Saturday, April 25, 2020

You Say Potato, I Say Potato...Salad

There is no such thing as really bad potato salad. So long as the potatoes are not undercooked, it all tastes pretty good to me.
Laurie Colwin in Home Cooking

I love good potato salad. Do you?

Everyone has their own favorite recipe for potato salad so the only reason I presume to give a recipe for it here is that my gal Nathalie Dupree's recipe has been our family favorite for two decades, and her technique in making it is different from most. 

 Here's her recipe with a few of my own additions.

Boil new potatoes until tender and drain on tea towel. I agree with Laurie Colwin about undercooked potatoes so I err on the side of overcooked.

While potatoes are cooking chop 6-8 ribs of celery and one large onion. Lots of nice fresh celery leaves chopped is a plus.

[If you love celery leaves as much as I do, this really helps to keep them pretty longer: before putting celery in the fridge after buying it, cut off the tops that have nice leaves and plop them in a bowl of cold water while you're putting other groceries up. Change the water a few times, dry well with a tea towel, wrap in paper towel and put in plastic bag or covered bowl in fridge to use as needed.]

Peel potatoes while still hot and put on top of the chopped onion and celery. I crosswise slice them with a knife while still warm in the bowl and then pour over equal amounts of a good apple cider vinegar and olive oil, about a 1/3 cup of each. 

Season with salt and pepper and chill in fridge overnight or at least 2-4 hours. 
Stir in 1 cup of mayonnaise and refrigerate another two hours. [I also then add hard boiled eggs, cubed, and sliced olives, and extra mayonnaise if needed.]

Just before serving stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream. Dust with paprika if you like it as much as I do. Delicious!

And how about some Caesar-crusted Crispy Chicken Strips on lettuce to go with it?

 Combine 1/2 cup of Caesar dressing with 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 2 pounds of chicken strips and toss to coat.

Combine 1 cup Japanese panko, 1/2 cup flour, and 2 tablespoons dried parsley. 

Dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture, pressing crumbs in gently. Place on baking sheet. Chill at least 30 minutes in fridge.

Cook chicken in batches in coconut oil, not crowding, 3-4 minutes on each side till golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm with Caesar dressing on Romaine leaves. [My favorite container for mixing a vinaigrette or dressing is a jam jar with handle from a thrift store!]

Comfort food! 

Another really good recipe for chicken strips I tried recently was from Half-Baked Harvest's Spicy Honey Mustard Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers. Recipe here. 

How are you doing this week? Anyone else feeling kind of jittery lately? When I realized it had been 39 days since I'd left our property, I asked RH to take me for a drive in the country. 

That helped and I took some pictures of pretty dogwoods in bloom and cows and horses grazing.

A post like this seems trivial, so much of social media does now. Next week some non-essential businesses here in Tennessee are set to reopen in Phase I. How about in your state? 

How are you feeling?

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Embracing Slow

The Today Show featured one of my favorite books the other day, Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slowness (Challenging the Cult of Speed), published in 2004. 

I bought it years ago because I am a fan of slow, being naturally of that persuasion myself.

Honoré, born in the UK but now a citizen of Canada, writes about our frantically busy civilization:

Why are we always in such a rush?

We have forgotten how to look forward to things, and how to enjoy the moment when they arrive. 

Long hours on the job are making us unproductive, error-prone, unhappy and ill.

In 1982 Larry Dossey, an American physician, coined the term "time-sickness" to describe the obsessive belief that "time is getting away, that there isn't enough of it, and that you must pedal faster and faster to keep up." These days the whole world is time-sick.

That was in 1982.

I wonder if the whole world is time-sick now? Certainly our health care workers and first responders must be. But for many of us, our neighbors and ourselves, we're no longer in a rush, are we?

For those of us who can stay home and are staying home, time has slowed down and given us time to enjoy the signs of Spring from our own window and yard. Time to appreciate the smallest signs of nature's rebirth. 

I'm very thankful that last November RH took a day to plant bulbs on this old farm property that only had a few clumps of yellow daffodils. He planted hundreds and yet they seem so sparse now, little clumps compared to the decades of bulbs planted at our old house.

It will take time to grow a Spring garden such as we had at Valley View where bulbs and violets were tucked around interesting shrubs and mossy rocks...

Not stuck out in the middle of grass they way they are here.

RH has planted seven flowering trees in our front yard in the three years we've lived here at Home Hill. This year we're seeing flowers on them but nothing compared to what they'll be someday similar to those in the twenty-six years we were at our old house.

Time. No longer guaranteed to any of us. And never really was, was it?

This past month we've treasured the few blooms we've cut and brought inside.

I need them in little vases in my rooms.

Even though they fade more quickly than when left outside. 

 I need them at the dining table.

And I need a few sprigs from the sparsely flowered lilac tree outside my office window where the mockingbird perches.

And I try to remember to pound the wood stalk so it will absorb water and not wilt quickly.

For many people these weeks at home have been a time of accomplishing projects in the house and garden. 

Our daughter-in-law who is a licensed medical aesthetician has of course had to close her business due to the pandemic and is at home enjoying her passion for gardening. Below is a picture of my new garden dachshund from this daughter-in-law who loves garden art as much as I do.

But her husband, our son who has run the family construction business since RH semi-retired in 2016, still works every day on houses that were heavily damaged in the tornado that struck Nashville and surrounding counties only a couple of weeks before the whole world was brought to a stop.

And so RH works with him and does our grocery store and pharmacy errands and tries to be as careful as he can. What he does not have time to do now is work on projects like finishing the front sidewalk and beds around it that he began late last summer.

Nor does he have time to work much on his huge project in the back yard, the double carport and large workshop that he and his brother have worked on all winter long. Now his brother is home being careful himself.

Did you notice the pretty scalloped trim on the front of the carport that my brother-in-law copied from a picture I gave him from Pinterest?

 See the beautiful light fixtures in this picture...

There's a large hunter green one like them in a box under my dining table awaiting the day that electrical is finished and the Hardie plank siding is painted.

When there is time. 

I printed out pictures of the pretty Swedish Red buildings I love from my Pinterest board and put them up in the kitchen when I realized that this building was going to be in my view from the kitchen window. 

And if it was, then by golly it was going to be pretty! And so RH plans to trim out all the windows and doors of the workshop in crisp white against the Swedish red and add a small sitting area by it to look out over the pond.

All of which will take time. 

Meanwhile RH has two and a half acres of grass to mow on his days off and yesterday began some patio garden cleanup. 

I looked out and saw him taking a little snooze in the sun and thought he would be the perfect prop for Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slowness. 

We have lost the art of doing nothing, of shutting out the background noise and distractions, of slowing down and simply being alone with our thoughts.

For those of you who have contemplated slowing down your world after it returns to normal, I can highly recommend this book. Mine is full of highlighted sections, much of which introduced me to the Slow Food movement back when I first bought it.

As you probably know, the Slow Food movement and even the fascinating Slow Cities movement began in Italy, and as I reread portions of this book this week my heart hurt for the Italian people who began this movement and live by it so much more naturally than we here in my country do.

But I choose to believe that there will be good things to come out of this time, all around the world, and embracing slow might be one result.

Especially as it might relate to our children and grandchildren and their future world. The last chapter of In Praise of Slowness (Challenging the Cult of Speed) is titled:

"Raising an Unhurried Child"

One can only hope.

How are you and your family doing now?

I do so hope that all of you are well.