When I first moved back to the ranch five summers ago (five summers ago?) I made a list of the goals I wanted to accomplish in my new life here.
One of the first on the list, (among writing and recording an album and learning to make chokecherry jelly) was to plant a garden.
A house project, a business project, a baby project, a hundred ranch projects and five summers later I finally got around to it…but not until late June…you know, after the lawn was planted, the CD was released and the big wedding was complete.
I didn’t have much hope for the seeds being so late in the game, but the knowledge I gained from helping Pops plant his gardens year after year reassured me that some heat and water could get things moving along nicely.
And boy have we had heat this summer.
So I provided the water and the watchful eye and pretty soon, when I wasn’t looking, things started sprouting and reaching their limbs toward the sun.
Now, in the garden of my dreams I was going to plant potatoes, onions, strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, pumpkins, gourds, peppers, peas, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, watermelon, cucumbers for making pickles and cucumbers for slicing, spinach, beans and a partridge in a pear tree.
But because Husband didn’t have the time or the dirt required to dig up sixteen acres in front of our house and I’m pretty sure I planted my garden at 9 pm on a Thursday before I had to take off across the state for shows, I stuck to the seed packets I picked up at Farm and Fleet and called it good–dad’s leftover tomato plants, radishes, carrots, beans, peas, spinach and cucumbers.
I figured if all went well I’d start to see some vegetable action come August, and so here we are. I’ve already sent my harvest of radishes down the road to Pops, because I can grow ‘em but I don’t eat ‘em, but the rest had yet to yield, despite all the watering I catch Gus doing behind my back, if you know what I mean…
Anyway, earlier this week I noticed a few little beans starting to poke out, some tomatoes that I’m impatiently waiting to see get their red on, and the tops of the carrots that show promise for what’s happening down below the ground. I even thought I saw some tiny little cucumbers starting to grow where the frogs hang out under the canopy of big leaves. The pea plants still looked a little sad, which was what I expected, having failed to give them the head start they deserved.
So I took a break from my big computer screen to step out into the mid-afternoon 100-degree heat and poked around among the frogs and hoppers and was pleasantly surprised by my findings…
Overnight the beans started stretching from blossoms to veggies,
the tomato plants seemed to have made a hundred more green tomatoes,
the carrot tops grew a couple inches and, well, I’ll be dammed if there wasn’t peas big enough to eat.
But the best part? The giant cucumbers that grew overnight, ripe and ready for slicing for our anniversary dinner tonight.
And just like that I was reminded why people love to garden. Because it’s magic. It really is. One tiny seed, a little sun, water and patience, and one day you wake up to a harvest.
I loaded up those cucs and headed inside, feeling a little like a garden fairy or a wizard or some powerful creature like that.
Now I just need to harness the energy of the Internet and you my dear friends to help me figure out what to do with all of these vegetables!
So I’ll ask you this:
Share your favorite garden (or cucumber) inspired recipe with me and I will enter you all in for a chance to win my new album “Northern Lights” and a T-shirt and Work Girl sticker to go with it.
Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, head on over to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/veederranch or leave the recipe in the comment section here.
Some of my favorites I’ll con my cooking cowboy into trying out in the kitchen and posting on the blog.
Because my garden’s inspired me and now I believe I can do anything.
Which could end up in eventual disaster, but today I’m just going with it.
Peace, love and cucumber salad,
Jessie the Garden Goddess.
1 ½ cups Kraft mayo; Not salad dressing
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup sugar
I add a dash of dill weed
Mix all together; pour over sliced cucumbers that have been soaked in salt water for a few hours & drained.
These cucumbers are a staple in our fridge all summer long. The recipe is from my hubby’s aunts & grandmother.
What? You didn’t know about the cucumber fairy? Well, that’s the one the comes in the night a blows little cucs into big ones!
Jess here goes the best creamed cucumbers ever made…..
