Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amazing Cucumbers

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So, I got another one of those emails from my mom. You know the kind, the subject is fwd:fwd:fwd: and there are 1,000 email addresses from all the people whose computer this gem has sailed through. I usually don't pay much attention. But cucumbers caught my attention. I love a fresh picked, from my garden cuke, eaten whole, dunked in vinegar and salted liberally. I am always so disappointed in the grocery cukes with that heavy coat of wax on the skin. The skin is the part I especially love. So as we endure the 118° heat index, I decided to pick a few cucumbers and see if we can debunk or verify the cucumber-isms.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
This is hard to believe, they aren't that big and seem to be mostly water. But I researched it. And according to the all mighty Wikipedia it does have all those vitamins and minerals. Now don't get too excited. Think of that Total cereal commercial, "You have to eat this many cucumbers to get a full days worth of Vitamin B5", and there would be 150 cucumbers piled up. But still, it is a broad spectrum in that little veggie, that is actually a fruit.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
This I agree with, it is like drinking a glass of water! And no sugar let down an hour later.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance. Sorry, this one wasn't a success for me. I hate streaky glass, and I really have to crank the heat in the shower to get steamed mirrors. The truth is I take cool showers 12 months out of the year.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area. I don't think I have slugs, but I do have a golden retriever. Daisy could care less what the cucumber reacted with, she ate them up. Heck, she has probably been eating my grubs!

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!! Bahahahahahahaa! Sorry. I wouldn't even waste a cucumber trying this. I am a swimmer, if I put on a swimsuit, I am going to get wet. I suspect those phytochemicals aren't water resistant.

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!! I haven't had a hangover in years, but I do like a few glasses of wine at times, and I do tend to wake up with a headache. I suspect it is dehydration, so eating cucumber before bed would be a natural remedy. The best part is I probably wouldn't have to make a late night trip to the bathroom!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation. I have never been close to starvation, but I do love a cucumber in the afternoon. In the winter I go for the apple. I think any fruit or veggie at 4p.m. will keep you from bingeing at dinner.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water. I tried this on my Dansko clogs that I wear to work all the time. They looked good initially, but no shine to be found. Now I don't polish these shoes so there is no "wax" on them. So I tried it on a pair of my husband's as he is always getting a shoe shine. Basically the cuke juice sat on top of the wax. Finally I found an old pair of his shoes getting dusty in the back of the closet. Initially they looked pretty good, but as they dried, they looked like they needed a shoe shine.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone! Ah, nope. Maybe if you had cuke juice in a can with pressure shooting it between the hinges it would work. Rubbing cuke slices on hinges makes a mess and nothing else.

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams. I give this one a thumbs up. When I was in high school I would steam once a week. I have used cucumbers and would also pillage the spice cabinet.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
Good luck finding someone to help you with this. My family was not interested in checking my breath. But if I don't have a TicTac in my purse, I likely don't have a slice of cucumber.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean. Okay, my shower faucet is not tarnished, but does have water spots, and yes, a cucumber and a dry cloth takes it off. So does windex and a lot of other things. HOWEVER, I found an old silver plate wine coaster with a pretty intricate design. I never use it because it turns black within a month of cleaning it, and I hate that gunky silver polish and all that black tarnish coming off. OMG, that cucumber slice cleaned it right up. I just could not believe it.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls
If my kids ever wrote on my walls in crayon I would throttle them. That being said, cucumbers are wet and paper is absorbent. Not a god combo. I tried it on a thicker index card, and this was an epic fail.

It really was funny doing all these experiments. My dogs L-O-V-E cucumbers. They followed me all over the house while I did my tests and were happy to eat the rejects! As i said my favorite way to eat these is vinegar and salt. Cider vinegar, rice vinegar, I am not picky. But when the garden or Farmer's Market is full of delicious produce, this salad is our favorite. I thought it was called Confetti Salad, but a Google search finds a jillion variations called confetti. Oh well, call it delish.

Delish Confetti Salad
1 hot house cucumber, peeled, cubed
1 reg cuke, peeld, seeded, cubed
4 peppers, red, yellow, orange, green, cubed
2 carrots, peeled, cubed
Handful of mini cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
red wine vinegar
white basalmic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

It is best when all the veggies are the same size. I know there are no quantities on the V and O. I use way more vinegar than the average soul. It is most delicious eaten the day it is made. Great on a taco, on top of grilled fish or chicken, tossed with shrimp, and all by itself. If you have leftovers, drain the juice and redress it before serving again. The salt will really draw out the water from the cucumbers and make the dressing rather flavorless.
Happy Summer!!!!

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