Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not the Ordinary

(30 seconds of television advertisement during prime time television, preferably a program that appeals to a young, urban crowd. Music, energetic and hip, plays in the background, but engine sounds are still audible, especially as the car takes a corner. Behind the wheel, a hipster shifts gears. Here comes the voiceover, a youthful citified British accent.)

You thought you knew what efficient cars looked like. You thought that any car the averaged over 50 miles per gallon on the highway looked just like a car that averaged over 50 miles per gallon on the highway.

You thought wrong.


ECG and I stopped by our local classic Mini garage to take pictures the other day. For over a year now, I've walked by this garage on the way to the garden plot, and each time I pass, I drool a little bit. I know the classic Minis are the size of tin cans, but hey, that is the size of car I like. But what I like even more is the fact that given a few adjustments, the car runs 56 mpg on highway and 48 in the city. With one of these babies, retro is green.

(For any readers who decide to enlarge the photos for a better look, please remember, as you may catch a glimpse of me in the reflections, chrome distorts!)

Kefta (Grilled Meatballs)
Adapted from Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, by Paula Wolfert.

If summertime and warm weather means—as it does to ECG and me—grilling, but you're not interested in burgers again, here is a solution. They're incredibly flavorful and different than the everyday quick meal, turning the stereotype of ground meat on its head. Although Wolfert mentions that the addition of ras el hanout is optional, I say it is mandatory. The mix of out-of-the ordinary spices and herbs adds just a little mystery to these tasty replacements for burgers. Serve the meatballs with yogurt sauce (thick yogurt mixed with crushed garlic, salt, and a smidgin' of olive oil), garden greens, and fresh pita bread.

You will need:
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, beef, or bison (I suggest using the best free-range, organic, local meat that you can find, because the quality makes a real difference. In California, often bison is the best bet, but in New Mexico, Colorado, and other states, one can often find wonderful local lamb.)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup combined of finely chopped parsley, cilantro, mint, and marjoram.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout
salt and pepper to taste

To make the kefta:
Combine all the ingredients and knead well enough to mix all ingredients thoroughly. Cover the mixture and allow the flavors to blend for at least an hour in the refrigerator before shaping into meatballs. With wet hands to prevent stickiness, shape the meat mixture into balls (with diameters approximately 1 1/2"). Prepare your gas or charcoal grill, making sure to grease the grill rack, then cook the meatballs on medium-high heat for a few minutes before rolling over and browning the other side. ECG and I like our meatballs rare, so it only takes a couple minutes per side, but if you like them well-done, plan on four minutes or so on each side.

This will serve two people with leftovers for two nights, or it can serve up to six for one meal.


Wendy said...

I love minis too. Thought about getting one a couple of years ago but, being quite tall, it wasn't meant to be. :)

Christine said...

don't worry, you look just as beautiful in chrome. ^^ love can change a for a car that is.

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

I'm not generally a car guy, Christina, but Minis [both old and new] are drool inducers for me too. My brother and I tooled around the UK in a classic Mini one summer. Even took it across the English Channel by ferry and drove around France. This one was of course a Brit version, with the steering wheel on the right [as are the ones in your photos, I see]. So anytime we wanted to pass someone on a two lane road in France, the passenger would have to see if it was clear in the opposite direction and the driver would have to put a lot of faith in the passenger's judgment.

Christina said...

Wendy: I've never driven one (or been inside one, for that matter), but it doesn't stop me from looking.

TCG: Thanks! You sure are cheesy, my friend.

Terry B.: That sounds like a blast. I can imagine laughter and white knuckles both appeared regularly on your trip.