When I was a young girl, I recall going to the fridge in search of food and peering into it for long stretches of time and then desperately moving to the cupboards one by one in search of something to eat, only to come up empty handed.
“We have nothing to eat in this whole house,” I’d mutter and often just grab a sugar cube and be on my way. This is not a story about a girl growing up with no food. It is a story of a girl looking for an easy food fix and too lazy to put together some ingredients to make her own — or maybe she was just not ever taught how. And then there was my mother, gifted as she was with that magic of meal manifestation. She would go to that very same fridge and into those very same cupboards (that I had previously declared as completely empty!) and pull out all of the ingredients to prepare a whole meal for the whole family (all six of us) again and again and again. It was magic!
As a mother of three hungry, growing kiddos, I hear those same words in varying voices and tones echoing through my days. “When is someone going shopping, I’m hungry and we have no food!” and “There is nothing to eat in this whole house!” Sound familiar? Funny, as I look into that same fridge and into those same cupboards I see the makings of hummus, pesto pasta, bananas, oats and peanut butter or pancakes with blueberries or granola, grapes and yogurt.
We have an abundance of food. It’s sometimes embarrassing how much food wealth we have stored in that cubicle in the corner of the kitchen. However, I remind my older, wiser self of my younger and, ahem, lazier or uneducated self. Then I take the time to offer up suggestions of what can be combined to make a tasty and healthy snack. And trust me when I tell you that I am still plagued with this refrigerator desolation issue from time to time. I just catch myself a lot faster these days and have a plenitude of tools to throw at it.
My mother still has the knack for pulling together some raw ingredients into something amazing and delicious and I am still in awe of her cooking magic. She has been making her own mustard for quite some time with a recipe handed over by Florence, one of my longtime and loyal customers at the spice shop, who makes this delicious mustard for her family and friends every year. Last week my mother invited Autumn and me over to learn how to make it. I watched the process and happily taste-tested. It really is so simple and cooking together with family is time well spent. It’s so easy to create your own variations. Do you like a crunchy texture? Add some whole mustard seeds for that burst of flavor. Are you a heat fiend? Add cayenne or habanero. Or add a little white wine and attempt a Dijon style spread.
So grab a few pretzels and your favorite young’un and make your own batch of mustard together. Remember, you are teaching healthy food preparation skills that will last a lifetime. Thank you, Florence, for your willingness to share your recipe.
Sweet & Savory Mustard
1¼ firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 cup dry mustard flour
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Pour into jars, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.
Written by By Melissa Spencer
For the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, June 12, 2015
(Published in print: Tuesday, June 16, 2015)