Saturday, October 3, 2015

The gathering season...or not?
For the past five years or so, the weather has been a little on the cool side on  family reunion weekend.
A time or two it's been downright cold.
A time or two, we moved it to an indoor location.
But it's just not the same. People like coming to the old  homeplace.
I like having them here. I just don't have room inside to set up all that food and provide a place for everyone to sit.
It's chilly right now, just hours before everyone is to arrive, but all four local weather channels are promising the rain is ending and it will be 70 degrees.
I sure hope they are right.
Because it has been so cool the past few years, the husband and I have been talking  about  changing the date - to mid June.
Is it ever cold in June? It rains sometimes, but it's always warm, isn't it?
June typically isn't very humid either. Everything is green and lush, and the purple martins are nesting...great free entertainment to boot.
But there is something about this, the gathering  season, that feels like the right time of year to have a family  reunion.
We'll be hunkering down for the winter soon.
We'll need warm memories of bright days and old ham to sustain  us, won't  we?
And besides. There's the last of the garden pickins to be gathered and shared with the family.
I prepped a bucket of banana peppers I  picked this morning to fill with cream cheese and wrap in bacon.
I always do that.
Dad picked late green beans and fresh  greens from his garden, and I'm sure  he and Mom have been busy getting those ready.
I dunno if I'm willing to part with the smells and tastes of fall that seem such a natural part of the gathering  season.
Besides, would our reunion be our reunion without bouquets of goldenrod and iron weed on the tables?
Would bouquets of daisies work?
We shall see, I  s'pose.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Old ham, an old tradition

I  don't know where my parents got the recipe for sugar cured country ham, but I remember it, scribbled on a piece of brown paper.

The ingredients are simple: brown sugar, coarse salt, red pepper and back pepper.

I can still smell the pungent peppery-ness of the mixture.

Most mountaineers simply rubbed salt and black pepper into the hams and shoulders they'd carved from hogs they raised themselves.

But our family liked sugar cure. There's not a huge difference in flavor. I think what makes our old ham so good is my mom's cooking method.

She first pressure cooks the ham in a canner, then she finishes it in the oven with a  pineapple juice, mustard and brown sugar glaze. I won't mention the secret ingredient that really jazzes up the sauce. Some things should be left a secret!

Golden rod is so pretty this time of year on the farm.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reunion=Country Ham

The annual family reunion here at the old homeplace draws nigh.
Not only do folks look forward to visiting, but everyone, I think, looks forward to the country ham that my parents always  prepare.
It's slow food at its best...local pork, rubbed with a salt/sugar seasoning back in the winter, then set aside to absorb the flavors for months, even years.
Mom's special glaze and baked til it's tender.
You can't buy this treat in a restaurant. That's why we look forward to it all year long!

Above, the cows on the farm encourage us to "Eat more pork!"