Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kid-friendly Porcupines

This month, I'm sharing all the recipes that are in LOST AND FONDUE. 

[By the way, thanks to all of you who have bought a copy or borrowed one from the library. L&F has done amazingly well this first week. Reviews have been lovely.]

Back to food - one of my favorite recipes in the book is one I enjoyed as a girl -- porcupines.

Often, when I am writing scenes with the twins, Amy and Clair, and they involve food, I am drawn to memories of my youth. When my mother and father married, my mother wasn't a good cook. Her mother had done all the cooking over the years and never thought to teach her. (Home Ec wasn't an option.)

When my mom died, I found keepsake letters from her to her grandmother. In them, my mother belittled her lack of cooking talent. But my mother was a smart woman, and she was eager to learn. She started with green Jell-o and advanced to meat loaf and spaghetti sauce. (Her spaghetti sauce was one of the all-time best I've ever tasted...except back then I didn't care for the mushrooms...NOW I adore mushrooms, but as a girl? Ewww. I would pick them out. That's another story.)

As my mother grew confident, she loved making "gourmet" items. Crab stuffed into filet of sole. A killer gorgonzola salad dressing. Angel food cake from scratch.

But for us kids, she stayed to the basics. And porcupines was one of those. Throw the mixture together, mold into little balls, and bake. Provide enough catsup and they are heaven!

They're called porcupines because the rice pokes out of the meat and looks like the quills of a porcupine.

* A fan wrote me this week and asked if the rice could be left out. I told her yes, but then they're just turkey meatloaf. If you're not a rice fan, you might consider using barley or bread crumbs.  However, using rice ensures they are gluten-free.

Hope your little ones (or big ones) enjoy the fun!


1 lb. chopped turkey
½ cup rice
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
[For spicy catsup]
6 tablespoons catsup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
[For Porcupines]
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix everything together. Easy.
Roll into balls the size of walnuts.
Place on cookie sheet, slightly apart.
Bake 30 minutes.
Turn the heat up to broil.
Broil for 5 minutes.
Remove from oven. Place baked porcupines on paper towels.
Serve with spicy catsup.
[For spicy catsup}
Mix catsup, Worcestershire, and horseradish and serve. [Really easy.]

Lastly...enjoy your kids. They grow up so fast!


And just in case you want to order the second in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, click here: LOST AND FONDUE

If you'd like to read the first chapter, click here: SNEAK PEEK

If you'd like to see the book trailer, click here: BOOK TRAILER

And for a lark, if you'd like to watch a how-to-make fondue movie, click here: HOW TO

And always smile and...say cheese.


  1. Hey Avery, (and Liz who gave me the heads up for this post:)

    I love cooking with my 4 year old daughter, but she looked at me a little sceptically when I told her we'd be making and eating porcupines. And the cute little picture you put up didn't help matters as she almost cried, as she ran to her mother practically accusing me of premeditated genocide against cute and cuddly creatures. Luckily I managed to convince her that her dad isn't a porcupine-eating-monster, and I've managed to regain the services of my little assistant:)
    On a last note ( and a bit off topic:), I remember before I had my daughter. All my other friends who were already parents told me, " Gilbert. Enjoy the time you have with your kid while she's young. It goes so fast."
    And I was the classic cocky, all knowing parent to be, "Sure, sure. I know all this."
    But the funny thing is I really didn't. The time REALLY does go so fast. I remember like it was yesterday being there at the hospital (the process was a painful weekend for her mother) when she enter the world. I couldn't believe how tiny she was. The worse thing is that she's now 4 years old. WHAT! That must mean that I've also aged 4 years.
    Great advice, because through all the sickness, mess and tantrums, there's also a load of fantastic times watching these little people develop. Time really does fly when you're having fun.

    Have a good one guys.

  2. Ha! So funny, because as a kid I remember my mom saying she'd made some porcupines for supper and I had the same reaction as Gilbert's daughter! I'd forgotten that. This recipe looks fabulous, Avery--I know my kids will enjoy it, too.

