hidden: being out of sight or not readily apparent
First of 4 days in which I have the house to myself, I thank the stars as well as the Elks (more on that later – I am still working on a love poem worthy of people who offer a free of charge sleep-away camp to hundreds of kids with disabilities, an act of generosity that makes me feel like I’ve gone to heaven, or at least France or Sweden, where people don’t go broke caring for their families.)
For today I will keep it short and simple and just speak to the unique charm of cucumbers. Last year my dear friend J, a neighbor who was an artist and master gardener, encouraged me to plant cucumbers, a vegetable that I hadn’t considered growing despite it being a favorite summer food. What says summer more than a perfect tzaziki (Middle Eastern cucumber yogurt dip) or chilled cucumber soup? Tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, and some greens and herbs – those were my Jersey summer crops.
But I saw how they climbed up her fence and created a bounty at once abundant and unassuming. Because, as she explained, cucumbers hide, often appearing unexpectedly from beneath a leaf, fully formed and ripe for the picking. That makes them fun, like a game of hide and seek in the midst of hard work. In fact if you don’t check the vines regularly they can get too big, teaching you to take more time and look more closely.
Cucumbers are the character actors of the garden. They don’t get the attention of those scenery-chewing tomatoes, always demanding the spotlight. “STELLA!! STELLA!!” Look at me, all red and succulent – see how I’m brightening up that weed strewn little dirt patch of yours with color and my incandescent personality? No, cucumbers are not Marlon Brando or Meryl Streep, they get overlooked for awards despite their undeniable gifts.
Like places and people so too with vegetables, some have charms and potential not readily apparent. You have to pay close attention or you’ll miss them.
Easy Cold Cucumber Soup
Grate about 6 small or 3 medium/large cucumbers. Squeeze grated cukes in paper towel, dish towel or cheese cloth to get out excess moisture
Stir 2 cups yogurt mixed with milk, a little water, some buttermilk if you have it…any combination that makes a thick but soupy consistency.
Add a few tablespoons olive oil – extra virgin if possible.
Finely chop 2-3 cloves garlic and a small handful of fresh dill, add salt and pepper (all of this to taste).
Top with some more fresh dill and serve with big hunk of pumpernickel or pita, if you are a bread eater.