Growing up I HATED my mother’s meatloaf. Those big nasty chunks of onions and peppers in it were the worst thing ever. I’m surprised my face didn’t permanently stay in the “EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!” squinched up face that I made more often than not. However… (because there’s always a however), I really liked my Grandma’s meatloaf. Now yes she used onions but she minced them so small that in my 7-year-old child brain if you can’t see the onions then they aren’t in there! LOL Now for me meatloaf is a comfort food; it’s honest, homey and just real. It was that dish that you could stretch and stretch turning a simple pound of ground beef into a feast big enough for a huge family. Now granted she always had to make 2-3 of these but there were leftovers for days and trust me, having 4 ginormous non-stop eating older brothers, this never, EVER happened!
I can still remember when I was wee little, we’re talking I had to sit on the table to help out, she would let me mix up the meatloaf. Honestly I thought that was the most awesomest thing ever! It was messy and squishy and just all kinds of fun. Now I know people who freak out about stuff like this but no way man, not me. It’s therapeutic. I like working with my hands; it just seems to add to the experience. To this day every time I make something that requires me to mix up the meat with my hands I always think of her. I’d sit there, legs crossed, elbows deep in a bowl that, at the time, was the biggest thing on earth. I’d squish and squeeze all the while giggling. She’d tell me stories of her childhood and the things she would make with her Mom. What I thought was just us having fun was so much more than that. She was teaching me; teaching me to cook and respect the ingredients. She’d explain why soaking the oats in milk led to a more moist meatloaf. She’d taught me how to tell the varying differences in ‘squishiness’ – when it was too squishy your meatloaf would fall apart when baking. If it didn’t really squish but rather just clumped, it would turn out super dry. But again to me that wasn’t learning, it was squishy fun times!
Now to know my Grandma was to love her. My grandma was totally cool! Sportin’ pink or purple hair, driving a souped up Chevy Nova with white leather interior and candy apple red shimmer paint, cat eye glasses, pedal pushers and taking me to breakfast every Saturday morning to the local drug store. Where yes, she’d take home not only the packets of jelly but often the whole plastic container. *shakes her head* Grandma ALWAYS had change in her bottomless pursed that I swear needed wheels on it. As I got older we used to tease her that she really started out in life as 6’4″ tall but as her purse became heavier and heavier it shrunk her down to her 4′ something frame. She loved her ‘numbers’ and after breakfast she always played the lottery and scratch offs. THAT was her thing!
She just wasn’t a Grandma, she was my friend. And I miss not only her but I miss my friend. She was the woman who taught me how to make pancakes for the first time on my own, how to not take crap and stick up for myself when I was made fun of and how to be appreciate what we have, not what we don’t have. In a perfect world the order of passing would go from the eldest to the youngest however in my life that wasn’t the case. See I had never known my Mom’s parents or my Dad’s father as they had all passed away prior to my birth. So she was my only grandparent. At times I’d get jealous of classmates talking about all of their grandparents but she’d remind me that it wasn’t about quantity but rather quality. God she was so right. She was iconic to me. So when my Mom passed away when I was 18 and then my father (her son) when I was 22 I felt completely lost. I felt orphaned – even though I had 5 siblings it just wasn’t the same. They weren’t Mom & Dad. However I had Grandma. She consoled me and understood my anger and how I felt. She too felt it too. I can still remember her saying “a parent should not have to bury their child” and then burst into tears. I think we honestly cried all day. However through those tears we would talk and then discuss them both. We’d laugh at the silly times we all had, events from the past and she helped me realize that while they may not still be here on earth that they were forever with me – they were in my heart, my thoughts and every time I looked in the mirror, there they were. It’s because of her I started to feel again, started to love and let go.
As the years went by Grandma came to live with us and she had developed dementia often reverting back to her childhood. I took this really hard and at times would get so angry because I wanted, no, needed my Grandma back. However I’d sit with her and all I would have to do was look into her big blue eyes and there she was; there my Dad was too. She was still there. We’d talk about current things and then in an instant she’d revert back to a conversation she thought she had just yesterday with her Mom. It was in those times I learned so much more about her childhood, my family history. It was my turn now to take care of her; to nurture and protect her.
It’s been years now since she’s passed away however she’s forever with me. I can see her, Mom & Dad sitting at the big kitchen table in the sky watching over me; guiding me not only in the kitchen but in life in general.
- 1 pound ground beef, 80/20
- 1 Tbl Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1 tbl garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced onions
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (regular or gluten free oats)
- 1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbl ketchup
- 1 15-ounce can tomato soup, divided
- Preheat oven to 350F, rack in the middle.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray.
- In a large bowl add the oats and milk and gently mix.
- Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the oats to soak in the milk.
- After 15 minutes strain out the milk into a separate container but do not discard. *If there is no milk left, it’s OK. Some brands of olds suck up all the milk while other’s do not.
- In the bowl the oats are in add the ground beef, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning, garlic, onions, ketchup, and 3 Tbl of tomato soup.
- Just combine but try not to overwork it as it will get tough. If the mixture is too wet, add in 1-2 more Tbl of oats (don’t worry if they aren’t soaked). If too dry, add in the milk 1-2 Tbl at a time. If you have no milk left as your oats sucked it all up just add more milk or water. You want the mixture to be pretty moist but firm enough to hold a shape.
- In the bowl gently press together.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and using your hands, form a loaf that is about 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and about 2 1/2 inches tall. The loaf should be smooth and have rounded edges. This will help the loaf stay together when serving.
- Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and spread the remaining tomato soup on top of the meatloaf.
- Continue baking for another 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve this with Creamy Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Keywords: meatloaf, comfort food, grandma's meatloaf
This dish pairs PERFECTLY with my Creamy Perfect Mashed Potatoes!
Looking for a vegetarian version of my meatloaf? This Ultimate Mushroom Veggie Meatloaf OUTSTANDING!!!