Tuesday, July 9, 2013

every summer of my life


I made potato salad and blueberry cobbler for the fourth of July, both of which I could (do) eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner when they’re around. Luckily for my waistline, I only make potato salad once a year, for Independence Day. It wouldn’t seem like the holiday without it. The past few years I’ve used my friend Molly’s dad’s recipe, which I consider perfect. As I eat it I envision every summer of my life; warm air on my skin, grass under my bare feet. I catch the scent of fireweed and campfire.

Sunday morning, I woke up before everyone else. Enjoying the quiet, to bestir myself from my potato salad-blueberry cobbler routine, I made muffins, and then packed a picnic. I decided it was time for a hike. We’re having our version of a heat wave, and we’ve been languid; nobody wants to leave the neighborhood. The extent of our activity has been walking to our local farmers market; spending the evenings passing a Frisbee around until the shadows become long.

Once we got far enough out of town to where the traffic thins and forest flanks the highway, I was energized; glad to have overcome inertia. The air was thick with humidity as we started the hike, tempered by the shaded trail. Given that we stayed relatively close to the city, and didn’t start out at dawn, we saw as many people as we might have on a sidewalk downtown. It kept things lively. We encountered babies in backpacks, dogs of all sizes and varieties, conversation in German and French and Japanese. The wind rustled through the trees, filling the gaps in our conversation. Just as our thighs started to burn, we finally navigated the last of the switchbacks, reaching the ledge that was our destination. We chose a sun-warmed rock for our picnic. Aqua-hued, majestic peaks loomed in the distance, a jewel-like lake and the sprawl of untamed forest below. As we ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I was sure I’d never eaten anything better. I recalled that my grandmother Louise bothered to record her family’s first peanut butter sandwiches, and understood her impulse to do so.

1920: “The family doctor advised us to take Lois to a high, dry climate for her chronic bronchial problems, so this we did. We packed our goods and leased two boxcars on the train, arriving at Slaton on Christmas Day, 1920. We ate our first peanut butter sandwiches on that trip.”

The hike down took half the time it did to go up, with half as many questions about “how much longer” the trail went on.

Once we were settled back home, I ate a snack of the last of the potato salad before putting dinner together. Alexi sliced melon while I dressed greens and unpackaged proscuitto. We sat outdoors in the golden light, some of us drinking very cold rosé, some of us drinking very cold milk. Our limbs were heavy with the memory of the hike. We all slept soundly.



PS - Very happy to be a guest this month at habit.

Burg’s Potato Salad
From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

This needs to be prepared the day before you want to eat it. When it sits overnight in the refrigerator, the flavors have time to blend.

For the salad:
1 ¾ pounds red waxy potatoes, scrubbed
4 large eggs
8 scallions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

For the dressing:
¾ cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s/Best Foods or homemade
4 tablespoons bottled Ranch dressing, preferably Hidden Valley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Add a generous dash of salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a small, thin knife, about 15 minutes. Drain them in a colander, rinse with cold water, and set them aside to cool. This can be done in the refrigerator to speed the process along, if you’re in a hurry – the potatoes need to be completely cool before you dress them. When the potatoes are cool, cut them into rough 1-inch chunks. Smaller potatoes can be halved; bigger ones cut into quarters or eights. Put them in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the eggs. Place them in a small saucepan, and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for exactly 12 minutes. Immediately pour off the hot water and run plenty of cold water over the eggs. When the eggs are cool, peel them, chop them coarsely, and add them to the bowl of potatoes. Add the scallions, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, and toss to mix.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Ranch dressing, and dill. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture, and stir to evenly coat. Taste, and adjust the salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Yield: about 6 servings

5 comments:

toko baju muslim murah said...

Beautifull photos and great blog!especially for me thanks.

likeschocolate said...

I love potato salad too! Only eat it in summer though and I like mine with eggs!

Lecia Phinney said...

likeschocolate: yes - eggs make it taste like potato salad to me!

Christine said...

potato salad is one of my summer favorites. i'm not sure why i don't make it more often, but then maybe it wouldn't taste as good.

Erin said...

We make Burg's potato salad too (thanks, Molly!), but we have it a lot more often than once a year. My husband thinks it's the best he's ever had, and as a veteran of many a church supper when he was young, he fancies himself a potato salad connoisseur. I appreciate the moments you share with us, Lecia. Your photos are a model of a well-lived life.