Monday, May 12, 2008

Making Meatballs

Do you remember the Swedish chef on the Muppets? He was always making meatballs and singing about making meatballs. Well today I made 5 pounds of meatballs, and I'm a vegetarian! I made them for my husband and kids. They are meatatarians.

I wasn't always a vegetarian. I grew up in an Italian household. I had my share of spaghetti with meatballs, homemade lasagna, sausage and onions, tortellini etc. If there was a pasta covered in sauce, I ate it! My mom did all of the cooking and teaching us kids how to cook wasn't a priority for her. She figured when we were ready to learn we would ask her and learn.

So when I moved it and started living on my own, I was ready to learn how to cook. I asked my mom how to make meatballs. I couldn't really ask for a copy of her recipe since she never writes any of her recipes down. So this how the conversation goes.

Me: Mom, What's the recipe for your meatballs.

Mom: There is no recipe. I just use whatever I have.

Me: Well, what do you usually have when you make meatballs.

Mom: Some ground meat and spices.

Me: (with pen and paper handy staring into my spice cabinet) Like salt and pepper?

Mom: Yeah, a little and some garlic and onion powder and parsley.

Me: anything else?

Mom: Some eggs too.

Me: Eggs?

Mom: and some breadcrumbs.(now she's on a roll)

Me: Ok, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, eggs and breadcrumbs....

Mom: and sometimes milk.

Me: Sometimes?

Mom: yeah...

Me: Ok, how much meat and how many eggs?

Mom: A package of meat and about 2 eggs

Me: What size package?

Mom: The one that's in the store.

Me: Ohhhhh... (still not sure how much meat or anything else to use).

Mom: Then roll it into balls and bake it till its done.

Me: What temperature and for how long? (my pen is still ready to go, but the paper remains empty...)

Mom: About 350 or 400, my oven never works right, ya know. And take it out when its done.

Me: Ok, I'll try it. (This really means I'll wait till next time I visit then I'll ask her to make meatballs and get better notes ;) )

That was about 12 years ago. Now I can make meatballs (with compliments from my husband and kids) and I still don't have a recipe written down. In fact, I think writing this conversation for my blog is as close to an actual recipe for my mom's meatballs as I've ever seen!


Michelle said...

I'm impressed that a vegetarian would cook meat for others. Most I know (my sister included) won't go near anything with meat. Not to pry too much (sorry if I am), but what made you decide to be a vegetarian? Full disclosure: I was veg from about at 11 until a few years after college due to some learnings at camp one year and an ex-fiance's parents' cooking issues, respectively.

Be grateful your mom can cook. We had the gallon ziplock bag of cooked spaghetti in our fridge for meals frequently. My mom simply doesn't like food, so it isn't a priority for her. To each his own....

Cookie said...

I get asked these kinds of questions a lot when I say that I'm a vegetarian. I never liked meat. My family ate meat every day and I was the only one who didn't like it. The more I learned about meat the less I ate. Then when I was 16 I decided to become a vegetarian and my mom wouldnt' let me! She said as I long as I'm living under her roof... yeah, you know how it is. I think she really believed it was just a phase. And here I am at 22 (yeah, like anyone believes that anymore!) and still a vegetarian.
I think I cook meat for my family, even though I dont' like it, because i'm just a "get things done" type of person. I do what needs to be done. But I draw the line at cooking fish. That is one thing I cannot do!
My husband eats anything... and I do mean anything. One day I'll have to tell the story of our trips to Japan and the food they eat over there!

Elizabeth said...

I LOVE that. My Aunt sat and asked m Grandmother years ago about her recipes...many were from my Great Grandmother and didn't have portion sizes...a handful of this and a pinch of that!
I like that your meatballs get compliments. Pax, EJT

Jill said...

I totally believe that you are 22.

This post was funny. It reminds me of when I get recipes from my mom. She will go ahead and tell me the recipe and then tell me everything she does to make it different.
"Oh, you wouldn't really need to put that much flour in it"
"I really like to put more butter in it."
"You shouldn't need to use three eggs, two would be fine."
"I usually use more salt."

My mom uses recipes more as "guidelines."

Good & Crazy said...

Hey funny! I think everyone's mom is that way. And do you find when you cook the thing, it NEVER turns out like you remember it as a kid?

I've been flirting with vegetarianism, lost a bunch of weight, and now I'm an on again, off again type. It's cooking for the family that kills it for me!

Thanks for the bloggy swing-by!

The Dora comment is great btw. I love kid talk.

Barb said...

I'll make those.. we eat meat. hehe - 22 eh.. so I've known you for how long? And you must have been married at 14!

Cookie, your writing is wonderful.