Greek Meatballs and toilet water
What you think you want in life changes after you have kids. Just ask our pooch. She used to rise eager to fetch balls, dig holes, and shred our garbage. Now, like all of us, she’d just like a few minutes to herself, poor girl.
Because every game our boys play requires a monkey in the middle. And that’s her. Our boys roll balls between her legs. They pretend she’s a horse. (They also cuddle with her and rub her tummy in their quieter moments.)
She was envious of our first child, overwhelmed by our second, but is thrilled with the addition of our third. Because now that our 11-month-old can scream, she’s their monkey.
Before you feel too sorry for her, you should know she’s made me her monkey.
Why yes, I will tip this chair over. How fast can you run?
She toddles over to the toilet, shouts, “This! This! This!” and waits until I race for her — because what fun is being naughty if you don’t have an audience? — before slamming her hand in the toilet water. Then she puts her wet hand in her mouth just to make my blood pressure shoot up. And I shudder. And curse.
But her contaminants don’t come just from toilet water. Consumer Reports tested canned food for Bisphenol A (BPA) levels — a chemical compound restricted in Canada and some US states due to potential health effects — and found BPA leaching from the cans in almost all of them, including those labeled organic or bisphenol A-free. BPA is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics estrogen. In animals, it’s been shown to damage the brain and nervous systems, and cause precancerous growths.
It’s hard to protect your children when you don’t know where the dangers come from, but eating fresh and local whenever possible seems to go a long way.
So today we’re making Greek Meatballs. What I like about these is zucchini and bulgar replace the bread crumbs. Not that I have anything against bread crumbs or bread in general, it’s just that today I turned my can of processed bread crumbs around to read the label, and saw corn syrup. My nemesis.
And meatballs are versatile. You can freeze them for spaghetti sauce or use them in school lunch boxes.
Greek Meatballs, adapted from The Atlantic Food Channel:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small zucchinis, grated
- 1 celery stalk, grated
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
- 1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups bulgur
- 1 cup milk
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 3 eggs
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
First, we sauteed the zucchini and celery in olive oil on the stove for 10 minutes. Then, we added the onions and red pepper. Two minutes later, we removed our pan from the heat and stirred in the bulgur and milk.
Then, I mixed the ground beef, eggs, basil, parsley and wine in a bowl. When the bulgur had softened, I added that mixture to my bowl as well. Then I grated the cheese into it, splashed in some salt, and stirred it all together. I set it in the refrigerator (leave for at least an hour so your meatballs set and don’t fall apart while cooking).
You can broil these in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. Or you can do as I did: Brown them on the stove in some olive oil for six to eight minutes. Then set them in your crock pot on low for 2 to 8 hours to finish cooking (tonight our 4 y.o. has ice skating lessons; I love unloading our minivan to a cooked meal and an aromatic home).
Update: I loved how spicy these were, but wasn’t crazy about the bulgur. It made the meatballs crunchy, as if I had put brown rice in them. Next time, I’ll up the meat and lessen the bulgur.
Update on the update: Our pickiest eater loves them! And that makes me love bulgur, too.
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