Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

For the most part I am considered to be a maker of "fancy" food. Ask my mother. Even though I think that my food is fairly simple to prepare (there's a growing selection of slow cooker meals), and uses ingredients that mostly I can find out here in rural Ohio, I still get labeled as an elitist in the food department. I apparently don't cook for the people. This alone has been troubling, but this past week, some good friends of our family had a death in the family and I wanted to send over a casserole.

Yeah, yeah, you're thinking. Big whoop. This was actually a fairly difficult job. First, I had to think of a "farmer food" casserole. The patriarch of the family isn't particularly fond of vegetables. About this time, a classmate of mine told me that farmers like potatoes (or noodles), meat, and cheese. She was an expert because her dad wouldn't eat vegetables. (I should also make the disclaimer here, that I'm sure farmers exist who eat vegetables and this is probably a mere stereotype, but the patriarch of the family I was cooking for does not in general.) So the task to make a meat, cheese, and potatoes casserole, was a little daunting because there's a lactose intolerance problem in our happy little family, so for the most part I don't cook with cheese. Or at least not large proportions of it. I finally came across this delicious Scalloped Potatoes and Ham recipe from my trusty St. Columban's Catholic Church cookbook. I also came to the conclusion that we'd be having ham steak for dinner, not extra casserole.

Then the delivery of this casserole posed some more problems. See I had class the night that I made this. And unfortunately, by the time I finished it, the family was at the viewing. So it went in the fridge for the night. The next day, I tried to call and deliver it before I left town, but that happened to be right in the middle of the funeral. I was having no luck. Fortunately, the Brain is a wonderful husband. He took it over after he got home from work. He's also friends with the couples children. I really hope they enjoyed it and that they are receiving some comfort in this sad time.

On a thoroughly happier note, I went up to Michigan this weekend to see my family and because the 2008-2009 season opened at the Michigan Opera Theater. The season opener was the opera Margaret Garner based on a true story of an escaped slave. The libretto is written by Toni Morrison and is incredibly powerful. My best friend T. and I came out of it marveling at the symbolism, thankful for waterproof mascara, and a little annoyed that Black History wasn't included more in our education. The opera has left the Michigan Opera Theater, but the entire cast is going to Chicago to perform at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University November 1-9. If you can get the chance, go see it!

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
adapted from the St. Columban's Catholic Church Cookbook submitted by Rudolph York

1 1/2 lb. ham, cubed
1 large onion, diced
10 raw Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In greased 9x13" casserole arrange half of the ham cubes. Top with half of the onion and half of the potatoes. Sprinkle with half of the flour, salt, pepper, and cheese. Repeat with remaining half of everything. Meanwhile, heat the milk with butter until butter melts and pour over all. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are done.


Bellini Valli said...

This dish has potatoes in it so was sure to please....but is the thought that counts:D

Peter M said...

Ham & potatoes makes this a meal and I'm sure this casserole comforted your bereaving relatives.

the cheap chick said...

You were soooooooo close to MN! Okay, not really. But I still wish you could have stopped by.

Deborah said...

scalloped potatoes are the perfect comfort food!

Anonymous said...

I think it is so cool that you did the cooking and The Brain did the delivery. Share in the support of a family going through grief. Nice work.

Amanda said...

Well done, Mary. It's so thoughtful to send food to a mourning family. I know it will mean a lot to them.

Scalloped potatoes (with or without ham) are an old favorite in my family, too--only we never add cheese.

Margaret Garner sounds great--I'm so jealous! I wish I didn't live in such a cultural black hole. :(

Cakelaw said...

A sad occasion to make it, but it looks delicious.

Elra said...

I'll take the sausage and green pepper please. Sounds delicious.