I had pulled out a package of ground beef from the freezer with no real idea of what I was going to make tonight.  This seems to be more and more of a common theme with me.  Get something out of the freezer and deal with it later.  Unfortunately, more often than not when I finally start thinking about it the mind comes up blank.  The ideas just weren’t there.   So I decided to try and channel my mother.  She was queen of ground beef.  She knew a million and one ways to stretch a pound of hamburger to feed 8 people.  What Would Mommy Do?!?

I started rummaging through the cabinets and came across a single packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.  A yellowed single packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.  It had been around for a while.  It had to have been bought for some sort of gathering where we had Onion Dip.  When my brother was here in 2003?   Victor’s mom’s 75th birthday party when we had a really huge gathering?!?  (She turned 85 this past May.)

I don’t really know.  I just know it wasn’t really very recent.  It didn’t even occur to me to throw it out.  The shelf-life has to be just short of plutonium.

So…  I started thinking back to those thrilling days of yesteryear and some of the things Mommy Dearest put onion soup mix in.  Meatloaf, for sure, but I wasn’t really in a meatloaf mood.  I decided on the next best thing – meatballs!

In just a couple of minutes I had mixed up ground beef, bread crumbs, chopped celery, chopped parsley, half a package of onion soup mix, pepper, and an egg.  I scopped them onto a sheet pan and baked them off at 350° for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile I made the gravy…  I sauteed mushrooms in a bit of bacon grease (Mommy always saved her bacon grease) and when they were browned, I added a splash of Marsala.  (Mommy also cooked with Marsala a lot.)  Then added beef broth and the other half of the onion soup mix.  (My mother would have used bouillon cubes and water and the soup mix.  I never buy bouillon cubes. Ever.)  I then did a quick thickening with cornstarch and added the cooked meatballs to reheat.

Extra-wide eggs noodles and frozen peas were the perfect accompaniment.

And ya know…  it actually wasn’t bad.  There were a couple of onion pieces that didn’t quite rehydrate, but overall, it wasn’t bad.  I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to replace the onion soup mix any time soon but it was fun trying to recreate a childhood recipe without having any idea whether I had ever had it before or not.  Of course, if I didn’t have these, I had something pretty similar.

Thanks, Mom!