Sunday, March 27, 2011

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Give Me That Old Time Religion

I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon cleaning out the shelf above the microwave. We replaced said appliance yesterday after an unfortunate meltdown earlier in the week. We store our cookbooks and whatnot above the 'wave, and that area of the kitchen hasn't been spiffed up in an awful long while.

Of course, I initiated the little bit of spring cleaning not because I really desired to "clean the cave," as my Mom would have said. I only wanted to put off grading an avalanche of AP Lang papers. The end of the quarter is growing nigh, and Mrs. Scribe has to clean up her own act, vis-a-vis grades for my cherubs.

Time to pull down the detritus of several years and pull out the 409 and a rag, don't you think?

One of my self-imposed projects involved sorting through old recipes ~ both mine and those of my Mom ~ which had accumulated in a metal filing box of unknown origin, and were also overflowing from an old wicker basket, made just for that kind of crap, I suppose.

Most of Mom's recipes were cut from magazines and newspapers and didn't look at all familiar. I imagined my Daddy flipping through these periodicals and clipping them in hopes of getting more than spaghetti, meat loaf, Shake 'n' Bake and the occasional blueberry pie. I don't know why he'd want to, though. Mom was a great cook, and these were her staples.

So I started a "keep" and a "discard" pile. And then I came upon a bonanza that could only be considered an historical find by La Familia Scribe: The original recipe for "May Williams Meatballs." Methodically written out in pencil on both sides of a piece ripped from a yellow legal pad about 40 years ago.

This, my friends, is a classic dish. It really tastes mostly like Swedish meatballs, and has that tinny Campbell's Soup tang to it. But my sister and I loved this special-occasion casserole as kids, and my family adores it to this day.

Mom acquired the recipe, pictured above and written out below, from our neighbor, May Williams. I had no idea that she had also called it "Meatballs Provencale." In fact, the title of my "find" is "Meatballs Provencale...May Williams' Way."

I sat there for a good five minutes, trying to digest the magnitude of what I'd just uncovered. I remembered sinful smells wafting from our tiny apartment kitchen, when May had just bequeathed this gem to my Mom. I recalled Mom bustling around a much more accommodating cooking space in our ranch-style house, à la 1960s Dallas. May Williams Meatballs were special, and even rated a place at the dining room table when Daddy brought the boss home for dinner.

I framed the wrinkled, soiled and creased sheet of paper and hung it by the stove. And I want to share it with y'all. So here, across the decades, I give you a very special ~ and incredibly easy ~ late winter/early spring supper, May Williams' Way.

May Williams Meatballs

2 lbs. ground chuck

1/2 lb. lean ground pork

1 large onion, chopped fine, and sautéed in butter

2 beaten eggs salt, pepper to taste

2 tbs. parsley 1.5 cups Pepperidge Farm Bread Crumbs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can Campbell's Beef Broth

1 package wide egg noodles


Mix together chuck, pork, onion, eggs, salt and pepper, parsley and bread crumbs 'til fully blended. Keep your hands wet while shaping small meatballs. Place the meatballs in a covered glass bowl overnight. The next day, sauté the meatballs in hot oil; they should cook very fast, until they are light brown. Drain the meatballs. Place them in a greased casserole dish. Pour out the grease from the pan you used to sauté the meatballs. Return the pan to the stove, and turn the heat to medium. Mix together both cans of soup, undilluted, making sure to pick up the residue from the sautéd meatballs as you stir. When these ingredients are well-blended, pour over the meatballs. Bake the meatballs, with the lid on the casserole, for one hour at 350 degrees. Serve over wide egg noodles. Enjoy!

May Williams Meatballs


Tara R. said...

I love old family recipes. What a cool find. Thanks for sharing!

Nance said...

Sounds like Meatball Stroganoff, another 50s recipe that kicked around a lot of PTA cookbooks. (Which are another treasure trove of culinary cultural history!)

Amy said...

That is just fantastic. All warm and fuzzy-like.

(Every time I clean out stuff...mostly when I'm about to move...I always hear MCC's "Almost Home" in my head. Popped up right here, too.)

dkzody said...

Wow, that's a long time to cook that meat. Funny how back in those days we cooked our food to death. I remember my mother's green beans, from a can, and then cooked on top of the stove for another 20 minutes. Would have been a side dish to your meatballs.

miss jo said...

What a find ! Indeed, full of nostalgia--- the height of good food growing up in our fam....Recall enjoying the dish as much as hearing dad say "May Williams Meatballs !"....Nowadays, will sub canned soup for fresh mushrooms sauteed with onion, canola margarine, a little milk and yogurt ?.....Now, can you recall who was May Williams ? :)

Melissa B. said...

Well, duh now. She was married to Ace Williams, the National Geo photog, and she was British. And grandmotherly. I loved her.

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

What a great find! Love that you framed it :) I have a box of my grandmother's handwritten recipes also, which I treasure.

Your Joy of Cooking cookbook looks well loved... mine, I am ashamed to say, is still pristine after 20 years on my cookbook shelf!

Susie said...

That sounds delicious! Love that you had a recipe to frame!! I wish I had my grandmother's originally penned butterhorn recipe!

Jeanie said...

I love that you framed the recipe. What a great memory.

Tracy P. said...

What a wonderful find!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

I have a few of my grandmother's cookbooks (~1930s), with handwritten recipes on the inside covers (paper must have been at a premium).

Amy said...

Old recipes. What a treasure!

I wonder what recipes our children will find 50 years from now.

blueviolet said...

The family recipes are the best ones ever!!!! The sentiments make them taste even better. :)

Krystal said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe, it sounds ridiculously delicious...oh man.

birdermurdermama said...

Avoiding grading papers is one of my greatest motivations for baking, I've recently realized. The last six weeks of the spring semester will see a virtual explosion of baked goods in my kitchen...

Unknown Mami said...

I love that you framed the recipe. I can't believe it survived all those years.

Jayne said...

And to think, I just stumbled in here (from where I don't remember). Oh my - so very generous of you to share your momentous find! Seems we are all doing some spring cleaning, of one kind or another, these days. I'll be back to take notes, most certainly... :)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin