Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Strolling in Nantucket
What’s cooking? Mmmmm Meat Loaf

One of the great pleasures of winter weather is comfort food. I’d almost lost track of that need – there being not much call for it in Austin – until last weekend, which my husband and I spent on Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. The island hosts a celebration called Christmas Stroll, which I think is mostly a gimmick to lure north those of us who’ve sworn off snow and ice, but turns out to be a rather lovely gimmick just the same.

In a span of three short days, we encountered every type of weather available, from sunny and mild (for December in Massachusetts) on Friday, to howling wind and horizontal rain on Saturday, to frigid but clear on Sunday. And while I must admit that we didn’t participate in any of the island events, we nevertheless had a great time. I’m not sure how much more you need than a fire in the fireplace, a few good bottles of wine, and football on the television (even for non-fans like me, it’s amazingly enjoyable among friends). The experience is even more intensely satisfying when the weather outside is, well, frightful (apologies to Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne), as it was on Saturday, and you don’t have to go out in it. I don’t know why that is, but it’s clearly the case. Maybe we just need to be reminded of how bad conditions could be before we can fully appreciate where we are.

Wait a minute – I forgot about the food, which was the whole point of this commentary. So what’s your favorite comfort food? If you had to list your top three, I can’t imagine many people who wouldn’t have mac and cheese or meatloaf on their list. (My personal list includes meatloaf, chicken soup, and, in a nod to my San Antonio roots, bean rolls.) We had meatloaf AND mac/cheese – what a treat. The mac and cheese was imported from Maine by a third couple of friends, but the meatloaf was created in spectacular fashion by my friend, Laurie, who claims that her new secret ingredient is Pepperidge Farm stuffing. I think she must be right, because it was really moist and flavorful. She says it’s also important to mix at least some pork with the beef.

Laurie’s Mmmmm Meat Loaf

1¼ pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 cups seasoned stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm, crumbled, not cubes)
1 large onion, chopped
3 eggs
1 cup ketchup

Mix well all ingredients and mold into loaf shape in a pyrex dish. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes at 350º. Serves 6, with enough left over for sandwiches the next day.

Kitchen Goddess Note: When I make meatloaf, I like to saute my onion in a little butter or olive oil at a high temperature, just enough to get a bit of that nice brown caramelization at the edges. Laurie just adds the onion raw, and it was delicious, so obviously, either way works.


  1. I also sautée the onion and celery for meatloaf...and meatballs, stuffing, pretty much anything that calls for those ingredients. For meatloaf, I like to include ground pork and, if possible, lamb along with beef. Both of these are things I learned from my mother. But the stuffing is a new wrinkle and since I have a leftover bag from Thanksgiving, I know what comfort food I'm having this weekend.

    My other comfort food: a baked potato with mashed steamed carrots, butter and salt. It's what my mom served to little girls with upset tummies.

  2. I replace the ketchup with tomato sauce (it's not as sweet) and a must is to top the meatloaf with two strips of bacon, Marcy style.