[ad#Home Page Above Posts]
When I was growing up, we always had ham on Christmas Day. My mother cooked it on Christmas Eve, and it made the house smell wonderful. We always got to have ham sandwiches on pumpernickle bread for dinner on Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, I used to think it was a such a special treat—the very best bread in the world, with a good smear of mustard, and that sweet juicy delicious ham fresh from the oven! I can still feel the mustard smeared on my cheek after the first bite. But when I got older, I finally figured out that we had those sandwiches because Mama did not have time to make anything else. That did not make the memory any less sweet, though, and I still yearn for a ham on pumpernickel whenever I smell ham baking in the oven.
When my own three children were young, and I was the one in a frenzy on the night before Christmas, I started a new tradition. Instead of spending all my time in the kitchen away from my three very special guests, I made a cocktail party for them with all the grownup hors dourves—sausage balls, raw veggies and dip, a cheese and cold cut platter, olives, pigs in blankets. And I got out my real crystal wineglasses and served up punch or koolaid. We all got dressed up in our best clothes, put on music and danced, even when the oldest of them was only five years old. The first year that my son was in the Air Force was the first time I didn’t make the traditional party for them. After Christmas, my son, who was home on leave, said, “It just didn’t feel like Christmas without our party.” I truly didn’t know it meant so much to him. I am wondering if he is doing this for his own children now.
The reason I am having these rememberies is because I bought a ham this week. I cooked it yesterday, but not before I made a loaf of gluten free pumpernickel bread. Well, not REALLY pumpernickel. I used Bob’s Red Mill Hearty Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread Mix. I add four tablespoons of brown sugar to the mix because I don’t like the taste of it if I don’t. It turns out a very dark, spicy, nutty bread much that tastes a lot like pumpernickel. And unlike the last time I made it, I actually used two 8” X 4.5” loaf pans. The result was two beautiful, if small, loaves of bread.
So what is a two person household going to do with a nine pound ham? Well, the first night we had baked ham, collard greens and bread. The menu for the coming week looks like this:
Ham and Potato Casserole
Ham Salad with Rice and Peas
Macaroni and Cheese with Ham
Homemade Vegetable Soup
Stir Fried Squash and Peppers
There are also four ziplock bags of ham scraps and fat trimmings to be used to season soups and other dishes later on. I would say that this $9.00 ham purchase was a real bargain!
Here is the recipe for my Ham and Potato Casserole
4 or 5 medium red potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 cups cubed cooked ham
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1 small can evaporated milk
enough water to make 2 cups when added to milk
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 8 oz container of fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Spray a casserole dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, ham, salt and pepper, thyme. Cut up the mozzarella cheese into small pieces, and add to the potato mixture. Mix well, pour into the casserole dish. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they are transparent. Add the tapioca flour and stir well. Add the sour cream to the evaporated milk and water, stirring to combine. Pour into the saucepan with the onion mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour over the potato mixture in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Take out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: The sauce will not look like a white sauce made with wheat flour—it will be less thick and clearer. But it will taste very good.