Please pass the mustard!

This past week was an awesome one, not only did I get to see the Grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the Devine, Castroville area, on the way to Devine I had a phone call from my grandson who is in the process of moving from Hawaii to Florida, which is his next station. He and his family came in on Friday evening and we had a wonderful time together. The kids wanted to go fishing, so we went to my sister’s stock tank and drowned a few worms. Two of the little ones caught very small catfish and were as happy as they could be. The main thing was, they got to go fishing! Yes, I did spend a lot of time untangling the little boy’s line, he could get it tangled easier than anyone would have thought possible. I asked him how he did that, and he just looked at me with a big smile, of course, he always gave me a hug when I fixed it for him, fixing it was worth the hug!
This coming week is going to be a busy one with a couple of meetings and being hostess for my Pokeno group. I am going to make old-fashioned gingerbread from my grandmother’s recipe. It is always a treat, especially to people who remember it from their younger days and just don’t have the time to make it anymore.
Have you ever given a thought to the numerous times we use mustard? Hamburgers and hot dogs immediately come to mind for most people. It is a condiment that many people do not care for because of the pungent, spicy taste, however, many recipes are made just a little bit better for the addition of a couple of teaspoons or tablespoons of this bright yellow condiment. Most recipes specify whether to use dry mustard or prepared mustard, others don’t, in that case, they usually mean to use the prepared. More and more recipes are beginning to ask for a specific type of prepared mustard, i.e., Dijon, spicy brown, etc.
This is the information I have in my files from a previous column, so it is what I used.
Mustard is a plant of the genus Brassica, a genus in which several other food plants are also found, including turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards and broccoli.
The principal source of commercial mustard is B. nigra. It is an annual that is two to three feet high, has stiff stems, bright yellow flowers and smooth narrow pods. Dry mustard is a yellow powder and is made from the ground seeds. The seeds of white mustard and the Indian or Chinese mustard are also used. These are B hirta and B. juncea respectively. Neither is indigenous to the United States. Chinese mustard and Japanese (B. japonica) mustard plants are eaten as a salad plant, using the first large lower leaves.
For many years ground mustard seed has been used as a condiment. It can be used alone or combined with other ingredients, as in prepared mustard. In ancient times, it was used a medicine by Hippocrates. It is used as an emetic and in times past, as a mustard plaster on your chest for a bad cold and cough.
Would deviled eggs taste as good without a dollop of prepared mustard? In fact, some recipes for deviled eggs call for a small amount of dry mustard rather than the prepared mustard. Many recipes for potato salad or pasta salad also call for mustard to be added. A hot dog or hamburger, to many, without mustard is not really fit to eat.
Mustard seeds are used frequently in pickle or slaw recipes, as well as in some salad dressings. Homemade mayonnaise has dry mustard as an ingredient. If you check in your cookbooks, you will be really surprised at the number of recipes that call for one or the other.
Dry mustard can be really pungent and spicy if you use the least bit too much in a recipe. As with any spice or condiment, use it sparingly until you get the taste you want. (This is why recipes sometimes say add…”to your taste”). It is much easier to add more than it is to try to remove some when you have added too much.
Any of these recipes or any others calling mayonnaise really taste great with the following homemade mayonnaise. It is not difficult to make using your blender. My mother used to have a glass jar with a perforated plunger that you dashed up and down, (just as you would a butter churn to make butter), to make mayonnaise. It was a little more complicated and time consuming than this recipe is.
1 egg
1 teaspoon dry or ¾ teaspoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
1 cup cooking oil, (divided use)
Break egg into blender container, add mustard, salt, paprika, lemon juice or vinegar and ¼ cup oil. Place cover on container, turn on blender to low speed, remove center cup from lid and in a very slow stream, pour in the remaining oil while it is still on low speed. Continue blending until thick. It makes one cup and is ready to use. Do not double the recipe. If you need more than one cup, make the recipe a second time.
Deviled Eggs
8 to 12 eggs
1 small rib celery, diced very finely
2 to 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or the sweet/dill relish that is now available)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (about)
Salt and pepper to taste
Hard cook eggs, remove from heat and drain well. Shake around in pan to crack them, cover with cool water and allow to set for a few minutes. Drain the eggs, peel, and cut in half lengthwise, placing the yolks in a bowl. Thoroughly mash the egg yolks, stir in celery and pickle relish, and then add the mustard and enough mayonnaise, mixing to desired consistency. Use a spoon and place mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika or chili powdered if desired. If you want this to look a little fancier, place yolk mixture into a cake decorating bag, using a large star tip and fill the halves using that.
Spam Salad
1 can Spam
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup pickle relish or chopped dill pickles
1 to 2 tablespoons diced pimentos
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Mayonnaise or salad dressing
Use a coarse grater and shred the Spam, or coarsely chop in a food processor. (Be careful with a food processor, as it will make the Spam into a paste, if you process it too long)! Put Spam into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, using enough mayonnaise or salad dressing to make the mixture into a spreading consistency. This makes great sandwiches or tastes equally good with crackers.
Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cloves
1 cup boiling water
1 cup molasses
Sift together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices; set aside. Cream together shortening, sugar and eggs until fluffy; and add sifted ingredients with the molasses. Add boiling water last and stir in gently, just until mixed. Pour into 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done. If you like, sprinkle the top of the dough with a tablespoon or two of sugar before baking, or when cake is done, sprinkle with powdered sugar.