Meaty welcome to the area

Shepherdstown, W.Va., man adapted meatloaf recipe from magazine

Shepherdstown, W.Va., man adapted meatloaf recipe from magazine

May 07, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va - Anderson Clark's home was not hard to find.

The directions were simple, but had I lost my way, I could have followed my nose and arrived in time for the late afternoon interview.

Garlic - strong and fragrant - greeted me at the edge of the backyard.

The kitchen, which Clark shares with his wife, Jan Offutt, is just as welcoming. And so is he.

"There's nothing more than stories. Stories," Clark said while sharing many tales, his wonderful smelling Tomato-Olive Sauce simmering gently on the stove.

A native of Pennsylvania, Clark graduated from Maryville College in 1951, marrying Julia Ann Breen the same day. They had met on their first day at the Tennessee college.


Clark graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and began his career as a Presbyterian minister in Madison, Wis.

Through the years, he's had the same vocation - and several different occupations.

His rsum describes his work as "40 years of entrepreneurial public service and corporate resource and product development."

He's done - and does - a lot.

Business interests include technology companies. His lifelong interest in education, literacy and the arts - along with his association with broadcasting organizations - involved him and his ideas in national literacy and artist-in-residence programs across the United States. He was a college dean and professor. He also led an effort that resulted in 15 U.S. blue-chip companies underwriting the redesign of the kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculum of Vietnam's schools.

Conversation with Anderson Clark is seasoned with detail of remembered situations and flavored with impersonations of people in his stories.

He and Julia moved to Shepherdstown 13 years ago. Her 12-year battle with Alzheimer's disease shortened her career in marketing retirement communities in Pennsylvania and Virginia. He was able to care for her at home until three years before her death in 2003, when she lived in a Hagerstown facility designed to care for people with Alzheimer's.

Clark and Jan Offutt were married last August, and he credits his wife with cooking a weekly salmon. "She really has that down," he said.

He does most of the cooking.

How often are you in the kitchen? Do you cook most dinners?

Yes. I really do. It's not that I'm forced to. I like to make dinner. I get up about 2:30 - 3 o'clock every morning. It's gene inherited. My parents were this way. I go to bed a little earlier. I go to bed around 9. I get an awful lot of my work work done early in the day. By noon I've put in a healthy hunk of time. So I have time.

Where did you learn to cook?

It was just a part of being part of a family. My brother and I had responsibilities. The family had to eat; the family had to clean up the dishes; and everybody in the family participated somehow or other. It wasn't a big deal.

Did you cook with your mom as a kid?

Not really - not that I remember, but I knew what we were doing. One of the great contributions those days was somebody to peel the potatoes.

When did you start cooking?

It was in Beloit, Wis., and I was a senior pastor of a Presbyterian church. I started coming home after the service - those were the days I spoke of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Vince (Lombardi) because the Green Bay Packers were so dominant. I came home and put on the TV, and wow, yippee and goody, goody, goody, but I always felt guilty about not doing something. So I started to make soups, then started to make bread. I really enjoyed it, and felt less and less guilty and even got pious about it after a while.

It was great, then I started to experiment. "Let's see, what can you put in bread you're kneading that might give it a different taste," then I'd try that. Then I started that with soups. I'd get a taste in my mouth. I don't know what it is, but I'll try. If it's wrong, it's wrong.

Who do you make this meatloaf for?

What I'm doing today is making two small loaves, because every time someone moves into this larger community around here - a new neighbor - I always take a spinach-sausage meatloaf to them. They're so tasty.

Then on certain occasions, I'll make one. But I enjoy making them as sort of a welcome.

It's so different. I've never had spinach in a meatloaf, and that olive sauce just smells so wonderful. How did you devise that?

It was from Food & Wine (magazine). It was one of the few recipes I could understand, because the language in those is so "would-be-ish." I'm sure you have to live one of four places in New York City to find the stuff.

Every month I would make two or three different recipes. I would do t0hese for the weekend.

Is this one of your favorite things to make?

Yeah, and it's because of neighbors. Meatloaf is so unpretentious. It's so basic. It's so 'Amurrican.' It's the dollop of taste that jumps up at you.

Do you have a favorite thing to eat?

One of my favorite things is a vegetable salad with Ken's Light Caesar Dressing. I tell you, that is just a cacophony of delight in my mouth. I love vegetables.

I'm addicted to kashi, the cereal, but I support it with All Bran. They enjoy each other. I use fat-free half-and-half to delight the tongue.

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