Spring Break with a side of Potato Salad

Back from a “vacation”. School starts back up again tomorrow and I am not a happy camper. I don’t think anything on my list was completed. I went home to Fort Bragg, CA for the week and enjoyed the amazing weather that happened to show up the entire week. I celebrated St Patrick’s with hot dogs and the option of homemade sauerkraut, avocado and tomato. No corned beef and cabbage. I don’t know why, I guess hot dogs just happened. Doesn’t matter though because the weather was great and few things are better on a warm day than hot dogs and potato salad. I was in charge of the potato salad and kind of hit a home run. I’ve made it before and never really remembered what I had done then next time I attempted it, so its only been really good a few times before, but now it’s recorded, in all it’s glory. Good old fashioned potato salad. Nothing too special, and the amount it makes is perfect for a potluck or BBQ.

If you ever have a chance to go to Fort Bragg for a weekend, or anywhere on the Mendocino coast for that matter, just go. There’s not a whole lot to do, hence the time period of the weekend,  but the beaches are gorgeous (insert corny sunset picture) when the weather is nice and there are some neat campgrounds. My grandparents have lived up there forever and my mom just moved back into the area last year, so this last semester I went down once a month and have been going as much as I can this semester. There is not a lot in the way of amazing food, but if you go, you have to go to Thanksgiving Coffee in Mendocino. They have the most amazing fresh blackberry or blueberry cream cheese pastries ever. I’m not crazy about their coffee, which is served all over Mendocino county, so I’ve planned to go picnic style next time and bring my own coffee, save some money, and park on the bluffs to eat and enjoy the view of the pacific. My mom always gets the onion bialy, a flat bagel “pizza” sort of dish with poppy seeds and crazy nice onions, along with some of their really nice boysenberry iced tea. So, if you ever go to the Mendocino coast, go there. Get a danish or a bialy and go enjoy the view. And a little fun fact, the slightly interesting movie, overboard, was filmed on the Mendocino coast and the restaurant they film in is Capt’n Flints down in the Noyo Harbor. Just throwing that out there for all of those Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russel fans.

Now, back to the potato salad. This is classic with one secret ingredient: pepperoncini juice, or the pickling liquid they sit in, it adds a perfect amount of zing and a slight spice that’s not overwhelming by any means. If you don’t have any, then you should go out and get some, pepperoncinis have to be in your fridge at all times, and if this in not an option then use a little less of a rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar, possibly even the juice of a lemon. For best results, make it a day ahead.

And whatever you do, in the name of all that is holy, Never Ever Ever buy potato salad that comes in a milk carton or a bucket. You’re better than that.

Potato Salad
 Makes: almost a full ton
5 lbs russet potatoes
6 eggs
1/2 – 1 small red onion, diced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 14 oz can black olives, chopped
1/2 – 3/4 c mayo
1 T yellow mustard
3 T sweet relish
1/4 c pepperoncini juice, or 3 T or so vinegar/lemon juice.
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Peel and chop the potatoes into potato salad size, add to a large pot, and cover with water, season with salt. Heat up the water to boiling and check the potatoes after 10 min. While these are going, Hard-boil the eggs by placing them into a small pot just covered with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let them sit for 20 min. When they’re done rinse under cold water to help with the peeling.
Prepare the dressing by mixing the mayo, mustard, relish, juice, salt and pepper. Prepare the rest of the ingredients and set aside in a very large bowl. When the potatoes are done cooking, run them under cold water to stop the cooking and to cool them down. There are some that say warm potatoes are the best because they soak up the dressing. That to me is a problem because it turns out dry and sometimes the potatoes are oily and I’m not a fan of mayo logged potatoes. The flavor “problem” can be solved by making the salad a day in advance.
Peel the eggs and chop them up, add them, along with the potatoes, to the dressing and vegetables, mix and add more mayo if necessary. I’m not a mayo nut, so I like a little less than some others might. Some may even need more than 3/4 c, it’s all preferential. Always taste for seasonings, and add more s&p if necessary. Chill and enjoy.

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