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Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki

So, since I started this blog, I’ve been rummaging through every nook and cranny of my tiny kitchen, dragging out recipe box after recipe box, folders of hand scrawled, grease stained specials from numerous restaurants I’ve worked in, book after book of recipes I’ve collected from friends, family and coworkers, magazine clippings, classic cook books, etc.

You see, I loooooooooooooooooove to cook. Love it. I love every minute detail that’s involved in ensuring the perfect, entree/dessert/appetizer comes out of that kitchen with no less than a taste that will leave it’s consumer in a wordless, awe struck state. Every dish can be it’s own stunning piece of art, food art, that is. The best kind! If ever there was something that brings every corner of the world together, it is the enjoyment of food. Every culture is enamoured with it. Besides religion, what other object has so many festivals, holidays, activities, and special occasions that revolve around it? We are a world obsessed with food, and I’m okay with that.

Food and I have a history, a love hate relationship, if you will. I love it, and it hates me. It’s been a long struggle through the years to be able to enjoy food without letting it accumulate on some part of my anatomy in an unflattering way. I won’t bore you with the history of my soul’s “vessel”, but let’s just say it used to take up a little more of the universe.

What I was getting at, was that food brings people together. Recipes can also bring people together. When you’re looking at all your recipes, do they bring back to your mind memories of days gone by? Do they remind you of someone special who made you a certain dish? Smells and tastes bring back floods of memories for all of us, but the mere sight of a greasy, folded up, stack of lined notebook paper with a barely readable scrawled recipe, reminds me of someone very special.

When I was young, I was sent, every summer, to stay with my aunt and uncle for a week or more in the “big city”. My uncle was a fabulous cook, but they had a bit of money as well, so we ended up eating out a lot. Very exciting for a young girl from a small town. I loved going out to all these restuarants. My first experience with halibut cheeks and raw quail eggs was with them. But about four years ago, my aunt, who I was very close to, passed away after a short battle with Pancreatic Cancer. There are a lot of things that remind me of her, but none so much as Greek food. She wasn’t Greek, mind you, but she had a knack with their food. And so it is, whenever I smell that garlicky, sweet smell of meat, roasting on a stick and see that giant dollop of cool, cucumbery delight known as Tzatziki, I think of Barbara.

So I give you here a collection of her treasured Greek recipes:

Tzatziki

(Pronounced dza-DZEE-kee)

Yield: 2 Cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes

1/2 of an English cucumber, partially peeled OR
1 whole regular cucumber – peeled and seeded
1 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt or regular yogurt strained through a cheesecloth)
1/3 cup sour cream
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp. dill weed (optional)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Grate the cucumber and squeeze out all of the juice.
2. Mix all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Add cucumber.
3. Let stand in fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Serve with pita chips as an appetizer or with Greek meatballs (recipe follows).

Tzatziki dip done

Barbara’s Greek Meatballs

Yield: About 20 Medium sized meatballs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1. Mix all ingrediants very well and form into small meatballs (should make approximately 20 +).
2. Bake at 375° F for 30 minutes.
3. Serve with Tzatziki for dipping.

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