Last week, my parents joined me when I was invited to speak at a luncheon event for First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso.
It was long before our table talk with guests quickly turned to family recipe favorites.
When meatloaf is on the menu at our farm, it's usually a Monday night and likely served with baked potatoes, green beans and the additional option of accompanying cottage cheese and pickled beets, the latter which my mom describes as "to add some color to your plate."
It's a menu staple and family favorite.
My mother's mom, my Grandma Green, loved meatloaf, including using up any leftover portion to serve up later in the week for sandwiches.
Over the years, my previous columns and cookbooks have included variations of the menu meat staple, such as showcasing advice columnist Ann Landers' famed recipe and my Auntie Lilly's specialty in later years for turkey meatloaf with a barbecue glaze.
When my mom made meatloaf this week for Monday night's meat, her inspiration was to have a reason to "use the oven, which helps warm up the house" and also because my oldest sister Carol, whose family farm is near Culver, Ind, had been by and brought her some "fresh ground beef" from a recent butchering.
My mom noted that skyrocketing ground beef prices in grocery stores now hovers "around $3 a pound," if you buy what she describes as "the better ground beef."
Meatloaf has always been a main meat course for stretching a dollar to serve many, and with satisfying tasty results.
And best of all, it's remained a popular comfort food choice.
While visiting with the ladies from First United Methodist Church during my presentation over the weekend, we lamented how there are fewer and fewer church ladies available at churches with time to still help with serving meals and preparing food for church gatherings.
At our farm church, one of the familiar faces for helping with our church lady functions is Ruth Schumacher, whose son Chad was one of my friends throughout school. When it was time for our church ladies' group annual holiday party, it was Ruth's recipe for her glazed meatloaf voted as the highlight for the main course. It's especially a favorite of the group's oldest member Peggy Stonebraker, who just celebrated her 90th birthday this month.
Though Ruth made a 5-pound serving for the church ladies' recent holiday party, her recipe variation she's sharing with Times' readers today uses 3 pounds of ground beef.
And as Ruth included in the note portion of her recipe card: "It's delicious and worth the time to prepare it! Just remember, kneading the mixture well with your hands is the secret for assuring it sticks together for even baking."
Ruth Schumacher's Glazed Meatloaf
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons table mustard
3 pounds ground beef
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2/3 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup crushed Saltines crackers
2 tablespoons Worcheshire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons beef bouillon
3 tablespoons seasoning salt of choice, such as Accent
DIRECTIONS: Prepare glaze by whisking together all of the ingredients. Set aside. With the exception of the ground beef, mix all of the other loaf ingredients together in a large bowl and allow to stand 1/2 hour for flavors to meld. Add the ground beef to mixture and 1/3 of the glaze sauce to help loaf bind. Knead the mixture until it is well combined and holds together nicely. Form into a loaf and bake in a covered, sprayed baking dish at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and drain off any grease and drippings and discard (using a turkey baster works well). Using a butter knife, make a few small slits across loaf and pour over the remaining reserved glaze. Return to oven and bake uncovered another 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven, and again, discard any drippings. Allow to stand 15 minutes before slicing. Makes 10-12 servings.