Rediscovering the Basics in American Cooking

Living in the Basque Country shattered our two dimensional approach to a basic staple, mayonnaise. The Basques made their own mayonnaise at home, often with fresh farm eggs,  and then with unexpected twists and turns, some mixed in lemon instead of vinegar, others added garlic. The explosive taste of fresh made mayonnaise made sandwiches stand out. The famous Basque tradition of pintxos probably is memorable to visitors for the exciting dimension of fresh mayo.  

Back living in the US, and thereafter the Caribbean, we have continued to make our own mayonnaise. We have added yogurt to the mix, tasted the difference of corn or canola, extra-virgin olive oil vs a blended olive oil and of course added the occasional garlic. 

More recently we have embarked on making our own ketchup. The task began with the basic reading of the list of ingredients on the back of a purchased  product. Then ensued several blind taste tests. We are still arriving at our favorite and exact mix. In the meantime, as with the mayo, I do not miss store bought ketchup. Ever try mayo-ketchup?  When both are freshly made it is fabulous!

Our next culinary basic on the horizon…. home-made peanut butter.

But for those who are curious here is our recipe in progress… feel free to share any tips.


  • 12 oz of tomato paste (2 small cans)
  • 9oz of vinegar (using the same can as a measure as the paste its 1 1/2 can)
  • 1/2 an onion ground in
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 table spoons of sugar
  • Then put the bowl in the microwave to cook for 4 min. to minimize the sharp edge of the onion.


  • one clove of garlic
  • Puerto Rican spices (adobo – a mixture of salt, pepper (black and white), garlic and a bunch of other stuff I’m too lazy to read off the ingredients.
  • 1 cup blended olive oil (extra virgin has too much taste. You want something more innocuous)
  • 1 fresh farm egg
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar
  • Use an immersion blender to emulsify the product into a mayonnaise consistency.
  • *Optional: I also blend in two tablespoons of non-fat yogurt. It smooths out the taste and cuts the calories a bit.
For more recipes from our home to yours…click here.