Posts Tagged ‘Cucumber’

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One Slice Does It All

I never know what an email or Facebook post from Gail is going to bring!  I do know that most likely it will be something so interesting that I’m going to want to put it on my blog and today is no exception.  I should save this until next Tuesday and use it in place of a recipe for Tasty Tidbits Tuesday BUT I can’t wait that long.  This is one incredible performance.  Now I call it performance because the man is an artist and what he creates is art.

I was so impressed with his skills and of course his knife, I just had to post this today.  I’ve never seen a knife like this and can’t imagine how sharp it must be!  Well you will see for yourself in this mind-blowing video.  There is no background music or dialogue, much like the painter alone at his easel or the writer sitting in his garret.

Thanks and a shout out to Gail, the best sourcerer I know.

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This Tasty Tidbits Tuesday I have two delicious Spring soup recipes I want to share with you.  The recipes are simple and easy, using only fresh ingredients and you can make them fairly quickly!  Lately in my house, we’ve been discussing eating only whole foods and trying to keep processed food out our diet.  For me, it’s because I truly do believe that your body doesn’t know how to process chemicals and the calories go into fat storage  and in general I think the more chemicals we ingest the more likely we are to get cancer or heart disease.  Anyway, I’m trying to follow the simple rules of not buying anything that has more than 3-5 ingredients and nothing that contains something I or any other cook would not have in their pantry.  

Now that I’ve given my nutrition lecture and believe me, I’m not one to really speak since I love Salsa and that’s good for you BUT I  like it on Multigrain chips and who am I kidding with the word Multigrain in the label!!

Spring Onion Soup

Spring Onion Soup

Spring Onion Soup   Prep time: 10 min. Total time: 60 min  Serves 4

Spring onions look like scallions but have a larger rounder bulb.  If unavailable use yellow onions.

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling

2 lbs spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 1/2 tsp coarse salt

1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock

2 cups of water

8 pieces of crisp flatbread, for serving

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not brown, about 15 minutes.  Stir in salt, stock and water.  Bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let cool for 20 minutes.  Working in batches, purée in a blender, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, blending until soup is smooth.  Divide soup among 4 bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with flatbread on the side. 

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living 

Spring Green Soup

Spring Green Soup

Spring Green Soup

This soup can be served straight from the blender, when it’s still frothy or well-chilled during warmer months.  Use sorrel as a garnish; its bright, lemony flavor is a wonderful accent.

1 cucumber, peeled

1/2 lb. pencil-thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed**

2 cups cold water

1/4 lb. spinach, rinsed well, tough stems removed

4 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves plus more for garnish

2 TBS lemon juice

3/4 tsp coarse salt

freshly ground pepper

4-6 sorrel leaves for garnish (optional)

Halve the cucumber lengthwise; cut one half into eighths and the other into 1/4 inch dice.  Set aside.  Cut asparagus spears into  2 inch lengths.  Purée in a blender with 1/2 cup cold water.

Add spinach, scallions, cucumber eighths, and another 1/2 cup water.  Blend until thoroughly puréed.  Add avocado, mint leaves, and lemon juice; purée until smooth, adding the remaining water a little at a time until soup is desired consistency.  Add salt, and season with pepper.  Scrape down sides of blender with a rubber spatula and blend 5 seconds more.

Divide soup among four bowls;  garnish each with diced cucumber, and a mint spring (and sorrel if using).  Serve immediately.

** If you can’t find pencil thin asparagus, trim thicker stalks with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living

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I guarantee you will be delighted with this crisp and thirst-quenching non-alcoholic drink.  I served it with dinner the other night, however my intention had been to serve it in the afternoon with some light refreshments or with lunch.  And when you are hot in the afternoon the way I was when we came home from the beach, this drink really hit the spot.  The prep work is a little bit of work but the end result is terrific.

Cool and Refreshing Cucumber Cooler

3 cucumbers – peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped

1/4 -1/2 cup water

1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves

1 lime thinly sliced

1 bottle of club soda

2 TBS agave nectar or honey

Puree the cucumbers and water in a blender.  Pour through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids – you should have about 2 cups of cucumber juice (it will be slightly thick)  Refrigerate overnight if desired or for at least a couple of hours.  

When you are ready to serve, place the mint leaves in the pitcher and bruise lightly.  Add the cucumber juice and the lime slices.  The recipe called for 24 ounces of club soda, I used a whole bottle of seltzer instead.  Add the agave nectar and stir to combine.

To serve: Pour over ice-filled glasses and enjoy!

recipe from Martha Stewart Every Day Food

Footnote: I prepared my batch in a covered pitcher (although not airtight) and even the next day there was enough fizz in the mixture to make it delicious and refreshing.

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If you recall somewhere in one of my blog posts I said I was going to make a couple of the recipes I put up last Tuesday!  I know, I know, you THINK I have already made a recipe before I post it, thereby attesting to its goodness.  Well….confession time and truth be told-NOT ALWAYS!  But don’t turn away so quickly in disappointment-I said not always. I would say the percentage of recipes I haven’t tried first is less than 1%!!! So small I probably shouldn’t have even admitted it because now you may doubt my creditability.  Well don’t; I’m going to toot my own horn here, however if you want letters of reference, I can get them, lol.  Besides being a very good cook, I also have this uncanny ability to look at a recipe and know intrinsically whether or not it will taste good and if it will be too difficult to make. I don’t purport to be a gourmet cook, I am just a really good cook.

