Grandmas are Cool.

One of my goals in Life is to become a Very Cool Grandmother. Because Grandmas, in general, are awesome. I have memories as a child going over to Grandma Mary’s house and immediately heading for the large, stand-up freezer in her entryway...where I knew there was a Lifetime Supply of ice-cream sandwiches. And at Grandma’s house, you were allowed to eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.

At my Grandma Evelyn’s house, every Sunday morning was filled with fluffy homemade biscuits, thick, incredibly rich gravy and piles of bacon that crumbled in your mouth with a satisfyingly resounding crunch. Better still, everyone at the breakfast table knew my love of bacon and graciously offered me any of the extra slices at the end of the meal. Ah, it was a budding food-loving child’s heaven. My mother has already informed me that when I finally make her a grandmother, and she says this with a loud sigh, rolling her eyes and exasperation in her voice, she is going to completely spoil my children. Great, so while I'm trying to get my kids to eat fresh figs, artichokes and steamed kale, she's going to be giving them slurpees from the local Dairy Queen. Grandmothers, she figures, have earned the right. Touché, mom, touché.

LB’s grandmother, Mimi, is Italian. Mimi has what I, as someone who has not yet made the trek across the pond to Italy, might consider as having Quintessential Italian Characteristics (or at least characteristics that I might imagine an Italian grandmother having). Namely, when you walk into her house you are immediately offered food: crispy bacon (my favorite), scrambled eggs, panettone, eggplant Parmesan, pancetta, fresh cheese...the list goes on and on.

Mimi and LB

I love visiting Mimi. This Christmas, we had Mimi show us how to cook some of her favorite recipes so that we could learn them and so that they would be passed on in the family. It was a day filled with laughter and love: our hands dug deep into bowls of flour, we sprinkled breadcrumbs, ate marinated olives, cured meats and mozzarella, we imbibed glasses of Italian wine (for it was surely noon somewhere in the world), and by the end of the day, our bellies were filled with lots of good, home-cooked Italian food.

We let Mimi decide the recipes she would like to pass on – LB had told her he would like to make something that might be lost if she didn’t pass it on herself. She decided to share one of her favorite recipes, Eggplant Parmesan, and one that her father had taught her and would make whenever company came over: "Company Meatloaf." To be honest, at first I was slightly disappointed at the thought of making meat loaf (the original decision was to make homemade gnocci). And, as I’ve professed here before, meatloaf is not one of my favorite dishes to eat. In fact, it’s difficult for me to get all the way down to my stomach sometimes. And even more difficult for me to keep it down there. But, we were grateful that she was taking us in to show us a family recipe, and being the newbie in the family, there was NO WAY I was going to say one word about not liking meatloaf.

My own biases aside, the meatloaf got rave reviews from the table. And for meatloaf, it was definitely the best meatloaf I’ve had – not that I’ve had much, nor do I intend on having much in the future. But I ate every bite (of course I did - you don't mess with Italian grandmothers!) and the proscuitto and mozzarella make for a tender, moist and delicious combination. For those of you that DO enjoy a meatloaf on occasion, you should certainly try it like this. Just the act of making it is a pure joy, especially when you’re making it alongside a little Italian grandmother.

First, whip up a batch of your favorite meatloaf (if you're into that sorf of thing). Try Nicole's - because it's actually a meatloaf that I would most definitely eat (yes, even me) and that I'd consider making again (although I haven't...I have to face the truth, meatloaf is just not one of my favorite dishes). Mimi makes hers with 1 lb of ground beef and 1/2 lb of ground pork for moisture.

Dump out your pile of meatloaf mix onto some wax paper and pat it out into the shape of a rectangle until it is very thin - about 1/2 inch thin. Then, layer paper thin slices of proscuitto on top.
Follow that with a hefty sprinkling of mozzarella cheese - finely shredded or grated. Don't buy the previously shredded stuff, because you're going to need slices of it for the top too...

Roll it up like you would a jelly roll, starting at one end, until you have a roll o' meat, as opposed to your usual loaf o' meat. Put it on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and layer thin slices of mozzarella across the top of the roll (Mimi cuts them into rectangles or squares, then halved them diagonally to make pretty little cheese triangles). Put it back in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the meat is done in the center, but the ends aren't yet dry, and the cheese has melted and gotten bubbly (you'll have to keep an eye it and determine the times that are best for your oven ...Mimi has this down pat for her own oven, but better safe than sorry). Sorry there's no finished picture - meatloaf just isn't the most photogenic of foods, and besides, I was busy eating Eggplant Parmesan (oh yeah, and meatloaf too).

