Tag Archives: cucumber

August 2013


pizzaLunch today looked so good I had to snap a pic. Isn’t this the way you should feel every day? : )

Pictured is a personal pizza with homemade ricotta cheese*, and basil, garlic, and cherry tomatoes from the garden. Plus one of the many cucumbers from the garden marinated in a nam prik-style vinaigrette.  After I gobbled this up I enjoyed a couple of fresh figs (not pictured).

*The milk I was going to put in my coffee had gone sour, so I made ricotta out of it. It’s gotten me all excited about making cheese, and I think I’ll be doing a lot of ordering from this website. Cheese making results in a lot of whey, so I’ve bookmarked this site too.

Right now we are coping with a glut of cucumbers, figs, and peaches. Not a bad problem to have, I guess! I’m trying all sorts of new cucumber recipes, like cucumber kimchi and stir-fried cucumbers (really delicious, using Armenian cucumbers). We’ve put up frozen peaches, canned peaches, peach butter, peach chutney, and peach salsa. I’m going to try my hand at some fig butter, and last week Mike bought a new dehydrator which has been running non-stop with peaches and figs (oh-so-good in breakfast oatmeal!).

One reason for the bumper crop of peaches and figs is the relatively mild summer we’ve had. After last year’s record-breaking heat this feels like paradise. Cooler temperatures and rain have made Oklahoma lush and green in August, when it’s usually parched and yellow. I drove I-40 to Nashville last week, and you would have thought it was May. Last night I actually had to pull a blanket on me! (Our house is not air-conditioned, we just have fans.)

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Early peaches

ripe early peaches ready for pickingWe are harvesting and putting up peaches this weekend from our early variety (Mike can’t remember the name, but it might be Candor). A somewhat strange occurrence is that we haven’t had any leaf curl or insects on our fruit. Every peach is perfect looking. I wonder if last summer’s heat and drought killed off the insects? Mike has peach slices drying in the dehydrator and the oven, and I made peach fritters today (see recipe and pic below). I exchanges some peaches for my friend’s cucumbers, so tomorrow I’m going to make some peach-cucumber salsa.

Mike has been  spending a lot of time with the chipper-shredder and we have another huge batch of compost cooking. I’ve already distributed one batch this spring, and this new one should be ready in a couple of weeks. It is amazing how much organic matter one medium-sized city lot can generate!

peach frittersFresh Peach Fritters – This recipe makes about two dozen small fritters. Combine the following in a bowl and let sit while you make the batter:

  • 2 cups sliced and chopped peaches, with skin
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together:

  • 1 to 1.25 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp almond meal (optional, you can add flour instead)

To the flour mixture add:

  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

Last of all add:

  • the peaches and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl

Drop by the spoonful (about 1 Tbsp) into hot oil. I never use a thermometer, but you want the oil hot enough that the fritters don’t absorb a lot of oil, but not so hot that the batter “explodes.” The fritters should be irregular and flat, not neat little balls. Turn the fritters over and cook until golden brown. Drain them on a paper towel or newspaper. Dust with powdered sugar and eat right away with some good strong coffee or mint ice tea.

And now, just because I can’t resist, my beautiful granddaughter…

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Cucumber madness

Mike and I are back from our California road trip vacation, which was

View from our driftwood shelter on Molera State Beach, CA

View from our driftwood shelter on Molera State Beach, CA

wonderful (see Travel Photos). Luckily while we were gone the weather in Oklahoma was cooler and moister than usual, so our garden is in pretty good shape. We’ve already done a lot of weeding and harvesting of sunflower seeds, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Mike dried about 3 quarts of tomatoes yesterday in our dehydrator. We also need to clean up our garlic heads now that they’ve cured, and eat a lot of potatoes before they spoil.

