Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Ham, A Day Late

SP & I are not non-religious, but we do not attend religious services. I've always wanted to go to an Easter Sunday sunrise service and there was a 6:30 am service at the church at which we got married (Old St. Luke's Church in Carnegie) but, alas, this was not the year that I made it to a sunrise service. Some Easter I will (just like some Christmas Eve I will make it to a Christmas Eve service).

Mostly, we didn't make it because we are both still sick and, to be honest, for us, being somewhere at 6:30 am is... well, we're not at all morning people. We also are still trying to get the house back to normal now that our 'home improvement project' has (mostly) ended. There are still a few small things that the contractor needs to fix/finish. So we spent most of the weekend cleaning, putting things back into place, organizing, and doing some small tasks like paint touch ups.We were not in any shape to host Easter dinner. In a sign of how how blah we've been feeling and how busy we've been, I will tell you that we ate leg of lamb for 6 of 7 days last week. We didn't even feel like going out for & bringing home DiBella's subs (a quickie meal) last Saturday (our usual 'dine out' night). The 7th day, we pulled a frozen pizza out of the freezer.

We were invited to SP's dad's house for Easter dinner, so we headed over around 3:30 pm, after SP took his second shower of the day! SP's mother moved back to Pittsburgh last January. She moved into his dad's house. I have heard that she likes to eat early, and I guess Easter was no exception. Dinner was ready within 15-20 minutes of our arrival! Dinner that early is difficult for us since during the week, we do not eat until 7 pm. Even on weekends, we do not eat until 6:30-7 pm. I did my best to eat a good amount of food, but since I had just finished lunch around 1 pm, it was tough!To our surprise, the Easter meat was turkey. I usually think ham, maybe lamb, for Easter. Not turkey. But it wasn't Thanksgiving in April. There weren't any potatoes or stuffings. Lots of vegetables (roasted asparagus, string beans, sauteed mushrooms & onions), cole slaw, roasted squash soup, kielbasa from Giant Eagle Market District (kielbasa is an Easter meal tradition for SP's family; last year he made himself a small bit of it while mom & I ate ham), and some whole wheat bread with a dipping oil.

It was tasty, but I couldn't help but feel a bit sad and nostalgic for my family Easter tradition: gathering around grandma & grandpa's table for ham (with which we made sandwiches), cucumbers & tomato in vinegar, a jello salad, and grandma's potato salad. Sadly, grandma and grandpa have passed away, their house has been sold, and my small family is scattered far apart. The probability of my family ever gathering together again for Easter is extremely low.So yesterday, which SP took off so that we could continue 'Operation Return House To Normal,' we made Easter ham to satisfy my ham craving. It was a busy day of errands and chores, the windows were opened to let in the warm spring breeze, the scent of our freshly mowed grass drifted in, Otis came to nibble on our cut grass, and we cooked a ham in our newly cleaned oven (which, wow, really heated up the kitchen on Saturday when we ran the clean cycle for 4 hours, but nice & clean now - no more burnt gunk setting off the smoke detectors when we use the oven!).

Along with our ham, we made a pasta dish. It's a dish I've been making for several years, but not in quite some time. Officially, it's called Farfalle with Forest Mushrooms, Peas, and Parsley and it's from the April 2002 issue of Bon Appetit.We love mushrooms, and we love white wine-cream sauces. I also really like shallots, much more than onions (and garlic). This is very easy to make. Our ham wasn't too large, so it took us under an hour to cook the ham and make this pasta dish.The mushrooms and peas and pasta in creamy white wine sauce tastes so good with the ham. We didn't glaze or flavor our ham at all. No need to with this tasty side dish. To me, this is an upscale, foodie versions of one of the very first casseroles I ever made on my own. That recipe was from my mom and it was for a casserole of pasta shells, cream of mushroom soup, peas, and chopped ham. I think the soup was heated with some milk and American cheese before being poured over the other ingredients and baked until bubbly.This is tastier, and doesn't use canned soup, though we did cheat with bottled cooking wine, not real wine. I have to say I sometimes miss those cream of mushroom soup casseroles I used to make! Like this recipe, they made lots of food, so easy dinners for during the week.

And my Easter ham craving is satisfied. But I still kind of want some jello salad!

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