Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring lamb meatballs... & living life in the slow lane






I often feel like I'm galloping through life at full speed, and pulling on the reins as hard as I can, to slow down, to really feel my life, to see it and enjoy it in a palpable way. But time has that sand-going-through-your-fingers quality, and for some reason, that sensation seems exacerbated when you have children. How can Pablo be almost 2 already?

So I'm searching. I'm searching for the secret to living life in the slow lane. 

My jasmine brought this to mind. We are blessed with a large wall of jasmine, and its scent pervades our backyard for a couple of months a year. I mentioned it a couple of times recently... I can see it through my window from my desk, where I spend a lot of time. I look at it, like an anchor. I watched it dormant this winter. I smiled when I noticed the pink buds multiplying a few weeks ago. Then the first couple of white flowers came out last week. And today, it's in full bloom. I just wish it would stop there, stay there.

At night, I stick my nose out my window just to smell it a few more seconds. I just want to be with it.

I know the art of slow living has to do with being in the moment, but ironically, the times we are in the moment, are the ones that go by the fastest. And yet that are the most worthwhile. So you see my conundrum.

Or is it about being content? When we are content, life slows down a bit. When we remember it's not going to last and start wanting more, it accelerates again. Life has sometimes felt jerky that way.

So between deadlines and to-do lists, I struggle to find ways to take my time. To reclaim it. It's hard. This blog has been a great opportunity to do that: in order to write the posts I want to write, I have to take my time, slow down. To cook the recipes, to photograph them, to write my thoughts here.

And I suppose that, as always, it's the little things that help the most. Looking for slower moments every day. Opportunities for slowness. Moments of awareness, of enjoyment, or even of sadness or worry. Just being with it. Moments when we do not think of what comes next, but focus on the here and now. Like dancing with Pablo. Gardening (or trying to...). Cooking. And meals.

Meals are such moments for us. That's why I cherish them so much. Far from wanting to get dinner over with, we consciously try to slow it down, trying to be mindful while we eat (I remind Pablo - and myself - to eat slowly several times a meal. It's not about what we're eating next, but about what we're eating now.)

And these things have helped me pull on the reins of time a bit. But it does fly...

I think of my jasmine again. In January, I trusted the rain was feeding its roots to make it grow and bloom when it would be ready (with a hint of impatience). In March, I am enjoying it in all its glory, I take seconds every day to smell it and marvel at it (with a hint of helplessness, at how fast it will fade away). In August, I will accept it has gone through its cycle, and will be grateful for the joy it gave me (with a hint of sadness).

Trust that things will happen as they need to, enjoy the worthwhile moments as best you can, accept the fluctuating and cyclical nature of life.  In short, go with the flow. All a work in (slow) progress here.

In the meantime, we shall have our meal outside tonight. Just for the smell of jasmine in the spring.




I have been enjoying thoroughly cooking from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga (I talked about her inspiring blog when I shared her leek flan recipe a while ago). This lamb meatballs recipe has become one of our family favorites, and is especially appropriate with the spring season (I usually cook leg of lamb for Easter).  We love lamb meat and have it on a regular basis (I started giving it to Pablo around 7 months). It is so flavorful, and this easy preparation really brings out the best of its flavor.




Herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk, with quinoa

Very lightly adapted from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 mn
Cook time: 20 mn

Age for babies: I would offer this between 10-12 mo because of the egg.

1 lb ground lamb
2 slices of bread, crust removed, crumbled (I used a ancient grain spelt bread)
1 clove of garlic
1 egg
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
10 sprigs fresh mint
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup sheep's milk yogurt (or whole milk cow if you can't find sheep)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the quinoa:
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
Leftover coconut milk (*I usually use cans of coconut milk, and using 1 1/2 cup above, there's a bit leftover, which I add in to cook the quinoa)


Peel the garlic, pick the leaves of the mint and oregano off the stems. Place the garlic clove, oregano, mint and parsley in a small food processor to mince them very finely. (Alternatively, you can mince everything by hand).

Beat the egg lightly with a fork.

In a medium bowl, combine lamb, crumbled bread, minced garlic & herbs, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika and black pepper.

With your hands, mix just enough to combine. Form the meatballs and set aside on a plate.

In a large shallow pan, bring the coconut milk and 1/2 tsp of salt to a low simmer. Add the meatballs (they will not be submerged in the liquid). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make the quinoa: in a fine strainer, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear, drain well. Combine the quinoa and broth (and little bit of coconut milk if using) in a medium pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until translucent and you can see the germ spiraling out of the grains, about 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the pan. Stir the yogurt and lemon into the sauce.

Serve the quinoa in bowls. Add the meatballs. Drizzle some of the coconut/yogurt sauce on top.



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9 comments:

  1. We made this dish last night. Delish! Thank you!

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    1. Hi Lindsay, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment to let me know, I'm so glad you enjoyed them! :-)

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  2. Quick note to say that I made the meatballs at the weekend and they were lovely! Will definitely be making them again.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and let me know, I really appreciate that, it's always great to hear feedback on recipes (especially good feedback :-)) Glad you enjoyed them!

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  3. We made this for our small family of three Easter lunch and oh it was lovely! I've never cooked with lamb on my own so it was very fun. My 11 month old loved it and kept saying "mmm" after every bite. :) Thanks for sharing such wonderful, special and affordable recipes!

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    1. Sardines and lamb, Caryn, you are a woman after my own heart ;-) So glad you and your little one enjoyed that! And thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment with your feedback, I really appreciate that immensely.

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  4. I felt compelled to comment on this post as I feel exactly the same with the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes the days go so fast that a week will pass before I realise what's happened. And like you I am also lucky enough to have a wall of jasmine. By August, yours has finished flowering for the year, but here on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, ours is just bursting into bloom. It was only three days ago that our first white blooms opened up and that familiar scent greets us each time we come and go from the house. I find that scent is a reminder to me to take each day at a time and enjoy the sweetness in the details.

    Seems I'm a bit slow but have just discovered your blog and have spent the morning looking at all of your beautiful recipes and pictures. I have three sons, with my youngest being only 2 months old and I have been searching for an alternative to the rice cereals recommended in Australia for infants first foods. I have got loads of inspiration from your site, so thank you so much.

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    1. Hi Kristy, thank you so much for sharing here, it made me re-read this post from last spring. Indeed my jasmine has sadly gone dormant, but when I read your comment, it made me smile and made me happy to know there's blooming jasmine being enjoyed somewhere on the other side of the world!! Reading your words, I felt like I could smell it again for a second, thank you for that!
      So glad you have found and enjoyed the blog, happy if it can be helpful! Welcome! :-)

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  5. Loved your comments about taking it slow and savoring the moment rather than rushing to get to the next thing we have to do. It's crazy that we have to be mindful about staying in the present, but it seems like we're always in a rush. Thanks for the reminder. Meals are a great place to practice this.

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