I saw this pithy little slogan on the back of a VW at Roots Farmer's Market, this afternoon. It reminded me of some other pithy little catchphrase from that wistful bygone era of golden sunshine yesteryear nostalgiadom:
Are we there, yet?
Now on to the mail. Yes, I get tons of email, which I do try to answer, but I have so many friends and well-wishers in Nigeria that I don't get to them all. Sorry, but you know I love you, and I would give you my bank account numbers if I could remember them. They're all in Swiss, anyway, and I don't speak Swiss.
Nuff said. This letter is from Albert, a man I have known since he was a 4 year old Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger bustin' moves on my diaper clad toddlers who worshiped him.
He wants something more precious than bank account numbers, more valuable to me than gold, itself. He wants recipes. For my meatballs. And for my apples and sauerkraut. I almost hesitate, since it took many years to perfect my secret ways with cream of mushroom soup and tuna fish, but what the hey! Here you go, Albert. Just don't burn down the house, m'kay?
There are many ways I make meatballs, and my favorite is this following recipe:
Italian Salad dressing
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian Sweet Sausage - patties or loose, not link sausages
2 slices of white bread, torn and soaking in milk (squeeze out the milk before mixing)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of Italian herb seasoning
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of dried minced onions
On a large baking sheet, (I usually use a broiler pan) lightly spray with Pam or brush with olive oil. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the meat. Add meat, alternating between beef and sausage. Mix with hands and roll into 1 to 1 and 1/2 inch balls. If the meatballs seem soggy, let them sit awhile, they will dry out a bit. Brush with Italian dressing and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, but do not cook through. Let them braise in spaghetti sauce for another hour in a covered pot. Serve over spaghetti! That's all there is to it! Here is another modification for beefy meatballs:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 can French onion soup
two slices of bread, torn up
1 tablespoon of horseradish or dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
Follow the same procedure and braise in beef stock, caramelized onions and sliced mushrooms from which you can make a really delicious gravy. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.
Pork and Sauerkraut a la Mrs. Jewel:
It took me many many years to perfect this recipe, because my mother-in-law, bless her soul, makes it like the Pennsylvania Dutch types all around her, and knows no better, and actually eating the stuff she made was harder than you can imagine. Thus, I vowed to make it edible. What I do for love. (She doesn't like the blasphemous modifications, by the way.)
Preheat your oven to 325. Sear a pork shoulder on all sides, in a Dutch oven, seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme and sage and cinnamon. Remove from the heat to a plate, when all browned and melt some bacon fat. A good artery clogging heap of it, too. Drain the wretched kraut thoroughly. Not a trace of sauer, understand? Pour the cleaned kraut into the fat and add chopped apples - golden delish will do nicely. Toss and stir, till it ceases to offend. Add a half cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon and a cup of apple cider. Add a teaspoon of sweet curry powder. Trust me, you will thank me later. Center the pork roast and pour the drippings in from the plate. Cover and bake for 2 hours or more. This is one of the finest new year's traditions in our house. I make a sweet and savory gravy from the juices in the pan. We always serve the apples and kraut over whipped potatoes, and there are seldom any leftovers.
Another way to cook the kraut is, believe it or not, with a good smoky sweet barbecue sauce. It is quite delicious.
Finally, Albert asked if I could give him the recipe for my basil and bacon salad.
It is cooked, thicksliced bacon, cut up into smallish pieces, tossed with baby spinach, grape tomatoes, a handful of basil leaves, apple cider vinegar, a little dijon mustard and olive oil, with chopped fresh mozzerella cheese. Simple little salad.
One more thing. Shopping for fresh veggies and fruit at a farmer's market is worth the once a week wait. I got locally grown produce, at really good prices. I couldn't buy 4 cukes for a dollar. Or 2 red bell peppers for a buck at any grocery store. Blueberries from Jersey at 2 pints for 2 bucks? I think not!