potato artichoke salad 1

I’ve started thinking a lot about love lately.  To be more specific, I’ve thinking about love in the face of an uncertain, sometimes scary world.

That sounds dour, doesn’t it.  I can’t help it for the moment.  Adjusting to this new idea and identity of becoming a parent coupled with feeling that uncertainty acutely, especially because of the madness of the weather and current events and all that stuff, it leaves me really wondering how I’ll do.  I struggle with love, you see, because I can be, well, an anxious person sometimes.  I’ve been strongly affected by watching loss and sadness ever since I was very small, and somewhere along the way I just stopped trusting that there was benevolence in the universe.

And when you don’t trust, you armor yourself, guarding yourself against strong attachments because of the fear that something will happen, and you’ll be left bereft.  But then (thankfully!) there are people in my life who mean so much to me, Joel, my family and community, Squid (so she’s a fur person not a person-person, but she counts), that my love for them handily bursts through any shields I have raised to try to protect myself.  This is wonderful, but it’s also frightening.

I’m sure that baby, when he or she comes, will be the same.  Except better/worse.  I mean, let’s face it, I love our darn dog so insanely much I feel like I would be destroyed if something happened to her.  How the heck am I going to handle the amount of love that comes with having a baby????

Squid on couch

This little one makes my day

Because the world is uncertain, and mostly out of our control.  We can set up all the plans and safeguards we can imagine, but we still can’t protect ourselves or others from absolutely everything.  And dwelling on that sort of thing, my friends, is how you make yourself anxious (you know, in case you were wondering).

In the past 5 or so years, after I had noticed myself stuck in this sort of pattern of thinking, I started trying to work on it.  Meditate or pray, I’ve been told.  Journal.  Develop the habit of thinking of yourself as lovable; this allows you to love others.  Make note of things that you are grateful for, new things every day.

herbs for potatoes artichokestossing potatoes artichokes

And this has helped a lot.  But, some part of me could never be transformed because it always rejected all this work as a sort of Pollyana-ish wishful thinking.  I would hear of disaster and violence, I would sit stuck in an unprecedented heat wave knowing that crops were dying and nothing was really being done about it, and I would try to feel grateful for something, but it just really, really felt like this was trying to plug my ears and shut my eyes and sing a little “I am grateful tralalala” to myself, like it was trying to pretend the sorrow and suffering, the badness, just wasn’t there or at least wouldn’t really affect me.

I felt this way on Monday, after learning of the bombing.  I felt this way on Tuesday and on Wednesday too, what with more and more sad and infuriating events piling up in the reports on the radio.  Being woken at 5 this morning by an alert (I still get all the Tufts alerts, even though I am working remotely now) that all MBTA transit was shut down and instructions to stay locked in doors didn’t exactly help.  But, on one of my walks with the dog, just as a flock of cedar waxwings suddenly settled in every branch of the tree we were standing by, I felt grateful, and I was hit with  a realization with the force of a load of bricks, one that had occurred to me before but that I had clearly never realized per se, one so perfectly obvious that obviously it would take me this long to get it.

Focusing on love and on all the things you are grateful for is not an attempt to say that there isn’t pain and grief in the world.  And it’s not saying that there aren’t things to be afraid of, nor that you shouldn’t be wise and cautious when that is called for, nor that you shouldn’t work tirelessly to change those things that you actually are able to change.  It’s saying that there are also amazingly wonderful things in the world, millions of examples of love and grace, infinite things to be grateful for.  And what I suddenly finally understood was that all those things are just. as. real.  It’s not wishful thinking when you’re thinking about something that’s real.

