Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Virginia Safford Food of my Friends" - Meat Loaf

Virginia Safford Food of my Friends by Virginia Safford
Published by:  University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
© 1944
Recipe:  Meat Loaf (Hostess:  Mrs. Joseph H. Ball) – p. 156

You know, shopping for cookbooks at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores is often a learning experience as much as it is a bargain hunt.  I had never heard of Virginia Safford before purchasing this book and yet what sold me is that she was a popular columnist for the Minneapolis Star Journal

As newspapers goes, the life and times of the Minneapolis Star Journal was complicated:  the newspaper we now have in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis StarTribune, was the result of a merger between the Minneapolis Tribune and the Minneapolis Star. In between, there was the Minneapolis Journal, The Minneapolis Times and the Minnesota Daily Star that later became the Minneapolis Star.  There are families with family trees that are less complicated!

So somewhere in that whole mix, we had the Minneapolis Star Journal and that is the newspaper that employed Virginia Safford.  Ta da!  Yet information on Virginia remains sketchy and this irks but it is what it is:  even in the electronic age, we cannot always find what we are looking for on the internet, and this, folks, is why books remain important!

Although I was drawn to this cookbook because of the ties to Minneapolis, I selected it for this past weekend’s meal because of the “friends” portion of our program.  Not only did I spend an entire weekend at various holiday events with friends and hosted by friends, but I was sorely missing my best friend, “Tall” Carol, and so pulled out this book as an homage to her.  And I have to tell you, she would have hooted at much of this book.

Take, for example, Virginia’s foreword:  “…And those Sunday suppers – why, in my teens I do not remember that I was ever close to the kitchen on Sunday nights than was necessary to set the table.  One maid always stayed in to help us serve to the boy friends – we called them beaus in those days….After all, the attractive Sunday supper was at that time consider one of the nicer ways to get your man.  Well, I got my man…”

I can just see Tall sputtering at the talk of having a maid and then really cracking up at the statement “Well, I got my man…”  Granted this was 1944, but Tall was so independent that she would have bristled at anybody setting out to land a man and be taken care of for the rest of their lives.

One thing that Tall and Virginia had in common though, was a wide circle of friends.  Each chapter of this book showcases a menu prepared by the Hostess (insert dignitary name here) with a little bio or story about each hostess setting the stage for the menu to follow.  Since I am not a Minnesota native, I don’t know all of the hostess’ by name, yet some jump out because they are household names in these parts:  Mrs. Harold E. Stassen (Minnesota Governor from 1939-1943); Mrs. Stanley E. Hubbard (founder of Hubbard Broadcasting) and Mrs. John S. Pillsbury of cake mix and bake-off fame.  (Also included:  Duncan Hines who was a) a real person who b) reviewed various eating establishments across the country and c) who lent his name to a cake mix brand.)  (I do believe though, that my favorite name in the book has got to be Mrs. F. Peavey Heffelfinger – I just like the sound of it!)

Today’s recipe for meatloaf, an American standard, comes to us from Hostess Mrs. Joseph H. Ball, wife of Minnesota Senator Joe Ball (born in Crookston, Minnesota in 1905, appointed to the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated by Ernest Lundeen who was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1940.  Senator Ball was elected to his own six-year term in 1942.)  Here is what Virginia Safford had to say about Mrs. Ball:

Almost everyone knows that Senator Joe Ball of Minnesota helps with the dinner dishes, and that Jennifer, aged fifteen, is the guardian of little Sara, aged four, and wants to run a nursery school when she grows up.  They know too that Betty Ball is her own cook, and that being a guest at dinner in the Balls’ Washington home is anything but formal. 

Naturally, Mrs. Balls’ menu showcases what an informal home cook she is:  Home-Baked Beans, Hot Biscuits, Tomato Jelly Salad, Raw Carrot Strips and Celery, Marshmallow Mousse and Drop Cookies.  Add to that was a recipe for an Oven Omelet and today’s featured Meat Loaf.

Now, I happen to love meat loaf in whatever form it takes with whatever is added to it, but I loved this one in particular as it contains ground beef, ground pork and ground ham.  I loved the ground ham almost as much as I loved the addition of half of a can of condensed tomato soup; people may differ but there is almost nothing that cannot be enhanced by a can of soup!

So I mixed up all my meat and egg and whatnot and then added my chopped onions and then decided that the onions were way too big.  So I plopped the entire mixture in my Cuisinart and ended up pulsing it a bit too long, but you know what?  What I got was almost like a pate’ and I love pate’ and I do believe that my accidental pureeing of the meat mixture did the trick.

If it wasn’t the holiday season, I would have loved to sit down and read through more stories because some of them are just cracking me up, but alas, who has time?  As an example, there’s “Hostess” Mrs. Harry E. Gerrish of whom Virginia writes:  “Her christening party ‘lamb cakes’ are even more famous [than her Christmas candy]…You can understand how Dorothy’s lamb vies with the baby for the attention of guests at a christening party.”

I can tell you right now, wherever Tall “is,” she is chortling with laughter.  She would have loved this meatloaf.

Meat Loaf – serving size not given
½ pound each of ground beef, ground ham and ground pork
½ cup condensed tomato soup
½ cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
½ cup cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Ann’s Note:  I had my grocery store deli slice off a piece of ham about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick and then “ground” it at home in my Cuisinart.  Beats having to get out an actual grinder!

Mix all ingredients in bowl, knead well, and shape into loaf.  Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour.  (As stated above, I plopped the entire mixture in my Cuisinart and loved the results.  You’ll end up with what looks like paste but when done resembles pate’.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello! I just got this book that you mention in this post and was researching Virginia Safford online. I found your blog. Looking forward to reading Virginia's book and more of your blog!
Shannon H