Sunday, December 04, 2005


… there ain’t necessarily fire.

(Most of this ran originally 7/17/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

I'm glad you enjoyed the smoked salmon. If and when I go fishing again, I'll smoke more fish and send some more your way. I also make beef jerky. It doesn't last very long either.

The one thing I have never smoked is a ham. I remember the country cured hams my grandmother made. The only problem is the recipe went to the grave with her. There were hams hanging in the old smoke house that had to be two or three years old. You had to have a very sharp knife to cut it and then you had to soak it overnight to be able to eat it the next morning. That was an eating experience that you never forget.

The red eye gravy made after cooking the ham was also something I have never had since.

The old smoke house had a dirt floor and had a salt box that was 4 feet high 5 feet wide and 3 feet in depth. In the fall of the year they would bury the fresh hams in the salt. Usually 8 to 12 hams would be processed at a time. They stayed in the box for a number of days and then they were hung from the rafters in the back of the house in front of the vents. A hickory fire was started by the door and made to produce a lot of smoke. After the predetermined amount of days smoking, the hams were wrapped in a cotton material similar to flour sacks. Next they were wrapped in old newspapers and hung up in the rafters again to age. They hung there until one was needed.

With the amount of salt and smoke in them, nothing bothered them. They might get mold on the outside of the skin, but all you had to do was cut it off and the ham was as good as new.

If I could just turn back time to when my grandmother was still alive, I would have many wonderful recipes that are lost forever. I've learned from this: I now write down my recipes that everyone likes. Susan has a lot of my recipes that she loves and cooks from time to time. I think we all need to sit down and write down those things that we want our children and grandchildren to remember after we are gone. I keep intending to write my memories down, just never find the time. By the time I slow down enough, I wonder if I will have the ability to put everything down on paper.

Tom Pry

It was Karen who got into the salmon and pronounced it utterly delicious. With the sodium thing hanging over my head, I've been a bit reluctant (unlike Ernie who, as you will recall, ate ALL of his at one sitting) .. but she'll take all she can get. Ditto beef jerky, which she loves.

I've never heard of so-called "country-cured" ham being cured by burying it in salt before smoking it. Before they opened the abattoir/freezer locker place on Main Street here in town, granddad cured his with salt brine, which was injected deep into the ham, next to the bone, with a hypodermic needle of frightening proportions.

You're right, though, there's nothing like it. The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain produces a pretty acceptable country-cured ham, great for breakfast. I think only Talmadge Farms still produces it commercially: it's a nutritionist's nightmare.

Thank you for the salmon ... and I'll take all the memories you can produce.

P.S. As for smoking hams .. I have yet to figure out which end you stick in your mouth before striking the match.

THIS IS A PERSONAL COMMERCIAL, which I’ll be running about once a week until Google – or you – tells me to knock it off.


I have the software and the experience to transfer this material, or anything recorded on a VHS tape, to CD – AFTER it’s been digitally cleaned up to get rid of annoying pops, snaps, hissing.

Price: reasonable. Reaction time: quick. Copies available? Depends on what you send.

Call during daylight or early evening hours: 501-268-7438, or e-mail me through this site
(see the Comments link).

HELP! Social Security just doesn’t go as far as it used to .. and those old tapes and records don’t last forever, either.

-Tom Pry


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