Friday, April 18, 2008

Brainstorming and Meat Loaf

My Mother is the one person in the world that I admired the most. She had the knack, the intelligence and the drive to resolve any dilemma or problem. She and my Dad made an excellent team with her brainstorming and his mechanical aptitude. Many times I would hear them discussing how to attack a problem starting with “What if a guy took and…” and working together to try different variations. It was really something to watch the essence of cooperation between them. Almost always they could devise an acceptable solution that was creative yet simple and impressive.

I can still remember how Mom would address a situation. You could practically see the wheels turning as she considered the potential options, weighing each of them in turn until she had selected the first one to try. She then quietly proceeded to make it work one way or another through a series of trials and errors. She instilled in me that there is always more than one way to accomplish a goal. In many cases, she was able to reach a resolution at essentially no cost except for the investment of some time and some tinkering. I also learned that a homemade solution was much more satisfying than spending good money for an inferior product.

A prime example occurred when I was about six years old and my older sisters needed desks on which to do their homework. A good education for all of us kids was important to my parents, even though Dad never went to high school and Mom didn’t go to college. They could have bought new desks, but instead they built their own. I had an uncle who worked in a factory that made Formica kitchen sets and he brought home salvaged pieces of Formica. Dad scrounged through his brother’s stash of material until he had enough matching pieces to make not one but two desks.

Mom & Dad worked together to design two sturdy desks with wrought iron legs and three drawers on one side. One desk was yellow and the other white, with wooden trim painted black to match the wrought iron legs and wooden knobs on the drawers. Both desks made the rounds among us kids, both while we were at home and later when we had our own homes and even our own children. In fact, the desks have held up remarkably intact for over fifty years. Not many purchased furniture pieces would have survived for as long.

When we were working on projects that take a lot of time and concentration, an easy solution to the question “What’s for supper?” is to put dinner in the oven. After an hour or so of tantalizing aromas, supper is ready for the whole family to enjoy.

1 ½ lbs lean Ground Beef
3/4 C Oatmeal
1 C Tomato Sauce
1 Egg
1 Onion, diced
1 ½ t Salt
½ t Dry Mustard
¼ t Pepper
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Mix all ingredients in large bowl.
• Shape into loaf in 9 x 13 pan sprayed with non-stick coating.
• Bake for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees.
NOTE: This makes a great meal when potatoes are baked at the same time.
Serve with Ketchup as desired.

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