Cool as a cucumber...

“Cool as a Cucumber” - We have all heard this phrase: the humble cucumber is cool because 95% of it is water, and it can keep you hydrated, especially during the summer months. You might be surprised to learn that this is in fact a true statement.

Many people seem to underrate cucumbers as a boring vegetable. If this is you, I’m hoping you will give these little guys a second chance or, if you already like them, to eat more of them. Cucumbers are a refreshing, nutritious and incredibly versatile addition to any diet. They are low in calories and contain many important vitamins and minerals. Eating cucumbers has many potential health benefits, including facilitating with weight loss, aiding with balanced hydration and digestive regularity. They can also help to lower blood sugar levels.

This summer I have been growing 12 cucumber plants and they are all doing really well. So far I have picked three cucumbers and, you might be disappointed to know that none of them have made it into the house! When I picked the first one I was so delighted to see it, and the cook in me thought it was best to taste it to see if it was any good. Here’s where my disappointment ended... it was excellent. When it came to the second one I picked, it was before I ate breakfast and I was hungry so I ate it then and there. With the third one I have no other lame excuses. I devoured it just because they are delicious. I am elated with the quality of the growing season and the only disappointment is for family, friends and guests who may not get to taste the cucumber bounties in my garden if my trend continues.

Eating cucumber in the summer is exactly what we should all do. They are at their best and we need their nutrients.

When I was eight I grew cucumbers to sell every morning at the local market in my hometown in Northern Thailand. They were really heavy to carry to the market, but everybody loved my cucumbers and they were the first to sell before any other vendors. This was good because if I made enough money my family was able to enjoy having chicken as part of our evening meal. My mother taught me that people instinctively prefer to buy straight cucumbers and not the ones with curves or that looked crooked.

If you want to grow straight cucumbers, grow them on a trellis or give them a table to climb on. When the vines set fruits, they grow with gravity so if you give them room to drop their weight, they grow straight. This works most of the time, but there are always the odd ones that have a mind of their own and grow crooked no matter what you do. Sometimes these ones taste even better. Oh, and there’s one other benefit here... if you grow them on a trellis or a table, you don’t have to wash all that dirt off them.

Cucumber plants love regular watering as they are always thirsty. If watered sporadically, they tend to taste bitter. So, if you want plump, juicy and sweet cucumbers, grow them in good rich soil; build them a trellis or a table and water them regularly. Watering early in the morning, before the heat hits is the best time for your plants.

Although I love eating cucumbers straight from the plant, when I manage to get them into my home, I also enjoy putting them in salads and I also include them when I stir fry or in soup.

Here is a simple Thai cucumber salad recipe:

Ingredients (mix all into a bowl):

• 2 smallish cucumbers, washed, dried and not peeled

• 1 shallot (finely sliced)

• 1 spring onions (finely sliced)

• 1 fresh red chili (de-seeded and sliced, or 1⁄4 cup diced

red capsicum)

• 2 sprigs coriander and/or 2 sprigs fresh basil (roughly


• 1⁄4 cup dry-roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)

Dressing (adjust quantities to your liking):

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 1⁄2 lime (juiced) or substitute with lemon

• 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)

• 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

• 1⁄2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

So, what's for dinner?

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