Friday, May 30, 2014

Whatever's-In-Your-Kitchen Ham Sauce Recipe

Recently, I looked for an easy ham glaze recipe for my almost 11-pound fully cooked ham. This ham contrasts with the one I prepared and blogged about early last year—"New Year Ham Day". That ham was not quite 9 pounds, spiral-sliced, and included a packet of ham glaze, which amounted to a pound.

In my quest for a reasonably uncomplicated recipe for a ham glaze, my eyes glazed over so many recipes that called for ingredients that sometimes overlapped. The biggest commonality was sweet stuff—brown sugar, honey, syrup, juice, …. Non-sweet ingredients included soy sauce and mustard. Instead of coming up with a glaze, I wound up with ham sauce. More on that further down.

Just prepping the ham with pineapple slices and cherries was a much bigger hassle than with the spiral ham. I kept breaking toothpicks because so many wouldn't go into the ham gracefully.

I speared all the pineapple slices and cherries, and foil-covered the decorated ham. The foil was not easy to handle. It kept easily breaking between the toothpicks piercing it and my trying to gingerly wrap the open sides. I decided to skip the step of needing to open the foil, pour glaze, and rewrap a half-hour before finish time.

I looked for prospective ingred8ients for making some sort of sauce. It was like a treasure hunt in my fridge. Behold, the following list!
  • Honey-flavored sauce from a fast-food place that used to provide real honey (two squeeze packets)
  • Pancake syrup from yet another fast-food place (one 2-oz container)
  • BBQ sauce from another fast-food place (one double-size squeeze packet)
  • Bottled BBQ sauce (yes, about 1 oz, poured into the pan without measuring)
  • Bottled yellow mustard (two squirts into the pan without measuring)
  • Juice from jar cherries (from the 10-oz jar—labeled as 4.1 drained weight)
  • Juice from canned pineapple rings (from the 20-oz can, no info on drained weight)
Note: I skipped using soy sauce, as ham is plenty sodium-loaded as is. I also passed on using additional honey that I had on hand.

I gently boiled the sweet stuff, BBQ sauces, and the mustard together in a small saucepan to reduce the liquid to about half its original volume, occasionally stirring and mixing with a wire whip. In a glass cup, I stirred together about a third cup each of cornstarch and water. With the liquid at a reasonably rolling boil, I wirewhipped in the cornstarch mixture until the sauce thickened. (I tossed the excess cornstarch mixture.)

Mmmm, the sauce came out tasty for pouring onto ham slices. Takeaways from my quest for ham glaze/sauce recipes:
  1. Google the topic (ham glaze).
  2. Note the kinds of ingredients (sweeteners, mustard, etc.).
  3. Gently boil the fluid down to concentrate the flavors.
  4. If necessary to attain thickening, mix up some cornstarch-and-water paste, and mix it into the gently boiling liquid.
For would-be ham preparers: Spiral-sliced hams are a lot easier to serve up than unsliced ones. If unfamiliar with ham-and-bone anatomy, it can be a bit of a hassle navigating the knife around fat, bone, and gristle to get the meat. One other difference between this ham and the spiral-sliced ham: This one had the skin, and trimming it off added some unexpected extra time meeded for meal preparation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

LinkedIn Connection Request for Favor--Job Hunt

As a blogger, sometimes a blog article opportunity arrives like a fish that jumps into my boat while I'm fishing, metaphorically speaking.

Someone sent me email through LinkedIn to ask if I knew someone at a particular workplace. Turns out, I do have a first-degree connection there, but I didn't feel I knew the person well enough to ask about positions on my inquirer's behalf. After I wrote back, my emailer took a second look at the original inquiry, with thoughts that maybe initially proofreading before clicking Send might have been reasonable.

Note: As a courtesy to the inquirer, I requested and received permission to quote most of the email.

"Hey [me as email recipient], for the advise about getttig back into looking forwork.soi was wonderingif you kow someboday a [undeterminable name of potential employer]!!"

I replied as factually as I could, and asked confirmation of the company name.

"I'm not sure I can help. What is '[indecipherable company name]'? [industry guess]? I have one first-level connection for [guessed company name], but ... [allusion to barely knowing other connection]".

For others who might not have asked LinkedIn connections about potential employers, the approach is reasonable, but maybe do spellcheck first, and afterwards, re-read for thought before sending the email.

Let's revisit the original text, lightly edited for obscuring some context and ID:
Hey [me as email recipient], for the advise about getttig back into looking forwork.soi was wonderingif you kow someboday a [undeterminable name of potential employer]!!
And now, a suggested inquiry, edited for sendout:
Hi, [me as email recipient]. I'm getting back into the job market. I was wondering if you know someone at [company name] that I should contact. Would it be ok if I mention that you provided me that person's name?
At the time of considering sending such a message, do some LinkedIn research first. If you have a company in mind, do a LinkedIn search for the company name. As you start typing the name, LinkedIn starts suggesting the following categories:
  • Jobs at [company name]
  • People who work at [company name]
  • People who used to work at [company name]
  • [company name] (not shown on pixstrip)
My focus is on the first three links and results when you click each of them.

Jobs at [company name] The Jobs page opens. You want to know that a suitable job description is at the company--such as a mutual fit for skills and experience. You might want to filter the results to more manageable numbers, At the Search area on the left part of the results window, filter by adding criteria, then click the Search button. In this search case, maybe enter your occupation title into the keyword field and also make choices for geographical restrictions (Postal Code, followed by Within distance choice).

People who work at [company name] The People page (current workers) opens. Scan the list for 1st-degree connections of prospective people to write to. Also consider 2nd-degree connections. People who actually work at the workplace of interest can fill you in on their current work environment and co-workers.

People who used to work at [company name] The People page (former workers) opens. Try out this webpage for completeness of research, or if you did not find prospective people to reach out to in the current people webpage. Scan the list for 1st-degree connections of prospective people to write to. Also consider 2nd-degree connections. People who used to work at the workplace of interest can tell you about their work environment and co-workers while they were there.

The people who currently and formerly worked at the workplace of interest can be especially helpful if they can help route a resume to hiring types directly. They can also be helpful if they know people you will be interviewing with. Look into interviewers' profiles ahead of time, and ask your connections questions about the interviewers, whatever the profiles prompted you to wonder. Ask about interactions between your connections and interviewers, if any. Ask about connections' perception of interviewers' demeanor and professional expertise.

You can send LinkedIn email directly to 1st-degree connections. Ask them a few crucial questions. Ask if it's ok to call them. Ask them to call you. Look into their profiles and see if they list a phone number, and call them. Call the company phone number and use the corporate directory to call them, leaving them a message if their voicemail picks up. Be courteous and brief. (I myself prefer to contact by email than phone, maybe because I'm a writer and feel I can better articulate in text. YMMV.)
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