Creamy Cucumber Salad; Free Cars!

Creamy Cucumber Salad

I think I'd like to be a philanthropist when I grow up.

I used to want to be a paleontologist, but a philanthropist sounds like a lot more fun… And much cleaner.

Now, if I could only get someone (Bill Gates, perhaps?) to give me a few million dollars I could get right at it.

Giving stuff away is just so much fun…. Even if I have to have a monumental initial battle of wills with me to get me to agree to do it.

In the last 5 years we have given away 2 perfectly good cars.

At least, they were perfectly good in our opinion.

The first one was a Ranger Rover.  Yes, it was 15 years old, and the windows leaked when it rained hard, and it didn't have a radio  but it had new tires, new brakes, new gas tank and ran like a top.

This was in Andorra: For the record we replaced the brakes every 12 months and the tires every 9 months.  Everyone who lived 'on the hills' did.  Living in mountains is hard on car paws.

Why did we give it away?  It had a pencil size hole in the floor.  This was enough for it to flunk the MOT/ITV.

All cars in Europe older than 2 years, have to be inspected on a regular basis and get a certificate of road-worthiness. It's a serious inspection, and if your car flunks, you have 'X' number of days to get it repaired or you can't drive it. 

The repair quote on the Range Rover was over 1,000 euros.  They said they needed to replace the entire, steel floor.

The car ran fine, but was not worth 1,000 euros.

So, it sat; time to repair it ran out and it was, officially, illegal to drive.

We thought about just driving into the mountains, taking the plates off, leaving the keys in it and letting the smugglers have it.

But, since the smugglers' routes were always crawling with machine-gun-toting Guardia Civil, we decided … maybe not….

We opted for finding a new owner.

But we couldn't sell it.  Two reasons:

First: the repairs.

Second: it was an automatic with a gasoline engine. Most Europeans don't know how to drive an automatic (I know…) and they think the engines have no power.  Plus gasoline was a lot more expensive than diesel.

We decided to give it away.

But it couldn't be anyone in Andorra, as the inspectors already had it in their sites.

Through a friend of a friend, we found a young man in need.  He was struggling to support his family, working, intermittently, as a handyman, but was currently without a vehicle of any kind. 

And he lived in Spain.

Arrangements were made.

We took the Andorran plates off. (They are supposed to be returned to the government when one leaves or sends the car to salvage.)

He had a friend drive him up from Spain with a set of 'borrowed' license plates. 

We gave him the keys and the papers, turned our backs and he drove away. 

All he had to do was get it across the border. Once he was in Spain no one would check.

Side note: One leaves Andorra across one of two controlled border crossings.  All vehicles are stopped and contents checked for smuggling and/or taking more than the legal limit of goods.  Andorra is not a member of the EU.  It's usually pretty standard: pull up, stop, open your trunk and wait for the guard to walk past.  However, they have been known to strip a car down to it's axles and check all your papers.

Anyway, it was lunch, so he felt pretty confident about getting back to Spain. 

And he did.

We have no idea how, or if, he managed to get it registered.

We do know that he, and his family were very, very happy with their unexpected gift.

We felt pretty good, too.

Second car giveaway story later….

Now it's time to talk food.

Of all the herbs in my garden, I consistently use more chives than anything, although rarely on their own. 

Except in Cucumber Salad.

I snip a fistful whenever I go into the garden.  Their flavor goes well with all the other herbs (plays well with others) and I prefer the milder flavor of chives in summer salads over their stronger relative: onions.

Like onions, and the other alliums, chives are high in vitamins and antioxidants. They also have been shown to act as a natural antibiotic, in particular against some of the strains of microbes we humans have encouraged into mutating to the point we no longer have effective antibiotics.  (Oops, almost got onto my soapbox, there.)

To find lots of wonderful recipes using herbs from around the world, visit Briciole on Monday, when Simona will have a recap of all of this week's entries.

