Cooks’ Exchange: Recipes for that last summer picnic of the season –


How I wish the magnificence of summer would last a little bit longer. Everything it offers has been so fully appreciated and enjoyed, but while August threatens to end, there seems to be a seasonal awakening happening. Carpets of green grass, flowers, and garden vegetables suddenly hint of sheer exhaustion that might have something to do with the unusual amount of healthy weeds invading their property like never before.

Many recipes are also waiting for attention with answers needed before readers prepare another memorable picnic in the backyard or favorite local park. So let’s begin with potato salad and the exceptional potato salad Jacobson’s made before closing shop a few years ago. Many readers have asked for their recipe and Mary Erickson claims the potato salad she recently purchased at Brennan’s was very close to Jacobson’s.

Doug Schuchart, Viola, claims his wife, Marsha, makes a potato salad “that can’t be beat.” He also mentioned that his grandmother, a fabulous cook who worked at Pendarvis House in Mineral Point years ago, raved about it and that everyone they’ve ever served it to always asks for the recipe.

Marsha’s ‘schmused’ potato salad

12-13 red cue ball size potatoes

2 stalks of celery, cut very small

2 medium onions, chopped pea size

¼ cup French dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

Boil potatoes with skins on. In a large bowl, add chopped celery, onions, French dressing, mayonnaise, and salt to taste. Mix well. While potatoes are still hot, peel and quarter, cut lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Add to dressing in a big bowl.

Schuchart adds that this next step, performed with a mischievous smile on his wife’s face, is important. Chop with knife and “schmus” with a fork to mix together. Salad goes well with baked beans.

Carol E. wondered if the The White Gull Inn in Door County would part with their exceptional potato salad recipe. I reached for their cookbook, published in 1990, and learned about their incredible history dating back to 1896. When Andy and Jan Carlson became innkeepers in 1972, a wonderful cookbook was compiled with the Inn’s favorite recipes including potato salad.

White Gull potato salad

1 ¼ cups sour cream

½ cup vegetable oil

3 eggs at room temperature

½ cup Dijon mustard

5 teaspoons dill, dried

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

½ bunch celery stalks, chopped

5 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled

Blend eggs, mustard, dill, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar and pepper on medium high speed of electric blender until slightly thickened. Gradually add oil with machine running and continue to blend for 30 seconds more. Pour into large bowl and stir in sour cream until well blended. Set aside to chill.

Cook potatoes in salted water until just done (slightly crunchy). Do not over cook. Slice, but do not peel potatoes, and mix together with celery and onion. Mix vegetables together with dressing until well incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Yield: 14 cups

Editor’s note: Health officials recommend using pasteurized eggs in recipes where the eggs aren’t fully cooked because of the risk of salmonella. Mike Repas is an outstanding cook and has shared many recipes in the past. His brother, Richard, is also an exceptional cook, resides in California and the last time he visited Mike in Madison, brought along a potato salad recipe belonging to Andy Powell, a family friend. Here is the recipe shared in Powell’s own words and described by Mike as being “exceptional.”

Andy’s potato salad

5 pounds of potatoes

1 medium-size onion, chopped very fine

a celery stalk or two, optional

Peel and boil potatoes until cooked, but not too done. You want them to hold their shape. Put in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Boil eggs; let cool. Chop a small to medium-size onion very fine and set aide. Put some sugar on them. You can put a celery stalk or two in if you’d like, but that’s optional.

1 large jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 cups sour cream

1 teaspoon oregano

¼ to ½ cup yellow mustard to taste. Don’t add too much,just enough to color and taste

a little celery salt

¼ to ½ cup of sugar

Mix this well and add to chopped potatoes and eggs.

I discovered a jar of Marzetti’s refrigerated potato salad dressing in another county, bought it and decided to keep one on hand at all times. Although many stores carry Marzetti Dressings, no one locally carries their potato salad dressing. I happen to have Marzetti’s potato salad recipe to share, and wonder if anyone knows if the sauce is available somewhere nearby.

With picnic food in mind, here is Rick and Ronni Skindrud’s favorite pork and bean recipe to enjoy at an outdoor picnic in the best of weather, or indoors in the comfort of home.

Pork and beans

3 ½ pound can of pork and beans

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ cup brown sugar

2-3 tablespoons molasses

1/8 cup prepared mustard

¼ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon vinegar

½ pound of bacon (3 or 4 strips works just fine)

Salt and pepper, optional

Mix all ingredients together and place in a baking pan.

Lay bacon strips on top.

Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 3 hours.

Double the amount for more than 25 people.

Rick Skindrud also shared the recipe for his favorite fish dinner served at the Paradise Lounge in Madison.

Rick Skinrud’s favorite fish dinner

Cod fillets, as many as you are hungry for

Wine, chardonnay or chablis

Sliced green peppers

Chopped onions

Diced tomatoes

Garlic salt

Monterey Jack cheese

Cut cod fillets to size and place in low-sided cooking pan. Pour wine over fillets, using just enough for taste. Cover fillets with green peppers, onions, tomatoes and season with salt, garlic salt and parsley. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of fillets, or until fish fillets become flaky. At that time, spread sliced or grated Monterey Jack over the fillets, cook until the cheese melts, and serve.

As August fades away, apple recipes begin to arrive, this one from Linda Martin, Edgerton for apple crisp.

Apple crisp

½ cup sugar

¼ cup water

½ teaspoon cinnamon

9 apples, peeled and sliced

1 cup flour

½ cup butter, melted

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

Combine ½ cup sugar, water, and cinnamon in a 2 quart baking dish. Put sliced apples on top. Mix flour, melted butter, salt and ¾ cup sugar, spread over apples. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at