Pan Check and Meatloaf

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A terrified look crept over my husband’s face as he stood in the kitchen. It was his, “Oh no, she’s getting ready for a garage sale” look.

My son took a more positive take on the counters filled with every pan we own. “No, I think she might be going into one of her marathon baking moods.” He wished!

Actually, I was taking the advice of an article in the May 1949 issue of Successful Farming Magazine. Titled “Baking Failures May be the Pans You Use,” the article explained the intricate value of a shiny, no-dent, no-rust pan for baking ribbon winning cakes and pies.

As I set about examining each pan, memories crept into the kitchen like a midnight refrigerator raid. Most of my pans have been with me since we got married 42 years ago and some before that. A number were given to me by elderly friends who wanted their “best pans” to be passed on to somebody who would use them.

Photo: Fotolia/ketrik17

From an elderly neighbor, a black-rimmed white enamel pan was used exclusively for the lye bath step in making homemade pretzels. Another was always used to bake and transport a sheet cake to covered-dish suppers.

A red-enameled tube pan was a gift from a friend who never used it. It bakes up the best angel food cakes.

Newer heart-shaped and checkerboard cake pans were no match for the 16-inch-long loaf pan that baked up a blue ribbon winner torte for the county fair. Smaller loaf pans reminded me of Mom’s date nut loaf and the 100-year-old recipe in my box for gingerbread.

A few of the pans did indeed have small dents or a tiny spot where rust might take hold any moment. But that was a chance I was willing to take. None of them could be thrown out. True value is rarely a surface matter.

While putting everything back with a mixed sigh of nostalgia and relief, the evening’s meal was beginning to pester my panned-out brain.

Short on time, but having the makings for a meatloaf, I decided to ensure its doneness with the use of the tube pan. Meatloaf in the round has been around for decades, just not in my kitchen. (A freestanding loaf is the usual shape.)

Tonight my guys would be glad I had all the pans out. Meatloaf is one of their favorites.

Fluffy Meat Loaf

1 1/2 pounds lean ground chuck
3 medium slices soft bread, torn into pieces
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup minced onion
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon EACH: pepper, dry mustard, sage, celery salt, garlic salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup

Combine all ingredients except ketchup. Mix thoroughly by hand. Pat into bottom of tube pan. If tube is detachable, wrap outside bottom of pan in large sheet of foil or place pan into a rimmed baking pan to catch any drips.

Spread ketchup over top of meat. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour, or until meat is no longer pink. Meatloaf may be baked in loaf pan, or as free-standing loaf placed in large baking pan. Adjust baking time for solid loaves.

Photo: Fotolia/Brent Hofacker