Sunday, June 27, 2010

poor poets, and others

The nickel dinner would, in periods of poverty, be gratifying indeed. Then, during those too chance bonanza moments, the same dinner could be a manifold blessing--not the least of which would be a coin or two toward the next private depression, whether it be prefaced by purchase of a painting too dear (yep), three bars of imported soap (uh-huh), a box of strawberries out of season, or an unexpected tonsillectomy (...or root canal).

Poets are often out of funds. Many times they try to keep body and soul together by eating candy bars, apples, doughnuts, and an occasional hamburger, usually standing up. This is a mistake. Meals should be eaten sitting down. --Ann Rogers


On my weekly visit to my local Goodwill store, I always browse their sizable book section first. This week I came home with a first edition of A Cookbook for Poor Poets (and others), by Ann Rogers, Scribner's, 1966. I'm not one to usually buy a cookbook, but it's a small book, and at first glance, doesn't look like a cookbook at all. Since the title included both poets and cooking, I had to take a peek. The pages are delightfully mellow (you know I adore that patina) and it's scattered with charmingly quirky illustrations by Anna Kopczynski. It's comprised of simple, low budget recipes from the 1960s, just like Holly Golightly might prepare in her spare New York apartment.

Rogers, a girl after my own heart, stresses the importance of elegant meals, however humble. Her cooking elements include stocking a good spice shelf, investing in a solid frying pan and last, but not least, a good French knife. Her first rule is always have fresh bread; second, always use butter; and third, always serve wine. Each chapter is accompanied by a delightfully written introduction.

I mixed up some of her "Cucumbers, Hans Christian Andersen" (isn't that cute?) this morning to serve for lunch. I sneaked a little taste and they are divine. I know this isn't a unique recipe, but it's one that I don't usually make. It's a perfect summer side dish.

2 long cucumbers
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dill weed
1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar

Do not peel or seed the cucumbers, slice paper thin (I used my handy dandy mandolin) sprinkle with salt and chill overnight. When ready to serve, drain cucumbers and mix with the remaining ingredients. Additional chilling blends the flavors nicely. This dish can serve as a salad, relish, sandwich filling or garnish.

63 comments:

  1. Many thanks for the use of The Manor for the picnic. Everyone had a great time.

    Bisou, Cro.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cro, it was my pleasure. Next time I must make more of the Cucumbers, Hans Christian Andersen! Hope everyone will come again in October for the annual Manor Ball!

    ReplyDelete
  3. ok. i want this cookbook. i love it. tried to find out info on ann rogers but came up w/zilch although found another post done in 2008 about the cookbook and also the bloggers search (futile) for info on ann rogers. www.carfreefamily.blogspot.com/2008/11/cookbook-for-poor-poets.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. hi willow - coming up for air after a lengthy swim through seas of school paperwork. three more days and i'm free for the summer! sorry i missed the ball. darn it all!! the cukes are a winner. i'll be putting them together for late afternoon tea. have a lovely evening at the manor. steven

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, Suki, you would love it! In fact, I thought of you when I was typing this post. I'll poke around online, too, and see if I can locate you a copy!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Steven, no you didn't miss the ball. It's in October every year. Cro just did a cute post on a picnic held at Willow Manor. (unbeknownst to me!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Willow, try cucumbers with fresh dill and sour cream or yoghurt and a pinch of salt. Only takes a minute to make and is a great fresh summer side salad.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Funny. I just got back from the store with a cuke and was thinking of this very recipe!

    David
    http://www.globalaroundtown.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. If you make sandwiches with the yummy cucumbers, be sure to use thinly sliced whole wheat bread slathered with butter. The butter stops the sammy getting soggy! Malt vinegar is a good vinegar to try for this!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Or as a beauty mask...
    This book sounds like a great find.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ooo, yes, Jane, how very English...cucumber sandwiches, sliced ever so thin! Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a find! I will have to search this out... it looks like "my kind" of cookbook!

    I am copying the cucumber receipe down and adding it to my "Willow" collection!

