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TV Dinner Time: big balls and meatballs

In television, tv on 01/30/2009 at 6:07 pm

Steelers or Cards? I pick the Cards because of the pretty uniforms and that young lad’s fantastic hair. Larry is it?

Oh yeah. And Bruce Springsteen is finally, after years of being begged, playing the halftime show at Sunday’s Super Bowl. You might want to check that out on NBC and CTV.

But if you were invited to my house, and you wish, you would instead be switching over to ABC as the gunshot sounds the end of the first half. And the reason is Wipeout. Call me shallow. Say I’m misled for ignoring the Boss; he will, after all, almost certainly put on show to rival Prince’s great halftime show in 2007. But, in this economy and with the newspaper industry wobbling on its last, rickets-weakened leg, I need the belly laughs. Sorry Bruce.

ABC is cleverly broadcasting reruns of last summer’s ratings hit at 5 p.m. opposite NBC and CTV’s Super Bowl pregame show and then running the brand-new Wipeout Bowl I: Cheerleaders vs. Couch Potatoes at about 8 p.m., opposite the halftime show on NBC and CTV.

For those unfamiliar with Wipeout, it is an obstacle course in which the play-by-play (the best and funniest part) is provided with biting, cruel humour by John Anderson of ESPN’s SportsCenter and John Henson. On the field, the hapless competitors are interviewed by Jill Wagner, who tries not to laugh; she will be joined for Super Ball Sunday by former Dallas Cowboy and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

Now what’s all this about balls? Well, most of the obstacles change or are at least tweaked in every episode, but the balls are a constant. And I suspect the entire series exists just to see how many times Anderson and Henson can say “big balls” in an hour. Juvenile? Guilty. Judge me. You won’t be the first or last. Here’s a promo to give you a taste.

And because it’s Super Bowl, there must be food involved. So sticking to the balls theme, I’m letting Swedish furniture giant Ikea do the heavy lifting. Credit for this clever meal plan goes to my real-life Swedish friend Christinne and my 844 friends in the Facebook group “I love Ikea meatballs”.

Some preparation is required. Drive to Ikea. Ignore the beds and clever shelving and go to the food kiosk and buy however many bags you require of frozen meatballs. Buy a corresponding number of packets of the powdered gravy mix. And — this is the most important part — buy more jars of lingonberry sauce than you think you’ll need. It’s kinda like cranberry, but more … Swedish.

On game day, with about 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, throw the frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet in an oven set to 350 C. (Don’t use the microwave. It turns the filler in these babies into cardboard.) Then, over medium heat, empty at least two packets of the gravy powder (doesn’t that sound delicious?) into a medium saucepan, adding 1.5 cups of cold milk per packet. Yes, milk! These Swedes are crazy. Follow the instructions and keep stirring. Shout “What’s happening on the field?” every minute or so to make it sound like you care about how the game is proceeding, but don’t stop stirring. This is cream gravy. It is not to be trifled with. When you hear the gun go off, which is hopefully the gun on the field and not some indication that your party is now a crime scene, your meatballs will be hot and the gravy richly thick. No sense trying to be elegant when serving. Unscrew the top on the lingonberry sauce and put it next to the cookie sheet and the saucepan. Give each person a flat soupbowl and let them serve themselves in the kitchen, which will give you a chance to go into the living room and change the channel to Wipeout on ABC. Oh yeah. Veggies. Ikea serves boiled potatoes, which are a nice way to soak up even more gravy. I’m going to put out an extra bag of chips and call it even.

— Denise Duguay

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