For past weeks' archives visit Kalyn's Kitchen, the founder of Weekend Herb Blogging, which is now well into it's 3rd year!

Creamy Cucumber Salad

2 – 3 medium – large cucumbers Creamy Cucumber Salad
kosher, rock or sea salt
shallot or small onion
4 whole cloves
2 – 3 tbs lemon juice
3 – 4 tbs olive oil – the good stuff
1/3 – 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
Pepper
2 – 3 tbs snipped fresh chives

Peel cucumber and thinly slice on box slicer.  Peel the shallot and stick the whole cloves into it. Put the shallot in the bottom of a deep bowl large enough to easily hold the cukes. Put in a layer of cukes, sprinkle with salt, and repeat 3 times using about 1 tsp salt on each layer. Put a small plate or saucer on top of the cucumbers – it should be sitting on the cukes, not the sides of the bowl. Put a big can or jar of something heavy on the plate – to weigh it down. We want weight on the cukes – the plate is just to distribute it more evenly. Let it sit at room temperature for 4 – 10 hours.
Remove weight and plate. The cucumbers will be sitting in a lot of water. Put cucumbers in a strainer – discarding shallot and cloves. Rinse cucumbers (remember all that salt?) You don't want to get all of the salt off – just about 80% Taste to test. When rinsed to your satisfaction take the cucumbers in your clean hands and gently squeeze most of the remaining liquid out. Put back into the bowl (that you have rinsed). Add 2 tbs lemon, 3 tbs oil and stir. Add 1/3 cup yogurt , stir and taste. Adjust to the quantity of cukes and your liking. Add fresh ground pepper, chives and serve. This will keep a week, but it never lasts that long at our house.

I love summer salads…..

10 thoughts on “Creamy Cucumber Salad; Free Cars!”

  1. Mmm, I LOVE cucumber salad! And I love chives too, so this is right up my alley. Salting and pressing the cucumbers is definitely the most important step, I was in a rush once and just sliced cucumbers and mixed them with dressing and it was not remotely the same. Personally, I like large quantities of dill with my cucumber salad, but I’ve never tried putting chives in so maybe next time I’ll use a combination!

  2. Joanna, I often add dill, as well… But I don’t have any this year… Bad gardener!
    Ulrike, I hate it that they are so expensive here, and I don’t understand why more people don’t want them… After sitting in stop and go traffic on a hill for an hour….

  3. Katie, I don’t have any dill this year, either. What’s up with that? My three dill plants are all in the failure-to-thrive category this summer. But I’ve got lots of chives, and cucumbers from the farm stand.

  4. I love summer salads too. Never thought of chives in this type of salad. Lately I am loving my chives in everything!

  5. The cucumbers are coming in with a vengence at our farmers market. I like to make cucumber yogurt soup with them.
    Do you have an update on your moving plans? The new house?
    And, truly, I did think about some kind of “person detainer” when I saw your baby minder – just not it being a baby minder. It reminded me of the Puritan stocks. Really, I did think that. 😉

  6. Katie: There is a second reason: I get so more practice in using a H-gear-change, so I am well prepared to rescue an “Edward Lewis” (Richard Gere) with his automatic problems 🙂

  7. When I was in Greece I rented a car on the island of Naxos. They brought me a standard which I had to send back because I couldn’t drive it…I know, I know…but I never learnt and here in Canada it is the norm. Coincidentally while I was waiting for a new automatic (semi automatic) car to be delivered I had a cucumber salad and some pita bread for lunch.

  8. Lydia, I am totally frustrated with everything in my garden this year… could be ’cause I’m leaving it, though…
    Kalyn, it’s the only herb my mother ever used, so it always goes into the ‘old-fashioned’ dishes.
    Christine, we’re still waiting for the papers. If we ever get them signed I’ll do photos.
    Ulrike… I’ll help with that rescue… Really, I will…
    Val, and we had a young lad parking our automatic in Spain once, and he couln’t figure out how to ‘make it go’ hahaha!

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