Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Click (04/18/13)
TITLE: Made with Love
By Alicia Renkema
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I hadn't had my mother's Swedish meatballs in over ten years. I had only attempted the recipe once or twice since then, but she was the real pro at this dish.
Her grandparents were born in Southern Sweden. It had become a tradition in their family to have these mouthwatering Swedish meatballs every Christmas Eve along with mashed potatoes and the traditional white meatball gravy. When we had this meal while growing up, we always had Birds Eye Green Beans with Spatzel -- a type of noodle or dumpling with a yummy Bavarian style sauce. When this meal was served in our home on Christmas Eve, it made me truly feel like the celebration was ready to begin.
I was trying to replicate this marvelous meal after not having made it in such a long time because some good friends of ours were coming over for a birthday dinner. When I gave Ryan his choice of what to have, this was the last thing I thought he would choose. I had just been given a really delicious-sounding mashed potato recipe from another friend which included one stick of real butter and a whole block of cream cheese. My meatballs needed some marvelous-tasting-mashed potatoes, so I was game.
Between making the meatballs from scratch, the gravy (which was never really my thing), supervising my two helpers with the mashed potatoes, and learning a brand new recipe called "ginger-glazed carrots"; I had my hands full. This was going to be a challenge but I wanted to make this all come together.
My hope was that the evening would capture a wonderful memory for them with perfect precision so it would click into place, like tumblers in a safe when one has found the right combination. We don't see these friends often. I wanted this meal to evoke a similar rich bonding of tapestry and fellowship when they remembered it later, as my past memories of this meal had always done for me.
My son and I wanted to make an extra effort to show the love we have for this couple, so we added all of the special touches to the foods to enhance their flavors. Thankfully we had begun the process a few days ahead.
The meatballs had their nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. The glazed carrots called for honey, just a hint of orange juice, parsley flakes, as well as the repeating flavors of nutmeg and ginger.
What a wonderful marriage of flavors was lingering in the air; they blended together perfectly "when the emergency happened." The gravy started to look like oatmeal. I was doomed! Everything had come to a grinding halt, my preparations were no longer clicking, they were falling apart.
Frantic, I sent an SOS e-mail message to my friend whose mashed potato recipe we were using, who is also an expert cook. She told me that if I didn't have any beef stock or cubes to add to it (which I didn't) that I could just use water with a little bit of salt. Amazed I stood in disbelief, it was like water turning into wine. The thick-as-mud-porridge — goop, was restored like magic to a heavenly looking gravy. Voila, I had done it! Everyone loved the meal. It was even better in a lot of ways than the meatball memories of my youth because I had found some new recipes and revived others.
Food made with love, a festive touch of flowers or candles added to the table, lend themselves to prepare one for a special occasion. Yet, the best adornments of all are found in the warmth of laughter along with the prayer shared together as friends.This is what makes true fellowship, when no one wants to leave because you've weathered through tough times together knowing there is a cohesion there that will always exist as well as your love for one another. Proverbs 17:17 "A friend always loves, and a brother is born to share trouble," ( From God's Word Translation).
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