Posts tagged: cucumbers

Late-August Vegetable Garden Tour

By , August 26, 2019

Hello!

It’s a busy time of year in my garden; in late August the produce is really starting to flood in, meaning a LOT of kitchen time between now and October!

All the time and effort spent thus far in my garden is really starting to pay off though. We have our own private organic farmer’s market just outside the back gate! Here, I’ll show you…

Let’s start in the fruit “orchard” where we have one apple tree, two peach trees, and three or four grape vines. Believe it or not, these are two of the peach trees I started from seed, documented in this post from 9 years ago! I make the grape jam that I love from the grapes, and have been starting to use our cut-up Winesap apples as the fruit in my morning green shake. Later on, I’ll make big batches of applesauce with them.

Standing at the North end of the garden:

Standing at the South end of the garden:

Celery:

Honeydew melons:

Watermelons:

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Gazpacho & Garden Shopping List

By , August 30, 2011

I love this time of the year because meals can be made almost entirely out of the garden! Today I made one of my faaaaaavorite dishes, Gazpacho. How can a combination of vegetables taste so good?!

And since the gazpacho used up almost all the produce I picked last week at my garden, I was really tickled to be writing up a “shopping list” for the things I need to get when I go back in the next couple days. Going shopping in one’s own garden is way too much fun!

Wilted Cucumbers? Bake Them!

By , October 3, 2010

Ever wonder what to do with cucumbers that have begun to wilt and lose their crunch? Obviously the first thing you’d think of is to make a Loch Ness monster like the one below, right?

The Loch Ness Cucumber

I thought so.

And although that’s fun — yes — the thing that really uses up those cukes is to bake them. This was originally a Julia Child recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’ve tweaked it somewhat to be simpler, with bolder flavors. I never thought to bake a cucumber until my mom made them last year; delicious! And a real bonus is that they freeze pretty well after baking. Thawed, they’re a little softer than the original out-of-the-oven ones, but that doesn’t bother you, right?

Try them out…I think they’re absolutely delicious! They have kind of a pickle-y flavor, yet gentle and buttery. This recipe makes a fair amount, but they do cook down to about half their original volume; and of course, feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Baked Cucumbers

3 lbs cucumbers

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1/4 – 1/3 cup wine vinegar (to your liking)

1/4 tsp sugar

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp dry basil

1 Tbsp dry dill weed

4 Tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup minced parsley (optional, for serving)

Preheat oven to 375*. Peel cucumbers if the skin is bitter. Cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide. Cut the strips into pieces that are 2″ long.

Mix all ingredients together, stirring well to evenly coat the cucumber pieces. Divide into two baking pans (I use two 9″x13″ glass pans) and bake, uncovered, for about an hour, tossing every 20-30 minutes. They should be tender, but still have a little crunch. Sprinkle with minced parsley (if desired), and serve. Mmmm!

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

By , September 14, 2010

I love eating this light, fresh Israeli staple dish almost every day now that the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley are so abundant in the garden. In fact, preparing and eating this particular salad brings me so much joy because almost all of its ingredients come from our garden. I close my eyes and savor each bite, knowing I’m nourishing my body with the very freshest, purest food possible, and that feels so good! Our homegrown vegetables seem so alive and life-giving! I’m very grateful to have them.

Using quality ingredients in this salad will make it shine!…fresh, flavorful vegetables, good olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

The ingredient amounts below are approximate, and I never measure when making this salad. Adjust the recipe to your liking!

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Makes 1 large salad or two small side salads

1 large tomato, chopped (roughly equal to the amount of cucumber used)

1/2 a cucumber, chopped (roughly equal to the amount of tomato used)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (approximately!)

2-4 Tbsp green onion (or substitute a smaller amount of red or white onion), finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)

2 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt / freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the tomato, cucumber, parsley, and onion; the proportions are up to you, but the recipe gives a rough idea. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad just before serving; I love the zingy taste of lemon so I use equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, but it’s more common to use 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil.  Add salt & pepper to taste!

For packed lunches, I like to mix up the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onion, and ground pepper the night before, and then pack the olive oil and lemon juice in a small glass jar, adding that — along with the salt — at the last minute.

I love mine plain, but you can also serve this with rustic crackers or toasted pita bread.

For a nice variation, add Feta cheese and Kalamata olives! Or, add some cooked quinoa for protein to make it more of a main dish.

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

By , July 26, 2010

This is a recipe that my best friend Sonja gave me a long time ago; it was one of our very favorite things to eat. I love it! It’s a light, refreshing dinner choice which is great for this time of the year because it doesn’t require use of the oven. Heck, you could even cook the quinoa in your solar oven (you have built one, right? ;-)) and you wouldn’t even need the stove, either! It would also be a great meal to take on a picnic.

