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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Meatloaf

I should have known better than to plan a complicated(ish) meal like gazpacho and quesadillas on shopping day. That made no sense. Cooked the meatloaf and string beans instead. Also was critique night in which the thing I worked so hard on and is still so flawed was going to have its flaws discussed. Thus, the comfort food.

When I started school I told myself to make big mistakes. The kind that comes from taking big risks. Its so much easier to say that than to do that. When I handed the work in last Friday I felt so discouraged; but by Tuesday I was ready to hear what people had to say. Also much easier said than done. I still find it very difficult to translate critiques into forward motion. I think the critique confirmed what the strengths and the weaknesses of the piece were and I have a very crumpled idea of how to map out my next step but it is really, really difficult to get myself into the car. I wish getting critiqued was like filling an empty tank with gas, but it’s not. It’s more like taking your beloved old car to the shop to have the starter fixed and discovering the transmission is bad too. You fix it cause you need the car, but you really hate to do it and find yourself questioning if the damn car is really worth it in the first place.


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Writing an unsatisfying post is like eating an unsatisfying meal: it has to be done but it is vaguely disappointing. What to do about a night like last night if you are compulsive enough to write every night but not inventive enough to find something, really, to say?

The best thing is to write better the next day, satisfy the intellectual taste buds with heartier fare. Will meatloaf do?

The first time I made meatloaf for my husband (long before he was my husband, I imagine) I made it the way my mother did: flat. My mother liked her meat well done enough that it could be fairly called burnt. So when she made meatloaf she would make a loaf and flatten one end into a thin rectangle, like a small padded envelope, just for herself. After my father and older sister had both left the house, my mother and I stopped bothering with the loaf part because we both preferred the caramelized, slightly blackened taste of our flat loaf. We ate it this way for so long that when I made it for my husband it didn’t occur to me it was a strange thing to do. He was mildly horrified by the result and it was one of those times when I was forced to look back on my childhood at something that seemed perfectly rational and normal and say, “Oh, was that weird?”

So I’m back to loafy meat loaf although I suspect I’d still love it flat. I’ve adapted my mother’s recipe only slightly, adding one egg and some breadcrumbs because otherwise, in its loaf form, I can’t cut the slices without them falling apart. I also added bacon because, as porkfest demonstrated, there’s nothing that can’t be improved by adding little pork.

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