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It happens to everyone. Somehow, through an act of God, your family or your own failing memory, you’re missing an ingredient for something you need to cook. Best case scenario: you have the time and energy to run out and replace whatever you’re missing, and it isn’t a national holiday. Worst case scenario: you have to make do as I did today.

In preparing food to take to my parents’ annual July 4th dinner, I had two of these “oops” experiences, and I am happy to report that absolutely nothing bad happened, despite my personal belief that my parents and friends would run gagging from the dinner table due to my culinary goofs. This is a good lesson to those of you are worried about perfection in cooking, and avoid it in case you make a mistake. If you have faith in yourself, and understand that recipes are (in most cases) a guideline rather than canon law, you can recover from a setback with no one the wiser. Here’s what I did:

The Green Onion-less Potato Salad

Here is the “real” recipe:

  1. 1 5 pound bag potatoes, russet or Yukon Gold are my favorites
  2. 1 red pepper
  3. 1 bunch green onions (at least 3)
  4. Mayonnaise
  5. Salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Peel the potatoes and dice into small pieces. Boil potatoes for 15 minutes, and check to see if they are soft but not mushy. If they are still hard, keep cooking and checking every 2 minutes or so. When potatoes are soft but still holding their shape, drain.

While potatoes are boiling, dice red pepper and slice green onions. Place hot potatoes, peppers and onions is large bowl. Add about a cup of mayonnaise, salt and pepper and mix gently. potatoes should be coated, but not swimming in mayonnaise. If you want more mayonnaise, add more gradually until you have reached your preferred level of sauciness. My preferred level of sauciness is “none,” I just like the ingredients to be bound and moistened.

Today, I discovered that I had forgotten to buy green onions. The onion flavor is necessary, in my opinion, and I like green onions because they, along with the red pepper, add some color to what is otherwise a very white bowl of stuff. In desperation, I diced a sweet onion and added it. To compensate for the lack of green onion color, I added a sort of Martha Stewart-esque ring of tomato wedges. The salad was absolutely delicious, and was gobbled up with great abandon.


The Low-Banana Icebox Cake

My banana icebox cake recipe is here. It says, clear as day, that it requires “at least eight bananas.” Last night when I was making the cake for today, however, I discovered that I had only four, the remainder having been turned into smoothies by my suddenly-healthy son. Electing to punt rather than panic, I layered cookies, whipped cream and bananas, then cookies, whipped cream and crumbs. It looked okay, but I knew it was missing half of the usual compliment of bananas. (Its important to get a good serving of potassium along with one’s cookies and whipped cream). Despite this omission, which seemed pretty glaring to me, no one noticed, and the entire cake disappeared to the sound of appreciative “yums” and lips smacking. I had intended to take a picture of a cut piece, to show you what the inside looked like, but, well, it was gone before I could get a picture.



About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

4 responses »

  1. Nice Job, Annie! I love when these things happen and I am forced to think outside of myself for some kind of cure for the problem – whatever it may be!

    Looks like you dishes turned out great though! Nice job!

  2. The recipes we create when we’re forced to improvise are always, always the best ones. Hooray for you for forging ahead — and making something new and delicious!

  3. I love what you said about not worrying so much about perfection in cooking. It wasn’t until I started writing my own recipes that I realized that most recipes are indeed just guidelines. It’s when you stray from the recipe out of either curiosity, or as in this case, necessity, that the fun really begins and great discoveries are made! Your potato salad is probably much prettier with the tomatoes than it would have been with just the specks of green onion!

  4. I have officially added the concept of deciding to “punt, not panic” to my lexicon — well put!


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