Shirley’s Family Meatloaf

IMG_5163This is real, old-school meatloaf.  It is the actual meatloaf mentioned in my sister’s 1993 movie The Lotus Eaters, and our family did take wax-paper wrapped packets of meatloaf sandwiches while sailing with our parents.  We probably ate this once or twice a month during the school year while growing up.  It is an ultimate comfort food in our home, usually served with baked potatoes, which cook in the oven alongside the loaf.

Several years ago I tried to replace the soup with a homemade thick & creamy mushroom stew, but even though I felt better about serving and eating it (the purist I am), condensed mushroom soup seems to be essential (the only reason I usually have a tin in my pantry).  Even using the tinned soup, this is a pretty healthy meat dish.

Who knows where this recipe came from, probably torn out of a newspaper sometime in the 1950’s?  Our family had lots of love but not lots of money, so thriftiness was instilled in us all, and I am sure this was one of Mom’s ways of stretching the food dollar.  This makes fabulous meatloaf sandwiches, and if memory serves me right, we used to be served this on a Friday night and then be fed it in sandwiches over the weekend.

If you want to up the amount of meat used to 2 lbs. the recipe still works well.  Just be sure that the internal temperature is 80° c before removing from the oven.

Also, if you want it to be gluten-free, you’ll need to be sure you use GF oats and GF condensed mushroom soup (Campbell’s isn’t).  Continue reading

Chocolate Date Cake

IMG_5149While our girls were growing up, we always had extra children in the house.  It helped that we were the closest home to the island’s one room schoolhouse.  Consequently I tried to have quick snacks that would refuel them before they’d head out to play on our farm.  Sometimes it was just a snack to eat while curled up on the couch watching a movie on a rainy Saturday.  This recipe was used many times over the years, and was a favourite of the builders who built our house.  The dates give it an honest sweetness, and the simple topping of nuts and chocolate give a crunch and richness to make the cake even better.

I’ve made this cake with regular all-purpose flour and with gluten free flour (I use Cup 4 Cup), and it is light and fluffy whichever you choose to use.  The nuts can be any type you want, or even a combination.  Do use semi-sweet chocolate chips though, as milk chocolate will be too sweet. Continue reading

Mushroom Potpies with Blue Cheese

IMG_5108 An incredibly rainy morning – we haven’t had a day like this since last spring, so I’m not complaining.  I even turned on the furnace yesterday when I realized the house wasn’t going to go above 65°. Probably because of the weather, I figured it was time to have a warm & fall type meal, so started muddling through ideas in the mid afternoon.  We have lots of meats available, but they’re all in the deep freeze, and really, meat should be thawed in the fridge rather than the microwave, but having not planned ahead, meat wasn’t an option.  We do have some halibut & salmon, waiting to be used (because they can easily be cooked from frozen), but I’m trying to make them last at least a little longer.  So, I decided to go with a vegetarian meal.  I have made mushroom potpies a fair amount in the past, but usually for clients.   Taking the time to really think them out, crusts and all, produced a heartier version than the ones I’ve done before.

Potpies are definitely one of the best comfort foods we have, whether they’re beef, poultry, fish or vegetable. One Christmas I made 3-dozen mixed potpies as a gift for Mom & Dad to have in their freezer for those nights when they just wanted something simple.   Probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever given based on the scale of appreciation.

Basically a potpie is a hearty stew capped off with pastry.  They can just have a top crust, or be double crusted.  This short-crust is one of my favourites, but there’s no reason not to use any savoury basic piecrust recipe.          Continue reading

Moroccan Salad with Quinoa

IMG_4999We used to have a flat-weave picnic basket.  It was lined in green tartan, and had a place for everything that a family might need for a great lunch.  Today we tend to pack lunches into coolers or backpacks, with lots of ice or freezer paks.  Somehow our unchilled lunches of yesteryear never made us sick.  We would have a stack of sandwiches, maybe a salad or two, some pickles, and cookies and fruit for dessert.  A bottle of lemonade would be enough for us all.  No pop tins, fancy fruit juices, or iced teas.  How did we ever survive?

There is always time for a picnic.  Don’t go overboard thinking it out, just make some things that make you happy, and get outside!  Even if you just toddle down to the local park.

This salad would be an amazing picnic salad.  Salads are great when they can be used as a main dish as well.  This colourful salad, full of fragrant spices lasts well in the fridge, and works well as a side dish for dinner, or as a main course salad, for lunches or a light supper. It’s packed full of nutrition, and is pretty as well!

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