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Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Monday: Nanny's Never-ending Cucumber Salad

Greetings!  It's Monday so I have an easy, tasty, and seasonal meatless recipe for you to try.
Today's post will be short and sweet, and relates to one of my earliest food memories.
My mother's family looms large in my childhood.  She is 1 of 10 children, most of whom live in the city where I grew up, so aunts and cousins make up most of my early memories, espcially those that relate to food.  I came up cooking and eating with these women and children.  My father, on the other hand, was one of two children adopted by an older couple who sometimes seemed to take better to their dogs than children.  That said, there are a few foods that I will always associate with their home.  (Turkey loaf is one of them, but I think I'll spare you that pleasure.)
A funny food-related memory from that family: Once, my mother slaved over a fresh cherry pie for all of us, pitting each cherry by hand and making the crust.  At my paternal grandparents' home, she served it warm with cold ice cream.  After a bite she looked over at my grandfather and said "Albert, this is better than sex."  He paused, looked at her for a moment, and said "I wouldn't remember."
The following recipe is one that my grandmother, Nanny, always had in her refrigerator in the summer.  We all know what a strong memory jog smell can be, and this salad will always bring me a sense of refreshment on a hot summer day.  I remember plucking slices from the bowl and feeling my saliva glands pulse at the sourness of the vinegar, followed by the chill of the watery cucumber.
The "recipe" is a ratio, and you can keep the bowl in the fridge all summer long, adding more cucumbers and liquid as the season moves along and your garden gives up more cucumbers.  Some cucumber salad recipes use dairy, but I like this one because it's simple and well balanced.

Nanny's Never-ending Cucumber Salad
Cucumbers
thinly sliced white onion
1 part white vinegar
1 part water
1 part sweetener (sugar or honey)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh dill

Begin with thinly sliced cucumbers, the fresher the better.
Basic picklers are fine.
DSC03195This year, we have some lemon cucumbers, which look like this when young
DSC03194and this when matured.  They have a much more mild taste, lacking the bitterness of traditional cucumbers, and a slight lemon aromaDSC03196Slice up your cucumbers and onion 1/4 in. thick.
Throw them in a bowl with as much chopped dill as you like.
Then add your liquids and sweetener, making enough to cover the cucumbers, and season with salt and pepper.
DSC03189
As you eat the salad, keep adding more cucumbers (trying to eat the older, more flavorful ones at first) being sure to keep enough liquid in the bowl the cover you cucumbers.
They will taste good right away, but benefit from at least an overnight soak.  You might want to keep the bowl covered to avoid evaporation and spills.
Enjoy!

2 comments:

shaheen said...

Lovely. I haven't had any cucumber this year. Waiting for some local ones to arrive on the shelf.

shaheen said...

Lovely. I haven't had any cucumber this year. Waiting for some local ones to arrive on the shelf.

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