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is a book I should have had at various points in my life!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Poets and artists often suffer the same fate. Creativity doesn't often translate into a fat wallet. I don't know about cucumbers but a jar pf peanut butter (bread is optional) or a bag of rice can be stretched for many a meal.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This sounds like a really wonderful book, and I so heartily agree with Rogers' cooking philosophy and her three brilliant rules. I think I could use a book like this, especially seeing as how delicious those "Cucumbers, Hans Christian Andersen" were! :D

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have a very similar recipe for cucumbers which is a favourite in my family. However, it doesn't have nearly such a lovely name! My youngest grandson calls them cutecumbers ... so we are all now following suit.

    I, too, persuse goodwill stores weekly. It's one of our favourite things to do (Gem and I). You've given me an idea for a post ... thrifted items I have found.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cutecumbers! Jo, I adore that! I think the manor cucumbers are now going to be called just that. Cute.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Will, I don't know about peanut butter, but I am known to work some crafty magic with a bag of rice!

    ReplyDelete
  20. That cucumber dish is delicious. My mom used to make it all the time. It was one way, outside of pickling, to use up a few more of those tasty cukes we would grow in the back yard. Thanks for bringing that memory back to life.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I gotta get me a copy. I adore elegant and inexpensive meals. When I was a poor-single-mother-university-student I prided myself on making good meals on a small budget. Now that I'm better off financially, I continue to cook this way just for the pleasure and satisfaction. A charming find Wills!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Willow,
    Oh yes; tis a summer side dish for sure... mom use to add fresh onion ringlets.
    :) The Bach

    ReplyDelete
  23. i would be eating cucumbers if the deer had not invaded the garden while we were on vacay...durn. happy sunday willow.

    ReplyDelete
  24. google
    cookbooks ann rogers....they are out there
    but they are pricey...you must have hit paydirt

    ReplyDelete
  25. Suz, this copy I found is minus the dust jacket, but in great condition.....$1

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love cucs in vinegarette! Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you; I'll pop this into my folder for summer. The book; happy find, sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Perfect food for a hot summer day!

    ReplyDelete
  29. As a child growing up, one of our favorite summer recipes was 'Aunt Fran's Cucumber Salad" which I daresay is exactly this recipe.
    Perfect!!
    And what an absolutely charming and wonderful post, Willow.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ohhh, cucumbers dashed with vinegar and dill is one of my favorite summer treats. Your photo of the cukes and dill reminded me of the coolness of cukes on a hot summer day. -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  31. My daughter, in the poets and writer category in her small bed-sit, is certainly finding that as Will commented "Creativity doesn't often translate into a fat wallet"and she knows all about the peanut butter mentioned by Will,as a familiar item in the pantry. One of my mother-in-law's favourite sandwich fillings is peanut butter and cucumber on fresh grainy bread,a filling I would not have thought to combine, but delicious. The cucumber salad looks great.Good find with the book Willow!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Combining good food, a book (cookbook or not) and poesy is happiness. The cucumbers look so fresh, does anything smell more like summer? Well, that and basil.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I agree with everything Rogers says, especially bread, butter and wine! Also the cukes are beautiful..a fav of mine..thank you...

    ReplyDelete
  34. This sounds perfect for a hot summer night's salad.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am copying this now!!
    Cucumbers are my favourites!

    ReplyDelete
  36. We are all mad for "cutecumbers" this summer. I will put this this on the table here at the Cottgae this week! Oh yes, the Ball... I must start making plans!

    ReplyDelete
  37. We love our cucs, so I know this will be a hit!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Real summer = cucumber sandwiches.
    I shall try your recipe. Just to be decadent I will try the buttered bread slices and a slather of real mayonnaise! Yum.

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a lovely-looking dish! I can practically taste the delicious pucker and chill.

    ReplyDelete
  40. It looks delightful - but after the disaster with my beer I have given up making things.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Now I want a handy dandy mandolin!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Oh, that quarter cup of sugar has me intrigued, very much so! ;-) Viennese make cucumber salad very much the same way, but only a pinch of sugar and a quarter cup of good fresh sour cream instead (I am a chicken and use Greek yogurt instead, which tastes delicious too). My mother always told me to let cucumbers "cry" before adding a vinaigrette, meaning that once they are sliced or grated, adding a little bit of salt and letting them "rest" for a few minutes to release their liquids.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I just picked my first two cukes and think I will mix up this little salad for dinner tonight. My mother has made this cucumber salad (slightly marinated) for years and it is SO REFRESHING on a HOT (and in OUR parts HUMID) evening!

