Back in the beginning, when I first started this blogging malarkey, I spent an afternoon making carrot soup and getting on my soap box about food poverty. Since then I’ve continued to cook smart and I am still appalled by how many people have to use food banks in order to survive.
More recently it has been Christmas (Sorry, I had every intention of wishing all my readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year but, I was too busy having a merry Christmas to write about it…sorry. I’ll try harder next year) and among all the brilliant and indulgent presents I got, the best was the cook book my mum gave me. I hadn’t realised that a) she pays much attention to my little blog or that b) she listened much to me and my sister in law when we bring out the soap boxes and have a good old rant around the dining room table over a brew. But she does. And to prove it she gave me Jack Monroe’s book, ‘A Girl Called Jack’.
I’ll not lie, it is one of the best presents I’ve ever had. If you don’t know who Jack Monroe is, firstly pop over here to find out…I’ll wait…and secondly, welcome; because this must surely be the first time you’ve read my blog. To sum up, Jack’s book is a lot of easy, cheap but nutritious food packed full of protein and vitamins. A lot are veggie and all can be prepared using a few ingredients which are cheap to buy. I’ve spent many an hour leafing through it, sticking Post-Its on the recipes I want to try first. Its not hard or expensive to eat well and although I do enjoy a takeaway once in a while (ok, more often than that if I’m being honest) I would definitely like to have a few more pennies towards other things in life.
My new year’s goal (see how I avoided the ‘R’ word there!) is to eat better and not rely on junk food and buying a sweaty sandwich from work to see me through the day. Before Christmas I found that I was spending more and getting less out of my diet; I wasn’t losing the last stubborn bit of baby weight, I had next to no energy and my skin and hair were dull, brittle and lifeless. As a little kick start I used Jack’s recipes for tomato sauce and pesto and added them to my ‘totally made up and different every time’ meatballs. I won’t give you Jack’s recipes but I will tell you that the sauce and the pesto cost hardly anything to make and they’re delicious. I’ll also tell you to GO AND BUY THE BOOK!
I do love cooking. It relaxes me. It makes me feel magic; chucking a bit of this and that in a pan and making something (hopefully) delicious. Little Monkey likes cooking as well, he loves making pizza with ‘sprinkle sprinkle’ cheese (pre-grated Mozzarella to you and me)but his favourite thing to make is gingerbread.
Anyway, as part of my new goal I have decided to stop neglecting my poor little blog page and devote a weekly spot to cooking. I’ll upload one of my own recipes (when I say ‘my own’ what I mean is once that I got from somewhere else, made according to actual recipe for a while, then ran out of or forgot to buy the ingredients and from then on adapted so much that I can no longer remember what the original recipe was) and hopefully inspire someone to go and cook something different. Win, win!
So with that in mind, here is my recipe for ‘Totally Made Up and Different Every Time Meatballs’
250g lean beef mince (I used 500g because I wanted to make a batch to freeze for quick meals in the week when The Husband is late in from work, if you want to do the same just double the quantities of everything else)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon of chilli flakes (you could of course use fresh chillies; I didn’t have any in)
A good grind of salt and pepper
An egg to bind the mixture together
1 clove of garlic
A teeny splash of oil
Method: you will need a food processor!
Chuck everything except the egg and the mince into the food processor and whizz until it’s a sort of runny paste.
Chuck the mince in a small handful at a time and whizz until its all combined, add the egg and whizz up one last time for about 20 seconds – just enough to combine the egg and make the mixture slightly sticky. It may come to a ball in the machine.
Using a tea spoon and your hands, roll the mixture into balls and put to one side until you’ve worked your way through the whole lot.
Heat a frying pan on the hob – don’t add any oil, even lean mince has some fat in and we added a splash to combine the herbs and spices – you’ll want to spoon out the excess as the meatballs are cooking.
Put your meatballs in to the pan – as many as you can fit with a bit of jiggling space between them.
Cook until the outsides are browned, you might want to sacrifice one or two to check they’re cooked enough on the inside.
Once cooked you can either leave them to cool and then chuck in the freezer in portions for another day or make a sauce and serve with spaghetti, pesto and garlic bread and have yourself a little feast.