The [Armenian] cucumber that ate Seattle

by Beth Shepherd
( September 2nd, 2015 )

Our garden in August. And look what grew in it. My first Armenian cucumber, measuring 20 inches nose to tail!

Our garden in August

The first thing you should know about the Armenian cucumber is that it is not really a cucumber at all! It is a member of C. Pepo family along with muskmelons and honeydew. Also known as yard-long cucumbers, snake cucumbers, and snake melon, Armenian cucumbers are long, slender, not bitter, burpless, easy to digest, can be eaten with the skin still on, and…taste like a cucumber.


Although they can grow be be a couple feet long, they are best harvested when they reach 12 to 18 inches. I’ve also read the fruit will grow straighter if grown on a trellis than on the ground, where the fruit is often crooked. But obviously that wasn’t the case for our straight, lean and long cuke.


Armenian cucumber


What I should do with my cucumber was my next question. I entertained several ideas: cucumber salad, cucumber salsa and Jajik, a cucumber and yogurt dip. I decided on Jajik, though now that I noticed another whopper of a cuke growing in the garden, I might be able to try a different recipe very soon.


Armenian cucumber cut


Jajik


Ingredients:

  • 1 long, seedless cucumber, washed and peeled. You can use an English cucumber if you don’t have an Armenian cucumber.

  • 2 cups plain yogurt. I used a thicker “Greek-style” yogurt…if I had access to Armenian matzoon, that would be my go-to

  • 1 clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press or mashed

  • Dash salt

  • 2 teaspoons crushed mint. I prefer fresh but you can use dried (and I use spearmint, not peppermint). I have seen some recipes that also use cilantro or thyme.

How to:

  • Cut the cucumber in quarters, lengthwise. Slice each section into thin pieces. Mine were not sliced thin but I will do this next time I make this dish. I have also seen some recipes where the cucumber is grated.

  • Stir the cucumbers into the yogurt and mix in the garlic, salt and mint.

  • Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.

Jajik

Some recipes add water to the yogurt and the Jajik then becomes more of a soup. I wanted mine to be thicker because I was serving it alongside spiced ground lamb and potatoes.

Armenian cucumber lamb potatoes


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Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Beautiful Ballard Locks

by Beth Shepherd
( August 28th, 2015 )

Beautiful Ballard Locks in the northwest corner of Seattle. Opened in 1917, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, are a link for boats between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which connects eastward to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Tourists and locals enjoy watching the parade of sailboats, motorboats, tugs, barges and yachts passing through, as the locks’ water levels are adjusted to allow their safe passage. Nearby is the fish ladder, built to allow salmon to pass between fresh and salt water, and to navigate the locks. Glass panels below the water line make it possible to watch the fish as they swim through the ladder.

Just north of the locks are the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden, a lovely place to stroll. And lastly, the Visitor Center, which features displays on the history and operations of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Sunset at Ballard Locks

Island Chief Seattle tug at the Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks Bridge and boat view

gears at the locks

Ballard gardens

Sea Storm and seagulls at the locks

Kayakers in the locks

Tug boat in the locks


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Take the road less traveled, Beth

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The Great Zucchini Races of 2015

by Beth Shepherd
( August 27th, 2015 )

This past Saturday, Miss Lellow Submarine was pitted against many fine souped-up “cars” in the Great Zucchini Races of 2015. Now in it’s second year, the Great Zucchini Races are an annual event (I hope!) in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood.

Central District Seattle Great Zucchini Races 2015

Little Bird and I went to pick out our zucchini at our Friday Farmers Market. Where else can you get a giant zucchini for only $1?

farmers market

Money was exchanged and we took our squash home. Only 24 hours before the big event.

Buying a squash

Saturday, August 22. We walked a few streets down from where we live to join in the festivities. People were gluing, embellishing, and gussying up their squashes like nobody’s business. The creativity I saw was awe inspiring!

Squash car construction

And the people—lots of people, neighbors all, playing, eating, and prettifying their zucchinis in anticipation of the BIG RACE.

people at zucchini races

Our entry? Miss Lellow Submarine (yes, LELLOW). Isn’t she simply gorgeous?

Miss Lellow Submarine

We placed her on the table, heavily laden, with many delightfully decorated squashes.

zucchini contest entrants

Apparently, the judges thought she was—all that—because she was awarded the Most Glamorous Squash award (shhhhh…each and every contestant won a prize). How cool is that?

Lellow Submarine Most Glamorous Squash

Here are a few examples of the competition: Mrs. Aloha zucchini
Dragon squash contestant

Pattypan zucchini flair

Finally, the time had come. The Great Zucchini Race was ON! Two by two they mustered to the top of the ramp. The zucchinin race is on

Ready. Set. Go!

Wonder at the zucchinin races

One hot rod went a loooong way…we are talking a block!

Winner by a block in the zucchini races

Finally it was our turn. Little Bird and her buddy Izzy climbed up to the back of the ramp.

Ready to roll

Off they went, speeding down hill. And…she’s down. An illustrious, albeit short-lived, career.

And she's down

Nevertheless—prizes for all.

Squash race prizes

More eating. More playing. And then time to pack it in and head home. Until next year…

Heading home after the races


And if you want to read more about all things Pampers, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.


Take the road less traveled, Beth

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