A few weeks ago I was at the Staunton Farmer’s Market and saw green tomato relish offered by one of the vendors. I was instantly taken back to my childhood sandwich spread, which Mom would make and can this time of year. Every year. (Photo by Susy Morris at http://chiotsrun.com.)
“Does that have mayo in it?” I asked the vendor.
“No. You’re thinking about sandwich spread, not relish,” he answered.
Something clicked in the murky recesses of my mind. I remember the sweet, creamy green mixture spread on bread, crackers, and sometimes just spooned out of the jar for a hefty, creamy bite. I also
remembered getting the recipe from my mom and thinking: “Okay. I’m not ever
going to make that.” I was in my 20s and it looked too complicated—when would I ever have the time? From my point of view now, I’d say it does have a lot of steps. But it’s not really complicated—and it’s really worth the effort.
So I dug around in all my notebooks and piles of papers for the recipe and I couldn’t find it. I had to take a deep breath and call my Mom—who in her Kitchen Queenliness—reported to me years ago that my father’s family put her through a kind of hell to get this much-lauded recipe. “It was an old Cox family recipe,” she said. ‘And they never really liked me. “
Which is odd—because the farmer’s market guy said: “We all make the sandwich spread, too.” So, while the recipe may be a little different from family to family, I’m betting it’s basically the same.
But, after all these years, Mom couldn’t find the recipe. This vexed her to no end. “I guess you’ll have to call your father.” She sighed into the phone.
Call him I did. I asked him about the grief his family put my mother through to get this recipe.
“I have no idea what she’s talking about, “ he clipped.
Okay. Just give me the recipe, people.
Here it is—and full disclosure—I’ve not made it yet. But I plan to over the next few weeks. It’s a great way to use those green tomatoes from the garden—other than frying them (though that is a treat, too). You can also make a green tomato mincemeat pie. (Check out a recipe from my book Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pie here.)
Makes 8 pints
12 green tomatoes
12 green peppers
12 red peppers
2 hot peppers (Dad prefers banana pepper)
Grind all of those ingredients together. Cover with water
and boil. Let it stand for 2 minutes and drain.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups mustard
4 tablespoons salt
3 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cup, water
1 ½ cup flour
Cook together and boil for 10 minutes.
Take off the fire and add one quart of mayonnaise. Stir
Can and seal hot.