Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday [Friday] Workday

Finally! A successful crop!

I've complained all summer about how hot and dry it has been and what havoc that has wreaked on my garden, so that I am almost hesitant to tell you about my big success - okra!

If you are not southern, you may not know much about okra. It's a strange looking veggie with a distinctive taste, that lots of folks never get a chance to eat. Good file' gumbo from New Orleans includes it, and extra good Brunswick stew. You can get it battered and deep fried at Cracker Barrel and S & W Cafeteria, but it's not the first thing that jumps to mind when someone says, 'Hey, what green veggie would you like for dinner tonight?"

Even if you are southern, you may have grown up [not] eating it in the elementary school cafeteria where they cooked it to slime. Not appetizing!

So, how did I come to grow it and to actually like it? Well, batter and deep fry anything and I'm your girl! We always buy some at a farm stand in the summer and fry it, but in May someone - I don't even remember who - gave me their leftover starter plants. About 12 of them. I plunked them in the ground, watered regularly and then came the heat and humidity. Voila! Okra loves it.

First thing I knew I was cutting a dozen pods a night and having more than I could possibly eat alone. You know how hard it is to give away your extra zucchini? Well, triple that. Clearly, we needed another way to eat it. So, I fell back on the southern tradition of okra and tomatoes, and after experimenting a couple of nights, I found the right combination. So, if you're game to try something new (and can find some fresh okra at a farmer's market), here's what you do.

Okra and Tomatoes

2 cups okra - cut in coins
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 - 1 cup chopped onion
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped green (or red) onions
1 Tablespoon of Canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Saute' the onion and pepper in the oil until a little soft. Add the okra and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute another 5 minutes. Then cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 - 15 minutes. Season to taste. (Serves four.)

As Flower Jane would say, "easy peasy"! If you really overcook the okra, it will become slimy. Promise! But 20 - 30 minutes total cooking time works fine. You can fine tune the onion and peppers to taste, and you may find that you like the okra a little firmer or a little softer so you can increase or decrease the total cooking time accordingly. Try it. You'll like it!