As I sit in my office typing this, there is a repairman in my laundry room looking at my washing machine, which broke over the weekend. The weekend I’m talking about was Easter weekend, a weekend for family, eating a lot of food—and seeing how many hours long religious epics you can take in from TCM’s day schedule. Easter is a weekend that, at least in the south, is centered around ham. As someone who takes his big meal cooking VERY seriously, I wanted to do something special this year, and that involved ordering a ham.
For years my family has been getting The Graf Colony Catalog. As long as I can remember any upcoming holiday’s arrival was signaled by the sight of The Graf Colony appearing in the mailbox. Page after page of tempting treats. Cakes, chocolates, meat sticks, cookies, cheese, mustards, dips, spreads, and yes—hams. As a child, I envied what they called “our most popular ham,” The Glaze Master. A beautiful fifteen-pound ham, culled from the finest choice pigs, spiral cut, and specially glazed with a secret recipe to make a ham so good you’ll find all the fulfillment your life lacks in one bite.
When the catalog arrived I looked it over, everyone coming to my home this year made me realize that maybe, just maybe, the time was right to order The Glaze Master. I don’t recall what The Glaze Master cost in my youth, but as of this writing, the catalog price for The Glaze Master is $74.95 plus tax and shipping. Because I love and care about my family, I nodded at the catalog like Jeremiah Johnson and placed an order for one Glaze Master to be delivered to my home—with an extra glaze packet on the side!
Seven business days later, I heard my doorbell ring and found a UPS driver waiting there for me with a large box that contained my Glaze Master Ham. The ham was packed very carefully. In thick, custom molded styrofoam with dry ice to keep it cold. Along with the invoice and other shipping information, there was a special notarized letter from the CEO of The Graf Colony, Charles M. Graf—who told me about how lucky I was about to be thanks to this blessed ham that had arrived.
I took the ham to my basement fridge to store it. Flash forward a few days. The family was now here, the day of cooking had arrived, and I told everyone I could handle it all alone. They splinted off to various rooms of my house to keep themselves occupied, and I spent all my time in the kitchen playing soul music and cooking. The day before I had pre-cooked some casseroles that only required a final baking to be done, those were also in my basement fridge and the time had come to bring those up.
Since I insisted on doing this alone, I realized I had a bit of a conundrum as I faced needing to bring both a casserole and the ham up at the same time. The casserole was in a fairly small container, but that fifteen pound Glaze Master was the issue. I didn’t have enough hands to manage both, but there had to be some way to make it work where I could get both up at the same time. No, making separate trips was not an option. What do you think I am? An amateur?
Looking around my basement I quickly spotted some clean, but old sheets over in a corner. I grabbed a pillow case and stuffed the ham inside. With this brilliant maneuver, I was able to get both the ham and casserole up to my kitchen at the same time. I placed the in-cased ham on my kitchen table, the casserole over on the island. I wanted both of them to come to room temperature.
I absent-mindedly went back into my zone and worked on other parts of my menu. When it came time to get the ham ready, I turned around and found that the pillowcase was gone. My teenage cousin, who has yet to become surly, entered my kitchen and I asked them if they had seen the pillowcase. They told me, in their best way to be helpful, they placed it in the laundry room, in the washing machine, and started it.
I ran to the washing room and stopped the washer—I took the ham out, but it was too late. The ham itself was fine…the glaze packet it came with had melted in the water and now an entire load of sheets smelled like maple syrup with a hint a smokiness. “M…my ham,” I said sadly, right before I realized I am a grown man standing in his maple smelling laundry room lamenting over a ham. But as I lamented over the ham I soon realized that this maple sent was deep in the washing machine—and trying to start it up again resulted in all kinds of error messages appearing on the control panel.
I cooked the ham as is, clean, washed, and without the extra glaze. My cousin was remorseful, I told him he could mow my lawn to make it up to me. The ham? It was quite good, but not $75 good. Maybe it’s the extra glaze that makes all the difference? Maybe it was just marketing? Maybe I should have gotten a beef log instead? These are the questions that will haunt me until next Easter. As will that maple scent in my laundry room. So far the repairman doesn’t know exactly what is going on, but he suspects it may be due to the melted glaze packet clogging up various hoses and drains in the machine. Looks like a trip to the appliance store is in order. See you next week.