Fall….Its that time of year when even though the sun is shining bright there is a brisk feeling to the days. Where we live the breezes are filled with the smell of onions drying and the cutting of fields and occasionally if the wind is just right at dusk you’ll be treated to the smell of a fireplace beginning to take the chill off the evening. There is a hum of urgency all around. We farmers are no stranger to Old Man Winters frosty fingers, eager to change the morning dew to a shimmering frost. I love fall, the smells, the sights, the colours, the feeling and of course the food. We put a lot of food by and I try to make jarring and pickling a family event. There is something very rewarding about a pantry stocked with jars of the food you’ve grown. There’s something more to be said about cracking a jar open in the cold of March and the smells and colours of your garden in August flooding your senses. We can a lot as the foods come into season but the fall brings an abundance of veggies just begging to be preserved to serve another day.
Fall also means work and lots of it. The farm garden is big but the work there doesn’t compare to bringing in the harvest that will feed our animals through the winter. The work starts with the first light of the sun across the dewy grass and finishes only when Mother Nature draws her starry drapes across the dimming sky. It’s quite a sight to see as all the tractors drone towards home, seeming almost as weary as the farmers who ride them.
Fall days call for a special kind of dinner. It has to be easy; no time can be wasted on fussy foods. It has to be able to cook itself….with the aid of a trusty slow cooker or slow roasting in the oven. It has to be able to wait. The first plate may go out at 4pm to hungry kids heading for farm chores but the last plate for Dennis at 9pm has to be just as fresh tasting as the first. And last but not least it needs to replenish you body and soul, head to toe….soothing aches and warming toes, a good fall dinner should do all that.
One of my favourites for fall is meatloaf, yes meatloaf. It’s been a staple in most families for generations and everyone has a recipe from Mom or Grandma. It’s so simple, so economical. A chameleon of sorts, you can start with virtually any kind of ground meat and take it in any direction you would like by varying the ingredients. Traditional beef with fresh tomato sauce, try lamb, feta and spinach or delicious bacon wrapped pork meatloaf. I make a few at a time and pop them in the freezer but is easily made a day or so ahead of time and popped in the oven or whipped up an hour or so before you need to feed the family. And it’s simple enough for the kids to make if you’re tied up. It’s a hearty dinner served with potatoes or rice and a salad from the garden. And there is no mistaking the enjoyment that comes from a thick slice of meatloaf on a crusty bun with some garlic mayo for lunch the next day. Although old fashioned meatloaf is considered an oven dish, we dare you to take it up a notch and cook your master piece on the BBQ. Again is looks after itself and there’s something to be said about the addition of those smoky bbq flavours. So when you’re raking up those fall leaves make up your favourite meatloaf recipe of try one of ours from below or at http://www.facebook.com/dingofarms light up the bbq and pay homage to the passing summer, moving from burgers to warm your soul fall and winter dinner staples. I promise that the wonderful aroma of the meatloaf on the bbq will take you back and hopefully slow you and yours down enough to enjoy the beautiful fall season. No need to be afraid of ground meats when you know where it’s coming from
Easy and economical, it’s that simple
Bacon wrapped pork meatloaf and apple chutney
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme (about 1 teaspoon)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup well-shaken low fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, freshly ground if you have it
- 2 pounds Dingo Farms ground pork
- 1 pound Dingo Farms pork sausage, removed from casing and broken up
- 1 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 20)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 8 Dingo Farms double smoked bacon strips
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
Over medium heat add oil, onion, garlic and thyme and cook until soft
In a large bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the eggs are broken up and evenly combined. Add the onion mixture, ground pork, sausage, cracker crumbs, and parsley. Mix until thoroughly combined, do not over work the mixture.
Form the meat into a 9 by 5- inch loaf. Arrange the bacon across the top of the loaf and bake until the internal temperature is 155 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer, or about 55 to 65 minutes. Pop under broiler for about 5 additional minutes. Remove from the oven to a cutting board and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. It is important to let the meatloaf rest so the juices aren’t lost all over your cutting board
Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp recipe on the food network
Apple Chutney Ingredients
- 2 large tart cooking apples (such as green Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries would be good too!)
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice shopping list
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and simmer over low heat for a few minutes more to cook off excess liquid; let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.