My mother and I are the type of people who cook with what we have on hand. So last week she had leftover spaghetti sauce and a husband with a hankering for meatloaf. This recipe was born and she was shocked when it turned out tasting so incredibly good, and more different from regular meatloaf than she had expected. It even got a compliment from someone who is notorious for complaining!
So she said I just had to make it for y’all. And I listen to my Mama (most of the time). So here it is.
Before we get started though, my soapbox was feeling a little neglected so I thought I’d pull it out a bit and talk about the reality of importance. ~clears throat~
I’m traveling this week. Not traveling as in exploring the world but traveling as in: Get up at 4:00 am, be at airport at six, fly a few hours, land, get rental car, go to tv station, go to another tv station, check into hotel, grab food, go to another tv station, go to a book signing (the fun part), come back to hotel around ten, rinse and repeat the next five days.
I used to think that people who had jobs that required them to travel were awfully important people. Naive of me, I know. But my thought process was, how important you must you be that a company will actually fly YOU to another part of the world just to meet with folks? That was my thinking then.
Now that I have occasional bouts of travel that keep me away from my family for a week or more at a time, I know the truth.
Having a job that requires travel doesn’t make you important – it just makes you someone who has a job that requires you to travel.
So I got to thinking this morning about all the ways our society defines who is and isn’t important, versus all of the things that truly make us so.
To begin with, I think importance is defined by your role in other people’s lives. I know, I know, be your own best friend. Be good to yourself. Treat yourself. The glamorization of being single, isolated, alone and all that. I’ve seen it too. I’ve grown up swimming in all that, but I don’t buy it.
The official definition of importance is to be of great significance or value. Naturally, you are that to yourself so that is a given. You can’t judge your life by how important you are to yourself, that’s just silly.
I realize now that I learned how to be important long before I stepped onto my first airplane.
My mother used to say that if things were going badly for you, the thing to do was to find a way to help someone else.
There is so much wisdom in that we could do a month long study on that sentence alone but I’ll just leave it for you to ponder.
So what makes us important? Well, let me tell you what makes me important and then maybe you can make a list regarding yourself.
I’m important to my children because I am their mother and I love them so very much. I am a guiding force in their life. It is my responsibility and honor to teach them right from wrong, where they came from and all the possibilities of where they can go, how to love, how to live, and it is up to me to look up at all of the nuggets of wisdom in this great big universe and pull down as many as possible to pass on to them.
I am important to them because they love me so much.
I am important to my husband because of our relationship and the covenant we made to be partners in navigating the waters of this world together.
I am important to my parents because I am an anchor that they set out in this ocean of life and we have a lifelong relationship with one another.
I am important to my friends. I am important to my dogs. I am important to my cats. Every now and then, I manage to be important to my community or at my kid’s school.
Am I important because I travel or have my name on the cover of books and magazines?
No. That doesn’t make me any more special than a man walking down a street.
But when I have a column that is going to appear in one of those books or magazines and I am staring at a blank piece of paper deciding if I’m going to talk about a casserole or the importance of time spent with your family while eating that casserole…one decision can make my words have far more importance than the other.
It’s the same with each of us. Our job titles or places of work don’t make us important. You can be a homeschooling mom, president of a bank, waiter in a restaurant, or author of books. The job alone does not make you important. It doesn’t make you unimportant, I’m not saying that.
How you live your life. What you choose to give to others during your interaction with them, whether it is seconds, minutes, or decades…that is what makes a difference.
Being a value in someone else’s life. That is important.
And you don’t even have to pay airfare to make it happen.
You are far more important right now than you realize.
~tucks away her soapbox and walks back into the kitchen~
Now on to the meatloaf You’ll need: spaghetti sauce, oats, egg, bell pepper (or sweet peppers), onion, and 1+1/2 to 2 pounds ground chuck.
Note: The peppers and onion are optional in this. Just go with whatever you want to use or have on hand. Also, you can use ground beef in place of ground chuck, you’ll just have a little grease to strain off. You can also use ground turkey if you like. I’ve made plenty of turkey meatloaves in my life for others, I just prefer beef.
Chop your onions and bell pepper if you are using those.
I should have chopped mine finer, sure, but I just chop until I’m tired of fooling with it.
Add your oats, spaghetti sauce, beef, and egg to the onion/pepper mixture.
You can use more oats if you have less meat in order to stretch it. You’d be amazed at how far you can stretch your meat in a meatloaf!
Did you see my tutorial where I used leftover shredded chicken and stretched it with crushed saltine crackers and such to make chicken patties? Oh they are so good and they freeze so well, click here for that.
Okay, back on point, Christy. Back on point!
Mix that all up with your hands.
I know, some people shudder at the thought of digging their hands into raw ground beef (believe me, I’ve received emails about it!) but there are so many worse things that we could have to do so just buck up, dive in, and know that this will better prepare you for the storms of life.
And really, if this is the worst thing you have to do all day, you have a pretty awesome life!
Press your meatloaf into a lightly greased baking dish.
I ended up with a little extra so I used one loaf pan and one mini loaf pan. Use a knife to cut a slice down the center. This will help it cook more evenly.
Take the rest of your spaghetti sauce (or however much you want) to the top of the meatloaf.
If you don’t have enough leftover spaghetti sauce for this, you can use ketchup.
I love ketchup on meatloaf!
Bake at 350 for about an hour, until juices run clear.
If you have a smaller one, it will be done in about thirty minutes.
Dive in and enjoy… and know that you are important.
Italian Meatloaf – and how to be Important
- 1+1/2 -2 pounds ground chuck
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (or 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers), chopped
- 1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups spaghetti sauce (reserve 1 cup)
- Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well with hands.
- Press into greased baking dish. Pour reserved spaghetti sauce over top.
- Bake at 350 for one hour, or until juices run clear.
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– Mark Twain
Submitted by Jim Ferguson. Click here to submit your own. (I always love new quotes!)