Tuesday, December 19, 2017
mostly meatballs, some Garlic Soup, and a bit of spice.
the dentist sent me home with painkillers, and instructions to wait until the insurance company allows him to please do a root canal, because he doesn't want to have to pull my tooth. this should be a fun story to tell as it unfolds...
I'm staying tuned to that 'inner work', my writing, my being all of who I am, which requires my remembering who I am. who am I? my random tellings of parts of that story are both interesting and funny, I've heard.
I had a lovely Hannukah! I keep repeating this like it's some kind of weird occurrence, but it just seems to have been extra-bright this year, and I find myself wondering if it's the first time since we moved here (7 years) that we managed to have friends over for latkes & suvganiot? I don't feel like looking through my journals to figure it out, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's true. well, then, that's why it was lovely, and I'm happy to have that be the reason - sharing special food ceremonies and seasonal rituals with friends! next up is Solstice, and I'm looking forward to seeing who comes for that night of magical connection, and what we'll manage to share through our gathering. what foods to make? what decorations? what gifts to give?
in my quest for winter nourishment, I made up a simple weekly menu to follow, made up of the few things I know how to cook - chili, tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, stir-fry, roasted veggies, broiled chicken... the spicy black beans and rice I made last Monday were pretty good, and the spaghetti & meatballs on Tuesday were So delicious! I told myself to write about that because my meatballs are something that I'm kind of proud of, I guess. I mean, I won't be entering any cooking contests or anything, but I think it's a mark of accomplishment on some scale or other to be able to make a serviceable meatball.
I don't remember the first time I decided to give them a try...surely not in my first apartment, that kitchen sparse with Ramen noodles, Why Pay More brand mac & cheese, bargain basement pb & j fixin's. surely never over my camp stove, or any of the kitchens I passed through as a roaming wanderer. I have no recollections of meatball-making on the West Coast, or while cohabiting with one boyfriend or another, though I do believe it commenced before the birth of my teen. let's say, at some point in the last 20 years, I said to myself "Self, I'm hungry for some of Mom's meatballs". because that's the root of it, you know - I didn't just want 'meatballs'...I could have gotten those at any sub shop or Italian restaurant - I wanted MOM's meatballs.
I loved my mom's meatballs! they were so good, I'd eat the leftovers cold out of the fridge the next day as an after-school snack. delicious...that taste of home, safety, security. the flavor of everything being right in the world. I am so incredibly grateful for my childhood and adolescence - even with the relatively normal level of bullshit that went on in my life, I had things like my mom's meatballs to sustain me through the 'hard' times. so at some point in my life, when I felt like I needed a good dose of Mom's meatballs, I closed my eyes, and conjured a memory of myself helping her make them in the kitchen of the last house we lived in together. I generally tended to avoid the kitchen, as it was Her domain, and she was my arch-enemy when I was a teen, but for meatballs, I enjoyed opening the spice jars, and didn't mind turning on the hot water for her, so I was called upon to assist. and so I witnessed. and so I learned:
one hand squishes the beef in the bowl while the other pours in seasoned bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and an egg. she would turn the pan on low before she started the squishing-together process so it was warm when she started rolling the balls, and lining them up around the inside edge of the pan, then another row inside the first, and another, until the pan was full, and the last few meatballs would have to be placed on top of the wider spaces between the ones in the first layer. when they were mostly cooked, she'd pour a jar of marinara sauce over them, and simmer it for awhile, maybe until my dad walked through the door from work, stirring occasionally.
whatever kitchen of mine I originally made them in, I'm sure they didn't taste as good as Mom's, but I'm willing to bet they were a good approximation. over the years, I believe I've gotten better at judging the texture, or the 'feel' of the meat that produces a meatball that will hold up in the pan (some of my earlier attempts weren't firm enough). my spice blend remains true to Mom's, minus the mustard, because I don't care for it, and don't tend to ever have any in my fridge. the last time I made spaghetti & meatballs (a week ago), my teen went for a third serving, and emptied what was left in the pan, nearly challenging me to Dare stop him - they were His! he Must have them! no worries. my meatballs are now 'Mom's meatballs' to someone who will one day decide he needs to taste that feeling of home, and hopefully feel grateful for a childhood and adolescence free from all but the relatively normal amount of bullshit one might expect.
it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to hope for, to me. last night (getting back to my quest for winter nourishment), I made garlic soup! I saw the recipe somewhere, it was all stuff I had in the house, and it looked relatively non-intimidating to the eternal kitchen novice I tend to be. it tasted kind of blah (needed more garlic), but it was a quick, healthy meal, and it passed the 'teen test' in that he drained a bowl, though didn't go back for seconds (I did). tonight is supposed to be broiled chicken (possibly on skewers) with peanut sauce - I LOVE my peanut sauce! I got the recipe when the teen was a baby, and with the few healthy tweaks I made to it, I could drink it like water! the teen doesn't much care for it, so I'll have to think of some other sauce for him...maybe pesto?
in other news, I recently realized that my estranged brother will be having his 50th birthday in a few days, and I feel a need to acknowledge it in some way, but I don't think I can communicate with him without making sure he knows exactly how much of an asshole I think he is, birthday or no birthday. would a handmade 'happy 50th, you prick' card serve, maybe? or do I need to say more, like 'I wanted to acknowledge your special day, which in no way makes up for all the shitty things you've done and said (or didn't do or say) over the years, to me (your sister), and my son (your nephew). way to treat family, you bigoted misogynist fascist'. that's a tough one that I've been wrestling with, along with the loss of our beloved Thomas O'Malvin the Alley Cat in the context of the wintry weather, but he deserves his own post, so I'll save it for another time.
thoughts? feelings? criticism?