Mustard, Finally

mustard seeds & powder

Of all the jars of jams and sauces and condiments that jostle for space in our three refrigerator shelves, Sriracha against walnut oil, soy sauce (now only this kind, purchased in bulk. It’s life-changing!**) vs. hot pepper jelly, Cholula and Frank’s, mustard has the greatest footprint. Currently there are four bottles of mustard with varying levels smoothness, spreadability, and sinus-clearing spiciness, and of these, two are homemade.

A friend recently questioned the wisdom of homemade mustard when it’s so cheap to buy and so hard to finish.  Romantic comedies of a certain ilk tend to show a lonely bachelor or bachelorette squinting into the refrigerator light to find naught but an old, stained Chinese takeout container, a half-empty jar of mustard, and a bottle of light beer.  That just doesn’t happen in our house. First of all, we go through mustard about as quickly as ice cream.  (Not amazing ice cream, but decent ice cream that takes two weeks to polish off).  It goes on our ham, and cheese, and sausages, with just about every cruciferous vegetable, bread, crackers, salad dressing, potatoes, etc.  Secondly, even though it’s inexpensive, it’s still not that inexpensive when you like the type of mustard with the whole seeds, with that pleasing mouthfeel and tiny ‘pop’, and also when you basically eat it by the ladleful.  Third, there are a few food blogs I read whose recipes I trust implicitly, and when one of these posted ideas for a few types of homemade mustard, I was whipping up a batch within the week. Oh and fourth, it takes literally three minutes to make, not counting the waiting time. Literally. You pour everything in one bowl, and then you stir it and let it sit for two days. And maybe give it a whiz with the hand blender, to your preferred consistency. Done.

mustard

Here’s one of the three recipes, the brainchild of Good Food Matters, slightly altered and then doubled because we love our mustard so. Definitely visit her site to check out recipes for the other two.

COARSE GRAIN DIJON MUSTARD
1 cup white wine
6 tablespoons vinegar (I used a mix of white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar)
6 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
6 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
8 tablespoons powdered mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Stir all ingredients together in a glass or ceramic bowl until thoroughly combined, then cover with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature (aka unrefrigerated), and allow the liquid to soften the mustard seeds for 48 hours. Uncover and blitz with an immersion blender until it reaches your desired consistency.  Place in a clean jar and refrigerate, then slather on just about anything.

 

 

**When the Williams Sonoma outlet had bottles of it on clearance, for some bizarre reason I attribute only to the facts that people like their Kikkoman’s and why shop around for soy sauce, I made my nice mother load up on so much that she nearly herniated another disc. And that’s with me carrying two thirds of it to the car.

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Ima Take Your Grandpa’s Style

It’s the number one song on iTunes right now, and the artists are doing the late night circuit, but I swear my sister sent the link to this video to me ages ago. It’s barely scratching the surface to say that we come from a house of thrift and consignment store enthusiasts. Chances are that if you point out any object in the house that you like, it once belonged to someone else. We thrift and we’re proud.

The language in the video gave me pause (mom, he’s just talking about the size of his rooster, promise!), and so I didn’t post it when it might have been “news.” Well, ultimately the slow-mo couch running shot wins out. For that handful of folks who haven’t seen and/or heard it yet, please enjoy (for the camerawork and age and racial diversity, if not the awesome sax riff)…

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Snack. Snack. Snack. CRUNCH

Today was rough. But that’s what siblings are for. Because without my sister, I never would have seen this:

 

Her downstairs neighbor who works at a public school in Baltimore said it’s all the rage with the kids across the nation. I don’t know that many kids, so can anyone else weigh in on the veracity of this?

Heck, forget the target age demographic – this should be all the rage everywhere. Forever.  Just like the shelf life of Hot Cheetos and Takis (Takis??). Also, try watching the kid that comes in at 2:46 only once. Impossible. You’re going to repeat that part, and probably the whole thing.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal and Thanksgiving Prep

It’s sweet potato city in here. Escapee cranberries are meeting slow squish-deaths underfoot. All four burners and the oven are blasting, so when Matt gets back from the store with the forgotten ingredients and opens the door, he’s going to have to Kurt Russell that Backdraft.  With two prep and cook windows in my work schedule between now and sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner – right now and Wednesday night after 8 p.m. – it made sense to get started on the dishes we’re contributing immediately. Plus everything I’ve read about bread dough seems to imply that patience is key, so desperation-kneading late on Thanksgiving eve didn’t sound like the best idea.

