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6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

We’re now knee-deep into summer, which means barbecues, family get-togethers, and picnics galore. What do those three things have in common? Lots and lots of food. And if there’s one dish that’s ubiquitous when it comes to summer eating, it’s the good old potato salad.

Indeed, whether you’re cooking up burgers, frying up hot dogs, or crafting a mouth-watering sandwich, nothing goes better on the side during the sweltering summer months than a cool and crisp potato salad.

There’s only one problem: plenty of people manage to prepare it incorrectly, despite their best intentions. Here, I’ll tell you what some of the most common mistakes are, and how to avoid them.

1. Picking the wrong kinds of potatoes.

There are multiple types of potatoes, and each has unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, some are better for boiling and mashing, while others are meant to be sliced, diced, and fried. For potato salad, your goal should be to find potatoes that aren’t starchy, as those are more prone to breaking up while you’re preparing your dish.

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What to do instead:

Instead of picking a starchy potato (like the Russet Burbank potato), go with ‘waxy’ varieties, like Fingerling or Red Bliss potatoes. These are sturdier and more suited to being tossed around and mixed into a salad.

2. Under-seasoning your potatoes.

Many folks forget to season their pot of water with salt before boiling their potatoes. It’s important that you don’t overlook this step, as seasoning your potatoes after boiling them will prevent them from reaching their true flavor potential.

What to do instead:

Preparing potatoes destined for a potato salad is almost like prepping pasta. All you need to do is put a dash of salt in your pot of water before you put your potatoes in.

3. Overheating your potatoes.

It would be a major mistake to dump your potatoes straight into a pot of boiling salty water, as that would leave them spongy on the outside and hard on the inside.

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What to do instead:

The trick is to start with cold, salty water. Put your potatoes in that, and then slowly bring it all to a boil. This way, your spuds cook evenly, which is exactly what you need for a good potato salad.

4. Cooking your potatoes for too long.

Potatoes used in potato salad tread a fine line- they can’t be crunchy, and they can’t be mushy. They need to be somewhere in the middle. Most people overcook in order to err on the side of caution, which leaves them with potatoes that have nearly the same consistency as mashed potatoes.

What to do instead:

In order to get that chunky and soft texture potato salad is famous for, you’ll want to cook them until they are soft enough to be easily penetrated by a fork. You know you’ve overcooked them if your fork causes the potato to break apart. Reaching this sweet spot usually takes anywhere from 8-12 minutes, so you’ll need to monitor your potatoes closely when they reach that threshold.

5. Cutting your potatoes into vastly different shapes and sizes.

When making potato salad, many people get a bit crazy with their knife and chop their potatoes into uneven cubes of varying sizes. This is a huge mistake, as different sized potato cubes cook at different speeds. If all of your cubes are a different size, then you’ll have a potato salad that’s half overcooked and half undercooked.

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What to do instead:

Take the time to cut your potatoes as uniformly as possible. This will make the cooking process much easier, as you’ll be able to tell if all of the cubes are cooked by testing just one of them.

6. Applying the finishing touches at the wrong time.

And by finishing touches, I’m talking about the salad dressing. A common mistake folks make is applying their mayo-based dressing right after the potatoes are done cooking, which warms the mayo up, causing it to melt and lose its texture.

On the flip side, those who use vinaigrette-based dressings often make the mistake of waiting for the potatoes to cool, which makes it harder for them to absorb the flavor.

What to do instead:

If you are using a standard mayo-based dressing, cool down your spuds for about half an hour first and then toss it into your salad. For those opting for a vinaigrette-based dressing, toss it in while your potatoes are still warm, as this will allow the dressing to marinate more effectively, making your salad tastier as a result!

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Did you learn anything here that you plan on applying to your next picnic or family outing? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Potato Salad/James via flic.kr

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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