Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where's the Ham?!

Another day, another ham. Can I tell you a secret? I am sick of ham. I am tired of ham. I have had it up to here with ham. I don't want to see ham again for a very, very long time.

I decided to heed the advice from some sage Internet friends, so I diced the remaining ham and packaged most of it for the freezer. Though the texture will suffer from being refrozen, this ham can easily be used as toppings for pizza and omelets or in soups.

That still leaves some ham for tonight's dinner.

I trimmed and blanched some green beans and set those aside for later. I then cleaned and cut three Klondike Rose Red Skin Golden Idaho Potatoes (rose, red, golden - couldn't they make up their minds?). I tossed them with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper before baking them in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
At that time I pulled the pan out and added the green beans, along with a sliced shallot, some diced ham and a slice of bacon that was cut. Salt and pepper were sprinkled over the green beans and this went back into the oven for another 30 minutes.

Wait a minute! This doesn't look like ham. Why, it looks like a Cowboy Rib Eye Steak. The steaks were on sale at the grocery store today, so one jumped in my cart. This one steak will easily become two meals for us, and the bone will be added to my freezer stash for beef stock makings.
Olive oil, kosher salt and cracked black pepper coat each side of the steak. I heated my cast iron skillet over high heat before I put the steak in the pan. I seared each side of the steak before sticking the remote-probe thermometer in the center of the steak and placing the pan in the oven. I set the thermometer for 130 degrees. After resting, the temperature would reach 135 to 140 degrees and the beef will be rare.

The timer went off and I plated the veggies.

After resting, the steak was ready to be sliced for service.

This looks good enough to eat.
We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Ham

After a couple of days respite, we are back to the ham. How can I make ham this time?

Let's see: we have black pepper, salt, Yukon Gold potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, green onion, yellow onion and ham.

The onion was chopped and the cheese was grated. The ham was diced and one of the potatoes was grated, skin and all. The grated potato was placed in a clean kitchen towel and the excess moisture was wrung out. Oh, and afterwards, immediately rinse out and then soak the towel in soapy water. I learned this lesson the hard way.

My new cast iron skillet was put to use, as olive oil was added to the hot pan before the potatoes went in. Then the yellow onion and ham were added. This cooked over medium-high heat until the potatoes began to brown on the bottom.

A plate was placed on top of the skillet and the pan was carefully flipped over. Since the pan is new, some of the potatoes stuck and had to be scraped out. This should be easier once the pan has been seasoned a bit more.

The grated cheese and sliced green onion were added to the top and this was seasoned with salt and pepper. The pan then went into a preheated 325 degree oven to finish cooking.

I fried slices of leftover ham loaf while the hash potatoes and ham continued to cook.

This was a nice, lighter meal after our large dinner the day before.
Remember, after the initial cleaning after purchase, never use soap to clean an iron skillet. Many people also believe that simply wiping out the pan is enough to clean the pan; no water necessary. If you must use water, be sure to thoroughly dry the pan and then wipe the inside with a bit of cooking oil to coat. After all iron + water = rust.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Naughty or Nice?

Santa must have thought I was a good girl this year. Look what he left under the tree for me.

I was happy to find that Santa had left me copies of The Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten and Nigella Express by the Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson. I also got cooking tongs, a 10" cast iron skillet, The 'Ove' Glove and a 2.5 liter stainless steel saucepan by Beka. I had received an olive wood mortar and pestle set for my birthday a few days earlier.

My daughter had purchased a couple of signs for me when she and a friend went to Holiday World last summer.
The dear thought that even I might appreciate a break from kitchen duties once in a while.

My daughter also thought I should post some rules regarding laundry. I did point out that #6 does not apply, as I refuse to iron anything.

I wonder how good I'll have to be this next year to get some of the other things on my culinary wish list?

Christmas in Ohio and Bandits

We drove to Ohio yesterday to celebrate Christmas with our son and his family and my husband's family. And besides the fact that the wind seemed determined to blow us somewhere else, it was a lovely day.

Man, I can't believe I am outing myself. I prefer to stay out of pictures for obvious reasons. But I just had to show you my adorable grandson. He is eight months old and loves to stand and bounce. Gives new meaning to the term 'bouncing baby boy'.

Later, after many gifts were exchanged and opened, we were treated to a lovely sunset.

I love sunsets. Have you noticed?

My mother-in-law pointed out that though we were in Ohio, this is technically an Indiana sunset since they live only half a mile from the state border. Oh well, I guess we can share!

Then later that night as I was preparing for bed back home in Southern Indiana, I looked out my kitchen window to see this fellow and his buddy raiding the bird feeders. The picture is a bit blurry because he was charging me as I tried to take his picture. I wisely closed the door and let him return to his thievery.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ham, I Am

Another day, another ham dish. Today I made ham salad for lunch.

Here I have ham, mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, celery and onion.

The first step was to trim the fat and skin from some ham. The cat got the trimmings. See all the ham I still have left? Oh joy.

I quickly chopped the ham in my processor.

Chopped celery, onion and mayonnaise were added to the meat. Then some relish and a touch of mustard were mixed in.

