It’s Not Even My Birthday Yet!
But look what came in the mail for me!
Joan, it transpires, came upon a Penzey’s catalog I had marked up (this is a bad habit of mine–I go through catalogs marking all the things I’m too cheap or too sensible or too poor to buy, but would get if I ever won the lottery and lost my mind)–and in an inspired flight of gift-giving, ordered me pretty much everything I’d checked: whole nutmegs, adobo, balti seasoning, baking spice, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, vindaloo, poppy seeds, whole Madagascar cloves, tandoori, prime rib rub, and a couple of proprietary blends, the goofily-named but irresistable Tsardust Memories, a Russian-style seasoning (more about that later) and a heady Polish seasoning blend, Krakow Nights.
We had a ceremonial opening of the box, of course, and the kids crowded in to get a noseful of each packet. Tuxedo Boy then carefully alphabetized the lot, from Adobo to Vindaloo, covering himself with glory by correctly ordering Baking Spice before Balti–just 7 years old, and clearly destined for librarianhood! We left them out on the kitchen table so I could gloat over them every time I walked by.
So in celebration of my glorious gift–and my still more glorious, peerless, and adorable Joan, I give you my recipe for Meatball Stroganoff.
1 pound lean (but let’s not be unreasonably fat-conscious here) ground beef
1/2 C bread crumbs *
1 large egg
1 1/2 t Tsardust Memories seasoning
16 ounces of beef broth
1/4 cup hot coffee
8-ounce tub of sour cream
In a bowl, scrunch up the meat, crumbs, egg, and seasoning until well-combined. Roll into meat balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Fry, using a little bit of oil if your meat is so lean that it’s not giving you any greasy goodness. If you don’t live in my house, with children who can sniff every member of the Allium family at 50 paces, you could add a chopped onion. You could also add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (again, if your children don’t object). Continue to cook until your meatballs are a lovely brown all over, and the mushrooms and onions are satisfyingly limp and juicy. Pour in a 16-ounce one cardboard box of beef broth (or two small cans, if you like cans better) and the 1/4 cup of coffee and boil until the broth is reduced by about half. Stir in your tub of sour cream until completely mixed.
Serve with plain boiled noodles and a salad, to the delight of all.
*Listen–make your own breadcrumbs! It’s really easy, and then you can be sure that nothing nasty, like “Italian” seasoning or floor sweepings, made its way into them. Just get a cheap loaf of French bread on sale from the grocery, and let it sit out for a day or two. Then work out some of your anxieties by banging it into chunks and whizzing it in the blender or Cuisinart till it’s crumbs. It’s a snip, and you can feel virtuously frugal and wholesome at the same time. They’ll keep a long time in a lidded jar in your pantry.)