Post # 138 Julia’s Braised Cucumbers

July 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 138 Julia’s Braised Cucumbers

One of the things that every single home cook faces on a daily basis is what the heck to make for the family.  You want to make something easy enough that it won’t take hours, but still impressive enough to make your family say “Yum!”  Hopefully, it will be something that will stay on your repertoire for a long time.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m constantly reading magazines, perusing really old cookbooks, watching televisions shows, even gleaning recipes from old novels.  One of my favorite recipes came from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, written in the 1940s.

When it comes to the protein section of the entrée, I’m sort of stuck with the Big 3.  Because of likes and dislikes and allergies, etc. I choose each day from beef, chicken, or pork.  Fish and seafood are entirely out of the question, veal and lamb and mutton can only be used if they can be hidden, and game birds and animals are just not considered.  But it’s not really a problem because the varieties that I can use within what’s usable are countless.  The starch section of the entrée is also fairly easy because it’s not limited.  I can make rice or potatoes or pasta or bread in infinite ways to keep interest up and meals different.  Veggies, however, are always a trial for me.

I like vegetable more than I like fruit.  And I prefer veggies as close to their natural state as possible.  Eating them raw is perfect.  Salads feature a lot in our dinners.  Carrots and celery are the best snacks.  Roasting or grilling any vegetable is wonderful.  Inevitably, there are vegetables that my family and I don’t agree on and we tend not to have those unless it’s something special.  I am not a big fan of corn.  I like it okay, and if it’s in the dish, I’ll eat it.  But I don’t go out of my way to eat corn.  I don’t like bell peppers, but nearly every other pepper is fine.  I love mushrooms, and partner/spouse loathes them.  For me, a vine-ripened tomato is better than candy, but I know people who despise tomatoes.  I know!  Go figure!  So I’m constantly on the lookout for veggie dishes and sides that I can feed to my family.

Years ago, we were watching the movie “Julie and Julia” for the first time.  It’s a wonderful and delightful movie, and if you’ve not seen it, I strongly recommend it.  I’ve been a big Julia fan for decades; I love Meryl Streep in nearly anything; and Amy Adams is as sweet as they come.  And in one scene they talked about Braise Cucumbers.  And they said YUM!  My ears perked up.

A few days later, I looked through my Julia cookbook, THE cookbook that the movie was about and found the recipe.  Now for me, cucumbers were a raw food, always.  Sometimes they could be pickled or made into dips or dressings, but I’d never had them cooked.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE cucumbers.  One of my earliest memories is picking a cucumber from somebody’s garden and sitting under a tree and eating the whole damn thing.  At four, it looked as big as a cannon, but I ate it and loved it.  (At that same age, I also couldn’t figure out why acorns were so bitter and pecans so sweet.)  But based on that single YUM! from the movie, I grilled steaks, baked potatoes, and braised cucumbers.

OMG!  YUM!

It was amazing.  I expected them to be slimy and they weren’t.  I expected them to by mushy and they weren’t.  Braising them transformed their flavor making the melon flavor deeper and richer with the added notes of butter and tang from the lemon.  And it was fast and easy.  Prep took the longest and wasn’t that long.  So here’s the pic and the recipe.  Let me know what you think when you try this.

braised cucumber

  1. 3 medium to large garden cucumbers (not the English or Persian variety)
  2. 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. 1 pinch sugar (optional)
  4. 1 pinch salt
  5. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (white vinegar will work if lemon juice isn’t around)
  6. 1/2 chopped fresh mint leaves

Peel the cucumbers leaving the ends on.  Slice in half lengthways.  Cut in half across the length of cucumber making four quarters of even size for each cucumber.  Using a spoon, gently remove the seeds.  Cut the cucumber into one inch pieces.  On medium heat, melt butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet until bubbles disappear, then add sugar if using.  Add the cucumber and stir to coat evenly.  Cover the skillet and cook for five minutes, stirring twice during the cooking time.  Add salt, lemon, and mint stirring to mix thoroughly.  Cover and cook for two more minutes, then remove from heat, uncover, and serve hot.

You’ll be surprised how fast they disappear.

GARDEN UPDATE:  I harvested the carrots today.  For the most part, they were standard, ordinary looking carrots and once the dirt was washed off, they tasted great.  However, these few looked kind of funny so I thought I’d share the pic.

carrots

Bizarre, no?  Also, the squash I couldn’t identify is now taking over most of the garden.  The beans are nearly gone.  With the carrots harvested, there’s another whole section for that vine.  It started to attack the tomatoes and I said, “Oh, Hell No!” and cut them off.  But I finally identified it.  It’s not squash, as I was led to believe.  It’s cantaloupe!  I hate cantaloupe!  If I’d known that’s what it was, I’d a pulled it out weeks ago.  But there are lots of people around here who like it, including FiL, so it stays.

Enjoy!

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