As I was writing this entry I realized how similar this story is to my friend The Kitchen Witch's White Trash Motherload Series. I can't say this is a ham handed attempt to copy her (way out of my league) but if I hadn't read that series I am not sure I would have been digging through my mom's old cookbooks during my last visit there and I found a real family treasure in my search.When Mr. Man, Miss Lu and I took the trip to Grandma's house I was looking through her kitchen and found the Carlson Patterson Family Cook Book. It seems that in the early 90s my mom's side of the family decided to put together a compilation of recipes that had been passed around our family for years. It has been fun to read through and I have had time to (in a way) reconnect with family that I haven't seen in ages. The quick memory of exploring a tractor with a second cousin that I've not seen in 30 years or my Great Great Aunt saying "Don't let that cat in the house I would rather have mice!"... well the book has been fun to go through. My Grandmother's (Mayola's) relatives Kenneth and Fern, mostly Fern well her kids spearheaded the book. Even though I have already made some of the recipes from the book Fern gets the first recipe here.
Kenneth and Fern were farmers in Stratford Iowa, one of my earliest memories of visiting them was when I was about 10 years old in the final minutes of our 8 hour drive we were crossing their land, a few trees and acres of mixed crops some wheat, but mostly corn and beans a lot of that mixed in the same fields. When we got there my mom asked Kenneth what exactly they were trying to grow that year, not missing a beat, his reply, "succotash." We spent days there exploring barns and sheds, climbing the dog wood trees and a silo full of grain. One of the few items that I remember being on the table for most of the meals were Fern's Cucumbers. Being a ten year old boy I had no idea what to do with these things except dip my dirty fingers right into the Kerr jar and eat them after a round of climbing the hay in the barn or playing with the water pump, they actually had a well and a manual pump! I am sure the vinegar did it's part to kill whatever was on my dirt covered digits before anyone else dug in.
When I picked this recipe to start with I thought "I think I remember the jar of this on the picnic table for lunch" when I tasted them again for the first time in thirty something (never mind it has been a while) years I immediately flashed to the young boy that I was setting foot on a farm for the first time ready to explore.
So what are these? The Cook Book calls them "Tumeric Cucumbers" the published recipe was written for someone that had a serious garden, you know like a farm, and calls for larger quantities than this suburban boy is willing to deal with like "a pail full of peeled and sliced cucumbers." So I did take some liberties but here it is, Ingredients:
2 small onions sliced thin
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Tumeric
2 tsp Mustard Seed
2 tsp Celery Seed
1 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 1/2 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin.
Soak the sliced onions is salted Ice water for about an hour, this takes the edge off the onioniness of them drain then add the sugar, spices and vinegar and stir until the sugar is dissolved then add the cucumbers and put in the refrigerator. Overnight worked for me, I tasted the dish after an hour and it was OK but the next day ... Wow! Works well as a side dish at a BBQ I served them with chicken in my BBQ Sauce.