Being fifty-something, I’m familiar with the reflective phase that pervades as the last vestiges of the Christmas munchfest are munched and the new year looms with a fresh chapter of menacing resolution.
This year, I’ve been reflecting on ham, mainly because my fridge has been brim-full with the stuff and this year’s ham will be memorable, for me, at least.
Though, perhaps not as memorable as four years ago when the Christmas ham story began with a frantic phone call from my friend W.
“I have a ham situation,” W explained (or not).
“A ham situation?” I queried.
“Yes, a ham situation. Do you have any fridge space?”
“Room for a seven kilo leg of ham?”
“Ah, yes, I suppose so. Are you short on room?”
“I sure am. I’ve got eight hams and one of them has your name on it. I’m on my way.”
I busied myself with a frenzied fridge rearrangement and soon W was on my doorstep, proffering said ham … and quite a story to go with it.
The day before, W had been dropping her daughter off for the last day of school for the year when she was confronted with a novel sight: hams literally rolling down the road towards her and into the gutters. Ahead she spied a small refrigerated van, its doors akimbo as it rounded the corner out of sight, and as she deftly skidded around the rolling hams and to a stop.
The street was busy and no one else was stopping. W made a snappy decision to collect the hams in her car, head home and track down the truck and the rightful owners of the hams.
And so she did, loading eight legs of ham into her little black hatchback. W spent the next three hours on Google and the phone to local (and beyond) butchers and smallgoods suppliers. No one owned up to losing the hams.
In a weird quirk of fate (or Christmas magic), W became the custodian of those orphaned hams, which she generously divvied out to family and friends, including us.
That seven kilo leg of ham was more ham than our family had ever seen and definitely more than we needed.
Each year we rotate the hosting of Christmas lunch between Mr P’s siblings, and Christmas dinner between mine. That year happened to be a “hall pass” year for us … no hosting required. And here we were with a giant ham putting pressure on the beer and champers space in the fridge. We carved it up into manageable portions and toted a heaving plate of ham EVERYWHERE we went. For weeks. Maybe months.
This year (2013) was different. I had calculated that this would be the “perfect storm” of Christmas hosting where we won both the lunch and dinner gigs. It happens every few years. I don’t relish it. I am a crap hostess.
My niece, however, insisted it was her turn to host lunch. What was I to do? I assuaged. Politely. Doing mental high fives. More Christmas magic.
That left us with dinner hosting and a contribution to make to the lunch spread, too. I decided we were ready for ham again, but I wanted it to be special. I’ve been banging on a fair bit this year about shopping local, free range and ethical. So I set my heart on free range ham from a local nose-to-tail butcher, promising myself I wouldn’t compare the price with the regular ham from the big box supermarket. I even phoned back to the butcher when I arrived home, to double check these were free range hams. Over-thinking, much? He assured me they were and that they were sourced from here, not far from home.
The two smallish hams I ordered cost a gazillion bucks. Maybe two gazillion. But it felt good. I felt committed and undertook to show these hams the respect they deserved. And I promised myself that every last morsel would be eaten, not wasted.
I glazed and baked those precious little piggy legs using this recipe.
I even made a special condiment, Spiced Orange Pickle, using this recipe.
After the main munchfest was munched, I turned to Chef Google for “leftover ham recipes”. I was not disappointed.
One evening we dined on this deliciousness: Ham and Pea Fritters (using high-fibre flour).
And the last morsels of the highly respected, much-coveted ham went into two batches of Ham, Cheese and Tomato Muffins (using high-fibre flour). Nom nom (if I do say so myself).
I didn’t share the “background” of my hams on Christmas Day. Nor did I ask about the source of any of the other meats we hoovered down over the two spreads. And no one asked me. (Although, I did get some interest in the Spiced Orange Pickle.)
I know the source of the ham really only mattered to me.
And just this year, I wanted to make it matter more, to make my choice count.
And it did.
The story of my 2013 Christmas hams has remained untold.
Until now. 🙂
May your 2014 be filled with stories, fun and adventure. May you generously share the whole shebang with those you love, and find new and awesome ways to let your light shine bright.
**NB: Some images and recipes are via http://www.taste.com.au … a go-to site for me and where it seems all roads lead from Chef Google.