Way back in 1968 when Tui’s book was first published, New Zealand was a very different place. Communication with the Northern Hemisphere-based branches of our respective families was via letter (sea mail unless urgent), international news footage was always a day late as the tapes were flown out, and though as a nation our image tended towards tough, brash, adventurous outdoorsy folk (think All Blacks and Sir Edmund Hillary), this sense of daring didn’t quite reach the countries dining tables. At least, not any we older Homesteaders remember sitting down to in our tender years. In fact, get a bunch of children of the ’70’s together and you can bet it won’t be long until the conversation turns to food in general, and next thing you know they’ll be swapping meatball horror stories to make your hair curl. In school we may have been singing about meatballs on top of cheese covered spaghetti, but at home we were sitting down the meat equivalent of canon balls, generally served with a boiled spud, a spoonful of soggy cabbage, Surprise peas,and all liberally doused in Watties tomato sauce. Oh, those were the days!
It was with no real surprise that we discovered a basic meatball recipe in Tui’s book, but it was followed by an entire section of sauces to accompany them. Sauces! With meatballs! And the ingredients made our eyes bug: garlic and tomato, pineapple, capsicum, and one creamy sauce calling for blade mace! We had to give this a try!
We chose, to compliment our pasta-based meatball feast , three sauces: fresh tomato, sweet and sour, and that intriguing Creamy Spiced Sauce. Farm Girl opted for macaroni cheese, citing the prior engagement of the school sleepover where a surprise to the digestive system would be frowned upon. Fair enough, we grudgingly agreed. She did help with the tedious sugar addition to the pavlova we decided was the perfect dessert-to-follow.
The upshot of the round table discussion that followed was that meatballs are actually really yummy, although a bit fiddly to assemble. Of the sauces, the tomato one was pretty much what families the world over are now sitting down to on a regular basis, and with good reason. You just can’t beat the classic combination of tomato, onion and garlic. It’s been a while since we thought to bung a bay leaf into the mix; we just might make that a regular thing now our memory has been prompted. The sweet and sour sauce was a winner, well out-shining anything we’d flung together under that name recently. As for the creamy sauce, with it’s combination of ginger, nutmeg, mace and allspice we were a little wary but it was in fact the perfect foil for the taste-bud walloping other two. We can’t see it becoming a Homestead staple, but it wasn’t repulsive either.
As for the pav, well every family has someone that is renown for their pavlova production. These Auntie Dot/Pip/Sue/Ann ladies (who often aren’t your Auntie at all) effortlessly churn out massive, crusty outside/fluffy in, perfect confections every time. Sadly, this talent bypassed the Homestead.
However, if you’re every after a sticky, chewy, cow-pat shaped disc to grace the supper tables at your next family gathering we may just be able to help you.
No, no photos exist; the humiliation was just too raw.