Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mom's Meatballs - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 41

Mom's Meatballs ...
... or if we're being completely accurate, My Mom's Mom's Meatballs!

First, to all who are moms, and to all who have moms, Happy Mother's Day! Today I'm sharing a recipe, to be sure, but it's really more of the story behind the recipe that I love so much. In fact, even knowing I wanted to post this today, I didn't manage to actually MAKE the recipe to take pictures, so I'm sharing images of my beautiful mom with the story, and trust me you'll want to make these, they're good!


Mom has always had a great sense of style and design!
My mom was born in French Morocco - Casablanca, actually, and I've paraphrased the story of how she talked her way into working on the American Air Force Base when she was still quite young, and how she was constantly woo-ed by all the fly boys, and she met both my father and my future step-father there (just wait for the book!).

Working at the Air Force Base
While she was dating my father, she would bring him home to her family (parents, 3 brothers, 6 sisters - not intimidating at all!) and one of his favorite meals there was my grandmother's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.

Wedding in Morocco with my mom's immediate family - quite a good looking crowd!

So big flash forward, my parents married - three times, to be exact, for families and country, but that's another chapter in the book! My mom arrives to the US, and having never cooked for a household, is working to 'set up house' while also learning English and all the very different American customs. She really wanted to make her mom's spaghetti with meatballs for my dad, so she did what many young housewives do - she called her mom! She brought some of the spices of her family kitchen with her, which was a good thing as the seasonings in this recipe weren't as easy to get in a grocery store in the early 1950's as they are today. She made the meatballs and a nice batch of tomato sauce, but couldn't remember what exactly to do with the dry spaghetti. It was also no small feat to call Morocco in the early 1950's, so she had to figure this out on her own. She knew they ended up in the sauce, so she figured, why not just cook them in the sauce? So into her beautiful pot of tomato sauce and meatballs went the dry spaghetti.

I'll pause here to say that even if I were making this recipe in time to photograph for this post, I wouldn't go as far as a full recreation, because what she ended up with was a nice, big pot of gloppy spaghetti, having sucked up a good bit of the sauce but turning it into more of a stringy, chunky tomato dumpling/sauce. Happy ending of course, because my dad, being the good new husband, happily ate the meatballs!

A long story to say that foods cooked with love, even when they turn into gloppy messes, can be successful, because it's the love that comes out in the end. And if you have these meatballs, that helps, too.

Mom's Meatballs

(another note to say that these measurements are my approximate guesses, as recipes like this come with general instructions of "you need some ...." because of course you've made this enough times to know how much of each you need! As with anything in life, spice to your own tastes, but maybe use a little more than you think is right, and see what happens!)

1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 small onion, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 small potato, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 carrot, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 green pepper, grated, with juices squeeze out*
1 egg
1 piece of day old bread, soaked in water or milk, with excess liquid squeezed out

*you can pulse these veggies in the food processor, then squeeze the juices out together (save them for a soup stock!!).

Put all the prepared ingredients into the food processor and pulse/blend until well incorporated. You can do this by hand, but get your hands in there and make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Roll balls into sizes just larger than a quarter. Heat some oil in a fry pan, and brown them on all sides before transferring them to your sauce pot to continue and finish cooking.

Not doing the sauce recipe here - just add this to your favorite!

My beautiful mama.
Happy Mother's Day to all, but with extra love to my incredible mom, who continues to stir love into everything she does!

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