This story actually starts Sunday night. I went into the kitchen to try to find something to eat; it was around 1AM. I didn't want to turn the light on because, well, the light would have seemed too bright.
I decided I was going to make some tuna and have it with crackers. I pulled a can of tuna out of the cabinet, opened it up, drained it, and popped it into a bowl. I have my special way of making my tuna. The ingredients are relish, Miracle Whip, and a packet of Equal; as a kid Mom used to put sugar into the tuna, which explains why I now use Equal.
I reached into the refrigerator and grabbed the pickle jar, stuck the spoon in, and plopped it onto the tuna. It didn't quite plop correctly, and I knew something was wrong. There wasn't much in the jar, and the consistency didn't seem right. I decided to smell it, and it smelled horrible. I can't say what it smelled like, but I knew it was wrong. Obviously I threw it out, opened another can, looked into the refrigerator again and found my relish, made my tuna, grabbed my crackers, and went about my business.
Late afternoon on Monday, I decided it was time to go to the store, in this case BJ's Warehouse. Some of you know that I try to make my meals for an entire week, so as to keep what I eat under control. Most of the time I buy huge bags of chicken breasts, then cook those up, adding rice and mixed vegetables, sometimes alfredo sauce, and that's all I eat when I'm in the house until I'm done.
This time I decided I didn't want chicken, but I didn't know what I wanted. I called one of my many friends named Sue (this is the one in New Jersey; hi Sue!) and told her I was thinking about buying a large bag of meatballs because I didn't want to cook anything. She reminded me that packaged food, even meatballs, has a lot of sodium in it. I don't have a problem with sodium, but I'd stopped eating most things like that years ago, so I knew she was right, especially at the amount I thought I needed. But now I'm in the store and I'm unsure what I want.
What happens when I'm unsure about things? I just walk around looking and looking and looking some more. And I was talking to myself out loud as I walked; after all, it can seem lonely in that giant store all by oneself. As I walked, I went by the tuna area and saw a deal where I could get 8 cans of tuna for $7.50. Looked like a great deal to me, so I grabbed it.
Eventually I ended up over by the real meats, the non packaged meats, and I saw something that made me perk up. I had finally found my Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs, which I'd been trying to find for years, ever since Wegmans stopped selling them. In this case, the container had 30 hot dogs for $9.99, and I thought that was a great deal, and 30 hot dogs would make 15 meals, since I always eat two at a time. But I thought about the sodium content and wondered if I might get sick of eating hot dogs for every meal. I looked at my watch and decided to try to call Robyn.
Robyn hadn't been home when I left, and she still wasn't home, but she was driving home. I mentioned the hot dogs to her and she thought that was a bad idea. I mentioned the meatballs and she agreed with Sue in saying that was a bad idea. Then she said "Hey, why not make a large meatloaf? You haven't made one of those in awhile." I thought, then said "Yeah, that might work." Because, after all, the most perfect food in the world (not flavor, which is chocolate) is hamburger. She goes on with "Buy a big package of hamburger, some sauce, and go from there." I thought about buying mozzarella, one of my normally secret ingredients, but she said I'd probably try to buy too much of it, and it would be too much fat.
Then I told her I'd picked up a pack of 8 cans of tuna, and she asked me if I actually ate two cans of tuna the night before. I told her the story, and after saying I should be more observant of what I'm taking out of the refrigerator (to which I argued "Hey, it was in a pickle jar"), she said she had no idea what I had grabbed, but would check it out when she got home. Then I happened to mention how hungry I was, as I hadn't eaten in many hours, and she said she'd stop and get me the 2-for-1 McDonalds fish sandwiches; why do I love that woman? That's why!
Now, I need to own up to this at this point. I have no real clue about measurements or, at times, portion control. All I was thinking is that I needed to buy enough hamburger for a meatloaf that would last me a week. So, I picked up two 6 1/2 pound packages of hamburger, then two 6 pound cans of tomato sauce. That seemed to make sense to me, and I only had to hope I had enough spices to fill it all out.
