Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dinning In - Swedish Meatballs

365 days ago I marked the calendar for November 20, 2013 as "Dinner at Paisans".  Why?  Well of course I am an over-the-top Type A personality, so planning in advance is my M.O.  Why there and why today? It's simple really, today marks what would have been my father's 72nd birthday.  Sadly, his time with us ended in the fall of 2009 when his body simply could not fight any longer.  He was your typical blue collar Midwestern male: hardworking, came from a challenging background, and had quite a few struggles and demons to battle.  Cultivating joy was not a strength because it was not the way in which he was raised.  The "cultivating joy" bit always puzzled my husband when we first met.  Somehow it made him envision my parents lighting candles and meditating or something along those lines.  No, it meant the ability to savor and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.  It may seem basic to some folks, but to the people who populate my family tree it is not a skill they possess.  And so now that he is gone, and I see so many of his silly ways emerging in our son, I made a vow to enjoy his favorite foods on his birthday.  Honor something he was not exposed to, and instill the trait in his grandchildren.  We were aiming for a bit of joy tonight.

Paisans was his favorite pizza place in Madison, and was the last restaurant meal he had before passing on (I had got take out).  Even though it was marked as a dinner for our family tonight, I turned to Plan B.  We are still being very cautious with our budget while the preschool contract works its way to resolution.  And then there is the factor of tired children who would really struggle to eat out in public after a day at preschool.  So we ate at home, where I made a favorite meal of my fathers.  Swedish meatballs, and they were every bit as delicious as I remember.  It was a frugal and sensible way to take time to pause and remember my father, share a bit about him with his grandchildren, and cultivate a bit of joy.

Posting a picture of the simmering meatballs on Facebook resulted in a request for the recipe.  Here it is, and it is truly one passed down by my father's mother to my mom and now to me.  No exact measurements -- a pinch of this, a bunch of that.  Every time it turns out just a bit different than before, but does wonders do warm the stomach on a cold and dark November night.

Swedish Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 cup left over mashed potatoes (absent milk or butter)
  • Dash of salt and pepper
Mix everything together, using your hands is by far the most efficient manner.  Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball or a bit smaller.  Assemble in frying pan.  Drop in butter, and brown.  Once browned, cover 1/3 height with water and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  And that's it.  I always love to serve with cottage cheese and green beans.

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