Thursday, May 1, 2014

Helen Exum's Cremated Ham

Helen Exum's Chattanooga Cook Book and her Helen Exum's Cookbook are two of my favorite cookbooks. Mainly because they tell stories and I don't have much use for a cookbook without stories. I want to know the people behind the recipes and both of these books are full of the interesting lives of the people of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I feel that I know these people after all the years I've read and cooked from Exum's books, and I so much admired the author--slim, attractive mother of six children, newspaper woman.

Exum did not really give a recipe for her Cremated Ham, discovered when her oven malfunctioned and the temperature shot up, unbeknownst to her when cooking for a family birthday celebration. She cooked three hams and the one that was overcooked, cremated, turned out to be the favorite.

The ham dried out and was sweet and tender, "a cross between a regular ham and a country ham." However it happened, it was a gift to me as I had never liked pink ham and loved country ham. I now alternate cooking ham as per package instructions for R.H.'s taste and cremated for me. Here is a picture of mine and it does not look as attractive as the one in the previous post of "Father Tim's ham."Not one good shot did we get and this is the best of the lot.

Really now, it looks like the eyes of a turkey vulture are staring, don't you think? And was I brain dead when I chose the platter? Here is the picture from Jan Karon's cookbook in the previous post, just to remind you of its elegance……….

While I don't have a platter quite as large, or as beautiful, as Karon's, I could have thought to look at some of the platters I do have instead of sticking it on the standby green Fiesta one.

I do have this old Grindley platter……..

If I'd only thought about it. 

So this concludes my third Southern author who wrote about hams cooked to rich mahogany red perfection. Next time, if I dare write about ham one more time, I'll present an author not from the South, in fact she thought that there was entirely too much ham in the South.

Meanwhile, if you like to read stories in your cookbooks, Helen Exum's books will please you. And then there are all of those other good recipes in them, such as:

Smothered Chicken, served on top of rice and fork tender…

Mashed Potato Refrigerator Rolls that will make you want to smack your momma, as a pastor of ours was fond of saying…

Miss Gertrude's White Layer Cake with Caramel Icing, "possibly Chattanooga's favorite dessert" and definitely one of my favorites.

And some day I'm going to take a dozen eggs, separate the yolks from the whites and make two other recipes from Helen Exum's cookbook, the 12 yolks going into a Coffee Cake and the 12 whites going into an Angel Food Cake. 

And I'll dig out my prettiest cake stands for the photographs.