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 cucumber, diced

3/4 cup chopped green onions

Scant 1/2 cup olive oil

6 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Black or Kalamata olives, chopped (as many as you like…I usually use between 1/2 and 1 cup)

Lettuce, torn into pieces (use as much as you like, though not too much — it’s not meant to be the main ingredient)

Salt + Pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa* and cool it to room temperature. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll put my hot quinoa into the freezer to cool it quickly.

Then, gently stir everything else — except the lettuce — into the quinoa. I leave the lettuce out until I’m ready to serve the salad, and then I stir it in. That way, I can store the leftovers for a day or two and not have to worry about wilted, soggy lettuce. You could also leave the lettuce out altogether, and just serve the salad on a bed of lettuce leaves, as in the picture above.

This salad is best served on the day you make it. Enjoy!

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*Cooking quinoa:

Be sure to rinse the quinoa well to remove bitter saponin residue. The quick way to cook it is to boil your water (ratio of 1 cup grain to scant 2 cups water), add some salt, add quinoa and cover, simmering until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

However, if you’re able to plan ahead enough, it’s much better, healthwise, to soak your quinoa for at least 12 hours to make it more digestible — the way traditional cultures do. Soaking grains neutralizes phytic acid (which binds to essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and blocks their absorption) as well as enzyme inhibitors in the grain. Soaking also breaks down difficult-to-digest proteins and encourages the production of beneficial enzymes which in turn increases the vitamin (especially B vitamin) content of the grain.

So…

To soak quinoa: Thoroughly rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa to remove bitter saponin residue. Put 2 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup and fill to the 1 cup mark with warm water, then mix with the quinoa in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or up to 24. When you’re ready to cook, rinse and drain the quinoa well. Place in a saucepan. Add a scant 1 cup of water, and a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cool, and proceed with the recipe.

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Summertime Gazpacho

By , July 10, 2010

Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite summer recipes — gazpacho! This chilled, raw-vegetable soup is so refreshing on a hot summer evening. Pair it with buttered, rustic bread and a cold beer, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous quick summer meal that’s light and delicious.

I don’t actually measure my gazpacho ingredients anymore, and it’s a little different each time I make it. But this recipe is a favorite, and is a good place to start.

Summertime Gazpacho

2 lbs (approx.) ripe tomatoes, diced (3 – 4 large tomatoes)

2 scallions, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced (optional – I usually leave it out if they’re too expensive or I can’t find organic)

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped (or lots more if you like!)

1/2 – 1 jalapeno, diced with seeds removed (optional!)

Half a cucumber, diced

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 – 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 – 4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt to taste (usually between 1/2 and 1 tsp)

1/2 to 1 tsp pepper

Couple dashes of Penzeys Smoked Paprika (optional, but adds incredible flavor…I am obsessed with this smoked paprika! It’s one of those “secret weapon” ingredients.)

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Mix everything together in a bowl. If you’d like, transfer half to a blender and blend until somewhat pureed but still a little bit course. Transfer back into main bowl. OR, feel free to skip that step! It’s up to you whether you like the texture smoother and soup-like, or chunkier and salsa-like.

Serve with homemade croutons, or toasted & buttered rustic bread.

Yum, I could eat this every day!

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Make Your Own Bubbies Pickles

By , November 15, 2009

Have you ever had Bubbies? It’s the brand against which all other pickles are judged, at least in our house! My hubby is a huge fan. And if you like garlic, you’ll probably appreciate Bubbies, too. They’re not made with vinegar, but rather are made the old-fashioned way, though lacto-fermentation in brine.

So for my very first attempt at homemade pickles, I turned the Bubbies jar upside down, identified which spices were in there, selected what looked like a good lacto-fermented pickle recipe, and hoped for the best as I sacrificed a couple of humongous garden cucumbers for the Great Pickle Experiment.

The results were shocking…in that I was shocked I had made something so tasty and convincing on the very first try. I certainly had expected the worst. In fact, I thought Hubby was being sarcastic when he tried the first one and told me they were awesome. He couldn’t stop talking about them! I was skeptical until I tried one, too. YO! Later, I did a taste test of my pickles compared to Bubbies; I actually liked mine even better! In the photo above, I used my large garden cucumbers, but to get the true Bubbies experience, go for the really small cukes; I find these at the farmer’s market, or at ethnic grocery stores. Go for organic if you can (which would be an upgrade from Bubbies, since theirs aren’t organic). Of course the really big cucumbers are fine to use, but because of their size, their insides won’t be quite as firm and crunchy as a smaller cucumber would be, and their skin will be a little tougher.

