Friday, September 27, 2013

What's For Dinner??

Is there anyone out there who doesn't scratch their head at some point during the day and say to themselves " I am tired of thinking of another meal to cook"! "What will we have for dinner"? Now that Mr. Dude and myself are the only ones at home ( the birds have flown the nest)  I have learned to adjust my thinking. I am not as organized about meals as I was when I was out working in the world every day. I find that when I do cook, I cook the same volume, and then freeze half for another meal. I have been cooking meals for well over 50 years, it is very difficult to be innovative, and of course there are also some changes and different needs in diets. We do not ever order "take out", it is not really available to us, as it might be in other areas. We do have our share of MickyD's, Chick-fil-a, Wendys, Burger King, Steak and Shake and probably more names I am not familiar with and each one of these establishments have really worked to make their menus user friendly. We are just like everyone else we have our favorites. I happen to love and enjoy Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich, but cooking at home is from "scratch " and  we almost always eat dinner at home.

 Yesterday was one of those days. It was not the day to be thinking of new menus. Our wonderful Technical Mr. Guru had been helping us with our new lap top, which is for Mr. Dude's domain. Consequently my day of work was falling behind schedule. Habit kicked in and I resorted to a favorite,

I am American Born, but grew up accustomed to eating certain foods that are Traditional to a Swedish family. Living in this area has been very difficult, because the things I like the most are generally not available or very expensive. When Ikea opened their large store in Tampa, I went routinely to stock up, but in the last year they have almost eliminated most foods and those they have are available to me in any grocery store.
Last night Swedish Meatballs were on the menu:
My recipe of these is what my Mother, and my Aunt Greta always used.  It is quite simple and every cook adds their own touch.  The Swedish word for Meat Balls is Köttbullar and my Father always referred to them in the Swedish. When I go to the butcher for my Angus Hamburger meat, I also ask for 1 lb of ground Pork and 1 lb of ground veal. The veal and pork are separated in 1/2 lb packages and all meats are frozen unless I am cooking that day.,  Here is my recipe for Swedish Meatballs,

                                           1 lb very good ground beef
                                           1/2 lb ground pork ( which will provide the fat moisture)
                                           1/2 lb ground veal ( this is optional if it is unavailable to you)
                                           1/2-3/4 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
                                            2 eggs-- if eggs are large 1 egg will be enough
                                            1/2 to 3/4 C. light cream
                                            1 1/2 tsp salt--I use Kosher salt, milder flavor
                                            3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg ,
                                            I also add a healthy dash of cinnamon
                                            1/2 cup of warm water
                                            3 tbls grated onion--I often do not add these it is a personal taste ingredient.
                                            3-4 tbls butter
                                             Some may want to use Oleo, my preference is butter
                                             a small amount of veg. oil to add to melted butter

Mix the bread crumbs, water and cream in a separate bowl and let them sit on the side for about 5 minutes. If it looks too wet add a little more bread crumbs. You will be using this mixture with 2 lbs of meat total and that will be a judgment call.  In another bowl take all 3 meats, the onion if you are using it, and your spices and mix them thoroughly, this is not time to be "picky", we are allowed to use our hands for this. Now add the bread crumb mixture, and the egg. Blend this well. This is raw meat we are working with, it is essential we clean the work area and our hands after this part of the prep work. In a large skillet slowly heat1/2 of the butter with a little added oil. This keeps the butter from burning.  When this is hot, fry a small amount of the meat mixture and test your seasoning. You will be able to adjust to your taste at this time. Never, ever  taste a raw mixture!  When it is seasoned the way you would like, start to shape the meat mixture in small meats balls. Unlike Italian meatballs that are usually made in large portions, Swedish meatballs are much smaller. Fry in small batches and transfer to an ovenproof dish which can be kept in a warm oven until you are ready to serve.  If you don't want to fry the meatballs, you can oven bake them, this does change the moisture level somewhat. Either way you decide to do this, the "brownings" and pan residue, or the pieces  off of a tray  will be used to make the traditional brown gray that is always served with these.

If you do not want to make meat balls this same mixture can be used to make a meatloaf. Either way I freeze half of the batch,. Traditionally, Boiled "new" red potatoes are served. Americans seem to like Mashed. Lingon is the condiment--whole cranberries for Americans.  I personally like it all! Of course Crisp Bread or Knäckebröd  as it is in Swedish is always on the table.
Coffee is usually not served during dinner. Bottled Water or a 3.2 % beer. The table is cleared and coffee with something delicious, is served . This is the time for more conversation.  The  part of daily life that is so important for communication with one another. This is when we ask the children what they did today, family news, school news, and family plans. Sadly busy lives and busy schedules have made this time of leisure and breaking bread together less important in some families.  We, as parents and Grandparents are always pleased to see that our children do make a specific time for the dinner hour of sharing, Blessing the food is always the first component, and each person has their time of talking about their day. Crazy schedules in their house too, and some dinners move along quicker than others, lets be honest here, not all conversations are long ones!

I am not a professional cook, I had an entirely different career, but I was taught by two wonderful cooks. I would say I am an old fashioned cook as well. We do not spend much time eating in restaurants, and when we find one with quality food, we keep it on our list for those special nights.  I try  to serve foods that are good quality, as little additives as possible, and organically raised when it is available. We also have at least 1 vegetarian meal a week, but, and here is the but,

Potatoes, Meatballs, Lingon and Salad with Crispbread--
Potatis, Köttbullär, Lingon och sallad med knäckebröd---I don't care how you spell it or say it--that is some good eating!!!!




  1. Sandy, I just finished dinner (spaghetti). Shame on you for giving my appetite a jolt!! My tummy will be forever grateful. Hugs

  2. Thank you, so appreciative of you for following my posts. Hugs to you and Ken

  3. Yummy recipes although on days like that I am sincerely grateful my Mr Dude does most of the cooking!