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Kentucky Ham Meal tastes good, for good cause

By Staff
LIKE THIS Mary Polk, biscuit chairman for the 39th Annual Kentucky Ham Meal will be held Feb. 5-6 at First Christian Church, gives her pastor, Dr. Tom Sikes, lessons on how to make biscuits. For more information, call 693-1425 or come by the church office at 1301 23rd Ave. Photo by Steve swogetinsky / The Meridian Star
By Sharon Busler/special to The Star
Jan. 23, 2002
The tradition of the annual Kentucky Ham Meal, which is held each February, began as a call for help 37 years ago.
In 1963, an appeal went out to the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) for special "over and above" gifts to help in modernizing the Jackman Memorial Hospital in Bilasur, India.
The women of First Christian Church desired to respond to this need. The Christian Women's Fellowship (CWF) decided to have a fund-raiser to aid in this venture. Dr. and Mrs. William Apperson, who had come to FCC Meridian the year before, suggested the idea of the Kentucky Ham Breakfast.
The Appersons went to Kentucky and purchased 50 pounds of Kentucky cured hams and brought them back in the trunk of their car for the first breakfast. Almost $600 was raised for an offering sent to the Jackman Hospital that year.
Through the years the amount of ham purchased has increased to 600 pounds, and the serving times have increased to two days. Men and youth also lend a hand in what has evolved into a church-wide event. The money realized continues to be used for the mission work of the CWF.
This year's event is set for Feb. 5-6.
The menu still includes ham, red eye gravy, grits, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits, homemade preserves and coffee. Currently over 1000 meals are served during the two-day period.
Workers begin arriving at 5 a.m. to begin frying the ham, making biscuits, preparing the first pots of steaming grits, and perking coffee.
Over the years, the Kentucky Ham Meal has become much more than a service project. It is also a way for the church family to pull together and enjoy fellowship.
Following are some of the recipes used during this event.
Blueberry Jam
4 cups crushed blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 box of powdered pectin
Wash the blueberries and crush one layer at a time. Measure four cups of berries, add the lemon juice and berries and pectin to a large heavy boiler. Stir continually over high heat. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add the sugar all at once and continue to stir. Bring to a boil again, and boil one minute, then remove from heat. Ladel into hot sterilized jars. Fill to within1/4 inch of the top. Make sure top of jars is wiped clean, then place hot lids and ring bands on each jar. You may invert the jar for fine minutes on the counter. Up-right the jars and allow them to cool. You should hear the "ping" as they seal.
Creamy Grits
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grits
Bring salted water to a boil, and stir in the grits slowly to keep them from lumping. As they begin to boil again, reduce heat so they will just simmer. Cover the pot with a lid. Check and stir them occasionally. Cook until very creamy, usually 20-30 minutes.
Ree's Biscuits
11/2 cup Gold Medal self- rising flour, sifted
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 pinches of baking soda
Cut the shortening into the flour until it resembles course corn meal. Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Add buttermilk to flour mixture and quickly stir until mixed. If dough feels too soft, work in a little flour. Roll out dough on a lightly floured breadboard and cut with small biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with a little melted butter. Bake at 450 degrees until brown (12-15 minutes).
Red Eye Gravy
Using a cast iron skillet, begin frying several pieces of country ham using just enough oil to coat bottom of skillet. When ham begins to stick to bottom of pan remove ham. Add approximately 11/2 times amount of coffee as drippings in pan. Stir vigorously with fork until all particles have loosened from the bottom of the pan. (Mixture needs to be at a rolling boil.) Pour up and serve with grits.