I have not totally fallen in love with the digital age. I do have a cellphone, use my laptop daily, and I zip through my favorite tv shows without commercials because they have been recorded to my dvr. But I am still not convinced all of this technology that has invaded our lives is for the best.
I bristle when I see a little kid glued to a miniature video screen while at a restaurant with his family instead of caring on a conversation. I cringe at the sight of group of teenagers sitting on the couch and all are texting friends not even in the room. Talking on a house phone has become a thing of the past. No longer do my kids' friends call our phone - which actually hangs on the wall - to see if they can go to the movies or the mall. We are always accessible at a moment's notice and have grown impatient if we have to wait for a reply to almost any inquiry.
A favorite time of the month for me is when I cook for one of my clients that lives in a rural area. About 5 minutes before I arrive at their home, my cellphone goes dead. Cell service is very limited in the area so for next 4 or 5 hours no one can contact me. No calls. No text messages. Just me and my pots, pans, spatulas, and bags and bags of groceries. During this extended break from all things digital, I just concentrate on one thing - cooking.
Italian Meatloaf was on my client's menu this week. A cross between a traditional meatloaf and an Italian meatball, the meatloaf is loaded with sauteed onions, celery, and red peppers. The addition of shredded Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and fennel seed add the Italian twist. A slathering of tomatoey marinara sauce during the last half hour of cooking completes the satisfying and homey dinner.
It is refreshing to be a little inaccessible for a while. My kids learn to become more self sufficient and fend for themselves without relying on me for answers. I can retrieve messages off my phone from family, friends and clients when cell service resumes on my ride home and usually most of the messages could wait to be answered anyway.
Sometimes I think anonymity is good. A little mystery is intriguing. Being able to "disappear" for a few hours is gratifying. Unplug for an afternoon.
makes 1 large meatloaf - serves 6
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 pound ground beef, 85% lean
1 pound ground pork
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 cups of marinara sauce - either homemade or favorite purchased brand
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a saucepan to medium high heat and add the butter. When melted, saute the onion, celery, and red pepper for 6 - 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the basil, oregano, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and marinara sauce. Simmer for 4 - 5 minutes until thickened. Pour mixture into a large bowl and cool.
Add ground beef, ground pork, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs to bowl with the onion mixture and combine gently until the well mixed. On a rimmed baking sheet, form a loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes and then spread about 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the top and side of the meatloaf. Return to the oven and continue cooking for an additional 20 - 30 minutes or until the internal temperature registers about 170 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest about 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices. Serve with remaining warmed marinara sauce and extra Parmesan cheese.