I’ve done it, Igor! I’ve created a recipe to deal with that monster who’s been pounding down my door for one. Namely, my mom. My mom is a pennycress honey mustard-eating monster.
My idea for field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) honey mustard was born first of an attempt to make normal pennycress mustard—if there is such a thing—which comes out tasting okay but not altogether great. Pennycress has a strong, some say garlicky—though I say distinctly pennycress—flavor. It was the addition of honey, however, that sealed the deal between me and pennycress forever.
I love gathering the pennycress seeds—first spotting the dry, tan-colored stalks and seedpods that mean they’re ripe for harvest, then stripping the seeds and chaff into a collecting container. Afterwards walking while directing short, strong puffs of breath into the container, blowing chaff from seeds, albeit into my nostrils and eyelashes. No matter, for a precious prize remains at the bottom, like colors separated from black sands at the bottom of a gold pan—pennycress seeds!
Once upon a time I would painstakingly winnow my pennycress seeds from their chaff by rubbing them between my hands to separate them, then pouring it all into one end of a cookie sheet, holding that at an angle and gently tapping it underneath to make the seeds roll free. But now after rubbing to separate, I often just huff and puff and blow that chaff away. Then it’s into the spice (coffee) grinder with the lot of it, where the remaining bits and pieces of tan papery stuff disappear into the grind. It’s like magic—pennycress seeds and microchaff go into the grinder; dry mustard condiment comes out.
To that I add spoonfuls of red wine vinegar, water, flour, and honey and mix to the desired taste and consistency for a hot, sweet mustard to dress sandwiches, glaze meat, or—as we did this evening—serve dabbed upon slices of venison summer sausage on crackers.
It always comes out right in the end: a pinch of this, a smidgeon of that, repeat like 10 times, and voila: pennycress honey mustard.
The problem is, no matter how hard I tried, I could never get an actual recipe to materialize.
In an ill-fated effort on my mom’s behalf—because mom, who is now among the converted, has in her possession a quantity of pennycress seeds and the desperate desire to make pennycress honey mustard but no recipe to guide her—I ground up all my remaining seeds and set to work. I got up to 25 Tbsp of flour before concluding that mom probably wouldn’t appreciate a recipe that called for 25 Tbsp of flour.
Time passed, seasons changed, and somehow I never got around to the pennycress. My dear friend B down in Denver got a bunch this year in late summer, and then the season for dried pennycress seeds passed by. Here in the high country, pennycress started drying out more than a month ago, but still I waited—only to be spellbound by it once again now that the wind is starting to blow strong, and the plants are curling at the frost’s nip, and the season for hat and gloves has arrived.
Today we finally got out of the apartment just before dusk and hiked straight up the mountain. There was a family of deer, a mama and two young ones, and we followed them out of earshot up the hillside before charting a new route back to the house. The last leg followed a man-made ditch, and there, lo and behold, Gregg spotted the racemes of whitish, flat seedpods practically glowing in the fading light—as if nature saw fit to reward us for our good route selection.
Our pint of seeds and chaff plus some we collected when Mom was here came out to 1/3 cup of seeds, enough for a batch of pennycress honey mustard—and this time the recipe came together as magically as the evening that spurred it.
A recipe for Pennycress Honey Mustard… no, really
- 1/3 cup pennycress seeds
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp water
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 5 Tbsp honey
Grind fully dried pennycress seeds in a spice (coffee) grinder or with mortar and pestle. Mix in flour. Add water, red wine vinegar and honey gradually, mixing to a syrupy consistency. The mustard will firm up slightly in the refrigerator. Makes one 8-oz jar.