A loaf by any other name…

…is nothing more than an oblong shaped conglomeration of items – sweet or savory or protein filled, baked, sliced and possibly drowned in ketchup-y tomato sauce if meat is involved. I believe, although I have no facts at hand to back this up, that meat type loaves were designed especially to stretch the housewife’s dollar in the 1950’s and 1960’s. You could feed a few more hungry kids with a loaf and maybe even have leftovers for sandwiches.

Alright, you may be asking why I am posting on the topic of ‘the loaf.’

My daughter shared with me a recipe for Spicy Tuna Cakes. She makes these a lot as they are gluten free. Obviously not baked in loaf form (hence the name cake) although I suppose it could be, the little tuna cakes are baked in a muffin pan. They turned out to be quite tasty. It was the ingredients, process, and the overall look  of the mixture that made me think of a few loaves that used to be common in my childhood home.

Meatloaf is a given. My mom made a pretty good one actually. Along with the hamburger and other typical ingredients she added pork sausage. As that loaf cooked the grease would rise to the top. When I was old enough to safely navigate a hot oven I would often have the duty to skim off the excess grease as the loaf baked. She baked this meat mixture in a round Pyrex bowl, not a loaf pan. I have no idea why. She also never used that tomato sauce topping that is so common to the meatloaf. Again, I have no idea why. The best part of this whole process…cold meatloaf sandwiches. White wonder bread, two slices of loaf, and for me both mayonnaise and ketchup.

The other popular loaf in our home was a salmon loaf. The smell from the canned pink salmon would permeate the entire house. It was dumped into a bowl and she (I, again when I was old enough) would use a fork to pick through the meat, scraping and removing any really dark skin and looking for the stray back bone pieces that always were included in each can. I forget exactly what she added after that. An egg, and crumbled saltine crackers for sure. This loaf was a true loaf. the mushy mixture was dumped into a pan and baked until brown and set. Sometimes, if we had any extra, she would put a few pieces of bacon on top to bake with the loaf and get crispy while imparting that smokey taste into the salmon.

The tuna cakes are a much healthier version of the loaf as their binder consists of egg, but mostly mashed orange sweet potato. You get your veg and your protein all in one, unlike my experience with the childhood versions.

So how about you? Were ‘loaves’ a big thing in your family growing up? Were they mostly sweet, like yummy breads, or of the variety that easily stretched protein a bit further for hungry mouths. Do you make any sort of loaf still as a regular go-to recipe? If you have an outstanding one, feel free to leave the recipe in the comments.

And, may your loaf always hold it’s shape and slice without crumbling to pieces…

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12 thoughts on “A loaf by any other name…”

  1. My mom baked meatloafs when I was little. Then we moved to south Texas and meatloaf left the menu — along with most stews, sausages, and other hearty winter fare. I often think it would be nice to make one myself now, indulge a little nostalgia and all, but I haven’t any recollection left of what went into hers!

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    1. I do think that most households that made meatloaf as a staple used a general recipe then doctored to fit regional cuisine and taste. I wonder what a Texas loaf would taste like compared to our northern version. I bet it would likely have to have a spicy tomato-based sauce, if sauce was used that is…

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          1. The sighting was almost like a game…can I find one of those teensy round vertebrae and nab it before it gets mixed and cooked…knowing if I didn’t I would likely be the one to find it in my piece at dinner.

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            1. TBH, the whole idea of salmon “loaf” gives me the shudders! Perhaps because the only time I’ve ever seen them served was on airplanes, back in the days when meals were served on cross-country flights.

              I will subsist on nothing but tiny bags of peanuts FOR ALL ETERNITY before I will eat a Delta Airlines salmon loaf.

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  2. I was always fascinated by the lemon bread and poppy seed bread loaves my grandma cooked in cleaned-out tin cans: spray the cans with Pam, fill them halfway with batter, and set them in the oven upright to cook, and you end up with these delightful little rounds of bread (and no dirty pans!). I have those recipes somewhere, I ought to dig them out…

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    1. So you went for the sweet variety. I never got many of those. My mom wasn’t really a baker. I do remember the tin can loaves, or at least the idea of them. We would sometimes have baked beans -doctored but from a can- and you could also get something I think was called ‘brown bread’ from a tin. Cute little roll of molasses rich bread to go with the beans.

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