So now it’s August, when backyard gardeners in the Mid-South  are flooded with produce, and at the same time need to start planting their fall garden.  This is a tricky proposition, as it could be too hot (and too dry or too wet) to get good germination on some seeds. There are also grasshoppers to contend with, and they can wipe out a bed of seedlings in one morning. I’m going to see if I can get a crop of Delicata squash before the first fall frost for our area – which could occur in the middle of October, or wait until the middle of December! I may also try some Contender bush beans and some fennel (I saved my seed). I will probably wait a week or two before planting bok choi and our winter greens.

hiddencukeWhen we got home Sunday Beca proudly showed us the large cucumber she had picked earlier in the morning. The next day Mike found four more hiding in the vines! Obviously it’s time to post some simple cucumber salad/relish/snacks for the extended Nelson clan.

Marinated cukes #1: A dish my maternal grandmother, raised in southern Oklahoma, served every day in the summer, along with sliced cantaloupe or watermelon. Mix all the ingredients together and set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. The longer they set, the more “pickled” they become, but I like them pretty crisp and crunchy.

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white, yellow, or red)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • a couple of ice cubes

Marinated cukes #2: These are similar to the previous recipe, but more like a bread-and-butter (sweet-sour) pickle. I think I may be the only one in our immediate family who likes bread-and-butter pickles?

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white, yellow, or red)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dill seed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp parsley seed
  • a couple of ice cubes

Marinated cukes #3: This is a favorite of Mike and the kids.

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (you can substitute cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Marinated cukes #4: Spicier and good with fresh spring rolls.

  • Several peeled and sliced cucumbers
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white or yellow)
  • 1/4 cup rice or cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1  to 2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp freshly grated or minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1  tsp garlic-chili paste or siracha hot sauce
  • Several minced leaves of Thai basil, cilantro, or mint

And of course cucumbers are excellent just sliced paper thin and placed in sandwiches.

Bonus recipes: As I was typing this out I thought about the watermelon sitting in our refrigerator. The rind of a watermelon is sort of like a cucumber, right? So couldn’t you make a fresh pickle or something out of it? HA! Here is a recipe from the Tuscon CSA! If you don’t have pomegranate syrup I bet you could substitute some other fruit juice/syrup/concentrate. And here is a watermelon rind relish recipe that would go great with anything grilled, curries, or on a sandwich. An interesting note – watermelon rind is a good source of citrulline, and you may recall hearing that watermelon is a “natural viagra.”

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Golden gaspacho & seviche

Mike and I are in Tahoe right now, relaxing (at least I am relaxing, Mike is running, biking, and hiking at a frantic pace). Tomorrow we head to Monterey, one of my favorite places. A friend is housesitting, taking care of the garden and our pets. Most importantly, she is picking the tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant so that they’ll keep producing.

Last weekbefore we left on vacation it was hellishly hot, and when it’s 103 Fahrenheit at 6:00 p.m. you don’t feel much like cooking. Fortunately we had lots of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers coming out of the garden – perfect for a cold, refreshing, and slightly tangy gaspacho cold soup (also spelled gazpacho). Since I had all these yellow tomatoes, this is the summer of the golden gaspacho (also gold salsa, gold seviche, etc.).  I didn’t take a photo of this, so you’ll just have use your imagination. Yes, it was beautiful.

Most recipes call for you to blend your ingredient into a chunky puree. Although I’ve done this before, I really prefer my gaspacho more like a soupy salsa fresca – where each fresh vegetable is identifiable. Gaspacho demands good, ripe, flavorful tomatoes. If all you have is hard “plastic” supermarket tomatoes don’t even bother!

Chop finely:

  • 4 cups tomatoes
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion

Mince finely:

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 large clove garlic

Add to vegetables and herbs:

  • 1.5 cups vegetable bullion
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine and let flavors develop in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is best). Check out these other recipes here and here. Of course, Epicurious has a plethora of gazpacho recipes, most of them of the blended/smooth variety.

If you have any leftover gaspacho, re-purpose it the next day as seviche, also spelled ceviche. To the gaspacho add:

  • chopped avocado
  • corn kernels
  • jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
  • prepared salsa and/or sirachi sauce
  • precooked, peeled, and chilled shrimp (or scallops, mussels, etc.)
  • minced cilantro
  • a squeeze of fresh lime

Oh yeah, right before we left I picked a Black Krim tomato from the garden and we ate it somewhere in Utah. OMG it was good! Never be afraid of an strange-looking ugly tomato.

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