Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

So, what does Independence Day make you think of? For me, because of the military history of my family, it is deeply personal. I know the sacrifices we have made as a family because of time family members have given. No, our family didn't lose anyone in a conflict, but we certainly know families who have. And then, on a smaller scale, there are the birthday and Christmas celebrations we didn't get to share with loved ones. The relationships we would have liked to cultivate that didn't happen. It's for this reason that I stand and put my hand over my heart when I hear the Star Spangled banner or see the flag flying at a parade. It seems a small thing, to give a moment to remember the cost of the freedoms we enjoy. God bless you if you've given time to serve our country!

And then, of course, there is the food! I've been developing a recipe for baked potato salad, and this last week I finally documented the ingredients. Here's something a little different from the standard potato salad. Give it a try, if you like:

Baked Potato Salad
Baked Potato Salad
2 C. sour cream
1 C. mayonnaise
1 T. horseradish
1 T. brown mustard
1/2 C. milk
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1 T. dill weed
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 lb bacon, fried until crisp
3 green onions, whites and greens, sliced finely
3/4 C. celery, finely diced
5 lbs potatoes, baked and cooled (I used russets, but red potatoes work well, too)

Mix the first 9 ingredients in the bottom of a bowl that is large enough to mix the entire salad in until thoroughly blended. This helps the flavors to begin blending while you're peeling and dicing the potatoes, and ensures that when you're mixing the salad the dressing gets all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Snip or crumble the bacon into fine pieces. Add bacon, celery, and onion. Stir just to mix. Peel the potatoes and dice as fine as you can stand. The finer you cut them up, the better the dressing will flavor the potatoes, but I can't always stand to cut them too finely just because it takes time.  If you're using red potatoes, leave the skin on. This shortens the work time and adds color to the salad. Sometimes we eat this right after I make it, but it's really better if you have time to refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight. The flavors meld and it becomes comfort food of the first order.

Corn Tomato Salsa
What to do if you serve corn on the cob one night, and have a few cobs left that didn't get eaten? How about this:

Tomato Corn Salsa
1 large tomato, diced finely
2 -3  cobs of corn, remove corn from cob
1/2 t. sea salt
3 T Cilantro, snipped
Granulated garlic, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper to taste.

Stir well and enjoy!

And then, of course, there is the standard summer holiday fare that includes brats. We couldn't live in Wisconsin and not enjoy brats on occasion. Since we had something else in mind for today, we had our brats last night. Doesn't this look good?

Brat and grilled veggies
The brat is a tomato basil brat that I got at Aldi's for a reasonable price. The zucchini and potatoes were sliced thin and coated with olive oil, then cooked on a foil pan on the grill. The zucchini is seasoned with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, dried parsley and basil. The potatoes are seasoned with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a few sprinkles of vinegar.

Verdict: all of it was really good. Only thing to improve was that the potatoes could have used a bit more vinegar.

Hope this whets your appetite for that wonderful July 4th you're going to enjoy today!

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