Monday, May 19, 2008

Cucumber Week

I'm not really sure who Arthur Cucumber is, but apparently you can buy this "mouse mat" for the only somewhat exorbitant price of £6.50. Of course, this entails going to a website called "Violent Veg" which normally this site would not support, but which seems to be much less about vegetable scare-mongering than the name would suggest. Well now that I've appropriately advertised and assuaged all guilt about swiping this pic, I can move on to the real substance of cucumber week!

I'm certainly glad I saved cucumbers for summer (believe me, where I live May is full on summer), for they're quite a refreshing vegetable. I no longer wonder (not that I really previously did) about the phrase "cool as a cucumber." Well except as regards the switching of meanings of "cool" from the obvious temperature definition "somewhat cold" to the more abstract "calm and collected." Otherwise, its a perfectly apt simile. On the subject, this particular cliche is actually one of the more international ones, as I and a few of my friends will remember learning the phrase "koel soos 'n komkommer" in our Afrikaans class. Where was I? Oh right, the real substance of cucumber week.

I started off with some sweet and sour tuna with a blend of cucumbers and orange bell peppers on top. The tuna wasn't really sweet or sour, proving some recipes to be misleading, but the cucumbers added a refreshing crunch. Once I realized the orange bell peppers weren't carrots (which took a surprisingly long time actually), they weren't bad either.

In order to feature cucumbers more prominently I tried a mix of fresh cucumbers with some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and garlic. I was not a fan of this combination, but it may be well worth trying for those of you who like rice wine vinegar on things. I wanted to try the chili powder, lemon combination, mentioned last week, on some cucumber as well, but so far I have not gotten around to it. I still have half a cucumber left though, so I may try it today.

I tried not one but two of my old friends, the soups. Nothing says summer like a cold cucumber soup. One of the soups was mostly cucumber with some garlic and dill. The other was a bit fancier and included nuts and possibly raisins. Actually I'm not even really sure what I was eating, but it was tasty. Cucumbers are now approved the join the long list of vegetables that are so nicely souped.

Beyond soup, my two favorite cucumber experiments of the week involved the making of cucumber limeade and the purchasing of tzatziki sauce. I got the idea for cucumber limeade offline, and found it surprisingly enjoyable. The cucumber cuts the sourness of the lime nicely and makes it all the more refreshing for it. Of course, cucumber is also nice just floated in water which has the added bonus of making you feel like you're at a ritzy spa (or is that just me?). As for the tzatziki, I imagine its supposed to go on some delicious shawarma or gyros, but I found it could be just fine as a dipping sauce for plain pitas. Thank you, random Middle Eastern market near my house.

That about wraps up cucumber week. As for next week, I've been getting a lot of outside pressure to tackle artichokes, but I'm resisting it for now. Do I really need to develop a taste for something so extravagant? And what's with only being able to eat part of the leaves? Anyway, I'm going a different way instead.

Next week: cauliflower!


Susan Thompson said...

It's not that cauliflower is's just that it's not good. Which is a shame, since cauliflower is one of the cruciferous vegetables and as such is powerful in preventing cancer. If you turn up any good recipe ideas other than drowning it in melted cheese, I'll be interested to see them.

In the meantime, I am going to experiment with tzatziki as a salad dressing. I might even try making my own.

Cody said...

Cauliflower absolutely must be steamed and softened before consumed. The other, less healthy alternative is to deep fry it. If you're not comfortable frying it yourself, I'd suggest visiting one of the many Dimassis around Houston where they serve it.

Baryka said...

Cucumbers are sooo refreshing, I told you. :) I remember that we used to put the peels on our faces when we were kids... just the way they tell you in the fashion magazines and stuff. :) Oh well, cauliflowers... I'm gonna surprise you - I just like them raw. :) I liked them deep fried, too and cooked in soups.
And you made me want to eat tzatziki right now...

By the way, Chicago is a great city, I love it! :)

Elaine A. said...

I don't really fancy cucumbers myself. And Lord knows I have tried.

Glad they seems pretty successful for you!

Anonymous said...

I love cumcumber's me and my partner use them often ;) usually up my ASS! ya dig sometimes a keep picking cumcumber peelings out my ass after a few weeks the cumcumber goes a lil soggy and mouldy but my partner still my ass hole it's refreshing!!!