published Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Help needed to gather can’t-miss recipes

Evelyn Lancaster Potato Salad, from Karen Nazor Hill’s mother, gets its crunch from bell peppers, celery and onion.
Evelyn Lancaster Potato Salad, from Karen Nazor Hill’s mother, gets its crunch from bell peppers, celery and onion.
Photo by Alex Washburn.

SECOND HELPINGS

Do you have a signature dish that is always a hit at church socials and family gatherings? Please share your recipe -- and the story behind it -- with Karen Nazor Hill. Your dishes might be featured in a future installment of "Second Helpings." E-mail: khill@timesfreepress.com or call her at 423-757-6396.

I hate to cook. Fortunately, it's something I rarely have to do.

My mother is a wonderful cook and is willing at any moment to cook for our family.

My husband cooks, too. In fact, he's the most creative cook I have ever known. He reads cookbooks and watches Food Network for ideas, but mostly he just makes stuff up. Nearly 100 percent of what he makes is incredible.

They both enjoy cooking.

I don't.

I know there are other people who don't like to cook. Still, it's hard for me to not feel like an outcast for having no interest in the kitchen. Even when I eat out, I'm not interested in how something is made or even what the ingredients are (though I do try to eat healthfully).

Out of necessity, like if someone is sick or the real cooks are out of town, I will step up to the plate. There are a few dishes I can make: broccoli/chicken casserole, lasagna or spaghetti and Evelyn Lancaster Potato Salad, my mother's recipe.

Except for her mashed potatoes, this potato salad is my favorite dish. I like it so much, it has become my signature dish when I do have to cook. It's the one thing I enjoy making because I can't wait to eat it.

I make potato salad if I have to take a covered dish to an event. I make it for every holiday meal. I make it for my son when he comes home from California. I make it just for myself when I have a craving.

The only downside is that it's not for people who strictly adhere to a low-fat diet. Real mayonnaise is a necessity in my potato salad. I've tried many brands of low-fat mayonnaise, but nothing comes close.

While I'm happy to leave the cooking to the people who enjoy it, it does make me happy to have a few go-to dishes that are fairly simple to make and taste good.

I bet you have a signature dish too, whether you cook a lot or hardly at all.

Please share your recipes and reasons for liking the dish with our readers. Send the information to me at khill@timesfreepress.com. Who knows? Maybe your signature dish will become a favorite of others.

Meanwhile, my mother's recipe for potato salad is listed here. For best results, don't forget to use real mayonnaise.

Evelyn Lancaster Potato Salad

Five large russet potatoes

Two boiled eggs

One medium onion

Three celery stalks

One green bell pepper

Mayonnaise, to taste

Salt, to taste

Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Boil over medium-high until you can break the potatoes with a fork. Drain immediately. While potatoes are cooking, boil the eggs. When done, dice into small pieces. Chop the onion, celery and bell pepper into small pieces. Put all ingredients into a bowl, and add the mayonnaise (I use between one teaspoon and one tablespoon per potato, or more). Season with salt. Mix the ingredients until the potato salad resembles smashed potatoes. The potato salad is tasty both hot and cold. Serves 5.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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