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Holiday Cook-off

Ms. Lange’s Potato Salad

I am not a chef. In fact, I wouldn’t even qualify myself as a cook.

In a past article, I proposed that everyone should have a handful of basic recipes that they can rely on. As someone who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of following a recipe in a timely manner, I am one of those people who needs basic – and I mean basic – recipes. If I don’t read a recipe at least 15 times prior to cooking, something that should take 10 minutes will most definitely take an hour.

Ok so you get it, right? I’m not great at cooking.

I should be, though.

Most people develop their cooking skills from family, shadowing their parents and grandparents in the kitchen and cutting their teeth on recipes passed down through generations. My story wasn’t any different. I sat in the kitchen during every holiday and family gathering, watching my grandmother and all of my aunties cook the dishes that I now associate with comfort and affection. Dishes like Filé Gumbo and Pecan Pie and Crab Soup.

For as much as I witnessed all of this cooking and baking and memory-making, I should be a James Beard Award-Winning chef.

And I’m not exaggerating – my grandmother’s sister, who learned the same family recipes from the same matriarch, is a James Beard Award-Winning chef. That’s right, my aunt was such an influential chef, she inspired the creation of a Disney Princess. She was Tiana. 

Basically, I’m saying I have no excuse. I should be able to do all of this, but for whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable in the kitchen as I would like to. This is why my grandmother’s (or more accurately, my great-grandmother’s) potato salad recipe is so important to me. 

I learned how to make this recipe for two reasons: because I hate every other potato salad I’ve ever tried and because it’s so incredibly simple. It’s simple, but still delicious and makes me feel close to my family every time I make it and share it with others. Also, it makes the others that I share it with think I can cook. Next time you have a potluck or dinner party, whip up a batch of this potato salad and watch as your friends’ eyes light up. You can thank me later.

Ms. Lange’s Potato Salad

Ingredients: 

Serving Size 8

8 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced

2 cups Mayonnaise

¼ cup Green onions, chopped 

¼ cup Parsley, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Step One: Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. The general rule of thumb is to include one potato and one egg per serving. This recipe calls for eight, but if you’re only cooking for six people, use six potatoes and six eggs. Likewise, if you’re feeding an entire baseball team, maybe buy a whole bag of potatoes. You will most likely have leftovers, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. Next, you’ll put the potatoes in a big pot, fill it with water about an inch higher than the potatoes, bring it to a boil and let them cook for about 15-20 minutes or until they are soft all the way through. Then drain the potatoes and let them cool. In the past, I’ve cooked the potatoes before I’ve cut them, but I’ve found that you get a more even cook if all the potatoes are cut to the same size. Besides, they call that game “Hot Potato” for a reason.

Step Two: Hard boil the eggs. I’ve read so many different instructions on how to hard boil eggs and I’m sure I do it a different way each time. I’ve done it on the stove, in an Instant Pot, I’ve even seen instructions on how to do it in the oven. It doesn’t matter much how you do it, but if you’re like me and always have to look it up, here you go: put the eggs in a pot, fill it with water about an inch higher than the eggs. Bring the water to a boil, then take it off the heat, cover it and let the pot sit for about 10 minutes. After that, put the eggs in a bowl of ice water and let them sit for another 10-15 minutes, or until they’re cool. When they’re cool enough to touch, peel them and dice them into sections about one centimeter wide. 

Step Three: Mix it all together! Stir the eggs and potatoes all together with the mayo, adding in the diced parsley and green onions as you go. If you’re not a fan of mayo you can use less. If you love it like I do, add in as much as you want! Season with salt and pepper to taste, let it chill out in the fridge for a bit, and you’re good to go!

By Spencer Zetterberg

Spencer is a Social Media Marketing student at Ventura College. She received a BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Radio, TV, & Film Studies from Cal State University, Fullerton in 2011 and a Certificate in Social Media Marketing from VC in the Spring of 2021. Spencer is currently working as the Digital Media Manager for a start-up e-commerce business in Port Hueneme and the Social Media Manager for a production company based out of Los Angeles.

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