Buying a New Car and Cheesy Savoury Meatballs: a tenuous relationship

10 Mar

I bought a car today. Apparently people think congratulations are in order, but I feel a bit more like puking than celebrating.

I find these big purchases that require loans from the bank are among the most stressful of stressful things, right up there with realizing, as you are halfway down the aisle with your ivory Nicole Miller silk shantung dress, white knuckling your dad’s forearm under a beachfront palapa in the Dominican Republic, that you really shouldn’t marry this person; or signing a mortgage in a fancy San Juan neighborhood that you are terrified of not being able to keep up with; leaning over for your epidural as you are about to become a single mother by choice and realizing you’ve never even changed a diaper…you know, life-changing, oh shit, what have I got myself into moments, irreversible, irrevocable, the type that you can’t later walk away from with a shrug and an “Oh well, that didn’t quite work out as I’d planned, let’s go out for a cocktail.”

That’s how I feel about buying a car. It’s worse now that I have that baby (I am a diaper-changing expert now, but don’t ask me to do it because we are DONE with that).  He is almost five now and barely lets me complete a thought, much less a major financial transaction. But, I did what I could, and picked out the make and model I wanted, and went through the no-haggle credit union thing, and found the right vehicle and test drove it, and decided it was the one. Then I filled out the papers, had my sticker shock and signed anyway, with my heart and breath stuck high in my throat.

I was almost done.

It must be five o'clock somewhere (Lorraine's pina coladas would be very handy right now)

Then the saleswoman just wouldn’t quit trying to sell me other stupid insurance-type shit to protect me from all sorts of dire consequences of all the things that could happen to my car that I wouldn’t be able to afford to fix if I didn’t have the insurance (didn’t I just buy the damn thing because it was supposed to be reliable?) and I asked her to please stop, but of course she didn’t. So didn’t I just turn into a puddle right in that stupid office?

Yes I cried, much to the astonishment of the saleswoman (not to me; I felt it coming a mile off), but at least she sort of stopped with the sales pitch in her frantic search for a tissue and I was able to collect myself, get out of there and go pick up Leandro at his friend’s house where I was fortunate enough to be able to leave him for a couple of hours.

All of this is apropos of nothing, except that when we got home Leandro suddenly began to feel a cold coming on, so instead of going to our single mom’s meet-up which we were both really looking forward to and where I was going to tell my tale of woe to a sympathetic audience and then have a nice dinner with Pam and her kids, we stayed home and so now I am telling my tale of woe to you.

That feels much better, thank you.

If you have gotten this far, it is actually a beautiful 2008 Honda CRV in a Royal Blue Pearl, with a gray interior, with about 26,000 miles on it, perfect for our active, outdoor lives, so the car is exactly what I wanted. Now I just need some help to pick it up on Monday…

As far as the food tie-in, well this is going to be  the lamest transition I will ever write in my life. It is bad, really bad, but hopefully I will never ever ever write another one as awful. So, with my apologies, here goes….

Since I am limp from the emotional wringer of car buying and loan-signing, I don’t feel like making dinner. In the freezer I have these delicious meatballs, which I made with my cousin, Lorraine, a couple of weeks ago (to be honest, she did most of the making while I sorted out my son for bed) and I am very likely going to throw them in tomato sauce over spaghetti for a hearty, comforting dish. And then, from here on in, it will be beans, beans, beans, until I can reasonably fit a new car payment into my sad little budget.

I hope you love them!

Cheesy and Savory Meatballs

2 ¼ Cup plain breadcrumbs

1.5 Cup buttermilk

1.5 tsp unflavored gelatin

3 Tbs water

2.5 lbs lean ground beef and 1 lb ground veal or pork (or a 3-3.5 lb meatloaf mix)

1 Cup very finely minced cooked ham

1 oz (about ½ Cup) Parmigiano Reggiano, or Grana Padano

3 large eggs

6 Tbs minced parsley

6 cloves garlic, minced fine

1.5 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Put oven racks to lower-middle and upper middle racks and pre-heat to 450°F. Set wire racks or slotted oven rack on 2 rimmed baking sheets covered in foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

Mix buttermilk and breadcrumbs in a large bowl and let sit until a smooth paste forms (about 10 minutes. You can stir and mash occasionally during the ten minutes. Meanwhile, put water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Allow to soften for five minutes.

