Most of what I learned about cooking came from my grandmothers. I loved cooking and loved food, and they were happy to help me learn how to do it well.
I remember once when my grandmother was teaching me how to make her famous, award-winning apple pie, I had just help to slice the apples and was ready to make the filling when I asked her how much sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice to add. "Well you have to taste the apples." If they were tart, less lemon juice. If they were sweet, less sugar. If they were fragrant, less cinnamon. And so on. It was a balance that you could only figure out if you knew what you were working with.
And it was the same for the potato salad. "You have to taste the onion to know how to season it." And it's been my habit to do so ever since. Today I was finally recovered enough to make some, and thank heavens I tasted the onion before mixing everything. It was RANK. The taste was putrid and gross. No idea what happened, but it bummed me out because I had just bought it on Friday. Thankfully I had the whites of a green onion to use instead, so everything turned out fantastic...
Dang I make good potato salad.
I keep experimenting every time I cook up a batch and I am discovering new spice combinations to make it a different kind of tasty. This time I used some baharat seasoning, which added an entirely new dimension to such a simple food. Last time I used adobo, and that was amazing too. Before that I think I used a Ukrainian blend that was mind-blowing. I think the reason I eat so much potato salad is because it's never the same flavor twice for me. If it weren't so loaded with carbs, I swear I could eat it every day.
Today is Good Friday.
Which has puzzled me since I was a young Catholic because you'd think that crucifying Jesus would be a bad thing. But apparently it used to be "Holy Friday" and words change over time. All things "holy" were equated to being "good" and so forth.
Though I'm guessing all the people slaughtered during the "Holy Crusades" would beg to differ?
I am a long, long ways from the Catholic I was raised, so I'm probably not the right person to ask. Though it's my guess that the people who got slaughtered during the Roman Catholic crusades were likely not happy about it. Though I could be wrong. Maybe the level of big dick energy it took for a pope to send out an army whose sole purpose was to slaughter heratics was so impressive that they were happy to die underfoot of it. Stranger things have happened.
Like the day that Jesus was crucified being referred to as "Good Friday," regardless of how it came about.
I've finally reached my potato salad nirvana.
It's been a long road to get here. I've experimented with dozens of recipes and married that to the way my mom and grandma used to make it. My biggest breakthrough occurred when I didn't have any eggs so I decided to add small cubes of Dubliner Cheese as a substitute.
It was sublime.
Hard boiled eggs are squidgy and don't add any flavor that isn't already well-represented by the mayo. They also add a stink to the salad that's a bit off-putting.
This is my current recipe, and I think I'm done now because it's exactly where I want it to be and I've reproduced it a half-dozen times now...
Mix above together and put in refrigerator to chill. Cook 1 package of Simply Potatoes dices in a mesh basket in an Instant Pot with 1-1/4 cup of water for 6 minutes, then quick-release. Put potatoes in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes. Fold potatoes into dressing mixture, then chill for 20 minutes or more before serving (I usually can't wait and end up eating it while still a bit warm, and it's delicious). Garnish with paprika (or, if you have it, smoked paprika) and chopped fresh dill or green onions sliced thin. Because I can't help myself I always add more little cubes of Dubliner on top. Sometimes I like crushed potato chips on top too!
After refrigeration, the potatoes soak up a bit of the mayo and sour cream so things can get a little dry, I just stir in a tablespoon of mayo and everything is good again!
It is easier to set my Alexa alarm to 7:04am than to reset the clock on the cat auto-feeder which has been gaining time and drifting a little bit later and later every day. So that's what I did last night. There's no sense messing around with the feeder until stupid Daylight Saving Time ends on November 3rd.
This morning Jenny was NOT having it.
At 7am ON THE DOT she was on my bed meowing her head off wanting breakfast and was very cross indeed that Alexa hadn't chimed in on that. Can you imagine what my life will be like in November when I have to set the clocks back and she has to wait ONE HOUR?!? No extra hour in bed for me... I can guarantee that. Actually it will be two weeks of no sleeping in, because I change their clock in 15 minute increments over time until they are off DST. Apparently it helps them adjust easier...
In other news... I was very nervous testing my blood sugar this morning. After all the potato salad I ate last night... and the huge bowl I had just before bed at 1am... I was sure it would hit 300. But nope! My spleen totally had my back and was a chipper 117 this morning. IT'S A POTATO SALAD MIRACLE!
Not a bad way to start my Thursday.
I am celebrating by having a bowl of potato salad for breakfast.
Now that groceries are so obscenely expensive, I'm far less confident and creative in the kitchen. I follow recipes exactly as they're written because I'm too worried about something turning out bad and having to throw it out. I just can't afford that kind of waste when a sack of food costs $50.
So when I got a hankerin' for potato salad this past weekend I needed to find a recipe because I've never made it before. After a recommendation and research, I settled on "Myron Mixon's Killer Potato Salad." Apparently the guy is a famous chef and his potato salad is award-winning and stuff.
Anyway, as I was following the recipe to the letter, a number of questions popped up.
Like... the recipe says to boil the potatoes whole, then cut them up after cooking. This sounded silly to me. Potatoes are oddly-sized and cook unevenly. Wouldn't it be better to cut them into uniform pieces BEFORE boiling so they all cook at the same speed? But I didn't want to goof up so I did as the recipe instructed. The bigger ones ended up a bit tough in the center and the little ones were a bit mooshy, but whatever.
Like... the recipe says to add a tablespoon of salt to the dressing. This seemed excessive for two cups' worth of dressing. But, I didn't want to question an expert on how to season potato salad, so I did as the recipe instructed. My expensive potato salad ended up tasting like a salt lick, but whatever.
I spent a lot of money on the ingredients ($6.79 for a tiny bottle of dill alone!) so I didn't want to throw it out. But eating it was out of the question because my lips were burning from all the salt. My solution was to make another batch of salt-free potato salad and mix the two batches. But this time I cut the potatoes before boiling. And I seasoned to taste instead of by measure. Now it tastes great!
And now I've got a shit-load of potato salad in the refrigerator. I'm going to be eating the stuff every day for a month. And yet, I'm okay with that because I didn't have to throw anything in the garbage...
I guess sometimes when the ingredients are expensive, it pays to question the recipe.
I guess sometimes when the stakes are high, it pays to break the rules.
I guess sometimes when the situation is bad, you have to start over.
I guess sometimes I need to be reminded of that.