What to Do With All Those Cucumbers!

Yesterday was National Zucchini Day…or National Hide Your Zucchini in Your Neighbor’s Car Day. I’m not sure of the correct title, but that’s just not my problem this year. Those nasty squash beetles have taken care of that. CUCUMBERS! That’s my problem. They’re everywhere! So, I’m trying to see just what I can do with those wonderfully prolific little fellows.

The obvious choice, other than slicing them and eating them with salt or dicing them in a salad, is pickles. But who wants to go to all that mess trouble. I did find a recipe for refrigerator pickles that was, well, not a piece of cake, but fairly easy.

DSC00244I found the recipe at smittenkitchen.com.blog and tried to link to it, but I personally hate going to one site thinking I’m going to get a recipe only to have to click and wait on three others. Here’s the recipe:

4 or 5 large cucumbers, sliced

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt

1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1/2 and wish I’d used 3/4)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and pack into two pint-sized jars. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

I just tasted mine. They are good, but I’d recommend reducing the salt to 1/8 cup and adding sugar to equal 3/4 cup. Just my personal taste.

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SO, that got rid of a few, but what’s next? I made a cucumber salad. I found the recipe in several places so I don’t have an original source, but mostly used the Taste of Home recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
It was okay. I would recommend more cucumbers because…well, that’s what you’re trying to get rid of, and because this made a little more “dressing” than I thought it needed. Unless you are taking this to a pot luck dinner, I’d suggest halving the recipe. It is not great left over. The dressing gets runny after sitting overnight in the fridge. It is kind of cute to serve in a little sherbet glass or a tea cup, though.
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The last recipe I made is one I tried last year, and it is still my favorite. It is also extremely versatile; you can make it as plain or fancy as you like. I got this recipe here: kitchenjoyblog.com.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

sliced white sandwich bread, about 16 slices

sprigs of dill for garnish

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Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until completely incorporated. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, chopped dill, and diced cucumber. Spread on 8 slices of sandwich bread. Top with sprigs of dill, then close sandwiches with remaining bread slices.
 I tried to link you up, but couldn’t. Her pictures are so much prettier than mine. I adapted this in several ways. First of all, I used an extra cucumber and reduced the mayo a bit. If you are making the roll up that I’m going to show you, I suggest leaving out the mayo completely. It doesn’t hurt the flavor and makes the mixture more spreadable.
First, I rolled out my bread slices with a rolling pin, and don’t tell my grown up kids because we tried to convince them the crusts were the best part of the bread, but I removed them for these little sandwiches and rolled that bread out FLAT! I spread the filling between two slices and cut each sandwich into 4 squares and then halved the squares to make bite-sized tea sandwiches.
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To make a gluten free appetizer, simply slice cucumbers and top with a dollop of the spread. I topped one slice with a sprig of fresh rosemary (I would have used dill, but I forgot to grow it this year) and another with paprika and yet another with curry powder. All were delicious.
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Finally, you can reduce or eliminate the mayo and make a low carb tortilla roll up. In the picture, I used the standard recipe, and you can see that it’s a bit runny for finger food and doesn’t hold together as well as I’d like. I did refrigerate the roll for an hour before cutting, but it was still a little messy. Tasted wonderful, though.
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I think the best option would be an assortment platter.
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There you have it! Great ideas for using those cucumbers, but I’m telling you…we still have cucumbers.
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So, if you live in my neighborhood, be sure you lock your car doors!

Wild and Wonderful Watercress

We have the best neighbors! They came to play cards last night…bearing gifts. This.DSC00141
Watercress grows wild in spring branches and streams, and its health benefits seem almost as prolific. Just this week I read that it is one of the best alkaline foods to help in leveling out the body’s acidity. For me, it’s the fresh, peppery taste and the childhood memories of accompanying my dad to the spring on our farm to pick an armload; one of the first signs of the spring season.

Watercress is not the least labor intensive veggie, for sure, because it must be plucked from the water, trimmed, washed, and examined carefully. The early, tenderest plants are best and easiest. Later in the season, you need to look carefully for the little critters water bugs and blood suckers, yes, city folk, leaches. Don’t look at me like that. You eat potatoes, don’t you? And just think of all those wiggly worms crawling around under ground with them. And the beetles.
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I trim the thickest stems off, unless I’m going to chop it finely, and drain it in a colander or pat it dry with paper towels.
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Today, I left the pieces mostly intact and added a bit of torn Romaine leaves. A few thin slices of red onion and some sliced strawberries complete this salad. I dressed it with a tablespoon of mayo mixed with a dash of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, and some poppy seeds.
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Pretty, fresh, healthy, and delicious.

Of course, this may not be is not necessarily my favorite way to eat watercress. No, think oil fat bacon grease. Yep, that may just negate all that alkalinity factor, but here is the recipe for my favorite watercress dish.
1 bunch- 8 to 10 cups- of watercress (washed, drained and chopped coarsely)
6 slices bacon, fried crisp drained and crumbled (reserve bacon grease)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly
Coarse salt

Chop and mix all veggies. Heat baking grease until the smoke alarm goes off very hot. Pour it over the greens and listen to it sizzle. It should be slightly wilted, but still keep some of its integrity. (I know, all the health nuts are thinking I just lost mine with the bacon grease.) Sprinkle in the crumbled bacon and indulge enjoy.

Watercress is wild and wonderful, healthy or not…the choice is yours.