Adirondack Mountain Meatloaf

How to cook without pot or pan

Queensbury, NY.

Aug. 17, 1999

We have met a lot of people in our travels, and a few have been of sufficient character as to warrant writing about. Such was the case of the brothers, Warren and Raymond Jansen, and their wives, Tina and Darlene. They pulled into the site next to us in late afternoon, in a small tag-along trailer that had many miles on it. I had built the usual campfire between the trailers and invited them to join us around the fire. These were a couple of good old boys out of the Catskill Mountains who had left their more simple and basic woodland home to get a breather from the kids. As the night progressed I found them full of old time witticisms and country law which at times was funny and at times simply unbelievable. Such was the case of Raymond's story of cooking on long fishing trip and how to avoid doing the dishes. Now cooking is not my subject, although I'm so stranger in the kitchen, but Raymond's tales with Warren's continual agreement seem too bazaar to be true. Then Ray leaned back and said "Ya know ya can even cook breakfast without a pan, just put your bacon and eggs in a paper bag and cook them over the fire." "Right", I said, "I think I'm being had!" "Nope", chimed in Warren, "it really does work, if ya know what your doin'." "Sorry boys", I came back with, "that's one I'm not going to buy." Now the "yes you can", "no you can't" started, as we jeered back and forth at each other, which, as in most cases, ended up in a challange which Raymond gladly accepted. "Or we could make mountain meatloaf if ya want." Ray continued. "OK, what's that?", I asked. "Ah, ya just hollow out a big onion, fill it with something like hamburger and throw it in the fire." "Nothing wrapped around it?", I asked. "Nope, just drop it in the coals, it'll cook up jest fine". Ray returned. "Ray, you've got more bull .... in you then a cattle stampede!", I exclaimed in total disbelief. The challenge was out and Ray jumped on it.  "You get the hamburger, I'll get the onion." he exclaimed in defense of his statement. "You do it and I'll write a story about you.", I laughed. The night ended with a little more friendly ribbing and we went to bed. The next evening, as the fire crackled and the embers glowed I waited until Ray and Warren and the wives were settled in around the fire. At the right time, I brought out my package. Two large white onions and a pound of hamburger. I dropped them on the picnic table with a challenging thud and watched for the reaction. A smile crept over Ray's face as Warren nudged him, as if to get him out of his chair. Ray disappeared into his trailer, to emerge with the only utensils needed. A knife and spoon. "Stop!", I cried, realizing that in all the commotion I had left the camera in the trailer. I dashed off and was soon in position to record the momentous occasions. At the picnic table he looked over the onion, and selected the rounder of the two. He inserted his  knife into the top of the onion and removed a half-dollar sized piece of the crown cut in a jack-o-lantern slanted angle-type cut. "Now don't throw away the top", he explained holding up the onion to demonstrate how he intended to replace the top after the onion was stuffed, creating a kind of an oven. I took the second onion and following his lead duplicated his every step. With the top safely secured, he began working on the inside of the onion with the spoon. "It's like peeling an onion from the inside", he commented.

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