Assault of the cucumbers

July 3, 2017

Ahhh, but we took some with us as we fell!

The cucumbers…the cucumbers are at the gate. The timbers are splintering. Defenders are falling rapidly. I do not know how long we can withstand. We have picked, we have pickled, we have made salads, we have made cucumber dip. We have wielded knives and graters and boiling brines. We have lined and stacked their corpses up on shelves in the pantry, against the long winter to come.

And still they come. There is no end to their ranks. When one falls, two take his place — two, three, a dozen! We cannot hold. We CANNOT HOLD! 

With apologies to whatever writer of adventure fiction I was channeling. But These Damn Cucumbers, y’all!

Saturday, I made seven pints of horseradish sweets, and got rid of the backlog of cucumbers that had been occupying my countertop. I was congratulating myself.

Pfffth. Until Sunday morning. When I went to take the dog out, strolled out back to enjoy the cool of the morning and check on the garden and …….AAAAIIIIIEEEEEE! THEY’RE BACK!

And tomatoes, too! God help us when the zucchini attack.

Picked another dozen or so cucumbers. Inch and a half to two inches in diameter. Eight to 12 inches long. They were NOT THERE three days ago, other than in blossom form. I tell you, they’re alien cucumbers.

Mama and Daddy are laughing at me. I can hear them.

So, as I am working my way through produce this holiday weekend, I worked my way down to these. I brought them in along with two zucchini, which I grated and mixed up for fritters, and probably a quart or better of tomatoes, which are on the counter; in a day or two, I’ll get another quart or two, and make a small batch of sauce. The cucumbers are soaking in water, and I think they are destined to become kosher dills; I have plenty of dill and garlic, and found a recipe that looks for all the world like what the kids  call “Grandpa pickles.”

Still to do, maybe today, maybe tomorrow; a cheesecake or two; purple hulled peas to shell and freeze and maybe cook; broccoli-cauliflower salad to make. And a nap to take.

UPDATE: Glad I looked back at this. I’d forgotten the peas. The game has started. Must go get them. Have not made the pickles; that’s tomorrow. Have not made the cheesecake; that’s tomorrow. Have not taken a nap. Although AGC2 took a five hour one. It’s liable to be a late evening.

UPDATE 2: Got three packages of peas shelled and in the freezer. AGC went to bed at 10. I am not far behind him.

UPDATE 3:   Fourteen hours or so later. I have conquered the damn cucumbers. At least this wave of them. But it has been raining since shortly after midnight, so there’ll probably be another bumper crop midweek. I may give the sumbitches away.

We have eight pints of what allege they will be kosher dill pickle spears, albeit this sista that wrote the recipe says I need to wait six weeks for the flavors to develop. Six weeks? I ain’t so sure about all that. I’d give them a couple of weeks, sure, but beyond that, I think they’ll be about as pickled as they’re gonna get.

They should be tart. Brine is 50-50 water and vinegar (I know some people use a 1:3 vinegar to water ratio, but it’s just never felt right to me; Mama used 50-50, so that’s what I use). Jars are seasoned with salt, fresh dill, peppercorns and garlic. I added a little alum for crispness. Pickles spears are packed in atop that, and then the boiling brine poured on top before they’re capped and processed.

All that while AGC entertained me by spouting dialogue from the movies he was watching and trying to stand on a watermelon, which I discouraged. And I made calas waffles for the four of us for lunch.

With Rainier cherries on the side.

Calas (recipe here) are a New Orleans rice fritter, much like beignets but different, because they have rice in them. I didn’t feel like frying them; I don’t deep-fry much of anything, and I already had the kitchen completely trashed from pickles. So I figured I could thin the batter and make them like waffles.

They were pretty good. Would have been better fried. Those Cajuns know what they’re doing. I sprinkled mine with powdered sugar and tried to make believe I was in NOLA, but it didn’t work.

I’ll clean up the kitchen in a bit, then get cleaned up and head out to a baseball game in Memphis tonight, to be followed by a fireworks show. And perhaps more importantly, to be preceded by a Cajun shrimp dinner at the Flying Fish. Uh huh, yeah. Tomorrow it’s ribs, and I need to make some slaw and potato salad. Not going to bother with beans unless someone demands them.

Happy Independence Day. Don’t shoot your eye out with those fireworks. And  if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want any of these damn cucumbers, come get ’em. Please.

 

 

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