Callie’s Cabin: California Gold potato salad (recipe) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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Callie’s Cabin: California Gold potato salad (recipe)

As a kid during summertime, barbecues and potato salad were common. In the backyard we'd dish up a plate of chicken, corn on the cob and a scoop of salad.

History shows American-style potato salad comes from Europe. My mom would put it together using russet potatoes, plain mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, celery and spices. I liked it but as time passed, my taste changed and this salad has since been updated to fit my hippie, clean-food-eating style.

Thanks to my travels to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, my healthful salads are even healthier, especially since I make them myself. During the Great Recession here on the South Shore, I admit it was like going back in time to graduate school days and living on a tight budget.

One day at Safeway I grabbed a bag of potatoes. No processed, fancy foods or dining out for me. I became the DIY cook for survival's sake. At home the potato and I became close friends. Shepherd's Pie, baked taters stuffed with vegetables, French fries and even potato salad were part of my regimen to get through the tough times.

Translation: Several of the magazines I wrote for folded. I had to get a real job as a copywriter for Realtors around the lake. But potatoes came to the rescue.

These days, times are a bit better. I get to travel a bit and share my tales in books on health and nutrition. So, here is a revised recipe inspired by my mom but with a new, improved West Coast twist.

Rich Wo(man)'s Potato Salad

4 russet potatoes, boiled (with skins on)

¾ cup mayonnaise with olive oil dressing (store bought)

½ cup green bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons red onion, chopped

Black pepper and sea salt to taste

1 cup baby spinach, chopped

¼ cup almonds, sliced

½ cup blue cheese, crumbled

Tomato slices (garnish)

In a large mixing bowl, place cubed potatoes. Add mayonnaise and mix. Add bell peppers, onion, pepper and salt. Chill in refrigerator. Serve a large scoop of potato salad on a bed of spinach leaves. Top with nuts and sprinkle cheese on top. Garnish with tomato. Serves four to six.

For summer I pair potato salad with homemade lemonade. To stay on the healthy track, mix it up yourself. Purchase lemons (a bit pricey), use bottled water (a bit pricey), ice cubes (a bit pricey) and pure sugar (on the cheap) or honey (a bit pricey). Slice two or three large lemons and squeeze juice into two 8-ounce glasses. Add water, sugar or honey to taste (less is more for good health) and ice. Stir, add a sprig of fresh mint (a bit pricey) and a straw. In the long run, it's less costly than lemonade in a carton and all-natural. And it tastes sublime.

I keep it real but adding nature's finest foods in salads, like potato salad, to add flavor and good-for-you nutrients. And yes, this new recipe is better than my mother's yellow stuff without the super greens, blue cheese punch and crunch of nuts. So as times and cash flow can change — so can your eating style.

P.S. Go meatless and enjoy this salad as an entrée or pair it with fish.

Motto: While money comes and goes, Mother Nature's potatoes can get you through the best and worst of times like making lemonade out of lemons.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.