Ramble On

Monday, April 21, 2014

Finally, A Ham

After three years of butchering hogs with David and the crew, Mary and I finally had the chance to enjoy one of the hams.  In the past, we've lost them due to power fluctuations in Alexandria (surprisingly the power here can be flaky - we have a generator now to stabilize things), when they went through a freeze thaw cycle that left them freezer burned.

David offered some good advice for dealing with this, however, by cutting the ham (a market hog will provide hams in the 25-30 pound range, but the hogs he raises are bigger) into smaller parts and freezing them separately.  This year I had two thirds of the ham cured and took the other piece home - we smoked it BBQ style, as I mentioned in the previous post.

While "Kevin Bacon," as the hog Chris and I shared was known, was the centerpiece of the dinner, we had good company with some neighbors and with one of Mary's college classmates, and her mother.  Mary broke out the china and glassware that we received as wedding presents, and made a very festive spring table.

We used a "Joy of Cooking" process for preparing the ham - which weighed in at 12 pounds -  there are plenty of leftovers.  It was a simple minutes x pounds calculation, and came out perfect.  Both Chris and David helped us out on figuring out how to prepare it (thanks!).

Rounding out the dinner were a couple of family traditions from Mary's side, spring vegetables, a home brewed Dubbel, and a chocolate birthday cake (both Mary's and her classmate's birthdays are coming up).

Our neighbor is an accomplished baker.  She took one of Mary's handwritten family recipes and deciphered it - including some adjustments that had to be made for one entry: "add flour while needing" - and turned out a fabulous "babka."  This was a Polish soda bread with raisins and currents - totally a highlight of the meal.

Now that we know how to deal with the hams and not lose them, I'm looking forward to making a ham dinner an annual tradition.

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