Liver Meatball Success!

IMG_1244There is nothing genius or original about this idea: take a food that many (er, most?) people think is unsavory yet believe it is very good for them, and try to hide it in a more popular food item.  Liver is tops on many people’s lists.

The best source of B complex vitamins, iron, folate, copper, and other trace minerals, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  Although hugely important for pregnant or nursing mothers, everyone can benefit by working some organ meats into their cooking routine.

In my house, the days are mostly gone when my kids would gobble up liver and onions.  And while they’ll still eat sauteed heart (oh yes, I’m serious), I must hide liver in a variety of things.  Check out my post for liver-dip, which is popular in the warmer months.

This time, it was meatballs.  While I’ve done this many times in the past, never had I gotten the ratio so exactly right so that the liver was truly hidden, though present enough to enhance nutrition.   I served the meatballs at my daughter’s 2 year birthday party, to about 20 unsuspecting family members and friends.  And you know what? I got compliment after compliment on how good the meatballs were!  All of the kids ate meatball subs with cheese and got little nutrition boosts into their systems, along with the adults.  I looked on from the sidelines with my little secret.  Only at the end of the party did we tell some of the guests.  I guess the rest will find out soon enough now!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe that worked for me.  Be aware that I was making a large batch for a party, so you may want to reduce the amounts to meet your needs.

  • 4 lbs ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/3 lb liver
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsely
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Step one:  Puree raw liver in food processor.  This is very important!  If there are chunks, it can be hard to mix well into the meatballs

Step two: Puree onion and garlic in food processor

Step three:  Mix the ground beef, liver and onion/garlic together with your hand.  Yes, your clean hand.  No kitchen tool that I’ve met can be as thorough and efficient at mixing meatballs or meatloaf as humans first tool.  This is the way my grandmother did it, and her meatballs were outstanding also.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Step four:  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, put into a pot of homemade sauce to finish cooking and incorporate the flavor of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Ahh-chooo!

Crisp air, crunching leaves, and below-freezing in the blue-hued morning.  Squirrels eat saggy pumpkins forgotten on front porches.  Halloween has sprinted by with it’s sugary sweets, making immune systems all the more vulnerable.  This is fall in New England.

For my family this year, it meant colds all around.   We’d just returned from a  warm-climate vacation, and our defenses were down.  Although frequent & recurring colds are rare when living a nourishing lifestyle, even the most nourished person can get the occasional cold.  Whatever the reason, our noses were running here in Boston last week.

True to form, our medicine came from the fridge.  Whenever anyone in my household gets sick, I mix up this concoction and they drink it down several times a day.  The cold is kicked within two days.  I sweeten it up a bit more for the kids, but we all manage to drink some “tea” and kick our colds outside!

Whats so beneficial about this drink?

Garlic & ginger are antioxidant power houses, sea salt has antibiotic and anti-viral properties along with trace elements & minerals to help maintain hydration.

Lemons have antibacterial & antiviral properties, and coming in last is honey with antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant.  Not so bad for a few items you have hanging around the fridge, eh?

Here’s the recipe for this Cold Remedy Tea:

  • 1 coffee-mug full of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1, 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & cut in chunks
  • honey to taste
  • salt
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: a small splash of hot sauce, just for fun

Put water, garlic and ginger on the stove to simmer.  Leave for around 10+ minutes at a simmer.  Pour into coffee mug through a strainer. Add salt, lemon, honey to taste.  Drink hot.

Enjoy, and let these natural powerhouses kick your cold outside into the cold!

Garden lunch

I love New England in the fall!  I love New England in the fall!

Fried eggplantAlong with the crisp air, turning leaves & hot apple cider, much of the loveliness is the gardens.  Mine has been painfully neglected this year, yet due to soil that a DC friend referred to as “black gold,” our garden keeps on giving.  Tomato plants sprouted up from compost after my zucchini died in a summer heat wave.  My basil just gives and gives and gives.  And my eggplants- oh, my beautiful eggplants!  They showed little sign of growth this summer, but in mid-August we noticed some buds, which eventually became large, gorgeous fruits and lots of them.   My roots being what they are, there was only one thing to do with the beauty that my son picked today after school:  fried eggplant.  He also grabbed a tomato, a pepper, and some basil; we’re clearly trying to train him right.

“But I thought frying is bad”, you might be thinking.   But like so many, many things in life- it depends.   Fried food in restaurants are most often fried in vegetable oil, which is rancid and usually very old.  Vegetable oil is also linked to a wide range of diseases.    I’ve known some places to fry in olive oil, but that just gets you a big vat of carcinogens since olive oil is very unstable and oxidizes at high heats.

 
So, what did I fry my eggplant in?  Lard.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Lard from happy pigs that lived on a real, sustainable farm in Vermont.  Animal fats from healthy animals (not CAFO animals) is an excellent source of essential vitamins & minerals, including much sought-after Vitamin D.  Lard is also an extremely stable fat that does well with frying.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 beautiful eggplant
  • a bowl with flour, salt, pepper & parsley to taste.  I used this sprouted flour.  You can also add grated cheese to the flour mixture.
  • 1 bowl with two eggs, beaten.  Add salt & pepper to taste
  • a tablespoon of lard before every batch goes into the pan
  • cast-iron saute pan

Slice the eggplant.  Then take a slice and cover both sides in flour mixture.  Next, dip into the egg so that the whole slice is covered.  Put the slice into a hot saute pan with lard and fry on each side until done, roughly 5 minutes each side.  Repeat with every slice.  Do keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.  Remove from pan and put onto paper towel to drain.  Serve with basil, tomato, fried peppers, mozzarella cheese, or even put on a sandwich.  To turn this into eggplant parmigiana, simply add a tomato sauce & mozzarella cheese.

Real food from my real garden. Yum.