Meat and potatoes in Minnesota

It is Week Two of the Dark Days Challenge. I decided to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It is getting cold up here in Minnesota, and I feel like eating comfort food more often. This week’s challenge made me reflect on generations before mine. In the past, I’ve joked about how grandparents seem to only know how to make meat and potatoes.  Where are the fresh veggies? Where are the spices? Where is the variety? The answer is simple, but I just never took the time to think about it. My grandparents were doing what they knew. They were eating local food. Only it wasn’t called local food, it was just food.

In Minnesota, local food means a lot of meat, dairy and root vegetables. That is, unless you’ve thought ahead and preserved food from the summer. I don’t have a great stash this year. My tomato sauce is almost gone and I really didn’t preserve much else. The first reason is that I’m still learning how to preserve. The second reason is that I had my fourth son on July 25th, and preserving food just wasn’t at the top of my list. Survival was more a priority. Now that Son #4 is four months, things are going more smoothly and I’m already dreaming of what I will can and freeze for next year.

Roasted tomatoes from my freezer.

I made my meatloaf with local ground pork and beef, eggs, and onions. I looked through a recipe, which I loosely followed and realized that ketchup was an ingredient.  How would I find local ketchup in the next hour? Then I remembered my roasted tomatoes that were in the freezer. I added some water and used my handheld blender.  Ta-da! Ketchup! Except this was fancy ketchup with rosemary, garlic and whatever other spices I threw on the baking sheet when I roasted them.  My exceptions were dried basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and the breadcrumbs.  Although the bread was baked locally, I realized I can’t guarantee that all the ingredients are local. I’ll have to research that for another week. I decided to put the remaining roasted tomatoes on top of the meatloaf.  They turned out to be my favorite part of the meal.

My ketchup solution

For the mashed potatoes, I used locally grown russets, some cream, butter from Hope Creamery, some roasted garlic, and my exceptions were salt and pepper. The meal turned out to be a hit with my boys. No complaining during a meal means it is a success. A compliment means I’ve really outdone myself. This time, it was a “no complaint” meal.  I enjoyed the meal, but I really missed having some vegetables like steamed broccoli or green beans. I need to figure out a way to get some variety in my meals.

A final note on the meatloaf.  I make meatloaf straight on the baking sheet because I like the crust on the whole meatloaf, not just the top. The meatloaf was about the largest I’ve ever seen. Some days I feel I was destined to have four boys. I can’t seem to make anything in small quantities. Think how prepared I’ll be when we enter the teenage years.

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The final product. I'm researching new camera options so the food looks better. I'd love suggestions.

Ingredients for the mashed potatoes

Meatloaf ready for the oven.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Can you use frozen? Sno Pac is an organic producer in Caledonia, MN. They have frozen veggies and berries available in some of the co-ops.

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