Cold-Weather Comfort Food

2 mins read
meatloaf on a cutting board

Hot patootie, bless my soul, it’s chilly outside, at least by Californian standards. And gray, raw, mizzlish (mist + drizzle, ICYMI) weather calls for solid, unapologetic comfort food.

Somehow, that cold, green smoothie just doesn’t appeal when wearing Uggs and a down-filled vest.

To the rescue: Meatloaf, an all-American food, as iconic as apple pie. While its origins reach back into multiple historic cuisines (massive shout-out to classic Shepherd’s Pie), meatloaf as we know it today really earned its place as a national dish in our country during the Great Depression, when beef was scarce and costly. For Baby Boomers, meatloaf became the people’s protein during the 1950s, when it was a favorite entrée in newly convenient TV dinners.

The humble but hearty loaf has an irreverent, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink charm that’s distinctly American. Meatloaf as an art form generously integrates leftovers from just about every food group in the pyramid—some recipes even include grains, nuts, and dried fruit for a sweet-savory loaf — and can be seasoned as many different ways as there are jars in the spice rack. Hot out of the oven, served with mac and cheese and a green side salad, it’s the culinary equivalent of old-time rock-and-roll, the kind of dinner that just soothes the soul. Served cold, the next day or the day after, it’s an epic sandwich slice, ideally on classic deli rye bread, slathered with condiments of your choice with a dill spear and a side of slaw.

Dave Kinnoin dedicated his original song “It’s Good to Love Somebody” to his dad, Meyer Kinnoin.
Music: Dave Kinnoin (used with permission)

South Pasadenan songwriter and dog parent Dave Kinnoin shared his family meatloaf recipe along with a bit of legacy: “My dad, Master Sergeant Jacob Meyer Kinnoin, WWII, fed his troops a tasty meatloaf. I’ve served it to my family many times. My dad was in the Army Air Corps. He volunteered shortly after Pearl Harbor. His orders to go overseas were changed three times, and he spent the war training troops in the US.”

Dave also gives a shout-out to Nick’s on South Lake Avenue for restaurant meatloaf that passes muster (we suggest ordering the deep-fried deviled eggs as accompaniment).

And don’t miss our meatloaf-epicure publisher’s local restaurant favs for meatloaf following the recipe.



  • 3 lbs. of lean ground beef
  • Two-thirds lb. Premium Saltine crackers
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • A big onion
  • 5 stalks of celery
  • 8 oz. ketchup
  • 8 oz. K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce
  • 8 oz. ketchup and barbecue sauce, mixed together
  • Other stuff if you feel like it
  • Large mixing bowl

To prepare:

  1. Beat eggs and milk together in a large bowl.
  2. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides.
  3. Crush the crackers with a rolling pin, wine bottle, or your hands.
  4. Dice onion.
  5. Dice celery.
  6. Put meat, crackers, eggs, milk, onion, celery, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and anything else you “feel like” into the large mixing bowl and combine very well.
  7. If it’s too mushy, add some crackers.
  8. If it’s too dry, add some milk. The globs should stick together.
  9. Put in a large baking pan or in two or three smaller ones.
  10. Spread the ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture evenly over the loaf (loaves).
  11. Cover with aluminum foil.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour, 20 minutes. At one hour, remove the aluminum foil.
  13. Cut into it to see if it’s done.

A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Sheryl Turner

Publisher’s Prerogative

Time to end the suspense. These are my picks for the best meatloaf in Pasadena. Send us your choices using the reply form below!

1. Nick’s Restaurant – 336 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101

Maple Glazed Meatloaf – maple chipotle gravy, caramelized red wine onion, whipped potatoes, roasted pearl onions, carrots and asparagus

2. Fox’s Restaurant – 23352 Lake Avenue, Altadena, CA 91001

Cindy’s Meatloaf – with mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, and tomato gravy

3. Smitty’s Grill – 110 South Lake, Pasadena, CA 91101

Smitty’s Famous Meatloaf – with mashed potatoes, gravy and tomato relish

4. Cheesecake Factory – 2 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91101

Famous Factory Meatloaf – with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, grilled onions and fresh buttered corn

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