Friday, October 31, 2008

Swedish Meatballs

I'm not Swedish.  I don't know what the criteria is to qualify a meatball recipe as "Swedish Meatballs".  While I suppose that is just a quick 'google' away, I prefer to life in blissful ignorance.  My husband and I went to a large Swedish furniture store, newly opened in Portland as of last winter, and while we absolutely hated the shopping experience (ugh to crowds and rat mazes!) we did have a nice lunch in the large cafeteria.  

I'll be honest.  I don't really understand the allure of cafeteria-style dining.  I hate buffets.   I don't like the idea of food that has been prepared with the idea of serving hundreds.  I guess I'm too snobby.  Anyway, the meatballs at this large furniture store were actually okay.  But I was convinced I could do better.  I really want to be the kind of cook that creates dishes that my husband says, "Wow!  That's the best _______ I've ever had!"  It hasn't happened yet, but I'll keep trying. 

The actual meatball isn't the challenging part.  The whole composition of a meatball sets it up to be tasty:  meat, onion, breadcrumbs, etc.  It is kind of hard to make a bad meatball - if you remember to sear it in the skillet first and finish it in the oven.  The tricky part is the sauce.  The previously mentioned furniture store meatballs have a creamy sauce that while mass-produced, tastes pretty yummy.  I can't stand to put heavy cream or half and half in anything, so I was determined to create something that mimicked that but didn't actually include said ingredients.  My solution is the following recipe.  I think it sounds a little weird, but tastes really good.

Mindy's Swedish Meatballs  (BTW, this is the first recipe I can name after myself!)
*note:  I don't actually measure the ingredients.   Measures are approximate.

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix beef, egg, milk, garlic, onion and breadcrumbs together.  Shape into 1" balls and brown in hot skillet.  Transfer partially-cooked meatballs to cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until thoroughly cooked. (About 20 minutes)

Put 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup cottage cheese in food processor and blend until smooth.  You can skip this step, but it makes the incorporation at the end take a long time and a lot of whisking.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet you used to brown meatballs.  Add 1 tablespoon flour and cook 1 minute.  Add 1 1/2 cups beef broth.  Whisk together until smooth and cook until slightly thickened.  Add black pepper and worcestershire sauce to taste.  Add blended sour cream/cottage cheese mixture and cook over low heat until thickened.  Add cooked meatballs to sauce and heat through.

Serve meatballs and sauce over cooked egg noodles.  (I use whole wheat noodles.  Yummy.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008


After several months of putting it off, I finally called my doctor to schedule an appointment.  I'm not sick.  I'm not injured.  I'm not in any pain (other than the ridiculous neck pain - see previous post.)  I'm not seeing double.  No unusual moles.  Nope.  Perfectly healthy.  My only reason for seeing the doctor is to renew two prescriptions I've been taking for well over 8 years.  Allergy medicine and inhaler.  In fact, I've been on some sort of inhaler for 26 (gulp!) years.  But my prescriptions have expired and now I must follow the rules and visit the doctor for what will be, in my opinion, a completely unnecessary appointment.

Though I understand liability and all that jazz, I don't understand why I have to go through these shenanigans every year.  I will be weighed (ugh), have my blood pressure taking (probably will be high to match my level of irritation) and asked a litany of questions about my allergies and wheezing.  Nothing has changed in years.  All the information will be the same.  In the end, the doctor will write out 2 prescriptions and send me on my merry way.  I'll get my prescriptions and everything will be as normal until the insurance statement arrives in the mail.  This is when I will get grumpy all over again.

Don't get me wrong.  My husband and I are truly blessed to have great medical insurance.  And we're double covered, so my mind, along with my litany of medical "quirks", is at ease.  I had surgery a year ago that required an extended hospital stay, and bills and coverage were never a concern.  That being said, the whole system irks me.  My teeny little visit, which could be handled over the phone, comes with a pretty hefty price tag.  My husband had a similar experience and I was so shocked by the cost of a 5 minute conversation, I called the office to make sure it had been billed correctly.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me:  Can you explain this recent charge?

Billing Person:  It is the standard charge for an office visit.

Me:  But it was only to renew a prescription.  It took just a couple of minutes.

BP:  It is the standard charge for an office visit.

Me:  But he didn't see the doctor.  He saw the NP.

BP:  It is the standard charge for an office visit.  (OK, it didn't go EXACTLY like this...)

Me:  It seems pretty expensive for what took place.

BP:  Did your insurance cover it?

Me:  Yes.  But...

BP:  Did you have to pay a percentage?

Me:  No.  But...

BP:  This is the way it works.  If you didn't have insurance, we would adjust the bill.  This compensates for those without insurance.  (I guess I didn't think they'd actually admit that.)

Me:  (Silence.)  Um, okay.

The billing person was very nice and all, it just seems wrong.  And maybe it is how the system works, but it still ticks me off.  Yeah, it is nice and all that I'm at the end of the spectrum where I have no out of pocket costs and hence, no worries, but it makes me incredibly sad that there is a spectrum.  Because I know people are at the other end, and that worries me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Pillows, Old(er) Body

About a week ago I woke up with a very sore neck.  Couldn't turn my head, ached all day, etc.  I slathered on Icy Hot, popped some Advil, and fully expected that I would wake up the next day fully recovered.  Afterall, every other time I've woken up with a stiff neck it just takes a good night sleep and...Voila! all better.  Alas, this was not the case.  Because I have, in fact, started to age.

It happens to all of us.  We notice it at different times, for different reasons.  Squinting at the newspaper, tiny wrinkles at the corners of our mouths, one tiny cookie turning into tight pants and an unattractive roll at the top of our jeans.  You know what I'm talking about.  It is inevitable.  Just when we think that maybe we have dodged the dreaded age-bullet, another gray hair sprouts up on our heads just to p$ss us off.  Anyway, back to my neck.

The pain lasted in various degrees for about two weeks.  This is when I decided that we need a new bed.  Unfortunately, my husband and our bank account do not agree with my logic.  So, off to the store to buy a new pillow.    First I checked online for advice and found out that if you fold your pillow in half and it doesn't unfold on its own, it needs to be replaced.  Pillows should definitely be replaced every 2-3 years, which struck me as funny.  I think I had my pillow on my bed as a child for, well, my entire childhood.  While gross when you think about it, I had not a single stiff neck.  And now, this pillow, which is only a year and a half old, is the biggest pain in the neck of all.

In the end, I bought a contour pillow.  And while I hope it solves my sore neck woes, it will also serve as a reminder that I am young no more.

¡Bienvenidos! (Translation...Welcome!)

Welcome to my new blog!  

After several months of posting on behalf of my dog Teddy, I decided he isn't the only one who has something to say.  While I can't guarantee that all my posts will be interesting, witty, or noteworthy, I can guarantee that everything I have to say will come straight from my heart.