6 or more medium cucumbers sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup real mayonnaise (Hellmans)
1/2 cup sugar
1 or 2 tsp salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vinegar
Keeps several days……..Yum!!!
PS going to try the first one submitted next batch of cucs….variety the spice of life!
Our two favorite treats (I can’t call them recipes because they’re just too simple) are:
1. steamed green beans, chilled in ice water and topped with sea salt. My 14 year old daughter can eat lbs and lbs and lbs of beans this way!
2. washed and peeled cucumbers (we give the peels to the horses who **love** them!) sprinkled with sea salt.
That’s it, so simple, and yet, we can never seem to grow enough of either vegetable! 🙂
Jesse, this is the simplest use for cucumbers……. I have a lot this year too! Just take a can of whole kernel corn, drained, and mix it with a cucumber or two. Then pour bottled or homemade ranch or Green Goddess dressing over this mixture. This can be made at the last minute, but the leftovers are still good the next dinner or two, after being in the fridge. Of course, you can add dill, onion, carrot bits, etc. I have even added potatoes and it has become a potato salad. My husband loves this salad!! Hope you will too!
Soak cukes in salt water overnight (after you have peeled and sliced about three of them). Mix drained cukes with about a half cup of sour cream, a teaspoon of vinegar and a small onion, sliced. (Can omit onion if you want.) Mix well, cool and eat.
Slice a peeled cuke with one chopped up tomato. Put in salad bowl and drizzle with Greek salad dressing. Sprinkle feta cheese on if desired. (This would make a salad for one or two, depending on how large the cucumber and tomato)
For a quick salad over lunch hour, I mix small chunks of cucumber and tomatoes from the garden, add a little seasoned salt, pepper, and sometimes a bit of dill or basil, and you have a tasty salad with no dressing required. Because the flavors of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes are soooooo good, I like to enjoy them without too many extras.
Hi Jesse, here’s a really nice salad for a hot day.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
a few cracks of freshly ground pepper
1 medium zucchini
8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a jar, such as a mason jar, and shake to combine thoroughly. Adjust to taste.
Use a potato peeler and shred cucumber into ribbon strands.Toss the zucchini strands with the dressing. Plate the zucchini. Scatter the tomatoes, pine nuts and basil over the zucchini. Garnish with parmesan. Voila!
One recipe I’ve used for years I received from my mother in law—
Sliced Refrigerator Pickles
Mix 2 cups sugar with 1 cup vinegar, dash salt, dash pepper
Stir & let set to dissolve.
Into this liquid add 7 cups scored, sliced unpeeled cucumbers, 1 cup sliced in rings onions, 1 cup sliced green peppers & fresh dill weed from the garden.
Mix & refrigerate.
Super Easy Cucumber Salad
Several cucumbers, peeled and thin sliced
Your choice: 1/2 sweet onion thinly sliced OR 3 or 4 sliced green onions
Sour Cream – two dollops
Peel cucumbers (as many as you need to use up). Slice cucumbers very thin and place them into a large enough bowl, salting (don’t get carried away with too much salt!) as you layer them into the bowl – cover them in cool water and top with ice cubes – soak them while you prepare the other parts of your meal – or even a day ahead. Salt and ice water helps to keep cucumbers crisp. Once you are ready to complete your salad, drain off the water by dumping the slices into a strainer and drain well. Into a large enough bowl, place your thinly sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced sweet onion or sliced green onions (your choice), sprinkle some dill weed, add a couple dollops of sour cream and cracked pepper to taste. Mix well. Store left overs (always better the next day or so) in a sealed container in he fridge. A great quick and easy summer salad!
Cool as a Cucumber Salad
1 cucumber, sliced and put into salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain when ready to prepare the salad. Combine: 1 T mayonnaise, 1 T rice vinegar, 1 T oil, chopped fresh cilantro.
Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the cucumber and enjoy. Double the mayo dressing according to the number of cucumbers you use.
chopped mint and cilantro.
Mix and serve with something spicy hot. cools the mouth