Monday, April 9, 2007

My Dogpatch Ham

April 9

There used to be a comic strip that grownups liked even better than kids did, called "Li'l Abner." Written and drawn by the curmudgeon Al Capp, the strip was peopled by a unique group of characters who lived in the hill country of the Southern U.S. in a community called Dogpatch. The leading character was an oversized, gorgeous simpleton who meant no harm to anyone and whose main objective seemed to be to avoid marriage to the beauteous and well-endowed Daisy Mae.

The strip was so popular that when Daisy Mae finally landed Li'l Abner it made the cover of Life Magazine. Li'l Abner's ubiquitous mother Mammy Yokum presented the couple with a ham that was to last the life of their marriage, a tradition in them thar hills known as The Dogpatch Ham.

Whenever I commit to a ham, particularly now that I'm living alone, I think of it as a Dogpatch ham, because it will last until I wish it would go away. I bought myself a full, bone-in ham for Easter and baked it with a glaze of mustard, maple syrup and brandy, which was fine for one meal. But now what? What would Daisy Mae do?

There'll be sliced ham for sandwiches, ham and eggs for breakfast, chopped ham for salad, ham added to soup, ham mixed with breadcrumbs for croquettes, ham a la king, ham in casseroles, ham sliced and frozen in single-serving bags, and at last a hambone for cooking Red Beans and Rice or blackeyed peas, greens or other vegetable dish of my choosing. Right now I can only think of the ham I have sitting in my refrigerator, waiting to be dealt with. If you have any ideas, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Ritual burning. It's the only thing that will kill it permanently.

Mary Lois said...'ll probably bring out the flavor too!

Jonathan Odell said...

Bury it at the bottom of you deep freeze and be pleasantly surprised in 20 years when you come upon it again.