Friday, August 6, 2010

Mustard and More...

The first Saturday in August is always National Mustard Day. (It was created back in 1991 by the National Mustard Museum). There will be big celebrations in Middleton, Wisconsin because it is the NEW home of the National Mustard Museum. The museum had been housed in Mount Horeb, just a little south of Madison for many years, and recently relocated to Middleton.
Did you know that the museum features an extensive collection of over 5000 jars, bottles and tubes from each of our 50 states and from more than 60 countries worldwide?

It also boasts a gift shop and gourmet food emporium. You can check it out at

I also found out some interesting bits of Mustard Trivia:
· More than 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed worldwide each year.
· Mustard is the second most-used spice in the United States. (Peppercorns come in at #1)
· In one year at New York’s Yankee Stadium more than 1600 gallons plus 2,000,000 individual packets of mustard are consumed
· Pope John Paul the XXII was so fond of mustard that he created a new Vatican position-grand moutardier du pape (grand mustard-maker to the pope)
· The ancient Chinese considered mustard an aphrodisiacGerm lore advises a bride to sew mustard seeds into the hem of her wedding dress to assure her dominance of the household.

Mustard has never been my favorite condiment-give me ketchup and onions on hot dogs, brats and burgers! However, I am learning to appreciate its flavor and pungency because I do like some types of honey mustard dipping sauce and use when cooking.

We also talked about the best way to preserve fresh dill. If you have an overabundance in your garden, or you're going to stop at a farmers market this weekend here are a few long term storage tips. Just remember that freezing dill will cause it to become limp, however it will still maintain its flavor. Here's how to freeze fresh dill:
1. Rinse whole sprigs of fresh dill in cool water to remove all dirt and grit. Shake off excess water and spin dry or pat between layers of paper towels to remove as much surface moisture as possible.
2. Trim off long stem ends, leaving only an inch or so attached to the feathery foliage. Place a couple of sprigs together inside a resealable plastic freezer storage bag. Gently press out all air and seal. If freezing for along period of time, double-bag the dill to help prevent freezer burn from drying it out.
3. Store bag flat in the freezer, on top of the other foods so that it won’t be crushed. When you need fresh dill, simply remove a sprig and snip, while still frozen, directly into the mixing bowl or saucepan, using a pair of kitchen shears. Do not allow to thaw. (Freezing causes dill to become limp but it will still maintain its flavor.


I learned a new cooking term: Creme Fraiche. It means fresh cream and is a dairy product similar to sour cream, but not quite as sour. Crème fraiche is particularly useful in finishing sauces in French cooking because it does not curdle and is traditional to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.You can purchase it in the dairy section of your favorite grocery store or you can make your own if you come across it in a recipe anytime soon. Here's how:

Combine 1 c. heavy cream with 1 c. sour cream in a glass bowl. Place in a warm place and let stand 12-24 hours, until thickened. Stir and refrigerate for another 24-36 hours before using. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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