    I'm going to agree with Gilbert and Avery here--time goes way too fast with babies in the house. My first one is going to high school this fall and now I'm smothering my 9 year old with attention because I'm realizing how fast time really IS going!

  3. Another growing up memory My mom used to make porcupines as well. They were one of my favorite things she would make. I'm reading Lost and Fondue now and can't wait to get to the end to check out the recipes. Love the CheeseShop series and am looking forward to the next book. Keep them coming!!!!

  4. I might try these for my finicky eater. He's 13 and if it's not a processed fast food, he's usually not interested. Can't wait to read Lost and Fondue. Had to delay my purchase (oh, I could get it from the library, but this is a series I collect) because same finicky eater broke a window at school. And since dog walking and lawn care jobs take forever to generate $300 he had to finance the payment through the Bank of Mom. At least he's working to pay it off, but it's not a good thing to mess with Mom's book buying budget.

  5. How do you think this would work with ground bison? We've switched to mostly bison. It's leaner than beef and surprisingly doesn't dry out as much as ground turkey. (Of course the dry turkey is probably due to cook error.)

  6. These look like so much fun. My mother didn't make porcupines and I've never even had them. Now I'll change that. Thanks, Avery, and congrats on the success of Lost and Fondue! No surprise but great news.

  7. Gilbert, love your story! Genocide through porcupines is too funny.

    Elizabeth/Riley, I know what you mean. I still smother my 25 year old. I don't mean to, it just happens. [Not really, I am better than I was...] I can't get enough of seeing him when he's around. Love his sense of humor. It's tough when you have to let them go.

    Booklady - poor baby. You could always go to the library, read it and wait for that Bank of Mom to be repaid to "own" it. :) LOL at the Bank of Mom. Been there, done that.

    Sue, Bison would work great. My husband adores bison. That's almost all he eats to keep his weight in check. [Re: dry turkey, it can dry out. In this recipe, the rice holds the moisture.]

    MJ, isn't it funny how many remember this recipe, so what do you bet it was a Betty Crocker favorite. I added the parmesan because, well, I'm the Cheese Lady, right? Thanks for your part on the back. :)

    Have a great day, all!

  8. I've never had porcupines, and believe it or not, we've never used ground turkey meat here. Time to give this a whirl. It sounds great! Love the conversation it's inspiring, too!

  9. Julie, never used ground turkey? It's not vegetarian, but in addition to the porcupines, I've got a great turkey meatloaf that my family loves. Nice and moist. Again, with ground turkey, you need to add something that holds in the moisture. Bread crumbs and/or gluten-free bread crumbs do the trick.

    Hugs and loving the inspiring as well.


  10. These ARE fun and cute. A friend gave me a recipe that calls for microwaving them. I prefer baking. I'm not a fan of cooking meat in the microwave (except bacon).

    Your recipe is different from hers, I'll have to try it.

  11. Gilbert, you and your daughter are cracking me up. How sweet that she thought you were going to cook porcupines!

    Avery, I bet these taste as good as they are cute!

    ~ Krista

  12. I sneak in ground turkey or chicken whenever I can, and I'll bet bison would be very flavorful for the porcupines!

    Love the memories your post invoked, Avery. Gilbert's story reminded me of when my mother used to make Grasshopper Pie, and some of our friends would squirm at the thought, until she assured them the dessert was NOT made of real grasshoppers!

  13. What a fun post -- and these comments are so touching. I've never had porcupines but they look so easy and healthy to me that I'll be trying them soon. And big congrats to you Avery on the bestseller success of LOST AND FONDUE!

    Read with joy!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  14. Christi, great to see you here. Lynn, you cracked me up with the grasshoppers. Too funny.

    Cleo, I agree, everyone's posts are so much fun to read. Thanks for your support. Truly appreciated.


  15. My mother use to make this and I haven't had it in a long time. Another one added to my collection.