About a thousand years ago, my Aunt Dakki and I were attending the opera. As we anxiously waited in our seats for the performance to begin, I said conversationally, "I have only ten pages of Ulysses left to read." She replied, "Oh! How is it so far?"
Happy Flag Day. It's one of my favorite holidays, but I'm not quite sure why as it really isn't much of a holiday at all. One puts out one's flag, admires it, and takes it down later. So why is flag day so special? Well, it means that summer is really here. It's usually lovely day, and the herald of many more bright sunny days. It's fun put up your flag, admire it, and then take it down later. One feels a bit like a Boy Scout. So, Happy Flag Day.
I was having breakfast with some
friends, and the subject of potato salad came up. We all had our different
opinions, but the theme “no goopy greasy mayonnaise” was consistent.I talked about one of my favorite
recipes, which is from my antique New York Times Cookbook. In my youth, I hated
all potato salad except that made by my mother. Rebecca too reminisces about
Grandma’s potato salad and we speculate as to what its secret might have been.When I asked her for the recipe, she
always hemmed and hawed, and managed to change the subject.In later years her brother, my Uncle
Robert, made exactly the same potato salad.When I asked him for the recipe, he hemmed and hawed in
exactly the same manner.My
supposition is that my Alsatian Grandmother must have made this salad via some
stream of consciousness cooking, and her children must have absorbed it (the
recipe stream, not the actual salad) by osmosis, also later channeling her and making the
same via some inner stream .Unfortunately I absorbed neither the recipe nor the inner stream, and
now a great potato salad is lost in the eddies of the river of time.Sigh.
My Mutti was an excellent cook, constantly producing
wonderful concoctions, and as far as I know, she did not have a cookbook and
never used a recipe.She even made
fudge from scratch with no recipe and no candy thermometer.This is, to me, amazing.When I make fudge, I am like a chemist,
checking the weather report for humidity, measuring ingredients to the exact
amounts called for, observing the thermometer and temperature of the brew
obsessively.Those drops of fudge
goo into a cup of water are alien and meaningless to me.One of Mutti's friends, seeing that there
was not a single cookbook in the house, gave her a Betty Crocker cookbook, and
this she promptly gave to me, as I was a new bride and could not even boil an
egg.My mother did not pass along
a single drop of the inner stream, and kept me out of the kitchen pretty much
altogether.I could make cakes
from a cake mix and was allowed to do this on special occasions, but that was
about it for my early culinary skills.
Happily, I saw an ad telling me that if I joined the Book of
the Month Club, I could have these five fabulous cookbooks, so I promptly
signed up.The cookbooks actually
were pretty fabulous too.I still
use them today, and as you can see, they have been good friends for quite some time. The other two were Julia Child's original French Cooking, and Larousse-Gastronomique - both fabulous, although I use the latter mostly for information rather that recipes. I now have a pretty bit cookbook collection, but I return to these in a pinch. A clever detective would deduct this as the pages are covered with food splashes and stains.
A terrible picture. I had served most of it at a pot luck and then eaten almost all the rest, forgetting to take a photo till this was all there was.
French Potato Salad (New York Times Cookbook)
8 medium potatoes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground
¼ wine vinegar
2 tbs. consommé
2 tbs. dry white wine
(I usually use vermouth unless I happen to have something yummier in my
½ tbs. dried tarragon
1 tbs. chopped parsley
½ cup oil
Cook the potatoes in
boiling salted water till tender but still firm – about 30 minutes. (That’s the
official instruction.I usually
chop them into the desired final size and then steam them in a vegetable steamer until
they can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Much quicker.)
If you cooked the
potatoes whole, peel them and slice them into either chunks or slices.Me – I go for chunks.
In another bowl, mix the
salt, pepper, consommé, vinegar, and wine, whisking until the salt
dissolves.Then add the oil and
tarragon, again mixing well.Pour
over the potatoes, tossing gently until all the liquid is absorbed. Gaaaaaaaah! I can't make the fonts be right!!!!! Sorry!!!