The Recipe Present

A while back, Beverly and Jack Hollen of Mountain View California sent me a wonderful present – a handwritten recipe! The recipe arrived in a beautiful card accompanied by notes written by both Beverly and Jack. My heart felt truly warmed by this seemingly small yet significant gift. I appreciated their efforts to share a piece of their culinary world. Handwritten communications convey a warmth that just doesn’t come across in a world dominated by screens and keyboards. The tactile experience of getting a stamped letter in the mail is much more memorable than opening an email with an attachment. The element of surprise in the mailbox is nice too.

The recipe was for Mustard Sauce. A sauce can elevate a meal from “ho-hum” to “Wow, this is really great”! Beverly mentioned that the mustard sauce was for ham. But after I made it, the possibilities expanded. The sauce was sweet and sour, only better than any sweet and sour sauce I had ever tasted because it had an extra layer of flavor. Sweet and sour can go with almost anything: meatballs and meatloaf, shrimp, chicken and steamed vegetables to name a few. I sautéed a few prawns, steamed some peas and put all that on a bed of smoked basmati rice then drowned it with the sauce. This combination was wickedly good and it only took about ten minutes, maybe less, to make.

Mustard Sauce

One cup Campbell’s Consommé (do NOT substitute beef broth)
½ cup sugar
½ cup French’s yellow mustard
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients in a double boiler and whisk constantly until thickened. I used the whole can of consommé. The first time around I got side-tracked and forgot to keep whisking. The egg solidified and there were little pieces of scrambled egg floating in the sauce. That was not the right look! So I had to get out my immersion blender which added an unnecessary step.

In this culture where “bigger is better” and “more, more, more” it is easy to think that a small gesture such as a handwritten recipe doesn’t amount to much. But sometimes small things can have a huge impact. On the surface, a recipe looks like a piece of paper. But it translates into a delicious culinary experience, especially if the recipe has been handed down for generations. Then the recipe comes with the feeling of duration, because it withstood the test of time. I love splattered recipes with crossed out words and doodles in the margins. A recipe is a present that doesn’t cost anything. Who was it that said “Sometimes the best things in life are free”? Thank you, Beverly and Jack for sharing this awesome yuletide present with our readers.