Sunday 29 July 2012

apple-cucumber pickles: a taste of yellow

I was really sad to hear that Barbara of Winos and Foodies had lost her battle with cancer.

She was such a lovely lady and I had the pleasure to finally meet her face-to-face last November at the Australian food bloggers conference: Eat Drink Blog.

Barbara’s one wish was to eat a piece of her 87th birthday cake, but unfortunately she passed away before she made the date. This sad wish very much reminds me of losing my mum.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour, two surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy didn’t seem to help and although we wouldn’t admit it, we both knew she wouldn’t win this battle.

One day, cuddled up in bed with a cup of tea, I said “You won’t ever get to meet my children, and you won’t be at my wedding, but promise you’ll make my 21st birthday.” She swore she would.

She kept her promise. When the clocked ticked over midnight to mark my birthday, I whispered to her that she had kept her promise and, at 4am on my 21st birthday, she passed away.

That was eleven years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and shed quiet tears.

To commemorate Barbara, and our loved ones who have had cancer, bloggers are taking part in the Taste of Yellow Monthly Mingle, hosted by London-based South African, Jeanne from Cooksister.

This event requires us to make something yellow, combing Barbara's LiveStrong with a Taste of Yellow event (a yellow themed cooking event that took place on LiveStrong Day) and the Monthly Mingle event by Meeta from What’s For Lunch Honey?

I used to participate in Meeta’s Monthly Mingle quite a lot, but life just seems to get in the way of blogging these days (if you hadn’t already noticed the big gaps between my posts). I should put more effort in again, as cooking and sharing my recipes is one of the things I truly love to do. It’s an artistic expression that I value in my life and I shouldn’t let work and other mundane matters prevent me from pursuing this.

Barbara has reminded me, again, that you should focus on what you love because life is too short and unpredictable not too.

I discovered these quirky heirloom cucumbers at my local farmers market back during Sydney’s summer, so it’s a recipe I’ve had up my sleeve for some time, waiting for the right moment to post it.

Apple cucumbers, as you can see, are round, yellow skinned types with creamy white flesh. They are very crisp and juicy, perfect for pickling, but their skin is a little tough so slice thinly.

Cucumbers are more than 95% water and are technically a fruit, with most of the flavour in the seeds. Apparently they’re one of the oldest veggies in the world, having been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia.

Heirloom Apple-Cucumber Pickles

Anna’s very own recipe.

4 apple-cucumbers, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds


1. Stuff the cucumber into a sterilised preserving jar.

2. Combine all the other ingredients in a saucepan.

3. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 seconds to release the flavours of the spices.

4. Pour the boiling liquid over the cucumber, then seal the jar.

5. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Note: Keeps up to 2 weeks. Serve with smoked salmon, on hamburgers and sandwiches or in salads.


  1. Sorry to hear you lost your mum in your 21st b'day. I recently lost my dad to cancer, too. I used to follow Winos and Foodies, but didn't know much about the person behind it. Beautiful post.

    1. i'm sorry to hear about your father.
      thanks for leaving a comment.

  2. A really touching account - you are right about doing what you love. Hope to read more from you soon. I never met Barbara but her personality and warmth come over strongly online.

  3. A real tribute Anna! Thanks for sharing your story. Heaven is always smiling down on you. And bless you, I love pickled cucumbers not to mention apple cucumbers being my favourite. ��Jo

  4. What a lovely tribute to Barbara and your mom. I so wanted to meet Barbara myself; I admired her so much.

  5. Oh Anna - how terrible to lose your mom so young, ad on your birthday. The human spirit is an incredible thing - how incredibe that she clung on until your birthday. It's sad that it takes events such as this and Barbara's passing to remind us that life is short and that we all waste too much time on pointless things.

    I have never seen or even heard of apple cucumbers but they look like distant cousins of baby 8-ball squash, which I love. Intriguing recipe - thanks so much for taking part in this very special Mingle.

    1. thanks for hosting Jeanne!
      yes, it's amazing what people can do when they are determined. even when their bodies betray them.

  6. Thanks for sharing your mom's story with us. I've never tasted apple cucumbers before. I like your recipe.

  7. I'd like to stop sniffling and write something comforting; your story is very touching. Know that you and your mom's strength and love inspire others.


Thanks for saying hello. It's great to know there are people out there in cyberspace!

Related Posts with Thumbnails