Does homemade potato salad ever get the praise it deserves? Never! 😋
Why can’t a person work on their mental health and eat homemade potato salad at the same time? Who says it can’t be done? That’s what I’d like to know.
There’s this weird notion that mental health woes exist outside of the scope of whatever is normal, or that dealing with psychological problems can’t coincide with more enjoyable things, like say, making potato salad.
Pounding on padded walls constrained by a straight jacket, that’s the typical image, eh? People in haunted-house, turn-of-the-century type asylums, locked up and forgotten by everyone except for Dr. E. Vil Experimentum.
No no no, thank God in the heavens above we are moving past all that! That would have been my fate in those days, no doubt.
Why can’t a person be a crazy and also love to cook and bake—it doesn’t always have to be painting or writing. Why can’t it also be scrapbooking or rock climbing or something?
My point is, we all have degrees of normalcy and abnormalcy, right?
Sometimes a person needs to just push themselves into doing the things they want and need to do in life in order to boost their own mental wellbeing. My own way of doing this, this week, involved making potato salad, amongst other mental-health-boosting endeavors.
The Joy of Homemade Potato Salad!
I fully admit in the past I suffered from tunnel vision when it came to potato salad. If it wasn’t my family’s exact recipe, I simple didn’t want it!
And that store bought sh*t? As far as I was concerned, you could toss it directly in the toilet and flush. No need to be a middle man… woman.
I’ve slowly been coming out of that fog. A few years ago now, I was reading Jacques Pepin’s tremendously awesome autobiography, “The Apprentice”, in which he provides the recipe for “Warm Potato Salad.” It was so absolutely fabulous, both the autobiography and the recipe!
Not too surprising, one can easily find the recipe online now, and there’s even a YouTube video of Jacques Pepin making it! “I just love potato salad!” says he. Love it!
I always thought the potato salad my mother made was unlike any other—a family recipe handed down from my grandmother, great-grandmother and who really knows how far back.
That is, until I moved to Florida and encountered the New York Style Potato Salad offering from Publix Supermarket. I decided to try it and couldn’t believe it. It was literally the exact same taste as I’d grew up eating! Funny too, as I’d lived in the NYC metro area for nearly four years before moving to Florida, but never encountered the New York Style Potato Salad until I came to Florida. For weird!
Briefly, I pondered on the origin of potato salad. It’s thought to be German. No surprise. My grandmother’s ancestors were mostly German. No need to recount the entire history here when you can check out this interesting offering from NPR: “Rethinking Potato Salad“.
Grandma’s Potato Salad
Keep in mind, this recipe was never written down until I came along and broke the chain. Coming up with exact measurements was difficult, but I did attempt it.
- 4 medium-sized potatoes
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded carrot (depending on how much you like carrot)
- 1/4 cup, or so, diced dill pickles (depending on how much you like dill pickles)
- 2 or 3 tablespoons finely grated onion (depending on… you get it!)
- A few squirts of mustard
- A few shakes of garlic powder
- Mayonnaise, just enough to coat everything nicely
- For the first time ever, I decided to add one hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Salt to taste
Firstly, you can peel the potatoes beforehand or after they’ve boiled and cooled, which ever you prefer. Either way, you will want to slice the potatoes roughly 1/2 inch thick (see the first photo above). Cover the sliced potatoes with water and set them to boil until they are fork tender. Take care not to over-boil them as you do not want mashed potatoes.
Allow the potatoes to cool enough so you can handle them without getting burned. Peel off the skin if you didn’t beforehand and then cut them into smaller bite-size chunks. Add the carrots and the pickles (I like a lot of the latter, picky husband not so much) but do not stir them in yet. Over-stirring can be the kiss of death for potato salad, as it can make the potatoes mushy.
Add the onion, making sure to grate it with a fine grater. Do not chop the onions, as the taste will not come out the same. Trust me!
Add in a goodly few squirts of mustard, maybe like a tablespoon or two. Shake in the garlic powder–if you prefer to measure, about a 1/2 teaspoon should work nicely.
Adding in chopped hard-boiled egg is purely optional–my family might just jump out of their graves and shoot me for this, but oh well. There’s a risk in everything.
Add in enough mayo to coat everything nicely and sprinkle with salt to taste. Stir gently–I use a pliable silicon spatula for this–adding in more mayo and salt, if needed.
That’s it. Cooling it in the fridge for 24 hours brings it to it’s optimum flavor, but alas, that takes patience doesn’t it?
If you don’t feel like making it and you’re lucky enough to have a Publix nearby–in Orlando there’s one on every block or so, it seems–go ahead and try their New York Style Potato Salad, which you can typically find in the deli section.
I’m in the process of obtaining my official transcript from my alma mater. Ordering my transcript is the first big step in dealing with the problem I discussed in my last post: “No amount of healthy food can quell old haunting memories.” Please go back and read it if you’re bored and confused. Don’t feel like rehashing it all!
Here’s a “friend link” to a recent post of mine on Medium, which ended up being popular with people: “From Trinidad With Love: Beautiful Bougainvillea.” If the friend link does not work please let me know. Thanks!
Hope everyone is doing well!
Looking forward to catching up with everyone as long as the internet stays on. It’s been going down off and on the last week or so. As locals here in TT like to say, “this is a 10th world country.” Ha ha! Their words not mine. I just try and roll with it.