By the time I got to the sign up sheet for the classroom Valentine's party there were only a few items left. I ended up with sliced cucumbers. Alex was charged with picking up the cucumbers for the party. While he was out I ended up at H-Mart because we were out of my favorite rice. While I was wandering the produce section I noticed some perfect pickling cucumbers. Half sour pickles had been on my mind so impulsively I grabbed 4 packages. Oddly enough, because I would have expected him to get English cucumbers, Alex came home with 2 packages of the same kind.
The next morning Amaya wanted to help slice the cucumbers. After some discussion we decided to peel them because she thought that more of her friends would eat them that way. Then I got out the mandoline and we worked together to slide them back and forth over the blade. I was left with several large ends when we were done because safety is always a good thing when working with a five year old. After she left for school I sliced the ends on the mandoline, salted them and set them aside.
Alex ended up hitting the local sausage shop that day so I was inspired to make cucumber salad. There was a great German delicatessen in our neighborhood when I was growing up and my Aunt would often come home with their cucumber salad. It was peeled, thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in a sweet, tangy dressing. I drained the liquid off my cucumbers and added a pinch of sugar and rice wine vinegar. Marinated cucumbers are wonderful. First they soften and then they bloom. Their sweet flavor is accentuated by a touch of sugar and the sharp edge of the vinegar. They were just thick enough to maintain a little bit of chew and a little bit of crunch, the perfect foil for the rich salty sausages. You could easily add any multitude of flavors and it would work beautifully. Last night we loved it for its simplicity. Cucumbers, salt, sugar and vinegar. Four ingredients for a refreshing winter salad.
February 15, 2005