Making Mistakes and Porcupine Meatballs

Dear Joey,

I made a big batch of Porcupine Meatballs a few weeks ago, half for our family and half for some friends, and when they were done, they looked perfect. But as it turned out, the rice hadn’t cooked properly, yielding a somewhat crunchy meatball.

I found this out after I dropped them to our friends, which made me feel that much worse. I was embarrassed. I should have known better. And if I had given any thought to my actions when making this particular batch, I would have known that to substitute dry onions for fresh onions would mean less moisture in the pot, which would yield undercooked rice.

I hate making mistakes. I loathe admitting that I have made a mess out of something because it validates that I am not, in fact, a perfect person (despite my erroneous feeling that I should be).

I realize that attaining true perfection is impossible, and on most days, I don’t operate out of a perfectionist mindset.  But then there are those days when I make a mess of something and I can’t seem to escape the barrage of negative self-talk that follows. I know better, but often, I don’t do better, and the mess made in the process is hard for me to deal with.

There are many instances in my life when I’ve made a mess out of things. People I have hurt, words I can’t take back, things I would do differently if I had the chance to do so. Sometimes I don’t know I’ve made a mistake until it’s too late; sometimes the mistake isn’t really a big deal; sometimes a mistake can be made right by salvaging the good and discarding the not-so-good; and sometimes you have to start all over, plunk the whole of whatever is ruined into the trash and begin again, fresh, with a new resolve to get it right the next time.

Convincing myself that a minor mishap isn’t worth berating myself – that’s the tricky part. In this case, I admit that your double portion of those ruined meatballs helped ease my troubled mind. And your assessment of them as “marvelous” didn’t hurt, either.

Thank you for telling me the truth about things, no matter how hard the truth is for me to hear.


Porcupine Meatballs
This recipe is always a hit with my family. Even Mia, our girl who really just doesn’t enjoy meat, happily eats these. It is quick and easy to put together, the ingredient list is short, which makes it a great candidate for dinner when the pantry is nearly empty. I usually double the recipe because Joey can eat most of a single batch on his own. I imagine you could use regular white rice instead of brown, but reduce covered baking time by at least 30 minutes, as white rice cooks faster than brown rice. The cooking time isn’t exactly quick, but I’ve found it makes the meatballs just the way we like them. 

1 1/4 lb ground beef (I’ve also used just an even pound, and it works fine)
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water

Mix ground beef, onions, rice, garlic, salt and pepper. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and place in a baking dish that has a lid (I use my dutch oven).

Mix the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and water, then pour the sauce over meatballs. Put the cover on and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking (it should be somewhat thickened and not runny anymore).

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