Notes on love and meatballs


When I started dating my husband, I was one of those girls who is in love with love. The kind who craves and feels entitled to the most beautiful love story, the most beautiful engagement story, the most beautiful wedding, and the most beautiful babies.

But on the day my husband and I got engaged, we went to the grocery store. I don’t know why that detail always sticks out to me. I didn’t include it in when I told people our engagement story (I also didn’t include the fact that I was dreading telling my parents whom I didn’t think would be all that stoked that I was engaged at the age of twenty), but I always remember that we went to the grocery store and I was tired and from the moment we left the grocery store to the moment we pulled up at the church, I totally knew I was getting engaged.

The story I told people was all about how Joseph unintentionally chose October 12th to propose which was the Feast of Our Lady of Pilar and was just perfect and providential since in the early days of Jominika, I had prayed for our relationship at the shrine of Our Lady of Pilar in Spain. I told about how Joe liked that my ring had seven stones because it seemed a beautiful symbol: three larger gems for the theological virtues and four smaller ones for the cardinal virtues. I told about how sweetly nervous Joe was and how it reminded me of our first date. I told all the dreamy bits of our engagement story.

And yet, now I love that we went to the grocery store right before we got engaged. I love how ordinary that is when, at the time, all I wanted was the wondrously beautiful parts of love. But those things are a gift and not a right. And the ordinary things which our lives are so full of right now (read: sticky little hands and so much poop) are, in fact, part of something wondrously beautiful and larger than ourselves.

This year we attempted and failed pretty badly at saying a novena to Our Lady of Pilar. We said the prayers dutifully on days 1, 3, and 4 and missed the other six. On the actual day of our engagement anniversary, Joe got home late and went straight into CPA study mode. But I made meatballs and cranked up Dean Martin and danced around with Leo and a few times Joe snuck out of his study cave and danced around with us too. We agreed the meatballs were the very best meatballs we’d ever had and that they made for a perfect engagement-versary feast on an otherwise very ordinary day.

Sage and Ricotta Meatballs (adapted from this recipe):
-2tbs olive oil
-2lbs lean ground beef
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup red wine
-1/2 cup bread crumbs (I toasted sandwich bread and threw it in the food processor)
-2-3tbs fresh sage chopped up (adjust for taste. I like pretty sagey meatballs.)
-2 cloves of garlic minced (I also like my food garlicky, so just use one or omit if you don’t.)
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-fresh grated parmesan or fontina
-tomato sauce (recipe below)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rub a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Combine the ground beef, garlic, ricotta, eggs, wine, bread crumbs, sage, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until combined well.
  3. Roll the mixture into tightly packed, round balls. Place the balls in the baking dish in close rows. (They can be touching).
  4. Roast for 20 minutes.
  5. When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Sprinkle the grated cheese over that. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.

Tomato Sauce
-5 tomatoes
-4 cloves garlic minced (I may have used six or so…)
-bunch of fresh herbs chopped (I used sage since that’s what I had on hand, but basil, oregano, and rosemary would all be good)
-1 cup red wine
-1 large onion chopped
-1 stick of butter
-salt and pepper to taste


  1. Use a knife to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an x. Bring salted water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add tomatoes and boil for five minutes.
  2. Remove tomatoes and pour out the water. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. (I usually chop my herbs in the food processor first and then add the tomatoes to the mixture).
  3. Heat a little olive oil in the pot. Add garlic and onions and heat until onions are translucent. Add tomato and herbs.
  4. Add red wine and butter.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.

Some notes:

-Chop and mince everything possible in the food processor and it makes the process so much easier. With sauces and meat mixtures, you’re not looking for pretty.
-Serve with something better than barilla. That fancy imported pasta you never feel you can justify buying, a mound of hot, cheesy polenta, a bowlful of gnocchi. Just do it. It makes all the difference.
-I ended up with too much meatball meat and didn’t have any tomato sauce on hand when I pulled the leftover meat out of the freezer (which explains why the meatballs pictured above are sauce-less). I threw together some brown butter and sage for a sauce and grated a ton of cheese on top and it was almost as good. Almost.

Notes on love and meatballs

5 thoughts on “Notes on love and meatballs

  1. I also made meatballs last week, but I tried this recipe this time and they turned out perfect. Definitely my favarite meatballs recipe, even better from that from my grandma.

    I think I’m the quite opposite when it comes to being in ‘love with love’ 😉 For me there is no such thing like ‘perfect engagement’ or ‘perfect wedding’ – every story is perfect, because it was a story of particular people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm! That recipe looks yummy!

      I like your idea of love and I’ve definitely adopted more of that perspective over time. I always like to think of what one college professors said about love–that it’s extraordinary precisely because anyone can fall in love. That intellect, wealth, or status do not bar a person from that experience.


      1. What a beautiful quote! Yes, love makes anyone equal.
        I used to think about myself, that I am very romantic. I love Jane Austen’s novels (I am not particulary extraordinary, but I think that makes a perfect writer – when people read and love you 200 years after your death) and when I made a test “Which Jane Austen’s heroine are you?” it came out, that Marianne Dashwood (well, not anybody can be Elisabeth Bennet, but I got Mr. Darcy in my real life instead, so I am pleased). But I am not – my perfect wedding dress is this one and I dream about small wedding without any big reception and then a calm life filled with everyday love. Like going to grocery store.

        I think this feminine being in love with love and this longing for romance are God’s great gifts to the world. It’s beautiful when it matures with the girl who becomes a woman. Have you read ‘Captivating” by Stasi & John Eldrege? This feminine ‘love for love’ uses also God when he wants to come closer to a woman, I think this is amazing (this book changed my approach to my own feminity, it explained a lot to me). Greetings!


        1. You know the funny thing about Jane Austen novels is that I don’t think they’re unrealistically romantic. The Bronte sisters’ writing is far more melodramatic. But Jane Austen celebrates virtuous love in small, ordinary communities which I think is something any person in our day and age can realistically hope for.

          I haven’t heard of that book! I’ll have to check it out 🙂

          Also, that dress is so sweet! I have a friend who wants to bake her own wedding cake because that’s what her mom did for her wedding and I love that idea. We actually spent well under the national average on our wedding, but if I had to go back in time and change anything, I would try to spend less so that I could invite more friends–because that’s what you really remember as important. Not the invitations or the flowers or anything like that–but the community of friends and family who witnessed and celebrated the sacrament with you ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m afraid, we can continue this exchange endlessly 😉 (but I love it!)

            This is a very interesting remark regarding the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen – I have never thought about them this way so far. I agree!

            I think I will end up with organizing the most of my wedding by my own. The thing is, my love has to live in the same city and we have been trying to figure this out for more than a year so far. I have already prayed all prayers I know (including Pompeian novena), but we are still waiting and looking for job for him (that’s the problem).

            P.S. I started with the translation on my blog – at first my conversion story and then some of my posts from the past should be available in English 🙂


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