No time like the present, so this evening is unfolding to a long stretch of cooking in a sweltering kitchen accompanied by good playlists and healthy, energy sustaining snacks:

Shout out to RCocomon for introducing us to Jack Honey at Rath and Aimee’s wedding. Hot sauce in my bag.

In this cooking marathon, I’m running out of counter space, vessels, and Gruyere – Gruyere for snacking, not cooking. One can’t live on Jack and gourmet mallows** alone. Besides the twin benefits of an cheese/sweet consumption and whiskey swilling, if you cook early for Thanksgiving, you might find yourself with a little extra this and that, perhaps enough to cobble a teeny taste-test version of the big dish you’re contributing. Happy early Thanksgiving!

But the purpose of the post is to offer a suggestion for how to start your Thanksgiving morning. With a little fiber-filled breakfast, it’ll be easier not to binge on the cheese log (or brie en croute with lingonberry jam, pinky finger UUUP) and other appetizers and wreck your appetite for the big meal. So may I suggest a little kitchen sink oatmeal? It involves a mix of steel cut oats and rolled oats (a solution for random ingredients throwing off the ratios in a ragtag “recipe”), the end-piece of an overripe banana, that last little fourth cup of coconut milk lingering in the fridge, the teensiest knob of butter, the bottom of a few bags of nuts and dried fruit, and honey.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal
Serves 4

1/2 cup steel cut oats
About a 1/2 cup rolled oats – you’ll use these to sop up whatever extra liquid the steel cut oats don’t absorb
1.5 cups liquid – could be all water, or a mix of water and coconut milk/regular milk/cream (if you use cream in your Thanksgiving morning oatmeal, hats off)
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 overripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit – I used dried cherries and these weird Turkish apricots that Matt bought, they are dark brown and frightening
1 teaspoon honey
Dash of cinnamon, cardamom (just a teensy bit!), and vanilla, if desired
Little knob of butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted – I used pecans

Bring water (and other liquids) to a boil. (Bob’s Mill recipe recommended filter water, so use that if you’ve got it). Add salt and steel cut oats, reduce heat to a simmer, and put a lid on the pot. Cook for 10 minutes, then taste-test for desired amount of chewiness.  (There will be extra liquid in the pot). As soon as the steel cut oats are slightly chewier than your preferred texture, add mashed banana, dried fruit, spices, honey and vanilla, and sprinkle on rolled oats to sop up the extra liquid. Stir, cook for another 5-10 minutes until the liquid is soaked up, then add the butter. Put into bowls, and top with toasted nuts, and random toasted coconut left over from a fried rice experiment, should you have it.  Tada! – (everything but the) kitchen sink oatmeal.

**Laziness means you can’t bear walking another 3/4 miles to the normal grocery store to buy normal marshmallows at normal prices.

Never Met a Humble Monkey

We are on the road, driving the traffic-at-every-juncture 332 miles between Boston and Paoli, PA for a family visit. Playlists have been played, sandwiches have been eaten, magazines have been read, and now we’re in yet another jam. In New Jersey. No surprise there. (But seriously, Jersey is cool. Just not the highway and 60% of the shore).

There’s an air of manic desperation being circulated by our leaking A/C. We are hitting rock bottom and we’ve still got two and a half hours to go.

Solution #1: Best Dave Matthews imitation. It’s a draw – Matt sounds like a mix between Dave and Jimmy Fallon’s imitation of one of the Bee Gees. I managed a closer approximation of Dave if he was fused with an 90 year old male country singer. Try this with “Tripping Billies” – it’ll get you through about five minutes. Two more if you argue about the winner afterward.

Solution #2: Since we’re already listening to Dave Matthews Band (only the old stuff, please), a long conversation ensues about how monkeys are not humble, even if to say one is serves your song transition. Which in turn inspires talk of
what kind of tweets the Proudest Monkey would post.

Just ate your last banana. #ProudestMonkey

Nailed zookeeper with dookie. Match point. #ProudestMonkey

Poked your mom. #ProudestMonkey

We don’t know how twitter works, but this takes up another ten minutes in traffic.

Solution #3: Fantasy car shopping. If you had to pick one of the 1039 cars within view to be your next car, which would you pick? This takes up another three minutes until Matt almost rear ends a truck. End of game. (But first he chose the blacked-out BMW M6).

Two hours and ten minutes to go. Now what?

Also, how do people road trip with kids? #becauseisaidso

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