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  • Writer's pictureMarySusan Hoffman

An Easter tradition


Many people will spend this week coloring eggs and filling baskets with candy in preparation for the Easter holiday. My mother’s kitchen, however, will be filled with eggs, flour, ricotta and ham as we create tasty ham pies for our friends and family. The tradition of making ham pies in my family began long before I was born, when my great-grandmothers would bake ham pies to enjoy at Easter. Each of them used different recipes which have been handed down for several generations. This week, my mother and I will continue this long standing tradition by making dozens of ham pies. As a kid, I learned how to make the pies from my mother and grandmother. Growing up, I would carefully watch my mother dice up the ham and combine the ingredients. My grandmother, always using her clean hands, would mix the dough and roll into crusts. I anxiously waited for the crusts to be filled and placed in the oven. The anticipation of tasting the finished pies, before anyone else, left me counting the minutes until they were ready to taste. When I finally had the chance to help, I was so proud and happy to have helped create my first ham pie. My grandmother taught me how to make the crusts. This remains my job to this day. I’m an old pro at creating these pies now. Someday, when my son is old enough, I may teach him the art of ham pie making so that the tradition can continue. To this day, we have tried to stay true to the original recipes. In our home we create two types of ham pies, one comes from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family and the other from my mom’s father’s family. One pie resembles the classic ham pie that many are familiar with, basically a quiche-like pie. Ingredients include ham, pepperoni, ricotta, rice, eggs, parmesan cheese and other seasonings. The other pie is more like a turnover. A circle of crust is rolled out and the filling is placed on half. The dough is then folded over to enclose everything in a delicious package resembling a turnover. This pie calls for a flaky type crust while the other is a sweet crust. The process begins with first getting the hams. We usually use between seven and eight of them. My mom always needs to be sure to have enough for everybody. Next, all of our “helpers” assemble to begin dicing up the hams and other ingredients. We spend the day preparing the ingredients, assembling and baking the pies. All the while, we talk, share stories of Easters past, and memories of the best and worst of our tasty ham pies. And so, on Wednesday, the tradition will continue. I must confess …. I like making them on Wednesday because on Good Friday, meat is a “no-no” in our family! By then I have had my full. Personally, my husband and I enjoy the more traditional pies, while others prefer the turnover type. Of all the talents I’ve inherited from my mother, making ham pies is definitely one of my favorites. The smell of hot pies coming out of the oven is one I wait for each spring, and sharing the tradition of making them with my mom is something I’ll always treasure. MarySusan Hoffman is the Graphic Artist of The Hammonton Gazette.

Many people will spend this week coloring eggs and filling baskets with candy in preparation for the Easter holiday. My mother’s kitchen, however, will be filled with eggs, flour, ricotta and ham as we create tasty ham pies for our friends and family.


The tradition of making ham pies in my family began long before I was born, when my great-grandmothers would bake ham pies to enjoy at Easter. Each of them used different recipes which have been handed down for several generations.

This week, my mother and I will continue this long standing tradition by making dozens of ham pies.


As a kid, I learned how to make the pies from my mother and grandmother.


Growing up, I would carefully watch my mother dice up the ham and combine the ingredients. My grandmother, always using her clean hands, would mix the dough and roll into crusts. I anxiously waited for the crusts to be filled and placed in the oven. The anticipation of tasting the finished pies, before anyone else, left me counting the minutes until they were ready to taste. When I finally had the chance to help, I was so proud and happy to have helped create my first ham pie. My grandmother taught me how to make the crusts. This remains my job to this day. I’m an old pro at creating these pies now. Someday, when my son is old enough, I may teach him the art of ham pie making so that the tradition can continue. To this day, we have tried to stay true to the original recipes.


Many people will spend this week coloring eggs and filling baskets with candy in preparation for the Easter holiday. My mother’s kitchen, however, will be filled with eggs, flour, ricotta and ham as we create tasty ham pies for our friends and family. The tradition of making ham pies in my family began long before I was born, when my great-grandmothers would bake ham pies to enjoy at Easter. Each of them used different recipes which have been handed down for several generations. This week, my mother and I will continue this long standing tradition by making dozens of ham pies. As a kid, I learned how to make the pies from my mother and grandmother. Growing up, I would carefully watch my mother dice up the ham and combine the ingredients. My grandmother, always using her clean hands, would mix the dough and roll into crusts. I anxiously waited for the crusts to be filled and placed in the oven. The anticipation of tasting the finished pies, before anyone else, left me counting the minutes until they were ready to taste. When I finally had the chance to help, I was so proud and happy to have helped create my first ham pie. My grandmother taught me how to make the crusts. This remains my job to this day. I’m an old pro at creating these pies now. Someday, when my son is old enough, I may teach him the art of ham pie making so that the tradition can continue. To this day, we have tried to stay true to the original recipes. In our home we create two types of ham pies, one comes from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family and the other from my mom’s father’s family. One pie resembles the classic ham pie that many are familiar with, basically a quiche-like pie. Ingredients include ham, pepperoni, ricotta, rice, eggs, parmesan cheese and other seasonings. The other pie is more like a turnover. A circle of crust is rolled out and the filling is placed on half. The dough is then folded over to enclose everything in a delicious package resembling a turnover. This pie calls for a flaky type crust while the other is a sweet crust. The process begins with first getting the hams. We usually use between seven and eight of them. My mom always needs to be sure to have enough for everybody. Next, all of our “helpers” assemble to begin dicing up the hams and other ingredients. We spend the day preparing the ingredients, assembling and baking the pies. All the while, we talk, share stories of Easters past, and memories of the best and worst of our tasty ham pies. And so, on Wednesday, the tradition will continue. I must confess …. I like making them on Wednesday because on Good Friday, meat is a “no-no” in our family! By then I have had my full. Personally, my husband and I enjoy the more traditional pies, while others prefer the turnover type. Of all the talents I’ve inherited from my mother, making ham pies is definitely one of my favorites. The smell of hot pies coming out of the oven is one I wait for each spring, and sharing the tradition of making them with my mom is something I’ll always treasure. MarySusan Hoffman is the Graphic Artist of The Hammonton Gazette.

In our home we create two types of ham pies, one comes from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family and the other from my mom’s father’s family.


One pie resembles the classic ham pie that many are familiar with, basically a quiche-like pie. Ingredients include ham, pepperoni, ricotta, rice, eggs, parmesan cheese and other seasonings. The other pie is more like a turnover. A circle of crust is rolled out and the filling is placed on half. The dough is then folded over to enclose everything in a delicious package resembling a turnover. This pie calls for a flaky type crust while the other is a sweet crust.

The process begins with first getting the hams. We usually use between seven and eight of them. My mom always needs to be sure to have enough for everybody. Next, all of our “helpers” assemble to begin dicing up the hams and other ingredients. We spend the day preparing the ingredients, assembling and baking the pies. All the while, we talk, share stories of Easters past, and memories of the best and worst of our tasty ham pies.


And so, on Wednesday, the tradition will continue. I must confess …. I like making them on Wednesday because on Good Friday, meat is a “no-no” in our family! By then I have had my full.


Personally, my husband and I enjoy the more traditional pies, while others prefer the turnover type. Of all the talents I’ve inherited from my mother, making ham pies is definitely one of my favorites. The smell of hot pies coming out of the oven is one I wait for each spring, and sharing the tradition of making them with my mom is something I’ll always treasure.


MarySusan Hoffman is the Graphic Artist of The Hammonton Gazette.


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