What I Eat When My Wife’s Away
By Jim Gupta-Carlson
My home state of Minnesota is known for a few things: SPAM, Prince, and hot dish. The beauty of “hot dish” is that one word: dish. Everything goes into a single dish.
I love food, particularly the good food that we make with produce and meats and other goods from the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, where I spend nearly every Saturday. I do not love doing dishes.
My wife Himanee is a good complement to my simple tastes – she believes every meal should contain 57 flavors, and every one of them should be prepared and served in its own dish.
Running our homestead by myself when Himanee travels for work is tough. But it comes with some pleasures: Simply prepared fresh food, bourbon, and listening to Prince and Phil Collins without ear plugs. So, as she began planning a trip to India with her parents, I started dreaming about food. Food that can be cooked in a few minutes. Food that can be eaten directly from the pan in which it’s cooked. Food that is healthy and flavorful but lacks frippery. For instance:
• apples and cider from Saratoga Apple;
• carrots from Gomez Veggie Ville;
• Asian greens from Pleasant Valley Farm;
• Potatoes from Sheldon Farms;
• Steak from Longlesson, Lewis Waite or M&A farms.
These are good healthy, hearty local foods that can be cooked easily and cleanly – and without a kitchen full of dirty dishes.
My favorite meals when I’m home alone? To some extent, it depends on the season. But being a Minnesota kid, I’m a meat and a potatoes man. So a steak thrown on the grill, pork chops seared in a cast iron cooking pan, goat riblets, chicken roasted with a little rub of black pepper, paprika, and garlic is the first step. And then we have potatoes, which I like best as fries. I slice them up, wrap them in foil, bake them until they’re soft, and then give them a quick fry. I eat them with catsup or barbecue sauce that I make from our garden. I might also add some horseradish or Ballston Spa Apiaries’ honey mustard to my meat, and I will eat salad greens. Or maybe kale, as long as I can cook it quickly in a pan with nothing more than a little water, lemon juice and oil.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Jim’s Spicy Meatloaf
Recipe by Jim Gupta-Carlson
Makes 6-8 servings
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/4 cup milk*
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 eggs, beaten*
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs*
- 1 pound ground goat, lamb, mutton, or beef*
- 1 pound ground pork*
- 1 cup salsa*
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook uncovered for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the salt, peppers, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce and mix well. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl and stir in the milk, ketchup, eggs, and bread crumbs and mix well.
5. Then add the ground meat and ground pork and mix gently with your hands, just until combined. Place the meatloaf mixture into a greased, 9″x5″ loaf pan, patting gently and evening off the top.
6. Combine the salsa and tomato paste in a small bowl and spread over the top of the meatloaf.
7. Bake the meatloaf, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until it is dark brown and the meat pulls away from the sides of pan. The interior temperature should be 160 degrees F as measured with a meat thermometer. Carefully drain the fat from pan. Cover the meatloaf and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove it from the pan and put it onto a serving platter before slicing.