I started cooking at a very young age, and like Mr. Proust, my early memories revolve around tastes, smells and moments in the kitchen.
The smell of cinnamon and the impossibly glamorous ankle length floral apron of a family friend as I stood on a stool in her kitchen making biscuits. The still cool and dewy floral burst in my mouth eating as many Boysenberries as I could get away with whilst making Jam with my Nana.
And rather oddly, as she was actually a terrible cook, the satin textured porridge that my Granny used to make me in my favourite blue Denby bowl, sprinkled with highly illicit white sugar. The sunshine yellow interior of the bowl, the creamy milk, and the ivory porridge creating a visual symphony at the morning breakfast table, perpetually wreathed in sunshine in my mind.
So once I had a child of my own, it seemed only natural to fan the epicurious fires as young as possible, 18 months seemed a good a time as any to start.
She took to it like a duck to water. Literally. Her primary pleasure was whisking water. ‘Dirring’. When she didn’t have any actual food to whisk she would get her melamine Dora bowl out of the cupboard with its matching cup and pour water from one to the other ‘dirring’ with her little mini whisk whichever receptacle held the water at that time.
She carried her love to Daycare, proudly joining The Lunchcrew, cutting fruit, making bread and getting jiggy with the EasiYo on days she was there.
Around about 3 years old however the wheels fell off the whole cook/eat paradigm and the New Food Ban began. Dinner became a monotonous repetitive “pasta, broccoli, peas and corn”. Every. Day. Fully versed in the benefits of beef and lamb in a small person’s diet, thanks to NZ Beef and Lamb and Plunket; fearing vitamin deficiencies or worse I negotiated.
What if we added meatballs to the pasta? We could make the meatballs together? We could make 60 mini-meatballs and have them in the freezer? We had a deal.
What we also had was a way for me to bypass the taste embargo, by including oregano, garlic, smoked paprika and Worchester sauce in the mix. Hah! Outfoxed the 3 year old.
Through much cajoling, pleading and downright bribery my daughter will now try new foods and graduated beyond 20 acceptable edibles. I actually burst into tears when she earnestly asked if we could have something ‘new and different’ for dinner.
But these are the meatballs that she still adores making today and has a couple of times a week. We have a session, put about 45 of these babies in the freezer and dinner for the next 6 weeks or so is sorted.
500 grams of the best quality beef mice you can find
500 grams lamb mince
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup of brown breadcrumbs
1Tbs Worchestire sauce
3Tbs Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Seasoning to taste-in my house this means NO black pepper!
Put the mince into a large bowl and break it up with a fork.
Add all the rest of the ingredients and get those little hands in to start squishing it all together!
When everything is mixed into a homogenous blob rinse the little hands and leave them slightly damp then roll, roll, roll. We like to see who can roll the most!
Leave sufficient for tonight’s tea, lay the rest in an airtight container, with layers of freezer go-between or freezer film between the layers and freeze until needed.
You can pull out as many as required each night the the rest will remain good for up to 3 months.