Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lezlie's veggie balls

(These really need a better name.) You may have seen my ecstatic facebook post when I invented these today. I'm sure someone somewhere has done something similar, but I hate research. So I dove in, chasing after this taste I had in my head. (Ever get a hankering for something you've never had?) Here's the recipe. It was a total success with everyone in my family and had me singing happy nonsense songs the rest of the evening.

Makes about 36 1-1/2 in. veggie balls

Step 1: Start cooking the lentils.
I made about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of dry lentils. Boil them in plenty of water, as they absorb A LOT. I added a bit of bouillon to mine -- "Better Than Bouillion" Vegetable Stock, if you want to know exactly. I start out with an extra inch or so of water and keep adding water if they dry out before they're soft.

Step 2: While the lentils are cooking, saute in a bit of olive (or other) oil:
- 1/2 an onion, minced
- 2 carrots, minced
- (I'd have thrown in bell peppers if I had them, and maybe garlic)
- handful of peanuts, chopped
- salt to taste

Step 3: Make the balls
Mix the cooked lentils and the sauted veggies with the following to form something like a meatloaf mixture:
- crushed saltine crackers, about 1/2 a package
- oatmeal, maybe 1/2 to 1 cup
- 2 eggs
- (whatever other spices you want. I think I would add some barbecue sauce next time.)
Keep adding the crackers and/or oatmeal until the mixture can be easily formed into balls without being really sticky.

Step 4: Fry
Fry, not saute. Deep frying is probably the fastest, but I hate using that much oil at once. I just kept turning them until the entire outside was crispy and wonderful. The point of this was to make sure they didn't fall into mush when cooked in the sauce. It worked. So fry however you want and set aside to drain. When you're done, they look like this:

(I didn't know I wanted step-by-step pictures until I saw this success.)

Step 5: Make the sauce. Easy. Take 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 1/2 a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce and cook it over medium heat.
NOTE: This is only enough sauce for 1/2 of the "vegetaballs." And 1/2 of the recipe is plenty for 4 people. I tucked the rest away in the fridge for a replay later in the week.

Step 6: Add the veggie balls to the sauce. Cook for a little while. I cooked it for something like 10 minutes, but I'd imagine it's even better when cooked longer. I'd just watch to make sure they don't turn to mush. This is the goodness that was in my pot:

I served these on bread as an open-faced sub sandwich...that I ate most of with a fork...but serving it over bread seems best. That last soppy bite of bread with the saucy goodness is the BEST! I wish I would've taken a better picture, but I really didn't want to take the time away from eating.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

and every eye shall see it

Having grown up in Kentucky, where there is an abundance of natural beauty, I often feel starved for it here among the empty buildings of our town. But then, sometimes, the sky catches on fire and all the rest becomes shadow and silhouette.

It is the beauty that comes as the last tears of a storm drop away.

I am told there was also a great, thin rainbow that stretched over the whole city. I must've been tucking the kids in when it happened. Either that, or the lenses on my face were too small to take it in at once, here seeing the reds, there the yellows, there the blues and purples. (All these pictures were taken within the same minute.) One girl said someone tucked one corner of artist's paper under the old factory and the other under the bridge by the river, then unfolded it straight up to the sky. Another said some movie maker stood a projector screen on its side from the bridge over Kilgore to a cloud as it ran away and flung it open toward the north. Whether it was a silent movie or a watercolor so large it only seemed to move, I couldn't tell, but color upon color stacked and blended as far as the eye could see.

Friday, May 7, 2010

women in the kitchen

Most of you know that, for simplicity's sake, we McCrorys describe ourselves as vegetarians. But this evening, we're preparing a couple of steaks given to us my one of Pat's former co-workers. We rarely have meat (pun intended), so I am not accustomed to making side dishes to accompany it. I ask Pat, "What should I make to go with it?" but I find myself always returning to what is familiar. Solitary vegetables remind me of my childhood. Sunday dinners of steak, baked potatoes, and green beans. Family dinners at my Grandma's that use every burner on the stove, a different (often homegrown) treat under each lid and always cooked apples, spoons everywhere, sweat dripping down the sides of each little pot.

So tonight's dinner is my own collected memorabilia. I kept cooking until there was enough to cover the whole stove. Something green, potatoes, apples, and meat are the stovetop tenants that moved in beside the jar of grease tonight. My mom and my grandma are the cooks. I stir and taste.