How was your Thanksgiving? Did you overdose on pie and turkey? We spent the holiday practically snowed in in Lake Tahoe. It was a perfect winter wonderland and the entire weekend, I hardly did much more than eat, drink hot chocolate (and eat leftover apple pie), watch movies and relax. Tahoe is only a few hours north of where we live, but being there is like being in another world. There are endless forests, snow-capped mountains and a slower-than-I’m-used pace of life. The last time I came up to Tahoe, it was during the summer. We went hiking and swimming in the lake. This time, we were engulfed in a storm that lasted for nearly 24 hours.
I’ve been coming up to Tahoe since I was 14, when I started skiing. Despite having never been particularly athletic (or a risk-taker), I took to skiing pretty quickly. I looked forward to the chair lift rides and fresh powder, hot chocolate and a hamburger at the lodge and the rush of small jumps on my ride down. Once I became comfortable, I went through years of varying intensity. Some years, I skied some 4-5 times per season, others I only went once or not at all. Skiing was a family activity and until a few years ago, I had only ever gone to the mountains with my family. When Matt and I started dating, he knew that, inevitably, he would have to learn to ski. It’s a hard thing to do when you’ve lived your whole life never having to balance on two long sticks facing downhill. Matt went skiing three times, despite the fact that it was clear it wasn’t love at first sight. He avoided me on the mountain, knowing that I’m an impatient teacher. He fell down. Got up. Cursed. Drowned his sorrows in beer. Declared he’d still continue to learn. I apprehensively waited for the ski season to start again to see what he’d say about coming to Tahoe. He said he needed some time to adjust to the idea of skiing again. So we came up and spent the weekend hanging out and relaxing. We dropped my parents off at the lift and went walking around. I looked longingly up at the mountain–it was my first time in the snow, not skiing. On one of our drives, Matt told me that he’s going to give it another shot. But here’s what I realized this weekend: skiing or not, my favorite part about coming up to the mountains is the atmosphere here. Being surrounded by family, as I’ve always been, and forgetting that somewhere, in a city a few hours away, I have another life–one that needs some mountain perspective once in a while.
It’s almost December now–a time for family, friends and comfort. So it’s only appropriate that today’s recipe is a down-home meatloaf. The classic kind (with a few twists), accented by a homemade barbecue sauce. I think that the key to this meatloaf lies in the preparation of the vegetables, pureed and evenly mixed into the beef.
Meatloaf with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
adapted from Martha Stewart and The New York Times
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1/4 of a medium onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg white
3/4 pound of ground beef (preferably sirloin)
salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup of homemade barbecue sauce (recipe below)
For the Barbecue Sauce:
2/3 cup of ketchup
1/2 cup of cider vinegar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of hot paprika
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1. Make the barbecue sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a small pot and simmer for about 5 minutes before taking off the heat and setting aside.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
3. Combine the carrots, celery, onion, egg white and panko breadcrumbs in a food processor. Pulse for about a minute, until well- chopped and mixed.
4. Transfer the chopped vegetable mixture into a large bowl and mix in the beef, salt and pepper.
5. On a foil-lined baking sheep, shape the meatloaf into a 6 inch loaf. Brush with about half of the pre-made barbecue sauce.
6. Bake for about 25 -30 minutes (until a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees). Halfway through the baking time, brush the meatloaf with the remaining sauce.
7. Let the meatloaf cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Musical Pairings: Sufjan Stevens – Greetings From Michigan, The Great Lakes State
Head to the Turntable for today’s Musical Pairing for meatloaf with homemade barbecue sauce.