Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oma's Authentic German Potato Salad {Black Gold Farms Better with Reds and Give-Away #SummerFood #BetterWithReds}

From summer's backyard grill to winter's crockpot, delicious and versatile red potatoes are a year-round staple of fresh, healthy cooking in my kitchen!

That's why I was especially delighted to be recommended by my friend Angie to participate in this year's #SummerFood #BetterWithReds Better with Reds campaign for Black Gold Farms and, with Brenda of A Farmgirl's Dabbles!

In business for nearly ninety years, Black Gold Farms is an impressive socially and environmentally responsible, fourth generation family owned organization. What began in 1928 by A. E. Halverson as a 10-acre plot of potatoes planted in the fertile soil of North Dakota's Red River Valley has evolved into a global operation under the careful stewardship of his grandson, Gregg Halverson and his family. 

Today, Black Gold Farms is comprised of eleven farms with over 20,000 acres in production throughout the United States. Their strategic placement of farms from North Dakota to Texas, Florida and many states in between enables Black Gold Farms to provide a consistent stream of beautiful potatoes all year long. Additionally, maintaining multiple farm locations means lower transportation costs, which translates to reduced fuel consumption; and best of all, these farms deliver jobs and community support to rural America, where its needed most.

Living in North Carolina now, I especially love that Black Gold Farms expanded their operations here in 2004 with the acquisition of the Durwood Cooper Farm. In addition to their amazing potatoes, Black Gold Farms grows corn and soybeans in Columbia, the only town in Tyrrell county.

Now, before you assume that you've never eaten Black Gold Farms potatoes, let me tell you that they not only ship a half-billion pounds of potatoes annually, Black Gold Farms is also the world's largest producer of fresh-crop chipping potatoes, as in potato chips, for companies such as Frito-Lay!

As many of you know, I was born and raised in idyllic Bavaria during a time when organic produce and eating eggs collected the same morning was the norm. A time when whole foods were sold door-to-door by the local farmer from the side of a horse-drawn wagon lined with hay. As his horse clopped down our cobblestone street just before sunset, Herr Müller walked along side his wagon ringing a bell, calling out, "Kartoffeln, Eier, Zwiebeln" (translation: potatoes, eggs, onions) almost as a decree of what should be served for dinner that evening. It was a time when everyone congregated in the kitchen because it was the warmest room in the house, a long walk and quiet conversation followed every evening meal and before bed, my Oma filled copper bedwarmers with boiling water and slipped them under the featherbed to warm our toes. It was also a time when sewing boxes and rolling pins were handed down through generations and flatware, dishes and teacup patterns rarely matched and no one cared. As for me, no other food memory takes me back to my Oma's kitchen and that simpler time quicker than red potatoes.

The list of health benefits attributed to the consumption of red potatoes is a long one... Fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium and high in Vitamin C, red potatoes are also an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin B-6, iron, potassium and magnesium. And, at only 70 calories and 2 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving, you can see how ounce for ounce, red potatoes easily contribute to healthier eating!

In addition to their stellar nutritional attributes, red potatoes are also incredibly versatile. Whether paired as a hearty side to campfire fare or companion to an elegantly prepared roast leg of lamb, red potatoes deliver! They are easy to prep, quick to cook and are lower in starch than other potatoes too. Red potatoes absorb less water than their starchier cousins; therefore, they won't fall apart. They can be pre-cooked for use in casseroles and salads and to me, red potatoes, with their creamy texture and sweet flavor are as delicious cold as they are warm!

So now that June is upon us, it's time to ring in my favorite holiday. Not Thanksgiving or Christmas... but Summer! Where every day feels like a mini-vacation because the days are longer, the sun is brighter, moods are lighter, fresh produce is everywhere and socializing around the backyard grill naturally brings out the experimental chef in everyone.

And, since it's difficult to name another food that is more versatile or compliments food prepared on the grill better than potato salad, I'm sharing my Oma's authentic German potato salad recipe made with delicious red potatoes sent to me by Black Gold Farms!

Also, you'll want to keep reading because after I show you how easy it is to prepare delicious, authentic German potato salad, you'll be invited to enter to win an incredible Summer Meals prize package valued at more than $500, all courtesy of Black Gold Farms!

