Meatloaf with a Banana Mixed in and a Walk with The Duke Down Memory Lane

08 Feb

Twice now, I’ve caught my city-dwelling daughter driving thru one of those “chicken-places” where a black and white spotted cow has to do the advertising. She says it’s for the sweet tea but I know that’s not all.  Hey, I like fried chicken, too!

Last night though, her Dad and I went to the steak place…ummmm…where the beef stands on its own—even brave enough to offer a chicken leg to the fainthearted. (Speaking of….have you entered the contest to win a $25 Gift Card to Texas Roadhouse? Winners will be announced on Friday!)

Each time I enter one of those Western establishments, I want to pull on a pair of cowgirl boots, don a Stetson and head West!

Randy’s Dad didn’t have to go West though. He lived it right here North Central Missouri. As young teens, Dad Britt and his brother rode the trail from Bynumville to the rails of Jacksonville with market-ready calves their father had purchased from neighboring farms. They rode herds over the steep hills and down the dusty roads—mere boys helping to make a living for a family of twelve during the 1930’s. The calves were then sent by train to the big stockyards of St Joseph, St. Louis, Kansas City or even Chicago.  When Dad Britt told the story, he always added that his father traded horses often. “We’d just get a horse broke good and Dad would up and sell it.  If we didn’t have a time….”

Maybe it’s the Western themed restaurant or it could be the fact that Randy’s Dad’s name was Wayne but picturing Wayne and Clifford as young boys driving cattle across the Chariton River and the Middlefork brings to mind the John Wayne movie, “The Cowboys”.  Wayne’s character, Andersen is left “high and dry” when his ranchers run off to a gold strike. In order to get his cattle to market, he reluctantly hires a group of 11 boys with no experience to get the job done. Along the way, the group encounters hardship, friendship, laughter and tragedy, forcing the boys quickly to mature beyond their years (from Lee Pfeiffer’s John Wayne Scrapbook).

(Photo courtesy of

I don’t know if herding cattle or breaking horses did it or not, but Wayne and Clifford were as close as two brothers could be.

(Clifford and Dad Britt are the two handsome cowboys in the middle)

Fortunately, our calves are moved by stock trailers now. Today, for us, “working cattle” involves sorting (by age, weight and gender), pneumonia and virus vaccinations, de-worming, and ear-tagging for identification. It is fun to watch father and son do this with assistance from friends. With today’s facilities, the hardship and tragedies are avoided. But I enjoy the laughter and two-steppin’ from the cowboys!

John Wayne’s Glamorous Meat Loaf from The All-American Cowboy Grill cookbook by Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, Ken Beck, and Jim Clark

  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 cup bread crumbs

  • 1 ripe banana

  • Mashed potatoes (4 servings)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the beef, onion, eggs, tomato sauce, bread crumbs, and banana.  Bake for 1 hour. After your meat loaf is done, transfer onto a platter, and let all the juices run out.  Discard the juices.  In a pastry bag with a No. 6 star tip, swirl the potatoes evenly over the entire meat loaf.  Put it under the broiler until the potato stars on the top turn golden brown. Makes about 6 servings.

Clay O’Brien Cooper’s GRANDMA’S MEATBALLS (from the same cook book)

(Cooper was one of John Wayne’s young trailhands when he was 11 years old and made “The Cowboys”)

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 4 large eggs

  • 5 ounces freshly shredded Romano cheese

  • 5 ounces freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

  • 1 ½ cups chopped purple onion

  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil

  • ½ tablespoon chopped oregano

  • Salt and pepper

  • 3 or 4 slices sourdough bread

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, both cheeses, onion, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Take the slices of sourdough bread, wet them with water, and then wring out the excess water. Add the wet bread to the other ingredients, and mix everything together with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.  Roll into your desired meatball size, place the meatballs on an ungreased cookie sheet, and put them in the oven. Broil the meatballs, turning until cooked all the way through.  Remove the meatballs from the oven.  Place them into your favorite spaghetti sauce to soak up the juices.  They will truly melt in your mouth at mealtime!  Bon appetito!

Makes about 2 dozen good-size meatballs.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Beef Facts, Life on the Farm, Photos, Recipes


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2 responses to “Meatloaf with a Banana Mixed in and a Walk with The Duke Down Memory Lane

  1. Rhonda Dryden

    February 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I love this story and the pictures! I am not sure I am brave enough to try meatloaf with bananas in it, but I might give it a try just because of the story. P.S. The food looks delicious on that plate.

  2. Aunt B

    February 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Love the stories…takes me back to the cattle sale days…I am not sure about the bananas in meatloaf but will save that for another day.


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