Well now that we have put that to bed, let me tell you the real story of this blog.  Last night we had supper under the stars with our next door neighbors, Jim and Judy.  The invitation was casual enough; Saturday morning and we are each on our front porch, drinking coffee and reading the morning newspapers.  That is what a summer weekend is all about right? Well, that and cleaning, and going to the grocery/hardware/home goods/pet food stores, watering the plants, filling the bird feeders, weeding, going to the beach, mowing the lawn and washing the car/changing the oil/getting gas. Whew! I’m already hot and sweaty!  But, I think that’s  from vacuuming the porch rug, the bedroom carpet and under the bed(that was scary!) and making Peter some bacon and eggs.  He’s on a kick to gain 10 pounds; I don’t know why he thinks it’s so hard….I told him just eat what I eat and he’ll be there in no time.  Oh the digression just goes on and on.

Back to the Saturday morning porch scene;  I lean over close to Peter and whisper that the meal I want to make tonight probably is more than enough for just the two of us and I think we should invite Jim and Judy to a casual  summer  supper in our backyard tonight.  So we did – or rather I left the inviting up to Peter stressing that he make clear it is really casual food (read it is DEFINITELY not steak), it isn’t even hot dogs and hamburgers  which  is probably summer’s most casual food.  Oh let me back up a little, I had it in my mind all along to have guests for dinner which is why I sent Peter out REALLY early to get my requisite Grande Americano, cat food and corn – except instead of 3 ears, I told him to get 4.  I wanted to say get 6 or 7 but if the dinner plans didn’t work out I didn’t want to have leftover corn.  BECAUSE if you know me, you know I only eat fresh corn picked that day! It’s not weird, it’s sugar….once the corn is picked it begins to turn to pure sugar immediately. Okay well,  we’ll have to do a nutrition blog another time.

So now that we have established guests, time and place, I know what prep work I need to do so that I can go to the beach and when I get home not have to knock myself out.  I am going to make the Squash, Cucumber and Cantaloupe side dish.  As you may remember, this dish requires the cucumber, squash and melon to be shaved into ribbons.  While not the best sous-chef  (but the only one around) I commandeered Peter to do this because he isn’t afraid of the mandolin.  Thank God, he did it with the patience of a saint that he doesn’t believe in.  The cantaloupe was SO RIPE that it just kept falling apart so instead of mandolin, I made the thinnest slices I could.  Those items got refrigerated.   I made the yogurt lime dressing and put it in the fridge.   I looked at the rest of that recipes  and realized this was NOT a meal you could prepare much in advance.  So we went to the beach!

supper under the stars, Martha Stewart Living,

He's Not Afraid of the Mandolin

Fast forward to 6pm and I am putting some hors d’oeuvres out on the front porch.  When Judy asked what could she bring I said dessert – they arrived with a BOX of fruit tarts, a raspberry, pear tart, a monster bottle of red wine, a bottle of white wine and a bottle of Absolut.  YIKES – they aren’t even getting cooked food!!!

I visited for a while with our guests, but I knew if we were going to eat I had to work in the kitchen and ALONE.  Several times Judy offered to help but I refused because a) I like to work alone, b) by the time I thought of what she could do, I could no doubt do it myself and c) I had never made all of this before so my timing was all off and I was winging it and you can’t both be winging!!!

I drained the cucumber squash mix and the cantaloupe, I peeled and cut up two avocados which were too ripe to slice so I just scooped out the pulp, sliced a tomato, got the pot out for the corn (and thankfully remembered to take the corn out to Peter to shuck),  lined the broiler with foil, made the blue cheese vinaigrette dressing.  At this point, I was ready to put corn in the pot, fry the turkey bacon and slice the rustic bread to toast in the broiler.  You know a cook and/or a mother make the best project managers in the world.  Why companies hire men who hardly ever do two things at once I’ll never know.  I set the table outside, got the candles, and was almost ready.  A quick survey of the food told me more dishes were going to be required.   I could see that you couldn’t or maybe shouldn’t put the yogurt dressing on the melon, cukes and squash and stir it up, so I put some in 4 bowls  and dropped a few dollops of dressing on each, put out the hokey (but oh so in the period of my kitchen) plastic corn plates, (you know they look like an ear of  corn lol).  I quartered the iceberg lettuce, drizzled the vinaigrette over the wedges and sprinkled a little more blue cheese on top- Mmmm they looked good! Finally with corn steamed, I assembled a few sandwiches with sliced tomato, bacon, mashed avocado and radish sprouts on the excellent Tuscan bread, cut them in halves, put them on a platter and I’m done!!!

We sat outside for hours under the stars; after supper, it was dessert and coffee and hours of conversation – to Peter’s delight our neighbors are liberal Democrats, intellects and well-read; they know Sarah Palin is stupid and that Lee Harvey Oswald was NOT the lone assassin who killed President Kennedy.

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