Cucumbers and Memories

8/28/2013 9:41:00 AM

Tags: Cucumber Salad Recipe, Growing Cucumbers, Cucumber Recipe, Donna Rae Barrow

Donna BHere's the thing about amending your garden soil with your homemade compost and building a trellis system from bamboo you've hacked down in a friend's yard: You create the perfect environment for a continuous cucumber harvest!  Spring right through to winter, we've got cucumbers to pick every day.

Pickling cucumbers 
Pickling cucumbers climbing a handcrafted bamboo trellis.

Pickling cucumber
Pickling cucumber hiding in the vines.

In the three months of cucumber harvest thus far, dozens and dozens of them have been lovingly cut and packed into jars, processed and placed in the pantry to wait. The moment that burger needs a topper, the evening that only a pickle will do as snack, those jars will be there. But today I couldn't face one more canner load of pickles, even though my counter overfloweth with cucumbers.

Cucumber Harvest
Daily harvest of cucumbers, grown organically on our plot of suburbia.

It was time to pull out the mandoline and slice all that green goodness into cucumber salad, just like at Grandma's house!

Sunday at Grandma's was a time of cousins running, mamas cooking, and horseshoes clanging. The table was always filled with fried chicken, biscuits and fresh-from-the-garden goodness. Green beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, and cucumber salad – simple, homey food that was more heavenly than anything money could buy.  

Cucumbers were brought in and washed, and then sliced thinly. Onions, sliced just as thin, joined them in the big bowl. A quick dressing of apple cider vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and a little water was whisked with a fork, worn and sometimes bent from years of use. Dressing and vegetables were combined in the large bowl, and it was set in the icebox until it was time to eat. That cucumber salad is still a favorite; the cool of the cucs and the bite of the onion and the sweet lip-puckering dressing bring back warm memories of a childhood spent on Grandma's lap at the kitchen table.

Cucumber and Onion Salad
Cucumber and Onion Salad, perfectly plated.

I'm sure my husband won't mind if I put it on the supper menu tonight...

Old-Fashioned Cucumber and Onion Salad

5-7 pickling cucumbers, washed and dried
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste 

Cut the ends from the cucumbers; slice each very thinly. Cut onion very thinly into rings. (I like to use a mandoline for this process. The slices can be made quite thin, uniform in size, AND you can choose a rippled or wavy blade when cutting the cucumbers for a really snazzy, “company’s coming” salad!) Set slices aside.

In a large glass bowl, whisk vinegar, water, sugar and pepper until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumbers and onions to the dressing in the bowl, gently folding to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or make 1 day ahead.

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8/29/2013 11:52:07 AM
Donna, welcome to the Capper's Farmers blogging community. Already you have me inspired to try some old fashioned cucumber and onion salad. The last couple years my cucumber crop has been less than productive. Next year the cucumber bed will be enhanced greatly with compost and watered more often. I am hoping you have many more of those grandma stories and recipes to write about in the future. Have a great cucumber salad day.

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