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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scandinavian-Style Cucumber Pickle



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I am, by disposition, easily moved to laughter or tears and I have an unusually expressive face. It takes no special training to sense my mood or humor, but every once in a while I fool everyone. I mention this, because last weekend I was moved to tears by something quite extraordinary. Bob and I make it a point to attend local celebrations and festivals. These events were originally created to celebrate family, community and heritage, and we like to honor that spirit whenever we can. Last weekend, one of the towns close to us held their annual Scandinavian Festival and we happily attended. Usually, the entertainment consists of folk dancing and music from Finland, Norway, Denmark or Sweden. The dancers are members of groups that meet bi-monthly for practice and some of them are very good. They are, however, amateurs. What makes them special is the participation of families who often have three generations on stage for any given performance. Despite the participation of families, the number of dancers dwindles every year. There, obviously, are not enough young people to replace the seniors who can no longer participate. It's sad to see the passing of a tradition, but we enjoy it while we can and applaud the efforts of those who try to preserve memories of the old ways for their children. We sat through a handful of dance performances before heading to the beer garden to sample some typically Scandinavian food and drink. We never made it. A men's chorus, about 50 members strong, had taken the stage and, as they began to sing, it was clear we were in for something special. These were not young men, and I'd guess the youngest of them to be my age. That meant the group had lots of time to practice and perfect their singing, and perfect it they had. As they sang, my throat started to knot, but I kept my act together until the end of their performance when they began to sing the Finlandia hymn. As they sang, an elderly group in the back of audience stood and joined hands. Some of them were moved to tears and as I watched I, too, began to cry. Now it was a sedate cry, mind you, but the tears were very real. I was moved by the haunting beauty of the music and their obvious remembrance of times and places once well known but never more to be. I think you might understand the emotion if you listen to this small portion of the Finnish national anthem. It is quite beautiful.



Now, because this is a food blog, I can't let you go without sharing a recipe. It's time for us to move from the sublime to the ridiculous. Actually, there will be two new Scandinavian recipes, but only one of them will be featured today. This is a cucumber pickle that is lovely to serve with dishes as diverse as barbecue or Swedish meatballs. It is amazingly easy to make, and, as long as you thinly slice the cucumbers, you can't go wrong. Ideally, the dish should be made with seedless cucumbers, but as you can see I break my own rules. I know you'll enjoy these. Here's the recipe.

Scandinavian-Style Cucumber Pickle...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gourmet magazine

Ingredients:

1 English cucumber
1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Cut cucumber crosswise into very thin slices (preferably using a manual slicer). In a bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until sugar is dissolved and add cucumber, tossing to coat. Marinate cucumbers, covered and chilled, stirring occasionally, 4 hours. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.








One Year Ago Today: Chapatis and Pooris from One Dough







You might also enjoy these recipes:
Ottolenghi's Cucumber Salad with Poppy Seed Salad - Nami-Nami
Cucumber Salad - Simply Recipes
Greek Salad Cucumber Bites- Recipe Girl
Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad - Kalyn's Kitchen
Cucumber Salad - For the Love of Cooking

51 comments:

Ginny said...

I watched and listened to this video before I actually read what you had to say. And the song just blew me away, how beautiful! I enjoyed it much better than the picture slide show. I was going to ask you what it is, so glad you have told us. I would have been right there with you, but crying like a baby!!! Thanks for sharing this beautiful and haunting tune with us!!

Alessandra said...

What a lovely post Mary. I can cry and laugh easily too, which is good, I think, although sometimes a bit embarassing :-),

Nice pickles, I don't know much about Scandinavian cuisine, so it is good to learn more.

Ciao
Alessandra

kitchen flavours said...

I love cucumber pickles, will have to give this a try.
I've enjoyed the singing, it's indeed beautiful. The first time I listened with my radio on in the background, the second time, I just have to switch the radio off. Thank you!

Joy said...

How beautiful Mary. I am glad to have heard the anthem, and I rejoice that you had one of those precious times when music swells the heart and brings tears to the eyes.

Kalpana Sareesh said...

So simple to make pickles will give a try,..

Paula @ Dishing the Divine said...

I have a *very* similar recipe posted on my blog! I grew up eating dilled cucumbers, and the recipe is just like yours except that instead of parsley and mint it has a bit of dried dill. Not quite savory and not quite sweet, it's still a favorite treat to eat in the summer!

Anna A. said...

MMmm I love cucumbers, and even better when they are marinated into a pickle. I wonder how lemon cucumbers would fare... I just got some on Saturday at the Portland Farmers Market.

Anna A. said...

MMmm I love cucumbers, and even better when they are marinated into a pickle. I wonder how lemon cucumbers would fare... I just got some on Saturday at the Portland Farmers Market.

Elin said...

Mary..this is a simple to make and refreshing cucumber pickles. Thank you so much for sharing this...mint leaves and parsley blends well for this pickle. Thanks..have a nice week,
Elin

Hovkonditorn said...

Cucumber pickle is a childhood memory for me, so delicious and the Finlandia hymn is beautiful. Greetings from a proud Finn :)

Priya said...

Looks excellent, am gonna make some today..

sara said...

Just beautiful; I love that hymn and I love your stories! (and of course your wonderful recipes too!)

Dzoli said...

Great post to read and greta music you have chosen two:))

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I really like the way you and your husband live . . . enjoying the community, good food, and each other.

Beautiful post, Mary.