My Oma's Authentic German (Red) Potato Salad
What you'll need: 2.5 pounds red potatoes (gently scrubbed clean). 1 large
white onion, quartered. 1.5 pound butcher's (slab) bacon, diced. 1/2 medium
red onion, diced. 3/4 cup Altmeister wine vinegar. 2 Tbsp. spicy mustard,
2 Tbsp. stoneground, sweet mustard, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Add potatoes to pot of cold water set on high heat. Add quartered white
onion and two-three pinches of salt (I use coarse sea salt in all my cooking)
Cover and allow potatoes to come to a boil
While potatoes cook, dice bacon and red onions...
After 12 minutes, test potatoes for doneness by inserting a pointed knife.
Potatoes are fully cooked when knife pierces through without resistance
When potatoes are done, toss the onion and transfer them into a large
bowl. Cover with a bit of the hot water and a plate to keep potatoes warm
Brown bacon over medium heat. Note that cooking bacon slowly allows fat
to render, bacon to become to crispy and prevents splatter and burning too
Since I was out of my German vinegar, I used a good red wine vinegar
instead. I used this mustard and this sweet mustard to mix into the
vinegar - However, any good Dijon and stoneground mustard will do...
Remove cooked bacon from pan with a slotted spoon to paper
towel to drain. Add diced red onion and vinegar/mustard
mixture to bacon fat in pan and salt and pepper to taste
Whisk to incorporate bacon fat into vinegar and mustard mixture
and while it cooks (bring to slow boil) cube hot red potatoes. It is
most imperative that potatoes remain warm until vinaigrette is
ready because only while the starch is open, (think pores) will the
dressing become one with the potatoes... Which is what we want!
Pour bacon vinaigrette over hot potatoes...
Add bacon, stir gently, cover and let stand for two-three
minutes to allow dressing to be absorbed by the red potatoes
Top potato salad with fresh chopped parsley...
Toss again and cover until ready to serve!
As I said before, red potatoes and especially my Oma's German potato
salad, pair well with anything you cook - Steak, seafood, sausages, chops,
grilled veggies or chicken! Today I've got these delicious uncured beer brats
from my local farmer's market - Made by a German butcher who brews his
own beer too... Which means they're perfect for my Oma's potato salad!
Don't forget a few slices of thick-sliced bread to
soak up some of that delectable bacon vinaigrette!
Served to the table on the deck or by the pool
family style, this dish makes a perfect summer meal!
Of course, there's my husband who loves his chops!
Which just proves my point about the incredible
versatility of cooking with Black Gold Farms red potatoes!
Ich wünsche dir eine guten mahlzeit!
I hope you enjoyed learning about Black Gold Farms and that you
hurry out to grab a bag of their beautiful red potatoes very soon! The
Better With Reds campaign runs from May 28th through the first
week in June and includes both the Give-Away mentioned below and
a #SummerFood with #BetterWithReds prize-packed Twitter party
scheduled for next Wednesday June 4th at 8PM, CST. Until then,
please don't forget to enter the Give-Away below and stay tuned for my
Please show Black Gold Farms big love by liking them on Facebook
and, follow them on Twitter. Also, be sure to like Better With Reds on
Facebook and check out their Pinterest board for more fantastic recipes!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's Summertime... Time for Farmer's Garden Pickles by Vlasic!

Summer Saturday mornings always find me at Farmer's Market early!
And, this weekend was no exception! All week I think about what I might
discover at the market and how it might play in the recipes I have planned!
My first stop this morning was Cobblestone,
the Farmer's Market at Old Salem...
Where I found this beautiful Spring Garlic I knew would be perfect for
the garlic butter I had in mind! As the vendor began explaining the flavor
and virtues of good garlic to me, my mind drifted home to Monterey and
how the boys would begin sniffing wildly at the air as the delicious aroma
of garlic wafted through the car as we passed through the fields in Gilroy!
On the menu for our lunch outside on the deck this afternoon are roast
beef panini sandwiches with Farmer's Garden pickles; so getting over
to the Camino Bakery stand before their bread sold out was important!
With my beautiful Camino breads tucked safely into
my market basket, it was time to head home for lunch!
Where, thanks to Vlasic®, the perfect farmer's market pickles can be found right
in my own refrigerator! Did you know that these pickles won the 2014 Better
Homes and Garden Best New Product Award for best pickle? It's true!
Did you know that America was named after pickle merchant, Amerigo
Vespucci, who transported vitamin-C packed pickled vegetables around
the world? Also true! And, with more of us focused on returning to simple,
honest foods, Farmer's Garden® by Vlasic® provides a premium pickle
using only the finest, specially selected ingredients to pack a powerful
punch of flavor. All of this effort by the good people at Vlasic® means
that regardless of the availability of a Farmer's Market in your area,
garden-fresh, wholesome and amazing-tasting pickles can be yours!
Now, I think pickles of such fantastic character deserve to
be paired with an equally fantastic sandwich... Don't you?
We love panini sandwiches! Pressed and toasted so that whatever
cheese I use melts into the bread... It turns an ordinary sandwich into
a sandwich worthy of being enjoyed slowly, and... With a great pickle!
Before I begin building my panini sandwiches, I like to whip up a savory
flavored butter to compliment whatever bread I'm using. Buttering the
grill sides of my bread ensures that crispy texture I toast sandwiches
for. And, in my opinion, it make other condiments unnecessary! Now, I
typically use sun-dried tomato butter with focaccia; however, for the
Italian bread I have today, only this beautiful spring garlic will do!
Slicing up a bit of spring garlic and folding it into a
good unsalted butter creates the perfect garlic spread!
Now, let's build a panini! First, slice bread about an inch thick...
Butter the grill sides of your bread... At this point, I like to
sprinkle a little sea salt and cracked black pepper over it too!
Then, add your cheese and meat. By the way, another reason I chose
garlic for my butter today is because roast beef has a particularly
strong taste... Therefore, garlic, which is also strong, helps create the
flavor balance necessary so that neither taste overwhelms the other!
It's a perfect marriage!
Now, place your sandwich onto a pre-heated panini grill. If you don't
have a panini grill you can easily duplicate the result by placing your
sandwich into a heavy pan and placing another pan, (weighed with
cans to create pressure) on top. Just flip and repeat to toast both sides!
While our panini does its thing on the grill, I want to tell you about the
Farmer's Garden by Vlasic® Savor Simplicity Sweepstakes
where you could win a summer entertaining package valued at $1,500!
Just for entering here, you'll receive a coupon good for $1.00 off
these amazing pickles! The contest runs from May 7th - July 31st
with one winner chosen every single month! So go... Enter now! 
We love these pickles! We fight over the delicious pickled vegetables
and bits of fresh garlic in the jar too! I think Vlasic® hit it out of
the park with their packaging as well, since these charming measured
mason jars can be reused. And, there's no need to fuss over making
up a condiment tray since you can just set the jars out on the table!
I hope you'll try these Farmer's Garden Vlasic®
pickles with your own panini creation very soon!
And, don't forget to enter the Savor Simplicity
sweepstakes! After all, if I don't win, I hope it's you!
Update: Received a nice surprise today when I noticed my Panini is mentioned as a favorite on the Farmer's Garden by Vlasic website! Click here to see the mention (Thanks, Vlasic!) and to discover other fantastic recipes!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Best Kind of Deployment Cookies!

Before I tell you about today's baking adventure, I just
want to say that friends who stop by with fresh eggs and
peonies from their garden are the best kind of friends!
That's what happened yesterday when my friend and coworker, Eleisa
and her lovely daughter Stephanie stopped by to add Stephanie's
gold fish, Benihana to our koi pond since he's outgrown his tank!
As you can see, Benihana has made himself right
at home now and, we are most delighted to have him!
I especially appreciated Eleisa's gift of fresh eggs since I had a Virginia
ham steak soaking in milk for this morning's breakfast! You see, this ham
is very salty - So soaking it in milk helps to draw some of that salt out!
I'll tell you about our trip to Virginia last weekend a little later...
Today, it's all about rushing this breakfast to the table...
Featuring Eleisa's beautiful eggs and this delicious Virginia ham...
So that I can get to my cookie baking!
So many times over the past few years, I have baked to fill these terrific
Bake it Forward tins, provided by my friends at Imperial Sugar, with
Ranger's favorite cookies to ship to him and his brothers in Afghanistan...
But not this time! This time, I'm baking to fill a tin for Ranger to enjoy
during his drive to Dallas tomorrow... As he finally deploys into civilian life!
The other tins will be filled for his battle brothers
who are joining us for dinner in Atlanta to celebrate!
A friend and fellow Army mom asked me today how it feels to know
it's over and I told her there simply are no words without tears...
Tears of gratitude for the safe return of our son after
five years and seventeen weeks as a Ranger in the Army...
And, five deployments to Afghanistan...
However, while it's over for our family and we are so excited about the
next chapter for our son, I'll never be able to fully put this experience
behind me until every mother's son and daughter serving is also home!
Until then, those warriors and their families will
remain in my constant thoughts and prayers!
So... Now that the cookies are baked and the Jeep is all packed up...
I'm ready to go! Ready to focus on our trip to Dallas in September and
seeing our Ranger son settled and doing well in his new life as a civilian!
Surely that's worth celebrating with cookies!
Speaking of Celebrations... I loved all your responses to my give-away for
the P. Allen Smith cookbook so much that instead of announcing just
one winner, I have selected three of you to receive this wonderful book!
So without further delay, I want to invite Toni, Leah and Kathy to
send their full names and addresses to me at:

Congratulations Ladies!