My grandmother made the world’s best homemade mustard to serve with her Easter ham. Recently, my mom had to remind me about Grandma Mona’s Easter cupcakes, baked specially for the grandchildren, which she topped with “nests” of dyed-green coconut and speckled jelly-bean eggs. But I needed no help remembering the mustard.
It was surprisingly mild in both color and flavor, given Grandma’s lovably spicy personality. I can still picture her carrying it proudly to the Easter table in a gravy boat. My dad and his four sisters—nostalgia shimmering in their eyes—had to coerce each of the 22 grandchildren into our first taste of this thick, warm sauce that looked nothing like the French’s we ate on our sandwiches. (At least one rookie in-law mistook the mustard for warm vanilla pudding and swallowed a heaping spoonful before realizing his mistake.) My dad and aunts grew up spooning it over their Sunday ham and helping serve it in the small-town cafe grandma and grandpa owned for 30 years—but only at banquets. It was far too precious for the regular dining room.
The recipe is listed under the heading “Mustard Sauce” in the Matthews Family Cookbook (“Ewe’ll Love It!”), which Grandma typed painstakingly on a heavy, old typewriter one summer and distributed at a reunion of all of her cousins on her mother’s side. I wonder how many of Caroline Elizabeth Orr Matthews’s many descendants—she bore 11 children—skip right over the Mustard Sauce recipe to this day, having no idea of the magic therein.
Truly, it is the simple, unexpected things that turn into the most cherished and lasting family traditions. My cousin Andy’s wife, Whitney, now stirs the mustard (for 15 minutes in a double boiler) each Easter for my Aunt Margo’s family gatherings. My mom is the mustard maker in our family. One day it will be my turn, too.
This article was submitted by Angie Lucas, creator of the website Yeah Write.