The impending two weeks of deer camp took a lot of planning and packing for my old man. He would gather his hunting gear, make sure his bow was sited in perfectly, pack enough food and alcohol to make it through two solid weeks. He was responsible for bringing the army tent and wood burner. Baby wipes were a necessity. I pouted. Two weeks feels like an eternity as a kid.
For months before he would scout and determine the best places for a stand. I would attend these excursions in my too-big rubber boots stuffed with extra socks over my feet. This would be years before clothing outfitters determined they should make hunting clothing that actually fits children and women in the field. Boots with insulation were also an expensive commodity to parents making ends meet so you better be able to grow into them. I wanted to stay those two weeks with him but I knew that was not going to happen. Camp was hours away from home and I had school.
After a couple hunting seasons of missing your dad for two weeks you soon begin to predict the routine. The first few days are exciting. Just you, your brother, and mom hanging out at home. Sneaking candy into the $1 movie night at the theatre. We would prep for the weeks the minute my dad was out of the house. My mom loves sweets and microwave dinners. We got to buy food we would never eat if dad was home cooking. I should have prefaced this statement with the fact that my dad cooked all the meals. My mom cannot cook. My dad would tell the story of the first dinner she cooked for them. She barbequed a raw chicken and put it in the oven. When he came home it looked perfect. He cut into the leg and low and behold a pool of blood circled the pan. Apparently, that was the last of her cooking days.
For the first week we lived off of microwave dinners, fast food, and pizza. I know this may sound like a quintessential American diet, but my dad is a damn good cook. When you are used to family meals of a certain caliber, eventually this meal trend wears on you. In desperation I would ask my mom’s friends if they would cook a meal when we visited their houses. Eventually, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I started cooking. I read every cookbook that I could get my hands on. Over time, cooking has become my hobby and was another bonding experience with my dad. Our bonding over the campfire at deer camps and in the kitchen with dough on our hands making homemade individual pizza pockets. Today, I still have too many cookbooks and I have found that my own tried and tested recipes are blendings of many that I have read or tasted.
This recipe is dear to me because when I said that my mom cannot cook, I should have said she can cook one meal. She can cook meatloaf. For some reason my mom cannot make boxed mac and cheese (she always overcooks the noodles) but she can make a kick ass meatloaf. The cold slices on sandwich bread with mustard the next day are even better than the hot loaf over mashed potatoes the night before. When I asked her for the recipe she sent me a list of ingredients. No measurements. When asked about this she simply said, “I never measured, I just added until it looked good. If you add too much sauce just add more crackers.” Well, folks, I decided to provide you with some measurements. Mom’s meatloaf.
What ingredients do I need?
- 2 pounds ground venison
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
- 1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak seasoning
- 1/4 cup Italian dressing
- 1/4 cup Ketchup
- 1/8 cup Mustard
- 1/8 cup A1 Steak sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Mix all ingredients above in a bowl. As my mama said, "If it is too wet add more crackers."
- Butter a loaf pan and add the mix to the pan.
- Top the loaf with some more ketchup.
- Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes
We enjoy meatloaf with some mashed potatoes and butter. We then use the cold left over loaf for our famous Remnar Sandwich.
Into the wild and HangryOutdoors,
Article written by Jennifer Hiller