This past weekend I challenged myself to try something I’d never done before.
We have been gifted a number of hand-me-down furniture pieces to furnish our new home, and among those gifts was an old outdoor dining set. The ensemble is solid and sturdy, with a stone tabletop and six chairs with tall backs and armrests that end in whimsical curls. After a quick power wash, I stared at the set for a while and pondered my options.
I envisioned the table packed with summer barbecue fare, with bowls of fruit salad and half-eaten hot dogs on ketchup-smeared plates. I imagined teddy bear tea parties and quiet fall mornings with coffee and hot chocolate and a stack of books to read aloud, and I knew that the warm beige and gray dining set would not be the right backdrop — I needed something more … colorful.
I spent an entire day in the sun (it was so hot this past weekend) in trial by fire until every chair was cleaned and painted a vibrant green — my favorite color.
The metal arms and legs of the chairs and table I painted painstakingly by hand in a velvety matte black, the tabletop buffed and repaired, and painted in shining metallic copper.
My vision was bold, and atypical to say the least, but the result is this magical, fantastical setting for so many future card games and long chats and breakfasts in the shade of the trees.
I made potato salad in advance of our first bonfire dinner. My recipe is fairly standard but includes a couple novel additions you might love.
2 ½ pounds red potatoes
½ large red onion
4 hard boiled eggs
2 gala apples
1/3 cup minced dill pickle or dill pickle relish
½ cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
1/3 cup stone-ground mustard
¼ cup honey
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh dill
Scrub your potatoes and boil whole, skin on, until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Strain and allow to cool completely.
Dice your potatoes into no larger than ½ inch cubes and set in your largest mixing bowl. You can remove the peels if you wish, but I find the salad is more flavorful and interesting if you leave the skin on, especially considering the skin is also packed with good nutrition.
Peel and dice your apples into no larger than ½ inch cubes and add to the potatoes.
Finely mince the red onion and add to the bowl.
Peel and finely mince your boiled eggs and add to the bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, honey, minced dill and finely minced pickles or relish.
Pour the sauce over the potatoes and mix gently but thoroughly. I recommend a rubber spatula because you want to mix without smashing too many of the potatoes. The desired result is soft but still intact cubes, not mashed potatoes, so stir with care.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, or maybe extra honey if you enjoy the sweetness. I put a little extra honey on my son’s portion and he ate it up.
If you have the time to do so, I suggest making this one or two days ahead of serving. This gives all the flavors time to meld and for some of the starch from the potatoes to make the sauce extra smooth and creamy.
Be sure to refrigerate until ready to serve and practice safe food handling for your barbecues: Do not allow the potato salad (or any mayonnaise or dairy-based composed salad) to sit at or above room temperature for longer than four hours cumulative, at which time the dish must be thrown out.