Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meat Loaf

I don't know about everyone else, but I certainly am doing more cooking as we do our part to control the coronavirus by staying home, including pulling out some recipes I haven't  made in a long time.  And when I made this meatloaf, I didn't think to take pictures of it going together.  I just got the one picture I used in my last post.  And I was going to take a picture of the sandwich, but remembered when I was just down to crumbs on the plate.  But it was a good looking plate. 

Meatloaf is one of those foods I don't make often... in part because we don't eat that much meat, and when we do, we tend to do something quick (like grill some steaks or fish), or something that is more soupy, like stew or beans with ham or sausage.  The meatloaf I grew up with was the one on the back of the Quaker Oatmeal box.   It uses oats to stretch the meat instead of breadcrumbs (which i think is more common), which gives a nice bit of fiber.  Milk is added for moisture (and any kind of milk or unsweet alternate milk would work, also guess plain yogurt would work just fine too).  Something to enhance the unami gives a better depth of flavor ... I usually use fish sauce, but Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce would do the same thing.  The egg helps bind everything together.  You can use any kind of ground meat, although my husband commented that the one I made was better than he remembered, it might have been because I used good hamburger from our local store rather than ground turkey which I was I had used in the (long) past.  I also used some nice spicy Italian sausage (and if you don't want any spice, a sweet Italian or breakfast sausage will work too).  Catsup is used as a glaze (some recipes actually call for catsup in the loaf, which I think would be just awful sweet), and a bit of bacon makes for a nice touch.

And while I am hoping for the best, I am also trying to boost the reserves soups and stews in my freezer.  It seems that we are starting to get past the shortages in the grocery store, and the farmers markets are currently open in California. Plus, as least here, we have many take-out options available.  So this is not from fear of not being able to get food.  Its more about being prepared to actually get the virus. While we read about the dire situations in Italy, Spain, and New York and shortages of ICU beds, the majority of people who get this are able to stay at home and get through it. Having some things that are easy cook (thaw and heat easy) and comforting to eat seems smart.   So when I made this meatloaf, I doubled the recipe.  I cooked half, I split the other half into 2 loaves and put those in the freezer.  I put into the smaller loaves so they would thaw a freeze and cook faster... but now wondering if that was a mistake, because there won't be enough leftovers for sandwiches, which might be the best way to eat meatloaf.    And since I have no idea how long it will take to cook the smaller loaves, I will just use my trusty Thermapen to tell me when it's done

Meat Loaf

About 4 servings

2/3 cups oats
½ cup milk
½ onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt (or a ½ teaspoon of salt and minced clove of garlic)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 pound ground meat – hamburger,  turkey, venison
¼ to ½ lb spicy bulk sausage – use the higher amount if ground meat is lean

bacon (2 slices or so)

Heat oven to 350F.  Use convection if you have it.

Add the first group of ingredients in order to a medium bowl (it’s good for the oats to soak a bit in the milk).  Mix together (hands work best for this). Pat mixture so it is level in the bowl, then turn into a baking dish (like a 9x9 inch pan).  Put catsup on top and rub some on the sides, and garnish with parsley and bacon.

Bake for about an hour or so (a little less if using convection), center should be at 160F.   Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Is It Done Yet?

I started writing this a while back... never imagining that we would all be doing a lot more cooking at home.  So it seems a good time to put out this post on a way to help make results of home cooking more predictable and safe!   Also ... if anyone has questions on cooking, don't hesitate to shoot me a question (call, text message, or FB messenger).   Based on what I see sold out at the grocery stores, I imagine that a lot of people have some strange combinations of food in their kitchens. I'm here if you have questions on cooking beans or anything else!  And now that I seem to have some time on my hands, I will try to get some more recipes posted (including above meatloaf).

The people that read my blog (I think its my mom and 2 friends) know that my background is engineering, and that I can geek out on the science of cooking.   The chemical changes that food undergoes as you heat it (otherwise known as cooking) fascinates me.   And there just so happens to be a useful metric to know when things are cooked... it's temperature!  The best way to tell if things are done on the inside (especially big dense things, like meatloaf, roasts or turkeys) is to take the temperature with a thermometer. I think the best thermometer available is the Thermopen (and no, they are not sponsoring me). The Thermopen's read much faster than others on the market, so you can move through something like a steak and find the coolest spot in the center.  Go directly to the Thermoworks website to get one,  not Amazon.

Temperature is widely used to determine doneness of meat ... rare, medium rare, well all correspond to a temperature range.  While you can determine doneness on thinner cuts of meat by pressing to see how firm it is, this is more challenging to do on thicker cuts of steak or roasts... Plus it takes a lot of practice and experience to be good at it.  You can also use temperature to know if a casserole is cooked (and hot enough to safe), to tell if bread is done, as well as jams or candy.   Temperature is also handy for fish like salmon or tuna that you don't want fully cooked to the "flakes easily" (and dried out) stage.   Here is a handy dandy table with all the temperatures I use ... it's in the latest update of my cookbook.    Here you go...


These are the final temperatures that you want; remove from heat 5°F lower than desired temperature as the temperature will come up as it rests. And if there is a tiny cold spot, it will warm up even more as the heat will continue to distribute. 

Beef / Lamb: Rare                 120 – 130 °F (49-54°C)
Roasts, steaks, Medium Rare   130 – 135 °F (54-57°C)
Chops Medium            135-145°F   (57-63°C)
                                Medium Well    145-155 oF (63-68°C)

Pork: Medium                        140 °F 
Roast, chops Medium Well (USDA)   145 °F   (63°C)
Pre-cooked ham Hot                               140 °F (60°C)
Raw ham                 Done                            160 °F (71°C)

Brisket, Ribs, Pork Butt Done                185 °F (85°C)

Ground meat:
Hamburger, sausage Done (USDA) 160 °F (71°C)

Chicken/Turkey: UDSA                165 °F (74°C)
White meat Done                 155 °F
Dark meat Done                 165 °F (74°C)
Stuffing in bird Done                 165 °F (74°C)

Dark meat Done 160°F +
Breast meat Medium - Rare    135°F
                                            Well                    150°F

Fish:                                       Fully cooked 140 °F
Halibut Medium 130 °F
Salmon                                 Medium Rare    125 °F
Tuna (rare) Rare 115°F (or less)

Casseroles: 165 °F (74°C) - 175°F

Egg Dishes:
Quiche 160°F (71°C) or higher depending on fillings
Hollandaise Sauce 145-150°F
Custards                              175-180°F

Yogurt:   Heat milk to 180°F for 2 minutes, cool to 110°F to add yogurt starter.

Bread and baked goods: Should also be appropriately brown on the outside
Rich Dough                         190-200°F (88-93°C)
Lean Dough  200-210°F (93-99°C)
Water temp to add yeast       105-115°F (41-46°C)
Cake                                   205-210°F
Molten Chocolate Cake         160°F
Fruit Pies                             175°F

Jam                     217-222°F (103-106°C)  Subtract 2°F for every 1000 feet of elevation
Thread 230-234°F (110-112°C) Syrup
Soft Ball               234-240°F (112-116°C) Fondant, Fudge & Pralines
Firm Ball              244-248°F (118-120°C) Caramels
Hard Ball 250-266°F (121-130°C) Divinity & Nougat
Soft Crack 270-290°F (132-143°C) Taffy
Hard Crack 300-310°F (149-154°C) Brittles, Lollipops & Hardtack
Caramel              320-350°F (160-177°C) Flan & Caramel Cages