Sprinklers. Wading pools. Picnics. Dogs. Playing with Minnow. Hanging out with good friends. The hallmarks of well-spent summer weekends. Just don't forget the cucumbers...
One day's worth of cucumbers, after a few days of rain. This picture was from a few weeks back, and fortunately the cucumber flux has eased somewhat, but it's still difficult to maintain the cucumber mass balance in our house. Anybody want some?
What do you do with so many cucumbers? Make 2 versions of cucumber-tomato salad for a friend's house-warming party, and bring 2 extra cucumbers as her housewarming gift. Too bad someone had already brought her a box (!) of cucumbers.
Bonus: Minnow ate the first two corn-cobs from the garden. The second one I couldn't even convince her to cook. She just went after it raw.
Pickles! If you don't have the time/energy for full-on canning, make fridge pickles. Vinegar + salt (+ sugar if you like sweet pickles) and some water, plus whatever flavorings. If you're going sweet I'd recommend simmering the brine with the allspice/cloves/peppercorns/bay leaves. If you want garlic/dill/jalepeno ones just do fresh. Stuff sliced cukes in jar with fresh flavorings, pour brine over the top, put the lid on tight, let sit in the fridge at least a week.
Chilled cucumber soup! Scoop the seeds out of the cukes to get rid of the bitterness, then toss them in the blender with buttermilk, lemon juice, and herbs to taste. Epicurious has lots of recipes of this sort: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chilled-Cucumber-Soup-15056
There are a number of relatively quick and good uses for excess cucumbers.
1. Make gazpacho. Make a southwestern variant of gazpacho by substituting a jar of picante salsa for some of the tomato.
2. Make Tzatziki sauce:
3. Make Cucumber Shrimp Soup:
Ooh, I didn't know you could make fridge pickles. We are totally growing cucumbers next summer. Most of our garden was a bust because I've never had a bit of earth to work with and our squirrels ate most of the few veggies I did manage to grow.
But La Dudarina has been loving local produce this summer, like Minnow. She eats corn on the cob, and peaches, nectarines and tomatoes whole (she takes tomatoes out of my hand before I can cut them up, sometimes before I can pay for them at the farmer's market!). She was eating blueberries by the quart but is off them right now in favor of all the stone fruits.
There are always the cow-orkers. I bring five to ten pounds of squash, okra, tomatoes, and peppers to work pretty much every day. Never any left over (although given the number of South Indians I work with, there's never remotely enough okra.)
Proportions not really critical-- mix & eat, by itself or with your dinner.
More specifics on non-sweet fridge pickles, based on my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother's recipes. (Remember that you only need enough brine to fill the interstices in a jar of pickles.)
Fridge pickle brine recipe:
1/2 cider vinegar
2 tsp salt per pint of brine
2 tsp dill seeds per pint of brine
2 tsp mustard seeds per pint of brine
1/2 tsp black peppercorns per pint of brine
1/2 onion sliced very thin per pint of brine
- 2 whole, peeled garlic cloves per pint of brine
- 1 or two small dried hot red peppers per pint of brine
Bring to a boil and pour over contents of jar, including the whole spices, onions, etc. Seal jar and let cool to room temp before refrigerating.
This same brine makes wonderful low calorie beer munchie pickles when used with fresh, just barely parboiled whole green beans.
The second one I couldn't even convince her to cook.
You make Minnow cook her own food? You are a cruel taskmaster, SciWo!
Pickles! Canning might be worth the effort though. It would be a shame to do all that peeling and slicing (do you have a mandolin or v-slicer?) to have them go bad in the fridge if you can't eat them that quickly. Recently Cooking Light has had cucumber drinks - like a cucumber mint syrup for tea and the other was a cocktail.
My mom always made a salad like this one:
2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced paper thin
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Combine cucumbers with other ingredients and chill for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
(although maybe she used sour cream instead of mayo) I loved it though as a kid. It is another tasty fresh side for a summer dinner.