food for a funeral

rosemary & marmalade glazed ham  

One of the things that I love about life is that no matter how bad things get, there are always little surprises that keep you going and help restore your faith. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been constantly amazed and uplifted by the kindness and thoughtfulness of everyone who has surrounded my family at this very sad time.

From our neighbours, the Hewitts, dropping in to help my dad fix a leaking water pipe the day after Mum’s death to the ladies who organized the tea and scones for everyone after the funeral, to my gorgeous Aunt Margaret who made light work of decorating the church with a floral symphony just as my Mum used to do whenever there was a funeral or a wedding on the horizon, to the many thoughtful people who sent flowers, cards and phoned and of course to my blogging friends who have left such touching messages. A very big THANKYOU to you all.

I was in two minds as to whether I should write this post. I mean it’s a pretty morbid thing to be talking about funerals and there’s nothing like the thought of death to ruin your appetite. But the whole organizing a funeral in less than a week experience got me thinking that it’s such a shame that we spend so much time in life preparing celebrations for birthdays and weddings but when it comes to celebrating a life we fast track things as much as possible.

Although it would have been lovely to have everyone back to Mount View after the funeral our distance from town made it not the most practical of choices so we opted for a two pronged approach. Tea and coffee with scones (watch this space for the family scone recipe) and my Mum’s legendary plum jam at the church hall provided the first round of refreshments. Thanks to the local ladies who baked and served and generally made things go as seamlessly as possible.

Back to the farm with our family and close friends for the ‘after party’ or ham fest (as my snow bunny sister kept referring to it), I wanted things that could be prepared ahead and served without fuss. Things that my Mum used to love like smoked salmon mousse and white bean humous for pass-the-plate starters.

And then there was the ham. My Mum has always been a big ham fan and every Christmas without fail she would whip one up. This was my first encounter with a whole leg of ham and while seven kilos of pork may be daunting to some, I must say it is the perfect way to feed a crowd. Especially when you have a stock of my Mum’s chutney, relish and green tomato pickles, a healthy supply of sourdough baguettes from the lovely Silo bakery in Canberra (Thanks Di for the courier job & essential bread knife). Add in a couple of legume based salads and plenty of Champagne and my friends, you’ll have your selves a mighty fine wake for a mighty fine lady….all good things.

funeral afternoon tea
scones
June’s jam & cream
tea & coffee

the funeral after party (aka the ham fest)
white bean hummous with pita bread
smoked salmon mousse with celery & crackers
rosemary & marmalade glazed ham with june’s chutney & relish
crusty Sourdough baguettes
green lentil & baby spinach salad
chickpea & celery heart salad

Note. I used the lentil salad recipe found here but omitted the roasted onions and tossed the warm lentils with the dressing then allowed to cool. Just before serving I tossed through about twice as much baby spinach as listed in the recipe to make for a lighter, more leafy, less lentily salad.

For the chickpea salad, I followed the basic recipe here but left out the spinach herbs and tossed though mint leaves and the finely sliced heart of two bunches of celery at the last minute.

7kg ham ready for the oven
my mum would have loved seeing her flowering rosemary put to good use

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