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We had a relatively mild winter for the most part, with temperatures well above freezing until past Christmas. When it did finally settle in, it seemed to attack us with a vengeance, blistering cold, onslaughts of snow, almost as if trying to make up for lost time.
As I sit and write this, however, we're settling in for a week or so of spring like, 10 - 12 C weather. Of course, they tell us it won't last long, but it's funny how even this brief respite is enough to make everything seem brighter and better. Windbreakers are out, brave souls are attempting to leave their boots behind, brief as it was, no one is sad to bid winter "farewell".
And even though it's mostly wet and messy out there, it just smells like renewal. Won't be long till we see the heads of crocuses and daffodils peaking out, forcing spring and all its splendour to take over.
Easter is on its way as well, and in our house, that means a huge family Easter dinner with lots of laughs, good food, and some reflection too. This year, my partner's youngest son will be in Quebec, finishing up his fourth week of basic training at a military camp there. His first week of acclimatization was tough, we can only hope that it gets better as time goes on. My oldest son, Matthew, is entering his second year of living in England, having left the Hilton after his apprenticeship and signed on with a well known local restaurant, Odette's, for a one year contract. He says that after this year is up, he'll be heading to Australia with a couple of chef friends to see what's "down under". So we'll have lots to reflect on, but mostly to be grateful for.
Anthony is lobbying for lamb for Easter, and since it's an Italian tradition, that's what we're having. Larry, my partner, strongly believes that Easter means ham, so we'll be doing one of those as well. It's a good thing we always have plenty of people to feed at these holiday times!!!
Larry's method for baking ham is relatively simple, yet turns out a moist, flavourful result every time. And in my smaller, downtown Toronto kitchen, it's also a truly ingenious way to increase cooking capacity. Try it, and let me know what you think!!!
Start with a whole (or half) Virginia or Black Forest ham. Place it in a covered roaster that’s just big enough to fit it with about an inch of space all around it. Pour orange juice over the ham so that it drizzles all around it and accumulates in the bottom of the pan to about an inch and a half deep. Cover the ham tightly with the roaster lid (if your roaster lid isn’t tight, seal the edges of the pan with a double thickness of foil). Have your outdoor barbecue preheated to low, place the ham in it and close the bbq lid. Every 20 minutes or so you should check and baste the ham, add a bit more liquid if it appears to be drying out. Test your ham for internal temperature, but it should take no more than 90 minutes to two hours.
That’s it. As Larry puts it, “It’s so easy, even I can do it!”
So, to you and yours, from all of us here: Happy Spring, Happy Easter and goodie baskets filled to overflowing!!!