by Tara Pederson

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity you’ve given me to write for your publication for so long.  It’s something I never expected to do, and I have loved it so much.

Please don’t be a stranger.  I wish you the very best in everything-

As with everything,  there is truly a season.  And what a season we’re seeing these days-  all of us have been making adjustments,  figuring out our lives and soldiering on.  I hope with all my heart you are doing so successfully and with hope in your souls.

I personally, and Savage Skillet, are no exception to this reality.  So many unforseen issues have contributed to my most recent circumstances and decisions. The changes I can control are happening to meet not only my business needs, but the needs of the community.  A community I view to include the entire Mississippi gulf coast, as well as much of Louisiana and Alabama.  (Yes, we cater all over- the more you know!)  But that isn’t what I’m here to say, really, this week.  The time has come for me to prioritize getting my feet under me again, and doing the work of being useful where my business can while also taking care of my family and myself.  Sound familiar?  It’s something most of us deal with daily.

For me, for now, that in part means this is my final article.  It pains me to say it, and act on it, but it’s a necessary step.  So I leave you with my food philosophy, and one last recipe here. (Though certainly not the last I’ll offer!)  I can’t thank you enough for taking time from your days to indulge my ramblings and whims.

Here in the Deep South, people may be Catholic or Baptist, or die hard SEC football fans, but the unedited truth is, food is our religion.  It is the heart and soul of all we do, from birth to death, in every consolation and celebration, it brings us together and solidifies us as a community again and again.

All the best food (and music) are in someone’s home kitchen or in a backyard you’ve probably never visited.  Respect and recognition of the sense of community provided in those places and by those experiences inspires and informs all I do in my business.

It is my belief food shouldn’t be confusing, overwhelming or intimidating-it should accommodate our needs, both physically and socially.  Foods of all kinds, healthy, hearty, ethnic, or comfortable can be accessible, affordable, and achievable.

My approach is often a little wild, slap dash, rustic, off the cuff. The food industry may sometimes see this view as savage, but I embrace the reality that anyone can learn the skills of most trades.  Unbridled enthusiasm and wreckless abandon, however, cannot be taught.

A kitchen without a good cast iron skillet and a sharp knife should reexamine its purpose.  Always learn, grow, and feed the passion that is community.

Meatloaf- (yes, that one-)

Mix together 1 lb each ground beef and ground pork, 1 cup minced onion, 1/2 cup each minced carrot and celery, 1 tbsp each minced garlic, parsley, oregano and thyme, 2 tsp salt, 1 egg, 1/2 can tomato paste, 1/3 cup spicy brown mustard.

Line a loaf pan with bacon strips, overlapping to make sure there are no gaps.  Fill the pan with meatloaf mixture, packing firmly.   Fold excess bacon over the top of the mixture to cover.  Bake at 375 degrees F.  Check internal temperature after 25 minutes.  Continue to check every 10 minutes until the center of the loaf is 165 degrees F.  Turn the loaf out of the pan and top with a mixture of equal parts honey and spicy brown mustard.  Slice and serve with your favorite sides.