take the long way home

June 4th, 2017

There’s no place like home, even if it is Kansas, but only when you know where your home actually is. What determines ‘home’? Is it the place you were born or the place of your childhood? Is it your college town or the city you work in? Is it wherever you are or simply the place you miss most? Is it where we leave our hearts? If the latter is true, I’m spread rather thinly across five continents, and yet the heart beats on.

When I left Russia in 2001, I headed back to New England, where I’d spent my first eighteen years. I still don’t know what inspired that odd return ‘home’, because the important people were dead and friends of long ago scattered to various and unknown corners of the region. I drove by the house of some friends of my parents. Their name was still on the mailbox. I drove past the house three times, slowly, and never knocked on the door.

Now I’m in yet another former ‘home’, Virginia. Numerous people have said, “Welcome home!” and I’m puzzled briefly because I’m not sure that it is my home. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy to be here and immediately set about doing the thing I’d always done when residing here once before: entertaining. Today’s familiar guests enjoyed an appetizer spread with two clear stand-outs, Country Ham Pâté freckled with fresh mint and Candied Jalapeños spiked with lime zest. Lip-smacking, home style.

Country Ham Pâté and Candied Jalapeños

Country Ham Pâté and Candied Jalapeños

Related Recipes

Candied Jalapeños

Superb on everything, even ice cream!

This is less a recipe and more a ratio of two simple ingredients, embellished with bits of fun.

  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Sugar
  • Roasted red peppers, diced
  • Lime zest

The ratio of Jalapeños to sugar is 1:.75. Combine in a bowl and stir. Add as much roasted red peppers and lime zest as you like, or skip them entirely.

Place mixture in a jar, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Country Ham Pâté

Country ham is the famous ham of the south that is salt-cured and smoked. Serve this smoky pâté with assorted pickles, olives, cheeses, crudités, and crackers.

For 1.5 cups:

  • ½ pound Country ham, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon scallion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, subject to your love of Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Several dashes of hot sauce
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Roughly cube the ham and pulse it in a food processer to the fineness or rolled oats.

Cream together the cream cheese, butter, mayonnaise, mustard, and honey. Thoroughly fold in the remaining ingredients and the ham.  Transfer mixture to a storage container and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature prior to serving.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.