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  • Writer's pictureTina

Foodie Friday: Farm House Ham Balls

Happy Foodie Friday, dear reader. With our now regular visits from Jack Frost and the brief but unwelcome visit from Old Man Winter, my cravings turned to one of my favorite classic late fall/winter meals. I have to be honest with you, dear reader, I have an affinity for good old-fashioned country food. You may have noticed this with my recipe choices if you are a frequent blog reader. Let me share yet another story with a recipe to follow.

When I was a pre-teen, and well into my twenties, I would travel to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for long weekends, usually twice a year. These trips were referred to as “girls’ trips.” Often it was my mom, my sister, my cousin/best friend, and myself. Other times various aunts or family friends were invited to go as well. We would load up in the car, travel four hours from home, and spend weekends shopping at the outlets and little country stores. When I say we shopped, I mean we had shopping marathons. We would get up early, have breakfast and be in the stores as soon as they opened at ten in the morning. Our shopping excursions would last well into the night. As long as there was a retailer open, we were shopping. It was not uncommon for us to sit in a little restaurant at ten o’clock at night, having a bedtime snack before returning to our hotel room exhausted and experiencing a spending high. My love of shopping began early and was firmly instilled in me.

Initially, we focused our outings on all the commercial retailers like the outlets and malls. However, as we became more familiar with the area and spoke with the locals, we found ourselves traveling back roads and dirt paths to charming little country markets, antique stores, and small boutiques. Our “hunting grounds” expanded to cover several small towns and communities in Lancaster County. As our territory expanded, so did our dining experiences. Inevitably, we found many quaint little family-owned restaurants that the locals frequented. These little mom-and-pop owned eateries served wholesome country meals inspired by the Pennsylvania Dutch community. Offerings of ham steak, scalloped potatoes, chicken croquettes, pickled eggs with beets, ambrosia salad, and shoofly pie were on the menus of those divine little eateries. When I was a teen and young adult, I discovered I genuinely enjoyed what I referenced as “old people’s food.”

This time of year makes me think about those girls’ weekends, and I find myself craving my favorite Pennsylvania Dutch meals. One of the many items I began collecting very early on was cookbooks. I have a solid collection of Pennsylvania State Grange Cookbooks and a small library of self-published Amish family cookbooks. I especially love the little cookbooks published by Amish families filled with little anecdotes, hand-drawn illustrations, little prayers, and advice for daily living. Even when it comes to cooking, books play a significant and intimate role in my life.

The recipe I have chosen to share with you this week is from one of those little Amish family cookbooks, The Byler’s Family Cookbook. A simple old-fashioned ham ball is one of the meals I crave this time of year. I told you, I really like “old people’s food!” I make this recipe in the crock pot and serve it with “real” mashed potatoes, none of those dehydrated flakes for this meal, along with pickled beets and green beans. This meal makes me think of times with my mom when things were better, tormenting my sister with crass jokes, laughter, and friendship. It reminds me of the good old days.

Ham Balls


1 Small Onion, Finely Diced (I use my food processor)

1 TBLS Butter

1 lb. Ground Ham

1 lb. Ground Pork

1 Egg

2/3 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs

½ Cup Milk

1/8 tsp. Ground Pepper


Prepare crock pot insert with olive oil

Cook the onion in the butter for 5-6 minutes until it’s tender.

Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Using an ice cream scoop to measure, form balls from the mixture.

Place the prepared balls in the crock pot.


1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 TBLS. Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Cup Water

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.

Pour topping over ham balls

Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.

*Note: You may also cook in an oven set at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I hope you enjoy this delicious country recipe. My wish is that your table is filled with family, friendship, love, and laughter. May your good days not be just mere memories. As always, stay safe, be smart, enjoy good food, and keep washing your hands.

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