28 July 2007

Cucumber

Have you eaten any cucumbers lately?

You should give them a try.

Most of my life I have eaten them only as either a salad addition or as single slices with salt. Join with me in broadening the cucumber horizon!

Breakfast (or Snack!)
Cucumber sticks. They're like carrot sticks or celery sticks, but cucumber.

I came up with this mostly out of laziness. I had been reading about making sushi. Sushi often has vegetables cut up as thin match sticks. Remarkably thin. I didn't really want to cut anything so small. (I'm already a bit of a safety hazard. Sharp knives moving quickly sounds like disaster.) Outside of sushi, I couldn't really see a use for match stick cucumber. But they did do another thing I'd never seen done to a cucumber before. They scooped out the innards. Shocking!

How to make Cucumber Sticks:
First of course wash your veggies.

Next slice the cucumber in half lengthwise.

Then take a spoon and scoop out the seeds. You'll be left with two troughs. At this point, because my cutting skills are limited, I like to cut each half into half, widthwise. Now you have four quarters. Well done.

Tilt one quarter on it's side. Skin side down. Cut lengthwise into ¼ inch to ½ inch planks. Continue with the remaining quarters.

Play around with the plank width to determine the size you prefer.

I like to cut these up the night before and wrap them in a damp paper towel sealed in a plastic container.

They make an excellent breakfast during the car ride to work. Leftovers can be added to lunch, or eaten as a snack on the car ride home.

I've tried seasoning the cucumber sticks with a few things, but none of the seasoning really improved upon the original.

Cucumber as Beverage?
I have learned that caffeine, sugar and I don't mix well together. Sadly consuming significant quantities of caffeine-free, sugar-free sodas also has a deleterious effect. While having a delightful effervescence, plain seltzer water can quickly become monotonous.

Water is good. But, apparently not enticing enough to keep me from dehydrating in the hot Florida sun. It seems that when I'm working outside in the Summer's heat I manage to forget about adequate hydration. Even when I bring a full water bottle and carry it around with me.

An idea recommended to be by a co-worker (thanks, Cecilia!) has worked wonders!

Cucumber Water
Adding just a slice or two of fresh cucumber, lends a delightful flavor to a glass of water.

Not only do I end up drinking more at each sip, but as the favor fades in the mouth, I am reminded to take more frequent sips.

At the picnic table you can add several slices to a pitcher of ice water. Very refreshing. I'm particularly fond of cucumber, but you'll get pleasant results with a variety of fruits, herbs and spices.

Condiment(Pickles need not apply)
This is a taste sensation I learned about from my forays into Indian cooking (thanks, Vani!).

Cucumber Yogurt
Follow the directions above for the cucumber sticks, until the part were you have quarters.

Then cut your quarters lengthwise in half. Next dice all segments widthwise until you have lots of diced cucumber.

Mix with plain yogurt.

Serve this cooling condiment with spice Indian dishes or as a sour cream substitute in Mexican dishes.

If your not afraid of the heat, you can add jalapeño or green hot pepper to the mix. Just when you think your going to get some nice cooling yogurt, you bite into a pepper. Heck ya!

I haven't tried it as a dip yet. However, I think this would also make a great chip or celery dip.

Madhur Jaffrey, has a more sophisticated (aka: time consuming) version of this in her amazing book, “World Vegetarian”. Hers involves making a 'yogurt cheese' by draining the yogurt of it's moisture, and includes cucumber, dill, and garlic.

Botanical niftiness.
Cucumbers belong to the Cucurbitaceae Family. This Family also includes squash and melons.

Cucumbers are generally fertilized by bubble bees and honey bees. Inadequate pollination will result in deformed cucumbers. To optimize the number of perfectly formed cucumbers, beehives will be brought into the fields just before the flowers bloom.

For more technical information on cucumbers check out wikipedia.

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1 comment:

Meredith said...

YAY Cucumbers!

I love cucumber-yogurt, more commonly known (with the dill / garlic) as tzatziki. It goes with almost anything.