Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Oven Hash

Despite the fact that I grew up in Berkeley, to me the term “hash” still means a hearty meal, not something to put in a pipe. And happily, my Very Best Friend in the World, Miss Karen Finlay, not only agrees with me, but recently invited me to her adorable home to cook up some hash together. (see us LIVE in action here!) And not just any old hash, friends, we cooked up the Best Oven Hash from Karen’s 1963 copy of Better Homes & Gardens’ “So-Good Meals”. So, how was it, you ask? So-Good!

Not only is Karen my Very Best Friend in the World, but she is also totally Fabulous AND sells Tupperware. (click here to buy some now!) Also, we are Sin Twisters. That, for anyone who doesn’t know, is like Twin Sisters, but much more exciting. It means, in our case, that we were born at the same hospital in southern CA, (though we both grew up in different Bay Area towns), and somehow, all these years later, we’re still often confused for each-other…. Something I consider a high honor, indeed.

Anyhow, back to the hash. This is a dish that Karen has been making for years, and its always a hit. We swapped ground turkey for beef (in our efforts to “reduce”) and used frozen potatoes, just as our mid-century predecessors would have done. We also made use of some fine Tupperware products that you can purchase for your very own here!

Karen and I baked up the hash, threw together a salad, and enjoyed it all with a delicious cocktail made by videographer extraordinaire, Jon. Try this at home and we’re sure you’ll agree – this is the BEST oven hash EVER! (Note: photos are from a second batch that Ivy and I made at home, using Tupperware's predecessor, the Slap n Chop!)

Best Oven Hash

Better Homes & Gardens “So-Good Meals” 1963

1 ½ cups coarsely ground cooked beef (*we used turkey)

1 cup coarsely ground cooked potatoes (*we used frozen)

½ cup coarsely ground onion

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 tsp salt

Dash pepper

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 6-ounce can (2/3 cup) evaporated milk


1/3 cup slightly crushed corn flakes

1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

Lightly mix beef, potatoes, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and milk. Turn into greased 1-quart casserole. Mix corn flakes and butter, sprinkle over top. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 30 minutes or till heated through. Pass catsup and mustard. (note: Ewwwww!!! No catsup or mustard needed!) Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Surprise Ham Loaf

The holidays are here and with them, ham. Ham says Christmas like nothing else, so when I was invited to a Christmas pot luck (at the home of my dear friend and your local Tupperware Lady, Ms. Karen Finlay), I just had to prepare a ham. But while flipping through Betty Crocker’s 1960 Party Book, I came across the instruction to “Make your favorite ham loaf mixture”, and I nearly died. MY FAVORITE HAM LOAF MIXTURE? Wait, not only do I not have a favorite, I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing! And so, I HAD TO MAKE IT.

Or, I did and I didn’t. I couldn’t leave well enough alone, for in researching my “favorite” ham loaf (aka looking it up, since I had never before ever made one and did not have a “favorite” to turn to), I came upon a Ham Ring. Now I am just addicted to rings and other molded delights, so I decided to combine the two concepts, making the ham ring as directed, yet including the “element of surprise” as suggested by Betty.

The Ham Ring recipe I found comes from the somewhat terrifying Beta Sigma Phi International Cookbook of Meats (including seafood and poultry) which is un-dated, but must hail from the mid-1960s. This massive tome offers no less than 2000 recipes, including many (many) variations on the same dish – for example, there are 32 different recipes for stew. The good sorority sisters most certainly had a ham loaf recipe, or 20. I picked one that sounded the least gross!

As far as ingredients go, I was not able to locate the “surprise”: pickled peaches or apricots. I went with regular canned peaches and hoped for the best. Also, I didn’t see ground cooked ham for sale, so I used my cuisinart to process a regular canned ham. Oh and by the way, did you know that canned ham contains the exact same ingredients as SPAM? I very nearly bought SPAM to use for this experiment, but I was overwhelmed by processed food and decided to save the SPAM for another time. (Like the next big earthquake.) Otherwise, all the ingredients were normal things I recognized and could find easily. I set out to create the masterpiece of Christmas, my Surprise Ham Ring. The results, sadly, were disastrous.

Was there not enough binding? Too many bread crumbs? Was the ring not greased well-enough? Was Venus in retrograde? Whatever the cause, the ring would not stay together as I “un-molded” it. I ended up having to scrape it out of the pan and dump it into a serving bowl with a few orange slices sadly draped on top and sprigs of parsley protruding. Surprise! The ring was not. I was so glum I didn’t even taste it. HOWEVER, I ended up with a large quantity of left-over ham, so a week later I braved the Ham Loaf yet again. This time I decided to make a loaf, using the same recipe, but not attempting the ring. I also used dried apricots this time since I was out of peaches, because I still wanted that darn surprise. And now I can truly say I have made a ham loaf. But… why? I genuinely like all the flavors, even the apricot “surprise”, but the texture is NOT RIGHT! My feelings on the entire concept of Ham Loaf are to question its very existence. Why grind something up and mix it with breadcrumbs, when it is easier and more satisfying to leave it in the original form and just dump some jam on top?

