First Barbecue of 2013 – Simple Potato Salad

img_3405May, with all its green and flowery pleasures, is here, and how delightful it is after a fairly cold winter. We have had a stretch of warm, sunny days that have been good for any number of activities—biking, gardening, other yard work, and best of all, having a barbecue on the patio. Not only has the weather been glorious, but—miracle of miracles—the black flies aren’t too bad this year. I’m not sure why this is the case—perhaps it’s been too dry for them to flourish—but whatever the reason, I am grateful. How nice it is to work outside or sit on the patio and not be enveloped by a swarm of little biting bugs. Most seasons, my husband, Clif, and I have to resort to bug spray, but this year, not so much.

Clif and I are notorious homebodies. For both of us, home is best, and nowhere is it better than on our patio in our own backyard. We are always thoroughly cheered when we can bring up the patio furniture from the basement, give the tables and chairs a good wiping, and have as many meals as possible on the patio during spring, summer, and fall.

On Saturday night, we had our first real barbecue of the season, and it was one of those meals where everything just came together, where there was a real flow. Cooking isn’t always this way, but when it is, what a pleasure. As with all good meals, a bit of planning was involved, and for our first barbecue, I thought a simple potato salad would be in order. Our usual potato salad includes sour cream and bacon, but I had neither of those ingredients. However, I did have a vinaigrette to put on the warm potatoes as well as mayonnaise and mustard. And eggs. What is potato salad without eggs?

Right after breakfast, I cooked the potatoes in a big pan and the eggs in a smaller one. When the potatoes were done, I drizzled them with the vinaigrette—in this case one of Newman’s bottled Italian dressings.  (I have made this potato salad with both a homemade vinaigrette and a bottled one, and truly, I couldn’t tell the difference.) Then I put the potatoes in a big bowl in the refrigerator, the eggs in a smaller bowl, and I pretty much forgot about them for the rest of the day.

Around 5:30, it was time to put the evening meal together. First, the potato salad. I cut up the eggs and mixed them with the potatoes. I added a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, a teaspoon and a half of mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and voilà—a simple potato salad. Onion lovers could add fresh onions, but neither my husband nor I are keen on raw onions.

Earlier in the day, I had also taken out some chicken tenders, and my husband put together a rub consisting of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to go on the tenders. What to go with chicken and potato salad? Why, homemade biscuits, of course. Finally, for a colorful side, steamed peas.

While my biscuits weren’t as fluffy as my mother’s—they never are—everything tasted “pretty darned good,” as Clif put it. The chicken was moist and spicy, the biscuits were tender enough, and the potato salad had a pleasing tang, even though it didn’t have sour cream.

Welcome spring, welcome summer! In the months to come, we’ll be having many more meals on the patio. Some will be for just Clif and me, but we will also have friends and family over from time to time. We have a nice backyard, and we like to share it.

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