Ham, herbs and honey custards

Family Food Fare and Favourites

Join me as I dig through my memories, and recipes, to rediscover my family’s food “back in the day” and how those food habits have changed over the decades to today’s diverse and multi-cultural cuisines. This is my theme for the 2021 A to Z challenge.


Ham was a relative rarity in my early childhood, mainly found in Ham and Split Pea Soup, which was reasonably inexpensive. Having soaked the split peas overnight, Mum would steam them with a ham bone in the pressure cooker to make a deliciously warming soup in winter.  

On a hot summer’s day when I was a teen, our main meal might sometimes be a slice of ham with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cheddar and beetroot accompanied by mashed potato.

I have a question for the “brains trust” reading this post. Do you remember something called “Hedgehogs”, and not the hedgehog slice you find in a bakery? It came to me the other night that we used to have something called that we called hedgehogs, made with mince meatballs, rolled in rice, and cooked in tomato sauce. There is definitely another dish, typically called Porcupines, which I only found after Google searching.  In this case the rice is mixed in with the mince. So why do I have an image of the rice-encrusted meatballs? Am I Hallucinating??

My cousin Patsy’s porcupines recipe

Mum would sometimes make a honey roll cake but it wasn’t a family favourite. I found my uncle’s ingredient list for making them commercially as he was a pastry chef and former Army cook. (I’m not sure how he coped with the Army given how often he changed jobs on civvie streets because he didn’t like the boss). The quantities are mind-boggling.

Uncle Pat’s honey roll ingredients


Ham on fresh bread or with a salad is much more common these days and great for picnics. I can only assume that we are less financially constrained and that the supply of ham is less expensive anyway. We still have ham and pea soup in winter though because it’s yummy.

I have no recollection of encountering hamburgers back in the day, but we would regularly enough have rissoles. To this day hamburgers are not on our default menu either at home or as take-away. However, when our girls were teens we would sometimes get them from Uncle Sam’s at Sunnybank Hills rather than any of the usual big-name places.

Our salads today are often far more exotic, and one we enjoy is haloumi and basil salad. We love the taste of haloumi freshly pan fried..

Easter has just passed so we can defer our angst over Hot Cross Buns for another year. Their appearance on the supermarket shelves at earlier and earlier dates seems to drive us all slightly demented. They were a treat back in the day because they were restricted to a short period of time.

Herbs have taken on a major role in modern cooking. No longer the cardboard cylinders of McKenzie’s herbs, rather individual bottles, or equally likely, sachets of fresh herbs from the supermarket. Keen cooks will often grow their own herbs and spices. We currently have lemon thyme, flat leaf parsley, basil, Thai basil, Kaffir limes (for limes and leaves), rosemary (which I can’t eat), and mint.

This week’s honey custards.

For dessert when we have visitors, one of our default recipes is Honey Custards because they’re  tasty, easy and quick to make. (Tip: don’t use your manuka honey – save it for treating your sore throats with lemon, grated ginger and a jot of rum).

New Food Fare: Haloumi cheese and hommus/hummus are standouts for me, both of which we include in menus without thinking about the changes.  While our parents may have grown their own parsley or mint, I don’t think many grew other fresh herbs or spices.

Did/do you have honey and lemon with hot water (and extras?) when you had/have a sore throat?

Did your family ever make large-scale recipes to feed many people?

Do you remember hedgehog meatballs or porcupines?

Do you grow your own fresh herbs?

Mr Cassmob’s Honey Custard Recipe

16 thoughts on “Ham, herbs and honey custards

  1. We didn’t eat ham but we had something called Boiling Bacon. It tasted pretty good and I often had it on sandwiches for school. We had lots of pea and ham soup, boiled in the Vacola bottling set and ready to be heated up at regular intervals. I’m afraid I got heartily sick of it. The only savoury thing we had with rice in it was rissoles. I still use the same recipe today (it’s in my head) but I cheat and use precooked rice from the supermarket. I think our herb garden was only mint and parsley as a child. The mint was for peas and for mint sauced the parsley was for mashed potato and also parsley dumplings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ie never heard of the soup being kept in Vacola bottles. I wonder if Boiling Bacon is akin to Pickled Pork. I’ve never had parsley dumplings and for some reason Mum never made mint sauce though Mr Cassmob’s Mum did.


  2. I think we had ham but never hedgehogs. Mum cooked resoles (as my kids called them) which were a bit on the dry side and would have done the trick resoling our shoes.

    We love being able to get Hot Cross Buns from January to Easter, and I hope beyond. We regularly have one with our afternoon coffee.

    We grow a few herbs but until recently they had a high mortality rate due to our long absences overseas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We had ham. Never had hedgehogs or porcupines. We never made large scale recipes – your Uncle Pat’s ingredient list is impressive.

    I have sometimes had a hot lemon drink for a sore throat.

    I have succumbed and have hot cross buns from January. They were already no longer for sale on Monday thorough so I will have to wait til next Boxing Day 😉

    We do grow some herbs.

    Very much enjoying your recollections and the memories it brings back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anne. I don’t think I even had one Hot Cross Bun this year…no real reason. I guess one could grab some and put them in the freezer in advance.


  4. Wait…Mr. Cassmob bakes as well? How fortunate for you! My family always had ham at Easter, and my siblings are still big ham eaters — although I have since moved on to cooking more fish and poultry. Since I took up gardening during the pandemic, I am now also enjoying fresh herbs in summer and may try your haloumi and basil salad as, over the winter, I have been growing hydroponic basil. https://mollyscanopy.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well baking has been his adventure into something new. Isn’t it interesting how certain foods, like ham at Easter, become an unchangeable tradition in a family. You are the renegade moving to fish and poultry 😉

      Hydroponic Basil sounds impressive!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was gifted an Aerogarden Sprout — and you get seeds all podded up, built in light and liquid fertilizer with the machine. The parsley and dill didn’t fare too well, but the basil has been growing like mad all winter. Lots of fun in the colder months!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A friend has been raving about her aerogarden on Facebook with tomatoes,flowers, basil etc. totally unnecessary here with our weather but it is sure tempting and looks like great fun as well!


  5. We had the hedgehogs Pauleen. I hadn’t thought of them in years. No ham or herbs at our house. I grow my own herbs now so we have whatever we need. How times have changed. We have four dozen hot cross buns in the freezer. My partner loves them toasted and stocks up. The earlier and earlier Hot Cross Buns make me angry every year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whew, I thought I was hallucinating about those hedgehogs yet couldn’t fathom where the idea would have come from! I love having fresh herbs, don’t you. My ordinary basil is precarious at present but the Thai Basil is out of control (literally).

      Sounds like your other half and Mr GeniAus enjoy their Hot Cross Buns….4 dozen!!


  6. Dear Pauleen – a fun post as always. I went through my ridiculously large cookbook collection but can find no mention of hedgehogs…sigh. Thank you for the lovely recipes as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the hedgehogs are a dilemma though Jennifer remembers them too. Perhaps they were a variation on porcupines…or a figment of my imagination….lol.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.