and my first thought was collards. Unfortunately, someone had already ganked collards, so I was in a quandary. I thought of meatloaf, my mouth began to water, and in a strangely lucid (yet not, considering my culinary history) moment I volunteered to make one.

I went home and e-mailed my mom for the recipe for her famous meatloaf, a staple in my childhood home, and did it up myself. Darlene was going to help, but she fell asleep on the couch watching Deal Or No Deal. I hung around until Tater Cake won his money, then I headed for the kitchen. I soaked bread in milk, cut up an onion (for the first time in my life, no lie), cracked eggs, measured other stuff, smushed it all up with my hands (a treasured childhood memory: watching my mom make meatloaf and smush it all together. I'd always thought it was so disgusting when she did that. Subconsciously that's probably why I wanted to make a meatloaf in the first place, so I could do that) and put the bowl of meatloaf-to-be in the fridge. This morning I woke up, turned the glob of meat paste into a loaf and baked it up. The morning house was filled with the delicate aroma of onions and lean ground beef. Mmmmm!

After it was done I covered the dish in aluminum foil and packed it up in the casserole sling thingy Walter gave us for our wedding last year (thanks, buddy) to keep it warm and headed out the door. Of course, on the way out the door I dropped the *&%#*$% thing!!! The whole thing turned over as it fell and landed right on its head. I started leaping up and down like a lunatic and cursing, scaring Steven to death, as tomato sauce leaked forlornly out onto the carpet. The loaf itself, though, was fine, having been trapped in the pan by the foil and the sling. All was well and my leaping about was for naught. Steven said, "I've never seen you like that." I was happy that he felt he could say that and mean it.

I added a layer to my burden, wrapping the dish in a towel before putting it back in the sling to keep the heat in (since lunch wasn't until 11:30), and headed to work. My boss told me my wife must have packed it for me, since apparently wrapping a towel to keep the heat in is a woman thang. I told her nope, it was me all the way. She was impressed. I figure I'm just in touch with my feminine side. I didn't tell Teresa that, though.

Lunchtime came, and the meatloaf, as well as the rest of the soul food menu, was a huge success. Everyone told me how much they enjoyed it (and some of them even managed to not sound surprised that I had successfully cooked meatloaf) and a couple of people even asked for my mom's recipe. That made me feel good. I had done it! Later, my mom told me I have to make meatloaf for them when they get back from Arizona. I can do that. I'm a meatloaf maker now.

Eat your heart out, Paula Deen

No comments: