September 8, 2011 at 9:04 a.m.

Cucumbers offer great summer dishes

Cucumbers offer great summer dishes
Cucumbers offer great summer dishes

Cucumbers. There are several references to cucumbers in the Old Testament. When the descendents of Jacob escaped from Egypt, they longed for the food they enjoyed in captivity which was as cool and refreshing as the desert was hot and barren: "We remember...the cucumbers, melons, onions and garlic" (Numbers 11:5). The cool moist cucumber must have been especially hard for the thirsty Hebrews to forget. Moses, walking along the banks of the Nile at Pharaoh's court, would have seen acres and acres of these green-vines and fruited vegetables growing in the rich mud of this river. So valuable was the cucumber, that small watchtowers were built in the vineyards and fields to protect the crops. It was to these frail outlooks that Isaiah refers to when he warns of the doom of the unfaithful: "And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city" (Isaiah 1:8).

And so, we have been enjoying the cucumbers for a long, long time, mainly as a side dish or in a salad. Let's use cukes in today's recipes.

CALAH CUCUMBERS

(Cucumbers in mint dressing)

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. white pepper (can use 1/8 t. black pepper)

1/4 c. olive oil

1 T. vinegar

1 T. finely diced mint or 2 t. dried mint leaves

2 large, unpeeled, scored, thinly sliced cucumbers*

Combine all ingredients, except cukes, in a bottle or small jar and shake vigorously. Pour over cukes. Mix lightly. Serve in a bowl.

Makes 4-6 servings.

* To score the cukes: using a fork, pull the fork lightly down the skin, one end to the other, going around the cuke. Make sense?

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CUCUMBER AND CARROT SALAD

2 medium size cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

2 medium carrots, cut in julienne strips (about 1" long)

1/4 c. diced onion

2 T. raisins

3/4 c. water

1/4 c. vinegar

2 T. sugar

1/4 t. each, salt, pepper and paprika

In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Combine rest of ingredients in a small bowl, mixing until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cuke mixture; cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon or drain off liquid before putting in a serving bowl.

Makes 6 servings.

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I got this recipe from a gal I worked with about 35 years ago and I'm still using it.

JUDY'S SOUR CREAM CUCUMBERS

2 cucumbers (about 6" long), peeled and sliced very thin

2 c. cold water

1 t. salt

1/2 c. sliced bacon (about 1/2" wide), fried crisp and drained

1-1/2 c. sour cream

1/4 c. vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Put cukes in a bowl. Combine water and salt in a small bowl, stirring until salt dissolves. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander (push on cukes slightly to get more liquid out of cukes). Combining remaining ingredients, mixing well. Fold in cukes; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: If you like, add a little dill weed - about 1/4 t. to dressing or you could add some snipped chives as well.

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CUCUMBER APPETIZERS

Slice unpeeled cucumbers about the diameter of a golf ball, crosswise into 3/4 - 1" slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out about half of the center of each slice. Discard seeds. Fill each slice with about a Tablespoon of any of the following: strained salsa, garlic & herb cheese spread, veggie & cream cheese spread, pimiento cheese spread, flavored hummus, ham, tuna or chicken or salmon spread. Garnish the fillings with a tiny bit of fresh parsley or a small part of a celery leaf. It makes as many flavorful and pretty appetizers as you want to make!

Recently one of my older sisters called to ask how I make cucumber in cream like Mom made. My first thought was to say, "H-m-m-m, are you saying you can't remember what ingredients she used or how much of each ingredients to use. Or did you forget to write it down the last time you asked me." I skipped all of that stuff and asked her if she had paper and pencil ready.

MOM'S CUCUMBERS AND CREAM

1/2 c. sour cream

1 c. salad dressing

1 T. vinegar

1/2 t. sugar or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. If you wish, you may add dill weed or snipped chives.

Makes 1-1/4 cups. This dressing will keep 2 weeks in the fridge.

TFD: If you don't start the day with a smile it's not to late to start practicing for tomorrow.

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