Posted tagged ‘Potato salad’

“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”

July 26, 2016

I’m close to screaming in frustration. Today will be hot yet again. That the humidity will be less is small consolation. I have the AC off for a while, but the temperature in the house has risen three degrees already so soon enough I’ll be stuck behind closed doors and windows. I did finish one of my errands yesterday, but that still leaves one more for today.

The kitchen in the house where I lived the longest was tiny. When the oven was lit, the kitchen quickly got hot and stayed that way long after dinner was finished. My mother, during the summer, cooked on the stove top. She made stuff like pasta, hamburgers, fried dough and even hot dogs. She never grilled. Her dinner sides were sometimes potato salad or pasta salad. She never made a green salad. Dessert was always a maybe dependent on what was in the house. It could have been cookies, Oreos of course, or ice cream or a popsicle. My favorite popsicle was root beer followed by a close second, cherry. If neither was available, an orange would do just fine. 

Some people I know don’t ever eat leftovers. I don’t get that. Some food tastes better the next day. My chili is always best the day after I make it so I usually make it the day before I need it. That way any fat gets skimmed. I like leftover pasta. Add fresh garlic bread, some cheese and you have a perfect meal. 

Winter has comfort food. It keeps us warm and brings back memories. Summer has hot dogs and hamburgers best cooked on a grill. You have to toast the buns. 

My mother used to make piccalilli every fall when there were green tomatoes. She made New England style piccalilli with those green tomatoes, red peppers, onions, brown sugar, cider vinegar and some spices like mustard powder and a few others I don’t remember. She’d give us all a couple of jars. I’d use it sparingly so it would last longer. I swear a hot dog with my mother’s piccalilli was perfection in a bun. 

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”

July 23, 2016

The doors and windows are open just to change the air. It is already hot, and the house is up to 73˚. When it hits 74˚, the air conditioner will be back on to keep the house cool. Nothing is stirring not even a leaf. It is a quiet Saturday morning. I do hear bird calls but no cars and no kids.

In a bit I have to start getting ready for movie night. I have to bring up the projector, the table and the screen. They are in the cellar but will be stored under the dining room table for the season. Already, on the counter, are some ingredients I need for dinner. I’m using my lazy Susan for the condiments. I’ll cook the peppers and onions ahead of time then reheat them for dinner. There are three different kinds of sausages. There’s also cole slaw as a side. I do have to go out for a single errand. I need blue curacao for tonight’s signature drink. It’s a new one. I was drawn by the glasses rimmed in coconut.

The barbecues we had as kids were always hot dogs and hamburgers or cheeseburgers. There was always a bowl of potato chips. My father, like every other man in the neighborhood, was the cook. He always had a charcoal grill. He always used the fluid to start the coals. We used to hear the whoosh of the fire from the lit fuel. We also sometimes heard my dad putting out the flame on his shoes or the cuffs of his pants. Mishaps aside, my dad always cooked the food perfectly. When we were older, the menu took a decided turn. The meat changed. My mother bought chicken, sausages, steak tips, ribs or pork. The potato chips disappeared and were replaced by my mother’s potato salad. My father still cooked, but he used a hibachi because his grill had bitten the dust, had rotted away, but it didn’t matter. He still cooked dinner to perfection.

So far as I can see, a procession has value in but two ways–as a show and as a symbol, its minor function being to delight the eye, its major one to compel thought, exalt the spirit, stir the heart, and inflame the imagination.

July 3, 2014

Arthur will be dropping by tomorrow bringing showers and thunderstorms. This afternoon we’ll have heavy rainfall and hail. My July 4th barbecue is now July 6th. The events originally scheduled all over the cape for tomorrow, like parades and fireworks, are either cancelled or postponed. It will be a dreary 4th of July.

Today’s weather is so humid I swear the wicked witch would melt. I can even imagine hearing her cackling as she melts and becomes a puddle on the deck. My air conditioner is blasting wonderfully cool air. I turned it on yesterday afternoon when I began melting. I, however, did not cackle.

July 4th is the holiday which has changed the least over the years. Towns, big and small, still have their parades and fireworks. Barbecues are lit in backyards everywhere, and the air is filled with the smell of food cooking. We used to have hot dogs and hamburgers when I was a kid. Now I have ribs, chicken and sausages. Potato salad is still a necessity. Mine this year will be sweet potato salad, and I’ve found a great fruit salad I might just add. Corn on the cob slathered with butter will round out the meal. I always think of corn on the cob as the great American vegetable.

