Cucumber Salad, Empanadas & Handmade Kitchen Utensils 

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City Weekly classified sales rep Julie Erickson offers an easy cucumber salad recipe: “Cool cucumber salad is simple and amazing. This recipe comes from my friend Nadia Natali, author of The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook. You can make it into a single serving or serve to a party. Slice a cucumber into very thin chips. Next, shave thin red onion strips and mix together. Pour vinegar and lemon juice over the veggies and sprinkle dill seasoning and salt to taste. Voila! Delicious!”

City Weekly reporter Stephen Dark writes about empanadas: “I wanted to make empanadas the other weekend. They’re a type of small, flaky pastry pie. When I grew up in England, the closest to an empanada was a Cornish pasty, full of potato and meat but somewhat dry by comparison. The empanada enjoys many variations throughout South America, but the Argentines have made it into an art form. Fried or oven-baked, with knife-chopped meat, Roquefort and celery or corn as just a few examples of fillings, it’s the perfect light meal on a Friday night with friends, washed down by a glass or two of Malbec.

“Well, I ran out of time to fulfill my plan to conquer the empanada, so my 85-year-old mother-in-law, Mercedes, made them instead. She sat at the kitchen table, recalling how, as a child in her small, Nazi-influenced Chilean seaside hometown, she and her grandmother would first gather the ingredients under the pastry lining, then fold over the edges with a neat movement of her thumb and forefinger. She conjured up the sounds and sights of a 1930s upper-class Chilean kitchen, the voices of maids and staff, and the pleasure of working with flour and dough, as the wood-fired stove glowed hot nearby. Her empanadas, when they came out of the oven, were perfect. The pastry was light and crisp; the fillings—particularly the Provolone cheese and ham—were simply palate-flutteringly wonderful.”

City Weekly contributor Austen Diamond creates kitchen goodies from scratch. He writes: “Mostly, the gifts I give are handmade kitchen spoons, forks and spatulas. It’s easy, enjoyable and who doesn’t like a piece of usable art? First, acquire a saw. Find a tree. Juniper works well. Don’t use soft wood because it will absorb the flavor of your last dish; you get cereal that tastes like pesto. Don’t go to your neighbor’s yard; you can harvest wood in most National Forest or BLM-designated land. Try to find a piece of a branch that has little-to-no knots; approximately 5 to 8 inches is perfect. Then, saw the end farthest from the trunk first (it is much easier). Once you have your little log, split it with a hatchet or knife. Now, you need a sharp knife, some country music, a front porch and someone to tell tall tales to. Whittle away, trying to preserve the heartwood because it is decorative. Once you have the shape down, sand, sand, sand away. Finally, finish it up by soaking in olive or mineral oil, and relinquish—thus, giving the gift of creative, culinary kitchenware.”

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