Ways to Use That Overload of Cucumbers From the Garden

It is mid-June as I write this and I am beginning to get an overload of cucumbers from the garden. I am the only one in the household who eats them. Since I hate to be wasteful, I’ve begun using my cucumbers in places other than salads.

Cucumbers in Smoothies

A few years back I bought an Oster personal blender. Because of my diagnosis of poly-cystic kidney disease, I began to create healthy smoothies full of fruit and vegetables.

This morning I picked 2 more cucumbers from the garden to add to the collection of 5 I had already sitting on my kitchen counter. Cucumbers can be very good for for patients with CKD (chronic kidney disease) and of course, for everyone else as well.

I chopped one whole cucumber for my smoothie. To that I added five frozen, organic strawberries, organic red grapes, and some unsweetened cranberry juice. Once I remembered that I had bananas to use, I added a small banana too.

Cucumber smoothie
Cucumber smoothie with fruit

For those with any type of kidney problem who have to watch their potassium levels, don’t add the banana.

Of course this is my made-up-on-the-spur-of-the-moment recipe, so change it up. Adding other greens along with the cuke would also work. Throw in some kale or spinach. That goes well with strawberries. Use orange juice or iced tea for the liquid. There are many options when it comes to creating a healthy smoothie.

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 11.04.34 AM
Ready to drink from my House Targaryen GOT glass

Easier still, add sliced cucumber to a glass of water. Throw in sliced apple, orange, lemon or lime if you have it. Most people should drink a lot of water every day and this may help you do so.

water flavored with fruit and vegetables

Cucumber Sandwiches

Although I try hard not to eat much bread, I love a cucumber sandwich. When slicing the cukes for a sandwich I leave the skin on. I only remove skin from store-bought cukes.

Add mayonnaise and a little pepper and yum… the perfect summer sandwich.

cucumber sandwiches
Crustless white bread cucumber sandwiches (photo: Pixabay)

Or choose a more healthy type “bread” by spreading hummus on a (gluten free, low sodium) tortilla and fill with chopped cucumber and other veggies. Roll it up and you have a tasty meal without the bread.

Cucumbers and Hummus Dip

Cucumbers are quite delicious all by themselves, but it’s more fun to dip them into a healthy dip. I love cukes and hummus. Again, if you have no health issues, eat what sounds good. Chic peas are the main ingredient in hummus and most brands offer additional varieties along with plain old hummus.

Hummus is a wonderful and healthy dip that goes with any vegetable. It provides fiber and protein and other nutrients.

bowl of hummus
Hummus

More Ideas For Using Fresh Garden Cucumbers

I can get tired of eating salad pretty quickly, but the trick is to change it up. Use a small amount of greens and add lots of cucumber, tomato, sliced onion and green pepper. I like to add walnuts and fruit to my salads too.

For a simple cucumber only salad, check out this recipe at Taste of Home.

I have a no-cook recipe link for making sweet bread and butter pickles.  Be aware that these pickles last only a couple of weeks before the slices get soggy.  Eat them quickly or they will have to be thrown away.  Still, it’s a good and easy recipe for an abundance of cukes.  Maybe give some away?

bread and butter pickles mason jars
The cukes are marinating and will be pickles soon!

Also, cucumber slices can be used to play checkers. (Smile)

checkers with food

Simple Bread and Butter Pickles Made From Garden Cucumbers

Cucumber on the vine
Cucumber on the vine

Now that the cucumbers are growing in my Florida garden, I was reminded of a simple bread and butter pickles recipe I found a few years ago. No canning was involved. Fortunately I was able to find my printed copy.  (Recipe Link Below)

I don’t do canning, but I love bread and butter pickles made with fresh from the garden cucumbers. These pickles are stored in mason jars (or any jar) but there is no boiling required. Slice and mix the six ingredients (and add some of your own) and store in the fridge.

Include sliced onion and green pepper for flavor. Garlic cloves and hot pepper slices may work as well. Other herbs could be added to change the flavor, like fennel and dill.

And by the way, you don’t need to use a specific type of cucumber.  I am growing two types, and I can’t remember what they are, but as you can see in my photo below, one type is very long!

The shorter, regular looking cukes taste better, but when making pickles it doesn’t matter.  There are many other ways to use fresh cucumbers from the garden.

Cucumbers and onion

The recipe calls for 7 cups of sliced cucumbers, so wait until you have a bunch to use up. Cukes don’t last long once they are picked, so plan to make pickles the day you pick the cucumbers.
A mandolin slicer makes all that slicing go fast.

