As much as I despise pastel pink, lace, cutsie teddy bears, and other frilly things, I love going to tea shops. I love the finger sandwiches, scones, and those miniature desserts all served on the three-tiered serving tray. I love plopping sugar cubes into my flavorful tea and I love drowning that flavored tea with milk from tiny little pitchers.

The cucumbers weren't very pretty, but it's all we had. We apologize for the lack of vegetable luster.

The cucumbers weren’t very pretty, but it’s all we had. We apologize for the lack of vegetable luster.

The ladies from my mom’s department at her work used to go to tea shops every once in a while and she, like me, had to put up with the scary teddy bears dressed in pink lace for the delicious and delicate food and drink. But the place they used to go is now closed, and I’ve never heard my mom lament about a restaurant closing until this one. She said to me one day, “Now where am I going to get the cucumber sandwiches? That was the highlight for me.” So one year for her birthday, I made her the cucumber sandwiches using Cucumber Sandwiches III from allrecipes.com. Wing was silent while we were making them, but wore a look on his face like “why the heck did I agree to eating this silly stuff?” And dad and Mars grumbled audibly when they heard “cucumber sandwiches” but remained somewhat civil since it was mom’s birthday not theirs.

Well when all was said and done, everyone loved the sandwiches! Wing couldn’t stop saying how pleasantly surprised he was, dad got seconds (huge compliment from my dad), mom said the closest thing to wow for her by saying “they were good,” and Mars… well… Mars is Mars and ate them without complaint (did I mention in our profiles that he hates vegetables touching other foods?). In my family, that’s a hit!

gazpacho soup

gazpacho soup

So since the heat in San Diego has been ridiculous, Wing and I decided it was time for something cold and refreshing. Cucumber sandwiches and gazpacho! We’ve never made the gazpacho before so we found a recipe, again on allrecipes.com, using Chef John’s Gazpacho as a base. We changed it up mainly because we’re lazy  and didn’t feel like using real tomatoes, plus we seemed to have run out of cumin so we used Cajun seasoning, things like that. But everything still turned out very well except our cucumbers weren’t very pretty when we cut into them. Oh well. They tasted fine. When Wing was finished with his meal, he told me that he needed help making a life decision. Immediately my mind went to things like are you not happy with your job? Our marriage? Oh no! What is it!? Then he smiled and said, “I need to know whether I want seconds cuz this dinner is great!” Phew! Well, in that case, go for it! So he did.

Below are our versions of these recipes.

Cucumber Sandwiches

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • dry Italian salad dressing mix *
  • six slices of bread lightly toasted **
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced into medallions
  • pinch dill weed

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, and Italian dressing mix. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight (we ate it right away and it was fine but it’s much better if you let it cool).

Spread cream cheese blend onto slices of bread. Top with cucumber slices and sprinkle with dill.

* We made our own using garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, parsley, sugar, black pepper, ground basil, thyme, and celery seed.

** To make the sandwiches nicer aesthetically, cut them into fun shapes.

Gazpacho

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons jarred, pickled jalapeno (or to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes *
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Combine can of tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, green onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

Place cherry tomatoes, olive oil, lime juice, and balsamic vinegar in a blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour pureed mixture into the tomato-cucumber mixture. Stir to combine.

Place 1/3 of mixture into the blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Return pureed mixture to the remaining tomato-cucumber mixture. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Season chilled soup with more salt and black pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with basil.

* We used an unknown sort of medium tomato from the parents’ garden. Not helpful.

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