Introducing a new weekly segment that will appear every Wednesday: Downers Grub! Why Wednesday? That’s when food ads come out, silly.
I have been thinking about trying an experiment, which is to shop and eat as closely as I can (as far as I remember) as I did in my childhood in the 1970’s. It’s not possible to replicate it exactly, of course. Food formulations have changed, to the point that even white wheat flour isn’t the same as it was back then (we can talk more about specifics of this later. We’ll have lots of weeks to get to it.)
But, here are some basics I want to try as a start: looking at food ads before making my meal plan/shopping list; eliminating weekly take out and/or restaurants; making sure every dinner includes a cooked vegetable, a raw vegetable or salad, and a fruit. Also, my mom gave us dessert more frequently (sometimes it was the fruit, though.) Let’s start with food ads.
Unlike my mom who received her ads through the local weekly or by buying one of the Chicago dailies on Wednesday, my grocery ads are delivered to me via the mailbox on Tuesday. I have ads from 12 different stores, ranging from discount to high-end, general merchandise to ethnic specialty. I’m starting to get overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to sift through.
I don’t know if I can do this without a spreadsheet. I hate spreadsheets. I’m going to eliminate my 21st century sensibilities and shop like it’s the 70’s.
Ultra Foods is having an 88 cent sale. Page Three has a whole bunch of stuff on it, too. Like frozen veggies, which I need. But on page one, there are 88 cent hot dogs, which I have to admit scares me. A lot. But I won’t judge anyone who wants to try them.
Eggplant must be in season: Westbrook Market, Shop and Save and Brookhaven all have it on sale. Westbrook has the best price at 29 cents a pound, but Brookhaven also has cereal on sale and I need that, too. That reminds me, I’m out of parmesan. I don’t see that on sale, but some of these adds are so visually off-putting and confusing I find myself turning away (I’m looking at YOU, Shop and Save, with your choatic jumble of ads. Also, your physical proximity attracts me yet your fish smell repels me. I don’t know what to do with you.)
I am still afraid to try the new Familia Market. They have some good produce prices: pears for 49 cents a pound, golden delicious apples for 69 cents a pound, red seedless grapes 79 cents a pound. And what are they trying to say about their “fresh loose beets” at 29 cents a pound? Are they slut-shaming their root vegetables?
That’s enough from our weekly ads. I still don’t have a full meal plan in place, but I do know what I’m making tonight: meatloaf (oops, I better get the meat out of the freezer. One second. Sorry, I’m back. And I’m going to have to go to Costco for some ground beef. We’ll talk more about meat later.)
Here is my meatloaf recipe, in case you don’t have a favorite of your own:
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
3/4 to 1 c. breadcrumbs (I used crushed potato chips now, because gluten.)
1/2 medium diced (fine, but don’t obsess about it) onion
2 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed
1/2 tsp thyme
2 TB worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt, 1/2 or 1/4 tsp pepper depending on your taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Unceremoniously plop all the other ingredients in there and mix with your hands until combined. Form a loaf shape in the middle of a 9 x 13 pan, a foil-lined cookie sheet or really anything EXCEPT a loaf pan where the meat is touching around the sides, because it will just be floating in its own grease instead of getting nicely browned and roasted on all sides. Squirt ketchup over the top and smooth with a spoon (a yummy but not overly necessary step would be to combine a bunch of ketchup, a couple squirts of tabasco, and a TB of brown sugar in a bowl, then pour THAT on top of the meatloaf). Bake for 1 hour; let set for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
This is by no means the only meatloaf recipe; it might not be the perfect meatloaf recipe. It is not fancy or complicated. But it is a very serviceable, basic meatloaf recipe that works well for me.
Tune in next week to see if I figured out a good way to use that 29 cent a pound eggplant.