Note:  One thing I changed in the recipe was the amount of sugar. The recipe calls for 2 cups, and I reduced that amount to 1 cup.  I also added a few slices of hot red pepper and fennel sprigs.

making bread and butter pickles
All ingredients get mixed together in a big bowl

Spoon the mix into clean mason jars. Divide up the remaining liquid into the jars, cover and put in fridge for 5 days. Then begin eating!  They will be good for months.

mason jars
Clean mason jars

The full recipe can be found here: Mamaw’s Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles.

bread and butter pickles mason jars
The cukes are marinating and will be pickles soon!  My mix fit into these 4 jars.

How to Grow Eggplants When the Flowers Keep Falling Off

Using a paintbrush to help with pollination of my big eggplant tree.

eggplant tall plant
My Eggplant “Tree”

You may be wondering about my post image of the eggplant with a paintbrush. I’m hoping that little brush will help with eggplant production. When your eggplant flowers keep falling off, you may need a little paintbrush too.

For many months now I have had an eggplant “tree” growing in my garden.  I’m not familiar with growing eggplants.  In my New England yard I think I tried a few times and picked maybe one eggplant from my own garden!  The plants never grew very large – maybe a couple feet high. Here in Florida, my eggplant has become a small tree. And this photo was taken AFTER I pruned big branches off the thing!

Because of the warm climate, vegetable plants just go on living for many, many months. I am not used to that. The New Hampshire growing season was very short. When frost and freezes don’t happen, I suppose the plants could go on living forever. I don’t know. Does that happen? I thought vegetable plants were only good for one season.

Eggplant flower
I get lots of these

The plant produced many little purple flowers, and I kept hoping to see the dark purple vegetable pop out, but it never happened …. until just recently.

I figured there might be something wrong, since the plant itself is healthy and big.  It gets plenty of water and sun.  The weather has been hot, so I attributed the lack of fruit to that. However, the days have become cooler and now that one eggplant had set, I hoped to see more. That is not happening. All the other flowers are still falling off.

title eggplant beginning to grow
November 15th – Finally, a Little Eggplant is Growing!

I searched online and found a helpful article at Gardening Know How, which told me that lack of pollination may be the problem.

So this morning I went out with my little paint brush and swished it around inside some of the flowers. This is what that article said to do. Now I’ll wait and see if I get more eggplants forming.  (Update: this did not help.  I never got any more eggplants – that season – Read what happened the second year.)

I don’t love to eat eggplant, but I would definitely use them in a stir fry or vegetable lasagna dish.  I just need this big plant to give me something to cook with!

In the meantime, I am using green peppers daily. I never thought I could grow them, but it appears I just had to wait.

Thanksgiving Approaches and Here’s Our Dinner Plan

The image above is not from my dinner table but it contains all the necessary items for a decent Thanksgiving meal, in my humble opinion.

My son smokes the turkey on the grill. He just bought his favorite Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips which are made from old oak barrels that once held whiskey. The turkey was delicious last year, so I am leaving it up to him. 

This will be our second year together for the holidays and the guest count total is three!  Yes, it’s a small gathering.  So the focus is on the food.

Our dinner planning has begun. Turkey, stuffing and gravy are a given.  It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.  Also high on the list is mashed potatoes, Acorn squash and rolls.  I don’t eat much bread these days, so I will most likely skip adding the rolls to my plate.

Personally I can’t eat any of it without cranberry sauce as an accompaniment.   Last year I made my own cranberry sauce and I will do so again this year.  I added the recipe to this blog so I would remember how to do it.

cranberry sauce
Boiling the cranberries

Another new thing I did last year was to make my own broth. I used the turkey innards / gizzards or whatever all that extra stuff is called that is packed inside a big frozen bird. The broth is used in place of water in gravy and stuffing. And boy does it make a difference in flavor! Any leftover would make an excellent soup stock too.

turkey stock broth
Making Stock

Many people already know to do all of this, but I didn’t grow up with a mother who was a good cook. Most of my life I had to make most of the Thanksgiving meal myself, for my husband and kids. We never had much family around. After all the cooking, serving and eating, I had the clean up.

Thanksgiving meals of old, back when I was growing up and tables had to be pushed together to seat all fo us, the menu was larger. Aunts and grandmothers slaved for days to bring their homemade specialties to the table. Boiled onions, turnips, carrots, homemade breads, and many pies and desserts we included. My grandmother made cookies called monkey faces. There were so many before-dinner appetizers I had to be careful not to fill up.

Our simple menu will also include apple pie which I will make.

I need to find some recipes for after Thanksgiving. Usually sandwiches and soup use up the leftovers nicely. This year we have a new refrigerator which means plenty of room for keeping the carcass until I can use it to make soup stock the next day.

Have a wonderful holiday!