Over a Cup of Coffee: A recipe from Aunt Lila

his week, I was thumbing through the recipe cards in my old metal recipe file. I started the file before I was married, so it contains some recipes from my mother and other relatives. I took out a recipe for “Never Fail Mayonnaise” that was given to me by my Aunt Lila Osborn, who passed away some years ago (she was married to my Dad’s brother, Marion).

The recipe was part of a gift that Aunt Lila gave me at my bridal shower. She even signed and dated the recipe card: “Lila, June 28, 1965.”

Years ago, ranch wives like Aunt Lila didn’t buy many “ready-made” items from the grocery store; they made everything possible from scratch. Besides that, they weren’t able to go to the grocery store whenever they were out of something. I think Uncle Marion and Aunt Lila were snowed in a good part of the winter. So it came in handy to know how to make something like mayonnaise.

I think I probably made “Never Fail Mayonnaise” years ago but certainly not recently enough to remember about the sour cream called for in the ingredients. (This will make sense after you read the directions for making the mayonnaise. See the paragraphs at the end of the recipe.)

To make “Never Fail Mayonnaise,” you will need these ingredients: 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, dash cayenne, 1 cup salad oil, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sour cream.

Combine but do not stir the egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, dry mustard, sugar, salt, cayenne and salad oil. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Blend in the flour. Add the water. Cook until thick. Pour into the other mixture and beat with an electric mixer or rotary beater. Add the 1/4 cup of sour cream when ready to use.

A note about the sour cream: A lot of the “older” recipes call for sour cream that is not the same as the sour cream we purchase at the grocery store today. It’s cream skimmed or separated from milk that came straight from the cow, refrigerated and allowed to sour. As my sister Charlotte told me, “It is this sour cream that gives ‘Sour Cream Chocolate Cake’ a special zip.”

And that’s true.

A person can make sour cream (again, not to be confused with that purchased in the grocery store) by measuring 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a 1-cup measuring cup and then adding whipping cream.

I called Aunt Lila’s daughter Patty Nicodemus in Craig to see if she remembered which kind of sour cream her mother used in the recipe. She guesses that it was cream that was allowed to sour. That’s what Lila’s daughter-in-law Ginger guesses, too, but we don’t know for sure.

A safety note: After I started typing this recipe, I realized that the egg yolks called for in the ingredients are not cooked. So I called Karen Massey, family and consumer service extension agent from Routt County. She told me that safe food handling recommendations are that anything with egg ingredients needs to be cooked to 165 degrees or the eggs have to be pasteurized.

Karen graciously checked the American Egg Board site on the Internet for me. They have a recipe for mayonnaise (similar to Aunt Lila’s) that starts with frozen (thawed) egg yolk or refrigerated egg yolk. I have not had time to check stores to see if these products can be purchased, but Karen reports that pasteurized eggs are available commercially and are used in kitchens at some facilities.

So, please remember to follow safe food handling precautions with eggs if you are making mayonnaise (or other recipes). If you have comments about egg safety, call me at 824-8809 or write to me at P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626. Thanks, Karen!

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