Mushroom and pecan “meatballs”
I have a shocking confession to make. Every morning in the wintertime, when it’s too cold and icy to scamper on the towpath, I exercise by jumping up and down and waving around two cans of beans. As embarrassing as this may seem, it is not the shocking confession. I watch shows on the computer while I jump up and down, to make the time go faster and for my general edification. I catch up on the news of the world with The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I watch some worthy well-written sitcoms. And sometimes I watch insipid trash. That’s my confession! It’s horrible, I know! We only have so many hours in the day and I waste it on some of the worst written, poorly acted, insultingly stupid programming to come across the small screen. One show I watched recently for a few seasons, before it got so bad I couldn’t watch it anymore, dealt with the trials and tribulations of the wealthy youth of the upper east side of Manhattan. They had problems
, that you just couldn’t understand
, but that seemed really glamorous and way more fun and dramatic than your own problems. They were constantly embroiled in a remarkably repetitive chain of idiotic romances with the same people over and over and over again. But here’s a funny thing, all of the characters would stop occasionally, and think about themselves and the world around them and they’d say “I’m Chuck Bass,” or whatever their particular name happened to be, and that would solve all of their problems. Sometimes they’d remind each other who they were, as a friendly way of helping them out of a bad situation. They’d say, “You’re Chuck Bass!” And everything would be resolved and that would be the end of the show. Of course it matters more for them that they are who they are, because the whole point of being who they are is that they have so much money and influence that they actually can change the course of events by saying their names. But they’re really really horrible people. They’re mean and ignorant and fairly useless in the broad scheme of things. They don’t create anything but problems. I was thinking that, on balance, almost everyone else in the world deserves this super power more than they do. All of us, when we face some sort of trouble, should be able to stop and say, “I’m who I am!” and it should make things better. Not because we have wealth and power but because we have ourselves. We have our imagination and our abilities and our affections and our hopes and our memories and our flaws and our souls
, whatever those are. Sometimes when you’re being belittled or treated badly and it seems as though nothing is going well or ever will again, it’s easy to lose yourself and to feel worthless or hopeless. I’ve felt it a million times. It’s worse than a feeling of failure, it’s a feeling of nothing, of being nothing and having nothing. Well, the next time that happens, I plan to say my name aloud. I’m going to say, “I’m Claire Adas,” and I’ll ignore the perplexed looks of anyone around me and I’ll think of everything that I have, everything that I’ve made, everyone that I love, the whole round life I’ve made for myself. That’s right, I’m Claire Adas.
Maybe it won’t get me reservations at the newest latest whatever, but who wants to go there anyway, when I’ve got a bottle of cheap wine, shelves full of spices, a drawerful of vegetables, a head full of strange and delicious meals to make, and good friends to eat and drink with. I made these little flavorful “meatballs” out of mushrooms, hazelnuts, pecans, black beans, and smoked gouda. They’re seasoned with sage, rosemary, smoked paprika an nutmeg. The boys ate them with long pasta and red sauce, but you can eat them with any kind of sauce you like! You can dip them, or put them in a sandwich. The possibilities are endless!
Here’s I am I Be by De La Soul
10 oz mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t rosemary, chopped or crumbled
3 or 4 sage leaves, chopped, or 1 t dried
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 t smoked paprika
1 cup grated smoked gouda
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
olive oil for the pan
Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the mushrooms roughly, and then put them in a food processor and process just till they’re finely chopped. You don’t want them to be complete mush. (If you don’t have a food processor, process them as finely as you can with a knife.) Spread them on a baking sheet. Mix them with the shallot, garlic, sage and rosemary. Toss with enough olive oil to coat–1 or 2 tablespoonfuls. Roast the mushrooms for 20 – 25 minutes until they’re starting to get brown and crisp and quite dried out. Stir them often so the mushrooms on the edge of the pan don’t burn.
Put the mushrooms in a large bowl. In a food processor, process the nuts and bread until they’re coarse and crumbled, but not completely puréed. Add these to the mushrooms. Put the beans in the processor and process very briefly till they’re crushed but not completely puréed. Add these to the mushrooms.
Mix in the smoked paprika, nutmeg, cheese and eggs, and stir to combine everything well. Season with salt and pepper.
Generously coat a large baking sheet with oil. Form the mixture into rounded tablespoons, either with your hands, or if it seems too wet, with a spoon. Place on the baking sheet, and roll each ball around so that every side is coated with oil.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, turning from time to time, until the balls are browned and crispy all the way around. They’ll be soft at first, but if you let them set and cool a bit they’ll become more firm.
Serve with any kind of sauce you like.