Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cucumber Salad

I called my sister this afternoon to ask if she knew the recipe for this cucumber salad.  Not just any cucumber salad.  A very specific one.  It’s sweet and acidic and sometimes has a white sauce stuff.  I figured it was sour cream, but I wasn’t sure and I didn’t know the ratio.  Ratio is key in these things.  I knew she must not be too busy since she had just sent me a picture of the cucumber and tomato salad she was having for lunch.

After a little looking she found recipe in a family cookbook she compiled several years ago.  Yes, I have a copy, but it’s in storage.

Turns out it’s really easy.  So easy I remember it. 

For each cucumber you mix three tablespoons white vinegar, three tablespoons water, and one tablespoon sugar together in a bowl.  Then you toss it with the cucumbers (peeled or unpeeled and sliced; I like to peel them if they’re a little big and have tougher skin) and salt and pepper to taste.  You can add onions too if you want.  I did.  If you want the creamy version you drain it and add a little sour cream right before you serve them.

My mom says if you chill the sliced cucumbers in ice water before you put them in they stay crunchier. Crunchiness is very important, but alas I received this tidbit too late for today's cucumber.
You’re supposed to let them sit in the fridge for three hours to soak in the flavor.  I tried them right away.  They were every bit as amazing as I remembered.  I asked if she thought you could just can them with that recipe and eat them all year long.  I thought it seemed like a brilliant idea.  Pretty sure those are called bread and butter pickles. Not exactly a new idea, but still a tasty one.
"Do you know how to make pickles?  Well, do you know how to make dill pickle slices with the crinkly edges?"
"You need a mandolin slicer."
 "I’m so glad I can talk to you about this stuff, because I don’t really have anybody else." 

"Because they wouldn’t know or they would think you were weird for asking?"

"They pretty much all fall in one category or the other."
We talked for a while longer as I gorged myself on cucumbers and did some internet mandolin slicer research. They are much more filling than you would think, or maybe that was the half gallon of water I drank.   It’s nice to talk to her on the phone while she has lunch.  I think we should do it more often.
"I would love to talk to you all afternoon, but I don’t have my work done.  I love you."
I love you too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Eat Endangered Species. Save the World.

Okay, well maybe not save the whole world, but definitely help to save that one species.  And biodiversity is a good thing.

My husband sent me this article about bison and craft beer.  It covers several rationales for pairing of bison and craft beer from flavor to their shared history and promotes them as a "very sustainable, local, natural product which fits in well with craft brewers.” 

The article says you should eat bison because it's good for you, it tastes great with beer, and its good for the environment.  That's the theory at least.  Keep in mind that at least some (maybe most) of why bison are "healthier" is that they are generally pasture finished.  If you fed them like cattle in feedlots the meat would have more fat and a less favorable fatty acid profile

I haven't done any fact checking on the claims made about the more bison as more environmentally friendly meat source.  It makes sense that if you raise an animal in the conditions it evolved to live in it would work out better.  If it worked for thousands of years without people it must be sustainable on some level, but whether or not we can mimic those conditions without missing something is another question.

I have another reason to eat bison.  Eat them because there aren't that many of them.  Slow Food's Ark of Taste Program is based on promoting the consumption of rare foods in order to ensure a market and encourage production.  Yes, the American Plains Bison is one of the over 200 species in their catalog.

I did a little checking and there are about 194 cattle for every bison in America (assuming the article is right that there are 0.5 million or so bison in America and a cursory internet search finds 97 million-ish (96,669,000 according to a 2008 census if you want to get technical) cattle).  Clearly that has something to do with the market for their meat.

I'm all for helping the little guy.  Especially when he's so tasty.  Oh, and the article is right.  Bison really does go better with most craft beers than beef.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Olives have been a thorn in my side for years.  I have a firm policy of at least trying anything that is considered food by any group of people. Note the specificity here.  Just because some crazy thinks you can eat it, does not qualify something as a food I need to try.  It has to be accepted as food within a cuisine.

If at all possible, I like to go beyond try to "like" status with food.  I'm not really sure why.  I think I just like to be happy with whatever people offer and liking everything makes that a lot easier.

I’ve been trying to like olives since I visited Greece in 2001, so for almost a decade. 

To make matters worse, olives are generally accepted as a thing adults eat.  They show up at cocktail parties and on tapas platters and people ask if I want one since I'm an adult.  "No, thank you.  I'm a child person who looks like an adult, but doesn't like olives."  Eek.

Oh, and people claim they go great with gin.  I love gin.  I should like olives if for no other reason than so that I can like dirty martinis, but I don't. 

I’d had the same problem with milk.  Yes, milk.  I had it on cereal and in milkshakes and pudding and stuff, but I couldn’t go for it straight.  Part of the problem could be that my mother refuses to purchase anything but skim milk so for the entirety of my childhood I was exposed to nothing else.  Odd for a woman who grew up on a dairy, but I think that goes back to the "fat is bad for you" thinking she has.  My dad says it's water with chalk in it.  It took at least two weeks of gagging down a glass every single day, but eventually I started to like it.  I like it even more now that my husband has convinced me to go with 1%.  It works so much better in cooking that I wouldn't go back to skim for the world.  Potential upcoming commentary?  I think so.

The same system worked for coffee and beer, two of my current favorite beverages.  I actually learned to like coffee by starting with a high milk to coffee ratio and scaling the milk back until I liked coffee black.  Beer was more complicated.  You can find that story on Brewmiscuous.  

Given my previous successes it seemed reasonable enough to try desensitization again.  I thought if I tried buying a jar stuffed with feta, which I adore, and ate one every day it wouldn't take too long and I would be a mature, adult, olive consuming individual.  It had worked before. 

Not so much with olives.  After three days I couldn't take it anymore.  They sat in my refrigerator for a year until I moved and gave them away to a neighbor.

My husband and I got a Meat Me pizza from Old Chicago last weekend.  We won two free ones along with a ton of gift certificates when we tied for first place in their World Cup Bracket Challenge.  It had a pimento stuffed green olive in the center of each slice's crust.

I ate four rapid fire.

No luck.    


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...