Mix meat, ham, eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and gelatin into breadcrumb mixture using hands. Pinch off and roll mixture into 2-inch meatballs (makes 48 or more) and arrange on prepared baking sheets. Bake until well-browned, about 30 (if you plan on cooking them further in a sauce)  or 40 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through.

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20 Responses to “Buying a New Car and Cheesy Savoury Meatballs: a tenuous relationship”

  1. kathryningrid March 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    You have so much reason to be proud of yourself: surviving car shopping (I do *not* love that process!) and coming out of it with what should be a fantastic vehicle for you; raising your fabulous son; making what sound like stupendous meatballs that can be frozen for just such heavy-duty days’ emergencies. Hurray for you!!! Oh, and hurray for us, that you tell a fine story about it all *and* share this yummy recipe to top it all off. I love the addition of the gelatin and will do that with mine next time too–yet another way to slip some good nutrients in, besides the textural assist it can give. Well done!

  2. creativenoshing March 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    I turn into a complete jerk with car salespeople. They become the enemy.

  3. Karen March 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Buying a car is my least favorite thing to do…the sells people are terrible. You meatballs sound like a comforting way to finish your day.

  4. Gabrielle March 12, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Natalia! Congrats on your new car. My advice: teach Leandro that vacuuming the backseat out once a week is fun. I recommend the big vacuums at the car wash places. I give the kids a dollar if they can get their whole side of the back seat cleaned out before the 25-cent time limit runs out. Not that our car is ever clean….

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 12, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Now THERE’s a thought! Thanks for the advice – especially considering that Leandro eats many a breakfast in the back seat…CRUMBS!

  5. Kendra March 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Love the post Nata! And when you have recovered, I have a real meatball recipe that could be tweaked 1,000 different ways. It is from “The Meatball Shop Cookbook” and it is an excellent beginning, but have to taste it to realize all the other flavors that could be added/subtracted. I grew up with Swedish meatballs, think that these are great, but maybe mango and hot sauce could make them better. No gelatin, please.

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 12, 2012 at 3:10 am #

      Thanks so much for the visit, Kendra! This is the first time I use gelatin in cooking. It adds an airiness that I actually quite liked as a change from the density of my usual meatballs. I will be exploring meatballs further…they are so convenient for freezing and so versatile when you pull them out of the icebox!

  6. Ashley March 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    I think this is the most logical transition I’ve ever heard! The whole time I was reading, I thought “Dear Lord, please don’t tell me she went home and cooked after that!” Glad to hear you found something tasty to re-heat. And just think of how wonderful your car will be for camping:)

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Now that I have recuperated from the shock (somewhat) I am starting to get excited about this new vehicle!

  7. Lorraine March 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Natalia, it’s never too soon to teach a kid to drive…..

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Oh God, don’t tell me that when I go back to pick up the car, they’ll try to send me a gas pedal extender for my four-year-old…..

  8. twbarritt March 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    All I can say is cocktails and meatballs can make any life-altering experience go down easier. Good luck with the car!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      Thanks TW…look forward to showing it to you at the farm one day soon…

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy March 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

      TW I have been trying to leave a comment on your Restoration Farm post…but it keeps rejecting the words I type in to prove I am not a robot! Loved the post and can hardly wait to show it to Leandro!

  9. Mad Dog March 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Great post in spite of it being more about the car than the supper 😉

  10. Ted March 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Good luck with your new car and enjoy it. I have a 2:00 meeting in the city but might be able to help out some other time. Check with me or M.

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