Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood


I grew up eating baked ham on Easter Sunday. My mother’s ham was always the shank end with its thick fatty layer cross-hatched with a knife, whole cloves stuck into the resulting grid pattern, then festooned with circles of canned pineapple slices and chemically red marschino cherries centered with a bulls-eye look. She slathered on a glaze that was a tooth-etching blend of brown sugar and pineapple juice.

This small , plain butt-end ham is impressive in its own way, generous beyond its appearance.

IMG_0003 The first meal, Sunday evening, was unadorned ham, cooked in a roasting pan with a little water and covered with aluminum foil. Two whole fully dressed sweet potatoes kept company with it in the oven. Sauteed yellow crookneck squash and steamed broccoli completed our feast.

Two ham sandwich lunches and one additional supper later, this ham has still more to give to our grateful bellies.

Today I will buy some Navy or Great Northern beans to simmer with celery, onion and ham remnants to make a pot of that old standby, Senate Bean Soup. When Buck sees a ham appear on the counter, his first thought — and salivary response — is for this end point: the soup.

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