A FRIEND ONCE said to me, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a pile of heart-shaped meat.”
He was kidding, but I’m not.
For as long as I can remember, my mom would make a heart-shaped meatloaf for Valentine’s Day for two simple reasons: My dad loves meatloaf and my mom loves him.
It was their tradition and it always tasted a little more special than when she would make a meatloaf during the rest of the year.
Food gifts from the heart should.
The tradition began Valentine’s Day 1977.
My parents had been married for six years and already had three daughters.
“I had not gotten even a card for Butch,” Bobi Hanson, my mom, said. Butch being my dad.
“His favorite meal was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas, so I decided to make him a meatloaf dinner.”
After mixing the ingredients and putting the meatloaf on a pan, Mom decided to shape the meat into a heart.
I remember one year my sister and I mentioned how much we would miss Mom’s meatloaf on Valentine’s Day. We were living on the other side of the state and couldn’t make it to our parents’ house for the meal.
So they brought it to us.
More accurately, they pulled a sneak-attack visit, bought the ingredients and taught us how to make the meatloaf.
I can’t be with my parents for Valentine’s Day this year, but I’m going to attempt to make the meatloaf.
I have the recipe, I have a (semi-) reliable oven and Mom even bought me a heart-shaped mold to cook it in.
All I need to remember is to take my time and cook with love.
Mom can’t remember where she got the recipe more than 40 years ago, but I think it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten.
It pairs nicely with mashed potatoes — I like red potatoes for their slightly sweeter flavor — and brown gravy.
I invite you all to take some time to say “I love you” to whomever you love this Valentine’s Day.
And if you want to try it, here’s a recipe to say it with a heart-shaped pile of meat.
Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News.