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When you’re recovering from an illness or surgery, there’s really nothing like a home-cooked meal to warm your heart and hasten your journey on the road to wellness. John, the Midlife Second Husband, made me a wonderful meal of pork chops, gravy, and egg noodles. My neighbor Marge brought over the meatloaf you see here.

Everyone has a recipe for meatloaf in their files, right? My own, which includes chunks of cheddar cheese, has been my default setting for ages. But Marge’s version of this comfort food has inspired me to vary my repertoire. It was delicious—just the right balance of sweetness and tang. I enjoyed several meatloaf sandwiches for lunches the week after my surgery, with nothing other than ketchup to adorn the bread. I’m craving it even as I type this.

Marge tells me that her daughter Sally really gets the credit for this concoction. By virtue of a happy accident, she once erred by adding sweetened condensed milk instead of simple canned milk to the mix. It was such a hit that she changed the recipe to include her mistake. (Marge tinkered further by splitting the difference to reduce the sweetness factor, as you’ll see below.)

Marge, thanks for bringing this to us during my recovery, and for allowing me to share the recipe on the blog. And Sally, thanks for misreading the recipe!

Marge & Sally’s Make-You-Feel-Better Meatloaf

1-1/2 pounds hamburger
3 tablespoons onion, minced
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix meat mixture with hands or fork and form into a loaf pan.

Combine a splash of cider vinegar with
1/3 cup ketchup

Pour topping over meatloaf and bake at 350-degrees for one hour. Serve with
homemade mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Delicious cold, sliced in a sandwich.

Editor’s note: Sally (of Marge & Sally) tells me that the recipe originated from the kitchen of a former First Lady of Virginia—Edwina Dalton, wife of the late Governor John N. Dalton, who served as the Commonwealth’s 63rd governor, from 1978 to 1982.