Well Christmas is over for another year. For us it has been a good but busy … holiday period. We spent a lot of time with family, travelled a lot and hopefully had slightly greener Christmas for the sake of the kids.
We feasted as royalty could not have 200 years ago. Pork product after pork product after pork product. One of the things about being of German decent on one side and redneck on the other is I have always been exposed to a urbane European background on one side and a very old school country up bringing on the other side.
For me Christmas has always been about the feasts. On Christmas eve we would gather at my Oma’s house and eat a tradition German meal, soup, good frankfurts, herring salad and of course my oma’s potato salad which still has no equal in my eyes. At that time things like the specialty chocolates would be sent from Germany and there would be counting of them. We would gather eat, open our presents and enjoy each other’s company.
Christmas day was for the other side of the family. Mum slaving over wood fired stove in 40 degree Celsius weather and the far simpler evening meal at my Australian grandparents farm but surrounded by dozens of my cousins creating chaos as only kids can.
In all of this the act of getting together has been the main aim. In times past the act of a feast and a gathering to celebrate was a major thing. To roast a whole leg of something or a large bird. What an luxurious thing. It helped people to bond and was something people could look forward to.
Now with obesity at record levels and the fact we can get anything (including those specialty chocolates) at any time of the year the feast could easily be looked at as just another party. But the chance to spend time with family is as important as it ever was. Perhaps more so now that I have children and want them to grow up with those same strong bonds I have had with family.
Over time our family has moved away from conspicuous consumption. When I was a kid items like bikes where the gifts we received we then went through the same phase everyone did of lots and lots and lots of presents and now the children get lots of gifts but we keep it toned down for the rest of the family. Books, food items, even plants and seeds are given away. This year a number of us gave Oxfam cards including a well I purchased for my whole family. While we valued and appreciated the gifts given to us by the family as my wife said the best gift we received was a couple of goats that would go to someone who really needs them somewhere.
For us in our conspicuous society it has perhaps come time to realise that less is more, and the act of giving and spending time with family is more import to us that the gifts.
One of the good things about my family is most of them are great cooks, my grandmothers potato salad, my mothers pavlova with berries from her garden, homemade fish pate with fresh dill, salads, trifles, baked meats and more. For me the this year apart from providing the sliced ham from our artisan smoker for Christmas eve I was to bake a leg of ham of ham for the Christmas day lunch.
Now where practical and possible we have purchased heritage pig smoked by artisan for ham however as I had to bake this for a large gathering and at $30 per KG of smoked goodness I couldn’t bring myself to use it for the baked ham. I went for a good leg of Australian ham (which cost me about the same for 4kg as for 1 kg of my artisan ham) and after skinning it and putting together an orange marmalade, Australian Banksia honey, spices and bourbon glaze and baking it in the oven for over an hour I must admit that the taste of the artisan ham would have been wasted on this dish.
It is difficult thing I find. I know that the cost for the better ham would have been small in comparison to my wage and I should get the ethical ham but I suppose I can salve my conscience a bit by looking at the cost difference being most of the well I bought.
Again at the lunch gifts where small and well thought out. Light on the world as much as is possible and in a season of hope I must admit to being quietly optimistic seeing pre war, baby boomers, gen x, y and w all not worried about the material side of the holiday season and just enjoying each others company. It bodes better for my kids future. There will still be a lot to look at raise for them but at least perhaps this message is starting to come across.
Value the time, family and life you have. Drink blackberry whisky with your father, let the kids play with their grandparents and family as in the end it is all that really matters.
Take a good leg of ham 3- 4 kg and skin making sure you leave as much fat as you can. Slice into the fat in a diamond pattern of about a cm or so.
Stud the upper side with a good number of whole cloves (I do one about ever ½ a cm). While doing the cloves in saucepan mix the other ingredients and let them reduce just a bit.
Coat the top of the ham with about 2/3 of the mix and put in a pre warmed oven at 170 degree Celsius and baste with the remaining glaze every 20 minutes or so. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half.
Leave to stand for about 10 minutes (or longer) then slice and serve.
- Ham 3-4kg leg.
- Whole cloves to stud the leg
- ¾ of a cup of orange juice
- Jar of marmalade (around 1 cup)
- 1 cup of honey (I used banksia honey for a bit of an Australian twist.
- 4 table spoons of Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons (or more) of fresh chilli.