A virtual visit with her sister gave Leah Pekarik her idea for an Easy Potato Salad recipe, perfect for summer picnics or to have around the house as a dinner side dish.
Pekarik was talking about her upcoming cook’s corner interview with the Sentinel-Tribune with her sister, a Washington, D.C., florist, during their weekly Facetime session. Erin suggested the potato salad, which has become a favorite family meal for Pekarik, her husband Scott and their son Bobby.
“Literally, we will make this three times a week. We’ll go through it and make another pot,” she said. “It’s easy because it’s in one pot.
“You just take whatever potato you want,” she said. “Peel the potato — although you may not want to peel a redskin.”
She used three medium-sized Idaho potatoes for this recipe.
“Peel them, leave them whole, cook them in the pot,” Pekarik said.
Add carrots and eggs to the pot, boil everything, then chop.
After the cooking and cooling, Pekarik added a cup of mayo, chopped red onion and dill pickles.
A lot of her cooking is done in a pot.
“The Instant Pot is just amazing,” she said, adding that she uses it for dinners that she can get done fast.
“I have done a full Thanksgiving meal in it before, with just the turkey breast. But it’s perfect for the three of us. I literally did it in half a day.”
In addition to the breast, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes went in the pot.
“Easy, so easy,” Pekarik said. “Mac and cheese is also very easy. And I’ve done spaghetti and meatballs, all in one pot. It’s amazing. Put it in dry, with a little bit of this.
“You can do hard-boiled eggs in like five minutes. You can do steel-cut oats, that normally take an hour and they take three minutes.”
Pekarik is an administrative assistant, doing the office work for marketing and communications at Bowling Green State University.
She’s been working at home since mid-March when coronavirus shut down the campus and sent the students home.
Pekarik said they did “fair to mid-land” getting a schedule for Bobby and for herself as work from home began.
“We printed off schedules and I set timers on Bob’s iPad that would go off and tell him what he needed to be doing,” she said, while she worked. “The day would be broken up a little bit differently, it wasn’t necessarily 8-5. And that was the harder part, trying to leave it because it’s sitting there in my kitchen.”
She doesn’t expect to be working back on campus until mid-August.
Pekarik, a 2003 BGSU graduate, has been employed at the university for five years. Before that, she used her recreation and tourism degree while working for Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. She started doing youth camps, then moved to the community center, working a total of 13 years for the city.
“It was nice to go back to being a Falcon again. The schedule allowed me to be a mom. Bob was getting older. Scott still doesn’t have a schedule to speak of, as a railroader,” she said.
Scott, who’s been a Norfolk Southern train engineer for 18 years, works on a two-hour call notice. Bobby is a fifth grader at Conneaut Elementary, who plays hockey and soccer.
They’ve lived in the Georgetown subdivision, just north of Bowling Green, since they were newlyweds. It’s the perfect combination of rural and city life, she said.
“The quiet of the country,” Pekarik said is a highlight. “It’s quiet, but everybody knows each other.”
In her backyard on this warm spring day, a set of windchimes trilled in a soft breeze, a comforting reminder of the daughter they lost four years ago. Clara died unexpectedly at 3 months old in April 2016. The chimes are next to a dogwood tree that was planted in Clara’s memory.
Also from her patio, Pekarik can see Union Hill Cemetery where Clara is buried.
Clara’s Creature, a tribute to the baby, is a splashpad feature that debuted at the Bowling Green City Pool and Waterpark in 2017 after a community-wide fundraiser.
It won’t open this year because of coronavirus.
Bobby may be a budding cook.
“He’s done a couple classes over at the teaching kitchen on campus. Loves them, loves them,” Pekarik said. “I hope that comes back in the fall.”