Last Thurday, my daughter had a performance at her after school program (following pajama day at her school) and I was asked to bring potato salad. It’s been a long time since I’ve made one and the first batch of potatoes I overcooked. My mind was on mashed potatoes and potatoes for potato salad need to be firmer. I went to the store and bought some more and put the ‘over’cooked ones away for another day.

They make a perfect side to tonight’s dinner. A little roasted chicken, mashed potatoes with sage and garlic, stuffing and string beans.

I have a box of Stove Top Stuffing that my mother gave me a year ago. I don’t generally eat food from a box, convenience food withstanding. Convenience foods are for people who don’t want to live past 55, who want to fill their bodies with a lot of preservatives and other unhealthy substances, who want to gain unnecessary weight, and most of all, for people who don’t have kids. As a parent, I’m mindful about the examples I give. And healthy eating choices will only be learned by example.

I know, I know. It’s tough when you have kids. Don’t I know that? I’m a single parent. But you are what you eat. Sorry to sound preachy. It isn’t as if I buy all of my food organic, or even that every choice is healthy. But I do believe in real food. It taste better, and you know what is in it. You can take control of your health and nutrition. Then, there is always Trader Joe’s.

Cooking isn’t that hard, it just takes some time to learn basic skills. But once you learn those, it takes a little planning and thought. I hadn’t done a lot of cooking in my married life since my ex was a professional chef and did all of the cooking. But I know about food, was raised around foodies and ate home cooked meals every day. Real food happens to taste better, a lot better. I made all of my daughter’s baby food when she wasn’t on solids. It tasted so much better than the jarred stuff. Even the organic stuff was tasteless. And it really wasn’t much trouble at all.

So what to do with this Stove Top crap. It’s sodium laden and has a bit of an after taste. At least I can taste it. So I decided, lets cook it, but lets doctor it up so it’s edible.

I started with the classic French Mirepoix; celery, onions and carrots. I chopped them up fine and cooked them in butter until they just started to sweat. Sweating is when the onions, in particular, start to release their liquid into the pan. From there, Mirepoix can be added to almost anything.

Celery is an interesting food because it isn’t something that tastes that great alone, but has a huge impact on the flavor of dishes. I’m not crazy about cooked carrots either. But this triad together… yum. It really works.

I cut my Mirepoix into very fine pieces and it will be the base for the Stove Top. It should cut down some of the salt content of it and stretch the stuffing a little bit.

I eat a lot less salt than when I was married because my ex was an avid “dipper”. I’m not sure what is more revolting, dip and spit or smoking and ahem smoker’s stench. Both of these things are an anti-aphrodisiac. Yuk. Anyway, because of this, I think he was heavy handed with the salt. Certain times of the month, I retain a lot of water and I noticed I feel a lot better when there is less salt in my diet.

My knife skills have improved a lot just from practice. I learned a few techniques when I went to a knife skills class at the Broadway Panhandler with a friend of mine. He did the cutting and I watched. I was too nervous to do something like this in public (why, I don’t know) that I was afraid I would slice my finger. Dumb in retrospect.

Anyway, a friend of mine gave me this little metal disc and its purpose is to rid the smell of onion or garlic from your fingers. What amazes me is it actually works. Here is what it looks like.

Anyway, time to focus on dinner. Buon appetite.