Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back in the Old Days...Potato Salad....egg, or no egg?

Remember when potatoes weren't our enemy?  Who didn't eat potatoes?  And lots of them?  Most recently in the last two generations french fries were the "vegetable" side dish to practically every dinner meal! Well, there still must be tons of people eating potatoes because they still sell them!   For at home meals I would guess mashed or whole and baked (goodness, how long has it been since I ate or made a baked potato? You?)  But I'm guessing in the form of french fries for sure at most restaurants.  Personally I go through "spurts"!  I don't eat potatoes regularly, but when I do it usually is because I make them for Mark, or I make them for a large Holiday dinner, and then I remember how yummy and delicious they are and I keep on making some variation until we all get sick of it!  Pretty much that's how I cook everything!  Repetition, repetition, repetition, yuck...enough!

I happen to know that eating potatoes does not make a person fat.  I know this because I live with someone that "can" eat potatoes without having ever gained a pound from it.  I also know this because growing up, although I was a chubby child, eating potatoes and potato salad never made me 250lbs...I did that to myself when I grew up, and yes, with the help of a lot of potatoes, but it wasn't the potatoes.

But this post isn't about whether or not potatoes are bad, it's about the potato salad I just finished making!  Making potato salad bring back many many memories.  The first is of being a kid, and practically every family gathering someone (my mom) making the potato salad.  It was one of the very few recipes I took into adult hood, like my moms meatloaf.  Super simple, way before the popularity of gourmet foods and pretentious food and diet snobbery.

Russet potatoes (practically a sin these days)
hard boiled egg (questions afterwards)
mayonnaise/mustard (yes, French's yellow)
sweet pickle relish
black olives (is this a California or Hispanic thing?)

(do I have to list salt and pepper at this point?  Salt and pepper should be a given.)

Throughout the years I've made some slight adjustments, maybe some improvements.  The first came when I got my first job in a Delicatessen. I had to make huge batches of potato salad!  The owner of the Deli would bring in the potatoes already cooked....with the peel still on!  WHAT?  Now some one tells me that you don't have to peel them first?  What a time saver!  When you cook them and let them cool the peel comes right off!

The next is when I had a very close friend, at the time my "best" friend, Linda, a foodie before the term foodie was ever thought about.  Linda grew up in her grandmothers Greek kitchen and was absolutely the best cook I had ever met in my life up until that time (she still is I'm sure of it!)  Linda made the most fabulous foods and gave me a few cooking lessons, the first in my life. A couple of her recipes I still use to this day, quiche being one of them.  The other is using white wine vinegar on my potatoes, while still warm, before I add all of my other ingredients.  Simple.  A little white wine vinegar (I lied, a lot of white wine vinegar! Maybe as much as 1/3-1/2 c.!)  Years later while watching my BFF Fawn Friday make potato salad, guess what she did?  Yep, she poured vinegar over the still warm potatoes!  So it must be good!

One more...another good friend of mine Yvonne.  Yvonne is Mexican American, so is my family, Yvonne is also my exact age, our mothers also being close in ages.  She grew up with many of the same basic recipes, from potato salad to turkey stuffing, jello molds (some of you may know the one with lime jello, cottage cheese, walnuts, pineapple...and God only knows what else!).  She uses black olives too!  But she uses a small can of chopped black olives while I used whole olives I sliced into thirds (again, a little more time consuming.)  I like both ways (the same in the turkey stuffing too by the way!), but I tend to buy the small cans of chopped olives because I kind of like how the black specks distribue themselves throughout the salad.

Now that I know more about food and the variety available, AND the confidence and experience to add other ingredients, I tend to throw things in!  Fresh herbs mostly if I have them.  Today's batch was the basic above plus chives and parsley, and one more kind of freaky ingredient...."Dill" pickle relish!  I could not believe MiPueblo didn't have any, none, nada, sweet pickle relish!  What grocery store does not have sweet pickle relish?  But they did have some dill pickle relish (on clearance! Seems like someone ordered the wrong product!)  So that's what I used!  I was afraid it would make the salad more sour, but it all worked out!  After tasting it Mark commented that he thinks he might actually prefer it this way...too bad though, because I don't!  Sweet pickle relish on the grocery list for next time!

Okay, enough about my potato salad history!  What's yours?  Is it a family recipe/tradition?  Do you still make it?  Do you still eat it?  Do you buy it ready made?  If you do which do you prefer?

Do you use Russet or small reds?
Do you cook the potatoes with the skin on, or do you peel them first?
Do you use eggs?
Do you use mustard?
Do you use black olives?
What about vinegar?

1 comment:

MariaNico said...

My grandparents were from Mexico, and my grandmother always made potato salad to go with her unsurpassable tamales. So I tend to make it like she did. Peeled-before-boiling russets, hard-boiled eggs, mayo, chopped celery and whole black olives. Very simple. I do use vinegar when making my m-i-l's veggie salad, which is kind of like potato salad, but with veggies and other extras. I really like the vinegar, so may try it next time I make regular potato salad. And I do boil sweet potatoes with the skins and slip them off, but have never tried it with russets. Will have to! Mustard and relish would be good too. Yum! This weather is making me feel like potato salad. I would give anything for some of my grandma's tamales too, but, sadly, she is long gone.