Gaee’s Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Author: Michael Harlan Turkell

Gaee was the nickname that Michael used to call his grandmother Ruth because when he was a baby trying to pronounce the word “grandma,” all that came out was “Gaee.” The name stuck, just like this recipe for her meatballs.

Makes20 to 30 1-inch meatballs


2 pounds ground beef (20 percent lean is recommended)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1 small onion, diced
1 packet vegetable soup mix (Knorr is preferred), approximately 5 tablespoons
Cooking oil of your choice
1 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon citric acid, also called “sour salt”


In a large bowl, mix the beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion and vegetable soup mix. Using your hands, roll the meat into balls about 1-inch in diameter (slightly smaller than a golf ball.)

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Add the meatballs and brown thoroughly, turning them to brown each side, which should take about 8 minutes. You may have to work in batches. Place finished meatballs on a plate lined with paper towel.

In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, raisins, sugar, salt and citric acid. Heat over medium-low heat then add the meatballs. Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve as a meal with buttered noodles, or as party food with toothpicks.

*This recipe originally appeared on