Life on Regal-Hill: March 19, 2008

My kitchen here at Regal-Hill has been the temporary place to put a number of things that don’t normally belong there but this is the first of its kind so far. There have been baby kittens, bunny rabbits, baby chicks, wild turkey eggs and now big bags, (probably 50 pounds each) of seeds. Everything has been there only a short time but it sure was interesting.
Baby kittens aren’t really unusual but if I remember correctly their mommy was up here and I fixed a box for her and she went ahead and had her kittens in the box. Not wanting to disturb mommy or her kittens when the weather was probably cold, they were allowed to stay here where it was warm and we enjoyed watching them grow and start to play with each other. As soon as they were old enough to take care of themselves they were moved to the barn where they were just fine and hopefully old enough to not get laid on by a cow.
Bunnies arrived and we weren’t ready for them so they spend time in the kitchen until a place was fixed for them in the barn in an area where young calves were raised. The rabbits were given to our daughter as a project to teach responsibility as such. As it turned out she had a pair so in no time at all there were babies and all too soon there were way too many. Once she was able to get rid of them all, we had no more rabbits on the farm.
The baby chicks arrived before the henhouse was ready. It needed quite a bit of work so it took several weeks. I found them to be very dirty and dusty and so couldn’t wait until the henhouse was ready. They should have been very pleased with their dwelling since there was a new-shingled roof, a picture window and lots more room for them to move around and peep without disturbing anyone.
George found the nest of turkey eggs when he was working in the field. He wanted to see if we could get them to hatch so we put the 12 eggs on a heating pad in the same corner of the kitchen. The eggs were turned daily for several weeks. Finally we gave up and decided they would never hatch so they were disposed of.
Now we have two bags of barley and one bag of wheat seed piled in the kitchen at the end of a cupboard while we try to decide where would be the best place to store it until it can be planted. It should be in a cold, dry place. UPS delivered it and it came all the way from Iowa. Whether it will be clear seeded, frost seeded or put in ground that is plowed and disked, I don’t know yet but I am sure that the seed will all be planted and there will be very little cleanup compared to when there were animals in the kitchen unless of course a bag should get ripped open.
Easter is very early this year compared to some years when it isn’t until the third Sunday of April. I think most of us think of preparing a nice dinner for this holiday to serve after attending church services. Much of the following menu can be prepared ahead of time so the cook can also enjoy this holiday.

Apricot-glazed Smoked Ham
Warm Potato Salad Dijonnaise
Honey-Ginger Glazed Carrots
Spring Vegetable Salad
Double Berry Tarts or Easter Pie

Apricot-Glazed Smoked Ham
1 ready-to-cook bone-in smoked ham half (8-to 10-lb.), preferable shank end
Whole cloves
3 cups water
1 jar (12-oz.) apricot preserves (1 cup)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard (we used Maille)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Position oven rack in bottom third of oven; heat to 325 degrees F. you’ll need a shallow roasting pan.
Cut off thick rind on ham to expose the fat layer underneath, leaving about 5 inches of the rind intact covering the narrow shank end. Using sharp knife, score fat in diamond pattern. Press 1 clove into center of each diamond. Place ham in roasting pan; pour water in pan. Cover loosely with heavy-duty foil. Roast ham 1-and-one-half hours.
Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients. Remove ham from oven; brush with 1/3 of the glaze. Continue to bake, uncovered, 1 hour, brushing with remaining glaze every 20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.
Let ham rest 20 minutes. Transfer to platter. Serve ham hot, warm or at room temperature.
Plan ahead: Let ham come to room temperature, covered, about 2 hours before baking.
Serves: 8
Woman's Day -- April 1, 2008

Easter Pie
1/2 cup whole wheat berries
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
6 ounces fried tart cherries, chopped
3 cups ricotta cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest from 1 orange
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages (15 ounces each) ready-to-roll 9-inch pie crusts
Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add wheat berries and boil for about 45 minutes or until wheat is tender and most of water is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Drain.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in cherries, ricotta cheese, vanilla, and cinnamon and orange and lemon zest.
Mix together 1 cup of the cooked wheat and the shortening until shortening melts. Stir into ricotta mixture; add salt.
Line two 9-inch pie plates with two single piecrusts. Cut remaining two piecrusts into 1-inch strips.
Spoon half of the pie filling into each pie plate. Arrange pastry strips on top of each pie in lattice fashion.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden-brown and filling is set. If edges become too dark during baking, cover them with aluminum foil.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Makes 2 pies.
Family Circle -- March 2008