My original plan for dinner, tonight, was either split pea or lentil soup. I bought a ham last week because it was ridiculously inexpensive and cooked it up last night.

I have had – and cooked – many hams over the years. I can appreciate a really good ham, but a cheap ham has its place, too. With just a bit of patience, just about anyone can turn a supermarket freebie into a holiday centerpiece. Low and slow without a lot of extraneous stuff – a few cloves stuck in should suffice.

And I like unsliced hams. I’m not a fan of spiral-cut hams for a couple of reasons… First, have you ever had one that was actually cut properly? And second – they dry out. HoneyBaked Hams – the supposed Cadillac of Hams – are pretty sad, in my not so humble opinion. Not to mention, ridiculously expensive.

But, wait… this is supposed to be about sloppy joe’s – not ham. Focus!!

But focusing is difficult when you’re writing on the laptop in the back yard in gorgeous 78°F (that’s about 26°C for the rest of the world) weather. Today just wasn’t soup weather.

So Sloppy Joe’s moved from lunch to dinner and dirty potatoes replaced the fries. Ham and bone are vacuum-packed and frozen for another day.

Dirty Potatoes is a Pop recipe. He was a pretty good cook in his own right and actually enjoyed getting into the kitchen now and again. Breaded Veal Cutlets, Dirty Potatoes, and Apple Cole Slaw will always be my Pop-In-The-Kitchen memory. Along with his eggs fried in an inch of bacon grease, of course. Damn, they were good. And french bread toast. Can’t forget the toast.

It’s amazing that so many of my fond memories of life revolve around food.

Pop’s recipe for his Dirty Potatoes is pretty straightforward – he wrote it out for a Family Reunion Cook Book circa 1996:

Peel at least 2 potatoes per person.

Cut longways in fours (or sixes for large potatoes). Put in large cake pan. Oil all sides of spuds. Put in oven at high heat and keep checking until crispy on outside. Keep turning till all sides are brown like french fries.

His idea of a “large cake pan” was a 9×13 pyrex pan. I’m a sheet pan person, m’self… and I’m sure those “two potatoes per person” harken to his firehouse cooking days – and the 10 lb bags of russets we got – mostly small potatoes for a cheaper price.

The sloppy joe’s were just onion and bell pepper sauteed in a bit of oil, ground beef added, along with a bit of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then some tomato paste and a bit of water to thin.

Really simple, really basic, and perfect for a sunny spring day.