In the interest of public health and safety, I am bound to say: DO NOT BOTHER WITH THIS! I am including the recipes here if you feel you must, but really, I don’t see the point. Instead, take it from some folks who know ham, the two handsome sons of cooking goddess Paula Deen! I’ll take Jamie and Bobby Deen’s ham any day! (OK fine, even if they didn’t have any ham at all I’d be OK with them, tee hee) Seriously, if you want ham, their recipe is for flavoring a spiral cut ham and takes much less time, less ingredients, and makes less mess. HELLO!?!?!

Enjoy, folks, and y’all have a Merry Christmas now, ya hear?

Surprise Ham Loaves, Betty Crocker’s Party Book 1960

Heat oven to 350 degrees (mod.). Drain pickled peaches or apricots. Make your favorite ham loaf mixture. Fill greased custard or muffin cups half full with ham mixture. Put one picked peach or apricot in center of each cup. Add more ham mixture to make cup ¾ full. Bake 45 to 60 min.

Caramel-Orange Ham Ring

The Beta Sigma Phi International Cookbook: Meats (including seafood and poultry) undated, mid-1960s

2 eggs

½ tsp Tabasco sauce

1 tsp dry mustard

3 c. fresh bread crumbs

2 lb ground cooked ham

1 6-oz can frozen orange juice

½ c. water

1/3 c. brown sugar

1 tsp whole cloves

Beat eggs in large bowl; stir in Tabasco sauce and dry mustard. Add bread crumbs, ground ham, orange juice and water; mix well. Sprinkle brown sugar and whole cloves in bottom of 6-cup ring mold; add ham mixture, packing firmly into pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Turn out onto serving platter; garnish with parsley and thin orange slices. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Mrs. Mildred M. Reiberg, Pres. Xi Beta Gamma Clare, Mich.

The Deen Brothers’ Fig-and-Orange-Glazed Ham

Food Network Magazine, 2009

1 spiral-sliced half ham

1 cup fig jam

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Grated zest of 1 orange

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1. Preheat the oven as directed on the ham package and follow the instructions for baking the ham. Remove the ham from the oven about 30 minutes before the end of the warming time.

2. Meanwhile, combine the jam, mustard, and orange zest and juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, just until the jam melts (do not boil). Spoon half of the glaze over the ham and bake for the remaining 30 minutes.

3. Remove the ham from the oven and spoon the remaining glaze on top. Transfer to a cutting board and carve.

Active: 15 min. Total: about 2 hours (12 min per pound) – Serves: 12

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Spiced Wine / Wassail

When it gets cold out, there is just nothing like a hot drink, and I don’t mean coffee! I was looking to make something Dickensian (preparing for the annual celebration of Christmas past that is San Francisco’s Dickens Fair) and thought of Wassail (traditionally more of a spiced cider, but modern recipes include wine or ale). I had a modern recipe for Cranberry Wassail, and doesn’t that sound festive? The problem was, the organic unsweetened cranberry juice I used made it so tart as to be nearly unbearable! Finally, with the addition or fresh squeezed orange juice, sparkling lemonade, agave syrup AND about 2 cups of brandy, it was quite tasty.

For a tried-and-true regular spiced wine, though, you can’t go wrong with this delight from a 1967 guide to “California Wine Cookery and Drinks” so kindly furnished by the Wine Advisory Board with an office on Market Street in San Francisco. (This board was extremely prolific with cook books and pamphlets throughout the 50s and 60s, but seems to have been supplanted by the more scientific California Winegrape Inspection Advisory Board – BoooooRing.)

I include both recipes here because there are enough cold winter nights for both – and I’m also sharing a more traditional Wassail recipe (courtesy of Betty Crocker’s 1960 “Party Book”) that does not contain alcohol, if you just want a hot drink without all the merriment. Though I could see adding rum to it… Cheers!

Cranberry Wassail

6 whole cloves

6 whole allspice

1 (48-oz) bottle cranberry juice cocktail

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ tsp nutmeg

1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine

Tie whole spices in 2 layers of cheesecloth or place in tea ball. In large saucepan, combine cranberry juice cocktail, brown sugar and nutmeg; mix well. Add spices. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring occationally. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add wine; cook until thoroughly heated. Remove spices.

12 (3/4 cup) servings (note: this was increased because of all the things I added to the concoction, but still made only about 8 slightly larger servings)

Holiday Spiced Wine

1 quart water

3 cups sugar

12 whole cloves

4 inches stick cinnamon

6 whole allspice

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

Rind of 1 orange

Rind of 1 lemon

2 cups orange juice

1 cup lemon juice

1 (4/5-qt) bottle California Burgundy or Claret

Combine water, sugar, spices, orange rind and lemon rind in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Strain. Add orange juice, lemon juice and wine, heat gently. DO NOT BOIL. Serve hot in mugs.

20 servings, 3 oz size (note: that makes about 8 servings of “my size”)

Wassail Bowl

Spiced Oranges: Stud 3 oranges with whole cloves (1/2” apart); place in baking pan with a little water, and bake in slow mod. Oven (325 degrees) for 30 min.


3 qt. apple cider

2 sticks cinnamon, 3’ long

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ cup honey

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tsp. lemon rind

2 no. 2 cans pineapple juice (5 cups)

Heat cider and cinnamon sticks in large saucepan. Bring to boil; simmer covered 5 min. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered 5 min longer. Pour into punch bowl and float Spiced Oranges on top, using cinnamon sticks for stirring.

40 punch cup servings (Note: punch cups are TINY!)