Exploring a New Culinary Idea (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I can be a bitter person but I generally don’t enjoy bitter foods. However, I cooked pork for the first time in months after receiving in a subscription meat box I ordered, and had a flash of inspiration that a honey-mustard sauce was needed. I only recently learned that the yellow in mustard is from the inside of the mustard seed, so I ground up some mustard seeds in my mortar and pestle and added vinegar, salt, honey, avocado oil and pepper flakes. I then emulsified the entire mixture in my blender and added it to my pork, spinach and rice dish.

The meal had an bitter flavor but it was a pleasing sharpness rather than a blunt bitterness that can overpower all the other flavors. I’m still amazed by the fact that the reason spicy mustard looks the way is does is because it made of crushed seeds. My mind never questioned why it looked the way it did before! What’s your latest culinary creation?

Compliments of Hot, Sour and Sweet (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

In preparing for the potential pandemic looming in my country, I have spent the last month stocking up on food items. An unexpected benefit of doing so has been that I’ve been motivated to try flavors I haven’t had in a while. One of my tastiest creations I revisited this week is a homemade hot paste.

The thick, peppery condiment extremely simple to make. I eat it with eggs in the morning or with meat and tofu dishes later in the day. I start with dried peppers, both the large sweet types used in moles like pasilla and ancho, as well as small hot red peppers like guajillo (I’ve learned that only a few of these are needed!). I then add vinegar–either white wine or apple cider–and salt. I pulse in my food processor until a paste is formed, trying to stop before the seeds are chopped so that it doesn’t turn bitter. To create a sweet and spicy version, which I might use more in dishes with tofu, chicken or fish, I add honey. I store in a small jar in the refrigerator and use within a week.

I enjoy fashioning my own condiments to complement homemade food. The condiments sold in stores are often diluted with filler products and/or packed with extra sugar and salt. I find that having a condiment or two on hand helps me to break up the monotony of having the same dish I’ve meal-prepped for three or four days in a row. Do you make any of your condiments yourself? If so, what is your favorite creation?

Sipping Honey-Ginger Milk Tonic (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I awoke to a sensation of having swallowed glass in my throat today; not a great start to the weekend! I am feeling quite under the weather and needed a pick-me-up to renew my day. To accomplish this, I decided to make my own spiced beverage concoction.

I brewed a tonic of water, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and dried lemon peel. Once it was hot, I mixed it roughly 50-50 with cold 2% milk and a teaspoon of honey. The result was a lukewarm beverage that was lightly spiced and very soothing as I drank it.

I’m pretty sure milk is not recommended for throat issues, so you could substitute a plant beverage such as coconut milk instead if you prefer. I think my throat is raw as well as inflamed, so the temperature and coating quality of my drink worked well for my needs. Next time I make it, I want to use fresh pieces of ginger and turmeric. Do you have a favorite blend of spices that you mix with milk/plant-based alternatives? Do you reserve certain combinations for particular physical aliments? What’s your favorite herbal drink in January?