March Gladness

March 6, 2020

March can be a iffy month if you know what I mean. I start thinking that spring is just a few days away especially when the calendar says that it arrives this year on the 19th. That sounds convincing especially when I spot the first sign of daffodils poking up by the stonewall through a still somewhat frozen earth. There is hope. Then, without warning, wham, a snowstorm hits with a vengeance! It’s March madness! Not yet time to drag out the grill which has been hibernating in the garage since November, but I am glad for March because while some parts of the country are truly enjoying warmer days already, here in the northeast, we know better than to trust a calendar that says spring arrives on the 19th. I find this a good month to do a clean sweep of what’s in my pantry.

I become like Sherlock Holmes, inspecting cans for expiration dates; anything outdated goes to the trash. Spices are notorious for drying out too soon. Anything that is six months or older has lost its zip (the oils have dried up) so they need to be tossed too. Those open bags or boxes of cereal, rice, oatmeal, black beans and pasta all should be transferred to glass jars or airtight plastic containers and those sticky jars of honey, and maple syrup should be washed off unless you like attracting an army of ants crawling around them. Cooking and salad oils can go rancid within a year, so smell them and if there is a tinny smell, toss them. Next, march over to your refrigerator and freezer and do the same thing. Freezer burn is a telltale sign that even in a frozen state, foods can go south.Toss. Leftovers should be used up within a day or two. Use up things like stale bread, bits of cheese and herbs to toss into your meatball mixture (see recipe below). I find that a lot of leftovers can also be tossed into soup. Limp lettuce is a perfectexample. Any foods getting mushy or spotting mold must be tossed. By the time you do all this clean out, March will have flown by and you will be glad.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs
Makes 8 Meatballs

1/2 cup bread crumbs from stale bread 1/3 cup heavy cream or half/half
1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced herbs such as basil or parsley 1 -1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Grinding coarse black pepper to taste
8 small pieces mozzarella or other cheese Tomato Sauce (optional)

Put the bread crumbs in a medium size bowl and pour the cream over them. Mix with a fork; the mixture will not be soupy.

Add the ground chuck, pork, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix justto combine the ingredients. Divide the mixture into 8 equal pieces and roll each in the palm of your hand to make compact 2 1/2-inch balls.

Insert your thumb into the middle of each meatball and push in a piece of cheese. Close the meatball encasing the cheese and smooth the top.

Place the meatballs on a rimmed, nonstick baking sheet. Bake them for 20-25 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Serve hot as is or put them in tomato sauce and serve with pasta or as a second course.

Recipe from Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

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