Getting into stuffed ham
Food is an integral part of any holiday or celebration. That’s the nature of the human condition.
Special events require particular foods to mark the event. At our house that means grilling every Fourth of July, steamed shrimp on New Year’s Eve, German chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday and stuffed ham at Christmas.
I have to admit, though, I’ve never cooked my own stuffed ham. In fact, in the nearly four decades I’ve lived in Southern Maryland, I haven’t ever actually seen one being made.
While I don’t know how to make one, I sure do know the best way to eat it. If you are curious, I prefer it with a little bit of mayo on white bread with plenty of greens to kick up the flavor a bit.
Our family has always been fortunate enough to benefit from family friends who are kind enough to share their bounty of stuffed ham with us. They hail from many gener-
ations of genuine Marylanders — sailors, watermen, and farmers — and their stuffed ham recipe was handed down from way back. This December, with the expert guidance from the matron of the family, to include her personal recipe, I’ll be making my own.
It’s quite a labor of love, requiring copious amounts of kale, some special cooking equipment, and a great deal of time. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Am I right?
Usually the good things in life are worth putting in the extra effort. Stuffed ham is such an essential Southern Maryland food that learning how to make it is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
This area has a lot of history and culture to offer to those willing to listen and learn. Making our family’s stuffed ham with my own two hands will be a milestone for me, and you can bet I’ll be passing that knowledge on to my children when they are a little older.
When you cook with your kids, you are showing them how to take care of their own family one day and modeling the values that they will take to heart.
You can be sure that we will be bonding over stuffed ham every year from now on. And I am already trying to figure out which of our family friends are going to be lucky enough to get the extras from this new endeavor.
Oyster season has begun
You know what goes well with stuffed ham? Fried oysters, which are another great local dish, will also be on the menu for Christmas dinner. We’ve been serving oysters for Christmas dinner for many years now, and my husband always makes them exactly how I like them, fried hard.
The Department of Natural Resources wants Marylanders to know you can start a similar tradition this winter at your house with fresh oysters you harvested yourself right from the Chesapeake Bay.
The recreational oyster
harvest season is now underway and Maryland residents can harvest up to one bushel of oysters a day each day now through March 31. In case you were wondering, a bushel equals about 100 oysters, most certainly enough for a modest family gathering.
Recreational oystering doesn’t require a license so long as you plan to eat them yourself and the oysters are at least 3 inches from hinge to bill. And Maryland requires oysters to be culled on the bar where they are harvested and all undersized oysters and shell material must be returned to the bar. Allowable methods of harvest are diving, raking or shaft tonging.
Oysters can only be har vested from approved and open shellfish areas and cannot be taken within leased aquaculture, harvest reserve areas or sanctuaries.
Natural 1 rejoins the ranks
The Maryland Department of Natural Resourc- es has just added one more tool for catching poachers to their team. Natural 1, DNR’s helicopter, will be rejoining the ranks after a 7-year hiatus from the department’s roster.
The police aviation unit, which has been in existence nearly 70 years, was disbanded in 2009 and the helicopter was transferred to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office where it was painted blue. When it became available again, Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton was determined to bring it back home.
Now the helicopter has been restored to its original black-and-gold luster, and it is already flying missions over the 17,000 miles of waterways and almost a half-million acres of public lands in Maryland to ensure the safety of people enjoying the outdoors and protecting our natural resources.
One of its original pilots manned the controls when it returned to service. Since that maiden voyage, Natural 1 has been back on duty and carrying out oyster enforcement patrols and providing support for missing person searches.
Let everyone be on notice, our state’s natural resource law enforcement officers will be watching from above.