Plain yellow American mustard

Making plain yellow mustard may not make much sense.  Why?  It’s so cheap in the grocery store, after all.

BECAUSE IT TASTES AMAZINGLY BETTER.  Isn’t that the usual reason?  I’ve used this recipe for years, and it has never failed me.

1 cup dry ground mustard
1 cup water
12 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 + pinch teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 + pinch teaspoon paprika

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Wisk until
smooth. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring
often, until it reduces to a mustard-like consistency (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Remove pan from heat, let sit uncovered for one minute, then cover and allow
to cool. Store in a covered container. It will be quite pungent for a few
days, but will mellow with time.

Makes one cup.


Cabbage Soup


Cabbage Soup


  • 1/4 lb dry red beans, soaked overnight (Rancho Gordo “Dominigo Rojo” are perfect, but kidney beans work too)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb sausage or Tofurkey
  • 1 head cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/3 cup long grain dry white rice
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 cubes vegetable or chicken bullion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
  • salt to taste

Cook the beans in water (I use the soaking water) until they are soft, about an hour or so. Heat some vegetable oil in a separate pan, and cook the onions until lightly browned. Add the sausage/Tofurkey and cook until it is lightly browned, then add the combination to the beans. Mix in cabbage, celery, rice, tomato sauce, tomatoes, boullion, bay leaf, and thyme. Add enough water to just cover all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for at least an hour until the vegetables are soft and the rice is cooked. Season to taste with salt.

Makes up to a week’s worth of delicious winter-time lunches!

EDIT 2016-02-05: I just reread this because it’s cabbage soup-making time here again, and I realized that I wasn’t clear about one thing: the beans MUST be soft and mostly cooked before you add the tomato sauce and tomatoes to them. The acid in the tomatoes will cause uncooked beans to never fully cook.


One step to take food from blah to BRILLIANT… on a budget!

I’ve been considering some basic cooking “cheats” and this is my biggest one. This works for everyone from barely competent cooks looking to improve their food, to highly skilled cooks in a hurry or on a budget. One simple thing that opens up the door for more interesting meals? Find the Spanish/Latin/Ethnic section at your local grocery store. 

No, I don’t mean the Old El Paso taco and burrito kits. Get out of here and don’t come back! I mean at least the Goya stuff, which is the heart of what I think of as “home cooking” as a former kid from the Bronx. 

There’s two big benefits here. The first one is that you’re going to find big bold flavors that you’re maybe not used to, for really reasonable prices. Replace the salt with adobo and add a packet of sazón con culantro y achiote to your rice, and add a tablespoon of sofrito and/or recaito to a can of beans, and you’ve got a cheap and hearty dish with barely any prep time. Marinate your cheaper cuts of chicken or pork in some mojo criollo, then grill or broil it and serve over rice or on a hoagie roll… and one bottle is good for a couple of meals. You’re going to find a bunch of “weird” stuff in that section of the store, but it is all tasty and rarely excessively spicy.

Speaking of spicy, this is where the second benefit hits. Have you ever looked at a recipe that called for a spice you rarely use? And then you go to the store and look for it and find out that a tiny jar costs more than any other ingredient or sometimes as much as all the other ingredients? Well, before you give up you should check the “ethnic” aisle. Very often, they’ll have small packets of ground spices that are just enough for that one recipe, or larger containers for half as much as they cost in the spice aisle. You can save a lot of money and try a lot of different spices without having to commit to a larger container that’s going to sit in the cabinet for three years until you randomly need it again. 

So have fun, and cook something nummy!

Corned Beef, Roasted Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts

This is going to be good. For my birthday, I’m eating in and eating well. I’m not Irish, but I LOVE corned beef. My wife doesn’t love cabbage, but that’s OK to because Brussels sprouts are like mini, tastier cabbage anyways. This one is simple and easy and very tasty, and makes a plate of food that looks like you worked pretty hard. 

Corned Beef:

Cut open the bag that the corned beef came in, and throw away all that “juice”. Rinse the corned beef, place it in a pot and cover it with water and/or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes per pound. Slice the corned beef thinly along a diagonal angle across the grain. Top with Grey Poupon, of course. 🙂

Roasted Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut small red potatoes into quarters, about 2 per person. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, fresh-ground pepper, and sea salt. Transfer to a oven safe pan or sheet, and cook for 45-60 minutes, or until they are nice and crispy. Turn once about halfway through so they cook on both sides. Sprinkle some fresh rosemary on top and you’re done!

Brussels sprouts:

Melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium low heat, then add 2 teaspoons of garlic and salt to taste. Slice off just the very base of the sprouts and slice in half long-ways. Place the sprouts cut-side down in the butter, top with black pepper, and cover the skillet. Raise the temperature to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for five minutes before serving.