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Lindsey’s Bubbies Pickle Recipe:

1 gallon glass jar or ceramic crock

1/2 a gallon of warm water (tap water is fine)

A handful of fresh, clean grape leaves, oak leaves, or cherry leaves (optional — they supply tannins to keep the pickles crunchy) (UPDATE: raspberry & blackberry leaves work too, but have a stronger flavor than grape leaves)

3-4 lbs of cucumbers (small to medium is ideal, but if all you have is large, cut them into spears)

5-6 Tbsp non-iodized sea salt. I use Redmond RealSalt brand unrefined sea salt. (I usually prefer 6 Tbsp. Using 5 Tbsp of salt will yield a less salty pickle that my hubby prefers, however you may have to contend with more white film, or “kahm yeast,” on the surface of the brine during fermentation. More about kahm yeast in the instructions.)

2 – 3 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, & roughly chopped

3 Tbsp whole dill seed

2 Tbsp whole coriander seed

1 tsp whole mustard seed (brown or yellow, doesn’t matter)

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

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Ingredients for Homemade Bubbie's Pickles

Ingredients for Homemade Bubbies Pickles. My homegrown garlic was a little small, so I used 4 heads.

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Directions:

Rinse the cucumbers, making sure the blossoms are removed. Soak them in very cold water for a couple hours (if they’re not straight off the vine).

In a separate clean jar (not the one you’ll be using for the pickles), dissolve the salt into the 1/2 gallon of warm water. Set aside — this brine will be one of the last things you’ll add.

Into the clean, gallon jar/crock you’ll be using for the pickles, drop in the garlic, dill, coriander, mustard, peppercorns, fennel, and red pepper flakes.

Then, put the cucumbers into the jar. If you’ve sliced large cucumbers into spears, pack the spears vertically into the jar.

Pour the salt water solution (a.k.a. the brine) over the cucumbers.

Now, place the cleaned grape/oak/cherry/raspberry/blackberry leaves into the jar. My jar has a somewhat narrow mouth, so the grape leaves form a nice plug at the top of the jar so the cucumbers (which will rise to the top after you pack them in) don’t go above the brine.

You want your cucumbers (and leaves) to be completely submerged in the brine at all times. If they’re sticking up above the brine, they’ll get moldy. If your jar has a wide mouth, you may need to use a couple of plates to keep everything submerged. Another idea is to nest a smaller glass jar into the opening of the larger jar to keep everything down. Or, use a scrubbed & sterilized rock.

Using nested jars to keep everything submerged.

Another idea: use a rock to keep everything submerged.

If the brine still doesn’t cover the cucumbers, make more brine solution using: 1 scant Tbsp sea salt to one cup of water. Cover your jar with its lid (loosely), or with a cloth to keep bugs & dust out. If you see a thin film of white scum growing on the surface of the water, just skim it off as often as you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. This is “kahm yeast;” it won’t harm anything, but do try to keep up with it otherwise it can affect the flavor of your pickles.

Sometimes, during pickle making, some of your garlic cloves will turn blue. This is not a problem. The Colorado Extension Service website says this about blue garlic:

Blue, purple or blue-green garlic may result from immature garlic or garlic that is not fully dry, from copper pans, or from a high amount of copper in the water. Garlic contains anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that under acid conditions may turn blue or purple. A blue-green color also may develop in pickles made with stored red-skinned garlic. Except for blue-green color resulting from an abnormally high copper-sulfate concentration, such color changes do not indicate the presence of harmful substances.

Your pickles will be ready after 1-4 weeks — depending on the temperature in your house. Our pickles are usually ready after 10 days on the counter in our warm apartment (average of 80-85°F) in late summer. Every couple days, do a taste test of your pickles. They’re ready when they taste done to you! Once they taste done, transfer the jar into the fridge to slow fermentation. Once they’ve fermented and are in the fridge, you can remove the grape/oak/cherry/raspberry/blackberry leaves and you don’t need to worry as much about the pickles being completely submerged in the brine.

Enjoy! These will last months and months in your fridge. I once kept a batch around for 9 months and it was still good.

And the brine is good stuff too; I like to drink it straight. It’s full of beneficial bacteria and good for your digestion! Since it’s salty, it would be especially good after a workout.

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Farm Report: 30 lbs of food!

By , September 6, 2009

Garden harvest September 6 2009

After a week away, the garden didn’t look a whole lot bigger, but there sure was a lot of food in there! 10 lbs of cucumbers, 15 (!) lbs of zucchini, and probably about 5 lbs of tomatoes.

Harvest time is my favorite part of the year. It’s like Christmas! 🙂

Cool + Refreshing Cucumber Raita

By , August 19, 2009

Cucumber Raita Indian Side Dish

I’m just thrilled this year to have an overabundance of cucumbers flowing from my garden! Cucumbers are one of my favorite veggies, and this is one of my favorite cucumber dishes to make. It’s a palate-cooling Indian side dish which would pair beautifully with a curry of some sort, or grilled meat or fish with a spicy marinade. I just eat mine plain, though, as more of a light dish for lunch or a snack. Once I start eating it, I can’t stop! It’s so good. For garnish, you could use mint leaves or some more Garam Masala sprinkled on top.

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