Comfort Me with Meatloaf: Last Summer's Herbs Warm Up Winter Dishes

| 3/5/2011 4:00:50 PM

A portrait of the author, Colleen Newquist.It’s a raw day in early March, temperatures hovering around freezing, tiny ice crystals bouncing around in the wind. What seemed like the last of the snow melted under yesterday’s sun and unseasonably warm 60 degrees. Today, we’re back to winter. The sky is flat gray, the bare forest and blanket of oak leaves a monochromatic brown. The squirrels blend into the landscape.

And here I am, thinking about gardening. Which here in Chicago, really won’t be feasible for at least another month. Or two—who am I kidding? But spring is in the air—it was 60 degrees! I sat on the porch in sunny bliss!—and the gardening magazines at the library were just begging to be checked out, urging me to at least think about planting…something.

Things haven’t changed. I still live in a wooded area, with precious little sunshine and deer who mow down every edible plant. Except I’ve discovered two important things: I do have a precious little spot of sunshine, on the south side of the house, and deer don’t like herbs. Last year I grew some rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage in pots, and the deer steadfastly ignored them. This year, I want to build a raised bed and expand.

Oh, how I want to have a farm! But the real estate market being what it is, my job being too wonderful to walk away from right now, and my son still in college means I need to work with what I’ve got. And what I’ve got is not a farm, but it’s still pretty wonderful. So, we’ll see where this little bit of gardening goes, we’ll see how my garden grows.

In the meantime, we've been enjoying last summer's herbs all winter, using rosemary in mushroom risotto, thyme in the corned beef that's simmering on the stove right now, and sage in one of my most comforting cold-weather recipes, Lulu's Meatloaf (in case you're wondering who Lulu is, that's me—childhood nickname my parents gave me). I created this recipe by borrowing ideas from several others:

Lulu's Meatloaf 

Nebraska Dave
3/7/2011 7:00:57 PM

@Colleen, I've over the years that sometimes I just had to be content with where I was in life. I've always wanted to have a country acreage but it wasn't in the cards. Medical bills and raising kids came first which never allowed the desire to come to fruition. However on the back side of life I see that it's probably better that I am right where I am. Imagine that. This house is now raising the third generation in the family. It's amazing just how much can be grown in my backyard. In five years I hope to have 13 raised garden beds with a firepit patio and a pergoda patio with the ability to sleep outside in good weather or spend time there blogging on the wireless network or watching my favorite TV show over the Net. So things worked out better than if I'd had a place in the woods. Have a great gardening day.

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