Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Potato Salad

new potato salad

Oh Easter!  While ham is the traditional center piece of the traditional family meal, we take the opportunity to pig out in our own way.  See, at this house, warm weather, a celebratory day, and some time for lingering and hanging out lake side means just one thing:  ribs!  These are not your boil then bake ribs, nor your grill and add some bottled sauce at the end ribs.  Oh no.  These are the gently prepped and rubbed with secret spices the day before, then smoked low and slow on the smoker for at least 4 hours with the patience of Job, while gently misting mop sauce on the works of art.  Yes, those ribs.  And I was to make the sides.

Unlike Thanksgiving, which is all about the sides, this was all about the ribs.  Potato salad is a must, but while I go for anything but the traditional style, the rest of my clan, and most importantly for this day the BBQer himself, likes that regular stuff.

Side story:  Lately, I’ve become a big follower of the More Than Burnt Toast blog where it feels like a conversation with a wonderful, grounded friend.  Nice. The most recent post was for the Barefoot Bloggers group who make and share recipes by or based on Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa.  These folk really share the love and admiration for her work.  So, trusting the blogosphere once again, I went to Ina for the perfect recipe.  And yes … Bingo!


  • Potatoes from Arata Fruits
  • Dill from Chan’s

New Potato Salad


3 pounds small red potatoes

Kosher salt

1 cup good mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion


1.  Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

3.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place half of the the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining potatoes, and again, transfer to the plate. (Doing this in batches prevents the potatoes from losing their shape.)

4.  Put the plate of lightly dressed potatoes in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cooled.   Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.)  Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.


* The steaming technique worked like a charm!

*  Actually, I used smallish red potatoes because that was what I found at Arata farm stand.

*  It took everything in me not to muck this up by adding a bit of dill pickle, some hard boiled egg, then just keep the additions going with some red bell  pepper and anything else that seemed to fit at the moment.  But, this turned out perfect … all about the potatoes and nothing else to distract it.

*  Naturally, a nice green salad would accompany this.  My “go to” vinagrette is a bit sweet to serve with ribs, so I tried another Barefoot Contessa recipe and its a true keeper,  simple enough to let the mixed greens shine.


Make Way for Goslings

goslingsThe goslings have arrived!  The past month has been full of odd experiences due to nesting season.  Early morning while walking, a duck seemed to fly out of a pine tree and scared the bejezus out of us.  (Actually, we think a cat walked near a nest and the duck flew off from behind the tree, but still a wacky sight.)  While driving through town, everyone slows down for the ducks and geese who decided to nest in front yards when they cross the street.  It is not unheard of to see someone stopping traffic for a bird crossing.  And everyone smiles.

And now … goslings!  These little guys must be brand new, as they are more duckling in size.  When I tossed them some bread, the dad wanted to come over for a snack, but the mom and little ones just kept on going.  Still, I managed to keep the dogs out of the back yard to snap this picture for you.  Aren’t they just the cutest?!


Driving through the orchards and vineyards, its hard not to notice that the world of horticulture is going through an awkward phase.

Trees are sprouting new growth, in a not so graceful fashion.teenage tree

Long tendrils of woody vines are sprouting funky little green nubs.teenage vines

Even the strawberries are puffing up, yet not yet bearing ripe fruit.teenage strawberry

It is just that awkward phase, and we all know they will grow out of it.