I don’t know why, but I have remarkable luck when it comes to growing cucumbers. I grow them even better than zucchini, which are generally considered the easiest vegetables of all to grow. But starting in early July, I can pick cucumbers on an almost daily basis. Sometimes, I feel as if leprechauns visit my garden at night and hide baskets of cucumbers in my vines, because I’m always surprised in the morning when I see fully grown cucumbers nestled in there when I thought I picked them all the previous day.
So what to do with my good fortune? Alas, I have (again!) not chosen a pickling variety, so that’s not an option. (Next year, though.) Cucumber tea sandwiches are always a fun and cool lunch. I also love that sweet/sour Hungarian Cucumber Salad that I first had in 1984 when biking through Hungary on my way to Yugoslavia. Plus, you can use the cucumber juices from that recipe to make a delightful, refreshing cocktail called a Cucumber Mint-tini.
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
Pinch of garlic powder (optional)
1. Place the cucumbers in a colander and let stand over a bowl for about hour with a plate and a heavy can on top. (This helps squeeze out the juices, which you will save for for the cocktail below!)
2. Combine the salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, water and garlic powder with the cucumber and let marinate.
3. To serve, dust with paprika.
Juice of one cucumber (see above) or just use thinly sliced cucumber
Handful of fresh mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
2 lime wedges
2 sugar cubes
1 ounce simple syrup (one part sugar dissolved in one part water)
splash of fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces Vodka
splash of club soda
Muddle cucumber, mint leaves, 1 lime wedge, sugar cubes, simple syrup and lime juice. Add vodka and shake with ice. Strain all ingredients into a sugar-rimmed martini glass and top with club soda. Garnish with remaining lime wedge and mint sprig.
Makes one cocktail