Tag Archives: cucumber

A Fun Garden to Table Kitchen Gadget-A Countertop Spiralizer

zucchini spiralizer

I’m almost embarrassed to admit I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro last winter and then promptly let it sit in its box until this week.  As much as I thought it looked so cool to use, it just sat there taunting me because it also looked so complicated.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!!

I was finally prompted to get it out of the box when I began to be overwhelmed by a very large zucchini harvest and was getting tired of zucchini au gratin.  (Can’t spiralize the “baseball bats“, so those will be shredded for zucchini bread).

zucchini

I was truly surprised as to how easy this was to use.

Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro

Just take out the very neatly and conveniently stored parts, pick your blade (I used the “fine shredder” blade) and prepare the zucchini.

Preparation is pretty simple.  Peel if you’d like, but it’s not necessary, and cut off the ends to make 2 flat surfaces.

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Push onto the pronged wheel and line up on the circular coring blade.  Then start turning with the hand crank.

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Out comes beautifully spiraled zucchini “noodles”!

spiralized zucchini

Start to finish was less than 5 minutes.  What have I been waiting for?

zucchini spiralizer

This was so fun I decided to add spiralized beets to the sauté.  With beets, you want to use gloves to keep from staining your hands.  Just cut off the ends, peel and it’s ready. Be sure to clean your spiralizer immediately to keep from staining it.

spiralizer

beet spiralizer

Because the beets are so hard, I think I need a little more practice to get perfect spirals.  But even these less than perfect, spiralized beets were just fine.

There’s lots of spiralizer recipes on the web and I also recommend Inspiralized, The Spiralizer Cookbook, and The Spiralizer Cookbook 2.0 if you like “real” cookbooks like I do.

Tonight’s sauté was simple, yet tasty and low-sodium for those looking to lower your sodium intake. I heated olive oil over medium high heat, added the beets to just barely soften them.  About 3-5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add the zucchini for about 3-5 minutes more.  Finish with balsamic vinegar.  I used Lucero’s Winter Spice Balsamic Vinegar, but there’s lot of flavored EVOO and balsamic vinegar combos to try.

spiralized zucchini beet saute

I also have a bounty of cucumbers this year so we also had a yummy cucumber salad.

cucumber spiralizer

Have you ever spiralized your vegetables?  What’s your favorite?

 

Veggies are Done–What a Mess

It’s almost frightening the state of my vegetable garden every fall.  It’s that time after the harvests are done, and it’s just waiting for me to attend to the clean up that things really seem to fall apart, literally.  As my husband likes to remind me, it’s a good thing it’s on the far side of the house where no one can see it.  But, that also leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.  This is what it looked like when I finally decided to get the yard wast bags out and start pulling.

vegetable garden clean up

Some of the plants are already half dead, everything has grown over each other and to top it off one of the tomatoes has tipped over into the grass.

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In the process of dismantling the vegetable garden, some thoughts for next year.

  • This is the first year I tried the metal cone type tomato cages.   These did not work well for the indeterminate varieties that I planted.  They were just way too small, not tall enough and generally almost useless. They’re headed to recycling.
  • The taller cages with adjustable supports that I’ve used for some time are beginning to fall apart. I still like them, but probably need to invest in some new ones, or try something entirely different like trellising with a Florida weave (Garden Betty has an excellent post on this method).  That seems like a great way to keep the plants tamed and supported, but with my “casual” approach to my garden I can see how it could get away from me.  I’ll mull it over this winter.
  • My cucumbers need more room and attention.  They started growing up the cucumber trellis, which I love, but then they started to grab onto the tomatoes causing problems for those plants.
  • The zucchini and squash just need more space.  They spill over the bed, overgrow other plants (like my peppers)  and become obnoxious.

One nice surprise was that I found this pretty swiss chard hiding under the mess.  It was the only survivor from the seeds I planted in the early fall. Yum!

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So, almost ready for winter.  I am going to try and find some compost to put in now.  Last year, I was ready to get going with the early spring vegetables before the stores had any supplies in, so got held up a little bit.

