Next Up On The Bookstand

Now you knows I loves me some salty food. Yes I do! Sometimes I just crave something salty, like some hot french fries or potato chips. And, of course, I have an unhealthy love of salting my food gently. Now those of you who know Harald know that he can’t stand salty things, for the most part. Well, at least one of us has made that particularly healthy decision. But I’m finding this particular book, Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and fun and interesting read. As Anthony Bourdain says, this book is “a must have for any serious cook or foodie.”

From the publisher’s web site comes this: “Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky’s kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.”

Potato Salad lovers unite!

You may know that there are few things I enjoy as much as a really fine potato salad. My bestest friend, Nancy, joins me in my unbridled love for the stuff. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I came across a book not to long ago of nothing but potato salad recipes. “Potato Salad: Fifty Favorite Recipes” by Barbara Lauterbach has, amongst other things, turned many people I know (thanks to the frequency with which I’ve made it) onto the magic of using orange and rosemary as the predominant flavors in a potato salad. If you buy this book for no other reason, by it for the Orange-Rosemary Potato Salad recipe (the Seattle Times has an adaptation of this recipe here) and experience the revelation for yourself. It’s magical. Music in your mouth. Or as one guest said “Definitely NOT your mother’s potato salad!”

Anyway, I’ve had (and made) a whole lot of southern-style potato salad in my life but the recipe from this book (with modifications noted) will be my new master recipe for southern potato salad. Without further ado, I present you with:

Blue Ribbon Southern Potato Salad

8 red or brown all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup diced green celery
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 diced yellow onion
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 jar (8 oz) sweet pickle cubes or 1 cup diced sweet pickle
1 small jar (4 oz) pimientos, drained, dried on paper towels and diced

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
dash of sugar
dash of salt

Steam potatoes, testing for doneness after 8 minutes. Continue to cook until done but not overly soft. Drain and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the cooled potatoes, celery, green bell pepper, onion, eggs, pickle cubes and pimientos.

To make the dressing, in a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, sugar and salt. Add to the potato mixture, toss gently but thoroughly, cover, and chill before serving.

Boyd notes:

1. I used Yukon Gold potatoes. You can get away with boiling them gently if you are *very* careful not to overcook them.
2. I took a pointer from an old Cooks Illustrated test kitchen article and spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer to cool them. While still warm, I sprinkled them with salt, pepper and sprinkled some sweet pickle juice on them. Then I let them cool *completely* to room temperature.
3. I used a small jar of cornichons instead of pickle cubes or relish. I have one of those mini food processors I whizzed them in for a few seconds to chop them up. The juice I saved for use as noted above.
4. I added a small amount of chopped capers and some fresh finely chopped parsley to mine.
5. I grate my onion instead of dicing it.
6. I add a teaspoon or so (maybe more) of Dijon to the dressing (in addition to the yellow mustard) because I like the extra punch of more mustard flavor.
7. I also have to do what my grandma always did and add some egg slices and a sprinkle of paprika on top before I chill it. Tradition, dontchaknow!

Things should be better soon

One of the reasons we’ve been having some problems with housetraining Beulah is a urinary track infection that was diagnosed yesterday on her trip to the vet. Now that she has started medicine to treat the UTI, things should hopefully improve soon and she won’t have to go as often. Poor thing. Too bad dogs can’t talk to you and say “something’s wrong here!”

Next On The Bookstand

I don’t think you have to be either religious or questioning religion to enjoy reading this memoir. If she preaches anything like she writes, then I know why Barbara Brown Taylor was once selected as one of the top 12 preachers in the English language by Baylor University. Even on my best days, I very rarely approach the kind of personal insight that Taylor seemingly accomplishes with ease in this book. It’s a very good and fast read, her story of how she came to immerse herself in the ministry of the church, and how and why she left that same ministry to pursue teaching.

Lest any of you worry

Let me be perfectly clear … we (nor I) are NOT considering getting rid of Beulah Mae (not that the decision would be mine to make anyways). Not by a long shot. What you read here a few days ago was a honest expression of the frustration I was feeling at the time. Some days are just bad days. It’s OK to voice frustration. In fact, it’s probably healthier than keeping it all stuffed safely inside. But just becase I feel something and express it doesn’t necessarily mean I am going to act on it. In fact, we had a very good weekend together, the four of us. It’s all a process. We are all learning how to adjust and cope. There will be bad days to come. No, the experience with Beulah is nothing at all like the experience with Coco. There is a world of difference between the two dogs. I’m just kinda stuck in my ways, addicted to the comfort and relaxation of being at home, and I’m slow to change and don’t always react well to disturbances in my living environment, OK? So I’ll whine sometimes. That’s OK too. Doesn’t mean I’m about to do anything stupid or senseless. Beulah is still getting a lot of love and attention from both of us. Yes, she’s very good about entertaining herself, so she doesn’t have to be the center of attention. And once we get the housebreaking down pat, my stress level will go way down immediately, I know. No worries, mon!

The Eyes of Beulah Mae

The picture is kinda spooky, but on a recent night while watching television I snapped a photo of Beulah sitting on the couch and coming over the armrest to get a better view. You can see how long her ears are getting in this photo.

And this is just a plain cute picture of her taken while snarfing down one of her treats in the living room.

True confessions: I don’t do well with anything that disturbs my peace at home. I’ve realized this before, but I forget it too often and too easily. And when it came to having discussions about getting a dog we didn’t spend enough time in serious talk about how disruptive it would be. Harald is doing far better than I am at adapting to having a new puppy in the house. Yes, she’s cute beyond words at times. And it can also be fun at times to watch her personality and body develop. She’s so smart too, figured out the other night how to climb the stairs so she could reach the cat – whom she wants to play with very much but who wants nothing to do with her. But the truth is that raising a puppy can be very demanding and I’m short on patience. (Yeah, I know, no one saw that bit of personal insight coming!) I’m a cat person. Show them the litter when you bring them home and where to find the food – there, you’re done. Last night, I had serious fantasies (though fantasies only) of packing her canine puppy butt in a crate and shipping her back to Iowa. I think Harald may think I’m a terrible person for having such thoughts – I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s how I deal with the unmitigated stress of puppy raising. This is definitely not what I wanted for my summer, not this summer. But, of course, it isn’t about me anymore. Yes, I forget that part. What I want or need is completely beside the point now. Stuff it all down, subdue your own needs completely (heaven forbid you should take care of yourself first!) and give everything you can to raising the new life under the roof. Feh! I’m done now (or not). I just needed to get that bitch-whine out of the way. There, I feel much better now that I’ve drained my spleen a bit.