Grandma Joyce Sunshine is one of the more animated people in my life. She’s unequal parts grandmother, artist, working woman and the wife of a candy man.
She’s also the one I’ve called on and off for years to be reminded of how to make her famous potato salad. Although her and Poppy (he actually sells candy – chocolate covered almonds, gummy bears and the like) owned a Denver barbecue joint in the 1980s, the recipe was handed down to Grandma Joyce from her mom.
Unlike past weeks in which I shared with you my grilling experiences from across Fort Collins, this week is a no-brainer. You, of course, know how to grill hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and other cuts of meat, so for now I give you a fine tater salad as a go with.
Naturally, feel free to play around a little bit with ingredients and texture (the size of the chopped ingredients) to best satisfy you and your guests.
Another reason you should tinker with this a bit is that Grandma Joyce never wrote down the recipe and, like many great cooks, never measures anything.
For example, when I called her a few weeks ago to inquire, the dialogue went something like this:
Liz: “I need the right recipe for your potato salad.”
Grandma Joyce: “How many are you making it for?”
G.J.: “You need six red potatoes, three hard-boiled eggs, a quarter of a white onion, olives and then you need mayo, mustard, parsley, salt and pepper.
Liz: “How much of mayo and mustard?”
GJ: “Honey, you know what it’s supposed to taste like; you’ll have to do the measurements on your own.”
The final, incredibly detailed instruction was to finely chop all ingredients – except for the potatoes, which needed to be in precisely half-inch squares. The reason for the fine dicing, she said, was to basically hide the green olives and onions.
People freak out when they learn your potato salad has olives in it, yet it’s nearly always the first question asked about the flavor. “What makes this taste so yummy?” Answer = green olives.
While this salad is perfect for the picnic with family or friends, it makes a great side for many other occasions.
When I was a kid, the tater salad always made an appearance at Aunt Jackie’s Hanukkah parties and at many birthdays, graduations and, well, nearly every family get-together. My Mom, Lin, also makes it as a treat for my Dad every now and then. In fact, if she would let him, my Dad would gladly cradle the entire serving bowl and eat away.
So, give this a try and make a lot so there are a few leftovers (is that possible?) because it always tastes better the second day.
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (to life and eat well).
6 red potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
1/4 white onion
salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes until they are soft enough to push your fork through easily. In the meantime hard-boil your eggs.
Finely dice the eggs, onion and green olives (I used about a handful, but remember there are no exact measurements here).
Combine everything to your tastes. Grandma Joyce uses more mayo than mustard but goes easy on both.
Refrigerate until cool and enjoy!