Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How to Cook Ham

*For those of you who got here by googling 'how to cook ham', here's the bullet*
Purchase one pre-cooked ham (an uncooked ham will work as well, but will require a longer cooking time). Thaw ham if frozen.
Assemble the following ingredients:
1 can Coke (the Real Thing, although I am told Dr. Pepper works well also)
2 naval oranges
2 apples
1 fresh pineapple
A large roasting pan
Aluminum foil, or large cover that fits tightly on roasting pan
Toothpicks to restrain fruit on meat surface
Cutting board
Kitchen shears

Set oven to 325F degrees.
Peel oranges, slice 1/4 inch thick. Slice apples 1/4 inch thick, leaving peel in place, cutting around core. Remove skin from pineapple and slice 1/4 thick. Make stacks of fruit, one slice of each, pineapple, apple and orange on top. Leave these nearby on a plate. For the sake of tradition, you may want to add a maraschino cherry atop your orange slice.
Remove ham from wrapping and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place in roasting pan, and skewer fruit stacks onto the surface of the ham. It may be that you need more than one toothpick per fruit stack. Using kitchen shears trim toothpicks so that very little wood protrudes beyond the surface of the fruit stacks.
Pour Coke evenly over the fruit-laden meat. Cover tightly with lid or foil, and place in oven. Baste with Coke and fruit juices from bottom of pan every half hour using a turkey baster. Remove cover from ham during last half hour of cooking. An average pre-cooked ham should take about 1.5 hours to cook, and should reach an internal temperature of 140F before being served - this is lower than the temperature needed to safely prepare a "raw" ham. (If using a raw ham, place an oven-safe digital probe thermometer in the center of the ham set to 155F degrees. Set the alarm on the digital thermometer to sound when the ham has reached that internal temperature. This temperature is 5 degrees lower than the temperature preferred by the USDA for proper doneness of ham, but allows for carryover cooking that will occur while the ham rests before slicing). Remove ham from the oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes, then slice and serve. Truly, it's an amazing way to cook ham. If you want to know the rest of the story, read on!

Go to local BJ's and buy (mindlessly) Smithfield bone in ham as you've never bought ham before and have no clue. Return home and place ham in fridge.

Email aunt who knows about these things and ask how to cook ham. Aunt will assure you that a pre-cooked ham is no trouble at all and will give the following recipe:

Get some apples, oranges and fresh pineapple. Cut them up and put them over the ham (use toothpicks). Dump a couple of cups of coca-cola over the ham, cover tightly with tin foil, and put it in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1.5 hours. After an hour and a half, take it out, and pour more coke over it, then bake for an additional 30 min uncovered. Ham will be flavorful, juicy, tender.

Relax. Think about the ease with which the ham will be pulled off. So, Coke is poison. It's only one day after all...think of what a hero you'll be.

Plan to bake cookies two days before holiday event. Discover that oven does not work. Spend 10 hours making four batches of cookies. Question sanity. Think of ham. Begin to panic. Plan to start ham a little early and a little hot. Relax again. Plan all baking around busted oven - buy bread instead of homemade rolls, cook dad's scalloped oysters in toaster oven, no sweat...

Wake up day of party to finish final prep and take ham out of fridge. Realize that this is NOT pre-cooked heat and serve ham. This is uncooked, roast-all-day ham. Really freaking panic. Go to Smithfield website and determine that you need 180 minutes at 325 degrees based on ham weight of ten pounds. Rethink coke and fruit idea. Decide to go for it anyway. Skewer fruit onto ham, dump coke over, and seal in foil, pray. Set busted oven for 350 to accomodate for apparent thermostat issue. Shove ham in, set timer for 1.5 hrs, and pray more. After 1.5 hrs, baste ham with gross coke, check internal temp, and LOWER OVEN TEMP to 300 degrees as ham is cooking much faster than it should, because your oven is obviously trying to kill you. Reseal ham in foil and shove back in oven. Reset timer for 1 hr. Check ham again after 1 hr, baste with more coke, remove foil, and shove back in oven again. Assume you have killed ham which will be dry as turd, and flavorless as it's 145 degrees already, and dinner is not for a while. Wait for family to gather for dead, dry ham.

