Family Tree and A Sweetheart Dinner

An engrossing, romantic novel, packed full of good food ideas.  What more could you ask for a Valentine's Day read? Family Tree, by Susan Wiggs is all of that and more.  It's about Annie, an independent minded cook, with vision and ambition.  However the career push takes her away from her home, her roots and from the love of her life.  I loved this book.

From the Publishers:

"Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge....Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past."

Tasting her first meal on waking from the coma, Annie has a revelation, "She knew with sudden certainty that when it came to awakening memory, there was nothing more evocative than delicious food."

So, for food inspiration.  It had to be some of Bob's favorites, and this was what evolved - A heart-shaped meatloaf, steamed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and beets marinated in an oil and vinegar dressing with dill, and Brutti Boni Cookies for dessert.

The meatloaf started with a discussion in the check-out line.  The guy in front of me suggested pasta, said that would do it.  After mentioning I'd been leaning toward meatloaf, knowing my husband, the checker jumped on it with a big grin and said wouldn't it be cool if you had a heart-shaped pan?  And, I'm like, well I believe I do.  And the guy said that meatloaf actually sounded very good. So they held my place while I ran back to score some ground round.

 The last thing to be baked in that pan was a cake, but the meatloaf came out perfect.  Totally inspired. I'll see if I can remember what all went into it.

Sweetheart Meatloaf
Preheat oven to 350F and grease your pan well with bacon fat or ? your favorite alternative.
1 lb. ground round (grass-fed beef)
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 egg and 2 yolks (the whites went into the cookies)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire or fish sauce
1 stalk celery, chopped well
1 small yellow pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
a few tablespoons red wine
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teas. ground pepper
1 teas. salt (less if using fish sauce)
1/2 cup ketchup (or as much as it takes to cover the top)

Mix well with your hands or a large fork.  Pat into the pan, top with the ketchup and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your pan.  Since mine was on the flat side, it didn't take an hour.
Savory awesomeness.

 For the Brutti Boni cookies, I added in a cup of the roasted, infused and sweetened cacao nibs left  from making creme de cacao.  See my previous post for that experience.

I'm sending this link over to Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and to Heather over at the February Foodies Read Challenge.  Check them out for great book reviews and food ideas.


Beth F said...

Love that idea of heart-shaped meat loaf! Cool idea. And, in fact, I love the sound of your entire meal. We had beef too (grilled), with oven roasted sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

YUM it all sounds delicious and I love sprouts and beets as well.

Mae Travels said...

Heart shaped meatloaf is a very amusing idea! Your heart-shaped pan must make a beautiful cake or jello mold as well.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

jama said...

What a lovely VD meal!! Love the heart shaped meatloaf.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I read this book for a book tour review a while back and really enjoyed it. Lots of wonderful food inspiration. Your Sweetheart Dinner looks and sounds delicious. Love that heart-shaped meatloaf! ;-)

Vicki said...

I read this book in 2016 and loved it!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I also love the idea of a heart-shaped meatloaf. What a great pan to have!

Carole said...

I'm going to look out for a pan like that - what fun! Cheers

Judee Algazi said...

I love making heart shaped food for Valentine's Day - The book sounds intriguing too

Wendy Klik said...

Love that heart shaped meatloaf. Hope you had a great celebration of your love.