Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Words Every Mom Cringes To Hear.



Much as I love Snarky Son and Darling Daughter, a sizable part of me dreads their return from school each day -- because I know they’ll bring with them those Three Little Words.  Those Three Little Words that every mom 'round the world cringes to hear.  What's.  For.  Dinner.

Heaven help me.

The kids know my feelings about The Question, but they can’t keep it to themselves any more than they can chew Doritos with their mouths closed.  Or Frosted Flakes.  Or sadly, even Bubble Yum Watermelon Wave chewing gum.  For the love of Wrigley's.  It's not "smacking" gum.  It's "chewing" gum.  Keep your lips together.  I sometimes wonder whether the problem is the result of an anatomical defect.  Um.  Where was I?

(As an aside, DD just now looked over my shoulder, read the first paragraph, and asked, “What’s for dinner?”  Scout’s honor.)

Earlier this week, DD poked her head into the kitchen to pose The Question.  For once, I was thrilled.  I was all but wagging my tail.  “Doesn’t it smell great?” I gushed.  “It’s that Boeuf Bourgignon you said you wanted to try.  From that movie, Julie and Julia.  Remember?   I blogged about you wanting to try it?  Remember?”

To which, DD distractedly replied, “Oh.”  

Voilà the second reason I disdain The Question.  I hate having to “justify” what’s for dinner.  When I was married, I could get away with saying, ‘Well, your Dad likes it, so we’re having it.”  Or, “Look, I can’t always cook for kids.  You’re going to have to learn to eat like an adult.”

Post-divorce, though, I’m outnumbered.  Kids, two.  Adults, one.

Look.  I don’t mind cooking the beloved Sausage Pasta with Broccoli a couple of times a month.  Indeed, I’m flattered that SS and DD are such fans.  Ditto Tuna & Noodles.  And Pot Roast.  But sometimes, I feel hemmed in by the tastes of people who are shorter than me.  Or, at least, who were shorter than me.  Like yesterday.

You don’t like squash?  Well, OK.  Lots of times, I don’t either. Not too crazy about braised cabbage, limas or cheeses ending in “-reuse” or “-bert” or sometimes even “cheese”?   I can work around that.  You don’t like gravies, syrups, dips, sauces, salad dressings or toppings of any sort?  Say what?  Get me the phone.  Surely there was some sort of mix-up at the hospital.

Today is one of those days.  But instead of accommodating, I’m rebelling.  I made meatballs, which, for reasons surpassing understanding, are never well-received Chez Wiles.  Oh.  Did I mention they were lamb meatballs?  With spinach?  And gracious plenty garlic?  Mmm-hmm.  I didn't mention it to the kids, either.

DD was first to ask, “What are those?”

Herbed Meatballs” I blithely responded, fingers crossed behind my back.

SS then demanded, “You’re not putting them in some kind of tomato sauce, are you?”

“Um.  No.”

“Well good.  Let’s eat.”

And they did.  Go figure.  Kids, two.  Adult, won.  

(They didn’t touch the tzatziki sauce I made for dipping the meatballs, though.  I’m just saying …)

Lamb and Spinach Meatballs
Recipe makes nearly 2 dozen 1 1/2” meatballs. Particularly good served with grilled pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
2-3 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, moisture squeezed out
1 egg
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used panko)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
fresh ground pepper

On cutting board, use large knife to “cut” salt into garlic until nearly pasty.  “Cut in” mint and oregano until well combined.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to combine lamb, spinach and egg.  When mixture is consistent, mix in breadcrumbs with your hands.  Sprinkle meat mixture with cumin and reserved garlic mixture.  Use hands to combine well.  On a small saucer, “cook” about a teaspoon of the meat mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Taste, and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Use hands to lightly shape meatballs – approximately 1 ½” – and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with tzatziki sauce and pita bread.
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