After spending several days with my extended family, it is time to get cooking. My time away from the kitchen has been spent celebrating and remembering the life of my amazing uncle. After battling cancer in the most courageous way possible, God decided he had bigger plans for him in heaven. While I am still so sad for his family who has been left with a hole in their hearts, I am deeply touched by their grace, love, and courage during this difficult time. One of Uncle Fran’s most enduring qualities is his humor. I say “is” because I know his jokes will continue to make family and friends laugh for years to come. Therefore, in his memory, I will write “Comfort Food” tonight. One thing I have learned is that with death comes abundant comfort food…or as my cousin put it, a bountiful harvest. People ranging from forever friends to complete strangers all bring food. Even when you don’t feel hungry at all… even when it sickens you to think about eating… the pains of hunger ground us and remind us that we are alive and must move forward with our loved ones’ legacies in our pockets.
“Comfort Food” Aside from chocolate and wine, the next best known comfort food is meat and potatoes. Tonight I bring you a cheap and slightly more healthy version of mama’s homecookin’ cheesy potatoes and ham. The ham I use is actually a turkey ham. It has less fat, costs less money, and is absolutely delicious. I have never bought one for over $4. For a weekday meal, it suits us just gorgeous. I like this so much, I would use it for Easter. However, I would have to buy about 6 of them to feed our crew. So, I will focus on tonight’s meal and save Easter for a WAY later date…I’m talking years. Major extended family meals are frightening. I admire all mothers, mother-in-laws, aunts, grandmothers, and (I suppose) rare men, that cook them with grace and happiness. I, for one, hope to never stick my hand up a turkey’s butt. I will gladly let the other women in my life wear that title…the “I stick my hand up the turkey butt” title. If the day comes that I have the pleasure of making a holiday meal for the entire crew, I guarantee it will be ham and not turkey. Unless, however, it is 6 Aldi Turkey Ham’s… then I guess it would be turkey, but without the title. My favorite thing about the Aldi Turkey Ham…I get a gorgeous ham dinner out of the little turkey guy, plus another ham meal. My favorite day twos are ham friend rice or 1-potato-2’s.
Necessary Ingredients: Turkey Ham (a little less than 2 lbs), 1/3 bag of golden potatoes,1/2 onion, side vegetable of choice (I chose the no-purpose peas from Meal 4), can of cream of mushroom soup, a couple of dollups of sour cream, half can of milk, two handfuls of shredded cheddar, garlic powder, pepper, handful of crunched up cereal (preferably not fruit loops…cornflakes or chex type work well).
Wash and cube up potatoes and half an onion. Spray 9×13 baking dish with canola oil spray. Throw in potatoes, onions, cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 can milk, a couple of dollups of sour cream, and a handful of cheddar cheese. Stir and add a sprinkling of garlic powder and pepper. Cover with foil. Put potatoes in 325 degree oven. Unwrap ham and put in baking dish. Add to oven. Cook for about an hour. Pull out potatoes and throw on a handful of crunched up cereal. Bake for 10 more minutes. Pull out and serve with vegetables of choice. A simple steamed pea or green beans would probably be best, as cream of mushroom soup is just not very good for you. Use low-fat or fat-free versions of all the creamy goodness and it will still be…well… creamy goodness. Mama’s recipe has a stick of butter in the potatoes and the cereal mixed with melted butter. I left that out for heart and Mexican vacation purposes and it tasted just as gorgeous.
Aldi Price Breakdown: Turkey Ham (a little less than 2 lbs)-$1.95 ( $3.87 divided by 2…because you will use the other half within the next few nights for fried rice or 1-potato-2’s), 1/3 bag of golden potatoes -60cents, 1/2 onion- 8cents, 1/3 bag frozen steamed peas- 22cents , can of cream of mushroom soup (I haven’t bought a can since I started this blog and I really can’t remember…but I’m sure it is gorgeous. I’ll shoot high and say 89cents), a couple dollops of sour cream 25cent, half can of milk- 10cents, two handfuls of shredded cheddar 70cents, garlic powder, pepper, handful of crunched up cereal- 10centsish= A gourmet gorgeous meal for 4 at $4.88. The truth is I got lucky tonight. My in-laws called and said they wanted to stop by to see the kiddos. Since I had meticulously prepared a ham all day, I told my husband to invite them to stay for dinner. I added a romaine and tomato salad for about $1.00 more, served the entire ham, did NOT increase the potatoes, and we had a dinner party for six at $7.83…with leftovers!