Tuesday, November 23, 2010


by guest blogger Tracy Strother

The fridge is mostly empty right now, in anticipation of the turkey and the ham and the other festive foodstuffs that will soon be taking up residence inside it. I'm still trying to figure out where all the sides will go to warm up! Last year I tried to fit casserole dishes full of sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, green beans, and two different kinds of stuffing all together in my little oven with a turkey that was STILL COOKING well after it was supposed to be finished. This year, the turkey and the ham will be done early! I hope.

I'm making my Dad's Jack Daniels Ham recipe, because he was always in the kitchen when I was a kid, cooking all kinds of special things for us while the Macy's Parade flickered on the TV in the background. Now that he's laid up and can't cook, I plan to make enough so I can take him some leftovers.

Dad's Jack Daniels Ham

Ingredients :
  • one ham, whatever kind you like - canned, bone in, water added, spiral sliced, it doesn't matter. Bonus points if you won it by climbing up a greased pole. It should come with cooking directions, how hot the oven should be, how long it needs to bake, etc. If it doesn't, look up how to bake a ham in a cookbook or on the internet, that's what I do.
  • one bottle of Jack Daniels
  • one bottle of Apricot Brandy
  • one jar of Apricot Preserves

  1. Pour about half a cup of JD into a glass. Pour about one quarter cup of the JD into a bowl with about one quarter cup of Apricot Brandy and the whole jar of Apricot Preserves, and stir it well.
  2. Take a sip of the whiskey in the glass.
  3. Score your ham in a pretty diamond pattern.
  4. Take another sip of whiskey.
  5. Brush the ham with the Apricot Glaze.
  6. Take another sip of whiskey.
  7. Bake your ham according to the package directions, brushing occasionally with Apricot Glaze, taking sips of whiskey whenever you do.
  8. By the time the ham's heated through, you will be too!

Katie, one of by best girls, is bringing two different kinds of stuffing, again, and at least two other dishes besides. She was one of the organizers of our first Friendsgiving, last year. When my Grandmother passed away early last November, my Mom pretty much canceled Thanksgiving. The traveling over the river and through the woods, the cooking and eating and drinking, all of that happened two weeks before Turkey Day, and nobody really wanted to sit around that dining table again so soon without Grandma. It would have been a huge bummer. Instead of mourning the loss of one holiday tradition though, my girlfriends helped me decide to throw a Friendsgiving, the dinner for everyone who couldn't (or didn't really want to) go out of town for the holiday.

The first Friendsgiving was a fantastic experiment! We basically said to everyone we liked, "Hey, if you're not going out of town for the holiday, please join us!" Everyone brought something. Katie made no less than 4 side dishes, including the delicious beet and arugula salad that I am so happy she's bringing again this year. Lindsay brought hot cider, in a crock pot, which was incredibly difficult to transport and sloshed around comically on the way to my house - it also had a LOT of whiskey in it, which helped me get through the nerves of having what felt like a million people (it hovered at about 20 most of the night, but it felt like more) in my tiny house. Jesse and Eric came over at the end of the feast, bearing a lovely bottle of wine, which I couldn't open because I couldn't find a corkscrew. Well, I have one this year, I am ready!

There was so much food I am sure I could not list who brought what, but I do know that we all ate heartily and there was plenty left over. One thing I did last year was lay in a store of plastic containers so we could send some leftovers home with guests. Those containers helped a lot when we cleared the table, the food all got packed away and the dishes washed and dried (thank you Lisa!) and I had some peace to enjoy another cup of hot cider on the porch with my friends. While I am not a huge advocate of using plastics indiscriminately, I feel like those containers are my one ecologically unfriendly indulgence.

We like to eat on real plates (Fiestaware, just like at Grandma's house), with real silverware (although it is mix and match!) and use a real tablecloth with cloth napkins (which I found at the Goodwill in a lucky moment last week). We don't really decorate; there is no room on our table for a centerpiece after all the majestic food is laid out. Guests to my house know what to expect, we don't have a lot of pomp and ceremony here. I've been saving pickle jars from the recycling bin for a few weeks so there will be enough glasses for everyone!

This group of people who will show up at Edgehill House on November 25 bearing food and spirits, they may not be any blood relation to us, but they are in many ways our family. Friendsgiving is a celebration of that, the family we have built here in Morgantown. Keith, Delia and I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season, and the people joining us for Turkey and Two Kinds of Stuffing are right at the top of the list.

Tracy Strother lives and blogs at Edgehill House. When she isn't making bread in exchange for health insurance coverage at the New Day Bakery, you can find her by listening for a rhythmic clicking noise - it's either knitting needles or Mac keys. She is somebody's mother.


Prisoner of the Universe #2-16 said...

That's my girl. Mother, Daughter, Wife, Baker, Writer-Blogger, Knitter, Friend, Sister, and Human-Bean - not necessarily in that order. I'm glad you are sharing our culture.
Happy Friendsgiving!

MsOli said...

This post made me all misty with missing you and being so happy for you to have such a great group of friends and family. I wish I was closer so that I could participate in the feast as well. You know I am always good for some southern traditional home cooked offerings to share. MMM, corn pudding and baked macaroni and cheese, butter beans. I can't wait for Thursday!!

Love you Tracy.

bnicholson said...

I really like the ham recipe! I remember some of those delicious hams that Stan cooked too! The man had a way with some beer basted things too - maybe another blog post, please?

Aunt Barbara
Have a Happy Happy Turkey Day!

Rob Teter said...

I really enjoyed reading this story, takes me back to past Thanksgiving, and great things ahead.

I am really glad that you wrote this blog, so we all could think about what it really means to give "Thanks" or "Friendship"


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