Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring Break

Spring Break starts in about three and a half hours.  I know we're all ready.  We've been going at it pretty hard in the last few weeks, even the fun stuff.  And we could all use some sleep and R&R.  By "we" here, I mean the kids and me.  Mama doesn't have any time off before next Friday.  And then we'll do Easter prep and a big meal with her parents here on Saturday and the Bunny will be here before Sunday morning.

Until then, I'm doing a little planning, both for spring break and the Easter prep meal.  Here's what I've come up with.

Ideas for a Spring Break at Home (beyond video games)
  • bicycle riding
  • a hike/nature walk at a nearby park
  • teaching the kids how to quill
  • baking/cooking
  • game night
  • sea glass search and kite flying at the beach
  • puzzle (for those rainy days)
  • garden clean up (it's way too early to plant)
  • nostalgia time with Lego sets?
  • home movie night
  • maybe a trip into the city to see the new miniatures exhibition?  or the Central Park Zoo?
  • and, of course, there will be movies (Sing! perhaps)

Easter Meal Ideas
  • ham with madeira and green peppercorn sauce?  Trying to find the recipe Mama used last year (I've been inconsistent in blogging recipes, which is most frustrating when I can't find them.)
  • macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes
  • green beans?  
  • green salad
  • almond bundt cake?  or some other yummy baked good.  Every time Smitten Kitchen posts a new baked good, I want to make it; my list is long.
  • rolls
  • deviled eggs
  • roasted nuts? chex mix?

I think this might be the recipe, adapted from a book called All About Braising by Molly Stevens.

Ham with Madeira and Green Peppercorn Sauce

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions (12 ouncew total), coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 heeaping tablespoon green peppercorns, in brine, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
four 3 inch leafy fresh rosemary sprigs
2 small or 1 large bay leaf
1 cup dry madeira, such as sercial or rainwater
1 cup chicken or veal stock, homemade or store bought
one 6 to 8 pound bone in ham, fully or partially cooked, preferably shank or rump

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees

2. The aromatics: in a large dutch oven or deep braising pan (7 quart) large enough to hold the ham, heat the oil over medium high heat. when the oil is shimmering, add the carrot, onions, and celery. saute, stirring a few times, untilo the vegetales brown on the edges and begin to soften, about 10 minutes. add the peppercorns, garlic rosemary and bay leaft, stir and saue for another 2 minutes

3. The braising liquid: pour in the maderia and bring to a boil lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat. pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for another 5 minutes

4. The braise: whether you bought a fully cooked or partially cooked (sometimes labeled "ready to cook") ham will affect the cooking time. lower the ham into the pot, setting it eithe flat side down or on its side, whichever fitw beswt. cover tightly with the lid or heavy duty foil and slide the pot into the lower part of the oven. for a fully cooked ham, braise until fork tender and heted lo l the way through, abut 1 hour and 45 minutes. for a partially cooked ham, braise until the ham is fork tendr and an instnt red thermometer read 155 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the ham, closer to 2 1/2 hours (be careful that the thermometer does not hit the bone, which will give you a falsely high reading)

5. The finish: transfer the ham to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. strain the braising liquidf, and discard the vegetables - they will be too salty. skim as much fat from the surface of the braiswing liquid as yu can withyout losing patience. taste, if the liquid tasts a bit weak, pour it into medium saucepan and simmer to reduce until it tastes like a mild broth, 10 to 15 minutes. if the liquid is already tasty as is, set if over a low burner to keep warm. the sauce will not need any salt - in fact, if you do reduce it, be careful not to go too far, as it can quickly become too salty.

6. Serving: carve the ham into think slices and erve warm or at room temperture with a bit of the warm sauce spooned over the top.

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