I get home and Robyn starts laughing. She says that what I'd put on the tuna the previous night was some very old prunes mixture that was actually from her elderly friend who's now in a nursing home. That means it had been sitting in our refrigerator for more than 2 years, and that was the first time I'd seen it. She threw it away; about time, right? Then she got a look at what I'd bought and her mouth went wide. Obviously she thought I'd bought too much, saying one package would have worked. Hey, what do I know? But I told her that I was going to have to mix both packages together because one of them had 80% fat, the other 90% fat, and the one with the lower fat content would cook too dry on its own. She told me what when I did this to put some of the mixture into a bowl for regular hamburgers later on, then cook the rest.
Tuesday it was time to cook everything. I turned the oven on to 450 degrees, then opened both packages and put them into a super large bowl. Then I put my hands in; ugh!
One, you know I don't like touching meat; at least I assume you know I don't like touching meat. Actually, I don't like touching many foods, and sometimes at a restaurant I'll order something that I don't have to touch if I'm in that mood; that sometimes knocks sandwiches from my menu.
Two, it was cold; so cold in fact that it hurt my upper arms within seconds. I couldn't believe it was that cold; Robyn said later I should have let the meat get to room temperature, but who thinks about that type of thing other than women? You want to talk torture? Man, they could trick terrorists into that one.
So now I'm trying to deal with pain, and I'm only at the mixing the two hamburgers part; I hadn't even gotten to the ingredients part yet. Finally it hit me; turn on the water and have it kind of hot to balance things out some. That's what I did, and man, that was a lifesaver! Well, except that I was still touching meat. But I finally made it through that part after about 5 minutes.
I pulled out about 2 pounds and put it in a bowl. Then I mixed in 4 eggs, onions, garlic, and spices. Now it was more than just meat touching my hands, and I wasn't a happy guy; I think this is why I don't make meatloaf all that often. My final ingredient was the tomato sauce; most people don't know about this, but that's how I cook my meatloaf, which I once again learned from Mom. I mixed some into the meat, but didn't do what I'd normally do yet, which was to cover the entire meatloaf in sauce. That part would be coming once I let it cook some and drained a lot of fat. We had a pan large enough to contain this monster, and with 11 pounds of meatloaf shaped and in the pan, I put it into the oven.
I decided to let it cook for 35 minutes first, and then drain all the fat liquid I knew was going to come, then add the sauce after that. And that's what I did, but you know that didn't come easy. Robyn had said to use a ladle, but the ladle wouldn't fit. So I called her to ask what I should do. She said to try to use a spoon, but that would have taken forever. Eventually I got another super large bowl, since she told me not to pour it down the garbage disposal, and was able to tilt the pan enough to pour all that liquid out of it. After that, I totally covered it in the tomato sauce; you wouldn't think so, but when it cooks in with the meatloaf it creates a very interesting and tasty tomato sauce gravy, of sorts.
It took about two hours, but when I pulled it out finally I knew it was done. Man, that was almost a very beautiful looking meatloaf. I say it that way because, of course, it was covered in tomato sauce so I could only see the outline. Robyn told me to let it cool and don't cut into it before she got home. She got home 20 minutes after I'd taken it out of the oven, looked at what I did, had a big smile and said "I knew you were going to do that"; I still don't quite know what she means by that.
She said she'd cut it up, and I thought that maybe it might make about 10 meals or so; at this juncture, you say probably figure out why she was staring at me again, and today, I realized that even I probably can't just sit and eat, on any consistent basis at least, a pound of hamburger at one sitting. Okay, I can't come close, but I could eat 1/2 a pound in a sitting, although one of the purposes of cooking my meals ahead like this is to measure them out so I'm not overeating. Robyn made some rice, mixed vegetables, and spinach to add to each of these meals.
Then I was in a conundrum. How was I going to store everything? I had enough containers for all the meals, but we still have some of my habits. As in, I knew I couldn't deal with the spinach being touched by the tomato sauce, and wasn't sure the rice would provide the proper barrier against it. As it ended up, Robyn decided to take that part over for me, and when she was done, there were 25 meals for me, which didn't include the taste testing we did beforehand, along with my one meal as well.
The meatloaf is delicious and voluminous. So much so that Robyn has frozen half of it; how
she found room in the freezer is beyond me, and another talent she has. I now have meatloaf,
tuna and crackers; I'll be eating well for a couple of weeks at least. And just what will you
be having for dinner for the next two weeks?