More on Meatloaf

In my Quantum Meat Loaf post I talked about how malleable and flexible this preparation is.

One quick update. Do not skip including large quantities of at least one strong, green herb such as fennel, oregano, thyme or sage — unless you like a strong lamb flavor and only intend to use your loaf for Eastern Mediterranean style dishes.

Most of my loaves have included quite a bit of fennel, which doesn’t make the whole loaf taste of fennel, but does allow it to work both in Italian dishes and Greek or Syrian dishes. My most recent didn’t have any fennel at all (for reasons I won’t bother to get into here) and the result was still delicious, but had a strong lamb flavor that could really only be tamed by fresh curly parsley (such as tabbouleh) or tzatziki sauce.

I’ve begun getting my ground meat from a farmer’s market vendor who has block frozen beef, lamb and pork, and so I’ve switched to ground pork instead of pork sausage, because the beef and lamb aren’t 90+% lean the way they are from the fancy grocery store that offers grass fed meat. But, the loss of the seasoning from the sausage has to be accounted for with my own inclusions — which has often involved a lot of ground fennel for me, and now I know it is necessary.

Pie Crust Don’ts

This blog is, often, or at least early on, about cooking without a net and what happens when one does that.

I realized that I owe this blog such an entry about making pie crusts.

I don’t bake. Too much like chemistry, too exacting. The part of my personality that makes me great at stir fry makes me terrible at cookies.

The closest I get is pot pies, and when I make those, I always buy vegan pie crusts from the store.

But I’ve seen Alton Brown’s pie crust episode a couple of times and I¬†thought¬†I remembered how it went. So, when a friend was cranking out a couple of peach pies for a work event, I made an off-handed comment about crust making and got roped into demonstrating my 7337.

This was a humbling experience, and I now know that buying vegan pie crust isn’t lazy, it is very, very smart.

If you want to be truly amazed by chemistry, try this sometime. Make pie crust dough with only vegetable flavored shortening, no butter, no lard. Be prepared to throw the result away and spend a lot of time scrubbing any kitchen tools that touched this stuff which will somehow manage to crumble and tear if you look at it sideways while at the same time managing to stick better than simple syrup to pretty much everything near to hand.

Also, do not attempt anything so foolish as trying to convert the result to a flat bread or cookies.

Sometimes, just sometimes, being clever makes things worse. And worse. And worse.