Though I don’t consider myself a Catholic, I have come to appreciate and observe the Lenten season each year. I believe each has their own personal motivations for participating (or not) in this season and, for me, I see it as a time for reflection on life – perhaps a ‘state of my union’, if you will. This is typically paired with adding or removing something that I may rely heavily or not enough on. Perhaps it is the fact that I enjoy a challenge – I seem to participate in all of these self-bettering holidays – or just the chance to reevaluate the life that I am living and work to make it better. My resolutions for these seasons of life revolve around what foods I will be restricting myself from (meat, animal products, or alcohol), what exercise routine I will be attempting, or how to make my life generally more productive (less tv, more recipe writing, more book reading). However, I am attempting a new approach this time – the broad, and often subjective idea of simple living.
This past weekend, as I bathed in the southern sun and warmth in the quiet botanic gardens of Austin, I could think of nothing else but to start living simply. The impending fate of moving into a remodeled airstream, the realization that working to attain dreams is not free (or cheap), and the need for a cleanse brought this to mind as I sat reflecting on the state of my life.
I have an incredible life. This is said not in an attempt to boast, but in appreciation for the many ways I’ve been blessed. To be able to live comfortably in a ski area in Colorado with a stable job, beyond wonderful husband, and supportive and loving friends and family is more than I could ever ask for. That being said, life often gets caught up in the accumulation of stuff, the next trip or adventure, and not necessarily focused on the appreciation for what we have day-to-day.
What will this look like? I’m really not quite sure. In the three days since Lent has started, I have spent more time reading than watching tv, thought about purchases long and hard before making them, and anticipated spending in the future. I hope this practice will also lead to a de-cluttering of life and our apartment, donating books and clothes, and a new thinking of what is truly necessary.
What does this mean for food? Obviously, my first thought in determining what I will do for Lent was ‘how will this impact what I will be cooking and eating?’ The idea for living simply came after a series of vegan or dairy-free thoughts and while I think that simple living is definitely reflected in diet – one that reduces harm to animals and the planet, mostly plant-based, health-focused – I also believe that using food wisely, as in not letting it spoil, is equally as important. In essence, we will be eating more consciously of what we have on hand and not buying more simply to fulfill a recipe. Moving forward, I still am not quite sure how living simply will motivate purchases at the grocery store but I will update you when that time comes.
However, this also doesn’t mean that we will be eating Ramen noodles every night. I still hold to my ideals that ‘good’ food doesn’t need to be outrageously expensive, taste bad, or be unhealthy. So I will be preparing and posting recipes that are fulfilled with ingredients that are easily on hand. Needless to say, this will be a learning experience. If you have any thoughts on what simply living means, or advice on how to proceed with this journey, feel free to leave a comment!
So, with that in mind, here is my recipe for meatballs. As any aspiring Italian (like myself) knows, it’s essential to have a go-to meatball recipe that can be prepared in no time, from memory for a delicious dinner addition. With the seemingly endless supply of beef that Joda and I have from his family’s cows, this is almost a weekly staple for us. They are simple and beyond delicious.
Makes about 16.
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped white onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup bread crumbs (either homemade or store bought)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. (heaping) parmesan cheese
1 teas thyme
1 teas oregano
1/2 teas salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into desired ball size. Using a frying pan or cast iron skillet, heat 1 T. oil on medium heat. Brown the meatballs on both sides. Add tomato sauce and simmer to finish cooking all the way through.
Serve with pasta or on a roll with loved ones and a glass of wine.
From Jess’ Kitchen