Salad Days with the Meadballs

More than half of the Meadballs gathered this weekend in Erie for the annual Camp Cousins. My daughter was born during one of these gatherings 15 years ago.

But as the kids get older, their schedules become more complicated. The eldest is 18 and the youngest is 13. They live in New York, Virginia, and St. Louis, Mo. You can’t just haul them around wherever and whenever you want to go anymore.

I’m thankful for any opportunity to see the Meadballs, v2 (we are the originals) have a blast in Lake Erie and catch up. Although with SnapChat, etc., they stay in touch with one another pretty regularly.

As a result, I was also thankful for a slow start to Meadballs Meals. But now I’m ready to serve.

A couple of people have commented that this seems like work.

Indeed, it is work. But it is work I enjoy. It is work to go on vacation – you need to plan, pack, and do. Then you come home and pay the bills and do laundry. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to go on vacation. Sometimes doing what you love requires a little hard work.

Are there parts I do not like? You bet. I do not like the dishes. I do not like that I do not have a mechanical dishwasher. The dishwasher is me. Why? Because commercial dishwashers are expensive and complicated. And I am neither (some ex-boyfriends may disagree, but that’s another issue).

Are there parts I adore? Absolutely. I love the challenge of going to the farms and seeing what is seasonal – and then having to come up with a plan. This engages both the math side of my brain (portions, measurements, multiplying, etc) and the creative side (will it taste good, be pretty). And then there are the logistics. Some recipes I know from experience must be made and served immediately. There’s nothing like a poached egg served on a bed of roasted vegetables and topped with hot peppers and cheese – now that’s comfort food. But it won’t make it out of the kitchen, into the cooler, and to your doorstep.

That’s the experience I have from cooking for the past 45 years.

That’s a lot of cooking. But I”m always intrigued by new possibilities and combinations. Twenty years ago I never would have made an Asian chicken salad with tahini and toasted ramen. Yet that was on the menu last week. This week I will feature a flank steak with nectarines; and a flatbread with figs.

Some of these inspirations come from traveling to Italy, Greece, France, and Spain. Some are courtesy of the millions of experimental cooks sharing recipes on the Web.

The possibilities are endless. And that’s what I’m loving right now.

That – and all those little Meadballs growing up.

Didi and Pater surrounded by (clockwise from top) Jack Mead, William Hickey, Nicole Mead Oberle, Emily Mead, and David Mead. Missing are James Hickey, Michael Mead, and Alexandra Mead.

XOXOXO

Order soon!

Marnie

Marnie@Meadballs.com

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Thai Chicken Salad
The original recipe calls for almonds and peanut butter, but because of nut allergies in my family, I substituted toasted ramen noodles or sunflower seeds for the almond topping and tahini paste for the peanut butter.
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add oil to a small skillet over medium heat. Add the broken up (really break these up) ramen noodles. Cook, stirring, until toasted. Remove from heat. If you are going to make this dish ahead, store cooked ramen in an airtight container, and add them just before serving.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, tahini, soy suace, honey, fish sauce or Braggs, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce. If you are just using hot sauce, I suggest you mince a clove or 2 of garlic and add that. Mix well. If it is too thick, add a little water. Taste and adjust seasonings (like more soy or lime).
  3. Toss chicken with about 1/3 of the dressing.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cabbages, carrot, onion, and cilantro. Pour the remaining dressing over this and toss to combine. Serve on plates. Top with chicken, and then ramen noodles. If you have any leftover cilantro, use it to garnish.
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Fridge Monster Spits out Cherries from Freezer

My excuse is I have a very small kitchen. That’s my excuse for just about everything. Like why when you open the fridge door does it look like a wall of food. The same with the pantry door.

My excuse is I can stand in the middle of my kitchen and touch the sink, stove, counter island, and fridge (but not the pantry).

But the truth is, if the kitchen was bigger, it would still be the same. I’d just have a bigger fridge with even more stuff in it. And a bigger pantry with more things in it.

My daughter opens the fridge door, stares at all the full shelves and declares there is nothing to eat.

Of course there’s nothing to eat because the fridge is full of fruits, vegetables, and condiments, like four kinds of mustard and a similar number of hot sauces. There are jars of green, and red curry pastes; red, and white miso; chili sauce, black bean sauce, hoisin sauce; ketchup, regular mustard, and pickle relish; red salsa, green salsa, guacamole; Worcestershire sauce, horseradish; and enough jams to host the queen’s birthday tea party.

There are multiple varieties of carrots, bok choy, Napa cabbage, lettuce, peppers, leeks, onions, cucumbers, a mango, oranges, lemons, limes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple in there.

And, of course, there is butter, creamers, coconut milk, anchovies, preserved lemons, various bouillon, waters, and lots of homemade salad dressings in various quantities.

There is no milk.

I need to get some.

The pantry has no fewer than four types of rice noodles; five kinds of rice; various pastas too numerous to list; most kinds of flour; vinegars of various countries; every kind of food coloring; golden syrup, molasses, Karo; nuts, lots of nuts; baking chips of many flavors; brownie mixes; and half a bag of chips. And a bunch of other stuff that I have to use a flashlight to find.

My daughter likes to stand in front of the cupboard and shake her head in disgust.

She does not bake.

I have all of these things because I grew up in a house with two brothers. Food barely made it into the refrigerator before it disappeared. I baked because cookies lasted a nanosecond in our house.  I baked when I went to college because it was cheaper than going to the bakery. The same with cooking. By my sophomore year, I lived in an apartment. In Boston. It is not cheap to eat out in Boston. But Boston had great markets. I would take the T (public transport) to the North End and come home with bags (also on the T) filled with fresh vegetables, bread, and meats. And shove them into an apartment-sized refrigerator. Sometimes I had more than fit into the refrigerator, which meant I would go on a cooking binge. Of course, the freezer wasn’t very large either. But it only usually had ice and ice cream.

So, clearly I have a problem. This summer, when I start Meadballs as a dinner service, I will have to use a rented commercial kitchen. The concept is fresh seasonal foods. My pantry will need to be minimal, since space will be at a premium. That won’t be too difficult since the fresh vegetables will be the star, condiments will be in supporting roles.

There are times when you can turn take fresh fruits and preserve their natural flavors to use at other times of the year. This week I made some room in my freezer by pulling out a bag of frozen local sour cherries. Instead of something sweet, I turned them into an accompaniment to a pork loin roast that I had grilled. In my case, I roasted the cherries to concentrate the natural sugars, then adapted a recipe from Laurel in Philadelphia to create a conserve by adding them to a mixture of brown sugar, vinegar, miso, mustard, garlic, and port to kick dinner’s butt. Combined with roasted broccoli, this dinner was a great.

You don’t have to have sour cherries in the freezer to make this – all you need is some sour cherry preserves, which is in most grocery stores either with the jams and jellies or in the specialty food aisle.

This will turn grilled pork chops or chicken into a special dinner on a weeknight.

It will certainly be on my menu when the cherry season arrives.

Tastefully yours,

Marnie

Marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Sour Cherry Sauce with Mustard and Miso
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the jam, vinegar, miso, mustard, water, and Port. Bring to a simmer,k stirring until all of the water and Pork have been reduced and all you have is a thick jam - 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Stir in 
a a tablepoon water if too thick.

  2. Can be stored in the fridge for about a week.
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