“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne Frank

I love receiving but it is through giving that I gain so much joy. The day before Christmas, a friend of mine took a large packet of sweets and handed them out to the children in an area of high deprivation. It gave her untold happiness seeing the unbridled delight that her Christmas treats were giving to these unexpectant children. These small Christmas treats were totally unexpected. The jubilant faces that greeted my friend’s offerings were for her the biggest Christmas present she could have hoped for. She gave to those children, but what she received back was so much more!

That is the thing about giving. The giver often receives more joy than the person receiving the gift!

In my last blog, I spoke on how I planned to give to people by cooking for them – having friends round to dinner and by giving meals to the homeless. This ‘resolution’ was put to the test when my friend, Jans, recently invited me to her dinner party. B, Jans and I do so much together. When B announced that she was making pudding for Jans’ dinner party, I thought that it was time to step forward.
“I would also like to help with your dinner party, Jans. I will do the starter. How does a…” Glory, what could I make? “…soup sound. A cold cucumber soup?”
Cold cucumber soup! Why had I said that? I didn’t know how to makes soup, never mind a cold cucumber one. I bought my soups all ready made from Woolworths.
“That will be scrumptious, Gaye. Thank you,” was Jans’ response.
“How many people are you expecting?”
Six people would be eating a cold cucumber soup that I had no idea how to make. Glory be, what had I let myself in for?

B knows me so well.
As soon as we got home, out came her iPad.
“We need to look up a cucumber soup recipe for you.”
Google provided a mass of cucumber soup recipes. Which one to choose?
“This one is tailor made for you. Look!”
B handed me the iPad and my eyes fell on: ‘Easy Cold Cucumber Soup.’
Just the thing!
I read it through. Yes, I could make that. One thing bothered me.
“It says the cucumber must be de-seeded. How do I…”
“Yeah,” said B, “yeah, it does. But Gaynor, I don’t think it matters if you leave the seeds in.”

I went out and bought all my ingredients. It said: One and a third cups of sour cream and one and a third cups of yogurt. I bought this gigantic carton of yoghurt. The biggest they sold. That would definitely give me enough yogurt. When home, I took the stock cubes I had bought and made two beautiful mugs of it which I put in the fridge overnight. I also stripped the cucumbers of their skin and wrapped them up in cling film for the night. Tomorrow was cooking day!!! I was excited but also I had a nervous energy zinging through me.

At a quarter to six the following morning, I received a message from B.
“Jans says your must de-seed the cucumbers. Apparently it is absolutely necessary. They might make the soup bitter!”
Oh, big shytenhauzen!!!
“I will see you at a quarter to seven and show you how to de-seed them.”
Thank goodness for B!

B cut the cucumber straight down the centre. Then she picked up the one half and with a teaspoon gently but precisely dug the seeds out of the middle. It lay there forlornly with it’s insides strewn in the sink. I could almost hear the other half jeering at it. It didn’t jeer for long!
“And now it’s your turn,” I said picking it up. I looked at B and she smiled encouragingly.
I lacked B’s deftness and precision but I made up for it with the enthusiasm with which I regarded my completely disembowelled half.
“I did it,” I exclaimed to myself. I looked up at B, my eyes shining. “I can do this next one.”
“See you tonight,” B laughed as she left this highly delighted cucumber cutting woman.

I have an efficient yet small liquidiser which wouldn’t fit everything in it at the same time. So I made my soup in two batches. I put one beautifully nude, disembowelled and diced cucumber into the liquidiser cup. I also put in some sour cream and yoghurt and one clove of finely chopped garlic. I put the lid on and turned on the knob. This growling sound emanated from my little machine. Glory be! I switched it off immediately and looked at my liquidiser in consternation. It shouldn’t be growling like that. I switched it on more tentatively. Once again this sound like a cow dying reverberated forth. For goodness sakes! I switched it off. The creamy mixture looked at me helplessly. I felt equally impotent.

I went to pour myself some freshly squeezed orange juice while I considered my problem. I reached into the fridge for the juice and my eyes fell upon the two mugs of vegetable stock. I had forgotten to put them into my liquidised goulash! This could be the reason my ‘potion’ wasn’t turning. It needed the moisture of the stock. I tipped the stock into my cucumber mixture. It didn’t pour as I expected it to. No, it came out with a squelching plop! I put the lid back, switched it on and my liquidiser…liquidised beautifully!

The first batch finished, I then put my second diced cucumber, cream yoghurt AND stock into the liquidiser. I was really enjoying myself now. I began to sing one of my favourite song very loudly: Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun…..
The liquidiser and I were vying for prominence.

“Right, let’s see how you’re doing,” I said to my whirling cucumber soup. I switched it off, removed the lid and tasted it. It was ambrosial! Another minute of spinning should do it. I switched it back on and gave a screech.I had forgotten to put on the frigging lid. Sprays of creamy cucumber soup were painting my kitchen in merry arcs. Switching it off, I gazed at the amount left. I hadn’t lost too much. Combined with the first batch, there was still plenty.

I placed my cold cucumber soup in the beautiful red bowl  Mums had given me for Christmas. It hibernated in the fridge all afternoon. I took it out that evening and sprinkled the mint and dill on top. I laughed at myself. I had tried chopping the mint and dill with a knife. With my spasticity, that was not the easiest thing to do. Not easy at all.
‘I wonder if my liquidiser will do this for me,’ I had thought.
The finely chopped mint and dill seemed to laugh at the world from the top of my cold cucumber soup!

The joy I felt in giving the cucumber soup to Jans that evening was intense. Francis of Assisi said: “For it is in giving, that we receive.”
I thought how true those words were.

I watched the pleasure on my friends faces as they polished off my cucumber soup. I was delighted that it was giving so much enjoyment. I must also admit that the feeling that coursed through me was one of pride. For the first time, I hadn’t relied on a Woolworths soup. This dill and mint sprinkled cucumber concoction had been created by me.
And so, in true Francis of Assisi style, I would like to give this cold cucumber soup recipe to you. I’m sure you will enjoy it.
It made my heart smile!

Easy Cold Cucumber Soup

2 large cucumbers – peeled, seeded, and diced
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/3 cups plain yoghurt
2 cups vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped dill

Combine cucumber, sour cream, yoghurt, vegetable stock and garlic in a large bowl, blend together using an immersion blender until smooth. Blend in the mint and dill. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.