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One of these days I want to get my own composting bin and make my own.  Between the plant waste all around the yard, fall leaves and household waste, I’m sure I could generate some pretty awesome “black gold”.  I just need to find space to put it.  Do you compost?  What’s your favorite way?

Is your garden ready for winter?

Garden Swag

The other day I decided it was time to get the first of the ripe roma tomatoes packed up for winter.  One of my boys came out with me to help, and needless to say he was impressed with the haul we got. So, in teen-age terms, we had some “garden swag”. It was fun watching him search around for the ripe tomatoes, stumble upon a giant zucchini bat, and then realize that there was a whole pile of cucumbers hidden in the vines and tangled in the tomato plants.

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I didn’t really have enough roma tomatoes to bother getting my canning equipment out, so I decided to freeze them.  It’s really pretty simple and, as with most things, it’s best used for cooking since some of the texture will be lost during the freeze thaw process.  I looked around for instructions and settled on some great information from the UNL Extension and fellow blogger,  Tomato Dirt.

Here’s what I did…

Pick nice ripe tomatoes that are blemish-free.  Wash under running water and trim off the stem end.  I also made a small cut in the bottom to help later with peeling.  I had decided to freeze them peeled since the skins are just too tough in soups, etc.

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 To  easily peel tomatoes, place the washed, prepared tomatoes into boiling water for about 1 minute.  You’ll notice that the peels start to split.

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Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon.

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And plunge immediately into an ice-water bath for about a minute or so.  The skins will then pop right off. 

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Then, you can freeze them whole, or chop coarsely.  I chose to chop them.  In the process, I also took out many of the seeds, since it’s really the tomato “meat” that I want for winter cooking.  I packed the chopped tomatoes into freezer ziplock backs, squeezing as much air out of the bag as I can.  If you have a vacuum sealer, that’d be even better.  Off to the freezer they go.  They’ll be fine to use anytime this winter.  

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What are canning or freezing this year?

Yellow Cucumbers

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While I’ve been getting a nice number of cucumbers this year, some of them have been oddly yellow and quite bland tasting. My first thought is that I left them on the vine too long, but these oddballs started out yellow, and stayed yellow.

I found some interesting ideas as to why this might be happening.

  • Not enough sun– very possible. I have them growing on a cucumber trellis that shares space with a large zucchini plant. Possibly some of the leaves are casting too many shadows onto the new cucumbers. For a variety of reasons, I think I should separate the squash and cucumber plants next year.
  • Too much water– less likely since other cucumbers are nice and green on the same vines.
  • Over-ripe– not likely. They seem to start out yellow and stay yellow.
  • Cross-pollinating with summer squash–interesting idea. Could be possible since I have squash in the same garden. Zucchini is right next to it and summer squash a few feet away. Not sure how I could tell if this is the case, but it is part of the reason to move the squash to a new, larger space next year.

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Cucumbers-Mid summer

My cucumbers, which looked so wimpy when I planted  the seedlings, have grown great.  I grew Burpee Sweet Burpless Hybrid for no other reason than the description sounded good in the catalogue.  I do seem to have a lot more squash plants than cucumber, and unfortunately, I like cukes better than squash.   Oh well, I guess I’ll be needing some creative squash recipes.

In any case, the cucumber and squash plants are co-existing nicely on my large cucumber trellises from Gardeners Supply Company.

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Cucumber plants naturally are climbers and use tendrils to attach themselves to anything it can–the trellis, the brick wall, the tomato plant next to it.

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The nice thing about using a trellis is that the cucumbers hang off the back, are easy to find, and don’t lay in the dirt where they can potentially get rotten spots.

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When they are ready to harvest, it’s a good idea to hold onto the spot the cucumber attaches to the plant while pulling it off.  It’ll be pretty stuck on the vine and I’ve pulled whole sections of the plant (with other immature cucumbers) with the ripe vegetable when I’ve tried to pick them.  Also, if this is your first time growing cucumbers, don’t be surprised that the cucumber is covered in little spines.  When I get them in the house, I just use the kitchen scrubber sponge and rub them off and you then have the normal smooth cucumber you’ll find in the store.  Enjoy them in your favorite cucumber salad recipe!