Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teaching the seminarian how to cook

We have two seminarians from Saint Remy Parish, one of whom is working for the parish this summer, and living at the rectory. Among the things we planned do this summer is have some meals together -- and that I would teach him a few things about cooking. So tonight it was meatloaf.

(Sorry, no pictures, but I was focused on giving instruction.)

Meatloaf is pretty easy, and versatile -- you can tinker it with a lot of ways, tailoring it to your taste. Me? I don't have any steady recipe, but mom always used the recipe off the Quaker Oats box, and what do you know? It's available online! But I made a few adjustments: I added more onion, as well as some Parmesan cheese, and I seasoned it with some red pepper, garlic, and a little worcestershire sauce. Then I topped it all with some more of the tomato sauce, plus some Dijon mustard, which I love.

So, I had the seminarian chop the onions, while I got the other ingredients together; then I showed him how I mixed it all together, and how I put it in the Corning Ware dishes. I doubled the recipe: one for tonight and leftovers; one for the freezer.

While I put all that in the oven, I had him pick out some potatoes and scrub them and slice off any ugly parts. After waiting a bit, we put them on to boil. They got finished earlier than I expected, while the meat loaf took a little longer than planned (it's an old oven--the temperature regulator may be off). I showed him how to see if the potatoes were ready: my way is to stick them with a fork, and if they slide off, they're ready. Then I showed him how I make mashed potatoes. (Sorry, this recipe is going to be pretty rough!)

We started with six or seven red potatoes; I chopped them up with the hand mixer, then added almost a stick of butter, plus maybe two tablespoons of heavy cream, plus a generous amount of salt and pepper. All that we mixed up; I prefer to let the potatoes be a little lumpy, rather than have them turn to glue. It's not the most refined way to make mashed potatoes, but they were pretty tasty.

Well, the meat loaf wasn't ready yet, so I stuck the potatoes, still in the pan, into the oven with the cover to keep them warm. When the meat was ready, I pulled them out, and poured off the excess fat. Meanwhile, I had some frozen vegetables in the micro, and heated them up.

I know, it's all pretty simple. But that was the point. As we sat down to eat, I offered the seminarian a suggestion: "if you want, you can prepare this same meal in a couple of weeks." Of course, I'll help him; but learning to cook includes actually trying your hand.

How was it? He thought it had too much onion, I thought, not enough. I wish I'd put more of the tomato sauce on it, and more mustard. Otherwise, pretty good! The potatoes were pretty tasty.


rcg said...

I bet he remembers this the rest of his life. Good choice of ingredients, too. He needs a cast iron skillet with a lid. It will out last him and be the surest cooking utensil he will ever own.

Jenny said...

Sounds just perfect! You almost can't have too much onion if it's well-cooked. You could partially cook the onion in the micro then add to meat mixture. My kids preferred this method, and your seminarian might as well...

Jennifer said...

I love a good meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Meatloaf is called "Falsche Hase" in German. :)

Fr Martin Fox said...

The seminarian appears to have liked it, too; the half that was left after dinner the other night disappeared very quickly. I had nothing to do with it!

rcg said...

LOL! Hungry seminarian is a good sign he is working hard.

Local news is filled with a cooking fire in Russia. Did the seminarian try to go solo on his own meatloaf???