The Challenge and Delight


When it comes to cooking and eating, Ray and I have very different approaches. He likes to eat out when he’s not at home and eat what I cook when he is. When he occasionally makes food he tries to perfect his favorites like mac and cheese and french toast topped with a maple berry compote. Also, he brews beer which I appreciate because it is good beer and it is homemade.

I secretly hope that Ray will be impressed when I tell him that I made ketchup to go with our oven fried potatoes for dinner or bake my weekly loaf of sourdough bread. Since I love the challenge and delight of making something that is ubiquitously store bought I do it often. Ray is used to it and barely notices, except to note that it doesn’t taste quite the same as the version that comes in a box, a bottle, or a jar. I know I’m a little crazy for making so many things from scratch, but it’s what I like to do.

I try to persuade Ray to take a homemade lunch a couple of times each week. When he mentioned his favorite sandwich at a local shop: avocado, cheese, sprouts, mayo… I started plotting. I started seeds sprouting, baked two loaves of ciabatta bread and at the last minute whipped up a batch of mayo. It didn’t take much for me to latch on to the creative opportunities of this point of intersection in our divergent tastes and interests. I cook to satisfy myself, but it means even more to be able to share my love of creating good food with my husband.

Homemade Mayonnaise
Admittedly, I fear mayonnaise and usually stay away from it, but the idea of making it myself was still intriguing. I recently read Ratio by Michael Ruhlman in which he explains the simple ratios for making many common recipes. Mayonnaise is one that he explains and though it took some furious whisking, it turned out perfectly. Making the transformation from eggs and oil to the white wiggly spread was amazing and all of that whisking was a good way to warm up on a cold evening. If you have any interest in mayonnaise at all, you should try it. This recipe makes about a cup. I’ll explain it in paragraph form like I would if I were telling you in person how easy it is.

Grab a medium to large mixing bowl that will rest on the counter while you whisk and pour. Put one egg yolk, two teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon water into the bowl. Measure 8 ounces of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed) into a liquid measuring cup. This recipe takes only a few minutes, but I tried to concentrate and whisk really hard because it is possible that the mayonnaise can break and become a runny sauce instead of a thick spread.

Start by whisking the egg, lemon juice, salt and water together in the bowl. Pour in a few drops of oil and whisk it all together. Add a few more drops and begin whisking continuously. While whisking, slowly pour in the rest of the oil in a very thin stream. It should begin to thicken as you add the oil. Keep whisking until all the oil is added and the mayonnaise is thick enough to cling to the whisk.

If the mixture is pourable then it has broken, but don’t fear. Michael Ruhlman suggests pouring the mixture into the measuring cup, cleaning out the bowl and added a teaspoon of water. Gradually pour the mixture into the bowl with the water and whisk as you did before until it emulsifies.