The First

This was the first recipe I ever made. I was fourteen, living with my dad, and pretty much done with having eggs for dinner every night. I found the Betty Crocker Recipe Box that I’m assuming was a wedding gift to my parents when they got married in the early 70’s. I remember looking through every card and fulling reading every recipe, just as I do with almost every cookbook I come across. And then I came across this gem… The Porcupine Meatballs. 
They looked fun, as much as they could in a 20 year old, faded picture on the card. And the recipe not only seemed simple enough, we just happened to have all the ingredients in the house at that very moment. I went into the kitchen, used almost every possible prep bowl I could use, created a pile of dishes for days, and ended with a finished product that I was really proud of. I don’t remember how it tasted, but I do remember taking the white pyrex baking dish, you know the ones with the blue flowers on them, out of the avocado green oven, and being utterly pleased with myself. From that moment on I knew food would be a thing in my life. 
Here I am over 20 years later and just made this recipe again the other day. With my more advanced pallet and desire for some really good flavors, I made a few adjustments to the recipe. The bones of this recipe are the same: meat, rice, and tomato sauce. But I added in some helpers to bring in a little more flavor. I also served this with some wagon wheel pasta I tossed with some butter, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Ok, a hefty amount of parmesan cheese. Also some zucchini I sauted with olive oil and garlic. It was a good meal. A quick meal. A hearty meal that also brought me leftovers for days.  
 

Porcupine Meatballs
(adapted from The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library, copyright 1971, General Mills, Inc.)
1 lb ground beef, ground turkey, or other ground meat (bison anyone???)
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 garlic powder or granulated garlic
2 8-oz cans no salt tomato sauce*
7 oz water
2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder**
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well. In your ungreased 8×8 pan, roll the meat mixture in even sized meatballs. You should get about 16 even sized meatballs.
In a bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste the sauce to make sure it is flavored to your liking, and season more if needed. Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meatballs and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.
Notes:
  • * It’s important for me to be able to control the salt in my cooking as much as possible. It’s not out of a dietary need, but out of knowing what is going into my food. On the occasion I need to use canned products I opt for organic and no or low salt when I can. This is not always an option, but I seek it out whenever possible. 
  • ** I used ancho chili powder because it was what I grabbed out of my spice cabinet. When I was putting the jar away during clean up i did find my regular chili powder and would have used that and more of it.