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I was recently in Sauk Rapids, my hometown, to visit my family. Most importantly, I was there to see my Grandma Martha. She's been an important food figure in my life; growing up I watched her do everything from gardening to baking to preserving. Having 11 children and a husband kept her busy in the kitchen, and everything she prepared was rich and bold in flavor. Working on a farm required many calories to sustain one's energy, and Grandma made sure everyone was nourished and got their fill. Some of my favorite homemade goodies were [and still are]:
sauerkraut, raspberry and strawberry jam, creamy cucumbers, date filled cookies, apple pie
Just like every other time I've visited, I was greeted with a table full of treats with Grandma and my two aunts offering up sweets and coffee, "What can I get you? You must eat something... Here, try this..."
My father and I had just finished our popcorn - our family's typical Sunday afternoon's snack/meal- prior to dropping by, so I wasn't hungry. But how could I ever resist her pickles? My aunts pulled out three different jars of pickles as they spoke about their gardens birthing an endless supply of cucumbers, and it didn't take long for them to see how enamored I was. They offered me a jar to take home, and convinced me to take a large bag of raw cucumbers as well.
So here, as a result, I bring you a recipe requiring these many cukes. With only ten days left of summer, and a few more hot days ahead: chilled cucumber & pear soup
cucumber pear soup
Makes 8 cups
3/8 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 scapes, thinly sliced (substitute 2 Tbsp onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pears, 1 small diced, 2 roughly chopped (ripe bosc preferably or anjou)
4 small to medium [8"] cukes, peeled; 1 small diced, 3 roughly chopped
2 cups yogurt
8 oz club soda
1 Tbsp. rice wine
1/4 cup red onion, minced
s & p, to taste
1. In a heated sauté pan, add 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. When oil becomes hot, add breadcrumbs, scapes & garlic for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside for garnish.
2. In a blender, add 2 pears [with skin], 3 cucumbers, yogurt, & club soda. Blend until pureed completely while gradually adding remaining olive oil.
3. In a separate bowl, add 1 Tbsp. rice wine to red onion, diced cucumber & pear, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. For each bowl, serve a ladle of the cuke/pear puree and carefully spoon over the diced cuke/pear mix. Lastly, garnish with bread crumb sauté.