Easter Foraging and Good Luck

As I posted last week, I've been in a state of forced frugality this spring. Somehow despite all that I put this beautiful meal onto the table tonight. A perfect Easter dinner of baked ham glazed with apple butter, foraged spring salad, garden corn from the freezer, and mashed potatoes. The best part is I didn't have to shop for even one ingredient here..... it was all either foraged, procured for free by good luck, or a staple I already had in the pantry.

The star of this meal was this 9lb ham. It's organic "pit style" ham, from Black Earth Meats. No, this is not a cheap piece of meat, and it certainly would have been out of my meager budget. Believe it or not, a customer at the Co-op picked this up off the shelf and dropped it, breaking the seal and allowing the ham to touch the ground. We couldn't sell it. No one else working at the time wanted it (I have no idea why....) so I took it home. Good luck indeed.

Pit ham is short for "partially internally trimmed," which basically means it has the bone and some of the internal fat trimmed off.

The package didn't tell me if it was fully cooked or not, so I assumed that it was not (better safe than sorry). I placed it in a large Pyrex dish in a 350 degree oven with a few cups of water and covered with aluminum foil.

Three hours later the internal temp was up to 140 and it was ready to glaze.

I know pork with apple butter has been an overused flavor combo with me this winter, but it's just so darn good I couldn't help but do it again. (plus I still have a fair amount of home-made apple butter to use up.) I mixed the apple butter with a little apple cider vinegar and slathered it as evenly as I could over the ham.

While I was glazing the ham I turned the oven up to 425. When I put it back in I lowered the temp to 325 (this is what the Joy of Cooking told me to do, and The Joy of Cooking knows a heck of a lot more about cooking ham than I do.)

This picture appeared in my post last week: Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) that I dug up while cleaning out an old garden bed last weekend. They must have been planted by someone originally, but they've now taken over a large portion of the community garden space that I share with my family. They've been overwintered: enduring under the snow and ice for 6 months and they're still as crisp and sweet as ever.

Here they are cleaned and ready to peel.

I wouldn't usually peel Jerusalem artichokes, but these were pretty knotty and dirty. I peeled them, and the chickens were happy to gobble up the skins.

I sliced the Jerusalem artichokes thinly and tossed it with these spring delights: watercress and dandelion greens foraged this morning from a nearby park. I was hoping to find a lot of watercress in a spring I had spotted a few months ago. I was disappointed to find just a little bit of cress, so I took all I could without harming the plantings. I dug a bunch of fresh woodland dandelion greens to make up the bulk of my salad greens. I really love both the spicy watercress flavor and the bitter dandelions. Sharp, strong flavors of spring. My first green salad of the season.

The crisp sweet Jerusalem artichokes were a perfect compliment to the bitter dandelion greens and the spicy cress. Lots of good nutrition in this salad too..... food for the body and the soul. I dressed it super simply with apple cider vinegar, local sunflower oil, salt and pepper.

The ham turned out just beautifully. I cooked it with the glaze for about a half hour and it was done. Perfectly apple buttery, juicy, and sweet. I'm not usually one to bake a ham, but I have to admit that this one was delicious.

We paired the ham and the salad with home grown sweet corn frozen from last summer (steamed and mixed with butter, salt, and pepper), and Stanley's famous mashed potatoes. Dave came over and shared this Easter dinner with us...... all and all an extremely rewarding meal. Funny how rich I can feel without spending any money.

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