Surely you can hear summer, tapping her foot, not-so-patiently waiting for the calendar page to turn so that she can be officially declared, “Here!” in all her glory. Softball games, waterskiing on the lake, picnics and family reunions beckon. I sometimes wonder if family reunions are becoming obsolete in today’s uber-connected world where we broadcast our thoughts, statuses and pictures to our friends and followers across the county, country and globe. Is there any need or desire for coming together, in person to catch up on each other’s lives when we have it at our fingertips at the speed of the internet?
Each summer we eagerly looked forward to our family reunion. It was a joy to see everyone again, marvel at how tall the kids had gotten over the past year, welcome the new additions from both marriage and birth, and soak in the joy that comes from people who genuinely love and care for each other.
After sharing, and eating the fabulous carried-in dishes, the older generation held court over cherry pie and iced tea while the younger set picked teams for the “game of the century,” the annual softball game. In a word, the day was about tradition. It was spent gathering together, sharing a meal, re-connecting and marking the milestones in our lives since we last met. Tradition was evidenced in the food that was shared. The tables were heavy with hearty, Midwest fare that often included fried chicken, chicken and noodles, homemade pies, and potato salad–ahh, Grandma Stuckert’s potato salad. There was no other. Creamy, silky, and just the right balance of tangy and sweet. It was (and is) perfection.
I have only a hazy memory or two of Grandma Stuckert. She passed away when I was small. Her oldest daughter was my dad’s mother. I spent a lot of time with grandma. During my teen years, my grandma shared Grandma Stuckert’s potato salad recipe with me. More important than the index card written out with the ingredients, my grandma coached me on how to make it. We made the recipe together many times, often the night before the family reunion. Time spent learning from her is without a doubt the reason I can blog about cooking.
Hopefully, you have a family reunion to attend this summer, too. If so, make a double batch of this potato salad. It will, without a doubt, become your tradition, too. Enjoy!!
Grandma Stuckert’s Potato Salad
3 pounds potatoes, skin on
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
3 large stalks of celery, diced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
½ cup sugar
½ cup vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 TBSP yellow mustard
Paprika or Parsley, optional
Prepare the potatoes:
Fill a large stock pot with the potatoes. Add enough water so that the level is about an inch over the potatoes. Add one TBSP of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Turn off heat and allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
Chop 3 of the hard boiled eggs to add to salad, reserving the fourth egg for garnishing the finished salad.
Drain the potatoes. Peel and cube the cooked potatoes. Place the cooked, cubed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, add the diced onion, celery, and chopped hard boiled eggs.
Prepare the dressing:
In a medium sauce pan, add two eggs, sugar and vinegar. Whisk together the ingredients over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil for one minute, whisking the entire time. This mixture will thicken upon boiling. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don’t whisk the entire time, the eggs can scramble and the sauce will “break,” making it unusable for the recipe. Once the mixture has boiled, remove from heat. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, and salt.
Immediately pour the dressing over the warm potato mixture. Toss gently to coat the potatoes with the dressing. Spoon into a serving dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
Before serving (or toting to a picnic/potluck) you may wish to garnish the potato salad. Using a wire egg slicer or a sharp knife, slice the reserved hardboiled egg. Arrange slices on top of the salad. Additionally, you may wish to add paprika or parsley.