“What are you –“
“Doing?” I cut Fiancé off before he could finish his sentence. “Mortar and pestling mustard seeds in my molcajete that actually has more uses than that of a decorative book end.”
“I was going to say ‘stupid,’ but okay, that explains things too. So why aren’t you using the food processor to grind them up?”
“Shut up. I tried that and the blades sit too high to pulverize the seeds and for some godforsaken reason that I cannot fathom I actually don’t own a spice slash coffee grinder to do this. So,” pause to slam in a few more pounds with the pestle against the crack of the tiny black balls, “molcajete.”
It was one of those projects I was for some reason suddenly obsessed with. You know how it is. Some random little idea for a recipe, activity, or whathaveyou finagles its way into your brain and without warning you're buried deep in every book about the subject and performing strange experiments in your kitchen.
Out of nowhere last week I was overcome with the urge to make homemade mustard. Not that mustard is my favorite ingredient and slather it on everything I eat. I mean, I like it and I go through a fair share of Dijon. At least, as much as any other average person. Yet here I was in my newly tiled kitchen with polished gas range and any number of fancy bits of equipment beating mustard seeds with a rock like some kind of culinary savage.
Why I let these urges take control of me I will never know.
Oh wait. I do. Because it’s fun.
Mostly. Fiance just sort of sighed as I threw my head in the sink after a cracked mustard seed in a fit of suicidal vengeance leaped out of the bowl and into my eye.
Eye damage set aside as well as a rather course sermon of swearing at whatever gods for making me their gustatory-inclined piñata for their amusement (or something like that) I went back to work. As Fiancé retired to the other room to meld with the Playstation I began to do my measurements. A bit of cold white wine, some cider vinegar, an egregious amount of Israeli honey sent to me by a friend, and some salt all got stirred together in a bowl with the now properly pulverized mustard seeds and a robust cup full of dry yellow mustard powder.
A quick stir and there you have it. Mustard. Spreadable. Textural. Engaging and surely some of the best ever made.
I took a fingerful and popped it in my mouth.
Lord, have you ever winced so hard you actually feel a blood vessel in your eye pop? Not fun. This stuff was foul. I mean, horribly foul. Like concentrated horseradish that was marinated in the undying hate of Hitler, Karl Marx, massacred ghostly orphans, and whoever gave the go for the second Knight Rider series.
So I went and gave some to Fiancé because I decided watching his reaction would be hilarious since he was being a butthead earlier.
I told him to try it and he, of course, did because most of what I make is awesome so why would he ever think that I would trick him when it came to food? The result? Well, I assume this would be the same sort of face one would make if one was having their soul ripped out of their anus with an industrial winch.
“Did you make it right?” he asked, perturbed. He stared at the jar of course mustard like it might pull a knife on him.
“I did. I’m looking it up now on Hank’s site. Yes. See. Mustard seeds, six tablespoons. Blah blah honey. Yes. Yeah. I made it all right. Correct amount of vinegar. This is perfectly – oh wait. Yep. I goofed. It says let it marinate a day or two to let the bitterness die down a bit. My bad,” I shrugged.
Lesson learned. When it comes to mustard and other condiments read all the directions. Twice. Just to make sure.
Given the prescribed day or two mustard remains exceptionally pungent, but calm enough to be enjoyably so. It’s piquant and sharp, with plenty of honey to sweeten it’s rather temperamental disposition.
If you haven't hopped on the homemade mustard bandwagon I suggest you do so. It's quaint, charming, and can be rather hilarious on the maker's part.
Homemade Honey Mustard
Recipe adapted from the brilliant Hank Shaw
6 tablespoons black or brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup mustard powder
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup cold white wine
1/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 tablespoons honey
Crush the mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Don't blitz them to powder, just break them up. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (for a less spicy mustard use warm water). Place in an airtight jar in the fridge and allow the mustard to sit for a day or two to mellow out a bit. Keeps for a year in the fridge.