Brownievillegirl_ ham for the night before christmas

Jain over at Food For Thought has a wonderful blog with three elements that I love – Food (of course), Books (nearly as good) and Great Photography (and I mean great). Banana pictures She reviews a book, picking out any foodie vignettes, then she cooks/bakes these dishes and photographs them (often in her magnificent Californian garden). Banana chiquita She has asked her readers to review their favourite Christmas books, and throw a bit of cooking in there too – no better woman!

There are two reasons I am delighted to write this post, firstly just love Alice Taylor’s “The Night Before Christmas” and secondly I wanted to introduce any non-Nigella disciples (?!) to her Ham in Cola, which is the nicest way to cook ham … Healthy banana and blueberry bread ever.


Calories in starbucks banana bread I would even be so bold as to recommend it as a way to cook your Christmas Ham.

The Night Before Christmas is a quaint book about a child’s Christmas in a backwater* in the south of Ireland in the 1940s. Calories in banana nut bread Alice Taylor remembers with incredible clarity all the details of her childhood Christmases; heading off with her siblings to cut holly to decorate the house, helping her mother pluck the geese for Christmas dinner, hilariously helping a neighbour clean her chimney, waiting for Santy to arrive and the excitement of finding a school bag and a doll on Christmas morning.

Food (obviously) plays a huge part in Alice’s Christmas memories – buying muscatel raisins for the Christmas cakes, the excitement of receiving a box of fancy chocolates from a cousin who had returned from abroad for the holidays, goose cooked on the bastable over the fire and of course the ham (which they started eating at breakfast time on Christmas morning)

“When we had the kitchen to ourselves, our first priority was to settle down to attack the big ham in the centre of the table. Banana bread recipe This was the ham that had matured up the chimney and hung off the meat hook from the ceiling; my mother had boiled and baked it in a shroud of breadcrumbs and honey, and now all her loving care paid dividends because it was beautifully moist and tender”

I was introduced to this book through my book-club a few years ago, and I now read it every Christmas – it is the most wonderful “get in the Christmas mood” aid ever (along with a carol service or a kiddies Nativity play, tearing up at the thought!!). Recipe for banana bread When you have spent the day queueing for parking spaces, queueing at shopping tills, queueing, queueing queueing, it is wonderful to come home and escape to a Christmas filled with simple pleasures and NO shopping!!!

*My only issue with the book is that it is set in the 1940s when there was electricity here in Ireland (I have asked someone I know who was a child then about their childhood Christmases, their memories would be of a far more modern type experience, none the less magical for that though!) Alice’s memories seem to be of of an older time (there were some far flung pockets around the country that took an age to get “the electric”) and are (for the reader anyway) more magical and nostalgic for that.

Now onto the ham, this is a wonderful way to cook it, it has been my method of choice since I bought How To Eat 100 years ago! I have toyed with other methods over the years but like a faithful Labrador I always return!!!

* You can alter the recipe for smaller joints, less Coke and cooking time.

Place the gammon (raw ham), chopped onion, and bay leaves in an appropriately sized pot, cover with the Coke.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Easy banana bread recipe A 2kg joint needs to be simmered like this for 2 1/2 hours, smaller joints will need less time, but I would err on the side of over rather than undercooking a ham.

Before the ham is finished boiling preheat the oven to 210 C.

Prepare a roasting tin for the ham by lining it with tinfoil (very important if you don’t want to spend 3 hours cleaning it afterwards!!)

When ready remove the ham from the pot to the prepared tin and allow to cool slightly (or completely if you want to preprepare the dish to this stage*)

Mix the breadcrumbs, sugar (I used honey this time), and the mustards to a paste, add the Coke a little at a time to bring the paste to a spreadable consistency (you don’t want it runny).

Cover the fat side of the ham with the paste (and of course cook it fat side up).

Cook in the hot oven for 10-15 minutes. Easy banana bread (I often roast mine at a slightly lower temperature for longer as we like our ham quite dry)

*If you are cooking the ham from cold it will need 30/40 minutes at 180 C.

What a great recipe. Best banana bread recipe You can use coke in a lot of things. Banana nut bread My sister makes a pot roast with coke and it is to die for, extremely tender. How to make banana bread Love your review on the book. Moist banana bread recipe I will have to look for that one. Moist banana bread Ham recipe looks easy and sounds delicious.

i am so glad you joined in and cracked up how you want to initiate the non nigellas right off the bat! the bad news it you showed me the ham before the book, and my mouth is watering so much i can barely read on!

i am definitely going to look for this book, i am so glad you joined in to share it!

thank you so much for playing at food for thought, i am suddenly ravenous, you have just got me craving that ham~

well, i’ve ordered my Christmas Ham and have been reviewing recipes constantly so its really good to see you’ve gone for this version and I’m glad to see it’s worked… Banana nut bread recipe blogging’s great isn’t it/ you’ll always find what you want in the end!

… Healthy banana bread I may substitute the Coke for a sweet cider or ginger beer just to be obnoxious! x

I love the Ham in Coca-Cola too – we made it riskily for the first time when we had a load of friends for dinner and it paid off tenfold. Best banana bread Everyone loved it. Recipe banana bread I think a christmas ham is a must-have!

I have always heard of people using cola to make their hams. Simple banana bread I’ve never made it, but tasted hams that other people have made with cola and I absolutely loved it!! I’m not much of a ham eater either. Banana bread recipe easy Your recipe is very simple and easy to follow. Healthy banana bread recipe Speaking of follow, I’m now following you:) You have a beautiful blog. Recipe for banana nut bread Merry Christmas to you and yours.

I’m also a cook, a baker, an eater, and most importantly a feeder. Banana bread recipe moist I love to feed people, I love the feeling when something I have cooked just hits the spot.

I am also a reader (although often of cookery books!) a bookclub member, an infrequent theatre goer.

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