I am writing to you from sanctuary house, a place I sometimes think I wished into existence. During the last few years, I lived in a dark little duplex that was a source of paranoia and harbor for bad memories. One day, I was at my friend Sarah Norris’ house and she asked me to write down what my house should be, as though it already was. “My house is a welcoming place of solace,” I scribbled. Three months later, my life had fallen apart and I woke up in my Chattanooga, TN rental house with the realization that it was an actual sanctuary- cathedral ceilings, a light-up cross hung where I couldn’t get it down, and mosaic alters in the kitchen and bathroom. A welcoming place of solace for me as I put the pieces back together, a place for long baths and late night reading, a place where no one could stop me from leaving my Christmas tree up in my bedroom until Valentine’s Day.
The time for us to part is quickly approaching. I am sorry to leave you, sanctuary house. I am sorry I cannot stop your next owner from ruining you with neutral colors and floors that are easy to clean. I am sorry they probably will not love your army of chipmunks, thieving rabbits, overly-friendly opossums or artistic spiders in the way I have. This year at the Thanksgiving table, I will say, I am thankful for my little house and the rest it has given me.
This will be my last meal in Sanctuary House before moving out on Saturday. As you can see from the recipe below, I stretched one pound of meat with handfuls of other things to feed four people, twice. It’s full of all the ingredients I’m trying to use up from my pantry and freezer. I’ll cook it in one 10.25” pan because Sanctuary House has a tiny oven and no dishwasher. Then I’ll move on to another place I will not stay and another, and another (that’s a fancy way of saying I’m a bit homeless in December). On January 1, I move into a place that is like a cabin dollhouse. I’ve decided to call it Little House in the Big Yard after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book and nomadic life.
Special thanks to my Mom, who did the prop styling for these photos because all my props are already packed away!
Meatballs and Grains
-serves 4, twice
Here are the things you absolutely need:
1 pound meat (I used lamb. Use whatever as long as it’s not too lean)
1 pound frozen spinach (you can use whatever greens you have cooked and chopped, as long as you squeeze the liquid out of them)
1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
2T buttermilk or yogurt
1 t kosher salt
1 large egg
whole grains such as farro, barley or quinoa
Here are the flavorings I used, but you can sub in what you have/like:
1/2 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
several large pinches finely chopped rosemary
**Half these meatballs will totally fit in a 10.25” skillet, but you won’t get much farro in there with them. If you have a regular sized oven, go ahead and make half the meatballs in a 12” pan.
1. Mix everything but the meat together until it is well incorporated. Form 1.5” balls (that’s about 36g each). You’ll get between 25 and 30 meatballs, depending on your flavorings.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Set aside half the meatballs, some grains and some stock for a super easy meal later. Get a skillet** nice a hot over medium high and add 2T neutral oil. Brown the remaining meatballs on the top and bottom, pressing them down so they’re a little flat.
4. Pour chicken stock in the pan until the meatballs are liiiike 80% submerged. Bring it to a simmer.
5. Cover as tightly as possible and bake. You’re going to bake them for 30 minutes total and add the grains in at a point that you will determine by their cooking needs. So for example, I used soaked farro, which should cook in 10-15 minutes- I added it to the meatballs pan 15 minutes through cooking. I don’t worry too much about measuring out the grains. If you put too many in there, you can always add some extra stock later. Just eyeball a 1:2 grains:liquid ratio.
6. Cover the pan back up and finish baking. Serve with dollops of yogurt.