Vinegar, spuds and love make salad special

August 24, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

With summertime winding down, many people are planning Labor Day potlucks as their last hoorahs before cold weather hits - a time more appropriate than any for Joyce Jones to pull out mom's potato salad recipe.

Jones, 46, who lives north of Hagers-town, said it's a recipe she learned through osmosis, watching her mother prepare it for summertime potlucks and holidays. It's a recipe stored in memory and re-created via pinches and dabs, though she was able to jot down a blueprint of her mother's potato salad recipe for Herald-Mail readers.

Jones's recipe calls for the standard combo of potatoes, egg and mustard, but she uses Miracle Whip, milk and a bit of vinegar in her dressing.

Jones lives with her husband and their youngest child, 14-year-old Breanna. Their other two children are adults. Her son, Cody, 19, works as a line cook at a country club in North Carolina, where he attends culinary school. Her daughter Ashley Doyle, 22, is married and living in Smithsburg.


Jones grew up in Oldtown, Md., near the West Virgina-Maryland border, not too far from Cumberland, Md. Her mother, Barbara Robinson, who still lives in that region, served from-scratch dinners daily for her sister and father.

Just as her mother did, Jones says she has dinner on the table each night for her own family, though it's not easy to do every thing from scratch. Sometimes, she said, she gets help from boxed goods.

"It's just so hard, because I work," said Jones, a mail processor.

The Herald-Mail caught up with Jones just before dinnertime. We chatted about her mother's recipe, her favorite foods and cooking for her kids.

Any idea where your mom might have gotten this recipe from?

I think somewhere on my father's side of the family, they used to make it. She kind of adapted it from there.

Now was she the type to kind of cook from scratch, come up with things by saying, 'What's in the fridge today?'

Yes, she was always a cook from scratch. We didn't have packaged meals very much. Everything's homemade.

So what type of cook are you? There's some people who have got to have a recipe - follow it to a T. Some people are pinch of this, pinch of that ...

This potato salad recipe, there's no set recipe. We go by eye. That's the way I cook, too. Unless you have to, I usually don't follow a recipe to a T.

Now you won a baking contest for the Ag Expo. What did you win and what did you enter?

I entered lemon cookies and they got champion cookie in the open-class division.

Now the lemon cookies, tell me about that recipe. I'm interested in where you found it.

Actually, I was just flipping through some cookbooks and I just happened to find it. Actually, it was the first time I tried it. It turned out pretty good.

What made you want to test an unknown cookie in a contest?

Well, I like lemon and it looked fairly simple.

Have you had requests since? People wanting to eat the winning cookie?

My husband's asked for it.

So what are some other things you enjoy cooking?

My kids like my lasagna. Comfort food.

If someone else is doing the cooking, what are some things you enjoy eating?

I like Italian food. So spaghetti - anything Italian with sauce.

Anything you wouldn't touch with a 10-foot-pole?

I'm not really into the Oriental foods.

So no sushi for you?

Oh, no. No sushi. Gotta be cooked.

Mom's potato salad

5 pounds white potatoes
6 eggs, hard boiled
3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 cups Miracle Whip
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 cup milk

Boil potatoes, skin on, for about 30 minutes or until done. Allow the potatoes to cool. Peel the skins and cut potatoes into cubes. Cut eggs in half and reserve the yolks. Dice the egg whites and add to the potatoes. Incorporate the celery and the onions with the potatoes and eggs.

For the dressing, mash the yolks in a bowl, then add the Miracle Whip, sugar, vinegar, mustard and milk. Toss the potatoes in the dressing. Chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Yields 12 to 15 servings.

- Courtesy of Joyce Jones

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