My Garden and German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalad)

September 4, 2015 § 3 Comments

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Anyone who gardens knows what I mean when I say it’s my sanctuary. It’s the first place I go to when I get home from a trip and the last place I visit before I go in for the night. I go through the gate and everything else that’s been on my mind is left behind. Before I know it three hours have flown by.

It’s a special place, alive with birds, toads, bees, and I’m sure plant spirits and faeries turning sunlight, rain and dirt into flowers and vegetables magically overnight.

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I’ll be in the middle of weeding when I feel the sunflowers beckoning. I’ll stop to have a look at them and see that the finches and chickadees have been busy working on the huge heads. I love watching them flit around, going from one to another, like their own buffet table. I’ll leave about half for them and the rest I’ll dry and feed to the chickens.

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I’m not a very neat gardener I think you’d say. I know I should have pulled out that tomato seedling that sprouted up from last year, right in the path. But I didn’t and so now I have to step over it and soon won’t even be able to do that. There are poppies everywhere, and again, right in the path. I even saved an elderberry sprout that flew into the garden somehow (faerie probably) and it’s now a small tree near the back. Oh well!

And my garden this year is the best one ever. Each day I bring up a basket of tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and cucumbers. So many cucumbers! I juice them, make pickles and salads and add them to water. I slice them in half and give the chickens a treat too.

One of my favorite salads is one my mother always made, Gurkensalad. She didn’t really have a recipe, but this is how I make it now.

4 cucumbers, peeled

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 TBL red wine vinegar

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

1 to 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional but really good)

paprika for garnish

After you peel the cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I use a melon baller for this.

Using a mandolin, slice them. A food processor works or if you don’t have one, just slice as thinly as possible. Even if they break apart, it’s ok, you don’t want big chunks for this salad.

Put slices into a colander, salt them well. About 1 TBL salt will do it. Let sit about a half hour.

While they’re draining, in a separate bowl, mix the dressing by combing sour cream, vinegar, red onion, sugar, a dash of pepper. Set aside.

After at least a half hour, grab a large bowl, then take a handful of cucumbers at a time and squeeze as much water as you can out of them, then put them into the bowl. (Don’t rinse the cucumbers by the way)

Add the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning. You’ll need a little more salt. Add the caraway seeds, mix then dust with sweet paprika.

Chill for at least an hour before serving. This is a very refreshing salad that gets better the longer it sits. I’ll make a ton of it and grab a bowl as a snack. Enjoy!

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Guylas Suppe

November 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

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I remember eating Guylas quite often growing up. There are some things I remember not liking too much, like lentils and liver (who did?) but most of my mother’s cooking I loved. And Guylas and Guylas Suppe, aka goulash soup was probably my favorite. Having a Hungarian father paprika was put on almost every dish. Eggs, chicken, fish, even toast with cream cheese had some paprika sprinkled on it. But Guylas has more than a sprinkling, 2 heaping tablespoons go into this, and that’s what gives it it’s unique flavor.

I’ve heard that peppers are very often added, but my mother never put peppers into her Guylas, only meat, lots of onions, carrots and paprika. You could always add them if you’re a pepper fan, me not so much. If you want to make a stew instead of a soup, just cut down on the liquid somewhat. And don’t forget the sour cream, that’s another thing we put on and in everything!

Ingredients:

bacon fat, lard or olive oil for browning the meat, about 3 TBL

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into small cubes about 1/2 ”

handful of flour, for dusting the meat

2 medium onions, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 TBL tomato paste

2 heaping TBL good sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 cup red wine

handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt and  1/4 tsp pepper

3 cups beef stock or water will do, heated

2 large potatoes. peeled and cut into small pieces, 1/2 ”

sour cream

 

Prepare the meat by salting and dusting with some flour.

In a large soup pot, heat the fat until hot. Add the meat cubes and sear on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot as you’ll end of steaming the meat.

Remove to a plate, add the onions to the remaining fat. You should have enough fat to saut√© the onions, if not, add more. Don’t be afraid of fat!

Add the paprika, stir and cook slowly about 10 to 15 minutes until soft.

Add a little bit of red wine now to loosen everything up, then add the garlic, carrots, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.

Put the meat back in, add the heated stock or water to cover everything, slowly bring to boil.

Turn heat to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours until meat is very tender.

Add the diced potatoes and cook until soft, about another half hour.

Taste for seasoning, put into serving bowl and add a big scoop of sour cream.

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This soup is even better the next day, like so many other things!

 

Makes about 6 large servings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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