mustarding up the great pretzel experiment

These pretzels are not poisonous!

I just want to tell you that the mustard turned out great. Did you hear me? It was awesome! It turns out some people like Fiery Fire Sauce in their mustard, and I am related to a significant percentage of them. I am not incompetent at everything! Or at least, it didn’t suck too much, which is all I can hope for on most days, really.

Disaster nearly struck preemptively, as I’d originally forgotten the mustard when I left town before the holiday, which would have been a tragedy for the Great Pretzel Experiment we had planned for months. But my heroic Other Half, who had to work Christmas Eve and drove down the next morning, remembered to bring it with him, despite the unlucky – and really, unacceptably Grinchy – experience of a Christmas Day thief who snatched & grabbed bags out of our car while he was loading things from the house and got away with his laptop, SLR camera, and a backpack of library books. In addition to the financial hit (the insurance company is being cagey about the potential library fees…you know, that adds up), it just hurts us emotionally, man. Don’t rob people on Christmas, ok? The Hallmark Channel has entire movies dedicated to people like you and you always get your Just Desserts at the end, often including actual desserts, like pie in the face, because that’s how the Hallmark Channel rolls on villainy.

The mustard was safe, though. I just want to reiterate that, because I know you were worried. It was not stolen from the car, I don’t know why. Did I mention it was made with brown sugar?

The Great Pretzel Experiment turned out well, by and large (obviously, I had nothing to do with it). The tricky stage in pretzel making  is dipping them in lye, which has to be ordered from a chemical company; you can’t just pick that up at CVS like most dangerous drug ingredients. (Side note: I used to get this mud mask from CVS which burned like hell, tightened your skin until your eyes bugged out like a frog, and, if left on too long, caused minor chemical burns. I never knew why that stuff was legal, but it was the greatest facial mask of all time. It’s been discontinued now, alas.)

Since you’re handling lye, you have to wear gloves and not touch anything else. Pretzel making is not child-friendly fun. Amanda was our resident expert because she had made them before, with the assistance of a real German, so after the group rolled out the dough & shaped pretzels under her direction, she dipped them one by one and laid them out on cookie sheets. Something happened while baking – we’re not sure what, but they were only baking halfway down, leaving the lower half sticky and gelatinous. We turned down the heat on later rounds and it worked out, but we had a minor scare for a minute when Theron tried an early pretzel and started screaming that it was horrible and tasted like batteries. Amanda made everyone stop eating them at that point because she was afraid we were ingesting lye, but I think we later determined that Theron just doesn’t like pretzels. He was probably not a good choice for pretzel taster, in retrospect.

Dad and Erik made mustard too – delicious and totally different from each other’s (and mine). They both used the brown mustard seeds and a variety of vinegars, among other things, but no sugar.

Erik (believe this is from a vague internet recipe): 1/4 c. brown seeds, ground in a coffee grinder, 1/4 c. yellow mustard powder, 4 T. white wine, 2 T. water, pinch salt, stand for 10 minutes, 2 T. apple cider vinegar, microwave on high for 15 seconds, stir. Add 1 T. tumeric, refrigerate at least 2 hours. Keeps for weeks.

Dad (believe this came from the Joy of Cooking): 1/2 c. brown mustard seeds, 2 T. cider vinegar, 2 T. white wine vinegar, 2 T. water, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. white pepper. Mix in jar, allow to sit for an hour, stir again and cover and refrigerate 1-2 nights; blend until paste forms. Keeps 3-4 weeks after blending.

I think I’m going to try the Honey & Lime variation next, which substitutes honey for the sugar and fresh lime juice for the white vinegar. The book promises it will be sweeter, which should make Other Half happier.

[Are you wondering why I just provided you with several mustard recipes? It’s because I’m concerned about you, the reader. I’m afraid you’re going along thinking, “I just lost 6 brain cells reading this blog. I learned nothing. I might be dumber for the experience.” I want you to feel you got something out of it.]

Then along with the pretzels, we used the mustard with the sauerkraut and bratfest that followed for dinner, with a small keg of beer. Happy German Christmas, everyone!

P.S. We’re not German.

P.P.S., I also made kimchee, and hopefully that will turn out well too! We’ll check in on the Burned Walnuts Brandy next week. Who’s excited?!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Katie
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 16:00:57

    MAKETHIS! I can’t see it going wrong. This and 6 hour ridiculous BBC film. go ahead, indulge!


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