Morbid Curiosity

Morbid Curiosity: Cold Balls 2 – A View to a Chill

Holy Balls, you guys! Who knew balls were so popular around here? Due to the overwhelming demand from Persephone readers for more balls, I’ve taken two more recipes from the Cold Balls section of my Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking to present to you. But this is serious business, Persephoneers. No laughing! I’m doing this for high-minded research purposes… let it not be said that I am playing with balls.

Do you ever find yourself at the grocery store, feeling pretty hip and together, then you realize that you have to grab a can of devilled ham in front of a rather attractive stranger, and you feel like shouting, “Don’t judge me! This is for science! I need to create balls!” No, I suppose that just happens to me. But anyway, I’d just like to say for the record that losing my dignity in front of attractive strangers is a small price to pay for the privilege of bringing unusual balls to the masses.


A selection of cold balls on a tray.  Left: ham and cottage cheese.  Right: peanut butter and ham.
You've got a lot of balls, my friend.

The first recipe this week is for Ham-Cottage Cheese Balls. My main issue with these was not flavor (the ham, cottage cheese, and horseradish mixture actually worked very nicely together), but rather the consistency of the materials. I tried to strain most of the liquid off of the cottage cheese before using it, but it was still quite soupy. Consequently, these balls were difficult to keep intact. I’ll also take this opportunity to admit that I could not find watercress anywhere (even in the grocery store with the attractive strangers!) so I doubled up on the chives for the outer coating.

The second recipe is for the remarkably less palatable Peanut Butter and Ham balls. Yes, folks: you read that correctly. Way back in the late 1950s, some cookbook writing peon thought that minced ham with peanut butter would be an acceptable food combination to foist on the public. These did not taste good. Why was there ham in my peanut butter? Why was there peanut butter in my ham? These should never have been created. Hopefully, by eating them I have destroyed the only copies in existence.

So, Persephoneers… have you had enough of balls, or do you still want more? As a precaution in the event of further installments, I’ve come up with the working title Cold Balls 3: Revenge of the Brass Monkey.  What do you think, sirs?

Ham-Cottage Cheese Balls
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup devilled ham
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
¼ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
½ cup minced watercress
2 tablespoons minced chives

Mix cottage cheese, ham, horseradish, and sour cream; add salt and pepper to taste. Chill thoroughly. Form into balls and roll in mixture of minced wattercress and chives.

Ham and Peanut Butter Balls
Add enough peanut butter to 1 cup ground cooked ham to give a good shaping consistency. Form into small balls and roll in chopped fresh parsley. Chill thoroughly.

A peanut butter and ham ball sliced in half on a plate. The sections are arranged to look like eyes and a slice of carrot resembles a frowning mouth.
Ham is very unhappy about being this close to peanut butter.


The recipes featured in this post are from the Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking, published by the Homemakers Research Institute in 1959.

By Jen R. L. Disarray

Jen was once described as a "culinary anthropologist". She liked that. When she is not making questionable foods, Jen enjoys reading, sassing, and lurking all over the internet. Jen has a blog called Maybe We Shouldn't Be Eating This, and she is a contributor to the Geekquality podcast and blog.

5 replies on “Morbid Curiosity: Cold Balls 2 – A View to a Chill”

I think your surmise in the last ball post must be correct. The writers were so excited about a ball chapter that they just started grabbing ingredients at random. Or possibly there was a blindfolded dart thrower involved.

Ham and peanut butter? Who does that?

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