Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - The Meatball Edition (?!)


I was going to make meatballs for dinner on Wednesday.  By noon it was obvious that the day was getting away from me quickly, but my menu plan said meatballs and, darn it, I was going to make them.  Around 4:00 I finally made it into the kitchen to get started, and found my 3 lbs. of ground meat still frozen in the middle.  Frozen meat does not make for good rolling.  Hotdogs it was.  The meatballs got pushed to Thursday, even though Thursday was even less of a meatball-rolling kind of day than Wednesday had been.  We watched my niece in the morning and had doctor visits scheduled for the afternoon.  When we got home, I got right to it, seasoned and rolled my meat, and had a sheet pan full of meatballs ready to be chilled before the next step.  The next step would have to come after I ran out for groceries though - We were in no milk, no bread, no tissues territory - So I stuck 'em in the fridge and ran out the door.

Is this a really long story about meatballs?  I think so.  Let's start a new take.


Long ago my regular weekly grocery trip started being at Costco instead of a regular weekly grocery store, for obvious reasons.  When your regular weekly groceries consist of quantities like 4 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs, 5 bulk packages of bread products, 6 heads of romaine, 6 pounds of berries, several pounds of meat, and two bulk boxes of cereal.... well Costco just makes more sense.  Anyhow, Costco it was, and with the state of my bare cupboards being what it was, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  
I'll spare you the snippets about the busy store, the unusually long lines (or the fact that I realized I was below E on my way there, and had to do the gas line before I could even go into the store.  oh wait, I said that part anyway.), and those insane people who seem to only enter the store in order to park their cart in the middle of the aisle and eat all the samples they can get their hands on.  We've all been there.  
I'll skip to the part where, while leaving the store at nearly 7:00 pm, dejected and exhausted, knowing my family was waiting for dinner at this late hour, the pizza that was balanced on the enormous box of tissues under my cart (the take-and-bake pizza I picked up when I realized those darn meatballs were not going to be ready, again), that pizza, slipped off the front of the cart, unbeknownst to me until I looked down and saw it at my feet upside down on the cement with the deep well of a Costco cart wheel through the middle of the box.  By the time I got to my van, the tears were flowing.

Time for a new take again, no?


What a sight I must have been!  The belly, the four gallons of milk, slobbering into my cell phone to my husband about how exhausted I was and how sorry I was that he wasn't going to be able to eat dinner before leaving for his baseball parents meeting.  His tone was loving and calming.  Just come home he said, it will be fine.  So I did.


When I got there, the three biggest people were out of commission and/or unavailable to help with groceries.  I called in the reserves:  My 8- and 6-year-olds.  They diligently made trips for all those groceries, teaming up to carry the boxes that were too big for one of them to handle, while I put things away.  I briefly wondered where Isaac was, until he came wobbling into the room, holding a big package of cheese and carrying on all silly-like, saying "Whoa, WHOA!" like the weight of that cheese was going to knock him right over.  They got it all inside, I was so grateful.  I put the cold stuff away, put the smushed pizza in the oven, and left the rest on the floor in the kitchen for someone else.  I was spent.


What about the meatballs, you ask?  Oh yes, the raw meatballs, still chilling in the fridge.  Now well after 7:00 on Thursday night, going into a Lenten Friday, with meat that had been (partially) thawed since the day before.  I had to do something with them.  I pulled them out and set up my plate of flour for dredging and my pan of oil for browning.  I got to work, slipping back into feel-sorry-for-myself mode.
A little voice from behind me:  "Can I help?  I just washed my hands..."  It was Peyton.  I immediately told him no, it wasn't a job for kids.
WAIT JUST A SECOND...THIS IS TOTALLY A JOB FOR KIDS!  Rolling a mushy ball around in powdery stuff and putting it on a plate?!  Hello crazy woman, take help when it's offered!
I called him back and showed him how to do the dredging while I started the browning.  He was a pro, and we had the meatballs done and baking in half the time it would have taken me by myself.


At some point in that hour or so, I went to fill the sugar bowl from the bag I had just brought home.  The boys were all in the kitchen with me, Owen was telling me a story.  As I went to set the filled bowl back in it's place, it slipped from my hand and landed on it's side, spilling sugar all over the counter.
There was an audible gasp from some of the boys, and then frozen silence.  They were keenly aware that this could be my breaking point.  Thankfully, it turned out to be one of those moments that the Holy Spirit is with me and at work.  Beyond my own power, in my state of exhaustion, I was able to process the importance of the moment immediately, knowing how many watchful eyes were absorbing every detail, and react accordingly.  I smiled, called myself a big silly, and asked Owen to finish his story while I cleaned up my mess.
I thanked God later for that grace.


Those meatballs?  Now resting comfortably back in the fridge in a disposable pan, fully cooked, waiting to be reheated and enjoyed as a no-hassle dinner tomorrow at the end of another busy day.
 Sometimes there's more to feeding my family than the food they consume, and more to learning than what's in our books.
Sometimes when we make meatballs, we're really making life.

Visit Conversion Diary for more (non-meatball) Quick Takes!


  1. Loved this. Also I know the mean chef on Hell;s Kitchen says you shouldn't put the meatballs in the sauce raw but that's the only way I do it. Removes a big time consuming step and they taste just as good. Maybe that will come in handy if you have another stressful day where meatballs need to be made. :)

  2. Thanks Katie :). I guess loosening up a bit on the recipe probably would have helped!

  3. My mother started cooking with my evil twin and I when we were 3. It took her 2-3 times as long but we learned how to cook and could throw dinner for the family together by the time we were in middle school.

  4. I know what you mean, Jen! 3 is really young, but I do try to start them early. My older boys make a mean batch of taco meat, and they love making omelets and quesadillas for lunches. I'm looking forward to the day when we rotate through kitchen duty and I only have to make dinner once a week ;).