Lunch is ready.
And now, for dinner.

All right, I admit it. I am already tired of ham, so I bought some hamburger for tonight's dinner. My daughter requested burgers, so I grated in some onion and a clove of garlic. Salt and black pepper complete the seasonings.

After mixing thoroughly, I divided the meat into four sections.

My handy-dandy hamburger press was put to work.

This is the no-fuss, no-muss way to make hamburger patties.

It was at about this time when my husband told me that he wouldn't not be home for dinner. Oh well. So two patties were packaged for the freezer while the other two went into the fridge to await cooking.

A couple of pieces of bacon, a slice of cheese, onion, pickles and homemade barbecue sauce complete the sandwich. Now, this is a juicy burger. I might even be able to face the next ham dish now.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ham Again?

Why yes, we are having ham again. What else did you expect? But first, here's another beautiful winter sunset for your enjoyment.

I do hope they never develop this land and ruin my sunsets.

And now, back to the ham. First up is a ham sandwich. Honey mustard, Baby Swiss cheese and onion nicely complement the smoky ham.

I typically make ham loaf once a year. So here is this year's version. I have ham of course, onion, black pepper, ground mustard, bread crumbs, evaporated milk, brown sugar and an egg.

I love my food processor. The ham was so easy to chop up after I trimmed off the skin. Once I added the other ingredients, I decided that the mix was too dry so another egg and some Half-and-Half were included in the dish.

I drizzled olive oil in a baking dish and formed the ham loaf in the pan. I also drizzled some of the glaze from the baked ham over the ham loaf. This then went into a 350 degree oven for one hour.

Delicious. One more ham dish down.

And now I present the final ham dish - for now. The syrup from the pineapple was mixed with an equal amount of brown sugar and that was poured over the ham and pineapple. This was covered and baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
And to think that I only have a 13-cup container full of ham left to re-imagine.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Holiday Tradition Continues

Each year my husband receives a large fully-cooked, bone-in ham for Christmas. Then I get to figure out ways to serve this delightful treat to my family. Now you must understand that this is a 15 pound ham and we are a family of three with a cat. So this ham will make several meals for us. You know it's bad when even the cat gets tired of ham after a few days. Since ham does not freeze well (the texture and taste suffer from the experience), this must be eaten quickly. My family actually groaned this year when I announced the beginning of The Eight (or Twelve, as my family now insists) Days of Ham. Then they began singing an impromptu rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, with the gifts all being ham.
I have made it my mission to never make the same ham dish twice, so read along as we embark on our annual ham adventure.

I found a recipe in a special edition of Southern Living Christmas at Home. Currant-Glazed Ham sounded like the perfect kick-off for our annual tradition.

Here we have the fully-cooked bone-in ham, orange juice, brown sugar, sherry, red currant jelly and whole cloves. Whole grain Dijon mustard replaces the brown mustard that the recipe specified.

First I mixed together 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sherry, 10 ounces red currant jelly and 3 tablespoons mustard. I deviated from the recipe a bit by heating this mixture in the microwave rather than on the stove top. Later, I did put the remaining liquid in a saucier and reduced the mixture by about half. This was then used as a finishing glaze.

I lightly scored the ham and placed a few whole cloves in the centers of the diamonds. I only placed about 15 or 16 cloves in the ham as my family would not have appreciated the overpowering clove taste. Just remember to remove the cloves before serving.

Next, I spooned a bit of the glaze over the ham before placing in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours. I periodically spooned more glaze over the ham during the cooking process and poured a bit of water in the bottom of the pan to prevent the sugars from burning on the bottom of the pan. I covered the ham with aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking.

If this tastes as good as it looks and smells we will be very satisfied diners indeed.

I also had roasted green beans with shallots and bacon while my daughter made mashed potatoes with Yukon Gold potatoes, half and half and butter.

The table is set, the candles are lit and we are ready to dine.

And this all tasted as good as it looked. This was a delightful start to our Eight Days of Ham.

But wait, we are not finished yet. So now, on to the next ham dish.

Another family tradition is that I make my Good Morning Casserole for Christmas morning. This time I substituted ham for the sausage. This dish must be assembled the night before so that the custard mixture can soak into the bread. After my wonderful husband hand-washed the items that can't go into the dishwasher and I finished carving the ham, we put this dish together for the next morning. Then, the trick was to find room in the refrigerator for it to sit overnight.

Christmas morning I put this in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes and made coffee while I waited for my husband and daughter to wake up.
This was good, although as my husband noted, a bit blander than the sausage version. I think that I would add some herbs to the custard mixture the next time.
Check in later to see what other ways I can concoct to serve this ham.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Gift for You

Since you all have been very good blog readers this year, I have decided to treat you to an early Christmas gift.

You may remember that I had lamented that one of my orchids was suffering from bud blast. I am happy to tell you that I followed my own advice and began watering the plant more faithfully. These beautiful blooms are my reward.

Finally, the rains have stopped and the skies are clearing.

Tis a beautiful end to a wonderful day.

And now, good friends, the sun settles in the west...

Leaving in its wake promises of a bright tomorrow.
Happy Holidays!