The year Abbott was born was the first year we ate dinner together most nights. The year before, our first year of marriage, Alexi was a resident (still in training) and usually ate at the hospital. We moved to San Francisco when Abbott was two weeks old in order for Alexi to do a fellowship (more medical training). So not only were we getting adjusted to family life in a whole new way that year, we were in a new city and it was my first year not working, aside from all the work I was doing at home. Huge adjustments. I didn't know how to shop or plan for meals for more than just myself. Aside from Sunday evenings, a night we'd always set aside to stay home and cook a nice meal since the beginning of our courtship, I wasn't really used to cooking. When I eat alone I'm perfectly content eating a hard boiled egg and some steamed vegetables for dinner, or even cereal.
Anyway, when we moved back to Seattle at the end of the fellowship, right before Abbott's first birthday, we finally, finally began to settle into a semblance of a family routine. In a house we were going to stay in, with a baby we had developed a sense of how to take care of, for the most part. One of the first things I did was enroll Abbott in a baby music class. I met Karen and her son Nathan at this class, and we're still close. One of our recurring conversations was about what we made for dinner. I talked to her about how to roast a chicken; she passed on her mother's meatball recipe. These are still in regular rotation, and are a particular favorite of Abbott's.
These can be made in advance, and the recipe is easily doubled.
1 pound leanest ground beef
12 oz italian sausage (sweet or hot. I use sweet, because hot is too spicy for my kids)
1/2 c fine dry bread crumbs (you can make these yourself if you've got a baguette left over, or you can buy them in most grocery stores)
1/4 c milk (I use nonfat - use whatever you have)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 c. grated parmesan
1 1/2 t. italian seasoning (1/4 teaspoon EACH dried oregano leaves, dried marjoram leaves and dried basil leaves plus 1/8 teaspoon rubbed dried sage can be substituted for 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.)
1 t. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Combine all ingredients (stir more than you think perhaps necessary, as it takes a lot to work everything into the meat) and form into small balls.
2. In a large skillet, cook the meatballs in 2 T. olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally.
3. Bring a batch of marinara (homemade or jarred) to a simmer. Place the meatballs in the sauce. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point I put on a pot of water to boil, for cooking pasta.
Yield: about three dozen meatballs