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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 July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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