So there you have it - meatloaf fit even for company. Meatloaf that can bring together little Italian grandmothers and non-meatloaf eaters alike, and make them both happy. Besides, the way I figure it, every Cool Grandma should know how to make at least one good meatloaf...just in case someone that loves meatloaf happens to come over.

13 comments from you:

glutenfreeforgood said...

I'm so happy I stumbled upon your blog! I love it and as a nutritionist, I love your connection to heart-healthy blogging too. What a great little corner of the blogoshpere you've all created! Nice job. I'll be back!
P.S. I love the dog photo -- very cute!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fabulous post Michelle! Wonderful memories of the past rolled with memories of today looking to the future! LB is really cute (so glad I know what LB stands for and he really is).
Mimi is totally delightful! And this is just one cool meatloaf trick! This family I'm with really enjoys meatloaf and I think this is a wonderful little variation on it!
Now I like meat loaf but I love eggplant parmesan. You did get that recipe and you're going to share. yes...
I aspire to be a cool grandmother myself and my opportunity is arriving in April! Do you know a cool name for a grandmother beside grandmother?

Ilva said...

I love this way of rolling it, I never seen that before! You are so wise to learn her recipes before it to late...

cookiecrumb said...

Oh no! I'm not even going to TELL my husband about this recipe!

christie said...


Came to your site after doing a search for Meyer lemons - I used them to make a lemon meringue pie last night - and found this fantastic meatloaf recipe. We're decided to make it for dinner guests we're having over in two weeks. I'll try to remember to post back how it was received. :) (I see in your profile you're in Eugene. We live in Portland. Nice to meet a fellow Oregonian who likes to cook.) :)

Ann said...

Wow. I think I probably just don't need to ever know how amazing this (must) taste. My hips really do not need this!

Great post!

katiez said...

I never knew my grandmothers... and, it would appear, I will not have any grandchildren...
But I will definitely make this meatloaf! I love meatloaf, and I love anything with Prosciutto in it... or, just on it's on...
Lovely post, btw

Paz said...

Grandmas ARE cool! I love the sound of the 2 recipes that LB's grandma decided to share with you. I love eggplants and the Company meatloaf looks really good. Nice pic of the two of them cooking.


Michelle said...

Hi Melissa, I'm so glad you came by too, as I love finding out about new bloggers too, so thanks for leaving such nice comments! LB and I try to eat healthy for the most part (though lots of unhealthy recipes make it on here too) and having heart disease in my family, it's an issue that is important to me. Samson (my dog) always brightens up my day no matter what's going on!

Tanna, You probably just made LB's whole day! Let me know how the meatloaf goes over if you end up making it. I didn't get to make your bread this weekend and I was very disappointed :( We didn't get the eggplant parm recipe yet, but if/when we do, I'll post it too. Congrats on becoming a grandmother - that's so exciting!! I think kids come up with their own great names for grandmothers (well, except me because that's what I have always called mine, but many do!) - do YOU have one???

Ilva, it really is a great idea, and I never would have thought it before. Now whenever we make it, we'll think of that day!

Cookie, sometimes ignorance is bliss!!

Christie, Hi! Another PNW blogger - yay! Do let me know what kind of reviews you get if you make it! It's amazing how if you post about meyer lemons, people come out of the woodwork!! I'm so glad you came by and said hello.

Ann, true, perhaps, but everything in moderation, dear!! Including hip size-increasing deliciousness!!

Katie, I'm really grateful that I was able to get to know my grandmothers (though only one that was blood-related - the rest by marriage). I hope you do try it - let me know how it goes over!!

Paz, I agree! LB really adores his Mimi and I'm glad we were able to get lots of pictures of them together that day.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

What a lovely way to spend a day. Memories made and to be kept forever, perfect! Tanna's right LB's a bit of a cutie!

Julie said...

I've seen a ton of meatloaf recipes over the years and this one is easily the most different. It looks delicious; I know my meatloaf-loving husband would love this.

Hanging out and cooking with someone is a nice way to spend time together. I bet LB's grandmother enjoys it as much as you do. And what a wonderful teacher she must be.

Michelle said...

Amanda, It was! I'll be sure and pass the sentiment to LB - sheesh, his ego is growing huge after this post!!

Julie, that's why I posted it - it's so unique! And she was a wonderful teacher - plus, she's so full of spirit and life it's just a joy to be around her!

Sarah Jane said...

What a great idea for meatloaf! This is a must try.
I know this is an old blog. I hope you've had the pleasure of learning to make gnocchi since writing this. It is fun, time-consuming and delicious.