Monday, January 21, 2013


Hello Chickens!  Is it freezing where you are?  Because Chicago is frigid.  Luckily, I'm done with my errands for the day, and don't have to go outside again till Charming Suitor gets home and we have to go to the gym.  Since we both find this the most onerous hour of our day, we finally figured out that it is, like almost everything else in life, infinitely better when we do it together.   Exercise is hateful, but at least when you do it with someone you love, it is manageable.  So four days a week we are getting each other motivated to get on those treadmills.  We are also taking tennis lessons together, which is even more fun.

Not nearly as much fun as buying our first home, however!

Isn't she lovely?

I have lived in the first floor apartment in this building for 19 years.  The moment I first set foot inside, I knew I was home, deeply and profoundly, in the most meaningful way possible.  The day I signed the lease, the landlord and I entered into a handshake agreement to give me right of first refusal to purchase the building if he ever decided to sell.  In the nearly two decades that have ensued, I have traded up four cars, three beds, two Kitchenaid mixers, and one husband.  And many thought I was insane for not just giving up on the dream and investing in a home of my own years and years ago.  But despite what most might think, while I am in many ways an instant gratification kind of girl, when it comes to the most important things in my life?  I am PATIENT.  I know what's worth waiting for.  I waited ten years for Charming Suitor, and he was worth every moment, every horrible first date, every lonely Valentine's Day.  And this is the cherry on top of our dream, a place to truly call our own.

There is something to be said for holding on so that your first house can be your dream house.

One of the things that isn't perfect about this place, is that the kitchen is so far away from the living room, it's hard to use your nose in cooking.  In other spaces, both CS and I can just smell when the cookies are done, or the cake is ready, or the chicken is perfect.  But not here.  By the time the scent reaches you in the living room, the cookies are burnt, the cake is dry, the chicken is desiccated.  And even when I'm cooking something delicious for dinner, it rarely has that permeating welcome home scent.

Except for certain things.  And, we discovered over the holidays that this ham is one of them.


I almost never make ham.  I love it, but there are only two of us, and hams tend to be large and unwieldy, and don't offer a ton of leftovers options we really like except sandwiches.  And, with many apologies to my Mom, the ham of my childhood was slorped from a can suspended in icky gel, weirdly shaped like a squashed football, covered in orange marmalade.  Somewhat mealy in texture and mostly tasting of salt.  Not exactly comfort food.

But we look forward to Christmas and Easter for the sheer hamitude.  Our wonderful Farmer Paulie, from Paulie's pasture gifted us an enormous ham, from one of his hand-raised hogs.  And so we volunteered to bring the ham for Christmas Day with my brother from another mother Officer K and the rest of my adopted extra family.  They agreed, and this is the recipe I came up with.

It made the whole house smell like happy.  Which was perfect, because this is always a happy house.

And now, really truly ours.

I hope wherever you call home is happy as we start this new year together.  Make this ham.  It smells like home.

Glazed Ham

1 whole bone-in ham, about 12 pounds
(you can use spiral sliced if you want, but I find that they tend to be less moist than whole hams you slice yourself, see if your butcher can get you one if you don’t have good access at the grocery store)

1 8 oz jar mango chutney
2 oz ginger jam or ginger syrup
2 T finely grated shallot
1 c light brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
½ c strong Dijon mustard, I prefer Maille brand
3 T tomato paste
2 T hoisin sauce
salt and pepper
½ t red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350.  If you are using an unsliced ham, score the skin and fat of the ham in a diamond pattern.  Place the ham in a roasting pan, and put 1 c of water in the bottom.

Mix all glaze ingredients in a bowl.  Spread the glaze all over the ham, being sure to get it into the scores.  Cover the pan loosely with foil, trying not to touch the surface of the ham, but still sealing in the edges.   Bake for 2 hours.  Remove foil and bake an additional half an hour or so to caramelize the glaze.  You can hold in a 200 degree oven for up to two more hours before serving.

Serves 16-20

What are the recipes that make your house smell like home?  Share in the comments!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. I LOVE ham but hardly ever make it for exactly the same reason, but your recipe sounds amazing - can't wait to start formulating an excuse to make it.

