Growing up an Engstrom, my family always stressed the importance of being proud of where I came from. No, I am not talking about how I just came from New York City. I am not talking about how I just came from a grueling workout at the gym. I was always told to learn from the ups and downs that life throws you. To be proud of my heritage and where my family originated. To embrace the traditions that my family grew up on. For me, many of these things boiled down to being Swedish. I am talking about blonde hair, blue-eyed, pickled herring eating, cross-country skiing Swedish.
Throughout the year there are certain Swedish holidays and traditions that we always celebrated. Obviously Christmas is the big one. December 13th is St. Lucia Day, which is celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Songs are sung and pepparkakor (ginger snap cookies) are handed out. Christmas is Christmas. Everyone does it...even if that just means you are going to your local mall to sit on a fake Santa Claus's lap.
Midsummer is where it's really at. A holiday devoted to eating, drinking, and dancing. This holiday is meant to be celebrated in the countryside surrounded by fields, trees and water. Downtown Chicago or Manhattan? Yea, that won't quite cut it. Fill your car with food, beer, and flower garland and crowns and make your way away from civilization.
Food - the clear centerpiece of every gathering. Contrary to popular thought, Swedish food is not always bland and boring. In fact, I quite like it and think that it really has that farm to table feel. Pickled herring. Sea salt and dill new potatoes. Swedish rye crispbread. Marinated cucumber salad. Strawberry meringue layer cake. The menu is set! And is easy to prep and cook!
This marinated cucumber salad has always been one of my favorites growing up. The distinct flavor of vinegar. The crisp of the onion. The subtle acidity of the lemon. The flavors meld so perfectly together and at first bite, you cannot help be agree that this dish is summer.
A Special Thanks To:Britta Hundertmark, guest photographer
| Marinated Cucumber Salad |
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (or 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley)
- Wash and peel cucumber. Cut into paper-thin slices and place into a wide-mouthed jar or other covered container.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover the jar and shake well until the sugar is dissolved.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. Marinated cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.