Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why, homemade mustard, of course!

This morning finds me snuffing and sniffling on the couch, trying to remember how long I've been coughing and blowing my nose. Has it been one week or two? Is it a continuation of the last cold, or a new cold? And why does that even make a difference? Could drinking apple cider vinegar help, if I don't want to go to the doctor? Would apple cider vinegar make me gag? Oh, the questions of a congested mind.

Well, yesterday morning was exciting, unlike this morning. As Jay enjoyed his raisin bran, I busily stirred some homemade mustard on the stove. I brimmed with pride--I can make my own mustard, so Ha! Take that, commercialized world! I can make a condiment!--as Jay retreated to the living room, trying to avoid the pungent aroma that soon dominated the house.

He left for work, and I sheepishly put it in the fridge. Come lunchtime, though, I couldn't wait to whip out the mustard and a soft pretzel to have a taste. (The pretzels, made the day before, screamed for mustard, and so a mere project became an Affair--not uncommon with me, as you may well know by now.)

This mustard. Mmm. Words fail me. Dear reader, get thee to a kitchen, I say, and make mustard. If you are not too unlike me, you'll be tickled pink to realize you can do one more thing better than some thing from a store. And that, in this day and age, is triumphant.

This mustard is hot. Very hot. And quite sweet. Think of the mustard you get with Chinese take-out, with some sweetness added. I'm sure it's basically the same. The recipe--and encouragement--is Ann Hodgman's Heroic Mustard, from her darling, priceless cookbook, One Bite Won't Kill You, which I will rave about endlessly until I die. If I could be Ann Hodgman, I would, but I can't, unfortunately. So I'll pore over her cookbooks, and maybe I'll send her a gentle reminder to get those cookbooks reprinted, and this time, with a sturdy sewn binding, and on better paper.

Oh, back to the mustard. It's basically one-half cup Colman's mustard flour and one-half cup distilled white vinegar, and a wee bit of salt, which you mix up and let sit overnight. Then you add one-fourth cup sugar and a beaten egg, and whisk it all in a small saucepan over low/medium heat 'til it reaches boiling (steaming and bubbling). Let it cool, scoop it into a clean jar, and keep it in your fridge. AH says it'll last a month in the fridge, but if I make another batch of pretzels, mine will be gone lickety-split.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What the day brings

Do you ever have one of those days? One of those moments when you must give it up to Humility? Like yesterday, when feeding the cats, I flung a chunk of it into Ezra's hair, and then Ezra had to endure a dry cleaning of sorts, while Elliott screeched for more sandwich? (When, I ask, isn't FOUR sandwiches in one day ENOUGH?)

Today's one of those days, too, apparently.

I wake up early--after a 10-hour crash, no doubt my body trying to get an upper hand on the second sinus cold of the season--to make sure we still have money. And the student loan, which has been on "auto-pay," is no longer auto-paying. Of course the student loan site yields no helpful information. So I must wait for the rest of the world to wake up, so I can try to cough up a chunk of money, pronto, in addition to the phlegm.

I should have known something like this would end up on my plate. The weekend went well: a visit to the in-laws' with enough beer and not too much political talk. I accomplished some knitting. We enjoyed being outdoors in a way that's difficult in our corner of Cincinnati: free-range children riding bicycles in the road and inky, sparkly nighttime skies.

Ah, the fly's in the oinment today! At the House of Bunthoff we'll ready ourselves for a good slather; it's too early to succumb. It's Monday, it's Ohio, it's November. Bring it on; we're not ticklish.