This spring Cameron and I joined the West Washington Park Community Garden in our neighborhood. Located two blocks from our apartment building, it’s the closest approximation to the front yard garden we created in east Austin in 2010.
Community garden plots are a hot commodity in Denver, and we were 16th on the wait list for a plot at West Wash. By mere luck, all of the folks ahead of us on the list were slow on returning voice messages; we scored our half-plot two days before gardening season began.
Today marks the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. Soon we’ll say farewell to our bushy tomato and basil plants, our delicate purple beans and hearty dinosaur kale, as our little garden spot hunkers down beneath the city’s winter snow.
To celebrate the end of a prolific summer vegetable haul from our plot, I’m sharing a spicy cucumber dish I first tasted at a Sichuan restaurant near the school where I taught in south China. (Our other favorite and less spicy cucumber recipe can be found here.) While our cucumber vines didn’t produce much this summer, the recipe photo below shows off a surprise cucumber gift from a fellow gardener whose plants went wild.
“Some Like it Hot” Spicy Cucumbers
Serves 2 (as a side)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
3 Tbs. white rice vinegar
1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
Sambal Oelek, to taste
1. Arrange the sliced cucumbers in a medium-sized bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and sugar. Pour liquid over cucumbers.
3. Sprinkle the sambal over the cucumbers, to taste. Top with the chopped serrano.