Saturday, July 14, 2012

Uncle Frank's Potato Salad and Walhalla SC. Memories

Valhalla is the home of the gods in German Mythology. Walhalla, SC. is a town founded by Germans here in the upstate in the foothills of he Blue Ridge Mountains. Also the town where my father's mother my Big Mama lived with her daughter Lucy for years. And across the street lived my Uncle Frank, Aunt Martha and my cousins Martha and Susan. It was in many ways and remains to this day (at least last time I visited ) an charming special and enduring place. Not near too much of anything,  and not too far away from much! It was the town my father and his family grew up in and some of my first memories of that extended family and my greater sense of family in general come from time spent in that locale.  As a military family it helped to have a point of reference and a place which would help my brother and I understand our Southern heritage and give us a sense of belonging.

Today my cousin Martha has relocated back to Walhalla where my Aunt lived until recently. Visiting there brings back so many memories of being young, and of time and people long since passed. I have memories of my Aunt Lucy and cigarette smoke filled living rooms and dining rooms and mornings spent over the newspaper and cups of percolated black coffee and breakfast at the table. I remember my Big Mama cooking up lunches and suppers, sitting in her Chair with the footstool, or napping upstairs in the afternoon heat. I remember sleeping in a dank basement in metal twin beds with quilted blankets and faded sheets with my brother across the room and the old air conditioner whirling in the back ground. I can remember picking pecans and afternoons shelling beans and cleaning corn and green beans for supper. There was the garden next door and the fresh vegetables that my Uncle grew all season. I remember my Father and Mother sitting with my Grandmother and Aunt in the living room "visiting". And I remember long country walks, blueberry picking, running from snakes, climbing the mountain trails, waterfall hikes, square dances at the state park up the mountain, and family reunions, weddings, and funerals all spent in that town. And I never even lived there. But it was a special place for my father and it became a special place for us. It gave us a sense of place and belonging that even years later Charleston never quite had.

Now visiting Walhalla usually meant dinner at my Uncle and Aunt's House. They lived in a charming blue and white house which had a big kitchen and dining room. Dinners there were always something special for my brother and I. It did not have to be a special holiday for my Uncle and Aunt to put out an enormously wonderful meal and during the summers one of the hallmark dishes that I remember was my Uncle's yellow warm potato salad. We just called it Uncle Frank's potato salad and in fact my Mother got the recipe from my Uncle and she and my Grandma would fix it at home and when announcing dinner would proclaim, " We are having Ham... and Uncle Frank's potato salad!"
It was in essence a warm potato salad made with an enormous amount of French's Yellow Mustard, some mayo, chopped onion, green onions, and spices. My cousin Martha recalls it as a very picante Southern Potato Salad. That's pretty much what it was. But it was very good.

When my partner in On the Plate Stuart and I held our first outdoor cooking event for out Underground Restaurant, we made Uncle Frank's and it was very well received. Now truth be told, I don't really have the original recipe. My Mother had it and made it alot and told me how she made it, and since then I just have sort of taken that and run with it. However, I will always credit my Uncle Frank because of two things that I think really make it different and unique. One is the fact that it is made warm and that way the dressing really gets into the salad and the heat on the onion's softens them and the potatoes soak up the sauce. Secondly is the taste of the mustard. Now don't get me wrong I am not saying that French's Mustard is my favorite condiment, however, it can be a dynamite ingredient in things and this is one of them. The tangier the better I say!

So for those of you who want to try something good and easy for your next cookout or summer party try this! And get a little closer to German Heaven! Enjoy Ya'll!

                                          Photo credit

Uncle Franks Potato Salad ( modified by me)

10 or 11 Medium Yellow Potatoes washed, peeled and sliced into 1 inch cubes
(If using Yukon Golds don't peel if you don't want to)
1/4 cup French's Yellow Mustard
1/4 cup Dill Pickle juice
2 Tablespoons salad oil
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tsp course ground white pepper
1 1/4 cup Mayonaise
1/4 cup milk or half and half
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
3/4 cup dill relish
1 1/2 cups finely diced white ( you can use red ) onion
1 small bunch scallions chopped
6 eggs very finely diced (almost mashed up into paste)
5 ribs of celery finely diced

Boil potatoes until fork tender  add the onions mix and hold warm

Then in a blender or a mixing bowl mix next 9 ingredients together add in eggs.

Mix the dressing into the potatoes and add the relish, scallions, and celery

Blend well potatoes will break down a little.

Mix till well combined and either serve warm immediately or let sit in the fridge at least 4 to 6 hours or over night.



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