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Swedish Meatballs

Life is good, mostly great. 



But today, and lately, lately being most of October, I've had the blues. 
I'm not alone in this, everybody I know is a little tired, or a little weary right now. A little lonely despite being a little too busy. 
I don't know what it is. 
Often, Barbarajo says to me, "You couldn't pay me to be 21 again." 
I think about this often. 

Maybe it's just the time of year. 
Maybe we all just need to drink more.  

On Sunday night, I stood in my kitchen, and made Swedish meatballs. 
I thought about everyone I know, and wondered where we are all going to go 
And the splintering effects of the final year of college, and how maybe you don't get some things back and other things you just pray and pray that you do, and also the hope that you can have a beer on a Tuesday night, and finish the thesis and everything else on time, maybe, if the magic happens, because I guess it's all happening all the time anyways. 
And I thought about-- it is so terrifying, and so good, to be this young. 

So I made Swedish meatballs. 
They are great. 
They are the flavor of comfort. 
Despite the October blues. 

I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo


Swedish Meatballs
from The Gourmet Cookbook

3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 club soda
3/4 pound ground beef round
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 pound ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Stir together bread crumbs, cream and club soda in a small bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes. 
Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400F. Oil two large baking sheets with sides. 
Combine beef, veal, pork in a large bowl. Ad onion, breadcrumb mixture, egg, salt, and pepper and blend with your hands just until well combined; do not overmix. 
Form level tablespoons of mixture into meatballs and arrange about 1 inch apart on oiled baking sheets. Bake, turning meatballs over and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until browned, about 20 minutes total. 
With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a platter. Set baking sheets on top of stove or a heatproof surface. Divide 1/3 cup water between pans and deglaze, off heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Drizzle pan juices over meatballs. 


Chia Seed Pudding

I go grocery shopping on Saturdays now. 
And I cook a lot on Sundays-- sometimes spiced sweet potatoes, always brown rice, once, a disgusting and heavy loaf of bread. 


Life is strange. 
I think about that a lot these days-- mostly because it's unbelievable that we are lucky enough to be alive at the same time-- but also how little control I have, really. 
Often I wonder, how it is that anyone gets so that they have work, babies, house and garden full of fireflies? 
Is it always just falling and falling into things and people?

I guess. 

I like making chia seed pudding on Sundays too-- it's so simple and luxurious-- like eating a sweet caviar, or frog eggs. 
I like it also, because when I was in New York, I would take the F train to Midtown, stop at the same quick breakfast spot and buy a banana and chia seed pudding and hope that the iced coffee would prevent me from sweating through my business casual. 
It was such a lonely, lonely summer. That’s the thing about loneliness --you think-- this is the worst it will ever be, and then, one day, you are lonelier. 
So I took the F, and listened to soul music the whole way there, and ate my chia pudding, surrounded by glass and iron and felt small but often good.  Usually, when the workday was over-- I would walk the long way home-- eat $3 Indian food and sit in a park. 
I wondered a lot about work. 
And how I don’t know how to add value to the world yet. 
And how I don't know how to get there.

I like to think it begins with going grocery shopping on Saturdays, cooking on Sundays. Eating pork-belly sliders and drinking vodka with your sister friends on Thursday night, and then going out on Friday and Saturday too. Or maybe staying in, tucking small children into bunk beds-- waking up early, walking. 
Maybe, after a time-- when the work is more done, and more years passed and everything more known, somehow maybe one day, you go home to a garden of fireflies. 
After just falling and falling and falling into jobs and people. 
And chia seed pudding. 
Ideally, hopefully, chia seed pudding is part of how you get there too. 


Chia Seed Pudding 
via TheHealthyFoodie.com 

1/4 chia seeds
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
maple syrup to taste

In a small bowl or half pint Mason type glass jar, add coconut, chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut water, and vanilla. Stir until very well combined. 
Place in refrigerator and allow to rest overnight. 
Eat. 

I wanted to make you a salad, but all you got was this blog post

I've been listening to a lot of Neil Young lately, and also the kind of funky, groovy R&B that makes me awkwardly gyrate and sway on the subway and street corners-- because the need to dance is so in me. 
I play the song "Harvest Moon" over and over again, and suddenly I am sixteen and driving alone for the first time and singing along, in order to forget how terrifying driving actually is. 


Listening to Neil Young pulls the curtain back, shows me all the wistful, swinging summertime sadness and dreaming that is often too difficult to express aloud, if you can even put words to it. "When we were strangers, I watched you from afar." 
Has a more perfect love story, ever been written in just one sentence? 


So I'm in the mood for holding other people's babies and in the mood for going swimming in the morning, talking the world over with a few beers and I want to dance until there are blisters on my heels. 
I think I'm a little in love with all the ordinary parts of being a person. Which maybe explains why I love things like weddings and birthdays and baptisms-- all marking the passage of time, and time lucky enough to be spent here
Mostly, I want to cook for you-- I wanna make fat salads with mountains of arugula and fresh mozzarella and sliced avocados, all with some sharp limey dressing, and some beverage so cold it hurts our teeth. 


Because I've been sickish, I didn't go to work yesterday, and instead ate a thick croissant egg sandwich with fries and talked to this barista. He was Moroccan, but grew up in Israel. He told me how he had done a 7-month long solo motorcycle trip across the US and most of Central America. All the way to Honduras and beyond. 
"What did you learn?" I asked him. 
He looked me right in the eyes, "I learned," he said, "that it is good to be alive." 





Ragu alla Bolognese


I went to a wedding recently, and the man giving the homily said this thing that I wrote down, he said, "Tell each other the story of being someone who has been loved well." 

Or something like that. 
And I thought, what a beautiful thing. 
The story of someone who has been loved well. 


I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently, maybe because all of a sudden, people my age and a little older are starting to get married, and I’m seeing all these newlywed people pop up in my facebook feed, and also in my real life. 
Some of them are even having babies. 
And it's all so magical and wonderful, but at the same time-- 

what. 

I mean. 

What. 

And the sort of quiet realization that the people you meet and maybe wake up next to and spend your minutes and hours and days with, does it all suddenly matter more? Is this the big leagues of life? Has it always been the big leagues and I just haven’t been paying attention???

It all suddenly seems much, much more real. 

The story of someone who has been loved well. 

In addition to being recently obsessed with the whole concept of marriage, I've also been obsessed with recipes that are stupifyingly simple. Because painfully and perfectly simple things are usually the best. So fuck crazy spices, fuck elaborate and trendy and especially fuck everything to do with quinoa. (I keep trying and I keep wishing and the supposed actual taste-goodness of quinoa keeps not happening.) 


But this ragu. 
This humble meat sauce with pasta. 
This is it. 
Like most painfully perfect simple things, it takes time and a little heartache and attention and also confidence. Because you have to be gentle with it, and you have stir it for forever, and you brown everything, and let juices evaporate, and then, most importantly, you let it simmer for a million years.
By the end of making this ragu, you’re basically in a relationship with it. 
And that’s okay. 

Baby, I’m wishing you good things. 
But more than that, I hope you know that you already own the story of being someone who “has been loved well.” 
You are already that person. 
You really are. 
But if you feel like maybe you need a little boost of confidence, then make this ragu.  
You’ll like it so much, you’ll wanna put a ring on it. 



I love you. 



Ragu alla Bolognese 
via TheWednesdayChef.com and her book My Berlin Kitchen 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan).