Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mama Mia!

I have to confess. I've never made meatballs. Not once. I've made plenty of marinara sauce, Bolognese sauce, and ragu, but never meatballs. In fact, I'm guilty of scoffing at those who would go to the extra fuss. And, if I do say so myself, I've done a pretty good job of it. When your son-in-law loves your spaghetti, why would you mess with it, right? However, part of what this blog is about is trying new things, so I didn't just flip past Real Meatballs with Spaghetti in BCFS.

So, tonight when I got home, I started to make the magic happen. Three kinds of ground meat. Fresh bread crumbs. Dried bread crumbs. Freshly grated Parmesan, chopped parsley...mixed lightly...barely kissed with the fork to blend. And the secret ingredient, of course...water, which Ina Garten herself claims will keep the meatballs soft and moist. Then, the meatballs simmer in a mixture of EVOO and vegetable oil, turned with barely the caress of a spoon, until all sides are browned.

Once the meatballs were done, my attention turned to the sauce. This is not my kids' mama's red sauce, but I'm cooking Ina's way this month. Sort of. I knew right off that there wouldn't be enough sauce, so I doubled it. And pasta sauce without any basil? Um...no. So I added some. Other than that, I stayed true to the recipe, sauteing onions and garlic, deglazing the pan with red wine, then adding the other ingredients, slipping the meatballs back into the pan, and simmering while the wonderful fragrance filled the house. While the meatballs finished off, I dropped some whole wheat spaghetti into a pot of hot water, sliced and heated a baguette, and waited.

Were the results worth it? I'd say so. The meatballs were meltingly tender. Really. The sauce, although simple, was rich. This was comfort food at its best, and my son-in-law may have give this one a try.

Before I go, I have a reflection to share. This morning, on my drive to work, the KMLE 108 Morning Mayor, Dave Pratt, made an offhand comment. It was nothing, really, but it caused me to realize that I miss something very, very much. I miss being the mom of little kids. I love my grown-up girls, and I'm proud of them, but I miss the intensity with which a child (most specifically mine) experiences even simple things. I miss having a tiny sun around which my universe orbits. I miss the simple acts of grace that make up a child's life, and the laughter that echoes off the walls, and the tears that can be quelled with a hug and a kiss.

Life is more complicated now. Their problems are bigger. Mom's hugs and kisses don't solve anything, although these beautiful young women are kind enough to pretend they do. And they did, really, grow up too fast.

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