Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meatloaf Madness

I love to cook! I get excited to cook. I know I'm a good cook. I can cook just about anything from country to gourmet, from Italian to French, from a recipe or from my own made up dishes. I love to cook! Unfortunately I cannot cook meatloaf to save my life.

Everyone has that dish they call their own. It's one of their signature dishes that always starts with a "My". "MY" Mac & Cheese, "MY" spaghetti sauce, "MY" meatloaf. And you know it's good because you always get a request for that dish at every pot luck or bring a dish to pass party. Bring "YOUR" baked beans, ooooo will you make "YOUR" pasta salad. Sadly I've never heard "how about making me YOUR meatloaf". No one wants MY meatloaf. And I am okay with this. I can and have and will continue to admit meatloaf mayhem.

There is only one teeny tiny problem with my inability to form meat and veges and spices into a's that meatloaf is my husband's all time favorite dish. Of course it is. Why couldn't he just love linguine with a white-wine sauce, why couldn't he settle for seared scallops with a balsamic reduction, why can't he just be happy with vege burgers? Nope, he loves loves loves meatloaf and I am so thankful that he loves me in spite of my meatloaf inadequacies. Although I'm certain that if I ever serve up a perfect meatloaf I could convince him to buy me something shiny.

I've tried everything to make perfection in a loaf pan. I've tried countless recipes, I've tried making up my own mix, I've bought the very best meat combination, I've watched food network, I've scoured the Internet, I've consulted with friends & family and I still come up short. The key, according to Alton Brown, is don't over-mix the meat. (I'll pause for a moment while you make a joke about how I handle the meat). The key, according to Rachel Ray is to start with fresh ground meat from your butcher. (of course) Other less famous yet equally yummy foodies say "use your hands to mix it" (Um, ewwww) "try adding a little of this and less of that" (yeah, been there done that)

You can ask my husband he laughs every time we have meatloaf for dinner and he will tell me what is good about it and what could be better about it and sometimes he just tells me to order a pizza. On one of our date nights we made a list of what we loved about the other. He wrote "the way you always try to make me meatloaf". Key word here was TRY. It has become our thing...him loving meatloaf and me trying to satisfy that love. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I imagine I've broken his heart a hundred times over with MY meatloaf.

It has become part of my quest in life. To perfect this dish. My madness. My meatloaf madness.

Independence Day

June 9, 2010

I feel this summer will be what I call "The summer of independence".

My oldest started swim lessons on her own (no mommy & me) this year. The first class ended in tears and frustration and screams of "I'm never going back to the pool again". That was 6 weeks ago and now we can't get her to leave the pool. She likes to see how long she can stay underwater, she likes to prove she can do more in the water than her little brother, and she finally jumped in for the first time yesterday. A little trick that took her 2 full classes to muster up the courage and then it was into 1 foot of water. But she did it...she took the leap. So why am I the one holding my breath? Why do I feel like I'm the one jumping into the deep end?

In just days she "graduates" Kindergarten. I won't forget how she let go of my hand on that first day and marched into school like she was always meant to be there. I won't forget the day she let go of my hand to cross the road all by herself to board the bus. I won't forget how she clutched tight to my hand when we moved to a new school and I had to encourage her to let go.

These are not her first examples of independence. I remember a little part of my heart breaking when she was just under a year old and decided that she no longer wanted or needed to be rocked to I put her in her crib and she put herself to sleep. Bittersweet indeed. Just months ago she wanted us to read her bedtime stories and now she insists that she will be the one reading to us...try as I might the nights of rocking her gently to Goodnight Moon are becoming too few and far between.

While it seems that this is the summer of independence I know it didn't just happen overnight, I know her Daddy & I are very big influnces to her finding her ability to let go and do it herself, I know it's hard to be the one letting go and I wonder if it's as hard for her as it is me to be the one to pull away. I also know that between now and adulthood a lot more examples of her letting go and finding her independence will challenge my instincts to hold on tight.

Yes, I will learn to encourage her to let go, Yes I will push her to try it all by herself, and yes, I will watch her take that first leap while holding my breath. I will praise and cheer from the sidelines and teach her to be first and foremost proud of herself before searching out the pride she will see from us. Yes I will celebrate this summer of her independence and I will allow myself to pull away and celebrate my own.