Sunday, March 21, 2010

Giraffe Love

When I saw the giraffes at the Bronx Zoo two feet in front of me yesterday, I decided they were the most majestic animals I'd ever seen.

What is it about giraffes that have such a profound impact? The big teary moment of The Lion King (the Broadway musical) comes two minutes into the show when the giraffes walk out. Brilliant, brilliant costumes that require super stilts skills.

Oh, but to see them so up close! I didn't know their legs are as long as my body. And such funny bloated bellies rest on top of those legs! Their skin is tight and waxy; nature gave giraffes the most magnificent color and amazing spots, the design of which are unique to each animal.

Then there's the giraffe's funny face! So tiny compared to the rest of his humongous self! He has hilarious ears and strange horse-like features.

Needless to say, the giraffe's neck is his greatest achievement. It's a thrill to watch him slowly extend his neck to grab food while his body stays put.

I decided I had to create a giraffe meatloaf.

When I googled giraffe images for inspiration, I found many shots of the animals being intimate with one another. Males and females necking, lovely photos of mothers tenderly leaning their long necks down to lick their young--I quickly became enthralled with giraffe love. And that's why I made the meatloaf you see here.

Clearly, the biggest challenge was--how do I make those spots? I was going to pipe mashed potatoes in an attempt to draw them on...'til I noticed my daughter's string cheese out of the corner of my eye. Perfect! As the meatloaf baked, I pulled off string after string of the cheese and made a plate of strings.

I was worried about the squares the strings would form if I made a checkered pattern, but as the cheese melted on the hot meat, it became malleable! I was able to smooth out corners and make it look more...well, giraffe-y.

Giraffes have lighter faces, so I used the mashed potatoes there and dotted them with golden raisins.

And there ya have it--smooching giraffes.

P.S. The backdrop you see here was taken from the actual one being used behind the giraffes at the zoo right now because they're sadly crammed inside a room barely bigger than they are. What up, Bronx Zoo, get those poor things outside or more space indoors.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Triple Irish Meatloaf

What is it they say--everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day? For this meatloaf I channeled the spirit of my neighborhood. Sunnyside, Queens has a large Irish population. Around here, you don't have to look far to see adorable red-haired children, hear the delightful accents, and eat Irish classics.

The Triple Irish  Component:
1. I ground up Irish soda bread to use as my breadcrumbs. The subtle sweetness and spice added a nice flavor to the meat.

2. This was my take on the traditional Irish Shephard's Pie, which is ground meat covered with mashed potatoes and baked.

3. The shamrock. Duh.I liked shaping the 3-leaf clover--it was like making hearts!

Pesto topped it off and made the whole thing smell good--basil, garlic, cheese. What's not to love? The sauce was homemade, of course. After all, I'm not really Irish. I'm Italian, and we don't do jarred pesto.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Oscar Goes to: Meatloaf Creations

"If you eat me, you'll like me! You'll really, really like me!"

One of my favorite things about this blog is the weekly collaboration with my husband, Joe, who photographs my work. It was his idea to photoshop my meatloaf into a photo of the real statue. In case it's not obvious, just the part in gold is meatloaf.

The yellow-gold color is a combo of pureed yellow split peas and mashed potatoes. I got a nice pasty texture that allowed me to use a knife to carve out Oscar's muscles. Oscar is a hottie.

I had a lot of fun sculpting him because I played with a new technique. Usually I apply the topping--mashed potatoes, bean paste, etc--after the meatloaf is cooked. This time I decided to bake it on. This caused the juices of the meat to color the areas the knife had cut, helping give Oscar definition. (Oscar is made from ground turkey because I gorged on red meat at an Argentine steakhouse last night.)

Have you ever wondered what Oscar is holding? I had to google it. Turns out he's a knight holding a sword. Who knew?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Legend of Zelda Meatloaf

Happy Birthday to My Brother--We Were LINKed By Blood, and Now Meatloaf.

Back in 1989, I used to watch my big brother play The Legend of Zelda on our Nintendo. We watched the cartoon they made out of it, and still quote it in 2010...more frequently than we should admit. Now we're playing the original game together, but on the Wii. We have played Zelda on various gaming systems; we're currently on the latest Nintendo DS version, Spirit Tracks.

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve gaming with my bro. And even though we're now grown with families of our own, when we pick up our controllers (which are wireless--wow), we're kids again.

I have to admit, this may be my favorite meatloaf so far--maybe because I couldn't wait to surprise Elliot with it and thought of his reaction with each element I added to it. This was the first meatloaf I've given away as a gift (I was glad to have a week off from eating it, despite how tasty it is!).

I love you, Ell. Pretty soon our kids will be gaming together.

P.S.Check it out, I'm not the only one to have made Link out of food.

P.P.S. You don't like the meatloaf? Well excuuuuuuuuuse me, princess! Great site for hardcore fans!