My sister won a prize in the July 4th doll carriage parade. She was a hula girl wearing a grass skirt. My mother made a similar skirt for the doll carriage and the doll. My sister even got her picture in the paper, but black and white didn’t do her justice. She was Hawaiian colorful. Only once did I take part in the decorated bicycle parade. I didn’t win a prize, but my bicycle was great looking with colorful crepe paper wound around the wheel spokes and hanging off the ends of the handle bars. In Colorado my grand-nephew is going to be in the decorated bicycle parade. I believe crepe paper is involved. He is quite excited at being in the parade. I know that feeling.

On July 4th some movies are a must see. If you want the patriotic route, there is always the musical 1776. I, however, think the best of all movies to watch is Jaws. It even takes place on the busy holiday weekend when, because of the vacationing crowds, the mayor wouldn’t close the beaches that is until the little kid got eaten. The second movie to watch is Independence Day when aliens screw up the holiday by trying to vanquish the population of Earth. As if that would happen!

Today I will stay home. The roads will be crowded with people looking for something to do to occupy their rainy day. I don’t have enough patience to deal with that.

“Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gillyflowers.”

July 23, 2012

The sun just arrived. The morning had been cloudy, and I was hopeful for some rain, but then I noticed the sunlight. The paper said low 80’s for today. If the breeze stays, though, it will be a lovely day. Last night was chilly for a while then the night breeze disappeared and the evening got warmish again. We dined on the deck. I barbecued a pork loin, and we had potato salad and fruit salad then finished with chocolate chip cookies made by my friend Clare. It was a perfect summer meal.

I don’t remember summer suppers when I was a kid. In the winter my mother cooked everything, meat, potatoes and a vegetable, but our kitchen was small and would get really hot on a summer day if the stove and the oven were used so I figure we had hot dogs or hamburgers and maybe ears of corn. We were big lovers of corn. My dad was the best corn eater, and we loved to watch him mow down the rows as if he were a typewriter. As he ate, small pieces of corn would fly in the air. That always made us laugh. If records for finishing an ear of corn in the quickest time were kept, my father would be high on the list.

After we moved to the cape and had a big backyard, my father barbecued most weekend summer nights. We had your usual menu: potato salad with hot dogs and hamburgers, and for the first time my mother added chicken with barbecue sauce. My father used to take orders for cheeseburgers. My mother made great potato salad. Those were always the best of summer meals.

When I was an adult, my parents no longer lived on the cape. If I visited them in the summer, my father always barbecued. He would sit outside on a lawn chair with a highball in one hand and a cigarette in the other and keep watch on the meat. Over the years the meat menu had changed. My father would barbecue sausages, including Chinese sausages, or steak tips and once in a while pork and chicken. One thing didn’t change: my mother still made her potato salad. I remember those dinners when the table was filled with food and the meat was cooked perfectly. After dinner, we’d sit around the table and play cards, usually High-Lo Jack, until it was really late. I remember the kitchen filled with cigarette smoke, glasses on the table and my father dropping his trump with a flourish and a grin. “Made my bid,” he’d say.

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”

July 3, 2011

The sun has already disappeared though I expect it will peek back in every now and then. Rain, thundershowers, are predicted, and the rain will be heavy at times. I look forward to the storm. It hasn’t rained in a while, and I love a rousing bit of thunder. It will be nature’s way of celebrating the 4th.

Houses are all decked out in buntings and flags. The 4th has become a huge celebration again. For a while, back in my college days, celebrations were muted. Flags were burned and worn as shirts or cut into pieces for patches on pants. The flag no longer held the reverence which should have been accorded to the symbol of our country, but over time those feelings changed. Patriotism, love of country, has returned and is celebrated. I put bunting on my fence and happily and proudly wave our flag.

I always think of the 4th of July as a family holiday. Everyone in our neighborhood had a cook-out, and you could smell and almost taste the charcoal fluid in the air. My dad loved his charcoal fluid, and often we would hear the whoosh of a fire as he lit the fluid drenched briquets. That was often followed by stomping as my dad tried to put out the fire on his shoes and the bottom of his pant legs. He’d take a lawn chair and sit by the barbecue and tend the meat. He’d have a beer and a few pops, shots of whiskey, as he cooked. It was tradition.

My dad cooked the meat just right. It was always still juicy and tasty. When we were young, it was hot dogs and burgers. When we were older, it was steak tips, chicken, ribs and sausages. My mother always made her potato salad, and, if we whined enough, we got her deviled eggs. Once in a while she’d cook peppers and eggs, still a favorite of mine. The kitchen table would be heaped with food, and after dinner, we’d all groan about how full we were and how great the food tasted.

Later, that night, we’d sit at the table and play cards until late into the night. July 4th with my family was always the best of days.