    My husband, 7-month-old daughter and I live in a teeny 2 bedroom apartment so cooking smells permeate easily. Bread baking will always make it feel like home no matter where we are. I especially love an oatmeal cinnamon swirl bread baking in the oven - yum!

  2. so being the architecture/home renovator geek that I am, I gotz to know, what are your plans for your new home? Are you going to turn it into a kick-ass SFH (single family home)? Are you going to update with preserving the historic charm?

  3. We just finished renovating our kitchen (knocking down walls to make one huge room). It took 5 months because apparently it is bad idea to do renovations and have a hurricane at the same time... If my husband knew that having burnt cookies could be a side affect of having the kitchen far from other rooms he would have scratched this project because for some odd reason he loves burnt cookies. I have to make a batch for normal people and burn a tray for him.....

  4. Stacey,
    I've so enjoyed following your blog, and have always been fascinated by your home. I've thought to myself, "I wonder if she wants to / could buy the house herself,since she loves it so much!" Now you are! Congratulations and I look forward to your postings about what you will be doing with it. Many blessings for you all in your new/old home!

    As to what makes my home smell wonderful, well, I am blessed, cursed with an open floor plan and loft ceilings so everything you cook is noticed everywhere. Right now a pork roast and apples are ready to come out of the slow cooker...

  5. Your house is just so amazing looking from the outside, very charming and inviting. I'm kinda smitten with it, I must admit.

    Your ham...I live alone so I rarely make ham for the reason of leftovers, but may have to make that ham for a family dinner. I am in a small one bedroom apartment so you smell what is cooking throughout the entire apartment. It is cookies that make the house smell the best, though.

  6. Congratulations on your "new" home!

  7. Greetings from the frozen Midwest just 3 hours south of you! Your home is beautiful and I would bet that it is more "homey" inside. Congratulations! As for what makes my house smell like a home, that is Lebanese food (mainly Lebanese meat pies). I grew up in a Lebanese home and when I start making meat pies at my house, it reminds me of my childhood home.

    Stay warm!

  8. I love your new/old house! It is beautiful. My favorite thing to make that always smells homey to me is pot roast and gravy in the crock pot. Nothing like throwing a frozen hunk of meat in to cook in the morning and coming home to those wonderful smells. We are blessed with a very open floor plan so you can smell it from anywhere!

  9. Congratulations and many more years of happiness in your beautiful house! I'm a baker with a chronic chocolate dependece, so brownies, choc. chip cookies, etc make my house smell like home. (BTW, after reading a couple of your older posts, I took a trip to the Spice House. I bought Chocolate Extract there, which adds a nice dimension to baked goods. So, thanks SO MUCH for that!)

  10. Congrats on the house, that is awesome. :)
    Pumpkin muffins are my go to "smells like home" smell.

  11. LOVE your home! Congrats on the purchase.
    Sauteeing onions & garlic for my marinara=Home.

  12. Congrats on your new home! It's absolutely stunning. A recipe that smells like home? Fried chicken, okra, masked potatoes, and biscuits...a true southern specialty. And, ya can't forget the sweet iced tea.

  13. Your home is gorgeous!

    I am envious that you can take tennis lessons in January. My husband and I started taking tennis classes together a few years ago. We don't have many interests in common, but we both enjoy learning the game. I can't wait until the snow is gone in Milwaukee so we can play again!

  14. Hi. We are twitter followers (leejtyler) but just tonight I read your profile of your new home (which is the exact style I adore) and your mention of home projects. I don't have a home or a CS but I'm glad you are finally living your dream. As a writer, I would put my desk just inside the rounded front area. I am a St. Louisian who loves Chicago. I have to ask about your theme. I used to be on blogger but have switched to However, I was thinking of using my blogger account for more personal missives. Do you mind letting me know of the theme as I love that as well. Congratulations on your hard work yielding a beautiful home and life. Well deserved!

  15. Welcome! I believe my office is going to be the front room on the second floor with the little balcony, at the moment I write on the living room couch using the ottoman as a desk, so I am looking forward o an actual office space in the foreseeable future. I have no idea what theme this blog is :) I'm terrible at the whole computer thing, so I get some help. But I do know that it is all from the basic Blogger stuff, so I'm sure if you bop around you will find it!