Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cooking Ham

This picture shows women cooking a ham over an old stove. The picture was taken in 1937. I don't think we have a pot that big in our whole house.


  1. I assume the woman on the left is the cook, the other woman her employer?

  2. I think Elise is right about the roles of the women. Personally I love the hairstyles and clothing- on both of these gals. Any thoughts as to what kind of stove that is? Could it be a woodstove, do you think? I know, of course that both gas and electric stoves were available by 1937, but this particular stove looks so big and bulky, and that door to the right looks as though it might have been for fuel?

    I really don't have a clue... just wondering.

  3. Great photo. We have a pot like that in OUR kitchen, but not because it's old.

    We bought it to boil lobsters at the beach, and we use it to boil 10 lbs of potatoes at Thanksgiving.

    Lots of mashed with gravy.

  4. Did you notice the big lid for the stove top. I guess it is a wood burning stove and they put the lid down when they were done cooking. It probably took hours for the stove top to cool.

    I'll bet that ham tasted better than the cooked hams available today, which are horribly salty.

  5. Yep. Wood stove. The surface the pot is sitting on is flat, no burner, ergo, likely a firepit. Two Fat Ladies had a couple of shows featuring a wonderful enameled wood/coal stove that had a hot oven and a warm oven as well as a wide range of warm - hot surfaces. Don't remember what they were called.

    My grandmother cooked on an old Majestic, and the first memory I have is her pulling what appeared to be a washtub full of fresh bread out of it. I'm sure my size had a lot to do with the memory and it was merely a regular loaf pan, but, still....

    As to the ladies, my first thought was housekeeper and cook, both servants. Certainly no one that I knew/know could afford a stove like that.

  6. The ladies are the mistress of the house, Mrs. Mark Bristol and her "first assistant" Mamie.
    Mrs. Bristol cooked "thousands" of hams at her fashionable address and sent them all over the world. 1937, more info on another site with additional picture of the two of them.

  7. I bought a whole Smithfield ham once and when I got it home, realized it would not fit in my biggest pot. We cut off a third with a table saw, soaked it many changes of water for a few days, trimmed it then simmered it. I made made soups, beans and hashes for weeks using recipes from a 1930's cookbook. YUM. And I still had the amputated bit for later!

  8. Anonymous could you tell us the name of the other site? It looks almost like an institutional size stove/oven. She must have had a huge kitchen.

  9. Norkio, I had seen these ladies on the site. Look for them under "Wrappin' with Mamie: 1937".
    I hope it is o.k. to mention this site on this forum.

  10. Marie
    Dry cured ham is very salty throughout. It has a moldy, salty rind. Traditionally, it is soaked for a couple days changing water frequently depending on saltiness. Then it is boiled 20 minutes per pound (perhaps with pepper corn and bay leaves), then trimmed, scored and glazed, then roasted to caramel the glaze and heat through.
    Nowadays we only think of pigs and ham, but ham is a cut, not a pig.

    There are all kinds of dry cured meats: beef (pastrami, bresaola), lamb (spekemat, proscuito) mutton (reestit). Not to mention birds and fish! It's a culinary world of delights.

  11. All the items I mentioned below are prepared in the same way as pork ham: covered in salt or soaked in brine and hung to cure or smoke.