A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Meatloaf Ever

I found this recipe many years ago and it has any other meatloaf I have ever eaten beat! Don't even try to make it without the brown sugar and mustard. You would just have a hamburger. If you've got something against brown sugar, cook something else.

Best Ever Meatloaf

2 pounds of ground beef.
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
Bread crumbs - I process 2 pieces of bread in processor for this.
Garlic powder
Black pepper
1 egg

Mix together in large bowl.

Pour 1 large can tomato sauce in a small bowl. Add 3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar and approximately 2 tablespoons of plain yellow mustard. Mix together and add all but approximately 1/2 cup to the meat mixture.

Spray pan with no-stick cooking spray. I use a 9 x 13 pan and make 2 small loaves, but you can make 1 large loaf if you prefer. The smaller loaves cook faster. 
Pour the remaining tomato sauce mixture over the meatloaves. If you want, garnish top of each with strips of bell pepper.

Bake at 350 degrees until done, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on size of loaves. 

If a lot of liquid accumulates in the pan, you can spoon some of this off during the cooking time. Leave some of it, as it cooks off, and keeps the meatloaf from becoming too dry and burning the bottom of the pan.

Serve with mashed potatoes and English peas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Green Green Grass of Home

At this holiday time of year my memories always take me back to growing up in my little town in northeast Louisiana. We were poor but, fortunately, we didn't know that as all of the crowd we ran with was also poor. It was not until I moved to Houston in high school that I discovered we had been poor. My dad drove a tractor then and graded yards for a living. My mom worked as a bookkeeper at a shoe store and went to college part time.

We lived in a little asbestos sided duplex (photo is of our duplex) with my parents and us seven kids on one side and my mom's parents on the other side. I took a trip down memory lane via Google Maps and discovered that my little house is still there. One of the two pine trees my Papa planted in the front yard for my brother David and I is also still there.

My sisters and I had our bedroom in the front left corner of the house as you are looking at it. We had two double beds and my baby brother Lee had his baby bed in there with us. We had one tiny closet for all four of us girls and we kept a lot of stuff under the bed! Outside our window on the side of the house Papa had planted bottlebrush bushes with pretty red flowers. I fell in love with the Beatles living in this house and spent many a night dreaming of Paul and many an evening playing the Beatles records that belonged to my sisters and I.  

When we were first in the house we didn't have air conditioning. Our window over the bottlebrush plants had a giant window fan in it. If you got close to it and opened your mouth and made an "aaahhhhh" noise loud it would increase and vibrate the sound. It didn't take much to entertain us, as you can see! Later we got a window air conditioner and we sure did love it, but I kind of missed the vibrating noise from the fan!

Across the street from us was a little fire station. On hot summer days, my siblings and I would go over and buy cokes from the machine. One of those ones that you slide the cokes down a little maze so you can get them out! We quickly got used to the loud siren going off at all hours. We felt somehow that the firemen were part of our family and were always glad when they came back safely. (Photos - the fire station and our backyard)

We had what seemed to us a big back yard. Having only our imaginations to pass the time with, we spent many summer days playing Tarzan and cowboys and Indians back there! 

There were empty fields behind us and my Papa always had a big garden outside our fence with corn and vegetables. He always had one row of gigantic sunflowers. He had been a farmer and he loved to grow things.

A couple of blocks from our house there was a little store where we would sometimes walk to get candy. It was run by a lady named Josephine and she was a very large lady. We were, of course, little then and she was very impressive sitting behind the counter.

Across the street from us was the little church we went to. It was not like the churches of today, the mega-churches concerned with tennis courts and television audiences. It was a place where everyone knew us and we had our own pew at the front of the church on the right hand side. My sister Kathy was the church pianist, even though she was a child. At the church was the only time my Mama ever sang. My dad would burst into song all day long but Mama only sang in church. Sometimes I would stop singing and just lip sync so I could hear Mama sing.  

On summer evenings before going to church, I would sometimes sit in the grass in the backyard, all dressed for evening church services and make flower chains out of clover blossoms. 

I'm deeply disappointed in churches these days, but in my little church in my little town, I knew peacefulness and love.

I have lived in many houses and many places since the days of growing up in this little house. I could not tell you the addresses of most of the places I have lived in but I never forget this address. I have lived in much bigger and better houses than this and in more upscale neighborhoods with pools, golf courses, walking trails, tennis courts, and country clubs. But other than the little cabin I have now, this is the house I think of when I think of a home. 

Two of my three children are in the process of buying homes as I write this. For my daughter it is her first home and for my son it is a move to a new home with more room for his family. For them and for my other son (who lives in a home he bought several years ago), I hope that within the walls of their houses and the streets of their neighborhoods they have what I had in my little house and neighborhood. Times change and memories dim but that feeling of the warm comfort of home remains.