Another week has come and gone, and what a week it was! I saw Elton John perform Saturday night with my mom and sister at Barclay’s Center which was literally a dream come true. I am so happy I had the opportunity to see him on his farewell tour since I have wanted to see him since I was 12. I know what you’re thinking – what kind of weirdo, freak 12 year old is obsessed with Elton John? Me. That’s who.
I found an Elton John “Greatest Hits” cassette tape the summer that I was 12 in the upstairs bedroom of my Grandma’s house, and she said I could have it – which is what my grandma always said whenever I found something I liked or wanted in her house. The tape had belonged to my uncle Bill, who had passed away six years earlier due to complications of AIDS. I brought that tape home and listened to it front and back and on repeat all summer long. I memorized all of the lyrics to every song and found myself wanting to know more about the life of Elton John, since all of his songs seemed to be deeply personal and I, as a deeply emotional, 12 year old girl entering puberty, related to them on so many levels (or so I thought at the time…). Little did I know, I would end up relating much more once I had actually experienced real life…
I was never particularly close to my uncle Bill when he was alive since I was young and I didn’t see him that often. When he passed away, his life (and then subsequently his death) was kind of shrouded in mystery to me. He was an openly gay man and brought boyfriends home to my very-Catholic-grandmother’s house for holidays etc.. No one had an issue with how he lived his life, but no one ever really talked about why he died – in fact, I didn’t find out until I was much, much older. I do remember making him a ‘get well’ card when he was sick with a picture of Marilyn Monroe that I drew on it, which is pretty awesome in retrospect… he really loved that. I also remember a couple of times he took me grocery shopping with him when he went to the store for my grandma, and all of the ladies would coo over me and over him pushing me in the shopping cart, and he seemed to eat that shit right up. My memories of him are very few.
Anyhow, I digress. The point I am getting at, is that I finally felt some sort of connection to my uncle through this shared love of Elton John music. I was only 7 when he died, and grew up feeling like I really missed out on a relationship with him. As I’ve grown older and heard some of the stories relayed from other family members about my uncle’s love of partying and the practical jokes he liked to play on people, I’ve also realized that perhaps we have much more in common than just the mutual love of Elton John :p I think we would have gotten on quite well were he still alive.
It really does mean so much to me that my mom, who I’m pretty sure was quite concerned with the fact that her 12 year old daughter was obsessed with Elton John, bought me these tickets. I don’t think I can thank her enough or tell her how much it really means, but I will try regardless. The concert was a solid three hours of Elton John entertaining – singing, playing the piano, and talking to the audience about his music and his life. It was awesome. HE was AWESOME. Such a good singer and piano player, even in his 70s. He played ALL of my favorite songs (minus ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word’), which really surprised me. I didn’t think he would play ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ or ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues.’ The concert was surreal.
I finally filed my taxes yesterday… all I can say is ‘someone please come put me out of my misery.’ It ended up being worse than I thought. I legit think I’m going to be destitute forever unless I start stripping or something. I really can’t catch a break in this life. I also had a severe case of cystitis last week, having not had it in like 4 years. I was sitting at work on Thursday morning when it started to feel like someone was beating my kidneys with a baseball bat. By the end of the day I knew I was totally f*cked for many more reasons which I won’t elaborate on here – let’s just say if you’ve ever had it, you know what I’m talking about. Brutal. I don’t know how I made it through the work day.
I’m back to normal now (as normal as I’ll ever be), and trying to figure out what to look forward to now that EJ concert is over. You know when something seems so far away, and then before you know it, it’s over? I’m the same way with vacations, parties, etc. – I just look forward to something for so long and put all of my stock into it, and then once it’s over, I’m so emo and empty inside. I remember my mom got tickets to this concert last February for my birthday, and I kept thinking “wow, that’s so far away!” Well, here we are, over a year later, and now it’s over. I guess I’ll just look forward to paying off my taxes and being poor now and hopefully getting shredded for summer. JK… but not really. What else????
I used to make these balls all the time and haven’t in a while. It’s honestly easier to just make fish, seafood, or pasta than it is to try to create a ‘meatball’ without meat. These balls are time consuming, but totally worth it if you have the time, or if you just cook the lentils in advance, so that they’re ready to make into ballz when the time comes! This dish is super healthy, super filling, packed with protein, and if you’re anything like me, will also make you super bloated for a solid two days (I love legumes… but my gastrointestinal tract begs to differ). Whatever… it’s choc full of fiber, delicious, and cruelty-free… it’s worth being bloated.
I made the same vodka sauce I made last week, since it’s a real hit in this house. You can find the recipe HERE by scrolling down. These balls also match well with any store-bought or homemade marinara, or pesto. I guarantee you that if you cook this dish for someone (whether they’re a vegetarian or not), they’re going to love these ballz and be very impressed.
INGREDIENTS (FOR THE BALLZ):
- 1 cup dry (uncooked), brown (“french”) lentils
- 3 cups vegetable stock (you can also use beef, but then it’s not really vegetarian)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (or carrots, if you’re in a pinch – which I was when I made these… mushrooms are better!)
- 1/3 finely chopped yellow or white onion
- 3 cloves finely minced garlic
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- ***Sauce of your choice*** (tomato/marinara work best!)
- ***Pasta of your choice to serve with***
- Cook the lentils in the vegetable stock until soft; this means cooking for 20 – 25 minutes at a rolling boil… taste test to make sure they’re soft and all liquid is absorbed.
- While the lentils boil, in a large saucepan, add 1 Tbs. of olive oil, and cook the minced onions, garlic, and mushrooms (or carrots, if you went with carrots)… cook until onions are translucent and veggie is cooked through:
After the lentils are cooked and liquid has been absorbed, dump into a large mixing bowl and let cook until malleable (should be ready to handle in 5 minutes or so)
- Mix the remainder of ingredients (apart from the olive oil – which you will use to fry the balls in) into the bowl with the lentils:
- Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly and by hand.
- Heat the remaining olive oil (plus more as needed) in a large saucepan over low-medium heat.
- Form the balls by hand, packing and rolling the mixture into golf-ball sized balls, and dropping into hot oil
- Rotate the balls so as to lightly brown/crisp on all sides… these balls will fall apart if you simply plunk them into hot sauce, whereas balls made from actual meat will be fine to cook by submerging into boiling sauce, these will not.
- Once balls are browned on all size, add into sauce, or set aside, and then top your finished pasta with the balls and sauce.