Archives for posts with tag: cucumbers

Confession: We have been cucumber failures. Utter abysmal defeat. Bugs got ‘em. Disease got ‘em. So we quit trying. Garden what you’re good at, right?

Then last year we cleared some gardening space in our back yard. It’s a long story but we almost quit the erratically-managed community garden where we’ve rented for a decade. At the last minute, CRR caved. So we’ve got two gardens: our back yard and the community garden mile away.

Time to experiment. We have about six hours of direct sun at home, so we tried vegetables that have failed us time and time again in the full-sun community plot. The sugar snap peas have had a spectacular season. No issue there – we eat them right of hand, or in salads. Arugula and butter lettuce have had a long spectacular season, apparently loving the cool shade. We love it.

cukesBut the cukes. O.M.G. After two months of agonizing over their lazy interest to thrive, BOOM, the vines took off. I watched the cute little yellow blossoms turn into tiny cucumbers-to-be. They’re climbing the trellises and threatening the tomatoes.

Now we are reaping the harvest. Suddenly we have 6-8-10-inch muscle-bound cukes. Gulp. After so many years of failure, I am ill-equipped to deal with this onslaught.

I’m making a mandoline-thin sliced cucumber feta salad for dinner tonight. But clearly I need more ideas. Send me your recipes! #Help!

Sandy K. Johnson is a journalist who writes real news and is a fierce protector of the First Amendment. 

My colleague Kyle brought cucumbers from her garden to the office, graciously sharing the bounty of her nine (!) plants.  These were no ordinary cukes; nay, they were the size of small missiles. Since I failed two years in a row with cucumbers, I snatched one up pronto.

With this vision dancing in my head: cukes + tomatoes = gazpacho! The Spanish-inspired summer soup is one of my all-time favorites.

Everyone has a favorite gazpacho recipe. Some puree their gazpacho smooth. Some put bread in it as a thickener (truly Spanish). Lore claims that Christopher Columbus went forth on his explorations with an early version of it. I am not surprised.

My “recipe” is so eclectic that no batch is ever the same, but I like a toothsome gazpacho, with some chunks of veg so you appreciate the produce that made it possible. My secret ingredient is V-8. What’s your recipe?

Take a bow, tomatoes and cukes – you are a pairing made in heaven.

mmm…gazpacho

Saylor Place Gazpacho

1 small cuke or half of one of Kyle’s giant cukes, peeled & seeded

Several tomatoes, seeded

Half a bell pepper, seeded

Two tablespoons onion (Vidalia, scallions, chives, whatever is at hand)

Two small cloves garlic

Couple squirts of a umami item, like Worcestershire or soy sauce

Tablespoon of red wine vinegar

Tablespoon of olive oil

Sprinkle of CRR’s hot pepper flakes

V-8 juice

Salt/pepper

Whirl the veg in batches in your food processor to the size desired. Dump into a pitcher. Add V-8 in roughly a 2-to-1 proportion to the other ingredients, but hey, it’s up to you. The V-8 essentially provides the liquid base for the soup. Briskly whisk together until the oil emulsifies. Season to taste. Chill or serve at room temp.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening