Fourth of July Traditions

25 Jun

I was recently approached by Beth Ziegenhorn, the operations coordinator for The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and a new journalism graduate. Being away from her family for the first time during the coming Fourth of July holiday has made her think about starting her own traditions here in Oxford–starting with a potato salad recipe which she explains below.

How Family Recipes Get Preserved
College graduate keeps tradition for 4th of July.

By Beth Ziegenhorn

It sneaks up on us as we grow up that we enjoy reliving our past. There is a comfort in those family traditions surrounding the holidays. The recognition of this has come after I graduated from college and plummeted into the real world. By securing that first full-time job, moving two states away from my parents, and paying for my own car insurance; all of this happening as we approach for what my family knows as a big holiday- July 4th. Being on my own made me realize this will be the first holiday of many that I will not get to enjoy family traditions.

July 4th for my family was a trip to my Grandparents farm for the holiday weekend. It is a holiday that had certainties of running through the fields to fish in the lake, waiting for the sun to set for fireworks, and barbecuing with the perfect side item of my grandmother’s potato salad. I wanted to make my July 4th celebration a continuation of the traditions I grew up with on the farm, I wanted to make my grandmother’s Potato Salad.

My grandmother doesn’t write down recipes, she has that photographic memory I never inherited, so when I ask her over the phone how to make the potato salad I end up feeling lost in translation. The 4th of July preparation has commenced with less than a month away, and at least 10 guests are all looking forward to home cooking.

After several trials and tribulations with my lost-in-translation potato salad recipe and various resources from the web, I decided to consult our local bookstore. There were all kinds of community cookbooks; it’s like a compilation of grandma’s recipes from across the country captured in one book. It was in the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s Square Table Cookbook that I found Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad. Just reading the title made me know I had to try it, the hint of spice into a savory, creamy potato gave a whole new meaning to potato salad.

I knew with the Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad recipe I wouldn’t have my grandmother’s tradition, but I could craft that potato salad to be my own and start making new traditions.


Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad
(Featured in the Square Table Cookbook, p. 60)

5 pounds petite gold potatoes
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 4-ounce jar diced pimientos
4 drops Louisiana Hot Sauce
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 teaspoons celery salt
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 cup sweet salad cube pickles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish

In a large pot of salted water over high heat, boil potatoes with skin on until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in colander and peel off skins with fingers while holding under cold, running water. Cool potatoes, chop into small pieces, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add eggs. In a small bowl mix drained pimientos with hot sauce. Add to potato mixture. Add all remaining ingredients except paprika. Do not stir. Mix by hand, mashing some potatoes and leaving others in chunks. Add salt and pepper to taste, transfer to serving platter, and shape into mound with a spoon. Dust with paprika. Cover and refrigerate 3-4 hours.

20-25 servings

Square Table Cookbook is a community cookbook and a fundraiser for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and can be ordered on their website.

*Permission to use the Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad recipe granted by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council

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