Winter Spice (in the Meatloaf)

So, times aren’t great right now, but to avoid getting anyone depressed I’ll skip the litany of challenges going on in the economy. While the sad truth is the macro picture is beyond the control of any one of us, there’s much we can do to make ourselves feel better.

Two words: “Comfort cooking.”

Jill Andresky Fraser, a financial writer whose blog EconoWhiner draws its name from (thankfully) former Sen. Phil Gramm’s labeling us “a nation of whiners,” asks, “As we all face a long-term financial winter that begs for moments of comfort, blissful denial, or commiseration, is there a better way to forget our troubles than putting together a dinner for family and friends?”

Putting on some favorite music, gathering our ingredients and a sharp knife, all while sipping on a good glass of wine, and we are off on an adventure that always ends around the table.

This is so spot-on. For me, a cold winter’s day can be tempered by neat bourbon with the smoked mozzarella from Altomonte’s, followed by the meatloaf from one of my favorite cookbooks, Real Beer and Good Eats: The Rebirth of America’s Beer and Food Traditions, by Bruce Aidells.

Yes, I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy. The meatloaf and its accompanying spicy gravy calls for many vegetables, coarsely chopped, and I’ve found winter days can be tempered by time in the kitchen, cutting up onions, red peppers, green peppers, celery, carrots and garlic while listening to music and chatting with the dog.

The beef will come from Haring Brothers, the beer for the gravy will be Yuengling, and by the time the meatloaf goes into the oven, the house will be infused with the smell of good things simmering. Because the recipe makes two loaves, and for some reason I hate halving recipes, the only question will be who we can invite for dinner.

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