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.