Take ham out of oven and allow to rest while you consider embarassment of dry, gross ham when you have marginal rep as fairly decent family cook, and stack of blue ribbons for baked goods stuck in drawer someplace. Realize that this may be why God has led you to not eat a lot of pork, that perhaps you are ham-impaired and should not be allowed to cook animals you don't know by name. (I never knew a pig named "Smithfield")

Watch husband slice ham. Ham appears juicy....and tender....snag little piece of ham, which melts in your mouth with such flavor and tenderness as to be confused with prime cow prepared by master chef. Smile. Consider getting down on knees in kitchen to thank God for The Miracle of the Christmas Ham, but recognize that this might be extreme, and family might think you need short ride to nearest mental health facility for observation. Serve ham, potato, green beans, oysters, sister's excellent lasagna and her really wonderful broccoli salad, and later hand-crafted banana cream and chocolate cream pies, and cookies made with grandson with great delight and joy. Relax. Sip good wine. Breathe deeply and wish you could do it all again soon.

In knitting news....got the front and back of Aidan's gansey done last night and started collar. Changed collar from roll which I find a little feminine to 1:1 rib. I think I can get the sleeves on today and have it done for Christmas Eve.

Also finished store sample Modular Scarf for class I am to teach in spring. I need to run in ends and block still...will probably block it when I block A's gansey. I also tore out the beginnings of my own modular silk scarf version 2. I want to do it in st st with garter borders, as I think the st st will enhance the appearance of the yarn and lace pattern. Not that I dislike the gs version, just think st st will be more to my style and taste, and I had planned on keeping it. So it's tinked, back in the bag, and waiting. Finished Bad Wife mittens, which now have a pattern and if I could link to somepalce where pattern could be stuck, I'd post the sucker. Now have to make bad wife gloves. Also restarted Gene's sweater, and worked a whole inch before my mother in law dropped in.

Then I got a lovely box on Saturday addressed to 'Melissa Knitter' from A. Modesitt. Melissa Knitter. Quite appropos. Yarn, yarn, Yippty-YARN!!! I opened it, joyfully thinking that the plaid could be done this VERY WEEK!! I really would hate to see this garment not make it into the book. First, I've spent a lot of time knitting it, and she spent a lot of time designing it. Second, it's a pretty cool garment, especially the construction which is just neat. So I was stoked. I thought I'd spend Monday finishing the plaid. I opened the box in great anticipation, only to discover that there was a mix up on colors. Annie asked for Olive, but whoever packed the box sent Military. SO...I emailed Annie (sadly, was a hard thing to do!!) and she emailed the yarn co, and I am now hoping for "first week of January" versus first week of December for finishing it and mailing it back. Everything happens for a reason. If nothing else, I've gotten a ton of stuff done while waiting; stuff I had not planned to finish till after the Plaid. And during the holidays it's been nice to just be able to focus on my own stuff. So there he sits, poor old plaid, waiting for someone to come along and make him road worthy.

I am feeling slightly more festive. Doing the cookie thing, then making finger paintings for Omie and Mommy (today is his second birthday and last night when Mommy picked him up we gave her his first finger painting, framed and ready to hang) has helped. Being a grandmother is about the most wonderful thing imaginable! You can do so many cool things with them. He peed on the couch yesterday, which was hysterically funny. We'd taken off a diaper to dump poop and flush it down the potty (new cool game), and I went to wash my hands. He climbed up on the couch next to Meg and peed. I am pretty sure that if it'd been D or M, and was 1988 or 1990 I would not have been able to see the humor in the situation. Grandparenting takes all the pressure off. It's like having all the fun and not nearly as much of the worry. I dig the face coated with cookie dough, and the hands deep in crystal sugar. I don't think about the mess. I don't panic when he runs through my house coated in finger paint and touches every surface he can reach. I just shrug and smile. It's really cool.


Persnickety Knitter said...

Love your ham story. And love the pattern at the top of Aiden's sweater -- the wavy lines are cool. And agree with you about the garter st vs. st st. Garter st makes me think of pot holders -- not sure why.

Melissa said...

me too...sort of...well... I hesitate to say "cheesy", but some how...70's I think. I can see gs as having application in specific circumstances, but generally I find it yarn sucking and unfun.