I know that most gardeners and gourmands wait eagerly for the first home grown tomato of the season. I get that, I really do, but a fresh tomato does nothing for me. While I love slow simmered tomato sauces redolent with herbs, I don’t like fresh tomatoes. My husband tells me I am weird and unAmerican but I can’t help it.
The first cucumber, however is another story. Small and crisp, almost seedless, crunchy and moist, cucumbers say summer to me. I love them with cottage cheese, in a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich, and my BLT becomes a BLC. Perfect in salads, with tuna and mayonnaise, I am in Heaven.
We have a prolific vine in a pot beside our house and another hill in the raised bed we garden down the street. My husband, noting the number of fresh picked cucumbers, said, “Maybe you can make some refrigerator pickles, I’m sure you won’t eat all of those.”
My silent reply was, “Watch me!” Followed by, “Who wants pickles?” well of course he does. I had a cucumber for lunch and plan to incorporate more into my dinner menu. My other garden favorites are green onions, tender leaf lettuce, and long slender green beans that I barely cook.
When we were first married, he followed his mother’s footsteps by planting and tilling a huge garden. He ran the tiller down the rows, wiping out my tender baby lettuce. To me this was a big deal. In Edmonton , Kentucky in those days there was no leaf lettuce for sale, only tasteless iceberg. His rows of tomatoes, I picked and canned, breaking out in a rash every time I touched the vines. Ugh!
Life got busier and I ended up planting and tending the garden, much smaller now with compost and newspaper fighting off the weeds. I was doing “square foot gardening” before the book came out. My favorite tender lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, beans, snow peas and of course cucumbers. I grew honeydew melons—so yummy. And of course I grew tomatoes, Roma types were the easiest for freezing and canning for winter soups and stews. I didn’t garden very much during our full time horse farm years, no time, but I still tried to have a bit of fresh lettuce. So now in our tiny yard I still have a pot of cucumbers and a bed of lettuce, not to mention oregano, basil, mint, sage, tarragon, rosemary, chives, thyme and summer savory.
I just had lunch and now I’m hungry again thinking of the garden goodness. Long live the cucumber.