When you choose to focus your attention on the good, you’re not denying that evil is there or that horrifying things happen, but you’re denying them the power to control you and your life.  It may mean vulnerability and the possibility of loss and anguish, but choosing love over fear, trying to choose it everyday, means choosing life.  That’s a pretty powerful thing to be able to choose.  I just got that.  And it actually makes me pretty hopeful.

potato artichoke salad bowl

All this has virtually nothing to do with a warm potato and artichoke salad.  I just felt the need to share a little of where my thinking has gone this week.  But, I also very much want to share with you these potatoes.  It is still snowing out here.  No joke.  Something to do with the melting ice caps and changes in the jet stream causing weather patterns to loop more.  This new phenomenon is something I find actually quite interesting.  Less interesting?  Shoveling the sidewalk for the 10th time in as many days.

I couldn’t handle the idea of roast or mashed potatoes because it felt far too wintery.  A warm potato salad, on the other hand, is a nod to spring and hopefulness.  I got in my mind to pair little spring potatoes with artichokes, a certain harbinger of spring.  Something about the light green flavor of artichokes makes me think of the sea, an odd association for sure, but I was certain it would contrast well against the grounded earth tones of potatoes.  I also stirred in a giant spoonful of capers to amplify any hint of tang from the artichokes with bold brine.

Something about the potatoes and capers made me think of sauce gribiche, which is where the idea to chop,  stir, and douse with what can only be called a butt-load of herbs came from.  It’s like a collaboration between gribiche and salsa verde, and it felt perfectly tailored to the personalities of all other players be they green or creamy.  Because of that vaguely gribiche-y character, I’m sure this would be good with hardboiled eggs chopped and mixed in, or with a fried egg atop.  I served it with a small, crisply roast chicken and it was wonderful.

potato artichoke salad overhead

Warm Potato Salad with Artichokes and Herb Dressing (serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/2 lbs. small potatoes (like red potatoes or fingerlings)
  • either about 4 artichokes, trimmed, steamed and quartered (use this tutorial on prepping artichokes, if you need), or 1, 14-oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (this is the simpler option, obviously)
  •  2 Tbs. capers (drained if in brine, rinsed if salt-packed)
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped chives
  • 2 Tbs. tarragon leaves (the chives and tarragon are optional. Parsley and mint are the most critical.)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  1. Halve or quarter the potatoes, depending on their size, so that they’re in about 1 1/2 inch chunks.  Put them in a pot and add enough water to cover them by at least an inch.  Throw in a very large pinch of salt.  Bring the pot to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes cook, combine the herbs, and garlic in a food processor along with a pinch of salt and chop them together.  (You can also do this by hand or use a mortar and pestle.)  With the food processor running, pour the olive oil in in a stream to blend it in and emulsify the herb dressing.  When it’s blended to an emerald colored, still a bit chunky  sauce, stop and transfer it to a large serving bowl.  Taste and adjust the salt to your taste, then stir in the lemon juice and capers.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain them.  Immediately toss them in the bowl with the dressing and caper and toss well to mix.  Add the artichoke quarters and toss again.  Serve warm.
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32 Responses to Warm potato salad with artichokes and herb dressing

  1. I share your feelings and also love your salad and your adorable dog. What a cutie, who wouldn’t love that little sweetheart!

  2. Your post today really touched me. “Choosing love over fear, trying to choose it everyday, means choosing life,” is very powerful and should be a daily mantra.
    On top of all that, the potato salad looks delicious!

  3. Sounds simply scrumptious! 😀 I love tarragon and capers so this is a winner!

  4. Substantial thoughts you have shared. Focusing on gratitude and goodness are keys to happiness, and these can be emphasized as your family grows.

    Thanks for the recipe too. Artichokes are an inspired ingredient choice.

  5. Wonderful words and reminder, Emily. I am myself paralyzed by anxiety at times. Especially the fear of the loss of loved ones. This has been such a draining week!… but love will win, in the end. You couldn’t be more right.

    We don’t have kids yet, but we love our little dog, too! I’m sure that the love you’ll abundantly have for your baby will change the way you see things even more radically, and cause you to be capable of overcoming some anxieties.

