Thursday, August 5, 2010

My sisters Make Things. My response? Potato salad.

The sisters of my heart make things, almost without exception. This is an interesting perspective for me, as I've always been richly blessed in this part of my life with friends so dear that the very word, friend, is not adequate to describe them. And as different as they are from one another, there are some threads of commonality. This breathtaking pink flower was made from rare, beautiful and oh-so-French antique ribbon by Elisabeth at Mon Amie Ribbonerie. She's also a gifted songwriter, singer and producer so music is something she makes, too, but it's not as visible in blog land.

Every now and then, something delightfully pickled will come to me from Jayne's garden; in this case, okra. Long years ago Lis and I were assigned to a video production crew and had lunch together. Though I'd known her loosely and admired her intensely from afar, this was the first time I'd sat down to a meal with her. She made turkey sandwiches with baby Swiss cheese and served them with pickled okra, commercially made but delightful and something I'd never tasted before and immediately loved. Years have passed, but when Jayne brings me a jar of pickled okra made with love and care in her own kitchen, I am always thrilled by the taste, by the homegrown nature of the thing, for she has grown the vegetables in her own organic garden AND done the cooking, flavoring and preservation. Imagine!

And there are other sisters dear, who make other things. Miss Jo makes something bittersweet and eternally hopeful every year with her classes of drama students, lighting the way to the stage for them. Remember me telling you that I'd learned public speaking poise (if one can call it that) from Sister Patricia by sheer force of having to sing in front of 400 people at the Cathedral? Whether any of Miss Jo's kids go on to the stage in London or New York doesn't matter. What matters is that she has given them confidence, shown them how to see into themselves, given them Art as something real and accessible, and taught them to make it part of their lives. And if you read Ms. Moon and her intriguing accounts of Life at the Opera House and Movie Making with Elusive Legends, you have an idea how valuable this insight can be, regardless of age or stage of life.

Debra makes poems to bring you to your knees, poems to make you glad to be alive and poems to make you glad to have lived through some things and rejoice. Miss Judy makes music other people can bring alive. Without her, the MadriGalz would not continue, because she teaches us how to harmonize, how to hear each other and ourselves, how to amaze ourselves. Lulu makes living space magical. She did it at our beloved Cafe Alcazar, and she does it at her own house with color and flowers and tiny, perfect touches, and at your house if you're ever fortunate enough to get a card from her when a much-loved pet has died or you've taken a fall and need a warm hug from a friend. Katie makes people feel good. It sounds so little, doesn't it, but it is so, SO much. Clare makes astonishing designs for things, including tattoos. Every single one of you makes something that makes life better.

In an effort to remain in step with my swan-like sisters, here is what I can make: potato salad. It came to me from my sister-in-law (I am not making this up), Elvis, and yes, she did grow up in Memphis. Apparently it was a common name then and there, regardless of gender. Anyway, she taught me to make this. And because it uses pickle juice, I encourage you to make friends with your local farmers and crafters, because the more homemade, the better. Enjoy.

Summer Potato Salad

Peel and dice about 8 medium potatoes, and two or three eggs (hard-boiled). I use those small baking potatoes that you can get bagged at the grocery store, but Yukon Gold or small red bliss potatoes are also really good, and you don't have to peel unless you're married to Rod, which I'm pretty sure you're not. Boil the diced potatoes with a teaspoon or so of kosher salt until they're tender and then strain and set aside. Chop the hard-boiled eggs and add to the potatoes.

Dice one small onion, one or two stalks of celery and two or three kosher dill pickles to as fine a dice as you like; add to the potatoes and eggs and toss together.

Now you have to make a decision: mayonnaise or not? If not, use olive oil and go from here. If so (and I do use mayonnaise in my version), combine about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with a couple of tablespoons of mustard and a couple of tablespoons of juice from the pickle jar. (This is where having Jayne donate pickled okra to your cause becomes even more alluring.) If you're not using mayonnaise, you can see how olive oil, mustard, and pickle juice would combine for a lovely dressing. If you have fresh dill, chop some and toss it in. Season the dressing with kosher salt and a touch of cayenne pepper. Toss over the vegetable mixture gently and serve at room temperature if you can. It's great out of the fridge, but that first taste while it's still warm will make you very happy. I promise.


  1. What a heartfelt post, written by a beautiful, loving woman ~ Angie, you are such a jewel!

    Oh yes, the best taste of potato salad is when it's newly made and still warm ~ yum!

  2. I love a good potato salad, especially as side dish to a plate of deli meats - tasty roast beef, or some smoked turkey, YUM.

  3. Lulu, dear, thank you so much.
    Suldog, I am again struck by the final words of the comments from both of you, and the perfect symmetry of those comments with the TWICE I've given potato salad recipes here within a month. Of course, it would be great to know how it's made at your houses, too, since it seems to be one of those dishes common to many households, each as unique as the kitchen it comes from.
    Love, love!


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