Thursday, June 29, 2006

July 4th: Independence from the Jarred Stuff

It's Independence Day weekend! The Fourth! If you’re like The WesFoodie chances are you’re looking forward to some Que, a little cookin’ out, and on the Fourth that means hot dogs.
But this is no ordinary Independence Day. Why is this Fourth different from all other fourths? Because this Fourth, The WesFoodie and you (and this is an invitation to join me) are declaring our taste buds’ independence from the Jarred Stuff – the runny, alarmingly luminous, acrid yellow spread that they have the nerve to call mustard.
Yes, we are going to free ourselves from the jar and connect with local, seasonal ingredients by collecting our own mustard plants in full flowering glory and grind out our own beautiful glistening intensely-hued homemade mustard and cover some snappy, garlicy dogs in it. Mmmm Hmmmm.
Mustard grows wild throughout North America. It is ubiquitous on the sides or roads and highways in New York and New England. Mustard flowers are small, delicate, yellow and bursting out just in time for the Fourth of July. There are also many cultivated varieties that can be grown in the garden. Seed Savers (an organization dedicated to preserving America’s food heritage – and a fantastic source for heirloom seeds and plants) lists forty two varieties of mustard currently available for cultivation.
Making mustard is surprisingly easy. Traditionally, it is made with crushed seed from the mustard plant combined with vinegar and spices. When making mustard with hand collected ingredients in the first days of July, however, it can be a real challenge to gather enough of the tiny seeds (which appear and mature on the plant after the flowers have been pollinated and wilt away) to make enough mustard to cover your franks. So The WesFoodie has whipped up a recipe that uses the flowers, seeds and some leaves of the mustard plant – you’ll thank me later. Its green and its delicious – far superior to the jar – you will be a hero for making this and a great slow food revolutionary in the Army of the Sustainable to boot.

Green Honey Garlic Mustard

¾ Cup fresh organic mustard flowers, seeds and greens (at least 50% flowers and seeds) – chopped.
Retain a sprig or two of mustard flowers for garnish.
2 Cloves heirloom garlic
1 Tablespoon Honey
¼ Cup champagne vinegar or white vinegar
3 Tablespoons good olive oil
½ Teaspoon whole peppercorns
½ Teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

Combine chopped mustard parts, garlic, pepper and salt in a food processor or blender. Slowly add the honey, vinegar and olive oil while processing greens.
Strain through a fine wire sieve.
Serve with flowers for garnish.

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