Our first entry is actually something Mom whipped up a couple days ago for my brother Jake, based on a meal our late Grandpa used to make. Though proud of his Sicilian heritage and scary-good at making Italian-style spaghetti and meatballs with all the trimmings -- a family meal as elaborate as many a Thanksgiving feast -- when he didn't feel like going to a lot of trouble, Gramps liked to make Swedish meatballs.
Now, I'm sure ethnic Swedes will disavow this recipe. The gravy isn't made from scratch. The meatballs aren't seasoned with, gosh I don't know, allspice or whatever it is they're supposed to have in them. Like I said, though, this isn't about the recipe. I mean, it's not a cooking show. It's just home, right?
HERE IT IS:
Mix 2 lb ground beef, one egg, about a cup of prepared dry bread crumbs (the Italian flavored kind is OK, it doesn't matter--use whatever you have on hand), enough milk to soften the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, dried sage, and Worcestershire sauce. Mom isn't giving measurements, so the proportions are up to you. Roll the resulting mixture into golf-ball-sized lumps. Bake for half an hour; Mom doesn't mention the oven temp so let's say 350 F by default. Take out of the oven, cover the meatballs with a big can of cream of mushroom soup, and bake again until bubbly. Put the gravy over your mashed taters.So far our first installment, courtesy of my Nebraska-based Mom. Keep your hanky handy, bachelors. There will be more salivating, and perhaps weeping, in the weeks to come...
Did we mention you're serving this with mashed potatoes? Not just mashed potatoes, but also "green peas alla Grandpa." The peas are cooked in butter with a bit of onion added. When my brother Ryan and I were little, Grandma used to make fruited jello for us. Grandpa, on the other hand, was more inclined to put out a lettuce or cucumber salad. And a good bread. Had to have bread. Vienna or Italian.