When I'm planning my vegetable garden I always reserve a space for cucumbers. This year, for the first time ever, there are no cucumbers growing in the garden. I planted the seeds and as quickly as the plants came up, some kind of insect made them disappear. I tried a second planting - with the same dreaded results; even though I had applied some insect powder to the young plants.
Bugs also devoured the radishes and lettuce. I finally took another course of action and applied some liquid insect killer to the remaining vegetables in the garden. The plants are doing much better now.
You can bet I'll be searching for cucumbers at the farmers market. Fresh are best! Come winter, I'll only be able to find cucumbers in the grocery store.
I look for firm, brightly colored cucumbers and avoid those with any soft spots, particularly on the ends. As a rule, narrower cucumbers have fewer seeds.
Store whole cukes in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should keep well for up to a week. Once cut, the vegetable will keep, wrapped well and refrigerated, for three to four days.
Wash cukes well and peel before slicing. Cukes purchased in grocery stores have often been treated with a layer of wax to extend their shelf life; these should always be peeled. Cucumbers bought at a farmstand need only to be rinsed before use. If you don't care for the seeds, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
On a diet? You'll be happy to know that one medium cuke has about 25 calories and no fat. Add slices to salads or sandwiches to provide extra crunch and flavor.
Serves six as a side dish
3 med. cucumbers
1 T. butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Mrs. Dash, to taste (table blend)
Peel cukes; cut each lengthwise in half and remove seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/2-in. thick slices. In a 10" skillet, melt butter over med. heat. Add cukes and salt; cook, stirring frequently, just until slices begin to brown, about 8 min. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley and seasonings. Stir to combine. Enjoy.
A refreshing change of pace
SUMMER CUCUMBER SALAD
1 med. cucumber, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
4 green onions with tops, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. Mrs. Dash (table blend)
Pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until serving.
Yield: 2-4 servings
Budget-friendly and easy
TEXAS RICE AND BEAN SKILLET
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
3 cups water
1 cup uncooked rice (reg.)
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz) chili seasoning mix
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
1 lg. green bell pepper, diced
Cook onion and ground beef in Dutch oven or 12" skillet until meat is lightly browned. Drain fat.
Add water, rice, salt, chili seasoning mix, tomato sauce and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover tightly and simmer 20 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in green pepper. Cover and let stand 5 min. or until most of liquid is absorbed.
Yield: Serves 6
A dieter's delight (shared by daughter, Sue)
ORANGE ANGEL FOOD CAKE DESSERT
1 pkg. (16 oz) angel food cake mix
1 pkg. (.3 oz) sugar-free orange gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1-1/2 cups cold fat-free milk
1 pkg. (1 oz.) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp. orange extract
1 carton (8 oz.) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drain well
Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Immediately invert tube pan; cool completely.
In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water; stir in cold water and set aside. Cut cake into 2-in. slices; arrange cake slices in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish (ungreased). With a meat fork, poke holes about 2 inches apart into the cake. Slowly pour gelatin over cake; chill until set.
In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Whisk in extract. Let stand for 2 min. or until soft-set. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cake. Garnish with orange slices. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Note: After draining oranges, place the slices on paper towels to absorb any remaining moisture.
Just a thought: Don't make the garden too big if your wife tires easily.