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March 24, 2010

Mid-Century Menu – Porcupine Balls and Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake

Welcome to another Mid-Century Menu, everyone!  This week we have a cute cookbook called “reMARKable Recipes”, which, in case you haven’t guessed, was named for the author’s husband, former Governor of Oregon Mark O. Hatfield.  After doing some research, I found out that Mark had a huge political career and is the longest running Senator in Oregon’s history and has about 20 facilities and funds named after him.  If you want to read more about Mark and his career, you can check the Wikipedia entry here.

Now, Mark’s wife, Antoinette, is the author of this cute cookbook which we are cooking out of today.  It was written while Mark was the governor of Oregon (1959-1967) and has some interesting recipes served to famous guests and just regular dishes Antoinette served to her family at home. According to the introduction, the recipes were gathered from previous generations of her and Mark’s family and from friends on the campaign trail. 

I found this book at a local estate sale, and after I bought it I was excited to find that it was also signed by Mrs. Hatfield! Fun!  So not only is this my first political cookbook, it is also the first signed one as well.

Anyway, since Tom and I are still crazy busy with a bunch of naughty kittens, we planned out a huge meal and then only ended up making a portion of it.  The portion we actually managed to make was the Porcupine Balls and the Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake.  We picked the Porcupine Balls because I have seen them in a bunch of different vintage cookbooks and have been meaning to try them, and the Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake because…well…its got mayo in it. Enough said.

And I am not going to make fun of Porcupine Balls once in this whole post, I swear.

Porcupine Balls. (Snort!)

Let’s get going!

First, the cranberry mayo cake, so it has time to cool.

Looks good so far.

Okay, this looks really strange, but as an ingredient it makes sense.  Cakes use both eggs and oil, and since that is what mayo is made of it shouldn’t be weird at all. 

But it still is.

And the smell! Blargh!

After the flour has been added. At least it is a pretty pink.

The batter glopped into a tube pan from my huge stash of baking pans.

Baked and steamy hot.  As you can see, I skipped out on lining the pan with paper, and it didn’t end up coming out that well. But the cake was pretty sturdy, so I just cut it off the pan.

On to the meatballs!

I love a recipe with only a few ingredients.

Okay, this is a really simple recipe, so for once I am just going to shut up and let you look at the pictures.

Ready for the oven!

And here they are after three hours in the oven.  They do look porcupine-y!

Tom sitting down and taking his first bite.  He was too impatient to even wait for the vegetables to be done!

“Are they good?”

“They are good, but plain.  They just taste like meat with rice.”

I took a bite, they did taste like meat with rice, but they were still good.  The only thing that was kind of gross was that the hamburger fat ran right into the sauce, so there was no draining of grease before we ate it.  Ah well, I am sure we have eaten things that were more unhealthy than this!

And then it was on to cake!

I forgot to take pictures of me making the frosting, but it was pretty straight foreward.  The cake was very good, moist and yummy with hints of orange and cranberry.  It tasted more like a good coffee cake than it did a layer cake, though.  I would recommend leaving of the frosting on the cake and making a glaze of orange juice and powdered sugar, as the cranberry frosting was too sweet and too thick for this cake.

The Verdict:

Porcupine Balls – Good, but plain.  I have seen some other recipes out there I want to try very soon!  Do you have a good Porcupine Balls recipe?  Share it here or email it to me!

Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake – Very good, but is more a coffee cake than anything. Skip the frosting and make a nice orange glaze for the top. Yum!

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8 Responses to Mid-Century Menu – Porcupine Balls and Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake

  1. Sara in AZ Reply

    March 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    At least they told you to make small Porcupine Balls! 🙂 I love Tom’s half smirk in the last photo – awesome!

  2. sablemable Reply

    March 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve had porcupine meatballs before, but can’t remember where the recipe is. I liked them, too!

    Ugh, with the mayo in the cake!

  3. Annie B. Reply

    March 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Snicker, snicker! Smirks, aside, the info on the cookbook is great! Congrats on finding that it is signed….too cool!

  4. Harp Lounge Reply

    March 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    You can tart up the porcupine balls in lots of ways.

    Moroccan style: Use lamb mice (if you can get it), add powdered ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and white pepper to the meat mix; add hot paprika or a dash of harissa paste to the sauce. Consider using regular canned tomato puree instead of tomato soup for this one. 🙂

    Thai style: Add fresh chopped coriander (cilantro), green or red chili (to taste), and fresh or powdered ginger and lemongrass to the meat. Make a coconut curry base sauce by sauteeing a good quality green or red Thai curry paste for a minute then adding a can of (unsweetened) coconut cream.

    Italian style: Add basil, oregano, and garlic to everything.

    Indian style: works well with pork mince too, but anything including vegie mice is great. Add turmeric, coriander, black pepper, ginger, and garlic to the meat. Sautee a good quality curry paste (Madras, vindaloo and korma go well with beef) for a minute or two, then add a can of tomato puree. Top with fresh chopped coriander to serve.

    Or just add any herbs and spices you think will taste good together! 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      March 25, 2010 at 8:45 am

      Thanks for all the ideas, Harp Lounge. Those all sound great, but the Thai ones make my mouth water! I am going to have to try those.

      Everyone else: I see all those smirks! Don’t think I don’t see you! 🙂

  5. Harp Lounge Reply

    March 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Er, that should be lamb MINCE not mice. 🙂

  6. Bryan Reply

    October 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    The porcupine balls recipe you have is an example of how recipes got “simplified” during that time period. That was also the era when spices and herbs were removed from recipes and housewives were no longer advised to cook meatballs before putting them in sauce. Instead, the meatballs were to cook completely in the sauce as a “time saving measure”. From my reading (and direct research) on the subject, like many other meatballs, the porcupine ball was meant to be browned before adding to the sauce and then removed from the fat, to both enhance flavor and to reduce grease. Recipes would also have more onion, minced and added to the balls, Worcestershire sauce, etc.

  7. Pingback: Cranberry Mayonnaise Cake And Porcupine Meatballs – A Mid-Century Recipe Test | The Mid-Century Menu

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