ikea’s swedish meatballs … now with veggies

What did you do over the Labor Day weekend? I went to Ikea. Woot! Oy! Conflicting emotions there. As always.

I moved into my new place last week (yay!), which meant I needed to buy stuff. I didn’t need as much stuff as I ended up buying, but some of it was needed. Well … ‘need’ is debatable. But what is undeniable is that Ikea has Swedish meatballs and I am a fan. Are they good? Eh. Are they cheap? Yes. Are they consistently the same worldwide? Close enough. Do I get Swedish meatballs each and every trip to Ikea? Oh heck yes. That is, if the line’s not too crazy long.

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And ya know what? Now they’re nutritious! The meatballs are likely the same as before, but an order of Swedish meatballs now comes with vegetables. VEGETABLES! I have no idea when this became a thing, but I’m not a fan. What the heck is that green, yellow, and orange doing on my plate? Mon dieu! They’re cluttering the plate! So now, because I feel bad wasting food, I get guilted into eating vegetables when all I really want are the Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. Argh. Good thing Ikea also offers desserts, because chocolate cake is the perfect thing to wash down those bland veggies!

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ikea in shanghai

After an English tutoring session, I took a little shopping trip to the wondrous place that is Ikea. Other than the Chinese people wandering about, it was a standard Ikea that could’ve been anywhere. Oh, and I used my new phone (Xiaomi 2S) to take the photos, hence the weird aspect ratio … I think I’ll go back to using my point-and-shoot.

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Shanghai has three Ikea locations, and I went to the Shanghai Baoshan one, which is a short walk from the Dachang Town station on line 7. It was easy to spot the big blue box with the bright yellow Ikea sign, but this one’s interior circulation was more annoying than usual because you had to take a series of escalators up to the 4th floor for the showroom, then work your way down to the 1st floor for checkout, and not all elevators went to all floors, and they had these really annoying ramp escalators. Ugh.

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The Swedish meatballs were fairly standard, but I’ve definitely had better at other Ikea locations. The little Swedish flag makes me happy, but the mashed potatoes tasted off and they gave me such a small portion of lingonberry jam – sad!

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At the end of the day, I was just so happy to get out of there. Every time I visit an Ikea, I always expect it’s going to be an amazing experience where I get so much cheap and glorious stuff. And every time I leave an Ikea, I always end up stuffed on Swedish meatballs, exhausted by the circuitous walking path, and exasperated that Ikea has fooled me once again. This time was no different. But alas, I got what I needed and have no reason to return any time soon.

making pork meatballs

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

I’ve never pretended to be a good cook, and I’m not much for experimenting. But I had some ground pork in my freezer that I wanted to use, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. To be honest, I’m not sure why I even bought it. I was in Chinatown and the meat is just so much cheaper down there than up here, I felt compelled to buy some. Yeah … I impulse-bought pork.

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Anyway, I made pork meatballs out of it. It was actually kind of fun to make them. I wasn’t really sure what went into meatballs, but how hard could they be? They’re basically just balls of meat, right? Well, a quick search of AllRecipes led me to a myriad of different recipes, so I decided to just wing it. When I made bread the last time (it was a rosemary-potato bread), I turned part of the loaf into breadcrumbs. I mixed some of those breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then I was going to add an egg … but I forgot. I squished all of that with the ground pork and formed meatballs. Yay!

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Then I wasn’t sure whether to fry or bake them. Online it seemed like either way would work, so I decided to just fry them in some olive oil because I didn’t want to turn on the oven just for a few meatballs. They fried up pretty nice, but it probably would’ve been better if I’d made them smaller. I cooked up some penne, simmered up some marinara (with the meatballs), and voila. The meatballs were a bit dry, probably since I didn’t add any egg and I cooked them too long because I was worried about them still being pink inside. Anyhow, it was a learning experience.

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