Iowa, North America

easter feast part three: mini ham loaves

Mini ham loaves or ham balls, however you shape these tasty little things you’ll love them. Both my grandma’s used to make ham balls. They were one of my favorite things they made. Ham balls have that sweet, salty, tangy factor. In Iowa and other parts of the Midwest you can buy pre-mixed ham loaf. It’s usually a mixture of ham and pork or ham, pork, and beef. In Denver, you really can’t find this premixtire of ground meats. I had to really ask around several meat counters before I found one willing to grind up ham and pork for me. Special thanks to Marczy’s Fine Foods on 17th in Denver for happily accepting this special order!

I didn’t have my grandma’s recipe so I called my mom and she gave me a recipe that was not my grandma’s exact recipe but she thought it was “pretty close”. This recipe had graham crackers as a binding agent and tomato soup in the sauce. Oh my. As she was reading me the recipe my aunt, who happened to be visiting my mom, yelled out that she didn’t think grandma used Graham crackers and she KNEW that her sauce didn’t have tomato soup. Uh oh. I needed to find out more! After that I messaged my cousin and my sister because I knew they would have the best memory of the ham balls and maybe the best resources. They didn’t dissappoint. My cousin even had grandma’s recipe card! 


My aunt was right. No grahams and no tomato soup. We also decided that grandma’s recipe was most likely not developed because it was her preferred method, but rather because she didn’t have those ingredients on hand and she did without, or she thought they were too expensive and it was “just fine” without. I plan on trying the graham cracker, tomato soup version soon, but for the sake of authenticity, I’m making grandma’s simple version for my Easter feast. 

grandma’s mini ham loaves

ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs ground ham loaf mixture- a combo of ham, pork, and beef. I just had them grind together 1 1/2 lbs ham and 1 lb ground pork (not lean)

2 cups fresh bread crumbs- put a few slices of bread in the food processor

2 eggs

1 cup milk

sauce:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the meat mixture, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk. Shape the mixture into small little loaves. They should look sort of like little footballs. About 2 inches wide and 3 inches long. Place them in a 9×13 casserole pan. Mix together the sauce ingredients and pour over the little loaves. Bake, uncovered for about an hour and a half. 

Let me know what you think! Did you like this retro Midwest recipe? 

Iowa, North America

easter feast part one: deviled eggs

2 egg

Deviled eggs happen to be another early high school cooking class recipe.  Our teacher taught us how to make deviled eggs using a plastic sandwich bag to mash all the ingredients together in.  Then, you snip off the corner and squeeze it into the egg white.  I remember going home that day and making them after school.  Thinking back, I find it really funny that I would make myself deviled eggs for an after school snack.

Deviled eggs are a fun, retro type snack that everybody loves. You always see people getting real excited when you bring them to a party. Everyone has to really hold themselves back from not taking too many.  I found quickly that the secret to good deviled eggs is having enough salt and vinegar. You need that yolk mixture to be just a little too strong to eat on its own so that the egg white shell balances it.  I’ve eaten quite a few amazing deviled egg combinations: green goddess (avocado with tarragon), deviled eggs with bacon and sriracha, and deviled eggs with smoked salmon and capers.  All these combinations are amazing and I love trying really unique deviled egg recipes.  This recipe, however, is very basic, but also my favorite. If I had to pick one recipe to stick with my whole life long, this would be it!

classic deviled eggs

serves 6

ingredients:

6 eggs

1/2 cup mayo

4 teaspoons yellow mustard (I prefer 2 tsp. Colman’s and 2 tsp. regular yellow mustard)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 tablespoon white vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Fresh chives and or paprika for garnish

 

mustard
I used 2 teaspoons of Coman’s mustard and 2 teaspoons regular yellow mustard. The Colman’s has a sharper, slightly spicy flavor to it. Quite strong.

 

Method:

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes and then put them into an ice water bath immediately.  I’ve heard the secret to easy peeling eggs is that they are cold when you peel them.  You can find all sort of tips on the internet about this but what I’ve found is that none of them work.  It’s all luck.  Either that or I’m horrible about peeling eggs.  I usually make my husband do it and laugh when he gets really mad with how poorly he can peel them.  

Once the eggs are peeled (you’re now either really satisfied because it went well, or pissed off about how ugly your whites look), slice them in half the long way and gently scoop out the yolks into a medium sized bowl.  Add the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork or potato masher until desired smoothness. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives and or a little paprika.  Be sure to remind people to savor them because peeling them was such a pain.  People sometimes need a little guilt with their deviled eggs 🙂

1 egg

*This is the first post in my Easter feast series.  I’ll soon be adding recipes for my grandmother’s ham balls, a spring snap pea and snow pea salad with shallots, walnuts, and dates, and also a recipe for truffled twice-cooked new potatoes. If you’re wanting to try the ham balls and you don’t live in the midwest, call your butcher now to have them ground together 2 pounds of ham and 2 pounds of ground pork. They won’t be happy about it because they will have to clean out their grinder and then clean it again.  I’ve been told it’s a real pain. 

By the way, do you have any tips for me on how to easily peel eggs? Tell me what works for you. Please! And Mom, I know you’re reading this.  Is this pretty close to how you make deviled eggs?