Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dark days, comfort food

In early November I signed up to be a part of the 3rd Annual Dark Days Challenge, an online celebration of local, sustainable, organic food and how we cook (and eat!) it. November raced by in a whirlwind of interviews and starting a new job, and I just couldn't get myself started with the blogging portion of the challenge, even though we eat meals that qualify on a regular basis.

Here's the challenge: to cook one meal per week using ingredients (minus spices, etc.) that meet the SOLE requirement - sustainable, organic, local, ethical.

With the truly frigid temperatures we experienced last week, Paul and I wanted nothing more than to sit in front of the fire (even if it's from the pellet stove) and eat a homecooked, comforting, hot meal. Leaving for work in the morning when it's 4 degrees is hard on the least these made-in-Washington ones!

Mid-week, I made a meatloaf using the fantastic Scottish Highland beef we bought this fall from Hemlock Highlands in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. While not truly all that local to us, Highland beef is hard to come by, and given our friends at Hemlock had some for us to buy (miracle!), we're counting it as local for the purposes of the challenge. My meatloaf contained two of our own farm-raised eggs, two little onions from my crop (they were late-harvested and I'm not sure I grew them right, but they're tasty and cute!), and we had a spaghetti squash grown by Paul's mom in Randle on the side. I wish I could say the bread was local, but it wasn't. I'll work on that. Still, though, YUM!!

I make meatloaf the way I was taught as a kid (and thankfully I no longer eat raw beef with a piece of onion in the middle like I did then!) It's not fancy, but it's comforting, and my picky-meatloaf-eater husband loves it!


2 lbs ground Scottish Highland beef (elk and regular ground beef works, too)
2 eggs
2 pieces of bread, torn into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (I used two dinky onions)
Approx. 1 Tbs Worchestershire sauce
Approx. 1 Tbs ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste

Using your hands, squish together all ingredients in a large bowl. (I recommend removing your rings. Just sayin'.) Turn into an ungreased 9" x 12" baking dish (actually, as long as it's big enough for your loaf, you're good, regardless of shape). Pat into a loaf shape (I like to make mine rectangular to better fill sandwiches the next day). Squeeze ketchup around on the top if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes, checking for doneness with a knife sliced into the center.

NOTE: If using Highland beef or elk, note that the level of fat contained in the meat is less than what you'll usually find in your average store-bought ground beef. You may need to use less onion and bread, and even another egg, to get the consistency right. Even if it falls apart when you slice it, though, it'll still taste great!


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