I really need a bedtime snack
January 27, 2009
Not that it’s bedtime, but it’s nasty-drippy-gonna-freeze-before-daylight cold out there, I didn’t get home from work until after 8 and I wasn’t hungry then. An hour later, natch, I’m hungry. But I don’t want to cook this late. Dammit.
I could indulge in fantasy food, I guess….what would I eat if I could snap my fingers (or twitch my nose, like what’s-her-name the blonde witch in the sitcom did. What the hell was her name? She was married to Darren, I remember that. Whom I think grew up to become JR on Dallas. They’re probably all dead now). H’mmm. The one that comes to mind is the taco soup from Fearing’s Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas. That was superb (particularly as I was eating on someone else’s expense account). Or, as a companion said afterward, “I could have put my whole face in that bowl.”
My standard comfort food when I get in this mood is, of all things, potato salad. But not just any potato salad. MY potato salad, still warm from the potatos being boiled, drained, rinsed and mixed with the dressing. It’s still good after it chills, but not NEARLY as good as when it’s warm, when I can eat half a dinner plate full. And have. And glared at anyone who said anything about it. It’s MY damn potato salad, and I’ll eat as much of it as I want to, thank you very much.
I’m irascible tonight. Does it show?
Anyway. Potato salad. The recipe.
4 cups diced white potatos (can use either redskin or white; redskin is marginally better)
3-4 eggs (optional)
Boil potatos and eggs in 2 quarts or so of water with 1/2 tsp. salt. Drain. If using eggs, peel, chop whites and add to potatos, crumble yolks and add.
While potatos are boiling, combine:
- 3/4 cup Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise (don’t be bringing no low-fat imitation stuff up in here)
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp catsup
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet pickles (my personal preference is for bread-and-butter pickles)
- 1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder (I do not like raw onion. If you do, you can chop up however much raw onion you like and add to dressing instead of the powder. This, however, is MY comfort food, and I don’t.)
- 1/4 (scant) tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika (not pimenton, although that might not be bad)
Stir to blend. Pour over potatos (and eggs, if you’re using them) and stir/toss to mix thoroughly. Some of the potato “edges” should disintegrate into the dressing.
Eat it while it’s warm. Keeps two or three days in the fridge, and is not to be sneezed at cold, but it’s SO much better warm.
I got started putting catsup in potato salad almost by accident; I was low on sweet pickles one night and decided to add, to supplement what I DID have, some homemade sweet ripe tomato relish my mother had canned. I would give my soul to have that recipe; I was unable to find it in her recipes. We used to eat that stuff on everything from black-eyed peas to hot dogs to pork chops to scrambled eggs; Mama would can something like 60 pints of it every summer and we’d eat every damn one of them. One of the approximately 10 billion reasons I still miss Mama an untold amount, every day. But I put the relish in the potato salad, and it was possibly the best potato salad I’d ever made. So after I ran out of the last jar of tomato relish, I turned in desperation to catsup. It’s not the same, but it’s an approximation.
Mama was not actually all that exceptional a cook. She was a perfectly adequate cook, and she loved to bake and make candy (ironically, as she was diabetic and couldn’t eat any of it). But what I remember most about Mama in the kitchen was canning and freezing vegetables out of the garden, and fruit off the trees in the orchard. I grew up in the country, and when I was a kid about the only things we bought at the grocery were flour, sugar and coffee. We cooked and canned and froze and raised everything else, including cows and pigs.
We didn’t have chickens, though. Daddy hated chickens. So we bought eggs, and the occasional chicken (Daddy didn’t like to EAT chicken, either) from a neighbor down the road.
We had pear trees that had so many pears on them the branches would break under the weight. Homemade pear preserves, with country bacon and scrambled eggs and homemade biscuits and gravy, are the stuff of wonder. We raised Silver Queen corn, a white, sweet corn that is as near to perfection as a kernel of corn can taste. Pick it, cut it off the cob, saute it in a little butter, add some milk and simmer about 20 minutes. Serve it with fried okra and sliced tomatos and purple hulled peas and tomato relish. And cornbread. If you must, cook pork chops. That meal needs no meat.
About halfway through that last paragraph, I made myself so hungry I had to stop and fix something to eat. After staring blankly in the fridge for 90 seconds, I would up with a sliced apple, some Swiss cheese, and some pickles. A poor substitute, but at least it’s not Cheetos, which were my other choice.
But I’m making taco soup tomorrow and taking my crock pot to work.
Y’all stay warm, and tell y’mama ‘n ‘em I said hey.