I have always viewed cooking as a daunting challenge. To me, cooking is like being told to draw a flower on a blank piece of paper, while baking is like being given a coloring book of flowers. I don’t think this qualifies one as easier than the other or one as less creative than the other. Instead, I think cooking and baking elicit complementary ways of looking at food–baking is an exercise in pushing the boundaries of creativity within certain fixed parameters while cooking is the process of finding the right parameters to create a balanced mix of flavors.
Experiences growing up have shaped me into someone who enjoys following instructions (hence my natural inclination towards baking), but I am continually working on navigating blank canvas situations. Whether it’s a blank canvas in the kitchen, at work, or at gatherings with friends on the weekends, I believe practice will make better and what better way to practice than with food?
My summer cooking chapter begins with a simple potato salad. Perhaps a bit of an odd choice, but I was going to a friend’s BBQ and wanted to bring a dish to accompany all the hamburgers and hot dogs I was looking forward to consuming. Plus, I thought a mixture of potatoes and mayo might be more forgiving!
To start off, I googled a few recipes for inspiration, narrowed down the common factors (potatoes, mayo, salt and pepper), and left the rest open for interpretation. The ingredients I chose to pair off with the potatoes were carrots, celery, corn, eggs, and onions, but I think the great thing about potato salad is its versatility–you can add in anything you might enjoy with potatoes!
- 2 lbs potatoes
- 2 sticks of carrots
- 4 stalks of celery
- ¼ onion
- 1 cup corn
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dill
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Boil the potatoes in water until soft (about 15-20 minutes)
- Dice the onions, carrots, and celery and set aside
- In a skillet, melt the butter and add onions. Stir occasionally until the onions are browned. Add in chopped carrots, celery, and corn.
- In a small pot, cover the eggs with water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the eggs for an additional 10 minutes. Remove eggs from the pot and place in a bowl filled with ice water.
- Drain and cut the potatoes into ¼ inch cubes. Set aside to cool.
- Chop the eggs and combine with the potatoes and veggies. Add mayonnaise, paprika, garlic powder, dill, salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until evenly distributed.