Sad and slow weekend

29 April 2013
We had a sad and slow weekend. We received news that Hanno's sister, Angelica, died suddenly in Hamburg so there were long phone calls across oceans, talks about Angelica and lots of memories of her. She was Hanno's only sibling. Our family is always special but the importance of family is always magnified when we lose someone special. RIP Angelica.

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Over the weekend I did a bit of work but mainly took things slow and almost finished off some knitting I've been concentrating on for a while. I'll show you later in the week. Kerry and Jamie dropped in on Saturday and had lunch with us. It wonderful hearing them drive down the driveway and knowing we can see them so frequently.  We're looking after Jamie this afternoon while Kerry and Sunny have some time alone over lunch and a movie. I should really say that Hanno will look after him. They'll be out in the backyard feeding the chooks and gardening. Hanno will give Jamie some "jobs" such as moving a bucket full of dirt from one garden bed to the next, or picking green leaves. One thing is for sure, he won't leave Hanno's side and he'll want to "work" alongside Opa.

I watched an interesting program on SBS the other night - Food Safari, featuring Danish cuisine. Hamburg is quite close to Denmark so the food is similar and sure enough, they had a recipe for frikadeller (called frikadellen in Germany), and pickled cucumbers. I decided to make the meal for us yesterday and it was delicious. I'd describe it as meatballs, fast pickled cucumbers and I added potato salad, which worked perfectly. I didn't stick to the exact recipe but what I made what close to it and delicious enough to make again ... soon.

This is a good meal for a large family or for those trying to reduce the cost of living. I used 1 kilogram of meat - a mixture of organic beef and pork, that was the most expensive part of the meal and I have enough for three meals. My guesstermation would be $12 for the meal and if you devide that by three, that's four dollars a meal for the two of us. I'll have to make another batch of the pickled cucumbers because we almost wiped out the first lot in one meal.

Here are the recipes in the order I did them, making sure I reused pots and bowls so I didn't have too much washing up.

500 grams beef mince
500 grams pork mince
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup plain/all purpose flour
2 eggs
¼ cup  milk

Place the meat and onions in a bowl and with clean hands, mix it all together until it's thoroughly combined. Add the remaining ingredients and mix them in the same way. Then, using a tablespoon, measure about a spoon full of meat mixture and with wet hands, form it into round balls. Place them on a plate and put in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up. Then start the potato salad.

Potato Salad
4 large potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 poached eggs
salt and pepper
Peel and slice the potatoes into thick slices. Add these two cold water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, turn it down to a fast simmer. They're ready when the potatoes are softish and can be easily pierced with a fork.  When the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and allow to cool.  While the potatoes are cooking, get on to the pickled cucumbers.

Unsalted cucumber and onion above, salted below.

Easy and quick pickled cucumbers and onions
Peel one cucumber (you can leave the peel on if you prefer) and slice the cucumber very thinly. I used a mandolin. Peel one red onion and slice that thinly as well. Place the cucumber and onion in a bowl and sprinkle enough salt over it to cover all the slices - about a heaped teaspoon. Don't worry about the salt - later you'll wash it all off and pour the salty liquid down the drain. Mix the cucumbers and onions around to make sure it's all in contact with the salt or salty liquid and leave for 15 minutes. While that is happening, check the potatoes, drain them if cooked and allow to cool.

Cook the meat balls
To cook, add olive oil to a pan and when it's hot, add the meatballs. I had to do mine in two batches. Cook, turning them when they're brown. They'll take about 10 - 15 minutes to cook over a medium heat. Then turn out onto a paper towel on a plate to drain off any excess oil.

Cool the potatoes and eggs
Wash the bowl the meat was in and use it again for the potato salad. Put some more water into the saucepan you cooked the potatoes in and poach two eggs. You can boil them if you prefer but poaching does the same job and it's quicker. When they're cooked, allow them to cool.

This is the pickled cucumber after the vinegar had been added.

Make up the pickles
Under a slow tap, wash the salt from the cucumbers and onions. Squeeze as much liquid from them as you can and then place them back in the bowl, that you've rinsed out and dried. Sprinkle over 1½  tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of good white vinegar and salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust to your liking. That's the pickled cucumbers and onions finished.

Make up the potato salad. I didn't take photos of this process.
Take the cooled potatoes, it doesn't matter if they're still slightly warm, added a small chopped onion, salt and pepper, two finely diced gherkins or a small amount of diced cornichons and enough mayonnaise to coat it all. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.

And that's it. You can serve it with a mild German mustard but it has enough taste without it. The sharp taste of the pickled cucumbers and onions cut through the creaminess of the mayonnaise nicely. The meatballs have a fine texture that go well with the full flavours of the salads. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Do you have a favourite meat ball recipe?