Friday, July 29, 2011

Hot & sour cucumber salad

Photo Source
This recipe got lots of raves on the website where I found it. Increase the number of cucumbers, tomatoes and shallots to make larger or more servings. Serrano chilies are a good substitute and easier to find than bird's eye chilies, which are very hot.

Cleo, Food Bank volunteer







  • 1 peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots , finely sliced
  • 2 bird's-eye chillies , split open
  • rice wine or cider vinegar
  • handful coriander leaves, aka cilantro


  1. Finely slice the cucumber and halve the cherry tomatoes. Toss these with the shallots and chillies, season and dress with vinegar. Scatter coriander over. 
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves:  6

Recipe source

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Soba Noodles with Cucumbers

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This basic recipe for soba noodle salad that features cucumbers as an ingredient. You can add other veggies to the salad:  edamame (green soy beans), thin carrot strips, peas, green onions, etc.  Garnish with cilantro.  Soba noodles can be found in the international foods section of a supermarket or you can substitute whole wheat spaghetti.   If you cannot find black sesame seeds, toast regular sesame seeds in a heavy pan until brown and top the salad with them.  Best served cold.
Cleo, Food Bank volunteer

  • 1 pound soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 drops hot pepper oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, quartered and diced
  • Black sesame seeds


Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender, following directions on the package. Drain well. Whisk together the soy sauce, hot pepper oil, vinegar, ginger and sesame oil and toss with the warm noodles. Add the cucumber and top with the sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature or chill and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe source

Friday, July 15, 2011

Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho

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All the refreshing flavors of a hot summer in this variation on gazpacho and without heating up the kitchen.  This recipe is very adaptable. If you don't have or don't want to use celery, leave it out.  If you like hot, spicy foods leave a few seeds in with the jalapeno. Add a mint leaf garnish along with the crème fraîche or the sour cream.
Cleo, Food Bank volunteer


  • 1 3-pound seedless watermelon, diced (about 5 cups), divided
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium-size yellow bell pepper, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small jalapeño chile, seeded, minced
  • 3 pale green inner celery stalks, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Puree 4 cups watermelon in blender until smooth. Transfer puree to large bowl. Add remaining 1 cup diced watermelon and next 10 ingredients; stir to combine. Cover gazpacho and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. 
Divide gazpacho among bowls; top with dollop of crème fraîche.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Recipe source

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cucumber Agua Fresca

Photo source

This recipe is from the Food Bank newsletter, The News Beet.  I must admit that I was somewhat skeptical when Food Bank chef, Arturo Vargas, offered me a glass of Agua Fresca.  But, what a wonderful surprise!  One sip was all it took.  It was so delicious and refreshing. 

There are many variations of Agua Fresca, several of which add serano chili.  If you want to try that, add just a very little minced chili at a time and taste before adding more.

Cleo, Food Bank volunteer

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 5 limes
  •  1/2 bunch of mint
  • 1/8 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • Cut the cucumber into 2 1/2 inch slices.  Place them in the blender along with 1/2 bunch mint, 1/8 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cup of water.
  • Squeeze the limes into the blender as well and blend.
  • Strain the cucumber water into a pitcher and add ice.
  • ENJOY!
Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July's Volunteer of the Month: Jerrell "Jerry" Johnson

7/5/11: 650 pounds picked up in one car load!
What do you get when you mix a person with a big heart and 36 years of volunteer service? Jerry, of course! Several times a week for nearly 4 decades, he has helped by picking up donations at local grocery stores and delivering them to the Food Bank.  

A memorable story for Jerry is when he once loaded over 600 pounds of food into his car, filling up 27 banana boxes once he arrived at the Food Bank with the donation. He remembers staring at his small car and the huge stack of boxes in disbelief.

Jerry first heard about the Food Bank of Yolo County from his friend, Dorothy Laben (one of the founders of the Food Bank), who he volunteered with at a food closet in Davis. He enjoys the opportunities he’s had to “meet with people who are interested in feeding the hungry” and says that volunteering means he can “still be a valuable member of society” and help people in need.
When not volunteering with us, Jerry enjoys reading, hiking, camping, and teaching an adult literacy class.

Thank you, Jerry, for all of your hard work and dedication to the Food Bank throughout the years!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Photo source
The cucumber, having originated in India, has been cultivated for 3,000 years in Western Asia.  It was used by the Romans who were probably responsible for introducing it into the rest of Europe.  Today, China is the largest producer, followed by Turkey, Russia, Iran and the United States.  It is not surprising that two of the largest producers are located in the Middle East, as it as been grown there for millenia.

And after 3000 years there are many, many varieties of cucumber, several of which can be found in supermarkets, specialty stores and farmers' markets in this country.  There are three basic varieties of cucumber which are briefly discussed below.

Most people in this country are familiar with what is called a 'slicer', the variety found in most supermarkets and grown in backyard gardens.  It is used in its unripe green form since it becomes bitter and sour as it ripens.  This cucumber is found in salads and sandwiches and is eaten out of hand with a little salt.

Another variety is the 'pickling' cucumber which is generally smaller and bred to have characteristics suitable for pickling.

The third variety found in this country is the 'burpless' cucumber.  This category includes the English, Japanese, and Persian or Mediterranean cucumbers (my favorite).  They are called burpless because they are almost seedless and have thinner skins than the other variety that is eaten raw.  The seed and thicker skins of some cucumbers are believed to cause gas in some people.

Cucumbers are about 90% water and have a high content of vitamins A, B6 and C.  The skin is high in fiber as well being high in the minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium and silica.

Next week I will post a recipe for Aqua Fresca, a wonderful drink that is delicious and perfect for the hot, hot days of summer.

Cleo, Food Bank Volunteer