“Mom, you’re a gamer!” Noah said with no small expression of surprise yesterday. Yes, I am and I have to write about it just to get it out of my system. Terrell would say I am getting off point. Yes, Terrell, I am. But I’m going to give you a really good meatloaf recipe at the end and that should be worth it to you.
So, I started playing computer games eighteen years ago when I was pregnant with Noah. We were among the first people I knew who had a home computer because Mark is just a big lovable nerd. And I found this game called Dr. Rudy. You had to fit pills inside a bottle using your curser. I played it for hours at a time. But then Noah was born and I got kind of busy with cleaning up sour milk and vomit and just put my gaming aside.
Then, unfortunately for me, I discovered games where characters spit balls out of their mouth at targets. Zuma is the best one. I’ve played it thousands of times. Yes, really. And, of course, there was my ill-fated trip to Dillard, Georgia, for a BBQ contest with my friend and teammate Linda Gould. She hooked me on Farm Town. I plowed and harvested until my fingers bled. The thing that really intrigued me about Farm Town is there were real people in the game. Oh sure, they looked like bobbleheads with overalls. But they represented real people who talked to you. I promise you I’m not that lonely. It’s fun. I talked to people in New Zealand and the Philippines and London.
Which brings me to World of Warcraft. Noah, seeing my slavish devotion to farming, urged me to get a trial subscription. That’s like giving a reformed alcoholic a bottle of hooch. First you get to create your character. All the female ones have the exact same measurements as a Barbie Doll. Then you enter the world and you are just surrounded by real people, many of whom also look like Barbie Dolls but get to wear armor and carry around weapons. Most of the players, I am guessing, are quite a bit younger than me. A 26-year-old named Zach hit on me the other day. I was mildly pleased. But I understand why. In the game, I look like Angelina Jolie except with short red hair. Zach actually asked me if I looked like that in real life. Silly boy.
I’m just getting started, but I can tell that this is going to be a long-term relationship. My conversation with Noah, who is at the highest level in the game, has turned from “Clean your fingernails” and “Pick up that pigsty of a room” to “I can’t find a quest in Goldshire” and “How do you kill the kobold miners?” It is a bonding experience that I’m sure most mothers don’t have with their teen-aged sons. Maybe they should. Now I don’t care if his room is dirty as long as he gives me the low-down on the kobold miners.
Glazed Meat Loaf
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 17 crackers)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1. Glaze: Whisk all ingredients in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Reserve ¼ cup glaze mixture, then simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
2.Vegetables: Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook onion until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to large bowl.
3. Meat: Process saltines and milk in food processor until smooth. Add beef and pork and pulse until well combined, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer meat mixture to bowl with cooled onion mixture. Add eggs and yolk, mustard, Worcestershire, thyme, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper to bowl and mix with hands until combined.
4. Adjust oven racks to upper (about 4 inches away from broiler element) and middle positions and heat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat lightly with cooking spray. Transfer meat mixture to prepared baking sheet and shape into 9- by 5-inch loaf. Broil on upper rack until well browned, about 5 minutes. Brush 2 tablespoons uncooked glaze over top and sides of loaf and then return to oven and broil until glaze begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
5. Transfer meat loaf to middle rack and brush with remaining uncooked glaze. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until meat loaf registers 160 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 20 minutes. Slice and serve, passing remaining glaze on the side.