sweet and simple: honey mustard

September has blown in like the winds of a hurricane, gusting and squalling, with the eye of the storm not yet in sight. I was gone for the first two weekends of the month, and while I’m not complaining, it really was a lot all at once. Madeline started first grade, and with first grade came her first experience with homework. Which means…OUR first experience helping her with homework. Swim practice for both kids – twice a week – started in the midst of all of this chaos, as did our beloved college football season with home games most of these first Saturdays in September.

So, really, it’s all good stuff. Seriously.

But, the icing on the cake — the bitter icing, the rancid buttercream frosting that you just DON’T want to eat – is that we lost our afternoon babysitter. Now, maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on how much help she was, but I don’t really think so. She was a huge help to me. And I miss her. Dearly.

But we’re working through it. I’m working through it.  So, in the spirit of finding simplicity again, and in trying to center myself, I’ve made a very simple recipe. Yes, friends, I’ve made honey mustard. Never thought honey mustard could be soothing, could you? Well, it is. I promise. The simple acts of chopping sweet Vidalia onions into perfect slices, stirring those slices slowly in the pan, swirling the whole melting mess together with the honey – these are the things I needed.

Honey Mustard

This recipe is only just tweaked from the recipe in Barbara Lynch's Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition. The recipe makes about 3/4 cup of honey mustard. Because I live in the south, we are surrounded by sweet Vidalia onions, so I used a Vidalia as the main onion in this recipe.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the honey and mustard and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the pan before the onion is fully cooked, you can add up to 1/4 cup water. [Note: I did not need to add any water to mine.] Let cool a bit and then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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15 Responses to “strawberry balsamic & black pepper sauce”

  1. Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon — April 6, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

    All I can offer is the encouragement for you to hang in there. And remember to be kind to yourself.

  2. Liren — April 6, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

    Each day is a process, I’ve found, when grieving. It never goes away, but the good days eventually outweigh the hard ones. The nights and those dreams, though…sigh. When we were in NY I dreamt of my father in law, it was so real, and I didn’t want to let go. Agonizing, but in many ways, I hope for those dream visits, from him and especially from my mom. I’m glad you found your way into the kitchen again, MJ. It’s such a good way to heal. Hugs.

  3. Macaroni Mama — April 6, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

    Wonderful blog. It’s hard Merry Jennifer. At least you have a focus .

  4. Kathryn — April 7, 2014 @ 4:31 am

    Such a wonderful post – after my grandfather died I had similar dreams (I still do every now and then) and it took me a while to remember him how he would have liked to be remembered, not how he was at the end. It does take time and the space to grieve. Thinking of you all xxx

  5. Katy — April 7, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    So glad sharing and cooking is part of your healing. It’s such a blessing to read your posts!

  6. Paula — April 7, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

    I’m so sorry that you must take this journey Merry-Jennifer. No one can tell you how how long it will last, nor what you should be experiencing. It’s a personal and solitary one but remember that you have many, near and far who support you throughout its duration.

  7. Cherie — April 7, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    I’m just glad to hear something from you again – another baby step – good to know you’re paying attention to yourself at least a little in this process – so difficult.

    Wishing you dreamless nights, at least for a while . . .

  8. Justine — April 7, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

    My father has been gone for 6 years. I still have dreams of him. I like my dreams as it makes me feel connected. Hope this helps. 🙂

  9. LeeAnn — April 7, 2014 @ 5:11 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost both my Mom and Dad 4 months apart,so I really understand your pain. I can tell you for sure, as cliche as it sounds, that time will help heal the pain you are feeling. Please take care of yourself and know that you are making a difference in so many lives.

  10. Melanie — April 7, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

    Merry – I’m so sorry for your loss. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. It’s so wonderful that you were so close to him. Regarding your dreams…..I wonder if he keeps visiting you because you don’t want to/haven’t really let him go. I don’t know how to offer help with ‘letting go’, but if you know someone who could guide you, maybe that would make the dreams stop or at least turn them into ones where he is a live and stays alive…..not where you knows he’s going to die at the end of each dream…..that has to be incredibly painful. I wish you the best.

  11. Eileen — April 8, 2014 @ 8:04 am

    Ah, the dreams. After my mom passed away I’d dream she would visit me. In the dreams I’d know that she was gone and that I only had a limited time to visit with her before she was gone again. The dreams seemed so real and I would always wake up crying. I experienced a sense of joy and grief all at the same time. I’d like to believe that it’s not just our subconscious was of trying to deal with death, but rather a spiritual experience that many would conceive as highly improbable. I guess that’s where the word FAITH comes in. Glad to see your are slowing healing and getting back to the things you enjoy. I can’t eat strawberries anymore and that in itself makes me cry…. Thanks for sharing your great stories and recipes Jennifer 🙂

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  13. Jenni — April 11, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

    The first couple of years after my brother died, when I dreamed of him, he was sick or dead, and the dreams were horrifying. Eventually, though, my dreams found him as he was when he was healthy and happy. When I dream of him now, this is always how I see him. I awake smiling, if a bit wistful. But smiling.The cloak of his illness eventually fell away and turned to dust, leaving only him.

    It will come. Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself.

    PS I would bathe in that strawberry sauce if I could. My brother would have made it into a milk shake. He was always much more refined than I. =)

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  15. Liesl — April 21, 2014 @ 11:55 am

    Thank you for your words. My father passed away on February 3rd, a wonderful man, too. I miss him terribly. I knew that I would, but I was unprepared for how different life would feel without him, for feeling less safe and secure in the world (though of course, I am) and for the feeling of a huge hole in my life. I started cooking again about a month afterward, too. Thanks for all you do, writing and cooking and helping me feel less alone.

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