Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meatloaf recipe

Except for the book I’m writing due in August, my attention has shifted lately from romance writing to other matters. I’m focused on things affecting a lot of people these days, such as rising gas and food prices.

But because I work for an international charity, I’m also ruminating over food shortages in countries like Haiti, where riots took place in April. I’m researching food co-ops and how countries can support their farmers by subsidizing the cost of fertilizer, and how rice-producing countries in Asia are growing hybrid rice.

On a personal level, I’ve changed my shopping behavior. Previously I never made much time to cut coupons or watch for sales. Too busy. Now I’m still too busy, but I cut coupons and watch prices and try to incorporate purchases into one shopping trip instead of running back and forth to the store. DH does this as well, stocking up on items on sale we use frequently.

Sunday we took the FIL out to dinner for Father’s Day. When we returned back to his home, an extra meal in tow because we used a coupon for a free dinner for him, he opened his freezer and showed me all his soup.

A neighbor made a huge pot of veggie soup and gave him some. The FIL had about 5 containers of frozen homemade veggie soup. He gave me one.

Our neighbors do the same. We've shared extras when we've had them, oranges, mangoes, whatever. It creates a nice sense of community, something I think that is needed now more than ever in these trying times of home foreclosures and recession.

Sharing was an economic way of life when I was growing up in NJ and the neighbors would all share with each other. Most of us had moms who didn’t work, so to make ends meet, they would do things like carpool to the store, or have a clothing chain or cut coupons and swap them back and forth.

Janet across the street had no sisters, and neither did I or my friend Ginny two doors up the street, so when Janet outgrew her clothing, she handed the clothing down to me, and then I handed them down to Ginny. My winter coat was a Randolph Rams marching band jacket, because even though I was never in the band, Janet was.

I didn’t mind hand-me-downs, they were fun. The only time I did have a regret was when my favorite lavender gingham dress didn’t fit anymore, and I had to let it go. I loved that dress.

Mom didn’t drive until I was in 5th grade and we had only one car, so we used to carpool with the neighbors to the grocery store (we lived in a rural area) and to the lake during summer.

Mom knew how to economize. She grew up in the Great Depression and nothing went to waste. It was a habit so ingrained with her that when she died right before Christmas, 1995, I found a drawer filled with rubber bands while cleaning up their house. Her purse was filled with coupons.

Mom knew how to make a dollar stretch. We never had store-bought cakes, but she made us birthday cakes and used margarine instead of butter. They tasted great, and I have many happy memories of birthdays because of those homemade cakes.

And mom knew how to stretch meat. One favorite of mine that I still make today is oatmeal meatloaf. Many cooks are familiar with this. You add volume to hamburger by mixing in uncooked oats. It’s still very tasty and very filling.

So below, in the spirit of economizing and sharing, is a recipe for Quaker Oats meatloaf. Enjoy.

Quaker Oats meatloaf recipe

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup tomato juice (Want to spice it up? Use V8 with less sodium)
3/4 cup uncooked oats (I use Quaker)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion (I love Vidalia onions with this, nice and sweet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients and mix. Put into a loaf pan. Bake for one hour.

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