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Poetry Potluck: Easy Veggie Balls with Mushrooms and Carrots

Food and poetry have long been a perfect pairing. In this section of our newsletter, we share a recipe and poem duo to feed all the senses. To submit your own pairing, e-mail cpoetry@msu.edu and include the recipe, poem, and a brief introduction as to why they are meaningful to you. This week’s pair is brought to you by Center for Poetry intern alumna Grace Pappalardo.

While I’m not the most skilled cook in the kitchen, I do particularly enjoy coming home after a long day and letting my thoughts wander while I absent-mindedly chop vegetables for dinner. There’s something very therapeutic about carefully separating each ingredient on the cutting board after dicing, chopping, and slivering, and then letting each pile tumble avalanche-style into a hot pan dancing with oil. A recent favorite of mine are these delicious and extremely easy to make veggie “meatballs” that I discovered on a vegetarian-friendly food blog. They are tasty over pasta or with a little mustard as a snack. Making these always transports me back to my parents’ kitchen, where my dad would let me assist in making his famous pasta sauce. I remember my hands always being freezing cold after shaping the heaping bowl of chilled ground beef into spaghetti-perfect meatballs. I chose Billy Collins’s poem as a pairing because it always reminds me of my own habits of getting lost in the moment and entertaining a number of fictive scenarios and musings while cooking. His poems have such a striking way of interpreting and relaying aspects of the human condition, no matter how minute or seemingly banal. His words always remind me of the significance in the average moments in life that typically go unrecognized, like taking time to meditate on the fates of three unfortunate mice while mincing herbs and listening to jazz. (Image and recipe courtesy of Wishful Chef.)
–Grace
Easy Veggie Balls with Mushrooms and Carrots
1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, finely minced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded or finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons dried herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or foil and set aside.Finely mince vegetables and place into a bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together. Roll into balls and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with tomato sauce or with preferred dipping sauce.Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: makes about 25 meatballs

I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey’s Version Of “Three Blind Mice”
by Billy CollinsAnd I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
If not,
if each came to his or her blindness separately,

how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?

And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer’s wife
or anyone else’s wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.

Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, is the cynic’s answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass

or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rising softness that he feels.

By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard’s
mournful trumpet on “Blue Moon,”

which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better.

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The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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