I always had “major anxiety” (and lets be honest, was a bit jealous) from those particular people who could fly by the seat of their pants, never organize anything in advance, never pre-plan, and yet somehow end up with perfect results, or without any consequence to their malaise. But, as I got older in life, I understood that the notion of “man plans and God laughs” was, oh boy, more than true. Since high school, I would wake up early, go for a run, shower, dry my hair and put on makeup and dress in the chicest of outfits and head out the door, ready to tackle a new day with a smile on my face. If there was a school project, it was finished days before and in perfect penmanship. If there was food preparation for my husbands lunch, it was packed away neatly in a box and placed on his briefcase with a plastic bag and a rubber band to prevent spilling. Dishes were always done, bed was always made. I guess one could say I strive to be ‘just short of needing medication’ in the planning and organization of my life.
I remember one particular day of high school where I chose to wake up at 6 am and actively scrub the countertops of my parent’s (already clean) kitchen as I simultaneously prepared a three course breakfast for my mother and packed my brothers lunch for school. My then friends at the time referred to me as “weird” for trying to get everything done in such a clean, neat and often times ‘obsessive’ manner, even if it meant giving up my “f***ing precious sleep”. As a senior in high school, they issued a new rule that students could go out, off campus, for lunch. Frequenting the local deli and diner and the mom-and-pop pizzeria were just parts of our rotation and I remember vividly having a panic attack in the bathroom of the pizzeria after watching my friend shove the change from her pizza back into her wallet without sorting and arranging-by-number the billfolds of return.
Moving the gear out of reverse, I deal with the now: life throws curveballs; even the best ones in the world (I refer to being the mother of Gabriella) can be just the conduit we need for calming down the planning and structure of our lives, and serve as the best tools in learning how to deal with challenges and lack of time, as well as to acquiesce to cooking (and grocery shopping/preparing) under pressure. While in my pre-mommy days I had the time to delicately arrange the dish on the plate, or spend hours after work cooking a meal, today I have become complacent with the limited time I have to cook my concoctions; this insular cooking tunnel actually better the creative me. I now understand that life’s changes come in waves: those of us who have to work two jobs to make ends meat, and those of us with many children, who lack the time to be gluttonous with their preparation or pre-preparation can too be creative in their cooking and in their diet just as much as those with all the time in the world. Anyone can find the best ingredients for themselves as individuals and just roll with it, from even the smallest egg to the biggest meal in the world.
This week, I concocted a Japanese-style sweet and salty meatball dish (without any recipes) off the seat of my pants, as expected, garnering the best tips from those I envied before me. And, let me say, it was DAMN GOOD.
(** I provide basic elements for the non-recipe, as well as alternatives and options according to what research and trial-and-error have proved best for people as individuals. I do not do the research, just help in the creative process. People know or can find out which ingredients help them be healthy, or react well to them.)
- 550-600 grams of chopped meat (can substitute tofu, chicken, turkey or even quinoa: cooked, drained and dried)
- 1 egg
- Sea Salt
- Bread Crumbs (or chopped almonds, walnuts, wasabi pea if on a no-refined carbohydrates diet)
- Black Pepper
- White Onion
- Button Mushrooms (if can’t find fresh, use packaged or canned, but drain liquid)
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- Pomegranate and Plum Sauce (can use sweet chili, marmalade, strawberry or berry jam if can’t find this sauce)
- Date Syrup (or honey, fresh dates mashed or plums)
- Mix the meatball mix and ingredients in a bowl. Add as many or as few sprigs of basil as desired, and a handful of sea salt. Bread crumbs or bread crumb substitutes should dry the meatballs enough to bind them together. But if you prefer looser meatballs, use less.
- Add to a large pot soy sauce, the plum sauce and the onion and mushrooms and as much water as needed to help create a cooking liquid. More or less mushrooms and onion amounts vary according to taste or budget. The sauce should balance in flavor between salty and sweet, but if one prefers salty or sweet, then taste the liquid before adding the meatballs, and add more of what needs adding by simply eyeballing!
- Roll the meatballs into big or small shapes (according to preference) and add one-by-one to sauce to cook, on medium-high heat. Put a lid over and let cook for around 10-15 minutes, until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Halfway through, flip the meatballs with a large spoon so they don’t tear.
- Serve alongside salad or over pasta or rice, with the delicious sauce soaked in to the carb, according to diet preferences, and of course, which vegetables you can find!
Try this notion out and let me know how it went, everyone.
Try coming up with your own concoctions this week, too!