    Supposedly our weather should be warm next week — sunny and mid-70s? But today is is chilly, mid-40s and absolutely dumping dreary, wet rain. This potato salad sounds just perfect. I love roast chicken, too!

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Thank you so much. It is important to remind ourselves, and remind ourselves frequently. Also, I’m totally convinced that a dog can count as a first child. 🙂 Hope your weather is behaving more spring-like now!

  6. Look this post and this dish. I wish I had a big bowl of it right now. Extra capers for me!

  7. A really thoughtful and lovely post. The delicious recipe just tops of the whole thing. Thank you 🙂

  8. KathyK says:

    Great post Emily, and very well expressed. I can relate to everything you’ve written.

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Thanks so much! I figured I couldn’t possibly be the only one thinking about and struggling with these things. 🙂

  9. anonymous says:

    often I feel these worries as well! You have written the thoughts I have rolling around in my head so perfectly. Thanks for sharing your insight and touching us all 🙂

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Thank you. I’m truly happy to know you identified with these thoughts and that my words were at all helpful to you.

  10. love to cook says:

    great post emily , really touching although i am a mom of two grown ups but still i found your feelings very thoughtful and loving t.c …..salad is again very exciting but you know in India we don’t get artichokes easily can i replace it with any other vege????

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      A mom to two grown-ups is still just as much a mom! 🙂 As far as other vegetable options, obviously nothing is quite like an artichoke, but you could try replacing them with another spring-y vegetable. Are you able to get asparagus? You could try using sauteed asparagus pieces. Or you could add a few handfuls of fresh arugula. Otherwise, I think the potatoes, herbs, and capers would also be delicious if you tossed in some simple sauteed greens of your favorite sort.

  11. Thoughtful and lovely post. Thanks for the delicious recipe.

  12. kate says:

    i can very much relate to this post. i used to worry about ben dying all the time. for no reason. now that i have a wee one i worry about her AND ben dying. such pleasantries i fill my brain with. ugh

    i can tell you it’s getting better and easier. it’s taken a lot of positive thinking, praying, meditating, and chocolate.

    ps. i want to bury my face into this salad
    pss. i think you’re my neighbor

  13. Lindsay C says:

    I was nodding my head in agreement right there alongside you with this post. You put eloquently into words, exactly what I’ve been feeling as the days pass. I finished the Boston Marathon and was celebrating with family & friends when the first bomb went off – My office was closed for a week and I just kind of broke down during that time. However, recently I’ve felt an incredible calm and overwhelming gratitude around me. There truly ARE so many beautiful things to be grateful for and I’m planning on focusing on those – surrounding myself and spreading those- with the rest I am simply “denying them the power to control.” Thanks for your words!

  14. […] inspiration came from Five and Spice, one of my favorite foodie blogs. Her photography is simply beautiful and I love turning to other […]

  15. Kate K says:

    Hi Emily. I’m getting to this a month late, but your words touched my heart. I too struggle with anxiousness, vulnerability, and looking for the good. I wanted to share some things that have been useful to me as I’ve tried to figure this out:
    The Power of Vulnerability – http://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o
    This crazy lady who is great at helping people get “un-stuck” – http://www.fluentself.com/blog/habits/talking-truth-to-fear/
    Feel free to ignore the above if you want. 🙂
    Hugs and love to you as you progress down the path to motherhood. You seem to have many kindred spirits around you!!

    • Emily says:

      I love Brenee’s work! But, I haven’t seen the stuff about “de-stuck-ification” 🙂 before. Thanks for sharing!!

      • Kate K says:

        Anytime, Emily. You’re an inspiration to me. Your blog post announcing your “big leap”, starting a distillery and moving to MN, gave me courage to take my own big leap. 🙂 So, thanks for all that you are and all that you share! Yay.

  16. Flora,?Hola
    para que es un útil ,fiveandspice.com | Warm potato salad with artichokes and herb dressing,Juan gracias , buen día

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