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Grandma's Potato Salad

I write a lot about my Grandma Ruth. Many of the things that I cook are her recipes. You can't go wrong with Italian, right? It's only fair, though, that I give a little love and an epicurean shout-out to my other grandmother, Virginia. She, like my mother (her daughter), was a tiny little spitfire of a Southern woman. She birthed and raised six children, had 14 grandchildren, and innumerable great-grandchildren. She survived alcoholism, two heart attacks, open heart surgery, cancer, and lived to the ripe old age of 95. At her 90th birthday dinner, we talked about her first heart attack. She told us how her cardiologist warned her she probably wouldn't make it past her sixties. My father said, "You should go find him and stick your tongue out at him." My grandmother replied, "Well, he's probably dead." Too true, Grandma.

The house where my grandparents lived was almost always full of people, and nighttime oyster roasts and Sunday lunches remain some of my very best memories. The kids' table was the place to be, but I'm told that early on, I flatly refused to eat unless I was seated on Grandma's lap. The oyster roasts were epic, the cornbread was legendary, but the potato salad.......oh, the potato salad.

Everyone has their own favorite recipe for potato salad, but I'm sharing mine with you! Keep in mind that some recipes just can't be measured, so some of the ingredients are either estimates or simply added to taste.

Start with a bag of russet potatoes. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a big batch or just enough for one. I find that a 5-lb bag will make just the right amount for a gathering of about ten (unless you're what we fondly referred to as a "big eater"). You'll also need about five hard-boiled eggs, mayo, yellow mustard, sweet relish, salt and pepper, celery salt, onion powder, and paprika.

Peel the potatoes and cut into small, bite sized pieces then place them in a large pot. Cover them with water and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook until you can easily get a fork through them.

Drain, place in a large mixing bowl, then add the salt, pepper, celery salt, onion powder, and paprika. I go heaviest on the celery salt and onion powder, but you'll find the combination that best suits you. Break up the hard-boiled eggs. Now, you can get some bougie egg slicer, but I find that it's just a lot easier and faster to break them up with your hands. Really, really clean ones.

Now. Let's talk mayo. Sure, it's a free country and all, so you can use whatever mayo that floats your boat. But if you're not using Duke's mayonnaise, I'm not sure I want to be friends with you. It's hands down the best, especially for potato salad, because it has just the right amount of flavor and kick. Just trust me on this. Assuming you're using that whole bag of potatoes, you'll want to use about three heaping spoonsful, or about one third of a 30 oz jar. Add just enough yellow mustard to give it a little color, and last but not least, add about 4 tablespoons of relish. The relish, of course, is optional.

All that's left is to mix it to within an inch of its life and try not to eat the whole thing while you're taste testing to see if you need to add anything. I like to put a dusting of paprika over the top before serving.

So, there you have it. Another vague recipe from Nonna Marie's Kitchen. Grandma would be so proud.

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