How to use leftover ham and a leftover column. A two-fer.

This column ran in last year’s pre-Easter edition of the Traverse City Record- Eagle. I’m posting it here because it does two things.

  1. It has two good recipes for using leftover ham.
  2. It should make you glad that you, unlike me, did not spend yesterday morning trying to keep five sugared up boys (ages eleven and under) in the church pews and off the church ceiling. 


My husband and sons have a strange chromosomal bond with the remote control. 

They have even given said remote control a name: “The weapon of honor.”

This is a mystery to me. I certainly don’t care even half as much as them about having the thing in my hands. They, on the other hand, find it odd that I don’t mind standing up to change the channel by hand. When they’re all peeking under the furniture to find the missing limb and I stand to change the channel or turn the box off, it’s as if I’d just sprouted a second or third head. They look at me with shock and maybe a little horror. I have attributed this difference to being the only female in the home.

I think of it as part of my job, as the sole daily feminine influence, to teach my young men some civilized manners. I do battle with this behemoth with varying degrees of success.

I remember taking particular delight in a book that listed strange, antiquated laws that were actually on the books at one time or another. At the time I read it, I didn’t have kids and I wondered who had ever thought these laws were necessary. On the one hand, you have the laws written by people who obviously don’t like kids.

After reviewing this book that gave me so much amusement, I am relieved not to live in Nebraska where a parent can be arrested if his child cannot hold back a burp during a church service. I’d be spending some serious time in the hoosegow if this were the law around here.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much work for me to picture exactly why in Alaska it is illegal to push a moose out of an airplane in motion or why in Kansas it is forbidden to practice knife-throwing at men wearing striped suits. Parents made these laws. In fact, I’ve written some of my own based on necessity. Some examples follow.

1. No burping, belching or “letting air out of my mouth in a funny way” without asking to be excused. If you are reciting the states you’re supposed to be memorizing while burping it is probably not “an accident.” And one cannot purchase indulgences by excusing oneself prior to “throwing wind with my throat.”

2. Ditto for air from the other end. Additionally, no matter what you thought, saying “excuse me” does not make the smell go away faster.

3. Although the dog looks like an old sway-backed horse, he is not one. Do not ride him. Similarly, it is a basic truth that most 6-year-olds are not large enough to give piggyback rides to most 10-year-olds. Please do not try.

4. It is NOT funny to holler loudly and suddenly behind Mom’s head while she is cleaning the floor around the toilet. Incidentally, since Mom does not stand while using the toilet, she should probably not be the one doing the job in the first place.

5. Do not kick, bite, punch, trip, hit with the light saber, sit on the head of, or otherwise harm your brother even if he asked you to do so.

6. Prior to screaming at the top of the lungs, please ask yourself the following questions: “Am I bleeding?” “Am I injured?” “Am I scared?” These are valid reasons to yell. Among reasons that are not acceptable are: “I don’t want fish for dinner,” “The cat wants to go upstairs” and “My brother looked at me.”

7. Bluetooth headsets do not float. And we do not have enough money to “repeat the experiment” to show your brothers.

8. It doesn’t matter how many times you try it, cracking a raw egg on your forehead will always end badly. So stop trying.

9. Most adults are aware of the anatomical differences between boys and girls. You really don’t need to give all the details to that nice lady at the grocery store.

10. Even though there are theories that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are not real, it is not your job to enlighten all the other little kids at church.

Speaking of Easter, you may soon find yourself with some leftover ham to use. The following recipe is one of our favorites. It’s not exactly low-cal, but it is family friendly and it’s pretty enough to serve for company. Leave the peas out if you need to. Much to their mother’s chagrin, my sister, Christina, and brother, Nathaniel, used to toss peas across the table saying, “I pea-d on the table. ” Or drop them on the floor, “I pea-d on the floor.”

Do what you have to do.


Spring Ham Creamy Pasta with Peas

  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
  • 1 c. leftover ham, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 c. light cream
  • 1 c. frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. crispy, crumbled bacon, optional
  • Sprig of fresh parsley, optional garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While water is coming to boil, melt butter over medium heat in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. To the melted butter add the garlic and onions and stir until fragrant; about one minute. Add the peas, ham and cream, lower heat and simmer gently until slightly thickened.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pan, pour the creamy ham mixture over the pasta and toss, adding some of the reserved pasta water to coat completely. Transfer to a serving dish, top with the crispy bacon and sprig of parsley and enjoy.

Originally taken from an old Taste of Home issue, this recipe has become more eagerly anticipated than the actual Easter ham in our home. We always increase this recipe. It’s simple to double or triple it; it makes amazing leftovers.


Ham Balls

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground fully cooked ham
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. crushed shredded wheat cereal


  • 1&1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. vinegar
  • 3/4 t. ground mustard

In a bowl, combine first five ingredients; mix well. Shape into 1&1/2- to 2-inch balls. Place in a greased 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for four minutes. Pour over ham balls.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degrees oven for one hour, or until browned. (You can bake as long as 100 minutes if you want a very thick sauce and a nice crust on the outside of each ham ball; just be sure to flip them about 50 minutes into baking time.)


  1. says

    I laughed a little louder than most people would after reading this post—I am the mother of three boys. They are now 24, 21, and 19 but are still too much for me at times=when they bond together to pick on Mom. I have lived your life and have nothing but compassion for you! And a little advice: savor every moment. They get big so fast.

  2. Rebecca says

    Melissa- Amusing doesn’t begin to cover it. Life is grand and I’m blessed enough to know it!

    Jane- Thanks for letting me know I’ll probably live through this… :-) And I’m trying to savor it. I really am!

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