I've just returned from the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. The Windy City is an inspiration to all chefs with an incredible amount of innovative and fun restaurants. I highly recommend a culinary trip to our neighboring state. In between restaurant samplings, you might even squeeze in the art museum or the aquarium. You can tell where my heart lies!
If you're driving out that way, it's a pleasure to pack a picnic lunch and take a break in Paw Paw where some of Michigan's oldest wineries exist: St. Julian's and Warners. After you've taken an interesting tour of their facilities, you can spread out the family quilt and enjoy your home-packed goodies. Ranch Potato Salad comes to mind when we venture off the beaten path. To feed a crew, you'll need:
2 lbs. cooked and chunked red skin potatoes
1 ea. cucumber, peeled and deseeded
2 TB lemon pepper
1 ea. medium red onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups ranch dressing (or to taste)
Have you ever noticed that some cucumbers have a little bitterness to them? The darker green peel contains more potassium (the cause of the bitterness), so when peeling them, peel from the darker side to the lighter side. It's easy to remove the seeds. Just use the tip of a spoon and scoop them out like a cantaloupe.
Place the chopped potatoes in a bowl and add the cucumbers, onions, spices and dressing. Mix well, but not so vigorously as to mash the potatoes. Refrigerate until cold and the flavors mingle. Don't forget to keep it chilled while transporting to the picnic site.
If you're not the designated driver, try some of St. Julian's Village Red. It is one of our own house pours at the Loon River Café--where we proudly serve only Michigan wines. Come in and sample. We even serve them by the glass. And as always, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer.