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October 5th, 2007

Adventures with Meatloaf...

No, not this Meatloaf...

Who knew I’d be such a terrible cook?

Whenever my parents go out of town, I take it upon myself to try to cook something, like, from scratch, because I have a deep, dark feeling – call it a hunch – that once I live alone, I’m going to be that guy that orders take-out every night. I don’t want to be that guy. It’s not that I don’t like to cook, I just don’t have a lot of experience, and what little experience I do have seems to indicate a certain level of epicurean suckage that makes the whole cooking thing a little scary. First, I hate wasting money (who doesn’t?), and the quickest and most efficient way to do so involves going to the Bi-Lo, dropping $60 on ingredients, going home and screwing up a massive entrée so badly that you have to chuck it into the garbage and settle for a Hot-Pocket. Secondly, I’m completely inept at deciding when things are done. The fear of eating raw meat takes the thrill out of cooking just a little bit (the flipside to that is I’m famous for burning things, despite the fact that I check on them every 5 minutes). Thirdly, I have no instinct for the skill, obviously, so I’m pretty sure I’m missing out on the so-called "fun" that good cooks seem to have while they put together a four-course meal without breaking a sweat.

So, last night I tried my first meatloaf; Paula Dean’s Cheeseburger Meatloaf to be exact. Here’s the thing: if chopping onions and peppers is stressful, you might just need to call Papa John’s. But I pressed on… I followed all the instructions and created this massive wad of meat with my bare hands, threw it in the loaf, and baked. 45 minutes later, the cooking time indicated, I withdrew the loaf from the oven, and… let’s just say something wasn’t right. The outside looked decent enough, a little crispy like a good meatloaf should be, but then I cut into it. It wasn’t raw, necessarily, but the meat was really soft...almost soupy. It was hot, and I didn't see any red, so why did it look so awfully… uncooked? Where did I go wrong?

Now that I’ve had time to put on my retrospectacles and understand my mistakes, let me pass on the following meatloaf related tips:

1) Don’t use a cookie sheet underneath your loaf unless it specifically says to. I don’t know why I improvised with the cookie sheet – I guess something in me thought that you shouldn’t just set things down on the rack in the oven.
2) Don’t attempt to use a measuring cup with sour cream. It’s virtually impossible to gauge the amounts. You’re better off converting to ounces and using the sour cream container to make an estimate.

3) Don’t skimp on the breading.

So basically, the loaf was too wet, which explains why it didn’t really come together in the middle. That also explains why my meatloaf came out looking like pie filling as opposed to a hunk of meaty goodness.

So Meatloaf No. 1 = FAIL!

ETA: The link to the recipe, in case anyone's interested...


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