Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cucumber salad and a belated ode to momma

It took me until college to realize that not everyone knew the bare-bone basics of cooking.   I realized not everyone had a mom that made them help her in the kitchen--forced them to listen as she explained what she was doing and why, telling them the whole time that they would thank her later.
Well, as predicted, I'm eternally grateful to my mother for forcing me into the kitchen--for teaching me so much of what she has learned without me even realizing it at the time.  But, more than that, I am so thankful for having a one-of-a-kind childhood.  While I was in pre-school, my afterschool program was chopping parsley and peeling potatoes at my mother's restaurant.  Kindergarten came and I was promoted to official napkin folder, at which time I mastered the "Standing Fan."  As hard as I tried, school lunches never meant Gushers, Fruit roll-ups, Sunny-D, or the highly desired peanut butter and jelly on fluffy white bread.  I grew up eating and loving sushi, craving brown rice, and never having a TV dinner.  Despite the occasional and sometimes overwhelming turbulence that rocked our family, I never felt unloved.  At a young age, I was taught to see the world differently and any small struggle that I have experienced has only made me a stronger and more grateful person. 

This past Sunday being Mother's Day, I got to thinking about the woman that brought me into this world.  The woman who has a supernatural talent for taking what is dim and dark in this world and turning it into radiance (something she proves every time she brings any plant she touches back to life despite how much I under-watered it).  With boundless energy and an eagerness for life, she is an inspiration.

So, a belated Happy Mother's Day to you Momma, I hope you know how much you are loved.  And Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there who work their asses off in such a thankless job, one day a year is not even close to enough.

This is a simple cucumber salad recipe adapted from the one my mom has made countless times in her own kitchen.  No matter how many times I watch her every move, hers still turns out better.  But, this recipe is still delicious.  I make it with maple syrup, but I'm sure honey would substitute just fine.

Mom's Cucumber Salad

1 seedless cucumber, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced paper thin
2 tbsp sea salt plus extra, as needed
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (depending on your desired level of sweetness)
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely

Place sliced cucumber and sliced red onion into two separate bowls.  Add 1 tbsp of sea salt to each bowl and toss gently.  Place a weight on top of each bowl to press out the excess water (I used a bowl with a mug in it as a weight).  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  Drain excess water from bottom of cucumber bowl and gently squeeze cucumbers with your palms to remove any remaining water.  You can also use a paper towel to capture excess water.  Repeat draining and squeezing with onions.  In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, red onions, vinegar, maple syrup, dill, and salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


  1. I would love to see daily postings of your mom's recipes. She is such a good cook and her knowledge and talents should be shared by all. I would also love to see cooking video's of you and your mom cooking your favorite recipe's. Perhaps both of you can write a cookbook together... Just think - "Two generations of natural foods cooking". Indeed! Norman C

  2. Thanks for reading, Norman! I'll work on getting my mom to pull out her old recipes for some testing!