Pashnit Potato Salad

This salad is so named in honor of the Pashnit Girly Ride- I made it for the barbecue we had the night before embarking on our epic journey. I am new to food photography, so this presents an interesting challenge.

I don't like potato salad with lots of mayonnaise, and so I was inspired by Heidi Swanson's grilled potato salad recipe. Instead of grilling, I roasted. I live in a tiny apartment with no patio to speak of, and so setting up the grill on strip of grass by the sidewalk and praying noone's dog gets too close as they walk by is so much effort that I'd rather just sweat with the oven going full blast. Before roasting, I toss the potatoes in olive oil and season them with salt, pepper and rosemary. I also chopped a few onions into big chunks to roast alongside the potatoes. Onions are amazing when they roast- sweet and caramelized and they make the place smell amazing to boot.

I'm working with an HP digital camera, it's not an SLR but it takes very hi-res images. I'm learning the features, but if anyone has any suggestions on lighting, etc. to make my food look more appetizing, I would gladly accept it. Please keep in mind that I pretty much always cook at night, and my apartment gets no natural light whatsoever. Bad for photography, worse for plants.

While the potatoes are roasting, I like to get the dressing made quickly, allowing the flavors some time to mingle. This particular dressing consisted of olive oil, orange muscat champagne vinegar, organic sun dried tomatoes (not re-hydrated- I always figure the vinegar will take care of that), and about 7-8 cloves of roasted garlic. When I roast my garlic, I get as much of the papery stuff off the outside as possible, chop off the top, put it in some aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and then salt and pepper it. I guess most people don't do the pepper thing, but i really like the way it tastes with the garlic.

The dressing is pretty simple-

1. Put all ingredients in small bowl.
2. Whisk the holy hell out of it.
3. Take several photographs from different angles featuring different ingredients, all the while moving the bowl to a more and more precarious perch in the name of getting a good shot.
4. Knock entire bowl of dressing on to the kitchen floor.
5. Curse loudly and creatively while trudging through a large planter box, avoiding snails and getting stabbed by tree ferns in order to turn on the hose and clean kitchen floor rug.
6. Repeat steps 1 & 2.

This is the last shot before the ingredients were mixed together, after which it became significantly less photogenic. Beauty contest aside, it was a hit at the party I went to. I mentioned that it was vegan to anyone that seemed interested, and even a few that weren't. It's a shame that a word as innocuous as "vegetarian" conjures up images of jiggly, gross tofu that someone is trying to pass off as "meat."

I wonder about these people... is there a vegetarian terrorist camp somewhere, kidnapping omnivores and forcing them to eat tofu and seitan, all the while telling them that it's meat? "yessss, yessss... eat up, it's a delicious burger!!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

Seriously, vegetarians... have you EVER lied to anyone about the contents of a meal, except for that one time you made pie with tofu but it was totally undetectable and your dad liked it so much you just didn't mention it?

The ride itself was an awesome time, about 24 women came along for an epic journey of northern California's greatest hits- Even though our destination the first day from Folsom was Murphy's (only about an hour and a half away by the most direct route), we took the long way 'round and rode Salmon Falls, Wentworth Springs, Icehouse, Volcano, Hwy 26 and others. It was incredible to ride with girls for the first time ever. The chaos on the trip was not associated with gender, but the simple fact that riding with that many people is always a little messy. The second day we rode Hwy 26, Pool's Station Rd, Hwy 4 over Ebbett's Pass, Hwy 89 and the Monitor Pass to our destination in Walker. The place couldn't have been cuter, and the staff that ran the place could not have been nicer. They got us tons of delicious food- all we had to do was throw in $10 and there were burgers and chicken and fish and veggie burgers and salad of all kinds, not to mention all the soda and beer one could drink. It was great to just get to the motel, peel off our gear, get into our jammies and hang out for the rest of the night. Nothing finer than parking the bike and leaving it until the next morning. A few shots from the trip:

Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, our stop for a break to regroup on Wentworth Springs Rd.

On the way up narrow, windy Ebbett's Pass.

Roxanne and her little buddy Diesel, who rides with her everywhere. Our chase vehicle and the Antelope Valley are behind her.

One of the greatest parts of this ride was the pace. I spent most of the second day with two other women, all of us riding briskly but not so fast that I couldn't focus on technique. I learned a lot about my riding that weekend. I have the capacity to execute perfectly and be very smooth as long as I am not trying to fly! It really helped me be content to slow down and remind myself that this is the journey of a lifetime- I only recently started and have so much to learn! I was able to put to work all the things I read about delayed apexing, and improved my left turns by leaps and bounds. It was a wonderful, productive feeling.