And that was another very easy nearly ‘free’ food I found out about two years ago. Surprisingly my first attempt yielded celery during the first freeze we had last year (before winter set in, that is). Now the celery chutes don’t get terribly huge when going form the container growing method. My first celery stalk growing experience left me with small, slender stalks that were young and still went great in soups and salads. They also froze extremely well.
Living on a shoe-string budget is tough and wherever nearly free food can be discovered, grown at home, frozen, dried (think in terms of long-term prepping), or even so insanely easy to re-plant and grow I find myself scratching my head thinking, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner? This is so easy!”
And my first celery stalk was chopped off mid-way and sat in a bowl of tap water (before I became wise about the fluoridation) on my kitchen window sill. I didn’t hold out any hope and thought my efforts would be a waste of time. Yes, my celery stalk had to share space with my beloved (although somewhat hearty soil-bankrupt) air purifying airplane/spider plant that’s been the dominant houseplant going on five years. I was surprised when I noticed leafy greens sprouting up from the lopped celery stalk. I can’t remember if I changed out the water or if that’s a necessary thing to do. Since my first celery stalk died during the winter and I had no place to bring it in out of the harsh weather, it didn’t last. Yet, I managed to re-grow enough celery from that first stalk to fill a large zip lock bag and I didn’t need to buy celery at the store for the whole year. When frozen about all celery is good for is using in stir-fry, soups and stews. I never had any success using frozen/ thawed celery in leafy green salads. But frozen celery goes great in my freshly prepared plain cucumber salads which means I don’t slather my cucumbers in any type of oils, mayonnaise, or commercial salad dressings since those don’t agree with my system. I make my own mustard-onion dressing that I will share in this post as well.
And a year later, I’ve nearly finished off my entire bag of celery. I haven’t tried to grow any celery stalks in the garden. I like to plant them in patio containers and snip off the stalks as I need them and allow the celery to re-grow more chutes. I have two more celery stalks that I re-grew using distilled water and was surprised when they appeared greener and more heartier. I transplanted those to outdoor containers recently and started on my third celery stalk in distilled water. Hopefully it will grow as well as the others.
How to make my onion-mustard cucumber salad dressing:
Wash, cut and place green onions in a clean mason jar. I like to use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the onions. And other times I will go out to my garden and cut off a large onion leaf. These are very potent and a little bit goes a long way. I also use the small onion bulb as well and chop that up. Next, I mix equal parts of Dijon and Spicy Brown mustard and add that in with my onions. I stir this concoction and leave it in the fridge while I prepare my cucumber salad.
How to make my cucumber salad (no-dressing or oil variety):
Wash, peel and slice up the cucumber if its store bought. Believe me, you don’t want to ingest the wax they use on the veggies. I’ve heard horror stories that the wax used is no different than what they use to wax floors with, Yeesh! And if it’s true, that’s a dirty little inside trick to make veggies appear delicious and ‘preserve’ them, I suppose. If you can grow your own cucumbers and don’t use pesticides, you could skip peeling off the outer skin. Since I don’t use pesticides on my garden for the very reason they can be toxic, I don’t have to worry so much.
There’s no wrong way to slice a cucumber. If you like thick slices, got for it. If you prefer small, thin slices, that’s excellent too.
Next wash, and slice one or two red tomatoes. Again, if they’re store-bought tomatoes they may have been gassed in order to ‘ripen’ them while their still green, and eating green tomatoes is okay too. Ever hear of the old 80’s movie, Fried Green Tomatoes? Anyways, if your tomatoes are home grown, then your assured of the safety of your own produce. Place the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl and set aside. Next slice up some red, white, and yellow onion (if you have any on hand and this is optional). I’m kind of basing this on my late grandma’s recipe but without the dressing. My grandmother used to use white onion cut into rings.
I also like to spice things up with a fresh cut Japeno and throw that in with the cucumber and tomatoes and mix some crushed red pepper as well. I then give this salad a soak in a little Apple Cider Vinegar/ distilled bath just for good measure, rinse and return to the bowl. I like to finish off with a few snips of fresh Kale (the yellow blooms will produce a delicate sweet taste, too), Parsley, Chives, Peppermint, Spearmint, Pineapple Sage leaf, one leaf of cabbage and fresh Brussels sprouts (never the canned or frozen variety for me). So technically its not a straight cucumber and tomato salad, rather an actual salad. Eh, sometimes I enjoy a change of pace.
What to do with those celery leaves: don’t throw them out! Wash them off really good and dry them. I say this because the cost of buying celery either in seed, salt, or even the crushed leaf variety can be expensive. Since I don’t have a pestle and mortar I can’t grind the leaves into a powder so it’s the very old-fashioned ‘drying’ method by placing the celery leaves (preferably washed, dried off, and place on a cookie sheet or in my case a pie pan lined with a coffee filter will do. Allow the celery leaves to thoroughly dry for two weeks or a month or so. When they’re completely dry (and some might be curled), then you can store them in a spice jar or use them immediately in soups, stews, stir-fry, etc. I had great success drying two bunches of half priced cilantro for a month and yielded two huge batches to last me a year or better. Cilantro goes great in homemade pico de gallo (Mexican condiment/ salsa).
Hope my shoe string budget kitchen tips help. Thanks for liking, re-blogging, commenting, sharing, tweeting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