Growing up in Brasil and Argentina, my mother had to make everything from scratch as one couldn't find any of these products in the store or ready made. In June, mom would go to the butchers to purchase some suet for the plum pudding and once it was made would then soak in brandy until it was ready by Christmastime. For the fruitcake, she learned to make her own dried fruit as ingredients. For marzipan (and the Christmas crackers- the ones that pop and have a toy and a joke inside them), she'd always have a friend who traveled back and forth from England bring some back for us.
Ham was a treat for us. I'm not sure why, but we didn't eat ham throughout the year, so our Christmas ham was special. I remember as a little girl standing on my kitchen stool, watching my mother score the ham, and meticulously place the cloves at each crossing. I'd watch her baste the ham every half hour or so, and see the ham turn golden brown in the oven.
Our Christmas meal was always on Christmas Eve. We'd set the table with our Christmas china and tablecloth. We would dress up in our best clothes and it was quite a to-do! Mom would walk in with the ham once we were all seated, and dad would carve it. After we finished our meal, we'd pop the crackers and share the jokes, and mom would go into the kitchen to prepare the plum pudding for it's entrance. Everyone had their cracker crowns on, the lights would be dimmed, and mom would walk in with the plum pudding in flames, and we'd sing "Bring Us Our Figgy Pudding"! Mom would then serve us a helping of plum pudding with plenty of brandy butter sauce, and expectantly we'd eat the pudding hoping to find a charm in it (each charm was a forecast of the next year's event- fortune, marriage, etc).
With full tummies, and feeling festive, we'd follow dinner by going to the midnight Christmas Eve candlelight service. It was magical!
Now that I'm a grown woman with children of my own, I look back at all the effort my mother made to make the holiday magical. I've tried to do the same with my children. My daughter assures me I did!
Except she or her brother never cared for the plum pudding! They didn't mind it with heaps of brandy butter sauce, but they would have preferred to skip that part of the meal- except that that would have required us to miss the flaming pudding which I decreed was not an option!
This year will be a special treat for us, as this will be the first time that we will have our very own home grown ham! I decided to raise Red Wattle pigs this summer to see if they could help root up the brush from under our beautiful oak trees. They didn't do a good job, but the resulting bacon, pork chops and hams far outweigh the fact that they failed to root up the brush!
And since we believe that healthy food comes from healthy animals raised as naturally as possible (i.e. no GMO, no soy, no hormones, no antibiotics), I feel proud to serve our ham knowing that the food I'm providing my family and friends is the healthiest that can be provided!
So after a call to my mother to have her share with me the recipe for our Christmas ham, I'm counting down the days until Christmas Eve so that I can roast my very own home grown, healthy pasture raised ham!
You too can have your very own healthy ham for Christmas! Below is the recipe, and you can click here to place an order for one of our hams.