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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

An Experiment With Meatloaf

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Well, thank goodness for these occasional gourmet food posts, which are just a little off the beaten track. Have fun with this one!!!

I have been obsessed during the winter months with making a meatloaf just like Irma G used to make. I wanted the meatloaf with mashed potooties and mushroom gravy just like that meatloaf that mom used to make. On another note, it brought me back to the meatloaf tv dinners that my mom would let me have on Saturdays when I was a kid, the ones with tiny muffins that would bake right up in your toaster oven. Honestly, mom's meatloaf was much better than what came in that adorable little package!

Well, I'm a vegetarian, so no beef meatloaf for us. A fews ago I tried to make one from the Better Than Beef hamburger product. It tasted delicious but it must be loaded with lots of something that made it very heavy. No more Better Than Beef meatloaf. Instead, last Friday I tried to make a lentil based meatloaf. It included lentils, bread crumbs, lots of sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, fresh parsley and Italian spices, plus an egg to hold it all together.

While I was getting all the ingredients prepared, my better half told me that if I were to succeed in making the perfect vegetarian meatloaf I wouldn't be able to mash it or process it because it come out too mushy. He said that somewhere in the house we had mom's old meat grinder, the perfect solution to grinding the perfect meat loaf. I had no idea where it was, but he knew! Years ago mom must have given it to us and my better half kashered it so he could bring it down to the dungeon, sorry, basement below and make homemade wine. (That is another story altogether)

So, up came the ancient apparatus. In 2021 it is easy to forget just how heavy these once high tech gadgets can be. He got it all set up for me at the kitchen table and I brought this very lentil-ly oniony mixture and prepared for the effortless job of grinding it. Oh boy.

First of all, it took forever. The mouth of the grinder is very small and it took about one half hour to finish grinding it. (My better half told me if I were to get used to this activity it would take much less time.) What really got me though was the auditory memory (this squishing sound) that it immediately inspired. Now I will diverge for a moment....Mom used her grinder not for meatloaf so much, but for two things: chopped liver (OY) and gefilte fish (OY again)

I haven't heard the sound of fish and onions going through that grinder in years, yet all of a sudden there it was, the whrrrrrr, whrrrrrr sound of ingredients being crushed and altered. going through the door in one form and coming out like Playdough worms on the other end.

Oo again. At that moment I was glad I am a vegetarian. The sound of the grinding also brought back the smell of the gefilte fish being prepared. It doesn't bring back a particularly good olfactory memory, but it is still stored up there in my brain!!!

Well, this very long job made me appreciate the pulse function on a food processor, but it had given me the chance not just to make something like mom's meatloaf, but to do it the old fashioned way!

One more memory to share. When I went to wash the grinder later, I clearly recalled washing the mechanical parts in the past and how much I hated washing fish guts from the little holes. Lentils are so much easier to work with!!! Well, folks, that is the gourmet story of the day. The vegetarian meatloaf came out very well as did the mushroom gravy and the mashed potatoes. A dish from the 60s moves up to 2021. Hmmm, hmmm!

Here are a few recipes for vegetarian meatloaf. Have fun recreating this experience!

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