OK, here is the deal: I am going to go back to posting and no one is going to hold a grudge about how failed to post anything good (or bad) during October, November, or December. I won't even claim that I was busy. I wasn't. But no one wins if I tell you what was really going on. I've come to realize that no matter how I tell it, the story will make you feel sorry for me, then you will think that I'm a little pathetic, and then you will think I am crazy. In that order. So we'll just skip that
Two years ago, I was wandering through the Macy's coat section when I happened upon a rack of lovely black winter coats. With a tailored cut, oversized collar, and big, black velvet buttons, these coats were winners. Clearly better than all the other black winter coats. (Ever.) Excited to find a coat that met my irrationally high standards, I reached for my size to try one on. And there were none. Figures. But undeterred -- by that or the heart-palpitation-inducing price tag -- I rushed home to see if my size was still available online. And, lo and behold, not only was it available, but there was something EVEN BETTER. It was also available as a RED COAT WITH BLACK VELVET BUTTONS! RED! And I realized at that very moment that nothing, NOTHING, should be allowed to come between me and this coat. (Except clothes. It's not nice to wear coats while otherwise naked.)
Every day I checked the price of the coat and then my bank account balance to see if there might be the possibility of a trade. Most days the outcome was mighty disappointing. But finally, one month later and through the magic of a Christmas gift card, a post-holiday sale, a coupon,
The coat and I became fast friends. Every time I put it on, I was excited to wear it because it nearly always garnered a compliment from a friend or passerby. But this sort of flattery breeds paranoia in the wearer. What if something happens to the coat? What if it is stolen, damaged, or stained? WHAT WILL I DO? I would be condemned to live my remaining days -- if I survived the loss of the coat, that is -- with only average outerwear.
Prior to December 17, 2010, I don't think I ever wondered what would be like to slip on the ice, see 5 bags of groceries, Kate Spade, and my legs flying up into the air, and then land on top of -- and destroy -- a gallon of milk and a giant jar of pickles, but that night, I found out. The leather soles of my cowboy boots proved no match for the icy tundra of central Illinois, and I wiped out in the most epic, National-Lampoons-style possible. I should have been hurt. But I wasn't, and because of that, I thought the whole thing was hysterical. At least until I heard my mother -- in the midst of her cries about how she was sure I must have broken bones -- pause and say, "And your coat is soaking up all that juice!"
WHAT? Sure enough, a quick glance around me confirmed that I was lying in a pool of skim milk, petite kosher dills, and pickle juice. In a fraction of a second, my laughter transformed into giant tears and I frantically scrambled to get off the ground and out of the gunk. But the damage was done: my coat and I reeked of the milky mess.
Thankfully, dry cleaners can work wonders. Just five days after my winter wonderland wipeout, I was back to wearing the coat, sans glaring dark stains and awful stench. Hooray! No replacement necessary! (Yet.)
If you're anything like me and spend the holidays cooking like you're competing in the next Iron Chef challenge (Of course I can find black truffle pimento jam-infused caviar in rural Illinois. No problem!), you've had your fill of labor- and time-intensive dishes for a while. January is a time for recovery. Simple, comforting fare is in order, and this turkey meat loaf fits the bill perfectly. It's moist, flavorful, and you get to use your hands to mix it. (Everybody knows food turns out better that way.) I made this for the Cowboy and he declared it the best meat loaf he had ever eaten. I'm not sure that's saying a whole lot, but it's also the best meat loaf I've ever had, so I hope that recommendation carries some weight. Happy holiday recovery to you!
[It's worth noting that the meat loaf is cold in all of my pictures -- because it's also excellent for sandwiches.]
Turkey Meat Loaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appétit March 1996
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from soft white bread
2/3 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 9x5x3-inch glass loaf pan. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add celery; sauté until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to large bowl.
Add all remaining ingredients except ketchup to vegetables in bowl. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake 1 hour. Brush with ketchup and bake until thermometer inserted into center registers 165°F, about 15 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
* Mix with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for extra zip.