mayonnaise, food of the gods

I saw Tom Robbins speak one time–what a cool guy!–and though much of the evening has faded, I do remember him declaring mayonnaise the food of the gods. I have to agree. And since, lately, our chickens have far outpaced us in terms of egg production vs. egg consumption (I think there are about 40 eggs in the fridge right now, we’ve two dozen to give away this afternoon!), I’ve been trying to think up new ways to use them. So, today, when I wanted a chicken sandwich for lunch and found only a jar of Reduced-Fat mayo, purchased by my husband–WHAT was he thinking?!–I decided to make some of my own mayonnaise with some of our chicken eggs.

As an aside, my husband has the kind of sense of humor that goes through periods where the predominant audience response (the audience in question being me) is not laughter, so much, as this kind of long suffering, “Oh, Brother.” I was making this facial expression so much, at one point, that I was starting to fear getting “Oh, Brother” wrinkles. A moment’s consideration found the solution. Instead of making the “Oh, Brother” face, I would just say “One” and that would be the wrinkle-saving code hence forth. “One” was quickly followed by “Two,” code for “I’d rather shoot myself,” and “Three,” code for “I don’t have TIME to explain what is wrong with that [fill in the blank, such as, say, a sweater vest, or repotting plants on the sofa].” It’ such a time saver! Reduced-fat mayo got a “One,” a “Two, AND a “Three.” See? No exasperation wrinkles! When I’m eighty I’ll look like I lived a blissful, relaxed existence.

Okay, back to the mayo. It’s so easy! And here is the reason you should make your own, even if you don’t have a surplus egg problem. You have to beat the crap out of it with a whisk, using way more calories then you would merely opening a jar, thus obliterating all guilt from one’s mayo. Isn’t that cool?

Here’s how you do it. You take an egg yolk. You add a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk. Then, sloooowly, drop by drop, you add about 1/2-3/4 cup of oil. Something bland, like peanut. All of these proportions are changeable, depending on your preferences for the final mayo flavor. Some people add a little cayenne, or mustard, or vinegar (as part of the lemon juice measurement). Each drop of oil gets whisked into the eggs, creating an emulsion. Make sure each drop of oil is totally absorbed before adding the next. Once you get a good flow, you can kind of trickle in the oil, so it isn’t as slow as I’m making it sound. The above quantities take about ten minutes to mix. And then you get this:

Those are Sophie’s toes in the background. “Mommy, why are you taking a picture of the mayo? I thought you were going to make us a chicken sandwich?” Ahem. Our mayo is really yellow because our chickens eat lots of grass and bugs, creating extremely colorful yolks. Also, I think the store bought stuff uses the egg whites as well, which dilutes the yellow color. After it’s all mixed, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. This is this cute jar that the Nuttella comes in (okay, not Nutella but some all-natural version that I get at Whole Foods). I am totally addicted to Nuttella on my toast in the morning. I mean, if you can have chocolate for breakfast, why have anything else?

The flavor of home made mayonnaise is really surprising, bright and fresh. It’s hard to describe why fresh food tastes better until you’ve had some. One of the huge benefits of having a micro-farm is milk and eggs that were in the goat and chicken, respectively, that morning. Now that’s fresh! Anyway, my chicken sandwich was fabulous. In case you were wondering.

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