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Joni Woolf: There’s still time to cook for New Year’s Day

Last week we featured Hoppin’ John, the traditional New Year’s dish that is eaten across the South on New Year’s Day. It’s not too late to run out and pick up a ham to go along with the rice and black-eyed peas, and pork is a perfect complement to that very Southern dish. Anyone can pick up a prepared and/or treated ham these days, seasoned with brown sugar or molasses and myriad ingredients. Or you can make your own, and boast of your culinary skills. A favorite cookbook of mine for the past 40 years — “The Art of Southern Cooking” by Mildred Warren — has a fine recipe/method for preparing a ham that’s hard to beat. It takes time, but the end result is proof that your efforts can beat the grocery store’s offering every time. This ham can be prepared in stages, as noted, and completed New Year’s Day just as the Hoppin’ John is nearly ready.

Baked Ham, Southern Style
6-pound cured ham, any good brand
½ cup vinegar
5 or 6 cloves
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 to 8 tablespoons prepared mustard
½ cup brown sugar
Extra cloves
1 cup orange juice
½ to 1 cup ham stock
Place ham in large Dutch oven containing simmering water. Add ½ cup vinegar, cloves, onion, salt and pepper. Cover. Simmer slowly allowing 15 to 20 minutes per pound in cooking. (Cook until meat begins to recede from bone.) Remove from heat and let stand in stock several hours (or overnight). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. when ready to bake ham. Remove ham from stock and remove any heavy skin from fat side. Place in baking dish. Score fat on ham and mix prepared mustard and 6 to 8 tablespoons brown sugar to make a paste. Pat and rub over ham. Now stick cloves in the fat part about an inch apart. Mix orange juice with 1 cup ham stock. Stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Pour around ham in baking dish. Bake 30 minutes to 1 hour or until ham begins to brown, basting several times. Ham is easier to carve if allowed to cool a bit.

Now you have a ham, black-eyed peas and rice with some onions (last week’s recipe) and you need a green dish. I found a new recipe for Coleslaw that I intend to try, and offer to readers below. I like all the ingredients, so I think the recipe should be perfect as a complement to the heavier foods we’ll be eating.

Jalapeno Coleslaw
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed
8 cups shredded cabbage (1 large head of cabbage)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, jalapeno and garlic in a bowl. Add cabbage, onion, cilantro, chives and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for several hours. Note: To make this to suit my taste, I would add 1 teaspoon sugar to dressing.

Lastly, a confession from someone who bakes often and easily: Yesterday, I was preparing a pound cake in anticipation of a visit from my daughter, Tracy, and a friend of hers who had requested the cake. Hurrying to get it done before they arrived from Rome, I put it all together, and about a half hour after they arrived I removed it from the oven to find it had imploded. I had used self-rising flour instead of plain flour. Embarrassed but not outdone, I tossed it aside, made another cake and an hour and a half later, had a perfect pound cake. These things happen, and we want to fold our tents and go hide somewhere. But the best thing, always, is to get right back up and try again. Happy New Year. Keep cooking.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net