Thursday, October 09, 2008

Confusing times...

No, no...I do refer to the economic crisis (though I made the mistake of looking at my quarterly retirement statement yesterday--bad idea). I refer to the strange seasonal shifts. On the one hand, I look out my office window and see this:

On the other hand, I went out to my garden two days ago (October 7th!), and harvested all of THESE:

Furthermore, this week, I have been dining on chicken caesar salads made from the crispiest iceberg lettuce acquired at a local farm stand (Shield's on Rt. 22), and the best corn on the cob I've had all season, also local (from Rulf's in Peru). Though the farmers' markets are all but done, we are lucky to still have fresh produce trickling out of our home gardens and from local farmers. But the handwriting is on the wall, my friends. I finally pulled the AC unit out of my bedroom window earlier this week because my head was getting too cold at night. Though I haven't switched to flannel sheets yet, I did throw a heavy sleeping bag on top of my down comforter. And though I vow not to turn on the heat until November, I have already plugged in my electric mattress pad to warm up the sheets before I get in bed. To top it all off, I would SWEAR that I saw flecks of snow mixed in with a drizzle of rain on my windshield as I drove home last night!

Thus, I think it is right and good, as the seasons transition, to begin to embrace cozier cuisines. I feel some rib-sticking soups and stews coming on, but in the meantime, I have been craving meatloaf. I blame those Neeleys. As I was gathering stuff up to take for my canning class last Saturday, I had the Food Network on in the background, as I usually do on the weekends. And they were making a barbecue turkey meatloaf which sounded awesome. However, I didn't have any ground turkey on hand, so I made a regular beef version, and I created my own recipe that highlighted those barbecue flavors. It turned out really well--moist and tender, but still holding together, and flavorful without being overpowering. And most importantly, it made a damn fine sandwich, which is the main reason for making meatloaf in the first place! The perfect meatloaf sandwich for me begins with very soft, squishy bread slathered in mayo and perhaps tinted with mustard, loaded with homemade dill pickle slices, and topped with a thick slab of meatloaf that has been just warmed (warm, not hot!). MMM-MMM! Heaven! Give this one a try...

Gina's (but not Gina Neely's) BBQ Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef (feel free to swap out some ground pork if you like)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or better yet, a few cloves, minced)
2 tablespoons barbecue spice rub, your favorite
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for basting (I have fallen in love with Sweet Baby Ray's sauce!)
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup quick oats
1 egg

Mix all ingredients (gently--don't overwork the meat), then place into a large loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes, then remove from the oven, drain off the fat, and brush on more BBQ sauce to glaze the top. Return to the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or so.

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