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What's Cooking in Bryan County: Holiday ham and strawberry lemonade for Easter
Libby Hires
Libby Hires

As soon as the yellow pixie dust begins to fall from the sky and the azaleas begin to bloom, we can tell that Easter will soon be arriving as well. If those clues didn’t hit you in the head, possibly the bunnies and jellybeans in the store pushing the Valentine’s out of the way in February was a sign, right? Oh my, how time flies!

 When I was younger, it took forever and a day to get to any holiday. I especially loved any special occasion that meant presents. Just kidding! I mean PRESENCE.

I loved getting together with family and doing things. My parents spent much of their adulthood raising and rearing five daughters. The reason why I say “raising and rearing” is because we are from the South. We grew up in the South. If you were born in the southern states, lived, and grew up here during your formative years, and your parents taught you right, you were RAISED.

If you had to be taught a few lessons for doing something wrong, at those moments, you were reared. During those rearing moments, it could have been done with a soft leather belt, a paddle, a fly swatter, or even a newly broken switch off the closest bush with a few leaves left on the top for decoration. If you grew up in the South, you know the difference between raised and reared.

If ya know, ya know.

Easter was a fun holiday for my family. We would always dye eggs and have a tremendous time hiding them. My parents thought that we should be matching set when we went to church: Matching dresses, hats, little white gloves. We would all have the same dress and hat, but it would be a different color. The hat would have this tiny little string of elastic that would go under your chin so that your hat wouldn’t fly away in the wind. It would also pop the fire out of your chin if one of your devilish sisters would snap it when you weren’t paying attention. Reference the switch statement above. They were well acquainted with being reared. As an adult, I figured out the reason for the little white gloves. It was because we dyed those eggs. Gloves do a great job covering up the dye that doesn’t come off before Sunday morning services. Sigh.

As I grew older, I realized that there was a lot to be said for growing up in the South. We sure do have a lot to be thankful for with our traditions. We put a lot of emphasis on faith, family, friends…and of course food. I don’t know where I would be today without all of them. Yes, even food.

Food helps us remember those that have gone before us, those that are still with us, the one that provided it…and let’s me continue to write about it.

I’m so thankful I have y’all to read about it. Since it’s almost Easter, I’m hopping to it and giving you some of my family’s favorite Easter dishes! Hug someone and tell them you love them eggceptionally!

Holiday Ham

1 (3 -7 pound) ham (do not use a spiral-glazed ham or it will tend to dry out faster. Rind is up to you.)

1 pound light brown sugar 1 (12 ounce) can Coca- Cola* 1 (14 ounce) can pineapple rings 1 cup Manischewitz wine (sweet Concord grape wine) 10 -12 maraschino cherries (optional) 1/2 ounce whole cloves (1 small container) Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Score the ham crosswise and lengthwise, forming a crosshatch/ square-cut patter about 1/4 inches deep and 1 inch apart. Place a clove in the intersection of each square.

Place ham in an aluminum roasting pan that you have placed on a baking/cookie sheet (for stability).

Load the ham with sugar. Use the whole pack and just pack it on. Some sugar will fall off, but keep on packing. Bake until sugar just begins to melt (20-30 minutes). Remove ham, pour Coca-Cola all over the ham, and baste the ham with the sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Combine 1 cup of pineapple juice and wine. Baste the ham with mixture.

Bake the ham for about 15 minutes per pound, basting every 20 minutes with the juices. During the last 20 minutes, decorate ham with pineapple rings. Use toothpicks to hold the rings in place, and put a cherry in the center of each ring with a toothpick. Prior to serving, remove all toothpicks.

• I have substituted Cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper instead of Coke, both of them work well.

Strawberry Lemonade

(Recipe can be halved) 1 pound fresh strawberries , hulled 3 cups granulated sugar 8 to 10 cups water , divided 3 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or use Real Lemon concentrate) Directions: Puree the strawberries using a blender or food processor. Create a simple syrup by adding sugar to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Slowly stir in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool the syrup to room temperature. Pour the lemon juice into a gallon pitcher. Add simple syrup and strawberries.

Slowly stir in remaining water. Chill until ready to serve. Serve in glasses of ice. (If you want to make this a “singing” or spiked lemonade, reduce water by ½ cup and add a ½ cup to 1 cup chilled vodka to the mix. Tequila or rum could be used as well.)

Few people, if any, have written more eloquently about What’s Cooking in Bryan County than Libby Hires.

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