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Recipe for a good Memorial Day

Soldiers in WWIBeginning today, start checking your local news outlets for Memorial Day events, and make plans now to attend. In almost every city, there will be a memorial ceremony hosted by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or other veterans organization. It is important to take your children to an occasion like this. They need to see those who remain gathered together to pay their respects to those who died for our country. They need to see you standing with them, so they will learn the meaning of sacrifice, respect, and honor.

Then complete this solemn and somber event by taking your family on a picnic—the smallest fraction of what it all means—the joy to live in freedom and be with your family.

Eat hot dogs or hamburgers with potato salad. I prefer a fire-roasted hot dog (almost burned) on the end of a stick—or wire coat hanger, or one of those fancy roasting forks, if you have one. And try my recipe for potato salad.

I make potato salad like my mother did, and she learned to make it from her mother. My Grandma’s mother was an unpleasant woman, so I don’t think Grandma learned to make potato salad from her. Perhaps Grandma learned to make it from her husband, a U.S. Army cavalry blacksmith who came west from South Carolina. Maybe I’m fixing South Carolina–style potato salad! It’s all I’ve ever known, and my family loves it. (Once I made it chunky style and it was a disaster—we almost needed marriage counseling.)

On Monday I made potato salad for a potluck supper, and for the first time in my life, I wrote down how I did it. I’m forced to vary a bit from my mother’s method, in that she used sweet AND sour pickles. (The last time I tried to buy sour pickles, there wasn’t even a spot on the shelf for them, and I live deep in the heart of Texas’ oldest German settlements. So what’s up with that? I used dill pickles instead. It was delicious, but I was thrown off at first by the dill pickles. I got over it by the second serving.)

Nevertheless, on Monday I used all sweet pickles, which gave it a very subtle barely-sweet flavor. I still recommend using top quality sweet—and sour—pickles, if you can find sour pickles in your market. But honestly, this is yummy no matter what kind of pickles you use.

I boiled the potatoes in their skins (for about 35 minutes), then carefully spooned them out onto a clean dish towel to cool down. Then I skinned them. Of course you can boil them already peeled. I also “mashed” the potatoes by using a potato ricer. A potato ricer makes the most the wonderful, fluffy melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes. If you don’t have a ricer, you need to get one—tout de suite. You’ll never eat gummy mashed potatoes again, and your family will think you are amazing.

Deborah’s Potato Salad

5 lbs. white potatoes, cooked and riced
5 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped celery heart (3-4 stalks)
1 cup chopped pickles—1/2 sweet and 1/2 sour is best, but all sweet or all dill tastes good, too.
1 cup finely minced onion (about 1/2 of a medium sized onion)
1-4 oz. jar of pimento, minced some more, and add the pimento water too, for flavor
1.5 to 2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup prepared mustard
3-4 tablespoons of pickle juice as needed, to make it fluffy
2-3 cups of mayonnaise (ok—you can use Miracle Whip if you hate real mayonnaise, but if you hate mayonnaise, you need to be psycho-analyzed)

Best made the day before you want to eat it, so the flavors can meld. Slightly more or less of any ingredient won’t dramatically impact the flavor. I didn’t measure the yield, but would say it was about 14 cups of potato salad, so that’s about 18 servings at 3/4 of a cup per serving. Your mileage may vary.

Now that’s a LOT of potato salad. But it will keep for a week, and you can have potato salad sandwiches. Never ate a potato salad sandwich? That’s something I learned from my husband.

4 thoughts on “Recipe for a good Memorial Day

  1. Dear Deborah, I really enjoyed this article. Is your grandfather in the military photo? Thanks for sharing the written down recipe. I will see if there is a lacking of sour pickles in the Panhandle., because I think I will relive my potato salad making days and try making it again. Enjoy very much your articles, Linda , Skellytown, TX

  2. Linda, thank you for your sweet note. No, my grandfather is not in the photo I used, but that was the time period of his military service. I found the photo collage in the Library of Congress archives.

  3. Will have to try this as soon as I figger out ‘riced’ potatoes. And look for sour pickles.

    Oh, and will have to find a Memorial Day parade near where we are camping this weekend…thanks for the reminder.

  4. I should have put up a photo of a potato ricer—it looks like a giant garlic press 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend camping with your family.

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