by Lisa

Tuesday night I have a plan: Swedish Meatballs. I take the pork and beef out of the freezer just fine.

Wednesday morning: I realize I have no onion, no potatoes.  Kids say they will boycott Swedish meatballs if mashed potatoes aren’t involved. I have no plan B. Resolve to go to store.

Later Wednesday morning: Put off trip to store for onions and potatoes.

Wednesday afternoon: Forget to go to store entirely.

Late Wednesday after, 20 minutes before school pick-up. Rush to store. Buy pre-chopped onion and pre-made mashed potatoes for the first time in my life.

School pickup time: T-1o. Soak bread in milk, dump in egg, meats, salt, nutmeg. No time to sautee onions, dump them in raw. What’s the worst that can happen?  Mix ingredients. Cover bowl. Wash hands.

Pick up kids. On time! Drive straight home.

35 minutes before first run to soccer field.  Begin making 20-something meatballs. Ten minutes later, our sitter arrives. Turn on slow cooker to “brown/sautee” for the first time.  Butter melts.  Meatballs brown evenly and quickly in less than 15 minutes. I begin to breathe again.

With help from sitter, kids have found themselves a snack, filled water bottles. Soccer uniforms are on. No one is yelling.

I melt another tablespoon of butter, stir flour, cook for two minutes, then whisk in chicken broth. Gravy comes to a simmer. Meatballs go back in.  Slow cooker gets turned to “HIGH” and programmed for 30 minutes, after which time, I hope it kicks back to “warm” setting. I stare at it for a minute, willing it not to let me down.

Leave for soccer with child #1.  Child #2 stays home with sitter to do homework and make scarves for her Scandanavian doll, who is largely responsible for the Swedish meatball phase.   We are on time for soccer. No one is crying.

It’s my turn to stay at the field, so an hour later, sitter arrives with child #2, takes home child #1.  By all reports the cooker is doing what it is supposed to . My sitter has heated up the potatoes and cooked the broccoli romanesco (she really is amazing).

An hour and half later, it is very dark and very cold.   I am shivering and can barely feel my extremities.  We drive home. The house is bright. And warm.  It smells like Sweden, or at least the pleasant afterglow of a long, successful trip to IKEA, before you’ve begun to assemble anything. My son has eaten something like ten meatballs.  My daughter tries to match him, meatball for meatball.  I salvage a few for the grownups.

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

  • 2 slices white bread
  • heavy cream/milk (enough to moisten white bread)
  • small onion, diced
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash nutmeg, cardamom, white pepper
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  1. In a medium sized bowl, pour enough cream or milk over the bread to completely moisten both slices.
  2. Dice onion and add to bowl along with meats, egg, salt, and spices.  Mix gently until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Shape mixture into small balls.
  4. With slow cooker on Brown/Sautee setting, fry meatballs in 2T butter until brown on all sides. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Whisk flour into pan drippings. If need be, add another 1-2 tablespoons butter.
  6. Whisk in broth and simmer until gravy is thick.
  7. Turn slow cooker to “HIGH” and return meatballs to gravy. Cook on for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.