A Simple Way of Saying

Made a ham casserole yesterday and it was not bad. Used up what was left of the ham, and threw in some corn and cheese and potatoes. I have an affinity for leftovers. Always have, and for ham especially. And turkey dinner, too, of course. Sometimes it’s better the second time around. Like egg bake. And spaghetti ‘n meatballs. And pizza. Oh yum. Now I’m making myself hungry. There are things that aren’t good after the first serving, I do confess. Malt-O-Meal. Eggs. Fish. Some things.

Holiday meals are such fun to cook. I love the planning and the ingredient gathering and the mixing together and timing of what goes in the oven when. I love the flurry of people arriving, people tasting this and that, the small talk and the children laughing in the background. I love the smells that rise up and mingle, and the questions of who sits where and more flurry, and at last the serving. Sometimes buffet-style, sometimes family-style. I love the quiet as people dig in, the eventual conversation, the clinking of utensils, the exclamations of “OH, this is good” and “I need this recipe!” and “Pass more potatoes, please.” The lull after the meal and the clearing, and the ensuing review of dessert options. “Apple, please.” “I think I’ll try the Key Lime pie.” And, “How ‘bout a sliver of each?” And the a la mode, the plate of bars, the mints and the scent of coffee. That feeling of satisfaction at a meal well eaten. A holiday meal.

I have to say that I love ordinary meals just as much. Smaller celebrations of the food with which we are blessed, Mr. S and me. Pork chops and apples. Trout on the grill. Tuna noodle casserole. Chicken pot pie. Sausage and kraut. Pancakes and bacon. BLT sandwiches. Just a big ol’ salad and some fresh bread. Oh, sighh. And then the gingersnaps and lemon bars and cinnamon coffeecake. All of it. I just love to cook and bake and that is all there is to it. It’s a simple way of saying so much. “Here, eat. I love all of you and want you to thrive.” And, “Here, eat. I love you and I want you to live for a very long time.”

Just like that. It’s a gift, cooking is. A gift to be able to do it in the first place; a gift to others.
I simply had to say all this, simple though it is. It’s true. Much like most simple things. It is what it is, and thank goodness it IS, and what would a good life be without it?

Get out that leftover ham. This recipe is gonna bring it home.

Ham Casserole

2 cups cooked, cubed ham
2 cups diced, cooked potatoes
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
¼ cup fresh minced parsley
1 T chopped onion
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 ¾ cup milk
1/8 tsp pepper
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese (or Velveeta)

Combine first four ingredients in bowl and set aside. Saute onion and butter for a few minutes; add flour and stir well. Add milk and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour over ham mixture and stir well and pour into an 11x7x2 baking dish. Cover and cook at 350. After 20 minutes, sprinkle cheese over. Bake another five or so uncovered.



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