Monthly Archives: June 2013

Cucumber Taste Experience


The fine weather has been doing it’s magic. The garden is happy and the vegetables are growing.

We are at the delightful stage of eating the ‘first’ of everything. Beautiful big artichokes eaten with a little vinaigrette to dip the leaves in, squeaky bright green French beans and cucumbers were all in last nights dinner.

The cucumbers are amazing. They taste just as they should – like cucumbers. There are no other words to describe cucumber flavour, unlike wines which can be likened to an amazing variety of things, cucumbers are fairly unique and taste of themselves. Unfortunately the cucumbers bought in the shops, cling wrapped or not, are well travelled and don’t deliver this taste impact. If I ever need reminding why we go to all the bother of growing our own vegetables I just have to think of this.

Now is the time to get down to the farmers markets and buy yourself a homegrown cucumber. You will appreciate what I am trying to say when you take the first bite.

We have fifteen cucumber plants growing in our tunnels and soon we will be awash with them. Our general plan is to be self sufficient in cucumbers until, hopefully, October. I have already picked the first bucketful and delivered them to the shop for the salads and all going well we’ll soon be tripping over them.

They’re not the easiest plant to establish. Cucumbers are like Princesses – rather fussy. They don’t like drafts and they don’t like to get their stems wet. They do like to drink a lot so we plant them in their personal mounds and water around them. The plants grow pretty tall, anything up to eight or nine feet high so they are trained up a piece of twine to stop them collapsing in a heap. One cucumber plant will produce about six or seven cucumbers a week so there’s plenty of eating to be done.

In celebration of the new season cucumbers I’ve sorted out some easy recipes ideas. Cucumbers are the fourth most cultivated vegetable in the world so the choice is global. Here’s a Turkish cucumber and tomato salad, a Lebanese yoghurt and cucumber salad and the classic French crème fraiche and lemon juice combo. I might also mention that cucumber and Marmite sandwiches are the business, I was bought up on those!!


Turkish Cucumber and Tomato Salad

About 500g fatty tomatoes –  beefsteak style are best as they can be diced

1 cucumber

1 small green pepper

half of a smallish red onion

a handful of flat leaf parsley

a handful of mint

1 tsp sumac = optional but very nice if you have some


about 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

about 3 tbs lemon juice

Peel and slice the red onion, cover with cold water and leave aside for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with more cold water and put aside. This gives a milder and crisper onion.

Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise  then chop into an equal size dice – about 1cm

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices – about 1cm thick then chop into an equal size dice.

Wash the green pepper, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Cut the pepper into slices , then dice.

Chop the parsley and mint.

Put all the vegetables and herbs into a bowl, sprinkle over a little salt, one teaspoon of sumac, olive oil and lemon juice and gently toss everything together.


Lebanese Cucumber Salad

Half a cucumber

200mls full fat natural yoghurt

1 garlic clove = peeled and crushed

1 tbs chopped mint

1 tbs chopped parsley.

Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise then thinly slice.

Put into a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well.


Cucumbers with Crème Fraiche

1 cucumber

200g creme fraiche

1 tbs lemon juice

a handful of chopped dill

salt and black pepper

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out of each half using a spoon and discard the seeds.

Slice the cucumber quite thickly, toss with a little salt and put into a colander or sieve. Leave aside for 30 minutes then pat the cumbers dry with some kitchen paper and put into a bowl. Mix the crème fraiche with the lemon juice and chopped dill then pour over the cucumbers. Toss everything together and season with salt (if needed) and a little black pepper


Meals on Wheels

It was an wonderful weekend here in West Cork. It’s difficult to imagine today as the rain hits the window, but we had wall to wall sunshine all the way, and yesterday evening we set off to join the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival’s final event, Meals on Wheels. Each course of this mystery dining experience took place in a different location reached of course by pedal power.


We all assembled in the car park with our trusty steeds. There were forty five people signed up for the event – maximum subscription – ten of which were stuck in the traffic jam getting off the beach! This held up the departure slightly but it was quite okay to wait and idly chat with the sun on our backs.

We soon caused a traffic jam of our own as we headed off out of town. The hedgerows full of flowers on one side and the sea wall on the other. We cycled to Ring, past Deasy’s Bar and onto Ring village where Ron’s mobile pizza oven had found the perfect spot to pitch up.IMG_2399

Great views, a couple of benches and plenty of grass for everyone else to sit on.


The first course was freshly made pitta breads, straight out of the oven, served with hummus and a selection of salads. This was washed down with delicious mint tea or an optional dash to Kitty Macs pub on the other side of the road for more fortifying beverages.


As soon as this was eaten we jumped back onto our bikes and headed further up the coast. It was slightly worrying as to where we could be going – there was talk of Dunworley which would be a major cycle along the coast – but it was a trick and next thing we did a u-turn and headed back down the RIng road and we  pulled up at Deasy’s Bar.

We piled inside to be greeted with the vision of chilled white wine on each table and massive feed of Ling with spicy sambal sauce and coconut rice. Yum!


Well, the white wine got rid of the wobble on the bike and we cycled back to Clonakilty with the wind on our backs. Where next, we wondered, for our dessert. And where better than Aidan’s wine bar in the centre of town on the newly revamped Astna Square. Sticky orange cake, high class brownies and fresh berries all washed down with a coffee in the last of the evening sunshine.


The final leg of the journey took us through the town and out to the by-pass roundabout which we circumnavigated and headed straight back in to town where we all waved to the little traffic jam that we had caused on the way up! Down past the Emmet Square and the library and into de Barras pub where we were greeted with a massive cheese board and a glass of wine. I was so stuffed I forgot to take a photo of the cheese but we enjoyed the wine.