I got my Ma’s Italian dark hair and slightly olive skin and my Daddy’s green eyes and religion. So far I have blabbed on and on about my Italian side of the family, my Mother’s side, but I do have a great Daddy who is a Texan. His ancestors came from the Alsace Lorraine region of Europe about five generations prior to Dad’s arrival on this green earth. They are of German decent but that was so long ago I just say I’m half Texan. My Father’s side of the family came to America in the early 1800′s and had migrated to our great West. We have ancestors who were farmers, cowboys, and a Cherokee princess too (I’ll have my hubby check on my tax benefits from that DNA). The most famous relative was Tom Horn who was a bounty hunter, Apache scout, Pinkerton Agent and translator for Geronimo. My three greats Uncle Tom was framed for a murder that he did not commit and was hanged for that crime in 1903. In 1993 he was declared innocent in a court case that my own Grandfather and Great Uncles attended. Two movies have been made about Tom Horn, one starring Steve Mcqueen, as well as many books written about him.
Cooking on my Dad’s side of the family is typical south-western fare. My Mom learned how to make many dishes from my Mammy (my Dad’s mom) like southern fried steak, fried okra, pies, and the desire to learn how to “put up” jam, jellies, and veggies. Mammy was an amazing cook. When we went for Christmas I would sit at the table and watch Mammy make a dozen pies. She peeled tons of apples and the mound of pie crust she made stood about a foot high. She made all the pie crust in one big batch and did it all by feel. She was known for having a big main course and about ten side dishes at every meal so that there was something for everyone and she did it all in a tiny kitchen with everyone stuffed in there or eating in shifts. We do not have many of her recipes as she was a pinch here and there type of cook, but we did watch and learn how to cook her way. Even now, 22 years after Mammy’s death, my Dad will ask my Mom to make him a Mammy Supper.
I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church but grew up Southern Baptist. We attended a little Southern Baptist Church in South Jersey making me one of the few protestant kids in a predominantly Catholic and Jewish area of Jersey. But in this little church of Southern Belles were the best cooks this side of Texas. My Mom learned a lot about cooking from my Mammy but her skills really took off under the tutelage of some of these wonderful culinary Belles especially Nadine. That woman can turn everything into a feast. I have eaten at her home a few times and you cannot leave there without having to get every recipe for everything you just ate. One of our favorites of Nadine’s is her meatloaf, perfectly moist, perfectly seasoned. If you can believe it, this is the original recipe that I have not altered as I am known to alter just about everything I get my hands on, this meatloaf recipe is that perfect. This is not your gravy and mashed potato type meatloaf as it is topped with a generous slathering of barbecue sauce. Later in the week I will post what I served with this satisfying loaf. Give it a go!
Best Ever Meatloaf by Nadine
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use 85% lean)
2 tsp. salt
3 slices bread, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded
Break eggs into a large mixing bowl, beat slightly; add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with hands. Pack into a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Mix together 1/4 cup catsup, 1 tsp. prepared mustard, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Spread over top of meatloaf and bake in 350° oven for one hour.
Note- Place shredded carrots in microwave for one minute on high to soften.