Fondly,
Glenda

Red Nomad OZ said...

Other than a couple of the herbs, that recipe is almost identical to a Thai fresh cucumber pickle recipe I've had for years! Weird how two almost diametrically opposed regions develop such a similar recipe idea!!!

PS loved the song - but you'll have to take responsibility for tears all over the world now!!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

I love cucumber salads Mary, looks great! The festival sounds like a lovely way to spend the day, and I do hope you eventually made it to the food tent:@)

Mumzie said...

The video is beautiful and I'm going to try the cucumbers today. Actually, I love all the recipes I've tried from your blog. I especially love how you write! Mumzie

The Blonde Duck said...

I love cucumber salad!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

Delicious recipe Mary. I do not grow cucumbers myself, but have a neighbor that just yesterday dropped off a bag! I do have mint growing in my herb garden though and this sounds delightful.

yummychunklet said...

I have a huge cucumber left over from my egg salad this weekend, and this looks like a perfect way to prepare it!

Kim said...

These pickeled cucumbers looks really good!

Jenn said...

Moved to tears is definitely a term I would use! That was beautiful :) Thank you for sharing!
And the cucumbers... delicious!

~~louise~~ said...

Such a lovely story, Mary. I too am sad to see and hear the celebrations of heritage slipping to the wayside.

Your Cucumber Pickles look ever so refreshing and the story is a perfect side.

Thank you so much for sharing...

P.S. I remember reading cucumbers are good for swollen eyes, lol...

sally said...

Sounds like a great festival and the pickles look good too!

PeggyR said...

I love cucumbers...sometimes they don't like me though!

Kelly said...

Oh, I just love pickled cucumber and this recipe is such a delight. As a teen, I often prepared carrots, cucumber and olive in vinegar... strange, I know, but I just love the simplicity and grounded taste.

Pam said...

Great recipe Mary, like it with the mint! And great video also. I can see why it moved you and others to tears!

Rhonda said...

Isn't it amazing how music can move you. I'm from Scandinavian roots and grew up with this cucumber pickle. I'm craving it now...I haven't had it in a long time, makes me miss my grandma. Now you are going to make me cry... Thanks for the lovely post.

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

What a touching story and beautiful video! Mary, thanks for sharing it and your Scandinavian pickles.
The mint is a surprising touch.
Yvonne

Y said...

I love festivals!
What a moving experience that must have been. And the hymn really does reach into your soul. Maybe the pickles will too? :D

bellini said...

What an amazing experience when a person is moved to tears! Thanks for sharing this with is Mary and for the recipe too:D

Jeannie said...

That looks like a very healthy and refreshing pickles...I wouldnt mind having some....

Lizzy said...

Mary, I can't remember if I've contacted you about the Tribute to Becky (of Random Musings of a Deco Lady) on her birthday, August 29. I'm not sure if you're on facebook, but there is a page dedicated to her where memories, remakes of her recipes, etc will be shared that day. Even if you don't have a FB page, a mention on that date on your blog would be great. I can post it to the tribute page.

Kelly said...

Since I just made pickles for the first time I am LOVING the pickle post. Thanks for sharing.

Eileen said...

How lovely! The music is wonderful. And the pickles sound good, too. :)

Karen S Booth said...

The music is wonderful, so soulful and full of Nordic passion, and as for the cukes, I LOVE anything pickled, but especially cucumbers.
Karen

Wiz said...

Thank you so much for the visit Mary, like you I have stories behind all my cakes and other bakes too. Will pull a chair and pour myself a tall cup of tea coz I know I will be hooked looking at your dishes and enjoying your stories.

June said...

Beautiful post Mary. I have a like disposition and would have joined you in the tissue hunt and certainly did after this post and video.

Valérie said...

My fiancé makes a very similar kind of pickle, but I did not know it was Sacndinavian-style. But I love them wherever they are from!

meeshiesmom said...

That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
Karen

Joanne said...

How beautiful! The whole thing is quite breathtaking.

Ive never met a pickle I didn't like, so I'm sure I would love these!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Mary, I am so glad you were there to enjoy that moment. Such a beautiful post. Oh, my goodness, I can catch a glimmer of that moment from the music. Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

Denise D said...

Loved your post!! Recipe sounds good too!! ;)

Amy J. and Tiffanie A. said...

Reminds me of those cucumbers you get when eating sushi!! Love it

Claudia said...

I'm stoic when very sad and in tears when there is beauty. I understand that welling up... and those cucumbers (because it is a food blog) are perfect - I eat them like candy.

Maris (in Good Taste) said...

What a beautiful video and you are such a beautiful person

Beloved Green said...

I would love to learn how to do some traditional Scandinavian dancing. Interestingly, when I visited this past summer, it felt like a lot of younger people there do not keep a lot of the traditions either. Makes me a little sad.

Anyways, I love the recipe you picked for today, wonderful!

That Girl said...

It's fabulous that you're able to take advantage of these local festivals.

Janice said...

I love cucumber pickle. Thanks for the recipe and your thoughtful post.

Elaine said...

It is hauntingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us, Mary. I can see why the singing stopped you in your tracks. It just one of those moments you will never forget.

Susan Lindquist said...

What an easy and fresh treatment for cucumbers ... and I'll be using my cucumbers with seeds too! They're coming fast and furious this week ... rains have helped them ripen and fill out fast!

As for 'Finlandia', itis a beautiful piece of music isn't it?

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