For Christians, Easter is the holiest time of the religious year. Many think it is Christmas, but no. We celebrate Christmas with huge parties, lights, gifts, and jubilant hearts, but Easter is WHY we celebrate Christmas in the first place. In my family, I like to talk to the children about the events of Holy Week through the week as they unfold. I like to explain them, have a conversation with the children about them, and talk to them about sacrifice. This year I gave up Starbucks for Lent – something that my children actually noticed. This was a great conversation starter about why we enter the Holy Season with contemplation and reverence in our hearts. One question that I get from Tiny (10 yo) sometimes is why we celebrate a death. In short, it’s complicated. We are not celebrating that or how Jesus died. We are celebrating the gift that his death gave us.
These lessons were shared with me by my precious Grandmother (Maw Maw), and I want to make sure to pass them on to my children. Holidays were always an affair in my childhood. Sharing that time as a small child working in my Maw Maw’s kitchen, playing with my cousins, and listening to the grown ups talk was more than most had. I try to give that to my own kids to to pay homage to a woman that blessed me so much when she was alive. Holidays are always bitter sweet. I love celebrating them with my own family, but miss those people who were such a big part of my life. I am truly blessed, both because I had a Maw Maw that love me unconditionally and took time to pass down her talents, and because I believe she hand selected these two perfect angels for me to carry on her traditions with. One tradition is cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a massive ham for New Years and Easter. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Maw Maw’s Holiday Ham Recipe
1 fresh ham shoulder
1 can sliced pineapple
1 small jar maraschino cherries
1 box tooth picks
1 bag brown sugar or 1 20 oz bottle coke
Salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste
Prepare the ham by washing it thoroughly and setting it in the center of a foil lined baking pan. Make sure that the edges of the foil are overlapping. You are going to pull up the ends around the ham to seal in the moisture as it cooks.
Salt, pepper and season lightly with garlic. Spear a cherry with a toothpick and use it to keep each pineapple slice in place. Use all of your slices and put them on the front and sides if you have enough. To give the ham a slightly sweet flavor without having a praline crust on it, my grandmother would then sprinkle brown sugar over it to caramelize as the pineapple juice cooks out of the fruit. Then pour the pineapple juice over the fruit and close your wrappings.
Alternately, pour about 2/3 bottle of coke over the pineapple rings (you don’t use the sugar in this version), wrap and bake. If you start with a hickory smoked ham, all the better!
In either seasoning version, allow the ham to bake overnight at 250 degrees and do your best to keep errant family members from taking pinches out of the parts near the bone. No guarantees you can do this though, the ham is slow cooked at a low temp, all night, making the meat fall away from the bone.
This is going to make for some amazing cold weather breakfasts over the next few weeks. I will chop some and package just enough for four omelets, slice enough and package for ham biscuits, and portion it out depending on what dishes I might make from any leftovers. There were rarely many leftovers from my childhood crew.
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