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Comfort food and books for comfort

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Christina Stock Photo German summer potato salad — a colorful and delicious light dish using a yogurt sauce that has just a small amount of mayonnaise.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The world of Potato Salad

and author Jes Marquez

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

In the French and in German-speaking parts of Europe, the potato is called Apple of the Earth (pomme de terre and Erdapfel), only the Spanish, Italian and English language kept its original name, patata or potato, which is based on the Incan word papa. Today, it is hard to imagine a world without this nutritious staple. Every country developed a variety of uses and recipes for it.

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As a child growing up in Germany, a mayonnaise-based potato salad and sausages were the staple for any kid’s summer birthday party, next to the obligatory birthday cake. My class in the Werner-von-Siemens School in Wiesbaden, Germany was one of the larger classes with 33 students attending. Most of my classmates’ birthdays were in summer, so I had a lot of experience sampling different potato salads. Every family had their favorite, of course, however, there were also regional differences. The most northern part of Germany would prefer mayonnaise-based potato salad with apples and hard-boiled eggs; most that I encountered in my hometown included finely chopped onions. My grandmother, Oma Else, originally came from Breslau in the state of Silesia in Germany, and she put everything — including the “kitchen sink” — into her salad.

When I shared on my Facebook page that I would feature potato salads this Sunday, lots of my friends responded with their childhood memories about that dish. One friend, Ray Smith, told me that his favorite is the one that his wife Ines Smith makes. Very smart man — you always want to prefer your wife’s cooking. He, however, told me his wife is originally from Chile and she would make a Russian potato salad. I had to look it up, it is also mayonnaise-based, but with canned peas and carrots.

Then, of course, there is the warm German potato salad that most Americans know from visiting Germany. My family would only prepare this one in winter.

For those who follow my column, they know from previous stories that I lived a year in Normandy, France. They, too, have a warm potato salad as a specialty, which — because of the ocean to its north — has salted fish in it and Calvados apples. When I heard about that, I was not sure if I would like it, but it is indeed delicious.

In Scandinavian countries and Russia, you find part of the mayonnaise replaced with sour cream, which brings me back to my grandmother’s and my favorite potato salad. I did not like the heavy mayonnaise, however, so I added yogurt to it, which gives it a nice tangy flavor. When I first visited the U.S. as an adult, I went to see my aunt near Kansas City on the Missouri side. I made this salad for her and my cousins and she loved it so much, she told me about a neighborhood potato salad recipe contest they had. So I made another batch and she put it in as a contender. What can I say, this was my very first and only recipe that won an award: first place in Lee Summit. Here is the recipe:

German summer

potato salad

 

Ingredients:

Serves 5 to 6

6 medium-sized potatoes

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 cup radishes, sliced

1 large shallot, sliced

14 cups sweet onion, chopped

1 cup broad-leafed parsley, chopped

1 large red or orange bell pepper, diced

15 salad olives, sliced

1 cup corn

Sauce:

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp white pepper

2 Tbsp Italian herbs mix (or ½ Tbsp each marjoram and basil, 1 Tbsp oregano)

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp sweet Thai chile sauce (or any kind of seedless fruit jam)

¼ cup good mayonnaise

½ cup whole milk yogurt (or sour cream)

½ cup Swiss cheese, diced

2 hot dogs or ham, diced

Preparation:

Peel potatoes and cube or slice. In a deep pot add enough water that the potatoes have room. Add one tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are done but still firm. Pour the potatoes into a colander and cool off immediately with cool water. This will stop the cooking process. In the heat of the summer in Germany — for those who have no air conditioning — this is usually done early in the morning or the day before in the cooler evening.

I had several potatoes starting to sprout, so I removed the sprouts, peeled the potatoes and cooked them a day ahead and kept them in a tight container in the refrigerator.

Peeling the potatoes, I captured the peels in old pages of the Roswell Daily Record, a tradition that my German grandmother did as well. The RDR’s newspaper print is made of vegetable dye, so you may use paper and peels together to compost.

Chop or dice all vegetables, cheese and sausage or ham. In a deep bowl, mix the yogurt and mayonnaise and add the spices. Remember, potatoes neutralize salt and spices, so you may have to add salt the next day.

Little by little add the potatoes, stirring gently each time until fully coated with the sauce and vegetable mix.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving or preferably overnight to have all flavors blend. Before serving the salad, taste if it needs more salt or herbs.

I usually keep some of the vegetables to decorate the top of the salad — see photo.

As you can tell with the ingredients, it is a perfect way to use leftover vegetables. I have added celery, green beans and even asparagus to the salad before. Take a peek into your refrigerator and use what you have.

On a side note, I usually make my own mayonnaise, but didn’t this time because I couldn’t get really fresh eggs. It takes one very fresh egg yolk, 1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel and 1.5 cups sunflower seed oil to make mayonnaise. In a deep bowl, pour the oil in a stream into the yolk, whipping it constantly, then add the lemon peel, salt and white pepper. It is harmful to your health if you make the mayonnaise and you do not know how old the egg is because raw eggs may carry salmonella bacteria.

Books for comfort:

Submitted Photo
Author Jes Marquez

Today, we feature New Mexico Book Co-op author Jes Marquez and her book “Utilities Nearby: Musings on the Off Grid Real Estate Scene of Santa Fe, Taos and Northern New Mexico.” This book was the recipient of the Best First Book Award by the New Mexico Book Co-op for 2019.

According to the biography she emailed in, Marquez is a lifelong resident of the Land of Enchantment. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. She writes that she is definitely a dog person. In her spare time, Marquez makes custom cowboy boots from scratch.

Marquez writes that her book began as a Craigslist post about a rental home. “A bummed-out exposé on an off-the-grid rental house near Santa Fe, New Mexico,” she wrote. “It was simply a cathartic rant on Santa Fe area real estate. People from all over replied to my post. Over a winter, we learned the pitfalls of what not to do when building off the grid. Having grown up mostly in New Mexico, I realized it was time to tell the whole story on mesa serenity living. At minimum, regale in love of adobe homes, share useful off-grid information and make people laugh.”

The book “Utilities Nearby: Musings on the Off Grid Real Estate Scene of Santa Fe, Taos and Northern New Mexico” is available on Amazon.

 

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