    Wonderful photo and what a fun find from the GW!

    ReplyDelete
  44. oh, such wonderful shades of yesteryear! don't you love finding such rare little treasures like this fabulous book! and what a wonderfully perfect dish for the hot days of summer!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love this cucumber salad...I've been serving something like this for years...it is so refreshing! Great cookbook theme...very 60's !

    ReplyDelete
  46. A summer staple at the Pink Chateau...and I promise I'll sit
    with the burger for lunch...and maybe just a handful of M&M's...OK!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Oh, that does look so good.

    "stocking a good spice shelf"--Absolutely. So far I have S&P, thyme, Basil, Lemon Peel, Oregano and Sage. Hm...i have some ways to go, don't I?

    ReplyDelete
  48. "THINKING: Okay, I'm melting. I'm ready for woolly socks weather."
    --I am completely with you there. Feel the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Oh yum. Perfect for super hot days.

    I love old cookbooks. I have a 1950's era Betty Crocker cookbook that includes a behavioral section for housewives. Scary. Some of the recipes are interesting - it was written back before a lot of processed food was available, so the recipes include instructions like how to get the gizzard out of the chicken, clean the fish, etc. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  50. what a great find, Willow... just the delicious kind of book I would have loved to have discovered and added to my collection...

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh Willow, I too stop and look at books first when I'm around garage sales, church bazaars, loft cleanings. Who knows what words we'll find.

    ReplyDelete
  52. The cucumber dish looks right up my alley - love eating them during our hot Phoenix summers. I agree with your new cookbook author - always use real butter!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Sounds like a delightful book! And what a perfect summer-time recipe.

    I've had to pass on my weekly Goodwill visits, as my 3 yr old has entered 2 nearly fatal stages: potty training and fit throwing...

    ReplyDelete
  54. That sounds wonderful. I also fix a lot of sunomono, the Japanese cucumber dish

    From the Food Network:

    Ingredients
    1 large English cucumber, or 2 to 3 Japanese cucumbers
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 drop soy sauce

    Directions

    Peel and slice cucumbers into very thin slices. Sprinkle sliced cucumber slices with salt and let stand a few minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture. Combine vinegar, sugar, and soy in a bowl and mix well. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber slices and mix well. Serve in individual dishes.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I haven't had any fresh cucumbers yet this summer. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get some.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I love finds like that. Love it! My mother-in-law makes cucumbers like that and we all eat them by the gallon. I wonder why they are named after my favorite story teller??

    ReplyDelete
  57. I love finding and reading old cookbooks...they always tell so much about the culture at that moment in time that they are written...but this one with those wonderful three rules seems ageless! Love it and will now keep my eye open for a copy:)

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hi Willow-

    Just today I was driving out in the country (Missouri) and I stopped on an old farm road. At the edge of the road was a nice man about 45 or so sitting under his big bright yellow umbrella selling tomatoes and cucumbers. I myself grow tomatoes but I never have grown cucumbers. So I bought some cucumbers from him.

    On my way home I thought of that yummy vinegar/dill concoction that I had somewhere. The one that is so good that you always ask for the recipe, which is almost always given verbally because it is so easy but fail to write down and consequently later forget.

    Well being new to Magpie I read your comment on my blog for Magpie 24 and was thrilled to have it noticed by you. I decided to read your magpie which ended up being wonderful that I stayed a while on your blog and saw your summer recipes. It was there, the recipe. The fact that you got it from a book of recipes for poets made it incredibly interesting to me. Like winning $20 dollars in the lottery or finding a pearl at the beach. I needed and wanted this recipe and you had it to share.I know I digress but really Thank you I will make it tomorrow and think of the great blog, your blog with fondness.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Kristen, don't you just love it when these kinds of synchronicitous things happen? Glad to be part of the journey, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  60. This is by far the most simple yet pleasing salad I've ever had. Thanks!I shop Goodwill weekly also but never bother the cookbooks. Looking for it on EBay and Amazon now!

    ReplyDelete
  61. It's a charming little book. You will love it!

    ReplyDelete

Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)