Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! HAM

This month has slipped by so quickly that I haven't been able to give you more postings. None of it was a matter of shopping for Christmas presents, because I refuse to play along anymore. It was some sort of narcolepsy en croute with nausea gravy. No, not the flu.
I did make some King Arthur dog biscuits for a couple of my canine friends, Jasmine and Raymu. Then John and SuZann will be getting a jar of that batch of brandied raisins I made at mid-year for an ice cream recipe. SuZann doesn't drink alcohol, so, these babies will get her looped. John likes good wine, and brandy is made from wine, and so the raisins will be compatico to John's preferences. I do aim to please.
The local friends drive to far away places to spend Christmas with their families. No one visits here. And, although we miss them and would love to see them, I don't expect my in-laws to drive 12 hours for a meal and no presents. We prefer they don't have to travel at all, that they stay warm and cozy in their homes, safe and sound instead of spending an insane amount of money on gasoline. Besides, we keep in touch often during the rest of the year.

However, we will be having company after Christmas Day, when my old friend Patrick arrives all the way from La Quinta. We haven't seen him in 9 years, when they were visiting Donna's mother, the next county over. And since that fun time, our moms and Donna passed away, each of them one year apart to the exact day. All of our lives went through change, and change again, forever leaving their foozie plotz on our hearts for the rest of ours.
When such a friendship spans 39 years, it becomes a treasure trove of funny memories. When we all first met, the three of us worked at Denny's. Patrick and I worked the graveyard shift at the one on Hwy.111, and Donna worked swing at the big Denny's with the Amigo Room out on the old Hwy. 10. We barely knew each other when Patrick decided to test my cool. He grabbed a meat cleaver and a can of whipped cream, made a scary face at me and then chased me into the ladies restroom. I laughed my butt off. You had to be there because it was like a cartoon. Funnier still were the two sheriffs drinking coffee, who paid no attention to it whatsoever. Later on I came to find out there was a time when Patrick was a deputy, so, these guys were used to his antics.
But what a great surprise for Christmas! The original Fonz.

This particular recipe for ham was one my mother used. I don't know if it was her own, or if she got it from a gal pal at a dinner party. She made this for Easter, one year, (and I do mean one), and I about died from the pleasure of this melt-in-your-mouth hump diddy with its sass of apricot jam and ground cloves and brown sugar, all baked into meat-love perfection. Even the fat couldn't have been done any better, with its golden brown to almost black variances from crispy to greasy. And every time I have used this recipe, it comes out the same fabulous way.
When Grandmother Jeanette fell ill to old age, she developed odd hurdles to jump, one being she had a fungus on the back of her tongue and had to gargle with this awful stuff known as gentian lilac. It stained the inside of her mouth purple and killed her taste buds. Mother was hard pressed to come up with a special visit dinner, as Grandma liked her own cooking and no one else's would do. There were 'the ways' to follow, and a schedule to stick to, and everything had to be done so-so. But, this time Grandma had no choice in the matter. It was interesting to see the shoe on the other foot with her sitting at the kitchen table, watching the action, with hands crippled from rheumatoid arthritis, unable to contribute to the family meal. She could barely hold a fork. And she couldn't chew hard. She...couldn'
Finally, in Grandma's eyes, Marie did something right. That ham, melted in her mouth and coated her tongue with zippy juices and...she could taste it! Rightfully so, Mother was quite proud.
This may or may not be on time for Christmas, but do try it anyway.

Pink Elephants coffee Cafe
Adapted from Linda's mom's recipe.

1/2 already cooked, bone-in ham

1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 14-oz. jar Apricot Preserves (original recipe called for baby food)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Rinse off ham (always rinse off store bought pork) and place in foil-lined roasting pan, with one lengthways and one crossing that sideways, all sides high enough to fold over and seal the ham closed. Try to have the cut end exposed. If ham isn't shaped to do that, put it cut side down. It's preferable to expose the cut end.
3. Coat ham, patting on the dry mixture all over, piling whatever is extra on top of the ham. Wrap up the foil over the ham to firmly close and place on rack in oven.
4. Bake at 400F for 1 1/2 hours (already cooked ham only).
5. Remove ham from oven, carefully open foil, and pile all of the apricot jam on top. Close to cover loosely open, and return to oven to cook for one more hour.

If a thicker sauce is desired, pour drippings into pan and stir in a little cornstarch/water.

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