Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mother of All Meatloaves (aka Gonzales Meat Loaf)

Meatloaf  is classic southern comfort food, and when I discovered this recipe a few years ago, I have never looked at another. Hence, the mother of all meatloaves.  This is a favorite in our home.  Gathering around the table for a good home-cooked meal with the family is a perishing art form, sadly.  It doesn't have to be gourmet.  It just has to be done.  And to be done, it has to be planned.  Take some time, grab your favorite cookbook, search for simple recipes online, make a list, get to the store, simplify your schedule, and serve your family.  It will be the simple times around the dinner table and the aroma in the kitchen that your children will remember when they are grown, more than any expensive meal out. Cherish the miracle of ordinary days, as Emily is advised in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Our Town, when she is allowed to revisit one ordinary day from her past, "At least choose an unimportant day.  Choose the least important day in your life.  It will be important enough."

Gonzales Meat Loaf Recipe
Prep: 15 min., Bake: 1 hr., Stand: 10 min.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds ground sirloin
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium-size red onion, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use only one)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients. Shape into a 9- x 5-inch loaf, and place on a lightly greased wire rack in a baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes; increase heat to 425°, and bake 15 more minutes or until done. Let meat loaf stand 10 minutes before serving.

Southern Living, OCTOBER 2004
(I have found that it is best to make it a longer and thinner loaf and bake at 375 for the first 45 minutes before increasing the heat to 425.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cumberland Island, Wild and Beautiful

"A grand and graceful mansion located on Georgia's Golden Isles on the state's southernmost coastal island, Cumberland Island was the 19th century retreat of Thomas and Lucy Carnegie who, in 1900, built Greyfield for their daughter, Margaret Ricketson. Converted to an inn during 1962 by her daughter, Lucy R. Ferguson, and family - who oversee the daily operation - Greyfield Inn exudes the welcoming atmosphere and charm of a family home."

We had the pleasure of spending several days here celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Every part of our stay was charming, like stepping back in time, graced by nature at every turn. No cars are allowed on the island except for a few service vehicles and very few residents. 80% of the island is part of the National Seashore with 18 miles of pristine white sand beach.

No wonder that John F. Kennedy, Jr. chose this enchanted island for his wedding to Carolyn Bessette in 1996 at the First African Baptist Church.


We gathered unbroken fist-size shells and loaded as many as we could in our luggage and headed home grateful to have experienced a natural Camelot where wild horses, deer and turkeys roam, with memories of Greyfield and Chef Georgia's brownie recipe to savor for a long time to come.

Georgia's Yummy Brownies

1 cup butter
4- 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1- 6 ounce pkg semisweet chocolate pieces

Melt butter and chocolate squares. Remove from heat. Beat in sugar, add eggs, stir in vanilla and flour. Spread in a 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the top, pressing lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.


"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3


Thursday, June 3, 2010


Written by Laura Jeanne Allen

My Grandfather and Grandmother were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "shmily" in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "shmily" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where they always had warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring.

"Shmily" was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my Grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "shmily" on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows.

"Shmily" was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of their house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents' game. Skepticism had kept some of them from believing in true love-one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky to experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble.

My Grandmother whispered to one of her friends about how cute my Grandfather was, how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em." Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in the couples' life: my Grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, my Grandfather was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my Grandfather's steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my Grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, my Grandfather would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over my Grandmother.

Then one day, what everyone dreaded finally happened. My Grandmother was gone.

"Shmily." It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my Grandmother's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time.

My Grandfather stepped up to my Grandmother's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her.

Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. I knew that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

See How Much I Love You