The other day, I was preparing meal number four from the ham I had bought at Trader Joe’s. I bought it in a moment of impetuousness; brought on by the euphoria I feel when I shop at Trader Joe’s.
Every couple weeks, I swing by The Boys' house promptly at 10:00 am (I always shop at TJ’s with The Boys) and we drive the forty minutes to Trader Joe’s. We pile out of the car, shove our copious amounts of bags under our individual carts, and enter. We check out the flowers first and exclaim over this and that unusual one, then we turn our attention to the fruit aisle. As I shop up and down the aisles–always crowded, but usually friendly–S will skip up to me holding out some item, perhaps it’s a can of crabmeat. He places it at my eye level two inches away. “You must get this,” he says. “What do I do with it?” I ask. And then he proceeds to rattle off an exquisite recipe that involves grapefruit and pomegranate, while the other shoppers edge closer to hear. I put the can of crab into my cart.
So when I saw the five-pound ham, I thought, “why not?”
That first night, Richie and I had baked ham with roasted fingerling potatoes and English peas. The second night we had ham casserole. Quiche with ham for the third dinner. Pasta with ham and peas was fourth. By now I was sick of thinking up things to do with ham, so I cut up the rest and put it in the freezer.
Back when I lived on my farm, we would raise a couple of pigs and butcher them each fall. We put the hams in a big garbage pail of brining solution, then after a few weeks, they’d go into the freezer. Each one weighed twenty to thirty pounds. If I decided I wanted ham for dinner, I’d bring a kitchen chair outside, haul the ham out of the freezer, arrange it on the chair, go get the wood saw, and saw off a hunk. Sometimes the ham would roll off the chair and onto the ground, whereupon I would heave it back up and keep sawing. The ham never seemed to get smaller.
“Eternity,” Abraham Lincoln once perceptively observed, “is two people and a ham.”