Writing takes you to some interesting places. I’m on Chapter 15 of A Pixie’s Promise, and I find myself writing essentially a Viking feast. So much fun! I’ve been consulting the Icelandic Sagas and The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson for inspiration and accuracy. And, of course, I’ve been diving into my Scandinavian cookbooks for a deeper understanding of the cuisine.
One of the staples of a good Swedish smorgasbord is meatballs, and Swedish meatballs are quite different than Italian meatballs. They’re smaller and they often use milk or cream as binding ingredients for a richer flavor and moist texture that can stand up to long periods of baking. Here’s a recipe I’ve put together by combining aspects of two recipes in The Complete Scandinavian Cookbook by Alice B. Johnson.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
2 eggs (You may substitute 1/2 cup mashed potatoes for one egg)
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup light cream
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper (alternatively, use white pepper)
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
butter or a neutral oil for cooking
Combine all ingredients except the butter/oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll in to small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Brown in hot butter/oil on medium heat in a skillet. Alternatively, skip the butter oil, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degF for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serves 6.
Serving suggestions: If you used a skillet, remove the meatballs and make a gravy by adding 1/2 cup flour to the skillet, stirring to soak up all the fat and to keep from scorching. Add just enough water to make a thin gravy. Place the meatballs in a casserole, pour the gravy over them, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and cook at 375 degF for about an hour, which will thicken the gravy nicely. Alternatively, instead of using gravy, cover with light cream and bake until cooked through and cream is reduced to a thicker sauce.
If, like me, you prefer not to have gravy, you can also use the traditional Swedish condiment for meatballs: lingonberry jam, available in most major supermarkets. Currant jam is a good substitute. Serve with rice or boiled potatoes.
One of these days, I should try the gravy method in an Instant Pot. I bet it would only take 10 minutes or so to achieve the same result.
Just a quick note: this blog is getting an insane amount of spam. I just filtered through it all, and out of 1005 comments, I found exactly one that looked like it might be legitimate. Yikes! So if you comment on a post and I don’t respond right away, it has likely gotten lost in the spam. I will work on adjusting my filters so that this is less likely. Thanks!
The six long weeks of the Clarion Write-a-thon are at last over. I pledged to write five chapters of A Pixie’s Promise over five weeks (I was away on vacation for the first week of the Write-a-thon). So how’d I do?
Well, I didn’t write five chapters. I wrote EIGHT!!! And then some! WOO HOO! I seem to have finally found a sound writing practice, a good rhythm that balances work and life. Creating a plot outline in advance really helped. It kept me moving and knowing what needed to come next, and yet I didn’t feel bound to follow it to the letter. In fact, I added in several subplots and twists along the way. I think this strikes a good balance, using the outline as a substrate on which the story can grow.
On the other hand, I didn’t make my fundraising goal. I’d planned to raise $125, and I was only able to raise $100. Thank you, thank you, to my sponsors, on behalf of Clarion and myself. Honestly, if I’d gotten no pledges, I think I would have lost the will to continue. Also, I promised to match all the donations I raised, so I also donated $100. Thats $200 in scholarship money for the next Clarion class. I feel pretty good about that.
Now the trick is to keep up the writing, and I think I can do that without killing myself or neglecting the other important things in my life, such as my family. In fact, I suspect that I was so successful because I built in time away from writing. I started off the Write-a-thon with a one-week cruise to Bermuda. I refused to write on weekends, because that’s time I spend with my kids. I took another short vacation, five days in Cape Cod, in which the highlight of my trip was two hours lying on the couch watching Property Brothers on HGTV. Well, and also a fabulous meal at Tumi Ceviche Bar in Hyannis. Once I got back and caught up with all the laundry, I had an incredibly productive three days of writing, and I think it was because I was well rested, mentally and physically.
One other thing: I’ve gotten faster. I used to be happy writing 1000 words/hour. On Thursday, I timed myself, and I’m now writing slightly over 1500 words/hour. This means that I can easily just churn out a chapter in a day while also running the kids to camp and grocery shopping and paying bills and doing laundry and cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen – I actually cleaned out the refrigerator this week! Really!
So I am on track to complete the first draft of A Pixie’s Promise by the end of the month. Then I have four months to revise and polish the manuscript before I hand it in to my publisher. This is a reasonable goal, one I’m confident I can meet, even with all the small ups and downs of life. And that I can keep doing this indefinitely. Life is good.